Friday, December 27, 2002
I continue to be dismayed by the lowering of standards in the Christian community today. One of the most common signs is the lack of preaching on separation in most churches. There is entirely too much accommodation with the world. Compromise has reached the point where church services are indistinguishable from worldly entertainment.
In my day Christians used to take justified pride in living a life that was different from the world around them. They would dress differently, cut their hair differently, talk differently, act differently and generally live a life of holiness and rigid adherence to high standards of personal purity. It was a sacrifice that we were proud to make. Today’s Christians have no such dedication to living a separated lifestyle.
Their excuse is that Christ looks on how the inward man is dressed, not on the cut of his clothes. They claim that spirituality is a relationship with a living savior, not the application of a set of rigid rules. They even claim that God is not as pleased with the way we live as he is with the way we love Him. What poppycock! They miss the entire point that obedience to a strict standard of spirituality and conduct is precisely what constitutes our relationship with Jesus Christ. Outside of obedience, there is no relationship.
Worship used to be something special when I was younger. Church services were not meant to be enjoyed but endured. The preaching was hard. The messages were uncompromising. The pews weren’t padded and the buildings were not air-conditioned. The last thing we wanted to do was to make sinners and the unsanctified comfortable. Instead, we wanted to profoundly discomfort them in their wickedness.
Today we see just the opposite trend. Churches are trying to be more “seeker sensitive” and appealing to the lost. The last thing in the world we need is for our churches to be more appealing to the lost. If that were the case, then every drunk, prostitute, criminal and worldly person would flock to our services. Where would our churches be then? Why, they would be full of sinners instead of the sanctified paragons of virtue we represent.
What the world needs today is more Christians who practice separated living by avoiding the worldly associations around them. When I was younger, everyone knew it was wrong for Christians to go to movies, nightclubs, dance halls or any restaurants where alcohol was served. Now most Christians visit these places with impunity. In fact, I have even heard of “Christian coffee houses” being established in an attempt to win the lost and appeal to the saved who want to act like the world. Well, I for one believe the Bible has instructed us to establish churches, not coffee houses and anything else is compromise with the world.
Even worse than that, churches are inviting the world into their assemblies. Their music is getting worldly. They have included the use of drums, electric guitars and worldly instruments of all sorts in their so-called praise and worship services. They are showing movies in church. They are clapping in their “worship” services. They are building recreational centers for their youth so that they have alleged Christian hangouts. Things have gotten so bad that our churches are indistinguishable from what the world has to offer. There are no more Bible-thumping preachers breathing out fire and brimstone to warn sinners of their hellish destiny. Instead, we are trying to appeal to them with our “sensitive” approach to sin. We need to soundly condemn sinners and tell them in Christ’s words, “Go and sin no more!”
My opponents claim that the essential difference between worldly amusements and church services is internal in the content of the worship, not the externals of legalism. They say that their worship is more genuine and from the newness of the heart instead of the oldness of the letter. What they fail to understand is that without the external standards, the world is unable to distinguish our holy living from their good intentions. Separated living is all about externals, not internals. The gospel should not be kept secret but lived openly where all the world can see it and profit by our good example.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.
Psalm 51:16-17 (NIV)
Friday, December 20, 2002
It is that time of year when professing Christians abandon their dedication to the purity of God’s word and wantonly practice that papist adaptation of pagan rituals commonly called Christmas. I never get so infuriated as when I see the billboards proclaiming “Put Christ back in Christmas.” What these ignorant people don’t know is that Christ was never in Christmas.
It is well known that Jesus was not born in the winter since the shepherds were watching their flocks in the fields – a summer time activity. The reason Christmas is celebrated in December is because that is when pagans celebrated the winter solstice. Catholics, wanting to “ease” the pagans into the “church,” turned their pagan celebration into a “Christian” holiday. Nearly every element of Christmas from cutting down an evergreen tree (the pagan symbol of eternal life) to the exchange of gifts has a pagan origin and significance.
Spiritual Christians should eliminate every vestige of paganism from their lives. We should not listen to the pagan beat of rock and roll music, nor should we celebrate holidays that have been “Christianized” from pagan origins like Christmas and Easter. We don’t believe in good luck charms or superstitions because they are, at their roots, forms of demon worship. Children who “innocently” rub their lucky rabbit’s foot are actually offering up prayers to Beelzebub and his minions.
Some people accuse us of hypocrisy and being inconsistent in our practice. They say our claim of being free from pagan influences is actually spurious because we use the calendar. It turns out that the days of the week were named after pagan deities. What these ignorant people don’t realize is that there are certain things about the culture we can never hope to change. The days of the week are so far removed from their pagan roots that they no longer have pagan significance.
There was even an arrogant ignoramus who tried to convince me that most of the symbols in Christian weddings had pagan origins. He said the bride’s white dress; the wedding ring and the carrying of the new bride across the threshold are all pagan rituals. I wasted my breath trying to tell him that these symbols have been adopted by Christians for so long that they have been effectively sanitized of any pagan meaning. Everything in the wedding ceremony has been given a Christian meaning so we can continue to conduct our ceremonies in the traditional way without any fear of becoming pagan.
I find it ironic that I have been accused by many of these paganistic Christians of being a Scrooge because I am against Christmas and Easter. They misunderstand me completely, thinking that I am an old sourpuss who doesn’t want to be burdened with gift giving. What they don’t realize is that in accusing me of being a Scrooge, they are referencing a ghost story with no reference to Christ at all even though it is purportedly a “Christmas” story. So, even for them, Christmas isn’t really about Christ at all!
