Plastic Pastors (Environmental Myths In the Pulpit)

While I criticize some stats in a sermon here, take note that both the pastor and the church involved are one of the better churches in our valley (SCV) and the whole of the message is not affected by this portion. For the entire sermon in context you can go here and search for the sermon dated 7-11-2010. My main point is that when one goes to organizations that are driven by an almost eco-fascist drive or some emergent liberalism, you are going to get skewed stats.

Again, I would not tell people not to go to Grace Baptist. It is a wonderful church.

I wasn’t going to post on this subject, and all-in-all, this topic is one Christians have the moral superiority in.

A poignant point from a discussion about Global Warming via a professor I admire:

…one that bedevils an atheist philosopher friend of mine: “if human beings are part of nature, then why is that we, rather than the chimpanzee, have a special responsibility to care for nature. And if we do have this responsibility, what is its limits and rightful powers? Is irrigation moral if it leads to human flourishing, or should we ask the beavers for their permission?” I am not being facetious. If there is nothing special about us–if we have not been given “dominion” over nature, as the Bible teaches–then it seems that the atheist environmentalist has a very tough time explaining why we should be in charge and what technological innovation that disturbs natural patterns is appropriate for that responsibility. Hence, Christian environmentalism is far more defensible than any secular variety, IMHO.

(Francis Beckwith quoting a friend)

BUT, stats and movements founded on these false statistics shouldn’t be used in the pulpit. When the secular left rejects true religion, they supplement their spiritual quest with that of fallible mans quest as the object of their religion. Which is why many call — rightly so — modern day environmentalism a religion. A recipe for disaster. So pastors should be weary of this stretching of man’s credibility found all-too-often in the environmental progressive left. Likewise, this leftism has infected the church. Here is an exceprt from a book written by “emergent leaders” that will shed some light on how this man-made religion infects the church. This is taken from an old post entitled, “Feminist Extremism, Eastern Concepts in Youth Specialties and Gaia in Emergence“:

Via:  A is for Abductive: The Language of the Emerging Church.

C is for Creation

What modern secularists called “nature” (a term that turned a sacred work of art into a profane source of “raw materials”) and what modern Christians always linked with “versus evolu­tion” (thus turning a sacred mystery into a profane and mis­guided argument).

What ancient Christians viewed, along with Holy Scripture, as one of God’s two primary sources of self-revelation.

What emerging Christians will cherish as God’s art gallery in which we live and of which we are a part and for which we were created as planetary trustees and caretakers.

Later of course we get to the “action” (the “praxy” if you will) behind the emergent meaning:

… For postmoderns, it’s “Mother Earth,” holy ground tragically portrayed in the words of James Merrill: “Father Time and Mother Earth, A marriage on the rocks.” No wonder the word environment is used less and less; it’s too cold a word for this theology of “holy ground.”

If our humaneness is most manifest in our relationships—with swallows and snails, with friends and enemies, with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—the modern world needed mar­riage counseling big-time. The willingness to sacrifice living systems for commerce has meant that the lungs and other vital organs of Mother Earth are being cannibalized to the point where “natural” disasters are no longer “natural” but induced.

The mad weather patterns of the past decade are a byproduct of disappearing forests (at current rates of deforestation, Ecuador will be totally barren of trees in 20 years), disappearing healthy air, and disappearing ecosystems….

There are now over 130,000 religion and ecology projects in operation worldwide. Unfortunately, very few of them are emanating from evangelical churches.

So when people like Rob Bell, Ken Blanchard, Leonard Sweet, or Brian McLaren mention “Creation,” Al Gore and Rosemary Ellen Guiley are thrown into the meaning and action taken from that word/concept.

REMEMBER, Grace Baptist IS NOT an Emergent type church. This sermon merely gives me the opportunity to critique eco-leftists and liberal theology a bit. So the following is a video critique of parts of the sermon followed by more information about the topics:


TRASH ISLANDS


Other wise known as “The Great Garbage Patch Charlie Brown!”

This is with a h/t to The Dennis Prager Show:

“Great Garbage Patch” in the Pacific Ocean not so great claim scientists

Claims that the “Great Garbage Patch” between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas is “grossly exaggerated” said the research which reckons it is more like one per cent the size.

Further reports that the oceans are filled with more plastic than plankton, and that the patch has been growing tenfold each decade since the 1950s are equally misleading, the new research claimed.

In reality it often cannot even be seen from the deck of a passing boat, said the latest analysts from the Oregon State University professor of oceanography Angelicque White.

The scientist took part in a recent marine expedition to examine the mass of plastic that is floating in the ocean and found there was a problem.

But genuine scientific concerns are undermined by scare tactics from those proclaiming the trash patch is so big that there is more plastic than plankton in the Pacific….

Another news source says this:

Big Stink: Great Garbage Patch’s Size Exaggerated

The “Great Pacific Garbage Patch” is often said to be twice the size of Texas—but that and other scary-sounding claims are “grossly exaggerated,” some scientists are now insisting. A new study shows the plastic waste patch is actually 200 times smaller than previously claimed when comparing its mass to the amount of water; if you need a Texas-sized visual, it’s actually closer to 1% of the state’s area, says researcher Angelicque White.

She is quick to add that the amount of plastic in the ocean is definitely “troubling,” but that scare tactics only “undermine the credibility of scientists.” White adds, “it is simply inaccurate to state that plastic outweighs plankton, or that we have observed an exponential increase in plastic.” At this point, trying to get rid of the plastic is too expensive and potentially damaging to the ocean’s ecology, the Telegraph reports; White recommends focusing on prevention going forward. Click to read about its sister garbage patch in the Atlantic.

An updated article on this can be found at THE FEDERALIST, and it comes my way with thanks to GAY PATRIOT.


WATER BOTTLE MYTHS


From an older post, URBAN LEGENDS — WATER BOTTLES, as well on some bottle myths:

I have worked at Whole Foods long enough to hear many of the “health myths” that typically float through the customer base there. One of these myths about health and product is found in the scare about plastic water bottles. It started in an email referencing a masters thesis by a student at the University of Idaho. The media, according to Snopes, ran with the story even though there was no peer reviews of the students work. They have this myth marked as false. Another worth-while article to read is by Carol Rees Parrish, R.D., M.S., entitled, “Bottled Water Myths: Separating Fact from Fiction.” In it it is pointed out that,

Based on the evidence available to date, it appears the true health risks (if any) related to drinking commercially manufactured bottled water or water in refillable plastic bottles may or may not come from the plastic itself. Further study is warranted to determine if poly carbonate plastics can cause harm to humans. Consumers should focus more on the quality of the drinking water, particularly from a microbe perspective as this point is indisputable, rather than chemicals leaching from the container.

Nutrition Issues In Gastroenterology, Series #50 (PDF)

One of the organizations implicated as supporting the health risks by bottled water , John Hopkins, released this statement in their Public Health News Center bulletin:

The Internet is flooded with messages warning against freezing water in plastic bottles or cooking with plastics in the microwave oven. These messages, frequently titled “Johns Hopkins Cancer News” or “Johns Hopkins Cancer Update,” are falsely attributed to Johns Hopkins and we do not endorse their content. Freezing water does not cause the release of chemicals from plastic bottles.

Email Hoax Regarding Freezing Water Bottles and Microwave Cooking,” John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

In a short video, Dr. Joe Schwarcz, author of Brain Fuel: 199 Mind-Expanding Inquiries into the Science of Everyday Life, explains some of these myths in more detail:

Even author Elizabeth Royte mentioned in an interview that this is a myth of grand proportions. (She is the author of Bottlemania: How Water Went on Sale and Why We Bought It.) Again, the folks at Johns Hopkins sat down with Dr. Rolf Haden, assistant professor at Department of Environmental Health Sciences and the Center for Water and Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Dr. Haden dispelled the myth saying “This is an urban legend. There are no dioxins in plastics. In addition, freezing actually works against the release of chemicals.”

This myth perpetuates typically, but not always, from folks who like to shop at Whole Foods, believe in anthropogenic global warming, and want Bush brought up on war crimes. In other words, their science is as debased in critical thinking as their politics (I had to make this politically relevant… for this blog).

Updated info from BIG GOVERNMENT:

…Bisphenol-A (BPA) is a chemical used to harden plastic so it can be used in the countless ways it helps improve countless millions of lives. As it is a chemical, it was only a matter of time before the extremist environmentalists started talking of the “dangers” of it to human beings. Ironically, charges of this nature are always led by people who have no concern of human beings. They are the same type of people who effectively banned the mosquito killing agent DDT. That ban has led to millions of avoidable deaths around the world from malaria. While the banning of BPA wouldn’t lead to deaths, it’s banning wouldn’t save any lives either. But it would put a lot of people out of work.

