Tuesday, December 23, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Then, There Are Religious Leaders.
Now it’s one thing to make a mistake in your message. I’ve done that before. Called a wrong date or a wrong scripture or even reversed a sequence. Those things can be corrected as any minister reading this can relate. However, one cannot correct a fundamentally flawed paradigm unless one is willing to change that paradigm. Most paradigm’s (for this writing-fundamental understanding of scripture) have develop over time. If your paradigm is flawed and the flaws are not corrected, or recast in the correct mode, then it is possible to build and even perfect a wrong understanding of scripture and make highly attractive displays out of foundation-less buildings of paper and glass.
Then there’s the area of psychology. Because no one sets out in life to have a flawed paradigm or set of beliefs. The next step is often to make your belief system seem "normal" or acceptable within the "system" or realm operation. One way to do this is to amass individuals who are in agreement with your paradigm. Another way is to shade your beliefs until it is warranted that they be exposed, and finally interconnect your beliefs with so many other things until it becomes cumbersome if not impossible for anyone to root up everything all at once.
Secular companies implore marketing strategies that have used this method of operation for years. In the banking industry for instance, it is called "relationship banking". You start with a free checking account or savings account then they cross-sell and offer you as many products as you can stand over a period of time. Ultimately if a customer decides to leave the bank, they will think twice before moving all of their deposits because not only will they have multiple accounts, but now you have services such as loans and credit cards and they are often paid by auto-draft from one of those "free" accounts. If you close your accounts you’ll have to worry about setting up a new payment methods etc which will take more of your time and cause you an inconvenience…ie: The bank’s aim is to get you in so deep until it becomes cumbersome for you to leave and to your advantage to not think critically or "sweat" the small stuff.
These same techniques are perfected in the streets. Drug dealers know how to keep regular clients by offering "freebies" or extra’s after certain clients have spent so much. Pimps have managed to learn how to keep certain women under control by defining their thoughts for them, and making them interdependent upon him and his "efforts" (even if he does nothing) and soothing it over with drugs and the pretense of "protection".
What Happens When A Church Or Minister Takes This Same Approach?
In his recently aired 12/21/2008 Christmas message, "5 Points To My Star" Bishop T.D. Jakes set forth what I thought to be some pretty motivational and inspiring words. But it’s what’s before during and after those words of inspiration that is so utterly shocking and disturbing that I decided to write this post.
First of all, and I don’t claim to know his thoughts, but a 5 Point Star, which was the title of his message, is a pentagram. Now this is probably the easiest type of star to draw and one that most children learn in school, however a pentagram is a symbol of WICCA or Wiccan Witchcraft. In fact, even more disturbingly, an inverted, interlocked pentagram is a symbol of a Satanism aka Luciferianism and a demon icon called Beowulf.
It was even more interesting as he mingled motivational utterances with his version of the gospel. He encouraged the individuals to know 1- That they have nothing to do with the promise of God upon their lives, 2- That they should grow "outside" the system ie: away from religious tradition and peoples expectations 3- They should remember that everyone that follows doesn’t necessarily want them to succeed, and 4- That they should keep their "gifts" hidden while they grow.
I don’t believe he got to the 5th point in that segment, but many of those points especially points 2 and 4 were disturbing because they come right out of the mind control handbook, (if there were such a thing). Secondly, he left the word "gifts" open to interpretation and one can only speculate as to what he means based on other erroneous doctrines that he espouses see :GCMWatch Jakes Exposed
But of equal importance was how concluded that segment and by defining the relationship of Jesus and Mary, his mother.
Using the events of acts 2:4 as his backdrop, Bishop stated that Mary identified Jesus aka the Holy Ghost because he had "been in her womb before." "Before Pentecost" says Jakes, "Jesus was in her womb as a baby but now he was in her womb as a quickening spirit".
Now, I don’t know how one makes the leap from a baby or physical pregnancy to the Holy Ghost indwelling of God’s Spirit, (other than analogously) But Jakes made the case that there was a physical and material identification by Mary to the Holy Ghost whom he identified as Jesus. Not only is this a literal and biblical untruth, it’s a total misrepresentation of the relationship between Jesus and Mary and God and HIS church. In other words what he espoused was rank doctrinal heresy.
