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

Matthew 24:11: (NIV) “…and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people.”

2 Timothy 2:23 - 25 (NIV) - 23Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights. 24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.

Monday, August 31, 2015

The Pompous Ass Speaks



KJV Numbers 22:30: And the ass said unto Balaam, Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day? was I ever wont to do so unto thee? and he said, Nay.

The Message: Numbers 22:30 The donkey said to Balaam, “Am I not your trusty donkey on whom you’ve ridden for years right up until now? Have I ever done anything like this to you before? Have I?”  He said, “No.”

What a pompous ass!  Balaam was God's man. And look at the tone and questioning of God's man by a lowly ass. Who does this ass think he is? Balaam doesn't have to answer to an ass, amen! And why does the ass ask him questions instead of just respectfully saying in a hushed, whispering voice of admiration "Doctor pastor, man of God, I'm your trusty ass you've ridden for years and I've never done anything like this to you before." Why ask a series of questions except to be disrespectful?  Or maybe he is familiar with, and prefers, the Socratic method of teaching. (Socrates lived from 470 - 399 BCE, which is the same time frame this story was written, so it's possible.) And that second question: "Have I?"  I can almost picture this donkey jerking the glasses from his face and stomping while asking the second time after a dramatic pause: "WELL, HAVE I?"  To me, there is no doubt this talking donkey was indeed a pompous ass, literally.

Of course, the donkey had more to say earlier in the sacred text: Verse 28 states:  Then God gave speech to the donkey. She said to Balaam: “What have I ever done to you that you have beat me these three times?” 29 Balaam said, “Because you’ve been playing games with me! If I had a sword I would have killed you by now.”  Even donkeys know you don't "play games" with God's man or you could be killed.  What arrogance by Balaam. What anger.  What disrespect for the faithful donkey.  "I would have killed you by now."  It looks like there are TWO pompous asses in this story.

Wilford Brimley plays a pompous ass in The China Syndrome
Talking donkeys is not a revolutionary miracle occuring only in the Pentateuch.  Aesop's Fables include many tales of talking animals.  These fables were used to teach wisdom and not to be taken literally.  The Fox and the Grapes. The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  The Tortoise and the Hare. All great childhood stories that teach us wisdom for life, but that never happened.  Aesop lived between the years 620 and 560 BCE (years before Christ).  The majority of Biblical scholars believe the Pentateuch was written between 600 and 400 BCE. Uh oh.


"... like those who dine well off the plainest dishes, he (Aesop) made use of humble incidents to teach great truths, and after serving up a story he adds to it the advice to do a thing or not to do it. Then, too, he was really more attached to truth than the poets are; for the latter do violence to their own stories in order to make them probable; but he by announcing a story which everyone knows not to be truetold the truth by the very fact that he did not claim to be relating real events."
PhilostratusLife of Apollonius of Tyana, Book V:14

Might this story have been just a fable used by God to make some good points?  Who really cares, right? Unfortunately, many modern day fundamentalists care deeply.  So deeply in fact, that if you don't believe this story, you cannot trust in Jesus Christ for salvation.  Why?  Because the same book that tells of Christ, also tells us of this talking donkey. They say you can't pick and choose. They say if you find parts that are not true, then you can't trust the rest of it either.  They will say, why do you trust and believe in John 3:15, but not in Numbers 22:30. So they paint themselves, and their faith, into a corner and force otherwise good Christian people to decide: "Do I believe in talking donkeys or not?  No. So I guess there is no salvation for me.  I'm done with religion."

But before you simply say this is a waste of time, who cares about whether the donkey talked or not, you need to see also 2 Peter 2:15 and 16 which says:  "Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, 16 but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness." So there you have it. It's not just an Old Testament story. Peter says it happened. You can't ignore his teachings.

So am I "attacking" the Holy Bible?  Not at all. I'm just pointing out that religious fanatics who demand that other believers have to agree with their narrow doctrines and theological views are hurting the cause of Christ and in many cases, are hurting their own families and their own ministries. I'll say it again.  It is NOT necessary or essential to believe all the Bible in order to believe its overall message of redemption through Christ.  You don't have to believe all of it or none of it. It does not have to be perfect and inerrant.  We know that it is not.  So that type of insistence on these matters of "religion" will drive more and more people away.  And more importantly, it makes those people sitting in the pews open to any kind of manipulation and exploitation. And it causes division amongst the brethren and amongst families, and in marriages and in relationships.

Thankfully, most Christians don't really believe this nonsense anyway.  Love Jesus. Learn from Him. You can learn alot from his life and ministry that will help you in your life, career and family. Serve Him. Tell others about Him. Love. Laugh. And leave the talking donkeys and the tower of Babel to the seminarians and theologians to get all tore up about. Don't turn your back on Christ because of a corrupt church and angry fanatical Christians. The church can't save you. Religion can't save you. The Bible can't save you.  Only Jesus.



Thursday, August 27, 2015

Josh Duggar and Fundamentalists: Ladies and Voters Beware

"I actually really hope that his wife leaves him and takes his children away from him and leaves him a lonely, bitter man," Dillon said. "I don't think he deserves happiness."  These words sound eerily like what a respected Christian lady told another Christian wife and mother of three children when it was learned her husband was a blogger.   

Danica Dillon, pictured below, is the porn star who alleges she had "violent and terrifying sex" with Josh Duggar for $1500, after he spent $600 on her at a strip club.  According to internet reports, her real name is Ashley Lewis. And she is someone's daughter. She lives in California and owns a pet chihuahua named Caliegh Marie. And God loves her and Jesus died for her. And her path crossed with a prominent Christian man that fundamentalists loved, respected and admired as a good Christian man.  



What is it about fundamentalists and their priorities?

It seems pastors are so busy preaching about Supreme Court decisions, no prayer in school, and no ten commandments allowed to be posted in government buildings, that they seemingly aren't concerned about a pastor, or deacon, or their own son, cheating on his wife! 

They lament about our country's waywardness, but never address these much more harmful and devastating sins. They don't even consider that God is judging America for prominent, and not so prominent, Christian men cheating on their wives as long as those men profess to believe the right things and are supportive of the pastor. What "hurts" the cause of Christ more, an adulterer or a blogger who questions charlatans and talking donkeys?  If you are a fundy, you already know the answer to that and I hope you will be more than happy to articulate that view in the comments area.

Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham, is another recent "man of God" that couldn't keep his vows or commitment to his wife no matter how much Bible he read, preached and believed. Yet there is quick forgiveness for these men as long as they apologize and get counseling.

After all, we all sin, right guys?  Boys will be boys?  But when it comes to a man that has been a faithful husband for 30 years, but doesn't tithe and doesn't believe in talking donkeys, well, we need to be concerned about his salvation.  Good father?  So what!  Good provider for your family?  Who cares! Faithful husband? Big deal!

What fundies want to know is how you can pick and choose which parts to believe and still call yourself a Christian. I'm telling you, this is what the modern evangelical church is coming to. Embarrassment. Disgrace. Unattractive to those outside the cult mentality. And most damning, the church and the Bible are not getting any serious consideration from our children as something they need to have fuller, more meaningful lives. Our churches have bigger celebrities, bigger buildings and bigger staff; as well as TV, radio and internet to spread their message all over the world, but those that are not indoctrinated are not interested.

I bet none of the above guys, and the ones you know about too, were ever told by a preacher "you are not a man" and "you are not a Christian."  That kind of condemnation is reserved ONLY for those that give 9% or less (non-tithers), or those that question (in other words those that attack and persecute) God's man, or question some scriptures.