But work, jobs, livelihoods of individuals has no place in the environmental extremist agenda. They’ve replaced what was known to kill malaria carrying mosquitos with nets to sleep under. So instead of eliminating the problem they’ve reduced the problem…during sleep hours. Malaria’s largest number of victims are infants and children who don’t have the wherewithal to swat mosquitos away when they land on them, and since no one can live their whole life in a net, their exposure risk is high.

The book from which the religion of modern environmentalism sprang is “Silent Spring” by Rachel Carson. In many ways it is the Bible of that movement. And even though it has been discredited, the “Silent Spring” model still serves as the modus operandi of the environmentalist cult. Ban first, ask questions later. That’s what they were trying to do with BPA.

But a funny thing happened on the way to Utopia…

While environmentalists have always used their favorite tactic to “discredit” contrary information, their “go-to” arrow has been stolen from their quiver in the BPA fight.

To an environmentalist, the ability to attack the motives of those questioning their statements is their best weapon. Just look at Al Gore and the global warming/climate change debate. People dependent upon government grants to continue their studies find results that A) find results that are in line with those who publicize their “studies,” and B) will justify those grants and ensure the continued “need” for more. It’s almost as though crackheads got grants to study crack smoking and they miraculously get results that require more study. But since the end result of these studies is always the government getting more power to regulate people’s lives, it’s like the government is also a crack dealer and people trying to stop the cycle are the unwanted interventionists.

This circular dynamic was blown out of the water when a new study by the crack dealer, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), found that BPA is harmless (see appendix for the WSJ article). While other large studies found the same thing, those were quickly attacked as being funded by “Big BPA” or some such nonsense. They’ve even helped expose the media bias inherent in these sorts of matters. But now the government itself has completed a large study, and duplicated the results in two separate labs , you’d think the fight would be over. It’s not.

The hardest thing to fight is dogma.

The ban bandwagon still rolls on, without even so much as a passing mention in the “news” stories about the new government findings…

(read more)


APPENDIX


Postscript to a Panic: New findings about bisphenol-A (BPA) will not redeem it.

Even by the usual standards of the environmental movement, the panic over bisphenol-A (BPA) was remarkable for its detachment from reality. A new study funded by that well-known shill for big business known as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has now debunked this scare about as comprehensively as is possible.

BPA has been in use for five decades all over the world and has been tested extensively and found to be safe. In 2008, however, green campaigners, abetted by trial lawyers in the U.S., began touting the potential for BPA to “disrupt” hormones in the human body. BPA was implicated in everything from cancer to obesity to impotence. One particularly overheated campaigner compared letting babies drink from BPA-containing baby bottles to feeding infants birth-control pills. Canada banned its use in baby bottles, and several U.S. states did the same. Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein tried to get it banned in the U.S. as well, despite a clean bill of health from the FDA.

Not everyone succumbed to the panic—for a while. Studies performed in Europe before the scare had begun concluded that, if anything, BPA was safer than previously believed. But last year, despite at least two opinions by the European Food Safety Agency that BPA was safe in plastic bottles and in the liners of food containers, the European Union moved to ban it as well.

Too bad they didn’t wait for the science. The most recent study, led by Justin Teeguarden at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and published in the journal Toxicological Studies, involved feeding subjects a BPA-rich diet for 24 hours. Researchers then monitored their blood and urine for traces of the dread chemical. The result was BPA levels too low to detect—and this, remember, was from eating the stuff, a veritable worst-case scenario. Scare-mongers will no doubt point out that these results don’t preclude terrible long-term consequences from the use of BPA in packaging. But the evidence suggests that not enough of it is even present in the body to cause that kind of harm.

The results of the study, which was duplicated in two separate government labs, may not change the fate of BPA in the court of public opinion. Nor will it help the likes of Sigg Switzerland USA, the U.S. distributor of those now-ubiquitous metal drinking bottles. Sigg was initially a beneficiary of the scare as people moved to ditch their plastic drinking bottles. But once it transpired that the lining of Sigg’s aluminum bottles manufactured before August 2008 also contained trace amounts of BPA, its U.S. distributor was hit with lawsuits and a campaign of public vilification that recently sent it into bankruptcy.

Lost amid the hysteria were the benefits of BPA, including the fact that it helped to eliminate botulism in canned food. Where does a chemical go to get its reputation back?

LORD OF LORDS/KING OF KINGS

Mark 11:20-25, “Moving Mountains: Faith in Faith” (My First Sermon)

(The was originally presented in front of some really great guys on 4-15-10, tax-day)

...Introduction to this Teaching

add_toon_info.phpWhy This Post? This post was inspired by my father’s passing, caused mainly by his understanding of theology and the Bible via the Word Faith movement (WOF). These set of verses (Mark 11:20-25) are some of the most misused/misinterpreted by the WOF folks in it’s application.

  • Was it a verse meant for us? Or was it Jesus explaining to the Jewish mind who He was? Thus clearly pointing out that He was God Almighty?

My father was heavily influenced by the Word Faith movement, and by choosing these set of commonly cited verses for my teaching, I hope to do yeoman’s work in getting people to study further their faith and to point people toward Jesus and not their own works: their faith.

Keep in mind that I envision this presentation being in the middle of a series dealing with a few of the main “proof texts” for the Word Faith movement. While this is not a traditional sermon, this would be fitting for a Saturday night series or adult class series. There would also be copious amounts of overhead use for the congregation to get the most bang for their attendance.

(I will add some media, audio links, and the like to this update… because, I can.)

I do wish to recommend a well written dealing with these issues, “Sickness and Suffering in Light of Christ.”

Enjoy.

This sermon is one I am ambivalent to preach, there are not any funny stories or happy endings, merely a call to preserve “the faith once and for all given to the saints.” Before we dive in however, since it is the day we give to Caesar what is Caesars, I figured a thought experiment would be fitting:

  1. On a dark street, a man draws a knife and demands my money for drugs.
  2. Instead of demanding my money for drugs, he demands it for the Church.
  3. Instead of being alone, he is with a bishop of the Church who acts as the bagman.
  4. Instead of drawing a knife, he produces a policeman who says I must do as he says.
  5. Instead of meeting me on the street, he mails me his demand as an official agent of the government.

If the first is theft, it is difficult to see why the other four are not also theft.

A jab at high taxes aside, contending for the faith can be a grueling job, considering all the variations offered to us.

  1. What is a proper definition of faith?
  2. How can it be applied to our lives?

A sound understanding of faith may take some patience and thoughtful understanding today as we tackle just a few of the many differences between a healthy faith and the kind that leads to a very troubled praxeology (<< click to jump to definition). We will take the time here to look at some of the key concepts of a healthy faith through a verse many times misapplied. How one interprets Mark 11:20-25 will tell you a lot about a person’s understanding of faith. Again, the verse we will be reading from is Mark 11:20-25, so if you are ready we will jump in.

Early in the morning, as they were passing by, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. Then Peter remembered and said to Him, “Rabbi, look! The fig tree that You cursed is withered.” Jesus replied to them, “Have faith in God. I assure you: If anyone says to this mountain, ‘Be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him. Therefore I tell you, all the things you pray and ask for—believe that you have received them, and you will have them. And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven will also forgive you your wrongdoing.” 

This verse is often used to make the point that OUR FAITH IS BIG ENOUGH to remove any aliment that besets us. It is often combined with another verse from Isaiah 53:5 that reads in-part, “by Your stripes we are healed.” As you will find, however, context and historical setting are key to a proper understanding of working out these types of verses into our everyday lives and the impact they have on our personal faith. We will cover just a few topics in this presentation, they are:

  1. How these verses are misused by some, and subsequently faith;
  2. we will discuss some of the Jewish cultural context and history involved;
  3. and finally, we will look at an oft overlooked interpretation of these verses.

Starting with how faith is often misused by many of the faithful, we will consider what Pastor Bob DeWaay calls anthropogenic fundamentalism.

  • The term anthropogenic fundamentalism can simply be defined for our purposes as a “man-centered faith,” rather than “God-centered faith.”

Or, man trying to capture what God only provides and make it his own.

E.W. Kenyon, sometimes called the grandfather of the Word-Faith movement, wrote a book entitled, Two Kinds of Faith, in which we find Kenyon saying that “a spiritual law few of us have recognized is that our confessions rule us.”

Kenneth Hagin, who is known as the father of the Word-Faith movement, has taken bits-and-pieces from Kenyon and well-known faith healer William Branham and ordered them into a systematic word-faith doctrine/theology, culminating in the opening of Rhema Bible Institute in 1974. Mark 11:23 was one of Hagin’s favorite verses he used to justify his,

  • creating verbalized capsules of thinking by “laws of faith” that control one’s circumstances with “formulas.” (my own definition)

This was a big-deal to him, even coining the term “have faith in your faith.”

In contradistinction Calvin says that…

  • True faith “unites us to Christ and inserts us into His body creating the bond that enables us to receive, posses, and enjoy Christ Himself.” This is Calvin’s “union with Christ by Spirit worked faith.”

