Saturday, September 5, 2015

How to Silence Internet Atheists Who Try to Silence Kim Davis Supporters Who Cherry-Pick the Bible

Have you seen this video post run across your Facebook Newsfeed in the past 24 hours?

How to silence Kim Davis supporters who cherry-pick the Bible to discriminate against LGBT Americans.
In the comments, tag your friends who need to see this.
Video by Occupy Democrats, please LIKE our page!
Posted by Occupy Democrats on Friday, September 4, 2015

I wouldn't be surprised if you had, given that it's already been viewed almost 6,000,000 times since yesterday (at the time of this writing). It's definitely nothing new. And. It. Is. Tired! 

It was written and filmed by people who had no interest in having the "Dr. Laura" character provide a cogent biblical response to the ignorant speech given by the stupid president. And it's vomited out onto social media by people who like the force of the rhetoric of the LGBT apologetic being shown, but they don't have a clue whether the stuff that they're watching, and subsequently spreading around, has teeth. I can assure you, it does not.

But perhaps you've watched the video today, or you've seen it in the past, and you're worried that if someone were to challenge you in the same way, you wouldn't know how to respond. Well, you've come to the right place. Let's see if we can put this paper tiger to bed.

First, the laws being mockingly thrown about here (by the cafeteria "Catholic" Martin Sheen), were given by God to whom? Not to the Canaanite people, not to the Egyptians, not to the Hittites, and not to the citizens of the commonwealth of Kentucky. These laws were part of a covenant treaty, given by God, and mediated through Moses to the people of ________.

That's right. To the people of Israel.

Second, Hebrews 8:13 and 10:1 (two among many other passages) teach us that everything found in the former covenant (the OT, the Law given through Moses at Sinai) was made obsolete by a better covenant; and that the former covenant (with all it's stipulations, blessings and curses) were a mere shadow of the reality that was later to be revealed in the person of Jesus. Many of the laws in that covenant (dietary, grooming, agricultural, etc.) were given to show that Israel was a set apart people, distinct from their neighbors (who didn't have a law and who practiced many of the things that the God of Israel prohibited). Those particular laws only had relevance at a time when they were able to demonstrate the peculiarity of the nation of Israel and their law code. Those circumstances no longer exist. Therefore, the holiness (or, the set-apartness) that those laws once communicated to the nations no longer exists today. They were laws that were given at a particular time in history, to a very particular people, for very particular purposes.

Thirdly, if the laws given at Sinai were only given to the nation of Israel, and the covenant to which those laws belonged is now obsolete, doesn't that mean that the prohibition against the abomination of homosexuality was never binding upon gentiles; does it mean that prohibitions against sexual perversions are now obsolete for everyone? Nope. How do we know that? We know it for a few reasons: 

1) The LORD, God of Israel, punished gentiles for homosexuality before the nation of Israel was constituted and given the Law; 2) Jesus condemned all forms of sexual immorality in general; 3) Paul condemned homosexuality in particular; and 4) life-long, monogamous, heterosexual, covenanted relationships are the only sanctioned and celebrated sexual relationships found in the Scripture; it is the norm and the pattern from Genesis chapter 1 moving forward.

What have we learned? We've learned that we don’t let people who learn their theology from prime-time TV worry us. They don’t know what they’re talking about. If a man who pretends to act like other people for a living is the "go to guy" for internet atheism, do you really think you have that much to fear? This is just another bad argument given by people who spend their lives fighting against the God that they say they don't believe exists.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

God didn't put rainbows in the sky...

There is no Hebrew word for 'Rainbow'. The word translated as rainbow in Genesis 9:13 is the same word translated elsewhere as an 'archer's bow'. What does that mean? It means that God didn't simply throw a rainbow up in the sky as a symbol of his peace and love for mankind. It means that he placed his bow upon the clouds as a sign of his pledge that he was retiring flooding rains from his arsenal of judgment against rebel humans. 

Rain-bows, then, are ultimately weapons of judgement, not symbols of love and peace. They only become symbols of love and peace when we recognize which direction the working end of those weapons are pointing. They are pointed toward heaven, towards God. 

The judgement of God against human rebellion and insurrection fell upon God himself, in the person of Jesus Christ upon the cross. He bore the torrent of the Father's wrath against sin by dying the death his people deserved, so that all who are found in Jesus, the true Ark of our Salvation, will escape the flooding fire of God's judgement.

Turn back to God, find sanctuary in Jesus, and you will be saved from the wrath that is to come.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2015

A New Creation Community

The Church is a new creation community in Christ. This, my first sermon as pastor of Community Life Church in Waxahachie, TX, takes a look at that theme in a walk through redemptive history.