Clearly there is an audience that not only cannot recognize when someone is divining their minds and spirits, but also does not care when the most carnal and subjective references and paradigms are used to interpret biblical texts and understand spiritual relationships documented within the bible.
In other words Jakes complete paradigm is not a biblical paradigm but a paradigm based on his personal thoughts and revelations, oneness Pentecostalism , subjugation of the masses through media and propaganda, relationship marketing strategies, and cross-selling ministry services.
If the audience is any representation of the multi-million dollar annual media sales it is obviously possible to get people so deep and intertwined in superficial and fluff, self promotion until whatever is said will always be reinterpreted to mean something different than what it was originally intended or understood to mean.
The Star in the biblical record (Mt. 2:2) was a supernatural event, designed to draw those who had eyes to see to Jesus. Neither Herod, Caiphas, or any of those in Judea could see the star (Mt. 2:7) as proven by Herrod’s inquiry that the heavens were not open to them, but it was open to those called "wise men" from the east who at a minimum had traveled a long journey west to see the star that rose in the east. This was a supernatural opening in which the light of the Lord shone through the veil of humanity. An opening that was reminiscent to the Baptism of Jesus in which the heaven’s were opened (Mt. 3:16, Mk. 1:10, Lk. 3:21) and one similar to that through which Jesus appeared to Saul and he was converted to Paul (Acts 9:3) see: T. Michael Davis "Christian Research Journal" Vol. 30 #6 2007 Pg. 19. In all cases the "light" led individuals to Jesus.
The point is that the star wasn’t the focus or the end of the journey, Jesus was.
It would seem that the church is struggling to learn that it doesn’t matter what the points of "our" star are. Jesus already knows what we have suffered that has lead us to this place. What we should remember that if whatever star we follow doesn’t lead us to see Jesus and learn who HE is, it’s a journey that is not worth traveling.
Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night(or day)
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
We say, "daughter/son, get off the street and stop sellin' drugs." But how much money have we spent to help them stop sellin' drugs? I'm not talking about church welfare. I'm talking about creating and developing life skill sets that will on point teach and train these young men and ladies to be free from what they are doing, that will recreate "life" for them and their community. So that's ministry and service. Not jumping on some stage and saying...SAY YES LAWD! Don't get me wrong, I do that and love to do that in the service, but I also do the other and do that first, even when I'm hoarse.
Pastor Burnett: Now I ain't that old my brutha...;) but let me show you what I see...
Pastor Burnett: Brother, like Jimmy V said, "Don't ever give up!" and like James Moore sung, "It ain't over until God says it's over." There is great power in standing in the gap, even if you're just one.
Remember Mary and Martha when Jesus came to them in John 11 what did Martha say?
What did Jesus respond?
Then Martha does something that many of us do. Put things so far off in the future until we can't hardly see it. She says,
She talks about a blessing that is beyond her present ability. She equates the resolution of things with the end of the world, which was representative of the Jewish thought of "The last day".
He indicated that what she was looking for resided in ONE person, and that person was him. Next thing you know Lazarus was outta that grave and the disciples were taking the "death identity" (grave clothes) off of him.
Sunday, December 14, 2008
Professor Bart D. Ehrman in his book "God’s Problem: How The Bible Fails To Answer Our Most Important Question-Why We Suffer" while not dealing with the morality of man, concluded that suffering is caused due to evil forces in this present world (apocalypticism). He explains how this continues even though prescribed atonement (sacrifice of Jesus) has been made to eliminate it. He concludes by calling the actions and the nature of God into question and poses that God has failed to answer why we suffer and that humans must do whatever is necessary to eliminate their own suffering. In other words Dr. Ehrman calls God’s morality and goodness in dealing with man into question.
What Does It Mean To Be Moral Or Have Morality?
1- If God does not exist, objective moral values do not exist.
- 2- Objective moral values DO exist.
- 3- Therefore God exists.
- From Dr. William Lane Craig, "Why I Believe God Exists" as found in Geisler & Hoffman, "Why I Am A Christian: Leading Thinkers Explain Why They Believe" (Grand Rapids Baker Books, 1999)p.75.