True faith is God centered, and aligns us — or tries to — with God’s will. Not the other way around. There are many examples of what faith should not be, but one James Montgomery Boice mentions that can replace true faith is optimism. Which he simply defines as a “mental attitude which is to cause the thing believed in to happen.”

In this “faith in your faith” aspect, you will never hear a person graduating from Rhema pray like Christ did in Matt 26:39:

  • “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

Faith is a force & James 4 is stupid:

A.H. Strong points out that God does “not change his mind when men pray, or when they believe… as [God] fulfills his purpose by inspiring true prayer, so he fulfills his purpose by giving faith.” Finishing his thought Strong quotes Augustine, “He chooses us, not because we believe, but that we may believe….”

Amen?

You see, we want a faith that unites us to Christ and His work, nothing of ourselves. In Reformational thinking, we are not even capable of generating this kind of faith. Take note that Ephesians 2:8 ends with “it is a gift of God.” John McArthur points out that faith is included as preceding this statement. By contrast, Kenneth Hagin makes his concept of faith clear when he enumerates his understanding of Mark 11:23:


  1. He believes in his heart,
  2. He believes in his words. Another way to say this is:
  1. He has faith in his own faith . . . Having faith in your words is having faith in your faith.”

Notice this Christ-centeredness in Galatians 2:16-17 fleshed out by the International Standard Version:

“…yet we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, for no human being will be justified by the works of the law.”

According to the text in the ISV, Christ’s faith — not ours — does the justifying. It is His focus of attention, not ours, that does the work. The “onus,” the, is put into proper perspective.

As an example from one of my favorite verses, Philippians 1:6:

“I am sure of this, that He who(a) started a good work in you will(b) carry it on to completion until(c) the day of Christ Jesus.”

To be clear:

  1. HE started the Good work [salvation];
  2. HE will carry it out;
  3. HE will complete it.

This “optimism” in one’s faith that Boice warned us of, rather than a God Centered faith is really an old heresy that started with the early influence of Gnosticism on the Desert FathersIf you do not know about these mysterious persons that are so influential on the emergent version of this Gnostic heresy, here is a quick introduction.

These early Desert Fathers were small isolated communities that separated themselves in order to follow God in solitude. They were the early monks, so-to-speak, and were based primarily in the area stretching along the Nile river in Egypt.

Originally refugees during the persecution of Christian’s at the hands of the Roman’s, later, they became outposts that attracted many Christian ascetics and hermits.

About this same time and place Gnostics were busy writing their texts, the biggest find of which was at Nag Hammadi, Egypt, also along the Nile. Something, I argue, influenced some of these desert hermits greatly. For example, paleo-theologian Thomas Oden, in his Systematic Theology mentions the following:

  • Amma Theodora, one of the fourth-century ascetic Desert Mothers, recognized the principle that when “one believes one is ill” the soul tends toward illness. She tells a story of a monk who was seized by cold and fever and horrible headaches every time he began to pray. … one day she said to herself, ‘I am ill, and near to death; so now I will get up before I die and pray,” yet simply by getting up, her fever abated. Merely by doing something positive – just getting up – she was taking a step of faith that tended toward her health. (adapted)

Apologist Robert Bowman documents in his book The Word Faith-Controversy Hagin’s view of “stepping out in faith”

  • Hagin claims that since 1933 he has never had a headache. This claim should probably be taken with a grain of salt (or perhaps an aspirin!) — since, Hagin has admitted that if he did have a headache he would never tell anyone he did. … he did admit once that his “head started hurting” but claims that by telling the devil, “In the name of Jesus I do not have a headache,” the pain went away. So when Hagin says he has not had a headache or been sick since 1933, he means he has never admitted to such ailments. (adapted)

[The headache theme will come up again.] So this Mind/body dichotomy found in Eastern thinking which infected the early church in some form via Gnosticism was seemingly addressed in-part early in Paul’s ministry as documented in Corinthians 15.

Now, As some may know, others here may not, my father was deeply involved in this understanding of faith. He would routinely claim financial success and good health as a matter of habit… neither of which he ever truly possessed. A few years back he was very-very sick.

He looked and felt awful.

However, he refused to go to the hospital, instead, he spoke health and healing to his body. When he finally acquiesced to the pain that C.S. Lewis says is our body verbalizing that something is wrong, he was diagnosed with advanced colon cancer.

  • In case you do not know, colon cancer is one of the most survivable cancers one could contract today.

Rejecting his doctors advice of immediate surgery, my father found renewed vigor that he wasn’t truly sick — even yelling at me in the doctor’s office:

  • “GET BEHIND ME SATAN!!” (pointing an accusing finger at me)

In surreal fashion and doggedly claiming that this sickness was curable via faith in his faith, his body no longer allowed him the option of denial and he gave way to his doctor’s advice. Even with surgery, he had waited too long.

On October 25th, 2008, I was reading Scripture to my dad who was recently sent home with me diagnosed with two-months to live when his breathing started getting worse than it already was. I stopped reading from the Word and started to fluff the pillows and blankets surrounding my father. He managed to gasp “help” and shortly thereafter was strong enough to cry a bit…

…as…

…did I…

…all the while telling him that I loved him while wiping the drool from his mouth and the sweat from his brow.

I could not dial 911 or call for help because my father was sent home with us for this reason… to pass as comfortable as possible.

All I could do is watch my father suffocate to death. He looked scared. I suspect for a few reasons, one is man’s tendency to not want to die.

Another reason is that if your faith is connected to your health and your health fails… failing faith in God’s finished work on the cross is not far behind.

He was coming to the stark reality that his theology was flawed and death is a one-for-one statistic.

While I know the work wrought on Calvary’s Cross was bigger than my dad’s praxeology, his view of faith led to a troubled walk that stifled his connecting with God and God’s people in a healthy well balanced manner. Even shortening his own life considerably.

Let me repeat that: his view of faith led to a troubled walk that stifled his connecting with God and God’s people.

Another example of faith gone awry is told by a fellow contributor to a group blog dealing with the Word-Faith heresy. This is the story of John Edwards and his struggle to come to terms with a cultic understanding of Biblical doctrine:

After John had graduated from Rhema Bible Institute — having his degree conferred to him by Kenneth Hagin — he founded and pastored over a church for some years all the while living and teaching this formulaic view of faith.

His children were steeped in this belief system. One day his daughter fell very ill, so John and his wife brought her to the emergency room. They were told that their daughter had inoperable brain cancer.

The doctors were at a loss.

Usually this illness showed some signs that would possibly have allowed them to save her life.

John and his wife, after talking to their daughter, were horrified to learn that she had in fact been getting horrible headaches for quite some time. Staying true to her accepted theology she would dutifully rebuke these headaches and go on with her ignoring of them in light of her optimism.

Needless to say John is no longer affiliated with the Word Faith movement.

Thankfully, he is still a Christian. Praise God! (His testimony is HERE)

John touches many lives for the better after he disbanded his church and wrote on his experiences. Many, however, walk away from the faith after their disillusionment is excised through the circumstances of life.

These two stark examples ~ my own and John’s ~ are the consequences of anthropomorphic fundamentalism: making oneself god in some sense of the word by guiding your own faith rather than allowing Godly faith in.

Another important aspect that seems to be missed by these Word Faith types is that the Bible incorporates parables, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, and history. Within these categories you will find metaphors, hyperbole, symbols, and elevated language.

For instance, in Psalm 91:4 we read, “He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge.”

Obviously God the Father being Spirit, known only by God the Son, does not have literal feathers. Reading on in the verse we find it is a metaphor for God protecting us like armor — just more comfortably… metaphorically speaking.

A quick break

In Christianity it is clear that God the Father is Spirit, and does not posses a body. John 4:24 reads:

  • God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.

However, In the Word Faith cult, they change this clear teaching.

God the Father is a man:

God the Father is from another planet:

(See, Got Questions?)

Likewise, we find commonly used in the Jewish texts of the day speech about “removing mountains” as metaphorical for an “infinitely long or virtually impossible task accomplished only by the most pious of rabbi’s.”

James Brooks in his commentary on Mark mentions that Mark 11:23 may be an “allusion… to the temple mount, in which case faith in God makes the temple system obsolete.” Jesus was speaking to, directly, the “Judaizers” of His day in this “sermon” pointing to the fulfillment of his soon to be culminated mission. You see, since we are considered “priests” or “rabbi’s” in God’s new and better covenant we do not rely on our own piousness, a Priest’s standing with God, or formulas ~ but Christ’s alone.

So the question, I think, becomes this: “as priests, what types of unmovable mountains would be in the context of our offering of prayer to the object of our faith?” In Matthew 5:23-24 we find this:

“Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.”

Let’s compare this to the passage we are reading in Mark, starting a bit into verse 24:

“…whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

True faith causes good works -SO- in this salvonic understanding:

forgiveness of our brother or our enemies is often times an insurmountable task and one that shows true regeneration.

