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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources

 

Living in Light of Two Ages

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Thursday
Oct042007

The Perils of Finding a Minister on Craig's List

Pastor%20Rip%20Off.jpgIt seems like bizarre clergy stories come in bunches.  This one may just take the cake.

According to an article on Katu.com (a TV station in Portand, OR), Shawn Sonnenschien and his fiance Kitty, wanted to get married but didn't have a pastor.  So, they found a minister who advertised her services on Craig's List.  The wedding went off as planned, but the newlyweds were surprised that their 75 or so guests left so few presents.  The couple dealt with their disappointment just fine, until they realized that their guests had planned all along to give them gift cards from Home Depot to help the newlyweds complete repairs to their home.

Turns out that the guests were quite generous.  The problem was that minister-ette they hired to do their ceremony had swiped all the gift cards!  Surveillance tapes at the local Home Depot showed the rent-a-reverend cashing them in (Click here: Reverend accused of stealing couple's gift cards | KATU - Portland, Oregon | Local & Regional).

OK, no more of these for a while . . . 

Thursday
Oct042007

Upcoming Academy Class -- "The Man of Lawlessness: Nero? The Pope? Or Someone Else?"


man%20of%20sin%20full%20cover.jpgOur next Academy lecture will deal with Paul's mysterious "man of lawlessness" in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12.  Preterists see this as already fuflilled.  Historicists identify this figure with the papacy.  Dispensationalists see this as a future antichrist betraying Israel in a rebuilt temple.  Reformed amillennarians tend to see this image as an ever-present threat, culminating in a final Antichrist.

If you live in the Southern California area, we invite you to join us this coming Friday (October 5,) for this, the second in a four part series of lectures entitled "Eschatology and the Antichrist."

As always, the lecture is free of charge, begins @ 7:30 p.m. and is followed by a time for Q & A.

Come out and join us!  It would be great to meet you.

For more information or access to MP3 and Real Audio files of past lectures, Click here: Christ Reformed Info - Schedule of Academy Classes and Author's Forums.

Wednesday
Oct032007

Priest's Revenge Backfires

Suing%20his%20church.jpgRemember the Seinfeld episode in which Jerry decides to heckle a woman while she's at work because the same woman had heckled him on stage the night before?  The moral is "how would hecklers like it, if they got heckled?"

Here is a case of a priest who played someone's phone message complaining about his sermon to the entire congregation.  "How would you like it if I turned the tables and complained about your complaint?" 

The man in question (Angel Llavona) didn't like it one bit.  Llavona had complained about his priest's sermon, leaving a message on the priest's answering machine.  "Father Rios, this is Angel Llavona. I attended mass on Sunday and I have seen poor homilies, but yesterday broke all records."  The priest was a tad miffed, so the next Sunday he played Llavona's phone message to the assembled congregation (which just happened to include Mr. Llavona).  Rios then asked the congregation, "what should we do?  Should we send him (Mr. Llavona) to Hell or to another Parish?"

Not surprisingly, Mr. Llavona is suing the priest and the diocese for emotional distress from embarrassment and humiliation. (Click here: Priest's response to criticism leads to lawsuit :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Metro & Tri-State).

The moral to the story here is "don't publicly humiliate those who complain about your preaching."  Or at least make sure they are not in the congregation when you do!

All kidding aside, this is one of the reasons why we in the Reformed tradition have elder visits (the elders come and visit church members), so that if the preaching is not meeting the needs of the congregation it can be discussed privately and dealt with by those elders who are responsible for overseeing the work of their pastor. 

Wednesday
Oct032007

Top 50 Evangelical Authors

ECPA.jpg

According to the ECPA, here's a list of the current top 50 "best-selling" evangelical authors (Click here: ECPA E-LINK).  A list like this tells us a great deal about the state and health of American evangelicalism.