Video credit: Robert Stulken
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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

"Help, I'm a pastor!"

If you've not yet heard, I think you'll be pleased to find out that God has seen fit to have me pastor part of Jesus' Church in Waxahachie, TX. 

We are Community Life Church!

I'm very excited about the opportunity and yet very aware of the responsibility that God has set before me in my new role. Pray for me, that I'd lead well and wisely in my service! Pray for my family, that I don't lose myself in my work and neglect my role as pastor-husband and pastor-daddy! Pray for yet-to-be-made disciples, that God would grant us favor in Waxahachie, to gather in his lost sheep and train them for God's mission.

The role at Community Life, as it presently stands, is interim and part-time with the option of becoming permanent. This is where the new position presents some obstacles that need to be negotiated. My current employer was unable to accommodate a request to reduce my hours by granting me Sundays off. That obviously will not work for us, so I will need to resign my position. 

Where does that leave us? It leaves us with the opportunity to exercise our faith and it leaves God with the opportunity to flex his provision. I'm as certain of this calling as I can be certain of anything that God has called me unto. God has brought this together; he brought Community Life to me and me to Community Life. And I believe that strongly enough to lose my current employment for the sake of partnering with them in God's mission to reach our city. God always provides the means to accomplish the ends that he's determined.

How can you help? 
  • Pray 
    • I need a part-time job to provide at least $1000/mo at less than 20/hrs a week. 
    • I need grace and time to be able to get into a rhythm that suits writing and delivering Jesus-exalting gospel-saturated sermons that catalyze mission.  
    • I need favor with the church to lead them in building new structures that are better suited to disciple-multiplication.
  • Serve
    • Do you live in Ellis County, consider joining us in Waxahachie.
  • Give
    • If I'm able to secure a job that provides $1000/month that will still leave my family operating with a $1000 monthly deficit. That's unsustainable.
    • I know there is no shortage of requests asking you for some of what God has given you to manage ('cause I receive them too), but I'm asking you anyway. :) Whether you are a church giving out of your mission's fund, or a fellow servant giving out of your disposable income, pray about giving and consider whether this is an investment in the Kingdom that your willing to make.1
    • Send gifts to:
      Josh Elsom

      c/o Community Life Church

      PO Box 2672
      Waxahachie, Texas

Thank you very much for your consideration of these requests.

For God's Glory and in His Strength,
Josh Elsom

1 I'm pleased to discuss the details of my current financial situation with would-be donors.

If you plan on giving us a monthly gift please let me know so I don't end up with too many people giving us more than what we require.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2015

The Six Acts of Redemptive History

I wanted to share a tool with you that I've found very useful when teaching the gospel to those both within and without the family of God. This is not the typical systematic gospel presentation methodology that is so prominent today and with which you are likely familiar — e.g. The Four Spiritual Laws, Way of the Master.1 This is a story-formed way of presenting the good news of Jesus and his kingdom come. — which is the proclamation methodology we find used most often by heralds in the New Testament.

These are the Six Acts of Redemptive History


Act 1:  — God comes down to create a people for himself, bearing his image and likeness, for his glory, and for their joy.

Act 2: x — Man rebelled against the Creator God; sin and death entered the world; and man was expelled from paradise and the shalom of God. But, there was a promise of a Redeemer given in Gen 3:15; it would be through the offspring of the woman that the Serpent’s head would be crushed and the curse of death would itself be put to death.

Act 3: — Abraham is chosen by God. He is promised that it would be through his offspring that the whole world would be blessed. Sarah, who was too old to bear children, miraculously has a child with Abraham. That child, named Isaac, is blessed by Abraham to be a blessing to the nations. Isaac blesses his son Jacob with the same blessing. Jacob has 12 sons who become the 12 tribes of Israel. God makes covenant with them. In that covenant is a law, if Israel keeps it, they will receive such a blessing that the nations will come to them to enquire about their wisdom and their God. They would be a light to the nations. They almost get there with the reigns of David and Solomon. They are blessed and the nations begin taking notice. But, because they sinned and broke covenant with God, God casts them out of the Land, just as he cast their Father Adam out of the garden. 

There was a promise that emerged during this time of exile. Another covenant, unlike the former, would be given. One where God’s teaching would be written upon the hearts of his chosen people. There was also the promise that, one day, the knowledge of the glory of God would saturate the earth like the waters cover the sea.