Therefore, with faith based in what God has already done for us while we were yet sinners, forgiveness of others is what we are called to.

With that PapaG’ism in mind, do not forget that this verse is connected to Christ overturning tables for a second time on the Temple Mount and cursing the fig-tree as representative of Israel’s faithlessness, another seemingly insurmountable task.

As applicable and connective as I think these comments are, there is yet another often overlooked understanding which keeps Christ firmly in context, and not us.

Again, James Brooks mentions that Jesus may have been referencing “the Mount of Olives and the Dead Sea,” the “latter being seen from the summit of the former.”

William Lane expands on this in his commentary on Mark, mentioning likewise that the,

Dead Sea is visible from the Mount of Olives and it is appropriate to take the reference to “this mountain” quite literally. An allusion may be intended to Zech. 14:4. In the eschatological day described there the Mount of Olives is to be split in two, and when the Lord assumes his kingship “the whole land shall be turned into a plain” (Zech. 14:10). The prayer in question is then specifically a Passover prayer for God to establish his reign.

Evangelical scholar Walter Elwell likewise hits on this idea:

Jesus has acted out two parables of terrible impending judgment of unbelief—the withering of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple; now, in response to Peter’s remark, he turns to the vital component in the eschatological drama that is inexorably coming to pass, namely, faith in God. This Israel does not have, but the disciples can and must have faith if they are to participate as victors in the coming destruction of the enemy-occupied land which will split at the Mount of Olives when the terrible day comes that precedes the kingly reign of the Lord over the whole earth (so Zech. 14:1–11). Jesus urges his disciples to pray with the faith expressed in Isaiah 65:24 and participate with him in the new exodus, and so avoid the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the faithless land. But they must humbly seek forgiveness and harbor no resentment (v. 25), as Israel has not done in the presence of Jesus the Son, if they are to stand in the Father’s righteousness through this cataclysmic time.

[See these and more commentaries in the Appendix]

So like the parable of the faithful and wise servant (Luke 12:35-48), we must watch over this great gift of faith and its awesome responsibility by prayer to the object of our faith… asking for these mountains of faithlessness, self-centeredness, and our unforgiving hearts to be cleared daily by God’s word and our union with Him… always saying like John did, “come Lord Jesus, come!”

Amen?

…Amen.

Bibliography

  • Boice, James Montgomery. Foundations of the Christian Faith. Downers Grove, Illinoise: Inter Varsity Press, 1986.
  • Bowman, Robert M. The Word-Faith Controversy: Understanding the Health and Wealth Gospel. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Books, 2001.
  • Budziszewski, J. The Revenge of Conscience: Politics and the Fall of Man. Dallas, Texas: Spence Publishing, 2004.
  • Dewaay,Bob. The Emerging Church: Undefining Christianity. Saint Louise Park, Minnesota: Bob Dewaay, 2009.
  • Geisler, Norman, Thomas Howe. When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook On Bible Difficulties. Wheaton, Illinoise: Victor Books, 1992.
  • Hall, David W., Peter A. Lillback, ed. A Theological Guide to Calvin’s Institutes: Essays and Analysis. Phillipsburg, New Jersey: P & R Publishing, 2008.
  • Hanegraaff, Hank. Christianity In Crisis: 21st Century. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, 2009.
  • Keener, Craig S. The IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament. Downers Grove, Illinoise: Inter Varsity Press, 1993.
  • Kelly, Douglas F. Systematic Theology: The God Who Is: The Holy Trinity. Vol. 1. Ross-Shire: Christian Focus Publications, 2008.
  • Kenyon, E.W. The Two Kinds of Faith: Faith’s Secret Revealed. Lynnwood, Washington: Kenyon’s Gospel Publishing Society, 1969.
  • Lane, William L. The Gospel According to Mark. Edited by F.F. Bruce. Vol. 2. Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdman’s Publishing, 1974.
  • Lewis, C.S. The Problem of Pain. New York, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996.
  • Lewis, Gordon R., Bruce A. Demarest. Integrative Theology. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 1996.
  • MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary. Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 2007.
  • McConnell, D.R. A Different Gospel: Biblical and Historical Insights Into the Word of Faith Movement. Peabody, Massachusetts: Hendrickson Publishers, 1995.
  • Oden, Thomas C. Systematic Theology: The Living God. Vol. 1. Peabody, Massachusettes: Hendrickson Publishers, 2006.
  • Strong, A.H. Systematic Theology. New York, New York: A.C. Armstrong and Son, 1896.
  • Yungen, Ray. A Time of Departing. 2nd. ed. Silverton, Oregon: Lighthouse Trails Publishing, 2006.


Post Script


I wanted to point out just a couple of after thoughts. The first part of the verse we read from (v. 20), there is an interesting event that is mentioned.

Something I know the Jewish mind would have surely known considering how well the pharisees knew (at least memorized) Scripture. in verse 20 we read this:

  • “Now in the morning, as they passed by, they saw the fig tree dried up from the roots.

Now let’s read from Hosea 9:16, and then from Job 18:16, respectively.

Ephraim is stricken;
their root is dried up
;
they shall bear no fruit.
Even though they give birth,
I will put their beloved children to death.
His roots dry up beneath,
and his branches wither above.

This miracle of Jesus cursing the fig-tree can be seen as one of the many instances Jesus showed Israel He was their Messiah through fulfilling of Old Testament prophecy.

Another quick thing I wish to point out is that many Bibles separate verse 25 from verses 20-24.

This shouldn’t be.

I think you can completely drop verse 26 and not include that at all, however, verses 20-25 should be looked at as a cohesive pericope.


Definition of Praxeology


Just so the reader knows how I understand this term: “right” theology into “right” action. The “Word Faith movement/theology,” “Liberation theology,” as well as “Emergent theology” distorts this interpretation. Here is a more in-depth definition:

PRAXIS AND ORTHOPRAXIS. `Praxis’ essentially means ‘action’. Traditionally, the concept refers to the application of theory or socially innovative human behaviour. Its long history begins with Aristotle but the concept achieved contemporary prominence through Marx, who used it in various ways but, most commonly, to mean revolutionary action through which the world Was changed. In theology it has gained currency through liberation theology.” Theology usually emphasizes orthodoxy, i.e., right belief or conceptual reflection on truth. Political theology balances this with an emphasis on action (praxis) and right action (orthopraxis). Gutierrez typically complains that ‘the church has for centuries devoted her attention to formulating truth and meanwhile did almost nothing to better the world’. It not only advocates action but questions whether knowledge can be detached; and it insists that truth can only be known through action. Knowing and doing are dialectically related, and right action becomes the criterion for truth. The danger is, as Miguez Bonino has observed, that theology is reduced to ethics, the vertical dimension equated with the horizontal and the concept built on Marxism. Positively, however, it can claim biblical roots. God communicates with his world, not through a conceptual frame of reference, but in creative activity; in John’s gospel knowing truth is contingent on doing it (Jn. 3:21).

[return]

Sinclair B. Ferguson, David F. Wright, J.I. Packer, eds., New Dictionary of Theology (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1988), 527. 


APPENDIX

(Commentaries on Mark 11:20-25)


There is good Scriptural connection that makes Mark 11:23-24 an eschatological verse. Of course rabbinical use of “moving mountains” was a phrase referring to seemingly impossible difficulties:

…But it also shows that we cannot pray in faith for anything that we like. In this matter, Jesus was “thinking God’s thoughts after him” and willing his father’s will. That sort of prayer, if asked in faith, will always be answered, for it is praying that God’s will may be done (as Jesus prayed in Gethsemane). We can only move the mountains that God wants removed, not those that we want moved. “Moving mountains” was a phrase used by the rabbis to describe overcoming seemingly impossible difficulties; we must not of course take it in the literal sense. If we pray in this way, we can give thanks for the result before we see it, for the answer is sure in the will and purpose of God.

There is one other condition for effectual prayer: we must freely forgive others, as God forgives us (25). If we do not, how could we pray “in Jesus’ name,” that is, in the way in which he would and did? This verse may indicate that Mark knew the Lord’s Prayer, though he does not record it in his gospel.

D.A. Carson, R.T. France, J.A. Motyer, and G.J. Wenham, New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press, 1997), 968.

Matthew Henry speaks to the miracle of faith, which rightfully understood, truly is one of the most miraculous of all:

Now this is to be applied, [1] To that faith of miracles which the apostles and first preachers of the gospel were endued with, which did wonders in things natural, healing the sick, raising the dead, casting out devils; these were, in effect, the removing of mountains. The apostles speak of a faith which would do that, and yet might be found where holy love was not, 1 Co. 13:2. [2] It may be applied to that miracle of faith, which all true Christians are endued with, which doeth wonders in things spiritual. It justifies us (Rom. 5:1), and so removes the mountains of guilt, and casts them into the depths of the sea, never to rise up in judgment against us, Mic. 7:19. It purifies the heart (Acts 15:9), and so removes mountains of corruption, and makes them plains before the grace of God, Zec. 4:7. It is by faith that the world is conquered, Satan’s fiery darts are quenched, a soul is crucified with Christ, and yet lives; by faith we set the Lord always before us, and see him that is invisible, and have him present to our minds; and this is effectual to remove mountains, for at the presence of the Lord, at the presence of the God of Jacob, the mountains were not only moved, but removed, Ps. 114:4-7.

