Young Adult Crisis

2 12 2008

Almost one in five young American adults has a personality disorder that interferes with everyday life, and even more abuse alcohol or drugs, researchers reported Monday in the most extensive study of its kind.

The disorders include problems such as obsessive or compulsive tendencies and anti-social behavior that can sometimes lead to violence. The study also found that fewer than 25 percent of college-aged Americans with mental problems get treatment. (read more….)

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Proper Judging

1 09 2008

           

          One of Jesus’ most well known statements is found in Matthew chapter seven: “Judge not, that ye be not judged” (Matthew 7:1). What did Jesus mean when He said to judge not?

          Some believe He meant that judging in any form or fashion is always wrong. What is judging? It is expressing a verdict, decision, or opinion based on some process of evaluation. Think of an umpire in baseball. He first must learn the rules of baseball and then carefully observe and impartially judge the game according to them. The umpire is not to make up his own rules or show partiality.

          What Jesus condemns is not all judging but unjust, hypocritical judging (see Matthew 7:5). Unlike the umpire, we are all “in the game” so to speak. The rules are given in the Bible. All Christians are responsible to abide by them. All of us are to be loving, kind, honest, forgiving, and godly. There are no exceptions. What we are not to do is make up our own rules or show partiality between people.

          The Apostle Paul scolded (judged) an entire group of Christians because they did not openly condemn (judge) a sinful situation in their midst. The Corinthian church was not judging and Paul promptly denounced them for it and rendered judgment against the sinning individuals they were tolerating (1 Corinthians chapter 5).

                 

      





Class begins!

19 08 2008

This is a picture of the first year Bible Analysis class I teach at the Central Arkansas Baptist Bible Institute and Seminary.

It’s going to be fun this year.





Rabid Contextualism

4 08 2008

Dr. Walt Scalen, assistant professor of government at Steven F. Austin State University in Texas, is exactly right when he observes that “somehow the ‘we are changing the methods not the message’ slogan has so resonated with many Christians anxious to see progress in evangelism and growth in numbers that caution has been thrown to the wind. Assuming that all cultural forms are neutral, almost anything is now ‘worship,’ and virtually any outreach method is appropriate for ‘fishers of men.’

One of the little examined assumptions of the rabid contextualism that is driving many ‘progressive’ evangelical Christians to adopt every conceivable cultural form as a means of evangelism is that cultural forms are considered to be largely neutral. For example, heavy metal music is associated with a relatively well defined youth sub culture. To reach this group, it is assumed that the Gospel message can be carried by such cultural forms as skulls and other death symbols and yet the message remains intact, unscathed and unchanged. Thus, the magic bullet of the New Christianity: the methods change, but the message doesn’t. This idea is wildly popular, repeated ad infinitum on a daily basis by the millions who consider it an unquestioned and absolute edict. From ‘Jesus Mosques’ to reach Moslems to ‘Jesus Meditation’ to reach mystics, there are no limits to which so-called ‘European Christianity’ must be reshaped to fit every conceivable cultural form.”

The entire article may be read here.





Watch out for False Prophets

11 06 2008

Jesus said, “And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free” (John 8:32). Regrettably people settle for less. Many are entertained but not free. Sincere but not free. Passionate but not free. Spiritual but not free. Without truth there is no freedom.

One task of proper Bible study is to replace misbeliefs with truth – truth that is firm and fixed because it is grounded in the God who does not lie (Titus 1:2).

The Scriptures teach that we do not have to be content with relative notions about the truth. We can actually know the truth. We can even have a personal relationship with God Himself through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

          Unfortunately, the Bible also tells that there are false teachers out there who twist and misrepresent the truth. Jesus, Paul, and Peter all warn of them.    

The Apostle Peter: “But there were also false prophets in Israel, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will cleverly teach their destructive heresies about God and even turn against their Master who bought them. Theirs will be a swift and terrible end.  Many will follow their evil teaching and shameful immorality. And because of them, Christ and his true way will be slandered.  In their greed they will make up clever lies to get hold of your money. But God condemned them long ago, and their destruction is on the way” (2 Peter 2:1-3 NLT).

The Apostle Paul: I know that after I am gone, others will come like fierce wolves to attack you. Some of your own people will tell lies to win over the Lord’s followers. Be on your guard! Remember how day and night for three years I kept warning you with tears in my eyes” (Acts 20:29-31 CEV).

          The Lord Jesus Christ: “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves” (Matthew 7:15 NIV).

In light of these warnings every student of the Word needs to proceed with extreme caution. Distortions, misrepresentations, and half-truths cause many to lose their way. As it turns out, careful Bible study requires two things that modern Christians find difficult – patience and discernment.

Patience is the ability and capacity to wait, to allow time to pass, to submit to God’s timing and process. It takes time to read and study the Bible. There are no short-cuts. The popular “group-talk” Bible study guides are a sad by-product of an impatient generation. You know the drill, read some passage from the Bible and then answer questions like: “What are your first impressions?” “How does it make you feel?” “What is God saying to you?” and on and on. That’s not Bible study. At best it is a benign form of talk therapy that allows everyone to participate and anyone to “facilitate” (compare with Acts 8:30-31).   

Discernment, on the other hand, is the ability to rightly apply the biblical judgment acquired through patient study. The two main Greek words associated with discernment are anakrino, meaning to examine or judge closely, and diakrino, to separate out, to investigate, to examine. The Bible teaches that Christians must learn to discern. They must be able to properly test all teachings and actions against the Biblical standard. They must know the fit and function of the various truths presented in order to rationally apply them with confidence. Of course this ought to be done sparingly in the beginning stages. Until one has actually read the Bible and established a foundation of familiarity with it, discernment is next to impossible (Matthew 22:29).            





Timeless Truth

30 04 2008

“It is not we who win the lost by the help of Christ, it is Christ himself who does the soul-winning through the lives and lips of yielded disciples. And so it is not so much a question either of equipment or lack of it, as it is a question of his absolute possession and control, by the Holy Spirit, of whatever equipment we may have. When the Holy Spirit controls a Christian, he will be constrained, impelled, borne along, to go after the lost, command or no command. The great essential, therefore, in soul-winning is to be completely possessed, through the fullness of the Spirit, by him whose life on earth it was to seek and to save the lost.” – J. E. Conant 1922





Only If You Are Black?

21 03 2008

Should pastors in black churches be held to the same standards society expects from other pastors when it comes to political and social commentary? 

Apparently ABC news doesn’t think so. In fact they report that fiery words promoting Black Nationalism (like those spoken by Rev. Jeremiah Wright) are nothing unusual… in black churches  

The news article goes on to say that, “Historically, the church also served as virtually the only safe space in which blacks could openly discuss their persecution in the United States, and ministers preaching to a largely illiterate audience found that dramatically delivered sermons drew in the crowds and kept the collection plate full.” 

(Surely ABC doesn’t mean that black preachers ought to be able to use crude and graphic language because it’s the only way to get their message across to a still illiterate audience?)  

Noel L. Erskine, a professor of theology at Emory University, is also quoted as saying “The church was the one institution black people always owned, a refuge where we where empowered to speak our minds.”

So what do you think, should pastors in black churches be held to the same standards as their white counter parts?