Act 4: ✝ — The promised offspring of Eve, Sarah, Rebekah, Leah and Mary is born. The wisdom of God and the blessing of the nations has finally come! His name is Jesus and he is the light of the world, a light for the nations. He is obedient where Adam rebelled, making him the ideal image bearer of God’s likeness. He did for Israel what Israel was incapable of doing for themselves; he kept covenant with God. He was flawlessly obedient, wholly submitted, and perfectly godly, thereby, making him the ideal Jew. He received all the blessings due Israel for covenant obedience. However, because he loved his people, he also took upon himself all the curses promised in the covenant for Israel’s unfaithfulness. He died the death that Israel deserved and received the ultimate expulsion from the Land, death and the grave. But, that’s not all that happened at the cross. He also gave to his people everything that his perfect obedience had earned. All the blessings that were due him, everything he had earned during his life, were now given as an inheritance to believing Israel. As he satisfied the terms of the former covenant he was also establishing the prophesied new covenant in his blood. It was not possible that death should hold him. He rose from among the dead, then received glory, honor, and all authority from the Father. And all who are believing in him, though their bodies die, because Jesus rose from among the dead, so too they will one day rise.

Act 5:  — Jesus sent his followers out, just as he was sent by the Father, to teach the nations about the knowledge of the glory of God. He sent his Spirit into them, to dwell among them, to write his teaching upon their hearts; and to empower them for the global discipling mission that he began during his ministry. 

Jesus crushed the head of the serpent at the cross and his holy congregation continues to storm the gates of the grave. Those gates will fall! 

Act 6: — God comes down again, to dwell with and among his chosen people. Everything that was spoiled by the curse through sin is over. It is gone, forever. Death and sin are killed by God, and life, as it should have been lived had there been no rebellion, is reestablished by our great God and King, Jesus. Shalom will be returned to the Land!

Heaven is not our final destination. A new heaven and new earth is. The Christian hope is not that we will one day die and go to heaven. Our hope is that we will one day rise from among the dead, like Jesus, and be given new bodies like his, made ready to live a forever life-after-death-after-life on a new heavenly earth. There, Jesus will be our light and we will forever joyfully image him to one another and to all his creation as his perfect image bearers. 3

1  This should not be misconstrued as a disparagement against these methods, particularly with regard to using the law in evangelism to bring about the knowledge of guilt and sin and the need for a savior. However, because these methods lack continuity with the biblical story and assume some biblical literacy on the part of the hearer, they truncate the gospel and insufficiently position Jesus as the answer to what is wrong with the world as we know it. A robust gospel presentation will include what these Systematic Theological presentations provide — namely, the knowledge of sin and the need of Jesus as Savior — but it will also provide a Biblical Theological foundation for the systematics to make sense; in other words, it will put Jesus and his gospel in their proper historical and theological context. 

 Credit goes to Chris Gonzalez for codifying the Story of God in the drawing (though I took some liberty with what he's drawn).

 The narrative provided for the 6 Acts above are not necessarily considered sufficiently complete. They are only intended to give you an idea of how to use the tool and help you better understand and communicate the metanarrative of the biblical story. In other words, don't accuse me of heresy if I left something out. Feel free to amend or draw out other relevant themes that best support the biblical story as Jesus as our Rescuer King.  

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Happy Pentecost, Church?

"Happy Pentecost, Church!"

Regrettably, very few of you are likely to hear anything mentioned about Pentecost tomorrow morning, much less receive a well wished greeting in recognition of the holiday. There will no doubt be services dedicated to Memorial Day, in recognition of America's fallen heros, but scant few churches will even be aware of the other holiday the weekend brings our way. We give a month to Advent, leading up to Christmas, we have special services and celebrations in recognition of Easter, but we do nothing to celebrate Pentecost.

Why is that?

Perhaps, it's because most don't understand what Pentecost is, why it happened, or why it even matters. Well, I want you to know something about it because, if it isn't the most important event that's ever happened in the history of the world, it certainly ranks a close second or third. So, to help you with this, I'm posting a paper that I wrote in seminary that I think will help shed some light upon this most important but unfortunately neglected holiday — oh, don't forget the endnotes!

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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Re: Millennials leaving church in droves, study finds

When you sell Christianity as a commodity people will dump their stock when its market value drops.

The following from the article (above) is key:
"It's not as if young people today are being raised in a way completely different from Christianity," said Smith, the Pew researcher. "But as adults they are simply dropping that part of their identity."
That tells me the roots of the phenomenon go much deeper and further back than the last number of years. There's a systemic problem with our discipleship and an incipient sub-biblical gospel and ecclesiology that's infected evangelicalism for some time; and it's only been in the last number of years, since Christianity has been pushed toward the margins of the culture, that the effects of these things has been noticed.

To be honest, I'm not overly concerned about the trend. God is just removing the dross that's rising to the top. And, in the end, I'd much rather have the culture filled with agnostic 'nones' than I would apathetic moralistic false disciples. 

The visible church might be shrinking but the invisible church militant is still storming the gates of hell. 
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