Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Eric Bolling v. Dan Barker

The atheists over at the Freedom From Religion Foundation aren’t ashamed to let their anti-faith message be heard loud and clear.

The Blaze has spoken with the group and heard, first-hand, just how strong-worded and offensive (to people of faith, at least) its message can be.  Last night, the Fox Business Network’s Eric Bolling invited a FFRF representative onto his show to discuss the group’s anti-Christian stance.

During a dialogue with FFRF spokesperson Dan Barker (who is married to FFRF co-president Annie Laurie Gaylor), “Follow the Money” host Eric Bolling was so dumbfounded by the group’s anti-Jesus views that he ended up booting the atheist-spokesperson off of the program. Mediaite’s Colby Hall called the moment a “‘War on Christmas’ miracle!”

At the center of the discussion was a Texas nativity scene that the Madison, Wisconsin-based FFRF has been demanding be torn down immediately. During the dialogue, Barker claimed that America is not a Christian nation and that the nativity should not be present on government property. He went on to say that the nativity represents “an insult to human nature that we are all doomed and damned.”

It was this comment that commenced the uncomfortable exchange between Bolling and Barker. “Sir, I have to take exception to the way you’ve described the nativity scene. It’s not an insult. It’s certainly not an insult to me. I’m a Christian,” Bolling explained. “It is an insult, sir,” Barker countered. At this point, the interview continued, as Bolling sought to move on to another question. But it didn’t take long for Barker to, once again, push Bolling’s buttons.

“Why was Jesus born? To save us from our sins. What an insult that we are degraded, depraved human beings — that Jesus created a hell — a place or torture,” Barker quipped. “And how would you feel if you didn’t believe that… superstition?”

Bolling interrupted the insults and abruptly ended the interview. (courtesy of the BLAZE.)

 

My thoughts:

"A dog barks when his master is attacked.  I would be a coward if I saw that God's truth is attacked and yet would remain silent." ~ John Calvin

I am thankful for anyone who is willing to stand up for their faith and the name of their Savior.  And to that end I am thankful for what Eric Bolling did on his show.  Dan Barker is an enemy of the Cross and he is doing everything in his power to censure Christians and silence the Gospel in our country.

However, I think Mr. Bolling may have kicked Mr. Barker off of his show because he was unable to properly defend his faith.  Dan Barker's theology was mostly right, wasn't it?  He said, "“...we are all doomed and damned.” and “Why was Jesus born?  To save us from our sins...we are degraded, depraved human beings...Jesus created a hell — a place or torture...”  All true!  Of course we know that God created Hell for the rebellious angels but does He not also now send law breaking humanity there?  If that is the case then why did Mr. Bolling get so offended and why did say these things were not true?1

Mr. Barker was not entirely wrong about the nativity being a message of hate, either.  From his perspective it most definitely is.  God does not send sin to Hell, He sends sinners there.  Remember, God hates evildoers and His Gospel smells repulsive to them.  No wonder Dan Barker wants these Nativity scenes taken down.  Every time he drives by one it is a reminder that he has fallen short of the glory of God!

God's disposition toward the sinner:

Psalm 5:4-6 For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil may not dwell with you. The boastful shall not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers. You destroy those who speak lies; the LORD abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.

The Aroma of the Gospel:

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.

The Nativity, and by extension the Gospel, is life and hope to us who are called by Jesus' name, but for God-hating rebels like Dan Barker it is the message that damns.  God have mercy upon him.

May we, by God's grace, be prepared to give a good and ready defense of the Gospel to everyone that asks!



[1] To be fair Mr. Bolling may have been trying to say that the Nativity does not communicate hate but love. And that is why he told Mr. Barker that what he was saying about the Nativity was not true.

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

The Illusion of Time: God's Sovereignty Revealed

According to modern physicists the future has already been written; it is just as real as the past once was and just as real as the present now is; it is immutable and set.  If this is true, then Who might we think is responsible for writing the storyline that is captured in space-time?

Who knows the end from the beginning?  Who knows the future and writes it as if it were history?  Who has chosen a people unto Himself before the world was made?




The Knowledge of God by A.W. Pink
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Friday, November 4, 2011

Back Yard Baptisms

Maple Valley Baptisms from MVMC on Vimeo.



Check out this short video of my fellow laborer Seth McBee baptizing two of the neighbors he reached for Jesus. It is beautiful.

