(June 22, 2016 – Update: This article has been updated to include the following comments from Phil Johnson of Grace To You. They are included with his permission. The original article continues following the screen shot below.) Greg Laurie’s promotion of his Harvest Ministries upcoming crusade in Georgia, scheduled for September 23-25, 2016, has…
The life of many religious people, I fear, in this age, is nothing better than a continual course of chasing after novelties. They are always morbidly craving fresh excitement; and they seem to care little what it is — if they only get it. All preaching seems to be the same to them; and they appear unable to “see differences” so long as they hear what is clever, have their ears tickled, and sit in a crowd. Worst of all, there are hundreds of young unestablished believers who are so infected with the same love of excitement, that they actually think it a duty to be always seeking it. Insensibly almost to themselves, they take up a kind of hysterical, sensational, sentimental Christianity — until they are never content with the “old paths;” and, like the Athenians, are always running after something new! – J.C. Ryle
In the land of Sorie Ayah was a village with no name.
They were a very simple folk who did not aspire to fame.
Men like Farmers, Bakers, Bankers, Barbers and the like,
With names like Joe and Josh and Sarah. Perhaps, even a Mike.
On the outskirts of this town there lived a farmer, name of Smith.
He had so many children that he had to hire Tiff.
Tiff was a young lady who would help Smith and his wife,
With chores like looking after children who were prone to flight.
One day, as the farmer Smith had gone off into town,
He stopped in at the feed store just to take a look around.
No one else was in the store, but a little ragged boy.
But he seemed like he’d cause no fuss, all taken with a toy.
“Hello there!” came a greeting from the clerk. His…
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Prolong, profound stress – living in “crisis mode” for years – takes a weird toll on a person’s body and mind. I’m not going to explain how I’ve been in “crisis mode” for so long, but suffice it to say that a lot of it is my own dumb fault after some events took place like loss of job, loss of home, loss of life savings, kids leaving home, economic woes; dementia, alcoholism, divorce and death in the family – in other words, normal life! But rapid-fire and sustained for a long time. And my own reactions and responses to these events has been unhealthy and made matters worse.
Maybe I can get off the medication that helps restore normal brain chemistry, but probably only after I learn and practice some better coping skills and make the hard choices needed to relieve the financial burden that keeps me one lost paycheck (or one car breakdown, etc) away from disaster. I should be able to handle crises – even long term stuff – without losing perspective. Especially as an (alleged) Christian who is supposed to have supernatural resources and godly purposes, for whom all things work together for good!
That’s where the counseling has really helped, even though putting practice to biblical principles is new territory for me, though it shouldn’t be. It’s hard work! But it has to be done, if not just for my own mental health, but for the eternal consequences!
Occam’s Razor is the name given to the logical argument that the simplest theory to explain any given phenomena is likely the correct theory. Since our judgment is often obstructed, we need to shave away needless assumptions and bits of argumentation in order to arrive at a reasonable understanding. Scientists debate the legitimacy of the Razor as an empirical tool; certain complexities in nature (think of the construction of the living cell) suggest that complex explanations of material phenomena are often correct. It is nevertheless a useful philosophical tool, particularly as a foundational principle of the common sense by which we ought to live. If I awake in the morning to find branches from my trees scattered about the back yard, it is simpler to assume that we had a strong wind than it is to believe…
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This needs to go viral!
So on March 21st the American College of Pediatricians released a statement how gender ideology harms children.(follow the link to read the full statement). Not a lot has been said about this. Frankly we are too distracted by the current political circus to pay attention to something not involving clowns and prat falls. But this is important, pay attention, the pediatricians are telling us that this nonsense is child abuse. It is child abuse to retard the natural biological processes, to pump artificial hormones into a child so it doesn’t become the boy or girl it was meant to be. Not only that but there clinical evidence that those who have gone through this are twenty times more prone to suicide.