- "So the Christian world view already acknowledges that one can be good for goodness sake, but that one cannot be saved or acceptable with God no matter how much good one does or performs"
A Christian springs forth the good that they do because the heart is good and has been changed by the power the Lord. Whereas a sinner does good out of a different set of principles or essential necessities. Though the same or similar characteristics may exist in the life of a Christian and sinner, a Christian has been impacted supernaturally by the God that they serve, therefore the good that the Christian does is unto the glory of God and not merely because it was a good act. So the difference is not necessarily in the "What" of moral behavior the difference is in the "Why" of moral behavior.
Create or try to find some way to genetically account for moral behavior.
The atheist/humanist/naturalist has claimed that God offers no benefit towards morality and moral behaviors. Basically stating that all things being equal, that a sinner can be just as good or moral as any Christian, but as we have noted that argument is a non-starter and a given because we can readily observe sinners doing good things or performing good acts according to natural law. However we cannot find any genetic or natural means whereby a sinner gains those moral values. Why? Because the naturalist only responds in ways that are randomly predetermined by genetic processes and natural selection. Natural selection however is a totally blind process with no regard for outcomes either positive or negative. In other words genetic process does not care or offer a priority of moral good for the individual or society.
To further illustrate the terrible problems associated with this viewpoint, we cannot overlook the comments of one of the leading atheists and proponents of methodological and metaphysical naturalism, who is non other than Oxford Professor and scientist Dr. Richard Dawkins.
- Richard Dawkins: My value judgement itself could come from my evolutionary past.
- Justin: So therefore its just as random as any product of evolution? (Referencing human moral value selection)
- Richard Dawkins: Well, you could say that, but it doesn't in any case, nothing about it makes it more probable that there is anything supernatural.
- Justin: Ok, but ultimately your belief that rape is wrong is as arbitrary as the fact that we've evolved five fingers rather than six?
- Richard Dawkins: You could say that, yeah."
Justin then goes on to say this regarding Dawkin’s statements:
"Dawkins is not saying that "rape is ok" – he believes it is wrong from within his evolutionary perspective. However, he does admit that the belief itself is essentially arbitrary given that we could have evolved different morals – and that there can be no overarching moral fact that rape is wrong, as this would suggest values etc. that eclipse his strict naturalism. Of course, not many atheists actually want to admit that this is a logical outworking of naturalism (though it is very hard to deny) and talk all the time as though they are privy to absolute moral facts."
In the naturalistic worldview the definition of morality is solely based on blind chance and what we evolve into. Professor Dawkins agrees that the idea of rape being wrong is an arbitrary product of evolution. In his worldview we evolved to gravitate from rape being an acceptable moral standard. The problem is that Dr. Dawkins cannot account for any of this as he knows that evolutionary process and natural selection are blind and unable to distinguish between moral good and moral bad.
Hold the Phone!
This means that under the naturalist framework, we all would generally accept rape as being ok if only our genes through evolutionary process told us so? This also means that we all could accept murder pedophilia, incest, mutilation, and even eating our children as potential morally equal genetic outcomes of natural selection. Everything is based on random processes.
It is out of this understanding of natural morality sometimes called "natural law" that homosexuality flourishes. That abortion thrives. That most manias are merely reduced to diverse behaviors. This is the difference between Christian Objective Moral values and the naturalist, relativist or subjectivist value systems which campaign for morality without God. There is no standard of what is called objective morality or any standard of what should be moral obligation.
Additional Scriptural Insight
Sampson had been deposed by God from being a Judge in approximately 1050 to 1070 BC. (Judges 16:31) Samuel would later reign as the last Judge/Prophet but a King would not be appointed by god and anointed by Samuel until (1 Sam. 10:1 & 17) l or at least another 13 to 32 years in 1038 BC.
One thing we learn from studying the Kings of Israel is that they were not spiritual restorers or moral leaders of the people. That position was reserved for the Priest and the Prophet whom God would raise up. So 2 questions arise?
- What king was being referred to?
- What was the social and moral implications of not having a king?
So the King being referred to is God himself that had given sign after sign raised up Judge after Judge to help and bless Israel and restore them to fellowship. In essence God was King doing and performing duties of taking care of the nation, but his leadership was not kept before the eyes of the people.
