Monday, September 14, 2009

Praising Him for What He has Done Already

This past Sunday marked the 7th annual Friends and Family Day at Kingsville Church of Christ. This is typically a joyous occasion in which old friends reunite and family members return home. The members of this small church always go above and beyond in setting this annual September worship service up and it is just a great time all around. Filled with praise, fellowship, and God's word it is easy to recognize the Lord's presence at this annual worship service. Our church went from having only 20 in attendance the previous Wednesday night to bordering on maximum capacity at this time of worship Sunday. It was great.

This year the elders of the Kingsville Church of Christ decided to allow the many young men in our congregation lead the worship service. While I relish getting to hear our normal preachers at Kingsville and initially voiced that opinion I also looked forward to getting to serve with the many other Christian men of Kingsville who I love and admire. While we devoted most of this service to songs of praise and Psalms of praise, the speaking portion was divided into three sections in which myself and two other men would briefly speak on three different subjects: Praising God for what He has done, praising God for what He is doing, and praising God for what He is going to do.

When asked which portion I would like to speak on I quickly jumped at the opportunity to talk about what God has done. I would like to share my thoughts that I spoke below. I hope you can find something in this that you can stop and quickly thank God for. Let us remember that there would be no hope for us today without what God has already done.

I Praise Him For What He Has Done

I praise you God for choosing me to be able to see your merciful love.

I praise you God for choosing me to be snatched from the bondage of sin and agony more than one time in my life.

I praise you God for placing me in the midst of Christians who have been redeemed from the same snares.

I praise you God for your law which so perfectly and painfully reveals our sins to us.

I praise you God for allowing us to survive the sins and horrible deeds that we have committed in order to be able to share your love with others.

I praise you God for your apostles and for giving us the account of their sacrifices shouldered so that we may understand what living in your service truly means.

I praise you God for Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaiah, David, and Solomon and for giving us the chance to learn from their mistakes and triumphs.

I praise you God for giving me time on this beautiful planet Earth that you created for us.

I praise you God for husbands and wives and your beautifully flawless system of marriage.

I praise you God for your system of children and parents and your perfect creations that you allow us to take credit for as parents.

I praise you God for those Christian men and women who have come and gone before us and for the wisdom, guidance, and Christian work ethic you led them to impart upon us.

I praise you God for your bride the church and for those who You have personally called out to be her living body.

I praise you God for the elders and deacons who have led your church for so many years before today and for the wonderful system of leadership you authored for your church.

I praise you God for the giving us the gift of the Lord’s Supper in which we remember Your Son’s death.

I praise you God for the gift of prayer in which we can communicate openly and freely with your might.

I praise you God for the gift of baptism in which through the combination of the water and your Holy Word, our sins are washed away.

Praise you God, Praise you Father, Praise you Almighty Creator.

I praise you God for the life your Son lived, shedding his deity to put on a rotting human flesh.

I praise you God for the life Christ lived and the message of hope which He brought to this Earth while being despised and hated by those who believed they knew anything of the fullness of your love.

I praise you God for allowing Christ to be betrayed.

I praise you God for allowing Christ to endure a mockery called a trial before Pilate.

I praise you God for His stripes, His torment, His torn flesh, and total abandonment by the very mankind who He came to save.

I praise you God for the cross, the nails which pierced Christ’s flesh and bone, the bloody crown of thorns, and the utter distress which Christ felt as He paid a price for my, for our sins, a debt He did not owe.

I praise you God for “It is finished.”

I praise you God for rolling the stone away and for Christ’s final defeat of Satan as he ripped the bonds of death away.

I praise you God for the Great Commission.

I praise you God for your gospel and I praise you God for letting us so proudly proclaim In you and Your Son’s Holy names that no man can have any hope, any knowledge, any peace without the pure and true gospel.

These are but a few things that you have done Father, thank you.

Praise God.

Friday, September 11, 2009

In Response to Burleson Church of Christ Preachers Commentaries

Over the past month or so I have sporadically placed the three-part commentary of Todd Clippard, preacher of Burleson Church of Christ on my blog. This commentary was written in response to an assault on what Mr. Clippard feels is his style of worship. The assault was one in which the people who posted it were so proud of that they posted it on YouTube (if you would like to see the video, click here). Seeing many of the responses posted on this blog to Mr. Clippard's commentaries, it would appear that many believe that he is on the attack when he is so obviously defending his style of worship and beliefs. At the heart of his argument I see a statement that although he does not speak in tongues, work miracles, or prance to girly semi-erotic praise songs in his worship, this does not make his faith in Christ dead or dry as the video states.