It has also been proven that 98 percent of the gender confused boys and 88 percent of the gender confused girls once they go through puberty accept their…
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Well I think I can finally write about my recent brush with death, and maybe I can do it with less of that false sense of shame rooted in the total fantasy that true Christians never get anxious, never get depressed or suicidal, and never give up hope. While I am ashamed of this in a powerful sense, in another sense I think it’s really important as a disciple of Jesus to share my weaknesses and failures as a means to help others. I’m sure that King David would rather that his sins of lust and murder were not recorded in the bible for all of history! Yet they are instructive for the rest of us forgiven sinners, all of whom are lust-driven murderers at heart anyway, and me most of all. I also want to offer encouragement to saints who are dealing with depression and ashamed to admit it, much less to actually get help. The idea that “real” Christians never give in or lose hope in the face of overwhelming odds and impossible circumstances is totally bogus, unrealistic, arrogant, and dangerous! Here are a few examples from the Scriptures of great men of faith who suffered from depression even to the point of pleading for death, just as I did. I also want to state very clearly that those who vehemently oppose the use of medication for treating even extreme mental illnesses, based on the notion that “the problem is sin, not chemistry,” may be liable in part for the profound and prolonged suffering of those believe them; and may even be liable in the Day of Judgment for lives lost. While I can agree that sin is the root of every form of mental illness, and that exposing the sin, and learning and practicing repentance the ultimate cure, I cannot and will not discount medication to help address the damage done by such sin. Persistent mental stress causes physical and chemical changes in the body. Like in the normal “fight or flight” response to a physical threat in which the body dumps adrenalin into the bloodstream, increases pulse, raises blood pressure and respiratory rate, and readies itself to repel an enemy – if that adrenalin dump occurs and no physical battle or flight follows, then real damage can be done! This ain’t Star Trek where you just cancel red alert, disarm torpedoes, power down shields and phasers and be on your merry way. That adrenalin surge needs an outlet. And if it doesn’t get one, it’ll do some damage of it’s own. If that is repeated a lot – or if it happens almost continuously as in the throes of unrelenting depression, whatever the cause, then real, measurable, chemical and physical damage follows. Leaving that untreated is inexcusable if a simple medicine is available to interrupt the cycle of continuous adrenalin surging without a “fight or flight” following and the organ and tissue damage resulting from that. If you tell me I should be ashamed to be taking an antidepressant for a while until I sort out and deal with the cause (sin) of my depression, then I’ll tell you that you should be ashamed for multiplying the suffering and threatening the safety of sinners just like yourself. When I no longer need the antidepressant I’ll quit using it. But until I identify the sin behind my depression, learn what real repentance from that sin looks like, and practice that repentance until it becomes a new habit, I’ll take whatever help I can get to interrupt that destructive chemical cycle that interferes with that repentance!
So here’s the story, briefly:
A lot has happened in the past two months, including a near-hospitalization for an episode of such deep despair that I became briefly suicidal. Marital and financial stress has gone on for so long that something snapped when I got turned down for the umpteenth time for a decent job. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I published my feelings and intentions online and someone who saw it alerted someone who intervened. It has been a few weeks since then now, and medication and counseling (not from a psychiatrist or psychologist, but a “nouthetic” counselor, bible-based) are helping me keep a lid on that despair while I undergo training for a permanent new job. It’s far better than the well drilling job I was doing before! I complained about safety there and it got me fired, so I went ahead and filed an OSHA complaint against that stupid arrogant buttwipe, then took the only available job that wouldn’t take me far from home. It was selling carpet, tile, hardwoods, vinyl and other flooring. I’m no salesman, and I was failing miserably at it. That’s when I finally had my “breakdown” of sorts. We were two months behind in bills, I was forced to give up a car I had just bought in December because we couldn’t afford the payments, our landlord was threatening eviction, and then I got turned down for a dream job after two interviews. My wife still had only part-time minimum wage work in a small retail shop (and that’s with an MBA degree!). I was done with life and ready to end it. If I hadn’t said something, I would have pulled the trigger and ended my profound sorrow and hopeless misery.
Because others intervened, we got some help with overdue bills, got caught up on rent, took drastic steps to curb unnecessary spending (cut the cable, let the car go, took in a family member to help with the rent, and count every penny of earnings, spending absolutely nothing on anything we don’t absolutely have to have. I got hired only last week, finally, and have been training. This job appeared literally out of the blue, one day before I was supposed to go back on the road in a truck for no other jobs where we live. Doing so would have ended my counseling and put me right back where I was. So this job can only be a gift from God. His Name be praised and His will be done!
I don’t think I’m out of danger yet. Lingering despair lurks just out of sight. My wife has our firearms safely hidden away. I’m only in the second week of nouthetic counseling (my wife is going with me), and I still need the antidepressant, while we uncover the sins that have taken us so far down this road, learn what repentance for those sins looks like, and practice it. And then navigate out of this mess. It will take time. But for the first time in many years, I have some hope for a way out of these lifelong issues of sin and bad decisions.
