Saying Goodbye, For the Last Time

This past Wednesday I had the privilege to be able to speak at my grandmother’s funeral.  My grandfather had asked me and my sister to read what we had written on our blogs, and we were more than willing to do so.  But I wasn’t going to let this opportunity for the Gospel to slip away.  I knew that a majority of the people there were probably not saved, including, from all accounts, my grandfather.

Awhile ago, I had had a conversation with my pastor about how to do an unsaved person’s funeral.  How do you preach the Gospel when the person who died didn’t believe it.  My grandmother, from everything that we know, never made a true profession of repentance and belief.  So what I decided to do was to tell them that if my grandmother could say one thing to them, on this day, that she would tell them not to rely on their own righteousness, but on that of Christ’s. 

 We got to the gravesite a few minutes before it started, and the pastor who was doing the service never really spoke with my grandmother.  He didn’t know her at all, other than through conversations he’s had with my grandfather.  So he asked me if I would be willing to read Psalm 23 and John 14:1-3.  So I got up, read those passages, and then shared my own thoughts. 

This Reverend apparently didn’t know the Gospel too well, as he got up and continued to say all of the common misconceptions of the Gospel.  He said that she was saved and in eternal glory with Christ.  I felt like going up and speaking with him afterwards, but didn’t.  He never knew my grandmother, but everyone there did.  I can’t help but think that what he said contradicted what I did and would give people a false assurance of faith, thinking that if she was saved and lived like that, then surely I can be saved and live like I do. 

The man was a nice, old man, with very good intentions, just not very good theology.  He said what was popular, but also very damaging.  But the real Gospel was spoken, and the Word of the Lord does not return void, but accomplishes the perfect work of God. 

Bananarama: Hollywood Edition

This past Saturday we went out to Hollywood for our Bananarama, which is a scavenger hunt organized around the banana. The kids broke up into teams and had to try to get all 66 items on their list. They had to measure things, have people sign the banana, and even get someone to give something up for a banana. And as was bound to happen, it ended up being my group that got a condom for their banana. The lady just threw it at us, while the boyfriend ran off, humiliated. I gave it to Geoff, whose getting married in a month.

Here are some pics of Hollywood and the characters around there. I think my favorite one is “Middle Aged Man” dressed up as Superman. He’s a fat, short, white, blond guy with a fanny pack. Very high on the unintentional comedy scale. Unfortunately, Elmo was no where to be found.

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Chimps and Humans share the same blood?

How many of you have heard the little fact that chimps and humans share 94% of the same DNA? I heard this again this past week on the Today show. It just drives me crazy. Well, according to the book “In Six Days”, they reveal that the DNA they talk about is the coding used for protein is actually only 1.5% of the total DNA. Does that sound like it is misleading to say that chimps and humans have 94% of the same DNA?

God vs. Atheism Debate

This is a bit late, that is a week late, but I thought I’d share my thoughts on Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s debate with the atheists on Nightline on ABC. I believe you can watch the whole debate, if you so desire. I should preface my comments by saying that I totally realize that they didn’t show the whole context of the debate and were perfectly able to show the parts they wanted to. There was plenty that was said that wasn’t shown in the small amount of time they gave to it.

The first observation i wanted to make was just my skeptical attitude towards the event as a whole. I’m just not sure this was the best way to go about it for the following reasons.

1. I’m highly skeptical of saying that you are going to prove God apart from the Bible. General revelation presents enough to condemn man, but not save him. That calls for Special Revelation. Comfort was attempting to force General Revelation on people as if it would operate as Special Revelation.

2. Even he was able to prove that there is a God, all you have accomplished is having them trade one form of idolatry for another. You’ve just swayed them to Theism, not Elohim. In human terms, this may bring them closer to a saving knowledge of God, but matters of salvation are not discussed in human terms.

3. Ray Comfort is an evangelist, not a debater. There is a distinct difference. he wasn’t going to add anything to the debate that has been going on for ages. And if the atheists were going to be prepared at all, they could guess what he would do to make his arguments. You could have guessed that he’d do his soda can and banana analogies. You could have guessed that Kirk Cameron was going to do his ‘mising link’ pictures.

One interesting side observation on the debate was the spirit of those who were debating. The atheists came across as sarcastic,
condescending, and hateful. They got very worked up and did not come across as caring and loving as Comfort and Cameron did. They said that they regretted the way they interacted with Comfort and Cameron and that they were a little tough on them.

As a side note, later that night I saw a replay of Oprah (I see so many things I normally wouldn’t while staying up with Micah). She was doing a thing where she provided applause to those that are doing great things without much recognition. She featured the story of a woman who organized the adoption of 570 babies that were going to be abandoned otherwise. it was truly an inspiring story. But it got me thinking of how much applause and love this one lady received, but Comfort and Cameron got blasted and yelled at. here they are giving their lives to preaching the Gospel and warning people of the Hell to come, and they get mocked for it. Just an interesting observation.

Another observation was a question from the audience that really shed a lot of light on their argument of atheism. She asked how a loving, Creator God could create something like cancer. Comfort responded by saying that there was a lot of suffering in the world, and they all jeered him, apparently upset that he was being too general and skirting the question. So he spoke for a bit about the problem of evil and the loving God.