So Christian ladies beware!  That seemingly "good Christian man" may say all the right things, and even if his dad is the mega-church pastor, he may end up being a real jerk who will cheat on you when the opportunity arises. Don't be fooled! The stories are getting so common it's almost not even newsworthy.  Except when it involves off the chart hypocrisy, as in the case of prominent preachers and Christian celebrities like Josh Duggar. And think of how many more millions of such stories are swept under the rug and kept private by churches, pastors, and their congregations so as not to "harm the cause of Christ."

Josh Duggar, who just a few months ago was a respected Christian man, cashing in on his and his family's celebrity, was hobnobbing with Christian men who want to be the next leaders of the free world. These fundies might tell you not to associate with a blogger, but they love to associate with men like Josh Duggar. Why? Because they relate to him. They share his values.


Don't be fooled by their nonsense.  Google Bill Gotthard and his Advanced Training Institute scandals to know where these "godly men" get their views of women. These candidates identify with Josh Duggar and Bill Gotthard or they wouldn't be taking photographs with him.

So I will ask the question of you that many have asked of me: How can a man like this really know Christ and love Jesus and claim to be a Christian?  He pays money that could have gone to his family, or his church, or to help women and girls being sold in the sex industry.  But instead he pays to exploit women and cheat on his wife.  And not just his wife.  He has cheated on his children too. And his mom and dad. And his professed faith. And he has hurt his wife, his family, his in-laws, his parents, the church and the gospel message.

I know what you're thinking. "But at least he doesn't blog or ask questions of his pastor, or question a few scriptures". Don't worry Josh. You will be back with no consequences as soon as your counseling is over.  But be prepared to live with the disdain and contempt from your wife and families for the harm you have caused for the rest of your days.

"I actually really hope that his wife leaves him and takes his children away from him and leaves him a lonely, bitter man, I don't think he deserves happiness."  Does this sentiment apply to bloggers, or to adulterers, or both?  Hmmmm. 

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Tear Pages Out of The Bible and Throw It Out?



Shocked by the picture that goes with this post?  Did some of you think: “I knew it, the Watchdog has finally come out as an atheist who doesn’t believe the Bible.” On the contrary my friend.  This is actually what I hear Christians tell me, and others, who question anything in the Bible. Sad isn’t it?

“If you don’t believe parts of the Bible, why not just go ahead and tear those pages out?”
 
“If I found any parts of the Bible I didn’t believe, I would throw the whole thing out.”
 
“You can’t pick and choose which parts you believe, you have to either believe it all or none!” 

When confronted with statements like those above from students, the late Dean L. Russ Bush at Southeastern Seminary would simply and humbly tell his students something like this, and I'm paraphrasing: 


"I sure hope you won’t do that. I sure hope you won’t throw it all out just because you have a problem with some passages.  Why would you throw out all the parts you love and know to be truth just because you struggle with some passages. Please don’t do that.”  

He was right.  Of course, to be clear, Dean Bush led the battle for inerrancy of the Bible and I have no doubt that he did believe it all, and he did believe in its inerrancy, and to be clear, there is no basis to doubt that.  But his point was, and is, still valid.  There is no reason to adopt such statements, or take such harsh action, just because you doubt, or question, or are not sure about some passages.  Where does this type of all or nothing thinking come from?  Why is it now the litmus test for whether a person is truly saved or not? Why would such a respected leader for the fight for inerrancy ask students NOT to tear pages out, or throw it all out, yet many of you will tell people to do just that. 
 
Thomas Jefferson didn’t believe it all. But he is oft cited as an example of the faith of our founding fathers.  (Please go to Wikipedia and read about the “Jefferson Bible” to understand how far back, and how much further Jefferson takes this matter, then anything mentioned, suggested or discussed in the sum of these blog posts.)

I’m not going to write much about this subject except to answer in response to those of you that pose the types of questions above to me and to others like this:  

The Bible you have in your homes has itself already had hundreds of pages “torn out” and entire books already determined by men to not be believed and not even included.  
Will you spend even five minutes on research?  Ever heard of the Apocrypha? The Gospel of Peter? The Gospel of Judas? The Book of Enoch? The Gospel of Thomas? There are too many to list.  Ever ask or consider or research how the books of the Bible were chosen? Who made the decision to include one book but not another? Why were some books not acceptable? What happened to those who disagreed with the decision makers?

Let me summarize years of research for you.  A group of religious MEN (sorry ladies) decided which books to include.  They were able to pick and choose which ones they agreed were reliable and which ones they didn’t want to include for whatever political, religious or societal reasons they thought best.  They literally tore out the parts they didn’t like, and ripped out or excluded the books they didn’t agree with.  And, according to scholars and historians, they backed up their decision by destroying any copies of these books (or so they thought) and by excommunicating or even killing those that tried to question their decisions. 

But we keep finding these books hidden in jars, or buried in the desert sands. Seriously, look it up. Even if you believe these men were inspired by God as to which books went into the canon, and which ones didn’t; and even if you trust their motives writing in the social and political times in which they met to make these decisions; the fact remains that someone had to pick and choose.  

A circular argument would be “Well, the books they chose are God’s word otherwise they wouldn’t have included them in God’s word.”  Whatever.  The truth is you are trusting a group of religious, influential MEN, with their own motives and interests during times of social upheaval and turmoil, to pick and choose which books were to be trusted and believed and relied on and which ones were not. That's a lot of faith in men you don't even know.  So please don’t tell me I can’t do the same thing with texts I do know; and with men I do know who are preaching it as if they are speaking for God almighty.  I can, and will, and do pick and choose.  And the indwelling Holy Spirit gives me discernment as to which parts are essential and truth, and which parts are not. And which parts I should apply to my life today, and which parts don't apply. And my pastor and seminarians don't like that. And for some reason, neither do many of you.

So my Christian brothers and sisters, I am not going to throw it all out.  No matter what you say.  And I’m not going to believe it all or none.  No matter what you say.  And I’m not going to be all tore up about those of you who disagree with me.  Good for you.  I don't want you to change your beliefs. I don't care what you believe. I hope it works for you. But as my previous posts point out, when it causes division and hurt to others, I have to question whether you actually believe it all, or live like you believe it all, anyway.  I could be wrong.  But praise Jesus he didn’t say I had to be right, or that I had to believe it all or none in order to be saved.  It's called a tertiary issue. Your theological dogma is not my dogma. So there.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Robert Jeffress: The Collapse of America is Inevitible

"America's collapse is inevitable. I have come to the conclusion there is nothing we are going to do to stop it....I learned something that morning [the day his church buildings were demolished] about implosions : they are sudden, they are dramatic, they begin with a series of seemingly unrelated explosions, followed by a pause, and then the sudden collapse. Ladies and gentlemen, I believe that over the last 50 years, there have been three explosive decisions by our United States Supreme Court that have so weakened the moral and spiritual infrastructure of our nation, that our collapse is inevitable. The explosions have already occurred, the infrastructure has been destroyed, the collapse is coming, we are simply living in that in between time, that pause, before the final collapse."  Robert Jeffress, preaching at Bellevue Baptist Church, August 16, 2015. Full sermon here.

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Robert Jeffress is at it again. Like many pastors of recent day, he is predicting - almost hoping for - the destruction of our country at the hands of an angry God. Above is an excerpt from the opening 5 minutes of his sermon "Being a Light Against the Dark Background" delivered at Bellevue Baptist Church last Sunday night.