What were the results? Obviously the scripture indicates that the people developed their own brand of morality and their own sense of what was right and wrong by doing "what was right in their own eyes". The story of Micah in Judges 17 is indicative of this problem. Micah wanted a relationship with God but did it his way with a total disregard for the path of the Lord. He hired a pastor (priest) made and ephod and a teraphim and consecrated one of his sons to be priest. (Judges 16:5) His actions would affect a nation as the tribe of Dan would take his items and create a nation that was given to idolatry.
Dr. Craig Bloomberg offered this in response to an atheist website called Debunking Christianity that asked him to address why he was still a Christian. On morality he said the following:
"In fact, if Christians have to wrestle with the problem of evil, so must everyone else. Indeed, we must all wrestle as well with the problem of good. Where do these concepts come from? What makes the most hardened atheist (usually) insist that there is something just plain wrong, perhaps even immoral, with torturing prisoners, abusing children, raping women, and with someone else gratuitously murdering them. The most advanced of apes has never disclosed any awareness of systems of morality, which is why we never arrest and imprison them, even if they kill humans. (We might euthanize them once in awhile, but not as retributive punishment, merely to protect the rest of humanity.) And we certainly don’t condemn multiple-partner animals of being unfaithful to their mates. Mark Twain (no evangelical he!) put it well: "Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to." Near the end of his life, Darwin admitted he had no satisfying explanation for human moral consciousness and reasoning."
When all is said and done Jesus provides a much better answer to the questions of morality among mankind. Although some have set forth to address the issue saying that morality is based on identity (vis a vis Ayn Rand) identity or self awareness tells us absolutely nothing about morality, objective moral values and what God has done for us through the power of HIS Spirit and sacrifice on the cross of his son Jesus Christ.
Thursday, December 4, 2008
The questions I have received revolved around 2 things. 1- This definition of "medical necessity" and and 2- permissibility of abortion as it relates to circumstances of rape or incest. These are among the most emotionally debated topics. We must be careful because the atheist and critic states that if we truly value human life we would value it in all circumstances (including rape or incest) and if we value the life of a baby as the result of rape or incest we are condemning the victim to a life of repeated pain by forcing her to carry the product (the child) of such a terrible event. In either case the critic always says, "If God existed and he cared, he wouldn't have let it happen."
First, the Kaiser Family Foundation provides information on how states offer and administer "medically necessary" abortions. You should look up that information to see how things are handled in your state so that you may know how your tax dollars are spent and what to expect as you minister to various individuals with certain medical needs. At Answers.com it is stated that abortion is not among the medical procedures covered by Medicaid, the federally funded, state administered program that provides health care to many poor women.
Under federal law, the so-called "Hyde Amendment" passed in 1976 and amended in 1997, prohibits the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when the life of the pregnant woman is in danger. Some states use their own Medicaid funds to pay for abortions that physicians consider "medically necessary," and a few states fund abortions cases of fetal anomaly or grave physical health danger of the mother. Some private organizations, such as Planned Parenthood, assist low-income women in states with restrictive funding policies by performing abortions for reduced fees. In 1999, less than two-fifths of women with employer-based health insurance were covered for abortion services. Many of those women with gaps in coverages within their primary health plan were prime targets an users of Planned Parenthood services.
The news is that this Holiday Season Planned Parenthood is offering coupons for abortions in Indiana, at 35 of it's clinics across the state. The coupons are for an amount up to $25.00 per request. This is the same Planned Parenthood that is responsible for 20% of the nations abortions per year (1 out of every 5) receives $305.3 Million per year in government funding, has net assets of $952 Million and ended its 2005-2006 fiscal year with a $115 Million surplus.
One thing is for sure, at these numbers and profit margins Planned Parenthood certainly DOESN'T need a Government bailout, bridge loan or anything else.
The facts are that according to John Lofton of WorldNetDaily.com under the regime of President George Bush (The Religious Right & Conservative Republicans-mind you) since 2001 Planned Parenthood has received $2.2 Billion in Federal Funding which was an increase of 67%.