One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord.
Romans 14:5-6a (NIV)
Thursday, December 12, 2002
SORCERY AND FANTASY
For the second year in a row the secular establishment has attempted to confuse the Christian movie-going public. Undiscerning Christians fail to distinguish between the fundamentally evil nature of the Harry Potter movies and the pure Biblical morality in the Lord of the Rings movies.
Before any of you begin to criticize me for appearing to condone Christians attending movies, let me state right up front that I would never go to a movie because I believe it is wrong for holy people to darken the door of a movie house. I wait until the movies come out on video if I want to view them. Only carnal Christians actually attend movies and support the godless minions of Hollywood with their money. However, even these less-than-spiritual folks can benefit from my guidance and discernment.
That being said let me continue to explain why Harry Potter is sinful and Lord of the Rings is spiritual. Harry Potter is written to portray sorcery and witchcraft (both condemned in the Bible) in a good light. Lord of the Rings makes no such endorsement of witchcraft and only the evil forces in the movie use sorcery to achieve their ends. Let me list some more of the contrasts for you:
· Harry Potter has the hero using sorcery. Lord of the Rings has the villain using sorcery.
· Harry Potter uses magic to attain selfish ends. Lord of the Rings shows Gandalf using magic for selfless ends.
· Harry Potter has evil in the form of witchcraft triumphing over good. Lord of the Rings has strictly non-magical people like hobbits and elves triumphing over magical evil villains.
· Harry Potter uses sorcery purely for entertainment and teaches no lasting values. Lord of the Rings uses magic to teach timeless truths from scripture.
· Harry Potter endorses violence as a means to achieve a "good" end. Lord of the Rings endorses bravery in the face of violence as the means to achieve a good end.
I could go on and on about the contrast between these two widely divergent film series but the fact is Harry Potter is evil and Lord of the Rings is good. Harry Potter is totally unsuitable for children while Lord of the Rings is one of the best movies children could watch if they are willing to wait for it to come out on video or DVD. Harry Potter can be frightening to small children because of some of the scenes in the movie. At least that is what I've been told since I have never seen it myself, nor have I read the books. Lord of the Rings on the other hand, is reassuring and comforting in even the most violent scenes because good eventually triumphs over evil.
Harry Potter encourages children to experiment with the occult and play such evil games as Dungeons and Dragons while Lord of the Rings encourages children to strive for the high principles of goodness, honor, courage and fidelity. I have never heard of anyone who has been lured into the occult from reading Lord of the Rings but I have seen plenty of e-mails and even a forwarded copy of an article from a reputable internet news service called The Onion about children being drawn into the occult because they started reading the Harry Potter books.
It is high time that Christians took a stand against the sort of values portrayed in Harry Potter and support the virtues portrayed in Lord of the Rings. My hope for the future is that Christians learn to be just as discerning as I am with regard to the difference between magic that is portrayed in the media in a godly way from magic that is portrayed in a sinful way.
Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.
James 3:10 (NIV)
Friday, December 06, 2002
I have been accused by some of lacking evangelistic zeal. Some have even gone so far as to say I am anti-evangelism because I do not pursue a vigorous course of personal witnessing. What these ignorant critics don’t understand is that it is my dedication to holy living that makes the practice of personal witnessing on a regular basis unnecessary.
The main reason I don’t feel the need to accost strangers on the streets and demand them to make a commitment to Christ is because I believe in Lifestyle Evangelism. I think it is more important to live the message of the gospel than it is to tell the message. There are plenty of people out there who talk a good game but their lifestyle doesn’t measure up to the stature of Jesus Christ like mine does. These people actually undermine the cause of Christ by living lives that are unworthy of the cause they claim to be promoting. We can spot them because they read the wrong version of the Bible and listen to so-called Christian rock and roll.
Christians should be good testimonies to the cause of the gospel by their exemplary lives. If people would truly live the gospel message, preaching the gospel would be unnecessary. It is my holy living that people find attractive and when they ask me the source of my victorious lifestyle, I can then take that opportunity to share the gospel with them. And while this rarely happens, it does not imply that my light is under a basket, it simply means that the world is blind to what a True Christian looks like.
Additionally, for me to begin witnessing to total strangers on the street, I would have to invade their spiritual privacy. People should have the right to make their own lifestyle choices and my imposition of the gospel may prove offensive and actually turn them off to the message of Jesus Christ instead of leading them to the cross. So rather than running the risk of offending these tender folks, I wait until they are receptive to the message of the gospel. I wait until they approach me with an inquiry rather than forcing the gospel on unwilling listeners like so many hyper-evangelists.
Another reason that we should not impose the gospel message on unwilling listeners is that they may not be part of God’s elect. There are certain people, such as myself, who are ordained to live with God for all eternity. We are part of God’s chosen few, the sacred remnant who are the objects of his affection, his divine elect. Others are destined to spend eternity in torment and suffering and are not part of God’s elect. For us to preach the gospel to those who are not chosen is to cast our pearls before swine and give that which is holy to dogs. Rather than risking such mishandling of the precious message of salvation, I prefer to let the elect come to me and inquire after the message rather than taking it out to them. After all, if they are Christ’s elect, they will get saved whether I take the gospel to them or not.
He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.”
Mark 16:15 (NIV)