For more of the story please visit http://jeffvanderstelt.wordpress.com/2011/09/05/a-story-of-one-mc-by-seth-mcbee/
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Friday, October 21, 2011

One Thing I Have in Common with Harold Camping and One Thing I Do Not


Ever since the day that Jesus left this earth his followers have been trying to figure out when He would be coming back. Harold Camping, who has predicted that that day is today,1 is only the most recent in a vast sea of men and women who have purported to have knowledge of the End. Camping certainly will not be the last.

Just to give you an idea of how early these predictions and false teachings of Christ’s return began to trouble the Church, consider that the Apostle Paul had to deal with them. In his second letter to the church at Thessalonica Paul wrote to assure this flock that the Day of God’s wrath had not yet come. Apparently there had been a false prophet milling around the church who had suggested that the persecution that the Thessalonians were then experiencing was evidence that God’s judgement was being poured out on them and that they had been left behind. Paul assures them that this was not the case and then he reminds them of what he had previously taught. “Do not be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter seeming to be from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come. (1 Thes 2:2, ESV)”
From the Apostle’s day on there has likely not a decade passed without some pronouncement that Jesus was either already here or that he was soon to arrive. Most of these have passed into obscurity without any tangible consequence, save a little mud on the face of the one who offered the false prediction. But then there are the others. Predictions which stand out in history because they have ended in great tragedy. These false predictions serve as a warning to all who would offer their prognostication of the Day of the Lord.
One of these tragic stories centers on a town in northwest Germany called Münster. In the 16th century Münster was the center of much controversy because of two apocalyptic visionaries named John Matthys and John of Leiden. These radical Anabaptists not only displaced the existing government in Münster and replaced it with an Old Testament theocracy but they also claimed that their small Westphalian town was the “New Jerusalem” foreseen in the book of Revelation; the city from which Jesus would execute His Millennial Judgement upon the world.2 Matthys had assumed leadership of a fringe Anabaptist movement after its former leader Melchoir Hoffman had been imprisoned. Hoffman had speculated that Jesus' return would happen a millennium and a half after the nominal date of his execution, in 1533, and that Christ would reign from Strasbourg, Germany.3

After Hoffman’s imprisonment Matthys and Leiden began to doubt whether Hoffman’s prediction about Strasbourg was accurate. So they decided that it must be their hometown of Münster, which was already under the control of Anabaptists, and they led his followers there. Matthys knew that his new theocratic government would be unwelcome and would draw a swift reaction from the Bishop, so Matthys began to prepare Münster for certain war. He expelled all those who would not submit to his radical views, he rallied his followers, sent for help and acquired what weapons he could. Franz von Waldeck, the bishop over Münster, lay the city under siege and tried to starve Matthys and his followers into submission. They would not. On Easter Day 1534 Matthys left the safety of Münster’s walls, with 30 of his followers, believing himself to carry the spirit of Gideon. Matthys and his small team met the Bishop’s troops on the field of battle and were very quickly killed. His head was put on a spike and displayed before the city's walls with the hope that Matthys’ death would discourage his remaining followers, he could not have been more wrong. Leiden was quickly named the “King of Jerusalem” and began to lead the 9000 citizens of Münster. The siege on Münster lasted many more months but was finally successful when the Bishop’s troops were led into the city by a traitor. In the end, thousands of lives were lost, one false prophet was killed in battle and the other was left to die, hanging from the spire of the Lamberti Church in a cage for all to see.
On May 22 of this year Harold Camping was proven to be a false prophet after Jesus failed to show up on the twenty-first. And I suspect that tomorrow when we wake up his amended prophecy will be proven false as well. Back in May much was said about those who had been duped into believing Camping. His followers sold their property, cashed in their retirements, and handed it all over to Camping and Family Radio’s massive publicity campaign. But what you may have not heard was that lives were lost over Camping’s teaching. Did you know that a 14-year-old girl from Russia was so scared of the May 21 doomsday and rapture prediction that she committed suicide the same day?4 Did you know that a man in Eugene, Oregon shot his coworker after he was mocked for having believed the false prophecy of Harold Camping?5 Did you know that hundreds of men and women in North Vietnam were shot to death and decapitated because they were emboldened by Camping’s sure word of prophecy and began to proclaim the day of God’s judgement.6

“But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matt 24:36, ESV)”

By this point in the article you may be wondering if I will ever get around to telling you what I have in common with Harold Camping. You might be able to think of many things I would not have in common with him but what do I share with this man? To my shame, like Camping, I have made a prediction about the End and the day of Jesus’ return. In fact, I started this blog to promote that date. It has been quite a few years since then and my understanding of the Scripture has radically changed. I have removed all of those articles from this website and any outside forums where I was able to access them and take them down. 