Alcorn, Randy C.
Alexander, Shaun
Arterburn, Stephen
Beers, Ron
Bell, Rob
Blackaby, Henry T.
Brunstetter, Wanda E.
Chapman, Gary
Cloud, Henry
Colbert, Don
Collins, Brandilyn
Dekker, Ted
DeMoss, Nancy Leigh
Dungy, Tony
Eggerichs, Emerson
Eldredge, John
Ethridge, Shannon
Feldhahn, Shaunti
Gregory, David
Hagee, John
Heavilin, Marilyn
Henderson, Dee
Hybels, Bill
Jakes, T. D.
Jeremiah, David
Kilgore, Kay Wheeler
Kingsbury, Karen
LaHaye, Tim
Lewis, Beverly
Lucado, Max
MacArthur, John
McGraw, Robin
Meyer, Joyce
Miller, Donald
Moore, Beth
Oke, Janette
Omartian, Stormie
Osteen, Joel
Piper, Don
Rice, Helen Steiner
Rivers, Francine
Rosenberg, Joel C.
Shepherd, Sheri Rose
Strobel, Lee
Warren, Rick
Weaver, Joanna
Wick, Lori
Yancey, Philip

Novels, fluff, counseling, and "how to" stuff clearly dominates.  MacArthur and Strobel seem to be the only exceptions.  

Tuesday
Oct022007

Christ Reformed Church Website Update

Christ%20Reformed%20Church.jpgThe old Christ Reformed Church webpage is no more.  Alas, it served us well, but it has been put out to audio file storage pasture.

When you click on Christreformed.org, you'll get what used to be our "info blog."  This is now the "official" Christ Reformed Church webpage.

On it, you can find our weekly sermons (if you are interested in hearing me or Rev. Marcelo Souza preach).  You can also get current information about our church, including our Wednesday night Bible studies, the Academy and a host of other things (like our liturgies and doctrinal standards).

Check it out . . .  Christreformed.org!  Or just Click here: Christ Reformed Info - The Latest News

Sunday
Sep302007

Academy Lecture, "Biblical Doctrine of Antichrist" Posted

Man%20of%20sin%20small.jpgThe first lecture in my current Academy series, "The Biblical Doctrine of Antichrist" has been posted (C)lick here: Christ Reformed Info - MP3's and Real Audio (of Academy Lectures)

If you haven't checked out the Christ Reformed Academy link before, there's lots of good stuff here from Horton, Beale, Hyde, Samples, Rana, and Clark.
 
 
Sunday
Sep302007

Who Said That?

question%20mark.jpgWho Said That?

"And then I heard God's voice…He said 'This is one of the signs of the end time because the world is not ready for the second coming of my Son…My Church is not ready for the second coming of my Son...The Jews, with whom I've had the covenant for thousands of years, they're not ready for the second coming of my Son...The nations of the earth are not ready for the second coming of my Son.'" 

Leave your guess in the comments section below.  Please, no google searches or cheating. 

Saturday
Sep292007

On Subscription Sermon Series (Part 2)

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Picking up where we left off last time . . .

(If you haven't done so yet, please read part 1--posted below.  I'm posting sections from a "free" sermon I was sent, advertising a subscription sermon series).

The sample sermon--supposedly based on Mark 5:1-19--now discusses what both Satan and the Savior can do.  And no, as you'll soon see, this is not a proper distinction between law and gospel!

Here are the three main points in the sermon--although you can probably guess where this is going.  In fact, this sermon was emailed to so many preachers, you may have already heard it! 

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 l. WHAT SATAN CAN DO.

It is the mistake of believing that we can play around with Satan.  But what they fail to understand is when you play around with Satan, he is not playing.

* Do you know how people become ALCOHOLICS?  They become alcoholics by letting the devil tell them they can take a drink and quit drinking any time they desire -- nothing will come of it!

* Do you know how people become DRUG ADDICTS?  They become drug addicts by listening to the devil saying that they can experiment with drugs and quit any time they want to -- nothing will come of it!