Matthew Henry, Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible: Complete and Unabridged in One Volume (Peabody: Hendrickson, 1996), Mk 11:12.

Whenever I read Henry I have to say “Amen.” This faith is not only miraculously accomplished, but is imported to us through the work of the Holy Spirit, as Augustine rightly notes this continuous miracle:

Whether they are going to speak before a congregation or any other body, or to dictate something to be spoken before a congregation or read by others who are able and willing to do so, speakers must pray that God will place a good sermon on their lips. If Queen Esther, when about to plead before the king for the temporal salvation of her people, prayed that God would place a suitable speech on her lips [Esther 4:16], how much more important is it for those who work for people’s eternal salvation “by teaching God’s word” [1 Tim. 5:17] to pray to receive such a gift?

Douglas F. Kelley, Systematic Theology, Volume One: The God Who Is: The Holy Trinity (Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications, 2008), 54.

Many of these early thinkers referenced Isaiah 7:9 which basically says this: “If you don’t take your stand in faith, you won’t have a leg to stand on.” So here we are, mentioning some good interpretations of these verses, I believe that in context with the fig tree and some of Jesus’ other teachings, we can almost see that these verses tend to speak to the end-times, one of my favorite commentaries points this out:

The Dead Sea is visible from the Mount of Olives and it is appropriate to take the reference to “this mountain” quite literally. An allusion may be intended to Zech. 14:4. In the eschatological day described there the Mount of Olives is to be split in two, and when the Lord assumes his kingship “the whole land shall be turned into a plain” (Zech. 14:10). The prayer in question is then specifically a Passover prayer for God to establish his reign. What is affirmed is God’s absolute readiness to respond to the resolute faith that prays (cf. Isa. 65:24). What distin­guishes the faith for which Jesus calls from that self-intoxication which reduces a man and his work to a fiasco is the discipline of prayer through faith. When prayer is the source of faith’s power and the means of its strength, God’s sovereignty is its only restriction. The assertion in verse 24 reiterates this assurance in more comprehensive and general terms. The man who bows his head before the hidden glory of God in the fulness of faith does so in the certainty that God can deal with every situation and any difficulty and that with him nothing is impossible (10:27).

William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark (New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974), 410.

Evangelical scholar Walter Elwell likewise hits on this idea:

Jesus has acted out two parables of terrible impending judgment of unbelief—the withering of the fig tree and the cleansing of the temple; now, in response to Peter’s remark, he turns to the vital component in the eschatological drama that is inexorably coming to pass, namely, faith in God. This Israel does not have, but the disciples can and must have faith if they are to participate as victors in the coming destruction of the enemy-occupied land which will split at the Mount of Olives when the terrible day comes that precedes the kingly reign of the Lord over the whole earth (so Zech. 14:1–11). Jesus urges his disciples to pray with the faith expressed in Isaiah 65:24 and participate with him in the new exodus, and so avoid the coming destruction of Jerusalem and the faithless land. But they must humbly seek forgiveness and harbor no resentment (v. 25), as Israel has not done in the presence of Jesus the Son, if they are to stand in the Father’s righteousness through this cataclysmic time.

Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical Commentary on the Bible (electronic ed.; Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1996), Mk 11:20.

Another commentator mentions this eschatological allusion:

…Jesus was speaking generally, but there may be some allusion to the Mount of Olives (11:1) and the Dead Sea. On a clear day the latter can be seen from the summit of the former. Alternately, the allusion may be to the temple mount, in which case faith in God makes the temple system obsolete (cf. John 4:19–24).

James A. Brooks, vol. 23, Mark (electronic ed.; Logos Library System; The New American Commentary Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001), 183.

And this great working through the verses by a favored theologian of mine:

11:21 The Fig Tree Which You Cursed Has Withered

  • ADMONITION FOR THOSE PREPARING TO BE BAPTIZED. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: You are now being joined with the holy vine.’ If, then, you abide in the vine, you grow into a fruitful branch, but if you do not so abide, you will be burnt in the fire. Let us therefore bring forth worthy fruit. For let it not come about that it should happen to us what happened to the barren fig tree in the Gospel.’ Let not Jesus come in these days and utter the same curse upon the fruitless. But instead may all of you say, “I am like a green olive tree in the house of God.”

11:23 Whoever Does Not Doubt in His Heart but Believes

  • THE POWER OF PRAYER. CHRYSOSTOM: Prayer is an all-efficient panoply, a treasure undiminished, a mine never exhausted, a sky unobstructed by clouds, a haven unruffled by storm. It is the root, the fountain, and the mother of a thousand blessings. It exceeds a monarch’s power…. I speak not of the prayer which is cold and feeble and devoid of zeal. I speak of that which proceeds from a mind outstretched, the child of a contrite spirit,’ the offspring of a soul converted—this is the prayer which mounts to heaven…. The power of prayer has subdued the strength of fire, bridled the rage of lions, silenced anarchy, extinguished wars, appeased the elements, expelled demons, burst the chains of death, enlarged the gates of heaven, relieved diseases, averted frauds, rescued cities from destruction, stayed the sun in its course, and arrested the progress of the thunderbolt. In sum prayer has power to destroy whatever is at enmity with the good. I speak not of the prayer of the lips, but of the prayer that ascends from the inmost recesses of the heart.

11:24 Believe That. You Will Receive It and You Will

  • FULL CONFIDENCE. JOHN CASSIAN: While we are praying, there should be no hesitation that would intervene or break down the confidence of our petition by any shadow of despair. We know that by pouring forth our prayer we are obtaining already what we are asking for. We have no doubt that our prayers have effectually reached God.’ For to that degree that one believes that he is regarded by God, and that God can grant it, just so far will one be heard and obtain an answer

11:23 It Will Be Done for Him

  • DIVINE GIVING AND HUMAN WILLING. AUGUSTINE: Note that Jesus said “for him,” not “for me,” and not “for the Father.” Yet it is certain that no human being does such a thing without God’s gift and workings. Mark well that even if no actual instances of perfect righteousness may be found among humans, that does not rule out perfect righteousness as if it were formally impossible. For it might have been realized if only sufficient responsive willing had been applied, enough to suffice for so great a deed.

Thomas C. Oden and Christopher A. Hall, eds., Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture: New Testament II, Mark (Downers Grove, IL: InterVasity Press,1998), 162-163.

Keeping Our Christian Identity Through “Seders” (Edited)

Walk With Me

This is a topic I taught on at church, and it is a simple way to preach the Gospel to yourself. There are 5 categories:

  1. We are Sinners;
  2. We are Judged for this sin;
  3. We are Forgiven;
  4. This forgiveness creates a Relational aspect with our God;
  5. Which brings Joy in every situation we face.

In our busy schedules choose a single verse from each section and on Monday study that single verse about our sinful nature. Use an online resource such as Blue Letter Bible to read a commentary on it or Bible Gateway to read a version you haven’t read of the verse. (Or one of your home resources… whatever the case may be.) On Tuesday take a verse on forgiveness (mine, or one that has hit a cord with you over the years). Etc.

By Friday, T.G.I.F. takes on a new meaning. The following week, do the same, but with a different verse. Habits.

WE ARE CALLED TO CHECK IN

A verse that calls us to “check in” so-to-speak, is 2 Corinthians 13:5 ~ I will read from a paraphrase of this verse, however, feel free to click on the link below to see the paraphrase next to my favorite versions:

2Corinthians 13:5’ish

Test yourselves to make sure you are solid in the faith. Don’t drift along taking everything for granted. Give yourselves regular checkups. You need firsthand evidence, not mere hearsay, that Jesus Christ is in you. Test it out. If you fail the test, do something about it. I hope the test won’t show that we have failed. But if it comes to that, we’d rather the test showed our failure than yours. We’re rooting for the truth to win out in you. We couldn’t possibly do otherwise.

We don’t just put up with our limitations; we celebrate them, and then go on to celebrate every strength, every triumph of the truth in you. We pray hard that it will all come together in your lives.

Even one of the greatest Repormers mentioned this “preaching the Gospel to ourselves” aspect of our faith: “We need to hear the Gospel every day, because we forget it every day” ~ Martin Luther.