The thing that causes me some amount of fear is that my prediction was far less cryptic and much easier to understand than Harold Camping’s was. Once I posted it on the internet it went everywhere. I saw myself quoted on a number of websites and even heard my theory mentioned on a radio program. To this day I still get emails from people who have read it and want to know more; one man even wanting to quote me in the book he is writing on the subject. I will not reproduce the error of that prediction here and perpetuate it further. No doubt, some of your interests will be piqued beyond control and you will go looking for it. I am sure you will not have to search long because it is still floating around on the web. Please, if you do read it, use discernment and do not pass it around. Fortunately, I was a nobody when I wrote it (still a nobody) and did not have the backing of a 200 station radio network behind me like Camping did. Otherwise, who knows how far it could have gone. Who knows what tragedy might have befallen, or more accurately stated, might yet befall those who would listen to my prediction of the Judgement.

So what do I not share in common with Harold Camping, specifically? Repentance. I wish to publicly repent of everything I have written or said concerning the date I once presented as the day of Christ’s return. I hereby, disavow any association with this prediction and call those who might still believe it to do the same. I was wrong for pursuing it, wrong for promoting it and I want to ask your forgiveness and the Lord’s for such a reckless use of His Word. May God’s grace spare the hearts and lives of those who might read it still today.
It has been said that the man who admits he was wrong yesterday shows himself to be wiser today. I pray that is true of me. God censured Harold Camping by removing his voice.7 I pray that God would spare me this shame and rather inflict my guilt upon His Son who died for my rebellion against Him.

Maranatha!


Footnotes:
  1. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/blogpost/post/harold-camping-says-end-of-the-world-is-probably-today-oct-21-2011/2011/10/21/gIQAW83R3L_blog.html
  2. Ozment, Steven, The Age of Reform 1250-1500, (Westford, Mass: Yale), p. 345
  3. http://www.allempires.com/article/index.php?q=anabaptist_commune_munster
  4. http://www.christianpost.com/news/fearful-teen-commits-suicide-due-to-harold-campings-doomsday-50542/
  5. http://www.atoast2wealth.com/tag/teen-suicide-harold-camping/

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Monday, September 26, 2011

180



A stunning new Pro-Life documentary that will make an excellent tool for the fight against abortion.

Go to http://www.180movie.com to watch the full length video or go to Living Waters to download the video. Free Download.
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Friday, April 29, 2011

Monday, April 25, 2011

Gospel Fluency

Gospel Fluency - Jeff Vanderstelt from Living Stones on Vimeo.


Gospel Fluency
By Jeff Vanderstelt
Gospel Growth

Speaking the TRUTH in Love IN Ministry
In Ephesians 4:11-16, we are instructed about the means by which the Church grows up into maturity. God gives certain people to the church to equip all believers for ministry (Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers). Then as each part is doing their job, they build up the body of Christ to maturity and the stature of the fullness of Christ. Paul goes on to describe what must take place for this growth to occur:

  1. Speaking the Truth in Love – The truth is found in the person and work of Jesus. Jesus said, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. So, speaking the truth in love is another way of saying – “Speak the Gospel to one another.”
  2. In Ministry (and on mission) – The way in which the body is built up is through each part ministering to the others (v. 16). It is in ministry and on mission that we become aware of where each of us is need of being built up in the Gospel. The areas of deficiency in our belief in the Gospel show up when we are called to Love Others and Makes Disciples.
Therefore, in order to grow up in Christ and help others grow up in Christ, we need to be Gospel Fluent and call people to live lives that both demand the power of the Gospel and reveal where we are not living in the truth of the Gospel

FOR DISCUSSION
:
How have you grown in Gospel Fluency?
What has been most effective in shaping you to be able to “Bring the Gospel to Bear” on issues in your life and others?

How have you shaped your group to be Gospel Fluent?

What have you found to be most effective in equipping your Missional Community to speak the truth in love to one another and prepare them to share with those who don’t yet believe?