Jeffress believes our country is headed for a swift and certain collapse  - as fast as the FBC Dallas buildings fell when Jeffress pushed the big red implosion button back in 2010 - because of three Supreme Court decisions he disagrees with. These three decisions are "implosions" that will cause our nation's collapse according to Jeffress: the 1962 Engel v. Vitale decision regarding prayer in schools, the 1973 Roe vs. Wade abortion decision, and the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision on same-sex marriage. Jeffress spent the bulk of his message convincing the foks at Bellevue of the evil intent of these three court rulings.  If you know your American history, particularly in the South, there were similar responses when the court decided black people were not property, decided women could vote, allowed interracial marriage, and desegregated our school system.  Many good old boy Southern Baptists privately will tell you they still have a problem with these decisions also.  So yes, Jeffress, we all could expect you would really be tore up over the above decisions.

But what is more disturbing, is that the crowd that night at Bellevue ate it up. 

They clapped and "amened" and hooted and hollered while the man of God preached about America's destruction. I find it amazing that Christian people will tolerate their man of God giving a narrow, dark, one-sided view of their country to paint it in the darkest of colors to create a bunker mentality among the faithful.

Apparently when it comes to God's judgment of our country, in Jeffress' view we get no credit for the enormous good our country has done in the world. God doesn't seem to care about all the good the USA does, but he sure will sic em when they don't pass laws that will help His cause. We could go through so many laws and Supreme Court rulings we as Christians AGREE WITH, that have done enormous good in our country, but we get no credit as a country for any of that. We could talk about the aid we give to countries to help them in time of disaster and war, but no, God doesn't give credit for that. Or our countries struggle to end slavery and to use our judicial system to end racial and ethnic bias. No credit for good, only God's judgment and condemnation for the three SCOTUS rulings Jeffress doesn't like.

If God is angry over Roe v. Wade, isn't his anger somewhat muted because of Christians' efforts to reduce numbers of abortions through adoption and funding of crisis pregnancy centers? Apparently not. Why isn't Jeffress predicting the destruction of Israel,where on-demand abortion is also legal? Wouldn't God be at least as ticked-off over all the sexual abuse cases by "men of God" who misuse God's name to satisfy their sexual perversions as he is over Engle vs. Vitale?  Perhaps, Robert, the main reason you and your buddies are so ticked, is because God is NOT concerned about the nonsense you are preaching.  Ever even bother to consider that?

Of course we as Christians do NOT have to share the dark, dim view of America that Jeffress and other doom and gloom pastors spew. In fact, pew sitters should not tolerate their man of God preaching America's destruction out of the book of Lamentations every Sunday. Don't let an angry, ticked-off, bitter preacher who is angry at his country over a recent ruling by 5 Supreme Court justices - stomp and bellyache and preach doom and gloom about our country to you and your family.They are hypocrites.

Let me explain. They really don't want prayer in school, but are either too stupid to realize it, or think you are too stupid to understand why.  Our children, just like Muslim children, are the most trusting and gullible and non-judgmental of other races and religions and sexual orientation until they are indoctrinated. Consider the paragraph below. Do you agree or disagree with it?

These charlatans would be stomping and ranting and raving the loudest if little Johnny's elementary school allowed a Muslim leader to come in with his prayer rug, bow down toward Mecca, and pray to Allah.  Or if Johnny came home and said, "Daddy, what is a rabbi? He came and prayed at our school today."  Go ahead and explain to Johnny that there are other religions besides his and that they have the same rights to prayer as he does and their beliefs have the same rights, respect and protections as his beliefs.  Or let that Catholic priest come in and pray with his prayer beads and ask the saints to protect the children.  I'm sure you would love explaining to Johnny about how protestants didn't believe everything the church was telling them so they walked away from it.  And finally, let the Southern Baptist pompous ass come in and stomp around and talk down to the kids while praying for God to send judgment against their homosexual friends. No, Jeffress and congregants, you DON'T want prayer in school.  

So parents, if you subject your kids to this kind of dark, manipulative preaching, don't be surprised when your kids go to an institution of higher learning and actually STUDY these court rulings, their history, the pros and cons of each side of the argument - that they will realize their man of God was at best misleading them and at worst outright lying to them. No wonder so many young people are becoming part of the "nones" and "dones" as they move from their teens into adulthood. They realize their man of God was anything but "of God", and just an angry man who was quick to misuse facts to persuade them to be as angry as he is. They may even hold some resentment against mom and dad, who told them to love and respect and never question the angry man stomping around up on stage.

After Jeffress explained how terrible the 1962 Engle vs. Vitale ruling was that "removed prayer from the public schools"(Jeffress is deceptive, by the way - since Engle v. Vitale prevented the reciting of government-written prayers, not all prayer as Jeffress says), he then makes reference to the 1980 Stone vs. Graham ruling that prevented government schools from posting the Ten Commandments:

"That was the beginning decision [Engle v. Vitale] of a long series of decisions by the court that demonstrated our country's not neutrality toward Christianity, but its hostility toward Christianity. And the culminating decision occurred in 1980 in the case of Stone vs. Graham, in which the United States said, it is unconstitutional to post the copies of the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky classroom....I don't believe it is any coincidence that 17 years after the Supreme Court made that decision in 1980, in 1997, in another Kentucky school, Heath High School in Paducah, Kentucky, a group of students were meeting for prayer before their school began. Standing in front of the lockers with their heads bowed as they prayed, and while they were praying a 14-year old who obtained a handgun approached the praying students and opened fire on them, seriously wounding 5 and killing 3 of those students. And it all happened in a Kentucky school, where 17 years earlier the highest court in this land said 'You cannot post the words Thou Shalt Not Kill'. GOD HELP US!! GOD HELP US!!!"

So in true David Barton-like fashion, Jeffress links the 1980 ruling that prevented the government from posting the Ten Commandments in a Kentucky school, as a direct cause to the shooting of three students 17 years later at another Kentucky school. Could have been Ohio or Indiana where this occurred (as they also didn't have the Ten Commandments posted either since 1980), but according to Jeffress it is some sort of divine punishment that three students were killed in Kentucky. Actually, the three students were killed because there was a kid in the school who was a clinical paranoid schizophrenic who had been bullied and played violent video games. But it makes for better pulpit drama and helps Christians have more disdain for their country to say the shooting was actually the result of the 1980 Stone vs. Graham Supreme Court decision.

Once again, these guys are too stupid to realize they don't want religious texts posted in schools, or they think you are too stupid to understand the dangers. They don't want verses from ancient religious texts in the schools.  Consider:  Do they want the Jews posting Scriptures from the Old Testament that don't support Jesus being God?  Do they want Catholics posting verses about the literal eating of flesh and drinking of blood of Christ?  Do they want the Quran verses about killing the infidel hung in the hallways?  OF COURSE NOT!  They are just blowing smoke at their congregants when they know allowing this type of religious postings in our schools would be dangerous and illegal. But you clap and hoot and holler and amen them.   

Christians - fact check your pastor. Analzye the cause and effect link he is trying to make. If your pastor refers to some historical event or legal case to persuade you - research it yourself. Read about the three cases Jeffress referenced above. Don't take HIS word on how they should be interpreted. You might find it surprising to look at the ACTUAL case, and read about both sides of the argument. Make your mind up yourself. If you take your pastor at his word when it comes to history or legal decisions - you do so at your own intellectual peril. And your kids won't be so trusting someday.