ALL HAVE SINNED (#1)

  • Proverbs 21:2 ~ “Every way of a man is right in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the heart.”
  • Proverbs 16:2 ~ “All a man’s ways seem right to him, but the LORD evaluates the motives.”
  • 1 Samuel 16:7 ~ “Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

2 things to glean from these:

1. Divine involvement in man’s heart is not limited to kings or priests;

2. A person may think nothing is wrong with his conduct, ahem, but God may.

Here we read a quick insight gleaned from Matthew Henry (Matthew 23:27-28)

The proud heart is very ingenious in putting a fair face upon a foul matter, and in making that appear right to itself which is far from being so, to stop the mouth of conscience. ~ Matthew Henry

How many righteous persons are there?

  • Romans 3:10 ~ “There is no one righteous, not even one.”

Bill Cosby teaches us about this malady we have from the earliest age:

As an aside. Something that Bill Cosby said above struck a cord with me. He mentioned that the only time a child tells the truth is when they are in pain. So do we ~ often times ~ as adults. Here is the C.S. Lewis quote that came to me when I watched this:

We can rest contentedly in our sins and in our stupidities, and anyone who has watched gluttons shoveling down the most exquisite foods as if they did not know what they were eating, will admit that we can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.

C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain (NY, New York: Touchstone, 1996), 82-83.

Let us take a short historical theology break and read a few points from the 1689 London Baptist Confession:

4 The actual sins that men commit are the fruit of the corrupt nature transmitted to them by our first parents. By reason of this corruption, all men become wholly inclined to all evil; sin disables them. They are utterly indisposed to, and, indeed, rendered opposite to, all that is good. (Matt. 15:19; Rom. 8:7; Col. 1:21; Jas. 1:14.)

5 During this earthly life corrupt nature remains in those who are born of God, that is to say, regenerated. Through Christ it is pardoned and mortified, yet both the corruption itself, and all that issues from it, are truly and properly sin. (Eccles. 7:20; Rom. 7:18,23-25; Gal. 5:17; 1 John 1:8.)

Hank Hanegraaff explains WHAT sin is and is not:

R.C. Sproul, a theologian of report, helps us define what TOTAL and UTTER “depravity” means:

…There is a distinction which I have found to be helpful: total depravity does not mean utter depravity. Utter depravity would mean that every human being is as wicked as it is possible to be, and we know that this is not the case. As much as we sin, we can always contemplate sinning more often, or more grievously than we presently do.

While some will not support my posting of this next video by Mark Driscoll… I understand. But he has done a lot of good explaining of core doctrine that assists us in understanding concepts, like, TOTAL DEPRAVITY:

  • Jeremiah 17:9 ~ “The heart is more deceitful than anything else, and incurable – who can understand it?”

Sproul has a wonderful ministry, and he [Sproul] has asked ~ rhetorically ~ how: anyone could be involved in believing in the value of human worth and at the same time believing in TOTAL depravity? He responds:

The very fact that Calvinists take sin so seriously is because they take the value of human beings so seriously. It is because man was made in the image of God, called to mirror and reflect God’s holiness, that we have the distinction of being the image-bearers of God.

But what does ‘total depravity’ mean? Total depravity means simply this: that sin affects every aspect of our human existence: our minds, our wills and our bodies are affected by sin. Every dimension of our personality suffers at some point from the weight of sin that has infected the human race.

SENTENCED! (#2)

  • Leviticus 5:17 ~ “If someone sins and without knowing it violates any of the Lord’s commands concerning anything prohibited, he bears the consequences of his guilt.”

...GUILT

Modern persons think “guilt” is a matter of feelings;

The Bible treats guilt as a fact.

In the O.T. guilt has three aspects.

(1) There is an act which brings guilt;
(2) There is the condition of guilt which follows the act;
(3) There is punishment appropriate to the act.

In the N.T., guilt is a judicial concept. The Greek word/idea is drawn from the courts, and emphasize liability to punishment. The guilty person has been:

(1) accused;
(2) tried;
(3) and convicted.

Both Testaments view acts which bring guilt as the end result of offenses against God. (See: Heb. 9:11–28 for the legal answer to this predicament)

  • Romans 6:23(a) ~ “For the wages of sin is death….”

This is the summary of the entire chapter. Paul painted the choice in black and white. The choice is ours—sin and death or free grace through Christ and eternal life. It is very similar to the “two ways” of OT wisdom literature (Ps. 1; Prov. 4; 10–19; Matt. 7:13–14).

And, we must always keep in mind that we are judged righteously by our Triune God:

Never put someone to death unless 2 or 3 witnesses:

“But never put a person to death on the testimony of only one witness. There must always be two or three witnesses” (Deuteronomy 17:6); “For anyone who refused to obey the law of Moses was put to death without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses” (Hebrews 10:28).

FORGIVEN (#3)

Galatians 2:16-17 (HCSB)

“…yet we know that a person is not justified by the works of the law but by the faithfulness of Jesus Christ. We, too, have believed in Christ Jesus so that we might be justified by the faith of Christ and not by the works of the law, for no human being will be justified by the works of the law.” (International Standard Version [ISV])

~ According to the text in the ISV, Christ’s faith — not ours — does the justifying. It is His focus of attention, not ours, that does the work. (The “onus” then is put in proper perspective.) As an example from one of my favorite verses, Philippians 1:6:

“I am sure of this, that He who (a) started a good work in you will (b) carry it on to completion until the (c) day of Christ Jesus.”

To be clear:

(a) HE started the Good work [salvation];
(b) He will carry it out;

(c) He will complete it.

It is ALL a work of Christ!

In-other-words, we will join the 24-elders in Revelation in throwing our crowns at Jesus feet, for all the good “WE” did was in actually Him working through us by even creating these… good works in our heart, and the will and drive to do them for His glory:

“There will be no jarring note in Heaven, no whisper of human merit, no claim of a reward for good intentions—but every crown shall be cast at Jesus’ feet and every voice shall join in the ascription, ‘Not unto us, not unto us, but unto Your name be all the glory of the salvation which You have worked out for us from first to last.’” ~ C.H. Spurgeon

The Imperishable Crown (1 Cor 9:24-24) — The Crown of Rejoicing (1 Thess 2:19) — The Crown of Righteousness (2 Timothy 4:8) — The Crown of Glory (1 Peter 5:4) — The Crown of Life (Revelation 2:10)

  • Romans 6:23(b) ~ “but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

For those that do not know, I am a three-time convicted felon from many years ago. I like to say I am a retired felon. While in Jail I had to realign drastically the direction I had traveled. I didn’t realize it then, but I was preaching the Gospel to myself by studying Hosea. The Lord told the prophet — literally —

  • “Go, take to yourself a wife who will prove to be unfaithful.”

And if you think about it, we are all unfaithful to God in some way: “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19). And we break our marriage contract with the Lord, it is the Lord who is faithful and bridges the gap we cannot:

“The LORD said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes'” (Hosea 3:1).

[David offered raisin cakes to the starving (1 Sam 30:11-12); at the celebration of the return of the Ark of the Covenant (2 Sam 6:18-19); Abigail made for David’s troops (1 Sam 25:18). What was once good in the Lord’s eyes man will surely corrupt.]

  • Jeremiah 15:19(a,b) ~ “Therefore, this is what the LORD says: ‘If you return, I will restore you…'”

This implies we will fail, and He knew it, and yet chose us.

George Gilder enumerates a law that goes well with the Refiners Fire hymn. In an Interview with Dennis Prager Mr. Gilder enumerated a law of Information Theory*, and thus economics:

“A fundamental principle of information theory is that you can’t guarantee outcomes… in order for an experiment to yield knowledge, it has to be able to fail. If you have guaranteed experiments, you have zero knowledge”

*(the mathematical theory concerned with the content, transmission, storage, and retrieval of information, usually in the form of messages or data, and especially by means of computers)

Zechariah 13:9;
Job 23:10;
Isaiah 48:10;
1 Peter 1:7.

Notes on 1 Peter 1:7

a) Peter  was not backslidden or apathetic;
b) It was Paul’s general encouragement to fan the flame/keep the fire burning brightly

How?

  • 2 Corinthians 4:16 ~ Therefore we do not give up. Even though our outer person is being destroyed, our inner person is being renewed day by day.

“…renewed day by day.” Almost like a Jewish Seder which Paul would have been familiar with. Like the Passover Seder, for instance, that helped keep the identity of the Jewish nation for almost 3-millinea, we need habits that keep our identity as owned by Christ, daily. Are we equipped for the task?

“…but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” We have “to take some responsibility in that renewal. The continual brightening of the inner flame that God has given to us is related to God’s own equipment for us. God does not equip us with weakness, but with power. He does not equip us with hatred, but with love. He does not equip us with self-destruction, but with self-discipline.”

  • Romans 8:15 ~ “For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father!”