In fairness, I thought it would be a good idea to post one of the commentaries posted by a member of this community in which the commentaries were published. These commentaries were posted in the local newspaper the Journal Record . The published response below is written by on Bobby Barnes, Jr from Winfield, AL and although Mr. Clippard's commentaries in the paper were paid, this was a freely published letter to the editor. Please read below and then my response to this commentary will follow.

Who's right or who's wrong?
I have read both (note that this letter was written prior to the publication of the third commentary by Mr. Clippard) letters to the paper. Are you the pastor of Burleson Church of Christ? If by chance you are, I'm truly concerned. Not one time have you encouraged people or even mentioned Christ. The only time I saw where Christ was mentioned was in the name of your church. Rm. 6:23: For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life thru Jesus Christ our Lord.
Isn't it our duty as Christians to lead people to Christ, not all this finger pointing and religious beliefs? Who's right or who's wrong? That's not gonna get anyone to heaven. John 3:3: Jesus answered and said unto him, except a man be born again, he cannot enter the kingdom of heaven. That, I hope, we both agree on. I encourage everyone to love you no matter your commandments. John 15:12: Jesus said: This is my commandments that we love one another, as I have loved you.
Sir, why are you watching these testimonies on youtube? Some interest, maybe? I truly encourage you to turn it off. It would give you a lot more time to win people to Christ, instead of all this negativism. We will never prove who's right or wrong.

Sir, we have teenagers, adults, mothers, and dads committing suicide, teen pregnancies, drug overdose, people killing people. The list goes on and on. That should be our number one goal as Christians to lead the lost to Christ. Make a difference in people's lives, not all this religious stuff.
If you don't agree with the RAMP, be thankful that they are leading our people to Christ, no matter what church you go to. Rm. 10:13: For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. It didn't say that I had to belong to Church of Christ or Pentecostal, or any other denomination.
When I was 13 years old, the Church of Christ and Pentecostals organized a debate over who's right or wrong. That building was full of mad religious people. No one ever decided who was right or wrong. It lasted a week. What is so sad, not one sinner was led to Christ. Not even an invitation on either side. What a waste of time.
People need to hear about Christ. Would you please put all religious beliefs away? Help me and others win the lost.
P.S. By the way, my father is a Pentecostal preacher, has been all my life. Never have I seen him roll around in the floor or act the way you accuse Pentecostals.
Barnes, Bobby. (2009, August 19). Who's right or who's wrong?. Journal Record. p. 4A.
So, there you have it. That is the response to a man attempting to defend his understanding of scripture and the proof it points out. For starters, let me say that I am in agreement with Mr. Barnes. Style of worship or "religion" as he puts it will not save a single person. He states that Christ needs to be our focus but he needs to take it one step further and state that only teaching Christ crucified will save anyone.
Allow me to deconstruct some of what Mr. Barnes has said though. For starters, you state that you are truly concerned over the fact that Mr. Clippard is the preacher of Burleson Church of Christ. On what grounds do you base this "concern?" Have you sat through his sermons to see if he is proclaiming Christ crucified as the scriptures laid out? Is your argument based out of ignorance? You base your argument off of his response to a video that attacked his beliefs yet you fail to point out that in the video there is only one mention of Christ and it is based off of what the boy speaking "believes." Not what scripture says. There will be an upcoming post further discussing the video and the flaws within but allow me to say this. This boy states that he "believes" that there is a generation that "wants to have an encounter with Jesus Christ and Him crucified" so that they may be "set free." This is in direct conflict with scripture and without delving into man's "desire" to follow Christ, I will say that the life of a Christian is not one that scripture defines as freedom. As a matter of fact, the passage you cite Mr. Barnes (Romans 6:23) is the close of a discussion by Paul about being SLAVES to righteousness.
Mr. Barnes asks "isn't it our duty to lead people to Christ?" No, it is not a duty, it should be a naturally flowing work through faith. To look at it as a duty begins a cycle of "look what I am doing for you Jesus, I deserve your blood." This eliminates grace and sets up a belief that somehow we are good enough or deserving of God's forgiveness given through Christ's blood alone. You point out that Mr. Clippard's "finger-pointing" will not get anyone to heaven and you may be correct. It can however give someone the opportunity to evaluate what they are being taught and to possibly "test the spirits" (1 John 4:1) that are inducing their emotions. If you're just there for the show then you are not a sheep and the leaders bringing you in are not shepherds, they are goat-herders.
I also find it funny that you reference John 3:3 to back your point but fail to mention that your system of belief is one that only believes that water baptism is nothing more than an outward sign of your conversion when Christ so clearly explains otherwise just two verses down in John 3:5. How can you, as you say hope to agree on something when you clearly ignore scripture regarding the gift of baptism and it's power.
I could go on but I will end with this. Mr. Barnes points out that our number one "goal" as Christians should be to lead the lost to Christ. This is is the core of the disagreement as I see it. When Mr. Clippard and myself for that matter read scripture, we see how to lead the lost to Christ. It is not through "testimony," irreverent and disorderly worship, and false miracles. The lost can only be led to Christ through the teaching of God's holy and sacred text. Watch the video again and count the number of times that the phrase "I believe" is uttered. For that matter, log onto the RAMP website and listen for that phrase or for "God told me." Where sir is the scriptural authority to teach in this fashion? Where sir is the scriptural authority to take liberty with worship style? Where sir is the scriptural authority for female preaching? If you will look you will find none. I often use the term sola scriptura which means by scripture alone. The bottom line is that some believe that God's word is not the true and final revelation and some do. Those who do look to the scripture for permission and for true liberty, finding what God wants our lives to be. The others feel bound by the scripture and look at scripture as a barrier to overcome in order to become more "free." The Bible is no more and no less than the story of Jesus Christ and God's love for an undeserving and rebellious mankind. Everything we need to know about God is revealed there. Everything we need to know about ourselves is revealed there. To some this for some reason is too hard to accept and just as John warned about in the books of 1 and 2 John, they strive to change it to make it more pleasing to sinful man. If you are going to stand in a pulpit and teach scripture gives permission to teach but one thing, Jesus Christ crucified. That does not mean a fleeting mention of this sacrifice but rather a bold and loud proclamation of the love involved. I implore you to take a look at what Mr. Clippard is discussing and research this yourself. Do you see liberties being taken that are not permissible in scripture. When you answer that question you will have the answer to your letter's title. Who's right and who's wrong.
In respect of open and clear dialogue, I ask that if you choose to respond to this, especially if you are local, have the backbone to post your name rather than hiding behind a moniker of Anonymous or some other made up nickname. If no one can see who is saying what then you are really truly saying nothing and add nothing to this conversation. "Anonymous" postings will not be placed on this particular discussion. Thanks in advance.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Observe Them