Lastly, Christians: cheer up. You can love your country. You can hope for and believe in and work toward the best for your country. Don't be fooled into thinking that any natural disaster, economic collapse, or terrorist attack might be God exacting his revenge on America for same sex marriage. If your pastor is in a funk over same sex marriage and has become a doom and gloomer, and preaching out of Lamentations and advocating imprecatory prayers, visit a different church for a while. They preached the same nonsense when blacks were allowed to vote and when the Court decisions allowed interracial marriages.  Those made our country stronger, not weaker.  But those good old boy Southern Baptists sure didn't like it.

Perhaps, if God is judging America, it is because these mega pastors and their enablers have hijacked Christianity and the only thing that God is imploding, are these charlatans and their mega churches. Amen and A-man!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Do Christians Actually Trust God for Anything Other Than Salvation?


“How can you trust God with your salvation, if you can’t trust him with your finances?”

Another tool of manipulation used by charlatans and their enablers is the rhetorical question above, or variations or implications of it. I’ve heard this question, or some form of it, so many times by so many pastors, that I’m not going to attribute it to anyone in particular. You have probably heard it too, or will soon, if not already.  Usually, the pastor will trot out this seemingly logical rhetorical question during his tithing sermon. Or when you are not doing what he wants. The implication is that you are indeed trusting Jesus for salvation (which we all certainly should do), but you are not trusting God with your finances (because you are not giving enough).  You should do both, right? WRONG.

Here are a few obvious problems with this type of question and this dangerous line of thinking.  First, and I mean number one, is that the pastor is not God. The 501(c)(3) that hired him and pays him is not God.  Therefore, how does writing your church a check equate to trusting God with your finances?  In other words, another way to say this is for the pastor to say: 

“You can’t trust me for your salvation, and you can’t trust this 501(c)(3) for your salvation, so why in the world would you trust your finances to us?”  

But they don’t want you to hear it that way.  They want you to be coerced into agreeing with a statement about trusting God with your salvation (which we all must do), with giving money to the church to pay its overhead, salaries, debt and a small percentage going to actual ministry to the lost, poor, hurting, orphan and widow.

Second, in answer to your question pastor and enablers, is that we should only be trusting in God for things God does, and not for things God does not do.  Only God can bring salvation.  The doctor can’t save us. The policeman can’t save us.  The auto mechanic can’t save us.  We don’t go to those people for salvation.  We go to God. We trust God with our salvation because He is the only one that can possibly save us. Does that answer your question brother pastor?    

Third, the reverse implications of this question are just as true as the one your pastor is trying to make.  Have you ever stopped to consider that you don’t trust God with your high blood pressure? Of course not.  If you have HBP, you take a pill every single day, day in and day out, for the rest of your life.  But your arrogant preacher isn’t asking you “If you don’t trust God with your HBP, how can you trust him with your salvation?” It makes no sense to do so does it?  What about your safety. Do you pray for God’s protection and then live in a gated community, hire a team of security officers, carry a concealed weapon, lock your doors at night, and stay out of dangerous places?   Do you call the police, or rely on your local police and Sheriff’s department to keep your city safe?  Then you are not trusting God for your protection are you?  But is your preacher asking you "How can you trust God with your finances if you don’t trust him with your security?"  The biggest slice of our city budget here in Jacksonville is for our brave and highly trained police force.  We are not trusting God with this vital area, we are trusting our police.  And what about your finances?  Are you getting up and going to work, working hard long hours day after day, month after month, year after year to earn money so you can have food, clothing, shelter and transportation?  Then you my friend, are trusting in your efforts, reaping what you are sowing, and not trusting in God (or your pastor, or your church) to put food on your table, support your family, and pay your taxes that pay those indispensable police men and women.

What about technology and transportation?  You love the advances that science and “the world” have made in technology, cell phones, computers, automobiles, river boats, cruise ships, airplanes, and medicine.  Yet, you criticize science and scientists who don’t believe the same facts you do about your religion.  You certainly trust them when you get in your car, get on that plane, and use that cell phone to call for help, or perform your job duties.  So has your pastor asked “How can you trust God with your salvation if you don’t trust him with your transportation needs, or technology needs, or physical needs?"  If your car breaks down, do you trust God to fix it?  Of course not. 

The question makes no sense except as one to try and manipulate people that love Jesus and want to serve God.

Do Christians go to the doctor when we are sick.  Do surgeons save our lives if we need surgery? Or do we “trust God” to heal us?  Does the Mayo clinic call pastors or faith healers to heal those in need of a heart bypass? Seen any faith healers over at Wolfson’s childrens hospital's cancer treatment center?  What about Autism and Alzheimer’s disease that afflicts our young and old?  Are you trusting in the church, or God, to heal those conditions? Or are you hoping science will find a cure through research and education and training? And are you elderly or disabled.  Guess what, your government is paying your disability and your social security and providing police and fire protection and paving your roads, and paying our military, and providing parks, and feeding the poor and on and on. But your pastor criticizes them while doing none of the above. But he does advertise the Holy Land trip he is leading and the cruise he will be taking.  Makes you sick doesn't it?  No?  Why not?

So, the better question then the one your pastor asks above, is why trust your pastor/church with your finances at all?  Why trust them to do anything that you actually rely on and need each day.  They don’t protect you, they don’t pay your bills, they don’t heal you, they don’t transport you, they don’t build roads, they don’t provide parks, they don’t support the poor or disabled, and they don't do anything for you at all.  So next time your pastor asks you “How can you trust God with your salvation if you can’t trust him with your finances?”, you can tell him to his face, or quietly reply in your heart: “That’s easy. I only trust God for what only He can do, which is my salvation. And you preacher, and this church, are not God.  So I agree, I don’t trust you with my finances, but I easily trust God with my salvation.”  Next question please.


Monday, August 17, 2015

Bait and Switch Religion - The Tower of Babel




Genesis 11:1 – 8: 11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

Bait and Switch Religion – The Tower of Babel
As you can see from recent blog posts, the focus has shifted from the paid, professional mega-church clergy and their abuses, to the pew sitter who enables these charlatans and has adopted much of their nonsense, which causes harm to the family, church and Jesus’ work and mission.  As the 501(C)(3) organizations that call themselves churches continue to decline and lose influence, instead of focusing on the gospel of Jesus Christ, these charlatans and CEO’s have double downed and continued to narrow what it means to be a Christian, so much so that very few people want to identify as one and certainly don’t want to pay 10% of their gross income, undesignated, to said 501(c)(3) in order to be considered a “good” Christian. These pew sitters, following the lead of their holy man of God, rail against Supreme Court decisions, criticism of the pastor, and non-tithers instead of taking a look in the mirror at the real cause of decline of the spreading of the gospel.  They have more access to every language and country via internet, there are churches on every corner in every town, yet they are losing their ability to reach the lost and have become irrelevant and even offensive and embarrassing to the next generations.

Read the comments in the previous post to get a glimpse of what the focus on theology and doctrine look like.  It is laughable if not so sad.  I have faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, but it seems many charlatans, and many pew sitters that read this blog, don’t want to accept that I can do that without believing all of their theological nonsense and their narrow doctrines.  So call me what you will.  You are just illustrating my point.  This kind of back and forth with people like me who identify as “born again Christians”, not to mention the “nones” and “dones”, is divisive, destructive and decimating. (Isn’t that cute how all three started with a “D”, and I didn’t even need to plagiarize a sermon or attend seminary to do that.)