John Calvin, the great Reformer, says this of the above Romans thinking:

He now confirms the certainty of that confidence, in which he has already bidden the faithful to rest secure; and he does this by mentioning the special effect produced by the Spirit; for he has not been given for the purpose of harassing us with trembling or of tormenting us with anxiety; but on the contrary, for this end—that having calmed every perturbation [(pûr’tər-bā’shən) mental disquiet, disturbance, or agitation], and restoring our minds to a tranquil state, he may stir us up to call on God with confidence and freedom. He does not then pursue only the argument which he had before stated, but dwells more on another clause, which he had connected with it, even the paternal mercy of God, by which he forgives his people the infirmities of the flesh and the sins which still remain in them. He teaches us that our confidence in this respect is made certain by the Spirit of adoption, who could not inspire us with confidence in prayer without scaling to us a gratuitous pardon: and that he might make this more evident, he mentions a twofold spirit; he calls one the spirit of bondage, which we receive from the law; and the other, the spirit of adoption, which proceeds from the gospel. The first, he says, was given formerly to produce fear; the other is given now to afford assurance. By such a comparison of contrary things the certainty of our salvation, which he intended to confirm, is, as you see, made more evident. The same comparison is used by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews [Hebrews 12:18], where he says, that we have not come to Mount Sinai, where all things were so terrible, that the people, being alarmed as it were by an immediate apprehension of death, implored that the word should be no more spoken to them, and Moses himself confessed that he was terrified; “but to [Z]ion, the mount of the Lord, and to his city, the heavenly Jerusalem, where Jesus is, the Mediator of the New Testament.”

RELATIONAL (#4)

Okay, what does “forgiven” mean? And, how does this change our position with God?

We have all heard the famous saying, “Mercy is not getting what you deserve. And grace is getting what you absolutely do not deserve.” This comes in part from Hebrews 4:16:

“Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time.”

“At the proper time” is a colloquial saying of the day that means “just in the nick of time.” The Believer’s Bible Commentary says this of the Hebrews verse:

Now the gracious invitation is extended: draw near with confidence to the throne of grace. Our confidence is based on the knowledge that He died to save us and that He lives to keep us. We are assured of a hearty welcome because He has told us to come.

….We can go into His presence at any time of the day or night and obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. His mercy covers the things we should not have done, and His grace empowers us to do what we should do but do not have the power to do.

In Genesis 8 when Noah sacrificed clean animals to God, “the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma.” Christ is the last Adam, thee final sacrifice that ends all sacrificial offerings, and we see in 2 Corinthians 2:15 the “…we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.” You see, we are covered in Christ’ offering and are thus pleasing to God.

…Segue

How should we respond to this idea in Psalm 30:5?

For His anger lasts only a moment,
but His favor, a lifetime.
Weeping may spend the night,
but there is joy in the morning.

JOYFULNESS (#5)

Indeed, God is my salvation;

I will trust Him and not be afraid,

for Jehovah, the Lord,

is my strength and my song.

He has become my salvation.”

You will joyfully draw water

from the springs of salvation,

and on that day you will say:

Give thanks to Yahweh; proclaim His name!

Celebrate His works among the peoples.

Declare that His name is exalted.

Sing to Yahweh, for He has done glorious things.

(Isaiah 12:1-6)

The God of Glory

How blessed is God! And what a blessing he is! He’s the Father of our Master, Jesus Christ, and takes us to the high places of blessing in him. Long before he laid down earth’s foundations, he had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of his love, to be made whole and holy by his love. Long, long ago he decided to adopt us into his family through Jesus Christ. (What pleasure he took in planning this!) He wanted us to enter into the celebration of his lavish gift-giving by the hand of his beloved Son.

(Ephesians 1:3–6)

Even in failure and time of testing and trials we have a line to divine joy. Consider James 1:2-4:

Consider it a great joy, my brothers, whenever you experience various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. But endurance must do its complete work, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking nothing. (HCSB) Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so you become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way. (The Message)

Of verse two my first owned (and still a favorite of mine) commentary says this:

The Christian life is filled with problems. They come uninvited and unexpected. Sometimes they come singly and sometimes in droves. They are inevitable. James does not say “if you fall into various trials” but when. We can never get away from them. The question is, “What are we going to do about them?”

There are several possible attitudes we can take toward these testings and trials of life. We can rebel against them (Heb. 12:5) by adopting a spirit of defiance, boasting that we will battle through to victory by our own power. On the other hand, we can lose heart or give up under pressure (Heb. 12:5). This is nothing but fatalism. It leads to questioning even the Lord’s care for us. Again, we can grumble and complain about our troubles. This is what Paul warns us against in 1 Corinthians 10:10. Another option—we can indulge in self-pity, thinking of no one but ourselves, and trying to get sympathy from others. Or better, we can be exercised by the difficulties and perplexities of life (Heb. 12:11). We can say, in effect, “God has allowed this trial to come to me. He has some good purpose in it for me. I don’t know what that purpose is, but I’ll try to find out. I want His purposes to be worked out in my life.” This is what James advocates: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials.” Don’t rebel! Don’t faint! Rejoice! These problems are not enemies, bent on destroying you. They are friends which have come to aid you to develop Christian character.

God is trying to produce Christlikeness in each of His children. This process necessarily involves suffering, frustration, and perplexity. The fruit of the Spirit cannot be produced when all is sunshine; there must be rain and dark clouds. Trials never seem pleasant; they seem very difficult and disagreeable. But afterwards they yield the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who are trained by them (Heb. 12:11). How often we hear a Christian say, after passing through some great crisis, “It wasn’t easy to take, but I wouldn’t give up the experience for anything.”

William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments, ed. Arthur Farstad (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1995), 2218.

In another commentaries summing up of verse three, we see perseverance is key to our joy as well, but this takes time and is something not magically infused at the outset:

…But James’s readers knew the good reason God allows such trials (v. 3). God intends for them to result in a mature and complete faith; perseverance is faith’s first product. But perseverance is not a minimal virtue. Rather, it is elemental to that fortitude of the soldier who braves all in his life-and-death struggle on the field of combat. Praised by Paul (1 Thess 1:3) and by the author of Revelation (cf. 14:12), perseverance characterizes the godly both before and after Christ. The gradual and painful acquisition of this virtue is also unmistakable. Perseverance, though essential to faith, is not infused immediately in a moment of conversion. Only through great ardor and the stumbling pursuit of the goal laid before it and only through sustained service in spite of opposition does perseverance come.

Kurt A. Richardson, James, vol. 36, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 61–62.

Paul surely knew by heart this verse:

My lips will shout for joy
when I sing praise to You
because You have redeemed me.

(Psalm 71:23)

We should then have a definition of o-u-r-s-e-l-v-e-s… as Christians, that bring to bear the gift we should now be celebrating, here, Martin Luther in his Commentary on Galatians, offers a good definition of a Christian. In this definition we see the totality of the above study of Romans Road ~ exemplified:

“We therefore make this definition of a Christian: a Christian is not he who hath no sin, but he to whom God imputeth not his sin, through faith in Christ. That is why we so often repeat and beat into your minds, the forgiveness of sins and imputation of righteousness for Christ’s sake. Therefore when the law accuseth him and sin terrifieth him, he looketh up to Christ, and when he hath apprehended Him by faith, he hath present with him the conqueror of the law, sin, death, and the devil: and Christ reigneth and ruleth over them, so that they cannot hurt the Christian. So that he hath indeed a great and inestimable treasure, or as St. Paul saith: ‘the unspeakable gift’ (2 Cor. ix. 15), which cannot be magnified enough, for it maketh us the children and heirs of God. This gift may be said to be greater than heaven and earth, because Christ, who is this gift, is greater.”

A “summation” of the above:

Sunday Morning Reflections ~ Psalm 23:6

Most Sunday’s, early morning, I do a Sunday cartoons for my [this] site. One particular cartoonist I follow and have enjoyed over the years is retiring and starting a business venture using his talents. I was perusing his portfolio and found this gem tucked away… it is a quick visual of Psalm 23:

I love this verse tucked away in Psalm 23:6:

Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the house of the LORD
as long as I live.

(HCSB)

Your beauty and love chase after me
every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God
for the rest of my life.

(The Message)

This verse is a promise that God (Christ) chases after His own, those who were given to Him (Romans 8:29-30; Ephesians 1:4-5; John 17:6-26, …etc.). He will finish the good work He started in them (Philippians 1:6):

And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.

(ESV)

There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish on the very day Christ Jesus appears.

(The Message)

I don’t know about you, but God chased me to the end of my rope (via an obedient Sheriff in super-max at Wayside). And He is doing “Yeoman’s Work,” as, I am owned by Him (Acts 20:28), and, it is work (a cultivation, John 15:5) only He can accomplish.  CS Lewis touches on this when he wrote:

“You must picture me alone in that room in Magdalen, night after night, feeling, whenever my mind lifted even for a second from my work, the steady, unrelenting approach of Him whom I so earnestly desired not to meet. That which I greatly feared had at last come upon me. In the Trinity Term of 1929 I gave in, and admitted that God was God, and knelt and prayed: perhaps, that night, the most dejected and reluctant convert in all England. I did not then see what is now the most shining and obvious thing; the Divine humility which will accept a convert even on such terms. The Prodigal Son at least walked home on his own feet. But who can duly adore that Love which will open the high gates to a prodigal who is brought in kicking, struggling, resentful, and darting his eyes in every direction for a chance of escape? The words ‘compelle intrare,’ compel them to come in, have been so abused be wicked men that we shudder at them; but, properly understood, they plumb the depth of the Divine mercy. The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, AND HIS COMPULSION IS OUR LIBERATION.” (Emphasis added.)

Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life

REMEMBER ~ the Apostle Paul mentioned the same — many years before — Lewis penned the Chronicles of Narnia:

I give thanks to Christ Jesus our Lord who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, appointing me to the ministry — one who was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an arrogant man. But I received mercy because I acted out of ignorance in unbelief. And the grace of our Lord overflowed, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them. But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate His extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.

1Timothy 1:12-16 (HCSB)

Continuing this chasing God does of those that belong to Him. His “sheep”

…My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.

John 10:27-29 (HCSB)

A scene that beautifully captures Lewis’ experience is in his The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (The Chronicles of Narnia, Book 5). One of the main characters—a boy named Eustace—has developed an evil heart and becomes a dragon. He wants to be a boy again, so Aslan leads him to a pristine fountain of water. Listen to Eustace (and behind him, C.S. Lewis), describe his experience:

The water was as clear as anything and I thought if I could get in there and bathe it would ease the pain. But the lion [Aslan] told me I must undress first.

So I started scratching myself and my scales began coming off all over the place. And then I scratched a little deeper and, instead of just scales coming off here and there, my whole skin started peeling off beautifully. In a minute or two I just stepped out of it. I could see it lying there beside me, looking rather nasty. It was a most lovely feeling. So I started to go down into the well for my bathe.

But just as I was going to put my feet into the water I looked down and saw that [the skin on my feet was] all hard and rough and wrinkled and scaly just as it had been before.

[Eustace then repeats the process a second and third time, growing increasingly despairing.]

Then the lion said, ‘You will have to let me undress you.’ I was afraid of his claws, I can tell you, but I was pretty nearly desperate now. So I just lay flat down on my back to let him do it.

The very first tear he made was so deep that I thought it had gone right into my heart. And when he began pulling the skin off, it hurt worse than anything I’ve ever felt. The only thing that made me able to bear it was just the pleasure of feeling the stuff peel off.

Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off – just as I thought I’d done it myself the other three times, only they hadn’t hurt – and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking than the others had been. Then he caught hold of me – I didn’t like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I’d no skin on – and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything, but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again.

If you’re feeling God’s pursuit like the “claws” of a lion, know that while it may be painful, it’s not punishment. God never desires to pay you back, but to bring you back. Will you let him?

Between the Times

CS Lewis as well as the Apostle Paul were essentially “chased by God,” and in a lot of ways I was chased as well. As I was writing this and thinking on this miracle that God has wrought in my life as well as others… a friend posted this on FaceBook. And I wish to note that this boy was CHASED by God into a foster-care system and brought into His fold by the Body of Christ (via an obedient uncle and aunt). You see, Christopher Duffley was one of those given to Jesus — set-aside — by the Father, and God will finish the good work (salvation) in him:

I will end with this very personal insight into why Philippians 1:6 is a favorite of the much missed J. Vernon McGee:

Because this is my life verse and therefore very meaningful to me, I hope you won’t mind if I tell you about it. I was a very poor boy when I went away to college. My dad had been killed in an accident in a cotton gin when I was fourteen years old. My mother took my sister and me to Nashville, Tennessee. I had to get a permit that allowed a boy of fourteen to go to work, and I worked for a wholesale hardware concern. I had to be up by five o’clock in the morning to pick up the mail and have it sorted and on the desks of all the officials in each department. I should have been in school, and I wanted to go to school. Later I had the privilege of going back to school because a wonderful friend acted as a father to me. He had a son who was a drunkard. He had wanted his son to get a college education, but he didn’t; so the man helped me get a job, and I was able to go to college. Every year I thought it would be my last year. I never thought God would see me through—I had very little faith. The last year I was in college was during the depression; 1928 and 1929 were bad years. I couldn’t get a job and had no money.

On graduation day, after receiving my degree, I returned to my room in the dormitory, still in my cap and gown, and sat dejectedly on the edge of my bed. My roommate came and asked, “What in the world—did somebody die?” I said, “Just as well to. I thought God had called me to the ministry. I’m through college, the depression has hit, and I don’t even have a job for this summer. I haven’t a dime to go to seminary next year.” While we were still talking, the phone rang. It was for me. On the other end of the line was a dear little lady who asked me to stop by her home where she lived with her sister. They were both widows, and they looked as if they had come out of the antebellum days. They attended the church where I taught a class of intermediate boys, and I herded the boys into the church service every Sunday morning. The sisters sat in the pew behind us, and I always thought they disapproved. But in their home that day each handed me an envelope in memory of her husband. I left as soon as it was polite to go, hurried around the corner, and opened the envelopes. The first contained a check for $250; I hurriedly opened the other envelope and found another check for $250. Do you know what $500 was like during the depression? I felt like a millionaire!

That night the Sunday school had a banquet for me, a farewell banquet, and they gave me a check for $100. So now I had $600! That is the money with which I went to seminary the next year. That night at the banquet someone gave me this verse: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” That has been my life verse ever since that night.

Now let’s consider this verse for a moment.

“Being confident” is causative and could be translated, “Since I am confident of this very thing”—Paul knew what he was talking about.

“He which hath begun … will perform.” The word for “perform” means to carry through. He will consummate what He began.

“Until the day of Jesus Christ.” You and I today are not living in the Day of the Lord; we are not living in the day of the Old Testament; we are not living in the day of the Millennium; we are not living in the day of eternity; we are living in the day of Jesus Christ. That day will be consummated when He comes to take His own out of this world. And the Holy Spirit has sealed you and me until the day of redemption. Paul wrote to the Ephesian believers, “And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Eph. 4:30). And until then, you can count upon God to consummate whatever He intends for you. He is going to see it through. How wonderful!

Now, my friend, let me ask you this: Is this practical for you and me? I don’t know what your circumstances are, but if you are a child of God, I am sure you can testify that God has brought you up to the present moment, hasn’t He? Can’t you look back over your life and see how He has led you and provided for you? Then why should you be concerned about tomorrow? Do you think He is going to let you down now? I confess that this was my thinking when I finished college.

You see, I went through college, but I didn’t enjoy it as I should have. I never had joy because I always was afraid I couldn’t go on. I just didn’t believe God would see me through. So many times we Christians act like unbelievers. In fact, we live and act like practical atheists. The graduation was a happy experience for my classmates. I could see those rich kids being hugged by their parents. No one was there to throw their arms around me, but it wouldn’t have made any difference if there had been a whole delegation of well-wishers, because I thought I was through. I felt called to the ministry, but there was no possible way for me to go on to seminary. However, I had a wonderful heavenly Father who, through Philippians 1:6, put His arms around me and said, “I’ll see you through.”

And I want to testify today that He is still keeping His promise. It has been a comfort to me since I have had several bouts with cancer to know that my heavenly Father said, “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.” He is a good Doctor also; in fact, He is the Great Physician, and He has said, “Whatever I have in store for you, I’m going to see you through until the day of Jesus Christ.” So I am in His hands.

This is a great verse of Scripture. Oh, I have held onto this during many a dark night when the storm outside was beating against my little bark. My, how wonderful to have a heavenly Father like this!

J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary, electronic ed., vol. 5 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 292–293.

Pastor Chuck Smith Going Under the Knife this Month ~ Lung Cancer

Religion News Blog has this:

COSTA MESA, CA (ANS) — The congregation at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, California, were stunned last Sunday when Pastor Chuck Smith, its senior pastor, announced during his Sunday morning services that he has lung cancer and will have a biopsy on Tuesday and surgery the following week.

Chuck Smith, now in his eighties and the father of the Jesus People Revolution in Southern California, said that he has never smoked in his life.

At at the end of the third service that was broadcast on KWVE 107.9 FM, his son-in-law, Brian Brodersen, joined with other pastors at the huge church and anointed him with oil and prayed for his healing.

Karl Corcoran, evangelism pastor at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, posted on Facebook, “Update: Pastor Chuck Smith having surgery this month for lung cancer after a series of tests this week. Estimated recovery time is 3 weeks.”

In response to the posting, Kathy Buckley Keys said, “We were stunned with the news of Pastor Chuck. His ways are higher than ours and He is able to keep that which is committed to Him so we commit Pastor Chuck and all that is related to him, family, doctors and treatments to the Great Physician who knows Pastor Chuck intimately and ask for His guidance, favor, love and support through this time.”

…read more…