Creating a Culture

In order to effectively equip your missional community in Gospel Fluency, you will need to create a culture where it is normal to speak the Gospel to each other regularly. Every sin and issue that stands in the way of our faithfulness to Jesus’ commands is ultimately a Gospel issue, since sin is the outcome of unbelief in Jesus (John 16:9).

One of your key jobs will be to equip your people to KNOW the Gospel, APPLY it to all of life and SPEAK it to each other.

It Starts With You
Shaping a Gospel Fluent Culture starts with you being regularly shaped by the truth of the Gospel. This means you have to KNOW it and APPLY it to everyday stuff, while asking others to SPEAK it into your life.

Do you know the Gospel? Could you articulate it? Can you address everyday issues with the Gospel?
If you know it and can articulate it, the next question is: Are you experiencing ongoing repentance and growing faith in the Gospel?

This will look like you “taking every thought captive to make it obedient to Christ”. It means you are regularly checking your motives, beliefs, attitudes and actions to see if they reflect faith in Jesus or faith in someone or something else. This includes inviting others to have the freedom to speak openly into your life as well.

Then, when it is apparent that your faith is in something other than Jesus and what he accomplished for you through his life, death and resurrection, you need to be reminded how the Gospel shows Jesus to be the sufficient one for you in that issue, repent of unbelief and put your faith for that thing in Jesus and his sufficiency.

The more you are actively applying the Gospel to all of life, the more normal it will become to both speak of it and to equip others in it.

Lead Your Group Into Gospel-Centered Life
You will need to lead in Gospel engagement in a variety of ways in order to make Gospel conversations normative for your life together and your mission to make disciples of others. There are several ways you can make Gospel conversations more normative, but below are few suggestions to start with:

Rehearse the Gospel Regularly

Ask your group to regularly restate the elements of the Gospel out loud together to see how well they’re getting it. You may have to lay it out for them a couple of times until they begin to remember it.

Here are three questions I ask to help people remember…

1. Who is Jesus?
  • He is the perfect man who lived a perfect life fully submitted to God the Father in all things
  • He is the God-Man who is God in the flesh so that we could know what God is like and God would be near us
  • He is the Messiah sent by God to save us from our sin, death and destruction
2. What Did Jesus Do?
  • On the cross, He exchanged his perfect obedience (His righteousness) for our sin so that those who have faith in Jesus get Jesus’ righteousness credited to their account and their sin credited to His account
  • When he died on the cross not only were my sins removed, but they were paid for (atoned for)
  • He rose from the dead to show his power over sin and death (the wages of sin is death so Jesus’ resurrection shows the debt is paid in full)
  • He ascended to the right hand of God the Father from where he sent His Spirit to bring faith and new life to us, empowering us to live lives of obedience
What Must We Do?
  • Repent – Have a change of mind about who is God around here and in particular Who Jesus Is and how we need him and his work on our behalf
  • Believe – By faith put our trust in Who Jesus Is and What He Has done, believing it was accomplished for us
  • Be Baptized – Publicly express our faith that our lives are now united and identified with God in Christ
What Happens to Us?
  • We are forgiven and cleansed of our sins
  • We receive the gift of the Holy Spirit
  • We are included in the forever Family of God
  • We are commissioned to Make Disciples of Jesus
How might you restate this to embody the language of your missional context?


Apply the Gospel to Personal Stories

Give each person in your Missional Community the opportunity to share their personal story. Before they do so, encourage them to tell it in light of what they believe about Jesus and how the Gospel has affected all of life. Also, encourage the group to listen with “Gospel Ears” paying close attention to areas where the Gospel has redeemed and rightly informed their story as well as where the Gospel needs to be spoken into their Story.

For example, if their story recounts a life without a father present or maybe a life with an abusive father, listen for where they came to see that they have a perfect Heavenly Father who was always present. If that doesn’t come up, the group should ask them how they perceive the Father in Heaven and how knowing the truth about him sending the Son to save us shapes how they see this part of their story.

What are some other key areas to be listening for when hearing each other’s stories? How would you apply the Gospel to those areas?

Go Through the Story-Formed Way

The Story-formed Way was designed to both lead people through the basics of the Gospel and provide a foundational structure for the key doctrines of Christianity. If you are taking a mixed group of believers and unbelievers through it you will better establish the believers in the foundations and show them how to have Gospel conversations with Unbelievers. At the same time, the unbelievers are exposed to the Gospel and will learn how to share it themselves once they come to faith.