* Do you know how people become HOMOSEXUALS? They start to play around with SATAN, but Satan is not playing.

* You know how Christians who used to attend church every time the church doors were open started playing around with Satan and he told them they could miss some of the church services and everything would be fine?  They start missing and missing and the more they missed, the easier it became.
People's lives are messed up because they think they can play around with Satan.

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So, the devil made me do it!  I knew it!  Now let me get this straight . . .  In a sermon based on Mark 5:1-19--where Jesus encounters a demon-possessed man in the Garasenes--the application that I am supposed to draw is that it is Satan who makes people into alcoholics, drug addicts and homosexuals. 

Foolish me, I thought the passage had something to do with the dawn of the kingdom of God and that Christ's power over the demonic is one of the principle signs that the new age of salvation has come.  I thought that human sin originated in Adam's fall and is then manifest in the human heart so that it constantly springs into action.  I guess I missed the biblical passage that speaks about sin coming from Satan . . .

Next, comes the suggested illustration as to why we shouldn't "mess around with Satan". 

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Illus:  Someone said, "Sin would have very few takers if its consequences occurred immediately!"

When people start to play around with Satan they do not know where that participation may take them.

*    There are DOPE ADDICTS who will tell you they would have never messed with dope if they knew it was going to take control of their lives.

*    There are ALCOHOLICS who will tell you they would have never messed with alcoholic beverages if they knew it was going to ruin their lives.

*    HOMOSEXUALS who will tell you they never would have played with sex sins if they knew it was going to wreck their lives.

*    There are BACKSLIDERS who will tell you they did not intend to get that far from God.

If people only knew how far sin was going to take them, they would never participate in sin. You!

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I don't know about you, but the first thing I thought about when I read Mark 5:1-19, was drugs, alcohol, homosexuality and backsliding (???).  You gotta be kidding me!
 
Now comes the second part of the sermon . . .  I know, you just can't wait.
 
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II. WHAT OUR SAVIOR CAN DO.

The Bible tells us that Satan has come for the purpose of destroying us PHYSICALLY and SPIRITUALLY. 

Look at John 10:10. We read, "The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy."   

Look at verses 7-13, [the passage is cited--reminding the reader that the points made in the sermon have nothing whatsoever with the passage cited]

HOW DID HE GET IN THIS KIND OF SITUATION?

He just kept opening the door to the Devil playing around with him, and one devil at a time just kept entering him.

We have looked at :

WHAT CAN SATAN DO? He can destroy a man's life with sin so that he is beyond recognition. 

WHAT CAN CHRIST DO?   He can take the man that Satan has destroyed and RESTORE him so no one recognizes him!

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Since the sermon never mentions sin, but is concerned only with fact that the demon-possessed man is proof that drug and alcohol addiction, backsliding and sexual sin come from Satan (???), we should not be surprised that the application would be framed along the lines that Jesus came to restore what Satan came to destroy.  If there is no mention of sin, of course, there will be no mention of the saving work of Christ!
 
That (thankfully) brings us to the conclusion.  "What we can do?"
 
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III. WHAT WE CAN DO.

Notice, Mark 5:18-20, "And when he was come into the ship, he that had been possessed with the devil prayed him that he might be with him.  Howbeit Jesus suffered him not, but saith unto him, Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee.  And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."     Jesus told the man that he should not go with Him, but rather that he should... (V. 19), "Go home to thy friends, and tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee, and hath had compassion on thee." That was what the man did.  The Bible says, verse 20, "And he departed, and began to publish in Decapolis how great things Jesus had done for him: and all men did marvel."

DO NOT CLOSE THE BLINDS...we are at WAR WITH SATAN.

* If you are not saved, God wants to take you from RUINS TO REDEMPTION.

* If you are saved, He wants you to share with others what He has done for you.

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Ministers really buy this stuff?  Finally, we discover the real point of the sermon--the call to do something (with no mention whatsoever of Christ). 