No More Smoke & Mirrors, The Real Facts
To the heart of this post and as not to add additional confusion to the fiasco that we are witnessing, it is interesting to note that only 1% of women in the 2004 survey-based U.S. study became pregnant as a result of rape and 0.5% as a result of incest. These statistics are according to Finer, Lawrence B., Frohwirth, Lori F., Dauphinee, Lindsay A., Singh, Shusheela, & Moore, Ann M. (2005). Reasons U.S. women have abortions: quantative and qualitative perspectives. Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health, 37 (3), 110-8. Retrieved 2006-01-18. This information offers startling insight into the myth that a high representative amount of abortions are due to rape or incest therefore condoning abortion.
To place this in perspective, of the estimated 50,000,000 abortions that have occurred since 1973 only 1.5% were due primarily to rape or incest. This would bring the figure to approximately 750,000 abortions in which the killing of a fetus was decided based on morally subjective terms. As it relates to the black community, assuming the same 1.5% rate of rape and incest, (which may be more or less) the numbers would shrink from 13,000,000 since abortion legalization in 1973 to 195,000. The average number of abortions per day would go from it's current level of 1,450 to approximately 22 per day.
These numbers are of course, hypothetical but they do drive home the point that even IF a person were to allow that abortion is permissible in cases of rape or incest society would be more than significantly less impacted than we are as a result of the current trend within the abortion arena. In fact statistics say that almost half of all unwanted pregnancies occur because of contraceptive failure. In other words frivolous sexual behavior, and a lack of abstinence and self restraint has led to over 25,000,000 abortions by itself within the United States.
There is a human factor to these numbers and statistics that must be discussed. When a person IS the statistic it can be devastating to their life and as we see the life of the unborn. I have seen the devastating effects of a child denied a mother's love through what we consider the premature death of the mother. These situations are not to be taken lightly, but that's when the church comes in and why it is important to be a part of a healthy body of believers who will pray and put their money where their mouth is...in their actions and in support of families and children in need.
The church and leaders should teach that all life is valuable. Even the life of the child produced as a result of rape or incest. Only God can heal wounds and the greatest pain could be the greatest gain if placed in the hand of the master of our souls. The atheist and skeptic is right on one hand, If we value life and truly believe that we are created in the image and likeness of God, we must instruct those who have been used and abused to seek shelter in the safety and love of Jesus Christ and not render or offer a retaliation for sin by taking out punishment upon the innocent.
These situations are not easy and according to statistical data, not something that must be dealt with all the time, but the church must be prepared to give an answer and make a difference in all areas of life and living. These are opportunities to teach values and virtues of life that change lives for millions. Values such as forgiveness and mercy are only words until they are placed in action. It is during these times that true Christianity is exemplified. The innocent deserve at least a chance to live and make a difference in this world.
Isaiah 58:10-12 ~ "10-And if thou draw out thy soul to the hungry, and satisfy the afflicted soul; then shall thy light rise in obscurity, and thy darkness as the noonday: 11-And the Lord shall guide thee continually, and satisfy thy soul in drought and make fat thy bones: and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. 12- And they that shall be of thee shall build the old waste places: thou shalt raise up the foundations of many generations; and thou shalt be called, The repairer of the breach, The restorer of paths to dwell in."
On a recent radio show, a young lady called in to complain about my position on abortion in general. She said that society is "bad enough as it is". She then asked, "how would we possibly provide for an extra 50,000,000 people?" That was a sad indicator of our times when individuals would rather use death as a manner of population control and management, giving no heed to all the potential talent, genius, and idealism that this country has sacrificed at the altar of human comforts. This doesn't even address the tax revenues, and jobs that would have been created over the same period of time, the additional funding for the social security "lock box" that Former VP Al Gore spoke of in his stolen election campaign.
To those who have made this terrible mistake, it's now your time to take what may be your greatest pain and place it into God's hand. He will wash and renew you soul, and cause you to live abundantly in HIS sufficient grace.
Psalms 118:17-21~ "17-I shall not die, but live and declare the works of the Lord. 18-The Lord hath chastened me sore: but he hath not given me over unto death. 19-Open to me the gates of righteousness and I will go in unto them, and I will praise the Lord: This gate of the Lord, into which the righteous shall enter. 21-I will praise thee: for thou hast heard me and art become my salvation."