The other bonus of this activity is that it provides a variety of stories through which to see the Redemptive work of God thus giving the believer many different forms to engage in Gospel Conversation. For example, when dealing with someone struggling with financial provision, one could share the story of God feeding the Israelites in the wilderness and ultimately pointing to how Jesus is the bread of life that most deeply satisfies. Then go on to show that if God would give us his very best to meet our deep spiritual hunger, why wouldn’t he also give us everything else that we need. The more Biblical Stories we know, the more versatile we become in engaging in Gospel conversations.

Name some other key Biblical Stories that relate well to your community and missional context and state how they point to Jesus.


Express Gospel Need and Fulfillment with Communion


Have the communion elements ready to celebrate our Lord’s Death. Then ask each person to particularly identify with one of the elements (the bread or the wine) and share how they are aware of their need for the gospel in light of how the bread or wine speaks to them. This gives each person the opportunity to express the Gospel in light of their need and how the Gospel satisfies their need.

For example, someone might say: I particularly identify with the bread this week because I am realizing that I have been trusting in my own works to make me righteous before God instead of trusting in the righteous life of Jesus lived on my behalf in human flesh. Or, someone might say, I am so grateful for the cup this week because I have been overcome with the reality of my sin this week and I need to be reminded that Christ blood was poured out for me for the forgiveness of my sins.

Before you begin this process, encourage each person to listen closely to the person on their right because they will be serving them the elements in light of the gospel need they expressed after everyone has shared. This gives each person the opportunity to listen for the Gospel need in others and then “preach” the gospel into their situation.

It might sound like, This bread is to remind you that Jesus’ righteous life lived in his body that was given for you on the cross is the righteousness of God exchanged for your sin and His blood was poured out for you to forgive you of your sin, including trusting in your own righteousness.

Throughout the experience the group gets to hear the Gospel need proclaim several times and then observes several different Gospel proclamations specifically applied to a unique person and situation. At the end of the night, the group will have grown in their ability to express their Gospel need, listen for the Gospel need in another's life, proclaim the Gospel contextually into that person's life and situation AND listen to other people proclaim it as well.


Regularly ask, “How does the Gospel address this?” and, “What about the Gospel are you not believing?”

Whenever life challenges or difficulties come up in the group’s conversation, instead of giving quick advice, ask, “How does the Gospel address this?” Train your group to regularly ask how Who Jesus Is and What He Has Done shapes how we handle the stuff of life. A couple of things will happen if you do this regularly: 1) You will teach the group that the Gospel really can and does address everything in life; 2) The group will become much more fluent in Gospel conversations the more they have them; and 3) You will learn over time if they are coming to know and believe the Gospel fully.

What are some of the key issues that immediately come to your mind that seem to surface regularly in your group? How would you address them with the Gospel?


Slow Down to Identify Idols and Compare to Jesus

As the group gathers, listen closely to the conversations and the stories. Listen for what they are ultimately putting their trust in – ask, “What idol/god are they putting their trust in? “Sometimes the best way to identify the idols of the heart is by calling people to ministry and mission. Idols become easiest to see when we are calling people to be faithful to Jesus’ mission. Listen for the excuses or reasons for not being willing or able to obey – fear, insecurities, selfishness, pride, approval of man issues, worship of children, family or work, etc…

Then, as you or the group becomes aware of the people or things that have become idols or “little gods” take the time to compare them to Jesus, showing Jesus to be the “better”; the resolution to what they are seeking elsewhere; the opposite of what they are experiencing; or the deeper reality of what they are searching for.

What are some of the obvious “idols” in your group? How would you show that Jesus is the “better”?


Identify Key Descriptions of Jesus’ Work and Display them on Mission

Take some time to talk through what is true of Jesus in the Gospel (i.e. Advocate, Mediator, Sacrificial Offering, etc…) and then discuss how the group might display this truth about Jesus in the midst of the missionary context, being prepared to share how this work is really a result and picture of what Jesus has done and is doing.
In light of the missional context you have been sent to, what key descriptors of Jesus’ identity and work if displayed would be Good News? How would you share the Gospel through that?

Assignment: Pick 3 of the 7 suggestions to try. Do the written work connected to them and plan to implement them in your group in the next 2 months. Turn your written work in to your Coach.

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