Which brings me to the Tower of Babel.  The story is found in Genesis 11.  I know that’s Old Testament.  That’s a discussion for another post.  Notice in Chapter 10 of Genesis, that verses  5 AND 20 AND 31 clearly and unequivocally state that after the flood Noah’s sons and clans were spread out over the earth accordingly by their languages.  They spoke different languages.  Obviously, if you believe the text and if you “take it up with da book.”  Nevertheless, in Chapter 11, Verse 1, we read that “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.”  No big deal right.  So what? Seminarians and theologians can explain that away.  But it’s not whether they did speak one language or not that is the issue, the key here is what God almighty did about it.  Look at Verses 1 – 9.  Particularly verses 6 – 7 that give us exactly what God was thinking. We don’t have to guess.  He speaks and tells us why he says what he says and why he does what he does.  Was he afraid they would build a tower that reaches heaven?  Really?  Take it up with da book. Would nothing be impossible for them unless he confused their language?  Take it up with da book? Did he not know that we would, within a few centuries, have the ability to travel into the heavens and that confusing the languages would not result in anything in the long run.  Did he really believe they could build a tower to heaven?  Or did bronze age men make up the story based on the little knowledge they had at the time?

I don’t know.  And more importantly, I don’t care.  

It has no impact on the gospel message of Jesus Christ.  And yes, I CAN pick and choose which parts I find believable and which parts I will put my trust and faith in for salvation. Whether you like it or not. Thank you Jesus, that I don’t have to believe that we have different languages on earth because God was worried men might build a tower that reached heaven. Instead, I can put my faith in your death, burial and resurrection.

And I can’t help but wonder why God wouldn’t just send a wind gust to topple the tower over each day or two.  Or simply kill or inflict illness on the workers. Why scatter the languages and then require centuries to translate his perfect, inerrant, and infallible word into the languages and tongue of every tribe and nation in the world?  Ooops. It makes no sense.  Could it be true?  Yes.  Does it have to be true? Of course not. And whether you or I believe it or not doesn’t matter. Hallelujah!

So please don’t present the gospel as a bait and switch technique.  If lost people have to believe all or none, then don’t tell men and women and children that all they need to do is call upon the name of the Lord to be saved. Don’t tell them that Jesus died for them and took their sin upon himself and that if they repent, and put their faith and trust in him as savior and Lord they will be saved. Don’t read them John 3:15 and 16 and have them humbly accept Jesus by praying the sinner's prayer.  Because that is bait and switch.  They might do those things and then find out they have been duped, lied to and manipulated.  Be sure to be honest up front and tell a lost husband, father or son that he has to believe in talking donkeys, and the sun standing still, and that different languages resulted from God’s intervention so that a tower wouldn’t be built to heaven.  Tell that hurting wife, or mother, or daughter that she can’t really trust in Jesus, or be a Christian lady, unless she believes it all, understands the Greek meanings of words, and has her pastor explain what it all means and what she really must do, which by the way, includes giving at least 10% of her gross income, undesignated, to whatever 501(c)(3) she chooses to attend. 

Christian friends, let the seminarians and theologians and paid professional clergymen debate all day about the sacred text.  Let them preach doom and gloom for our great country. Let them keep building large campuses, hiring new staff, visiting the Holy Land, cruising the Danube River, and hiring family members. The rest of us should be telling people about Jesus.  And if these other subjects enter the debate, simply be honest and respectfully say: I don’t know, and honestly, I don’t care about talking donkeys, the sun rotating around the earth and then stopping overhead, or why Chinese people speak a different language then native American Indians did.  And don’t let them ever, ever tell you that you are not a Christian.  Or that you are not a real man, if you don’t tithe, or believe all of their nonsense.  Trust in Jesus. He loves you. Amen?

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Are YOU Taking Your Religion TOO Seriously - Part 2 (The Immediate Family)



Are YOU taking your Religion TOO Seriously – Part II – (Your Immediate Family)

My previous post discusses how religion, when taken “too seriously”, can cause harm and loss to others.  I did not say religion shouldn’t be taken seriously.  It should be. It has a role in our society, our profession and in our immediate families.  But the point of the article is when religion is taken “too seriously”, ie: it is put above reality, or common sense, or love for others, or above the laws of the land, it can be very ugly and dangerous.  You already know this if you have any recollection of September 11, 2001.  Or if you know anything about the Catholic Inquisition, The Crusades, the Holocaust, etc.  But not all harm is done on such a massive, worldwide scale.  Some of the same kind of destruction, hurt, and loss is inflicted silently, year after year, within the immediate family due to religious differences.  Between husband and wife. Between parents and children.  And it is just as ugly and just as devastating to those marriages and relationships. Please, dear friends, don’t let your religious beliefs get in the way of your job duties; or in the way of medical care you need; or in the way of the relationship you have with your children; or most importantly, don’t let your religious beliefs destroy your marriage over differences in tertiary issues.  We’ve seen enough of this within the Southern Baptist Convention over the last decades.  Don’t let the same nonsense destroy your home.

July 26, 2007. It’s been over 8 full years since this blog was started. Eight long years.  It’s also been several years since the settlement of two lawsuits involving this blog. That pretty much settled the matter for the parties involved. 

But what about you?  Have you "settled" the matter? Or are you taking your religion too seriously on how you view the blog, and more specifically, how you view those that question the “holy man of God” and the “sacred ancient texts?”

If you choose sides in these types of matters, and you take up offenses (see my previous post on this man made doctrine), then the conflict within your family is not over for you is it?  You may not want the Supreme Court building to be leveled as does J.D. Hall, but you still believe that this blog “attacked” the Lord Jesus and those that support it need to repent. Or that this country is going to implode because our courts upheld the rights of gay couples to marry?  Don’t let the pessimistic tantrums of the “man of God” get you all tore up about this great country.  Of course, he is losing influence alright, but that is his problem and is a good thing.  He spent too many years worrying over and preaching about criticism of the pastor over these past few years to even know what is going on in the culture.  No surprise then that everything he has been stomping about has been rejected by society and the courts. 

In other words, even though this blog was never about Jesus, His church, or the Bible; and even though the Supreme Court followed sound legal principles (See Loving vs. Virginia on Wikipedia if you are interested in understanding their decision.)  you continue to hold malice, resentment, disdain and other negative feelings toward the blogger, his supporters and toward our Supreme Court.  Is that being Christ like?  Do you have peace now over this blog and the reactions it brought? Do you love your country?  Do you love your husband?  Are you able to show it, or does your religion, and your religious beliefs keep you from demonstrating true love and support? 

If not, sadly, the tragic fall-out of taking your religious beliefs too seriously continues for YOU and your family does it not?  

It continues in the hearts and minds of those that continue to hurt loved ones by their ongoing reactions and discussions of this blog, the gay rights issue, affordable health care, religion, and the growing population of “dones” and “nones” among our young people who are done with church and want none of it.

I can't help but wonder how many people,  and I’m talking about your close, loved family members now, who have been hurt, not by “religion”, but by your taking religion too seriously.  I mean imagine if you trusted Jesus so much due to your religion, that you didn’t carry concealed weapons 24 hours a day for protection.  That would be taking your trust in Jesus too far, amen?  Or imagine if they trusted Jesus to provide for them and their family, and stopped working to provide food, clothing and shelter.  Crazy, right? Or what if they didn’t go to the doctor when they were sick, or take their daily prescription medicines and instead trusted in Jesus to heal them?  Of course they don’t do that.  They don’t take religion “that” seriously do they?  But yet some still want to hold in disdain, and show contempt for, a loving and faithful spouse that provides for the family, simply because they differ when it comes to "religion." 