Suzie had to jostle me to wakefulness today during a sermon that should have been impossible to sleep through. I might have really embarrassed myself today if not for Suzie! So thank you, Valentine, for poking me in church today!
We talked about it after church. Most of my readers know that Suzie and I come from a Charismatic and Pentecostal background. Those churches are known for shouting, dancing, and jumping over the pews over any little utterance, however meaningless. Now we’re in a Reformed church, where the Regulative Principle of Worship is taken very seriously (God is the One who gets to decide how He is worshiped, and we don’t get to make up our own ways of worshiping Him that make us feel good). It’s a good, sound, biblical principle. But there has to be some kinda middle ground between Charismatic emotionalism and Reformed fight-sleep-through-an-awesome-sermonism.
It’s easy for me to imagine, sitting through a service like today’s at my church, that the people don’t actually believe a single word of what they’re hearing. Because if even a fraction of it were true, they should be – well, shouting and dancing and jumping over the pews, frankly. That is especially true of any church that teaches the doctrines of grace rather than that semi-Pelagian “maybe-so, if…” doctrine.
I understand we don’t go to church to be entertained, for goodnessakes. That’s a given for a Reformed Christian. But does it have to be so devoid of emotion that it becomes mere academia? I should not be able to sleep or even get sleepy during the worship of Almighty God who has done and is doing so many awesomely wonderful things for His people! Especially during the highlight of the service when His word is opened and the truth is expounded.
I’m grateful to report that the elders of my church are doing some deep study and prayer about “waking up” the sleepy church services without violating the uncompromising Regulative Principle. But it’s easier for me to appreciate churches that have struggled with this before and come down on the side of at least partially rejecting that principle, if only to prevent accidents like the one described in Acts 20:8-12. Don’t feel too bad, pastor, the Apostle Paul had people fall asleep during his sermons too! But we shouldn’t need to go and raise some kid from the dead every Sunday because church puts people to sleep.
Once again Donald Trump has demonstrated that Trump is all about Trump and only about Trump. He sounded like aDemocrat last night with his “Bush lied, people” lines in last night’s GOP debate. And in South Carolina no less – the most military-friendly state in the Union. What America needs and what America can get from this electorate are two very different things:
What America NEEDS
America needs a right-wing extremist! A tax-cutting, border-sealing, military-hardening, screw-the-liberal entitlement bull right now kinda president. Like Ted Cruz.
What America can GET…
…from an electorate the majority of which wants a bunch of free stuff from “the government,” from free housing and health care to free college and everything else the Democrats have been telling them for generations that they are “entitled to.” Such an electorate is NOT going to vote for what America NEEDS, but for what they want – free stuff.
IF THE GOP NOMINATES Ted Cruz, which is what the country needs, he’ll be competing with Santa Claus for votes. No contest. The “gimme more free stuff” electorate here in the States will vote for the Santa Claus candidate who promises the most free stuff, even though the people are a thousand times worse off under the increasingly socialist policies that promise them all these “entitlements.”
IF THE GOP NOMINATES TRUMP, again, no contest. He’s a hollow windbag who is running only for his own ego, not for the good of the country OR for the “gimme more” crowd. Besides, our current president is enough of an ego-driven megalomaniac, we should not replace him with another of equal or greater magnitude, like Trump or the Hildebeast.
So now I’m looking at Rubio a little more seriously. I wonder if he could actually compete successfully against Santa Claus.
“My parents forced me to eat three times a day growing up. No joke. Three times. Every. Single. Day. And it wasn’t always stuff I liked, either. Matter of fact, I complained a lot about what my mom made. ‘Ewww, gross! Meatloaf? Seriously? Mom you know we hate this stuff!’ So as I approached adulthood I made an important decision. Since my parents forced me to eat while I was growing up, I decided I was done with meals. Oh, here and there I’ll eat out of obligation. I mean, family traditions like Thanksgiving and Christmas, yeah, I’m there. But daily eating? No way. I’m done.
Set in any other context, excuses people make for not going to church sound completely ridiculous. But set in the context of Christianity, people say these things in all seriousness while others nod sagely in somber agreement.
My son told me a few…
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