What was interesting was that at that point, the debate ceased to be one about Atheism, but a debate against the idea of the christian God. The question of a good God and evil is irrelevent when it comes to the debate of whether God exists. At that point you have conceded that God exists, but you are now debating his nature. I don’t think anyone realized this, when it happened.

in the end, there really wasn’t that much progress made. Sure, some heard the Gospel, but they had to leave it up to the editing of ABC to get it through. If you want to hear a sweet debate, go and listen to the Bahsen vs. Stein debate. Greg Bahsen smears the floor with the guy, showing that Stein stubbornly held to a untenable position.

Day in Hollywood

This upcoming weekend we’re having a Bananarama with our high school group in Hollywood. It’s basically a scavenger hunt based around a banana. They have to measure things, find things that have to do with bananas, have people sign their bananas, etc. So Leah, Micah, and I headed out for Hollywood on a beautiful Thursday afternoon and made up the list for the kids to use.

While we were there, we ate lunch at the Disney Soda Fountain shop attached to the El Capitan theater. That theater is right next to where they film the Jimmy Kimmel Live show. So we’re sitting there, eating lunch and I see Jimmy’s Uncle Frank walk by. It caught me by surprise, wondering why they don’t have a back door to use. Then a few more minutes go by, and Cousin Sal walked by. Just thought I’d share these average D-minus celebrity sightings.

Besides that, I sat back and watched the characters dressed up in costumes pose with people on the other side of the street. They are incredibly gross and low rent. I have no idea why they do it and if it’s really worth their job. A lot of them are just dirty and look like they live out of a car.

one character that has been getting in trouble is the Chewbacca guy. He was arrested for assault and then I saw him bickering with people and lifting up his mask and yelling at other people. First, it was between him, Yoda, and a black catwoman with purple hair. Then came along Elmo and Homer Simpson, and they started yelling at him. Soon, Winnie the Pooh, a swashbuckler, a really creepy, scary looking monster and a dirty SpongeBob Square Pants were all looking to see what was happening. Michael Jackson, Marylin Monroe, tall creepy guy in a trenchcoat, and poorly dressed pirate were not involved.

I would love, just for one day, to get in a suit, and hang out and hear them all talk. Do they have turf? How much money do they make? are they there everyday? just would have some questions.

With All Your Mind

On Tuesday night I had the privilege of filling in for my good friend John at his church in L.A. The church is the First EV Free Church of L.A., and we met in the basement, with about ten or so people. I started out with just introducing myself, and showed some pics of Micah (always a crowd pleaser). After establishing some type of relationship, I shot into the message.

I decided to speak on the importance of glorifying of God with our minds. I had already preached this in big church a few months ago, so it wasn’t something that I needed to do too much work on, just gearing it down to high schoolers. But the message, in short, explores the Biblical Theology of the mind. I discovered that the same mind we are to glorify God with is the mind that was rebellious and hostile against God (Col 1:18 and Eph 2:3).

We looked back at the role of the church in glorifying God with their minds. It used to be that the leaders in every field was Christian. The greatest in the fields of Mathematics, Science, Art, Literature, and everything else were Christians. Now they are all liberal athiests, and the Christians have run into the corner to concentrate on making crappy Christian Romance novels, Christian music, corny videos, and the like. At one time Harvard and Princeton were Christian bastions. At the time of the Puritans, literacy in Mass. and Conn. was 89-95%.

J.P. Moreland says, “Our society has replaced heroes with celebrities, the quest fora well-informed character with teh search for a flat stomach, substance and depth with image personality.”

The second Great Awakening, which was largely based upon emotions and feelings and not solid theology like the first Great Awakening, led to the emergence of Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormonism. A shallow faith turned out to be a cess pool for heresy.

And today, our churches have largely given up on learning and challenging themselves. They no longer want to think deeply and use their minds for anything that is not trivial. Christians have stopped learning when they are done with their ‘formal’ education.

In the end we talked about some of the common objections to using your mind. People say, “I’m not smart” or “I don’t have time” or “i’m not a pastor, I’m just a normal person”. All of these are invalid objections. None of them stand up to the Word of God.

So what is the average Christian supposed to? My main three points of application were that

1. Dedicate ourselves to our trades. We need people that are Christians at the forefront of their respective trades.

2. Dedicate ourselves to our Bible. This is the life source of every Christian. We must continue to challenge ourselves and contend for the truth. Cotton Mather said, “Ignorance is the mother not of devotion but of Heresy.”

3. Finally, we must dedicate ourselves to our Lord. We are to gird up the loins of our minds and prepare for action. This is all about bringing glory to God and living for Him with our entirety. Holding nothing back.

Here’s a quote that I ended with:

“The church is safe from vicious persecution at the hands of the secularist, as educated people have finished with the stake-burning circuses and torture racks. No martyr’s blood is shed in the secular west. So long as teh church knows her place and remains quietly at peace on her modern reservation. Let the babes pray and sing and read their Bibles, continuing steadfastly in their intelllectual retardation; the church’s extinction will not come by sword or pillory, but by the quiet death of irrelevance. but let the church step off the reservation, let her penetrate once more the culture of the day and the…face of secularism will change from a benign smile to a savage snarl.”