You see the dangers of religion when it comes to every religion other than yours, don't you?  

The Bible says show me your faith without works and I’ll show you a dead faith.  Many Christians today say just the opposite: Show me your works, love, faith in Christ, provision for the family, fidelity in marriage, support and encouragement of the family, and yet you question the bible, or question the pastor, and I’ll tell you that person is no good, going to hell, is not a Christian and is not a “real man.”  Sickening isn’t it?  It’s what happens when you take your religion too seriously.  Religion has its place. Keep it in the proper perspective and make it a priority, but not THE priority in your life.  God can handle it. Jesus will understand.  After all, Jesus had a lot to say about the religious when he was here didn’t he?   Division over religion is sad, tragic, devastating, and oh so unnecessary.  Isn't it time, eight years later, to let it go?  Or is it too late? Has the damage already been done over these eight long years? Only you can decide that. The rest of us have moved on.  

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Are You Taking Your Religion Too Seriously? J.D. Hall Sure Is

Oh that you would slay the wicked, O God!
O men of blood, depart from me!
They speak against you with malicious intent;
your enemies take your name in vain.
Do I not hate those who hate you, O Lord?
And do I not loathe those who rise up against you?
I hate them with complete hatred;
I count them my enemies. (Ps 139;19-22, ESV)

I've already shown in a previous post that what is often described by devout evangelicals as a "personal relationship with Jesus Christ", is actually a devout, fundamentalist religion and not actually a "relationship". Read my prior post on this!

So a logical question is: are YOU taking YOUR religion too seriously? What does it look like if you DO go too far in your religious beliefs, and how would you know it? What would it look like?

To answer that question, of what does it look like when you take your religion too seriously or "too far", I'm going to first use a recent example of what I think is a well-meaning pastor and somewhat mainstream bible teacher, that has gone off the deep end and is now taking his religion way too far.

J.D. Hall, a reformed minister in Montana and best-known for his website Pulpit and Pen, on August 5th posted on his website an audio podcast entitled "An Imprecatory Podcast". In this podcast - complete with a mushroom cloud picture next to it - starting at about the 21:00 minute mark, J.D. describes how he prays imprecatory prayers against the United States Supreme Court building - yes the building itself - because of abortion and presumably the Roe vs. Wade decision, and fueled by his disgust over the U.S. Senate deciding not to defund Planned Parenthood.

In the podcast J.D explains that during a business trip to Washington D.C. some years ago he decided to tour the capital's monuments and pray for our government's agencies. He prayed at the White House, the Capital Building, and several war memorials.

But then he went to the Supreme Court building. He says he was going to pray a prayer of blessing, but even though he was able to pray at other D.C. locations where "equally evil men lived", he was not able to pray for the Supreme Court.

Here is what J.D. said:
"Then I went to the Supreme Court building. I was going to pray that the Lord would bless them, guide them, lead them, help them. And I don't know why the Supreme Court and not the House, or Senate - not the Congressional Building, not the White House - where equally evil men live. But when I tried to pray for God's blessing on the justices of the Supreme Court. I couldn't get it out. I tried. I really did. Honest to goodness, I tried to pray for them, in their honor, in their favor, to serve as a priest between me and, excuse me, between them and God, you know, to make a sacrifice of prayer to ask for God's blessing. But I just couldn't. The words wouldn't come to mind. And tears began to stream down my face and I got very emotional. And I prayed what I think in my life was the first imprecatory prayer that I ever prayed."
OK. So here is J.D. A trained pastor. He knows his bible. He preaches his bible. He believes it to be infallible, inerrant, and wholly complete for all instruction for life and spiritual guidance.

J.D.'s faith calls him to try to pray blessings on the Supreme Court. He is emotional. He tries to bless. But he can't. The words won't come. He cries. He is emotional. What a soft, tender heart that J.D. must have.

So he prays an "imprecatory prayer". The first one in his life, I guess a very special moment, his very first imprecatory prayer. What is an imprecatory prayer? In short, it is a prayer calling for the punishment and destruction of the wicked. Wikipedia defines it as prayers that "invoke judgment, calamity, or curses, upon one's enemies or those perceived as the enemies of God."

What did J.D. pray for in his imprecatory prayer? He continues in his podcast:
"I prayed that God would level that building, and leave not one single stone left upon another. Now, it's not as though I wanted to see violence done or wanted to see destruction, but as I thought about 45 million dead American babies because of a decision made in that building, I just prayed that I would live long enough to see God's justice come down upon it."
So there you have it. J.D.'s prayer is for the physical destruction of a particular building in Washington D.C. Not that he WANTS to see destruction, but he says he hopes his God will do the destructing and that he lives long enough to see the building in a pile of ruins. Presumably like the World Trade Center rubble, J.D. wants the building to come down even though he says he doesn't. You can almost sense his own internal conflict and duplicity in saying he doesn't want to see violence, but wants to live long enough to see the violence. Crazy stuff.

Now most decent men in a civilized society, if they DID entertain such an idea of wanting their God to destroy a building (and presumably the innocents that would be inside the building, because when calamity comes it usually comes without warning and innocents die), would never utter it to anyone, much less record it on a podcast and put it on the Internet for everyone to hear. But that is exactly what J.D. Hall's religion tells him what he must do.

So from where does J.D. get these ideas? He didn't just think it out of thin air, J.D. describes where he gets his desire and need to pray imprecatory prayers of destruction.

He gets his prayer from the Old Testament, and the New Testament. From his bible, the ancient manuscripts on which his religion is solely based.

J.D. continues:
"And considering the mass amount of wickedness and evil that's been done there [Supreme Court Building], there's a part of me that wishes that I would live long enough to see it, to see God's justice to come down. Now was it wrong for me to pray for justice to be administered upon that wicked building instead of praying positively, favoritively (?) for it?"
So J.D. thinks the building is "wicked". Apparently the building gets no credit for the mass amount of good and justice that HAS been administered there (think "civil rights"), but the building and its occupants, and justices, and janitors, and secretaries, and visitors, need to be destroyed because of its wickedness.

J.D. continues his explanation:
"I don't think so, because there's this thing called 'the imprecatory Psalms' contained in the book of Psalms...these are the imprecatory Psalms. We see places like Psalm 69, 'pour out your indignation on them and let your burning anger overtake them'. Hmmm. The Psalmist was serious and real. A time comes, a time comes, where you can find it in your heart no longer to pray for a nation and you begin to pray against it."
And J.D. is not the only one who takes his religion so seriously that he can't any longer prayer for his country. I'm shocked lately to hear so many pastors predict and hope for God's judgement on our nation over the same-sex marriage ruling last month. While these pastors would never admit they want God's destruction to fall on our nation, they seemingly are calling for it as a vindication that their God will do something to correct the wrongs of same-sex marriage and other cultural battles the pastors are losing.

J.D. continues his justification for imprecatory prayers::
"An imprecatory prayer, or an imprecatory Psalm, or song, an imprectatory genre in the scripture, is, is not contained wholly within the Old Testament but also the New. Where a curse is placed - I mean Jesus saying 'Woe to you, Scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites, you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men, neither go in yourself nor let anyone else go in.' We see this in 1 Cor Chapter 16, verse 22, 'if any man doesn't love the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be cut off, let him be acursed.' or Galatians 1, 8 and 9, very similarly, 'if anyone were to come and preach to you a different gospel let him be acursed.'"
So J.D. justifies his desires based on Old and New Testament scripture. I didn't know it, but J.D. has found an "imprecatory genre" in his bible. Never mind that Jesus wasn't praying imprecatory prayers against government buildings, but against religious leaders. How ironic that J.D., a devout religious man, uses that particular passage.