This is immediately followed by the sales pitch to the minister who would like to pass this kind of drivel off as his own work.

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"Thanks for taking the time to read this condensed outline. As you look at the full outline you can see this sermon has so much more!  If you subscribe today we will send you Sept/Oct package of sermons that contains this sermon and fifteen (15) more great sermons.  When you subscribe you will receive sixteen of these full-length, useable sermons for only $5.75 a month."

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Talk about nerve!  It is one thing for a minister to buy someone else's material and then pass it off as his own.  Its another thing to subscribe to a series of sermons like this one, which have virtually nothing to do with the biblical text upon which they are supposedly based.

OK, I'm done.  I can just hear you saying, "please make it stop."  I thought it might help for you to know that this kind of thing actually goes on.  I also thought you might be interested to see the quality of the stuff which passes for a "biblical" sermon these days.

While I could say a lot more, one good solution is for everyone who preaches and who listens to preaching to get and read Dennis Johnson's wonderful book, Him We Proclaim (Click here: Amazon.com: Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures: Books: Dennis E. Johnson).  Johnson's book shows ministers what it truly means to preach Christ from all of Scripture, but it also gives those in the pews a good idea of what they should be looking and listening for from their ministers.

If your pastor buys sermons like this and preaches this way, find another church! 

Oh, and don't close your blinds!
 

Enclosure

Thursday
Sep272007

On Subscription Sermon Series (Part 1)

mega%20church%202.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ever wonder why so much of "evangelical" preaching is so awful these days--in the sense of being devoid of biblical content and lacking the power of God?  Sermon subscription series might be a big part of the problem.

Although I never signed up for it, I am now the recipient of a weekly e-mail sales pitch for one of these subscription series.  Little did these guys know . . .

In an attempt to entice me to purchase their weekly sermon (a subscription will cost you $5.75 a month), I was sent the following "sample" sermon.  It is fair to assume that outfits like this send you their best stuff, since, after all, they are trying to get you to subscribe to their series.

I realize that the company which sent me this sermon might get a bit miffed if I quote extensively from their product on my blog.  Too bad.  Since they sent it to me unsolicited, and since it is so indicative of the sorry state of preaching these days, I thought you might be interested to see what passes for a "sermon", as well as shine some light on what some ministers are doing with their hard-earned $5.75. 

First and foremost, any minister who subscribes to this sermon series (or any other) ought to be defrocked!  Ministers must do their own exegesis and study, they must craft their own outlines (or manuscripts) and they must do so prayerfully and diligently.  This is our calling!  To buy someone else's work and then pass it off as your own, is sin, pure and simple.  How about sloth and theft for starters. 

When I looked through this particular sermon, I was dumbfounded at how bad it was.  The sermon is supposedly based on Mark 5:1-19 (the story of the demon-possessed man), and is entitled "Do Not Close the Blinds." 

It will come as no surprise that the sermon has virtually nothing to do with the passage in Mark's Gospel.  Having spent the better part of a year preaching through Mark, I was especially interested to see what these guys would do with that particular text.

The sample "sermon" includes both an introduction and an illustration (which is actually a tacky and completely inappropriate joke).  So let's start there.  I'll simply quote it.

_________________________________________ 

 

The intro:  "Some things in life are difficult to explain"

The suggested illustration is as follows:

"Roger is a hard worker, and he spends most of his nights bowling or playing volleyball, or so he claims.  His loving wife decided he needed to relax from work and take a break from sports.  So she takes him to a night club.

The doorman at the club spots them and says, `Hey Roger! How are you tonight?' His wife, surprised, asks her husband if he has been here before. `No, no. He's just one of the guys I bowl with.'

They are seated, and the waitress approaches, sees Roger, and says, `Nice to see you. You want your usual?' His wife's eyes widen. `You must come here a lot!' `No, no' says Roger. `I just know her from volleyball.'