The following is similar to a previous posting of mine entitled Keep My Commandments but I feel compelled to share. One of my co-workers and I often discuss the Bible and he often comes and just sits down in my office and asks, "what are you studying right now." These conversations are often very refreshing and lead both of us to deeper thought and understanding of both scripture and one another. I truly cherish these conversations.

One such conversation took place yesterday and he was discussing how he had been studying the book of Matthew lately. He pointed out a scripture, one that most Christians know by heart, the great commission, Matthew 28:18-20. He pointed out how one word had caught his eye in his latest studies and that word was in verse 20 in the phrase "teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you." My co-worker believed that the word observe and obey were the same word and that Jesus was telling his disciples to teach people to obey everything that he had commanded his 12 disciples. He then took me to Matthew 10:5-15 in which Jesus sends out the 12 apostles to speak only to the Jews, showing the power that Jesus had bestowed upon them. In verse 8 of this passage, Jesus instructs the 12 "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse lepers, cast out demons." My dear friend and co-worker was asking why in Matthew 28 would Christ instruct the 12 to teach others to obey his commandments, one of which was to do the things in Matthew 10:8 if those spiritual gifts were no longer able to be used today. This is a good question but one that can be easily dismissed upon further Bible study.

The word that my co-worker was confused with was the word "observe" in Matthew 28:20. This word observe that Christ used when speaking to the 12 in Matthew 28 is not synonymous with the word obey. Christ is not telling his 12 apostles to teach people to obey all the He had commanded and therefore is not teaching people to obey his commandment to do the miraculous spiritual gifts listed in Matthew 10.

The word observe used by Christ in this passage is the Greek word Tereo. The literal meaning of this word is "to attend to carefully, to guard, to take care of, to observe, or to keep one in the state in which it is in." That is not the same as obey. So the question then becomes what was Christ instructing his apostles to do here? Now that we have the original meaning of Christ's speaking, it is quite simple.