J.D. doesn't realize it I'm sure, but if his view is that God should bring judgement on the Supreme Court building, in fact that God WILL bring judgement, and then J.D. is PRAYING for God to do it, and if he believes that his God hears his prayers and might answer them, then I conclude the following:  J.D. is just one step - a small step - from becoming a religious fundamentalist fanatic calling for what we know as "terrorism".

A terrorist who destroys buildings first entertains the thought that their God wants the building destroyed and their God will ultimately destroy it. Then he follows that belief with fervent prayer for it to happen. Then it is just one more logical step to believing that God wants SOMEONE to do it for him! God accomplishes his will on earth by followers, right? Who tells people about Jesus? People do. Who builds the churches? God doesn't magically create them? No, people build them. So who would deliver God's judgement that J.D. is calling for?

But J.D. is not finished. He's going to go further, and not call for destruction of a building, but for individuals, as he is reading from Psalm 139, which he says is one of the "imprecatory Psalms":
"'He [the writer of Psalm 139] is thanking God for the miracle of childbirth, the miracle of conception, the miracle of the formation the child within the womb. He then says 'Oh that you would slay the wicked, oh God. Oh men of blood, depart from me.' Suddenly the hymn takes a sharp right turn. It was about a bouncing baby being formed in his mother's womb, and then it goes all imprecatory. 
"Now what I'm going to do, you can do whatever you want, but as I read this, I'm going to think in my mind: Planned Parenthood. I'm going to think in my mind Lindsay Graham. I'm going to think in my mind my own Democrat senator from my own state [Jon Tester]. I'm going to think in my mind all of those that thought that we should continue to fund Planned Parenthood, or lacked the courage and conviction to defund. People who are OK not only with murder, but murder for profit: the politicians in Washington, DC. 
"The wickedness that controls them. The principalities and powers of darkness in high places that rule over them. This reading of Psalm 139 is for you: 'Oh that you would slay the wicked, God. Oh men of blood, depart from me. They speak against you with malicious intent. Your enemies take your name in vain. Do I not hate those who hate you, Lord? Do I not loath those who rise up against you? I hate them with complete hatred. I count them as enemies. Search me, oh god, and know my heart. Try me, and know my thoughts, and see if there be any grievous way in me and lead me in the way everlasting."
There you have it. J.D. makes it personal. Calls for the death of Lindsay Graham and Jon Tester and other government officials who disagree with him on the funding of Planned Parenthood.

Another one of the Pulpit and Pen contributors, Seth Dunn, did the same on Facebook, calling for imprecatory prayers of the Senators who refused to defund Planned Parenthood. I actually asked him, on Facebook: "Really? Imprecatory prayers? Should I pray for God to kill them? Or just break their legs?", Here is Seth's chilling response: "Kill them". Yes, Seth wants God to kill the Senators who voted not to defund Planned Parenthood.

Sounds like Seth and J.D. could hobnob with the Islamic fundamentalists and share ideas on how to pray for the destruction of the Great Satan.

I'm sure, that J.D.'s podcast has or will be examined by our federal government. Oh, J.D. wraps up with a "disclaimer" as he calls it, that Christians should not be the one to shed the blood, but we should call on God to do it. Not much of a disclaimer.

But what about YOU? Do you take your religion as serious as J.D. Hall? What is being destroyed in your life because of your devout religious beliefs and your strict adherence to your holy scriptures and to the men who tell you what they mean?

Stay tuned for more, in answer to that last question.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Taking Up Offenses

Another Tool of Manipulation: "Taking Up Offenses"


Psalm 82:3  (GW) Defend weak people and orphans. Protect the rights of the oppressed and the poor.

Isaiah 1:17 (ESV) Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause.

Ephesians 5:11 (NIV) Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them.

Watchdog readers already know about my passion for exposing any preacher that I sincerely believe is a charlatan that is taking advantage of gullible people that love Jesus and desire to serve him. The biggest hammer these charlatans wield is the notion that they are speaking for God, and that you must believe all of the Bible or none of it.  The second major hammer they use to keep the gullible sheep in line is the teaching that unless you were personally harmed or offended by the pastor’s words and actions, then you are sinning by exposing these words and actions; or even coming to the aid of others (ie: "taking up offenses") who you perceive to be hurt by the charlatans’ abusive teachings and practices. 

So what does the Bible have to say about “taking up offenses?

Notice the three Bible verses above. Do you strive to live out those verses?  Specifically, do you “learn” to do good? (By learning, I mean do you truly keep an open mind and seek to correct your past, long held beliefs, or are you merely dogmatic about everything you believe with no willingness to consider what the bible actually says or other viewpoints?)  Do you “Seek” justice?  (By seeking, I mean going outside the same identical sources of information as to the facts and reality of a situation to consider other viewpoints?)  What about “correcting” oppression?  Have you ever made any effort to correct an oppressor? (By correct, I mean have the backbone/courage, the level of concern, the willingness to incur pain and harm to you and your family, by simply trying to get the oppressor to see their actions and change some of those hurtful ways?) Do you plead the cause of others? (By plead the cause of, I mean actually speak for, and on behalf of others, who otherwise might not have anyone else to do this.)  Do you, or have you, ever “protected the rights of the oppressed?” If you answered yes to any of the above questions, and I hope you did, then you have “taken up offenses” for others. And the Bible commands you to do this. Well done!
   