Then this gorgeous blonde comes by and says, `Don't forget you promised me a dance the last time you were here!'  

His wife, fuming, collects her things and storms out of the bar. Roger follows her and spots her getting into a cab, so he jumps into the passenger seat. His wife looks at him, seething with fury and lets Roger have it with both barrels. At this, the cabby leans over and says, `Sure looks like you picked up a mean one tonight, Roger!'"

 

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Such a tasteless joke might get a nervous laugh from some guilty husband who cheated on his wife in the past, but my question is "what on earth does this tacky joke have to do with Mark 5:1-19?" 

And how dare a minister of the gospel waste God's time during worship to tell an inappropriate joke, when he should be using all his time preaching God's word.

Next up, comes the recommended examples, intended to reinforce the main point that certain things are hard to understand:

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"(1) It is difficult to get people today to understand we are war with the terrorist.

(2) It is difficult to get Christians to understand we are at war with Satan.

No matter how hard you try, some folks can not get this message. They just want to CLOSE THE BLINDS and pretend this does not exist.  When it comes to the terrorist and Satan we had better learn how to STOP them before they destroys us.  Satan is after us and we had better learn how to stop him.  To stop him we need to look at several things."

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So, based on Mark 5:1-19, we learn the following:  1).  Some things are hard to understand,  2).  People don't want to understand, 3). Satan (and terrorists) are after us,  4). We are at war with him (Satan), and  5).  We need to keep our blinds open.

What????  (Part 2 to follow)
 

Thursday
Sep272007

Whew!!!!

yankees%202007%20celebration.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Indulge me for a minute . . .

I knew we were in for one of those years.  The Yankees' opening day pitcher was Carl Pavano, whose only claim to fame was leading the league in injuries despite a ten million dollar per-year contract.  He hadn't pitched in a major league game in over a year and a half.  He lasted less than a month before he was injured yet again and out for the season.

By May 29, the Yankees were 8 games under .500 and some 14 games behind the streaking Boston Red Sox.  Pundits and beat-writers blew the Yanks off.  No way they'd even make the play-offs.

Injuries mounted.  There was an air of desperation.  Things got just plain weird.  Two starting pitchers were hit by batted balls and suffered broken bones--both in the first inning!  Another pitcher was in the seventh inning of a no-hitter when he tore a hamstring.  Unbelievable.

The Yankees used some twenty-five pitchers, nine of whom made their major league debut.  Unheard of for a mega-bucks payroll team like the Yanks.  Unheard of for even a crummy team.

But after the All-Star break something truly remarkable happened.  Roger Clemens (who is 45 going on 30) had signed for the year--certainly his last.  The veteran pitchers stepped up--especially Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina and Mariano Rivera.  The influx of rookies brought new energy (especially Hughes, Joba and Duncan).  And the perennial all-stars of the team (Jeter, Damon, Posada, Cano and Matsui) played like it.  Even journeyman-type players made big plays, got big hits and won critical games.

And then there was A-Rod (pictured getting doused in champagne by a bunch of rookies) who had an absolute monster of a year.  He put up numbers like those of Ruth, Mantle and Dimaggio.  He's not going anywhere . . .

After going an amazing 48-24 in the second half (far and away the best record in baseball over that time), the Yankees are in the play-offs for the thirteenth straight year, twelve of those under Joe Torre.  I wanted Torre sacked after the Yankees lost to the Tigers last year with an inexcusably lethargic performance.  But nobody but Joe Torre could have handled this year's mess and then turn this team around like he did.

How will the Yanks do from here on out?  With this team it is impossible to tell.  The fact that they'll play Cleveland in the first round is good (the Angels seem to have the Yank's number).  My guess is that the Yankees will eventually play the Red Sox in yet another epic battle between the evil empire and the Sox nation for the American league pennant.

Whew . . .  There was time there I didn't think they'd make it.  Now that was a roller-coaster of a season!  Lets go Yankees!!!!