Christ is telling his 12 to teach people to keep what Christ commanded them safe. Do not allow it to be molested and twisted to meet the needs, wants, and desires of man. This would include false doctrine, taking away from Christ's words, and adding to Christ's words (the latter seeming to be the biggest problem in today's Christianity). Sadly, neither they nor we modern day Christian are doing too good a job of this. Fortunately, Christ only says to teach others to guard the truth of His words. As a survey of the New Testament shows us, it took less than one century for this problem to erupt and Christ's reasoning for his instruction to the 12 to become evident (read Galatians, 1 John, or 2 John to see this problem being addressed). John goes as far in 1 and 2 John to call people who fail to teach others only to observe the simple teachings of Christ as the Antichrist(s).

Is your Biblical teaching in line with Christ's instruction to his 12 apostles. Are you teaching others to simply hold sacred the words of Christ or are you teaching people to lead legalistic and completely obedient lives. Only one of those options is in line with Christ's teaching. Are we teaching people to accept Christ's love or to try and earn it? Sadly, I believe that a majority are teaching people to earn it. This is nothing more than fleeting vanity. May God help us to become Christians who teach others to guard Christ's teaching from corruption and selfishness.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Pilgrim's Map of the Day

Here is some of what is catching my eye today:

* My good friend Matt Thigpen has written a very thoughtful piece asking if your religion is a Wii religion.

* Keith Brenton has an excellent post that really sums up exactly what preachers should be preaching.

* Pay Attention to This:

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Local Church of Christ Preacher Boldly Questions Relevant Church Part 3

Below is the third and final installment of Todd Clippard's three-part commentary on the relevant church movement taking place in Hamilton, AL at this time. I would encourage you to leave your comments regarding this matter and to review comments left on this blog regarding the two prior commentaries. There is an obvious disconnect somewhere. Enjoy:

Pentecostal Finger Pointing Part III
This marks the third and final installment of our series comparing the practices of present-day charismatics with Bible teaching. Modern day charismatics are without question a sincere and zealous bunch. Though they have only been in existence since the turn of the 20th century, their adherents worldwide now number more than 600 million. However, success in gaining adherents is not the standard of correctness (Matt. 24:11), also one would have to conclude that Muslims and Hindus were more correct as each has more than a billion adherents.
We have repeatedly and conclusively shown how the practice of modern charismatics stands in stark contrast and violation to 1 Corinthians 14, which written (was) by the apostle Paul to regulate the practice of genuine spiritual gifts. We conclude our examination by comparing their practices against three passages in this great chapter.
In 1 Corinthians 14:32 the inspired apostle penned, "the spirit of the prophets are subject to the prophets." In contrast to the obvious lack of control and discipline seen among modern-day charismatic practice, Paul noted that the exercise of spiritual gifts was not beyond the control of the one who possessed the gifts. But we again note the lack of self control and discipline as these modern-day practitioners jump around, jerk, twitch, roll on the ground, holler and babble "uncontrollably." One would have to be completely ignorant of the Scriptures to believe that the assemblies of the first century church in any way resembled what is seen today.
In 1 Corinthians 14:37 we read, "Let your women keep in silence in the churches, for it is not permitted for them to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says." Moreover, "the law" here invoked cannot be that of Moses, for there is no specific condemnation of this practice in the Mosaic Law. So, to what law does Paul here refer? It is the law of the creation order. Paul repeated this law in 1 Timothy 2:8-14 in forbidding women to take a leading role in the public teaching of the church. Yet in practice, do we see silence among the women of these groups? Hardly! Modern day charismatics and 1 Corinthians 14:37 - once again in violation of the Bible!
Finally, in 1 Corinthians 14:40 we read, "Let all things be done decently and in order." I watched an online video of RAMP attendees taking off their shoes and socks, then dancing around twirling their socks over their heads as the band parodied a popular rock and roll song. This one is a no-brainer... Pentecostals and 1 Corinthians 14:40 - as far apart as east is from west!
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 is the definitive passage teaching that spiritual gifts are no longer present today. But to be honest, if miraculous spiritual gifts did exist today, and one wanted to know how to exercise them according to the Scriptures, he would be no closer to the truth if he were to practice the very opposite of what modern-day charismatics teach and practice!
An old adage among churches of Christ is "do Bible things in Bible ways and call Bible things by Bible names." Our only desire is to practice Christianity as it is revealed in the New Testament and teach others to do the same. The Bible only makes Christians. Nothing more, nothing less. To be Christians only is our prayer and purpose.
Clippard, Todd. (2009, August 15). Pentecostal Finger Pointing Part III. Journal Record. p.3