And what about Ephesians 5:11? The verses above are what this blog has been all about, when you really stop and think about it. It is not enough to merely not participate in wrongdoing, but the Bible commands us to do more. It requires us to expose them. Which might in fact require us to plead the cause of others and expose a charlatan's activities. So when others say "if you don't like it leave!", or "why don't you just go someplace else if you are unhappy with the preacher", your conscience and conviction and commitment to Christ won't allow you to do this. 
Before we go any further, stop reading and take some time to research what the bible says about “taking up offenses.”  Did you find it?  No, it's not in there in the Old or New Testament is it? You tell people you read the bible, that you study it, that you believe 100% of it, and that you follow the bible’s teachings don’t you? So aren’t you embarrassed that the Bible does not say we should not take up offenses.  So, where did that teaching come from if not from the word of God?  Unfortunately, it came from the word of a man. Bill Gotthard, in an attempt to silence those that were becoming more aware of, and concerned about, his inappropriate sexual activities, began teaching this "doctrine."  (Gotthard’s scandals date back to the early 1970’s and continue all the way up to this past year. They are not the point of this blog post, but for those that are indeed interested in “seeking” and “learning”, please click here: http://www.recoveringgrace.org/2014/02/silencing-the-lambs-taking-up-offenses/)
I want to try and keep this blog post simple.  Many people that have read this blog over the past several years were highly offended by the author’s criticism of various pastors, including the initial focus on one certain pastor. His name is not important, because this blog is no longer about him or all that he did, and hasn’t been for several years.  More importantly, he is merely one of hundreds of such pastors and their congregations that this blog will discuss, so why single him and his congregation out?  Nevertheless, these pastors have followers that defend them vigorously and vocally and aggressively and even warn of impending death and destruction in a variety of forms to the blogger and even to those that agree with him.   
Now let’s talk about you!  Did you feel offended by this blog’s content?  If so, you took up offenses.  Remember, this blog was not about you. It was not about “the church.”  It was not about Jesus.  It was not about God.  It was not even about the Bible.  The author never questioned Jesus or his teachings. It never criticized the true church of God. It never questioned the reliability of the scriptures. So admit it. If you read this blog and were upset over it, you were taking up offenses, and still are doing so if you have held on to those feelings for these past several years.  And worse, if you spread that resentment, disdain, concern, or other negative feelings about the author to other people that supported, and still support, this blog and its author, then you are hurting those people (and yourself and your family) by taking up offenses.
Remember, many of you told the author he would get laughed out of court. That he may die of a heart attack. That God would get ahold of him in a variety of ways.  That he owed the pastor an apology.  How ironic then, wasn’t it, when the blogger won BOTH lawsuits (one against the pastor/church and another against the Sheriff’s office) and presumedly was paid undisclosed sums of money by representatives of the pastor, his church, and the Sheriff’s office.  But nothing was more telling and definitive about who was on the right side of this issue then when all those people had to hear their beloved “man of God” apologize to the author.  Hello? The author didn’t apologize in the long run. And never will.  It was the “holy man of God” that had to stand behind that pulpit in front of the world and apologize. National TV, local TV, and internationally via internet streaming.  
But let’s be honest, that didn’t change your mind did it? The author and his few supporters were vindicated.  Or at least they thought. Have you apologized to the author? Or to his supporters against whom you have held years of resentment, disdain and contempt?  Will you? It may save you and your own family much pain if you do so.
Let me leave you with this thought.  How much stronger would your points about the author and his supporters be if the author of the blog lost both lawsuits, had to pay large amounts of money to the pastor and his church, and then had to publicly apologize for what he had written?  What would you be saying about the author then?  Answer: You would say that God showed up. That justice was done. That God’s man was vindicated. And that the blogger was exposed and given justice. And that he should repent and apologize. And that his followers were mislead and deceived and they also should repent and apologize. So…, can’t I say the same things about the author now?  And shouldn’t you agree?  And if not, can I tell you not to take up offenses?  Let’s all “seek” and “learn” and “protect” and “defend” as scripture commands us!  Maybe you are not called to “expose” wayward preachers as Ephesians 5:11 commands us to do. Maybe you don’t believe that verse.  Maybe you don’t believe it applies to you.  Maybe you believe it but don’t have the courage or ability to live it out.  That’s fine. I understand.  I thank God that the author was able to do it for us.  And everyone that stood with him should consider it a privilege to have supported him and encouraged him during the years of persecution he faced from his church, his pastor, the staff, the state attorney’s office, the sheriff’s office, and most importantly, from his own family. Shame on us when we don’t live out these verses.  Shame on us when we criticize, ban, trespass, shun and hold in contempt those that do. Let us take up offenses, particularly those offenses caused by bully pastors and charlatans that misuse and twist the Holy Bible to manipulate and exploit God’s people. Your pastor is not the weak, the oppressed, or the poor.  Those are the people that need your love, support and understanding in the face of persecution.  Don't let your "holy man of God" manipulate you into taking up his offenses.  And certainly, don't let him manipulate you into hurting those that took up the offenses of the author when his church, pastor, sheriff's office and state attorney's office came after him for merely asking some questions...and being persistent.  And writing blog posts. It's okay.

            

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Christianity: Religion or a Relationship?


 
Religion or Relationship?
Evangelical Christians (ie: those Christians that are NOT Catholics) will often allege that they are not part of a “religion” and thereby, you cannot compare many of their offensive stances, viewpoints, prejudices, hatred and discriminatory behavior with every other religion.  I’m not a Catholic, but I presume they realize they are indeed a religion, and are not denying they are the major world religion in every way, and always have been.  Evangelical Christians on the other hand, will agree with you all day long on many criticisms you have against other religions, such as Islam, for example, because Islam is merely “a religion” in their view and they can clearly see how harmful religion is and can be when forced on others who don’t happen to agree with their exclusive teachings.  Being “religious” used to be a compliment.  Now, even Christians realize that calling them “religious” has negative connotations.  So they deny it.  And many will cutely repeat what they have heard their pastor say, which is this: “Christianity is not a religion, it’s a relationship.  What they mean is, all that matters to the “true” Christian, and the key to salvation, is your “personal relationship” with Jesus Christ.  Not any religious system, or logically, any adherence to religious requirements outside of trusting in Jesus alone for your salvation.  But my experience is that they are hypocrites when it comes to this point.  Let me ask you, committed Christian man or woman:  Can a man have faith in Christ while rejecting some of the religious nonsense contained in your holy book?  Or some of the nonsense preached by “god’s man”, your pastor? Or disagree or question even one single passage or teaching of your religion? If so, what you preach is a religion, NOT a relationship!

Again, Catholics understand the need for a “right relationship’ with “the Church” and with the dogmatic teachings of that church, in order to be saved.  But evangelicals, who claim not to be religious, ironically, question a man’s salvation if he trusts in Christ for his salvation, but merely doesn’t believe all the religious nonsense that their  paid, professional clergyman doles out to them for a fee each week.   
Let me ask you a personal question, Christian man or woman, does your Bible’s plan of salvation include any requirements that a lost person truly believe ALL or none of the ancient texts?  Do you share with them not only that man is a sinner, he cannot save himself, that Christ died for his sins, and by grace through faith, he can be saved?  Or do you also tell this lost person that he must tithe, that he must serve the Lord by serving in the church, and most importantly, do you tell him that what he believes ABOUT the Bible will determine his ultimate fate.  In other words, are you honest with him and tell him up front that unless he puts his faith in the Bible itself (that every jot and tittle is the infallible, inerrant, and perfectly recorded inspired word of God ), then his trust and faith in Jesus is worthless and he is not a Christian, can’t be a child of God, and ultimately, will burn in hell forever and forever without being consumed?  If so, that is not “Good News”, that is horrible news. 

So my dear Bible believing evangelical friend, either proclaim unashamedly your trust and faith in the Bible itself (not Jesus and his work) and all of its religious teachings and practices, or stop telling people they must believe it all or none of it.  You are being intellectually dishonest, you are not telling them the “whole gospel” and you are lying to them about Jesus and what he did.  I challenge you to find anywhere in your trusted, sacred, scriptures where Jesus told a man “you must believe the Bible to come to me.”  Or “whosoever believeth it all, will be saved.”  Or, “either all of the bible is true or it’s all false.”  No. You know it’s not there. So please quit being a hypocrite and demanding that others believe it lest they be cast into hell.  Shame on you.  Your pastor is paid to preach this line of nonsense.  Their livelihood depends on gullible supporters who look up to them as God’s representative and as wise holy men.  If they start preaching other nonsense that you must do to be saved, run from that church.  Love Jesus enough and care about God enough and love your family enough to take the time to explain to your children and your wife that the man is lying about God.  Tell them that God loves them. Jesus died for their sins.  That they can have peace in their trust and faith in Jesus.  Warn them about the dangers of religions. Warn them about the dangers of blind fanatical adherence to an ancient holy book.  If your family and your wife love and respect you, they will listen to you over the lying holy man of God.  Good luck. If your wife, children, parents and friends are religious fanatics, or members of a cult, they will end up shunning you, have disdain for you, and you will feel worse about yourself then you did before you called upon the name of the Lord when you were lost.  Oh, religion can be so hurtful and divisive.  We know it can lead to centuries of war between nations and peoples. But we also see how, if not put in the proper place in a believer’s life, it can destroy families.
 

John 14:6:  Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 3:15 and 16: “…that everyone who believes may have eternal life in him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.