Wednesday, October 7, 2009

James White v. Dan Barker

Copied from Last Words Radio.

Dr. James White debated Dan Barker on the “Jesus Myth” answering the question about Jesus being a mashup of pagan myths. Read their article here. Or, watch the full video here. Our own Josh Elsom had the privilege of interviewing James White before the debate and you can listen to it here.

Here are Josh’s thoughts after the interview and debate.

At the beginning of Dan Barker's opening statement I leaned over to Paul Kaiser and said,"Man this stuff just does not sound that convincing, I think I could argue against this." Then the knots he was tying progressively got more complicated. He gave a lot of quotes from historical texts that seem to present a pretty parallel story to Jesus. So at the surface it seemed rather convincing. At this point I leaned over to Paul and said that I was glad to be sitting down here and not in Dr. White's seat.

It was when Dr. White got to the cross examination that the claims of Dan came clear to me. Dan's position was this:

We have a lot of stories that are very similar to the Gospel account therefore the probability that the Jesus story was authentic,unique, and original goes way down. Dan admitted that this was not empirical proof that the Gospels were fabricated but the odds are really stacked against it being true.

This is what I gleaned from Dr. White's presentation:

That there are similarities in the story prove nothing and is not surprising. Every religion purposes to answer the BIG questions of Life. Where did I come from? What am I here for? and What will happen to me when I die? Therefore there is bound to be similarity in the stories. e.g. There is a creator that transcends what he/she created. There is some level of accountability/ethic that is owed to that creator. There is some version of Heaven, Nirvana, Valhalla, crossing the Styx or Hell, Hades, Tartaros, etc.

While some of the myths precede the time of Jesus, most often the close parallelism that Dan was suggesting did not happen until some time after the spread of Christianity.

The myths that seem to have parallel storylines are often not nearly as close as suggested upon deeper study. Unbelievers will find a theme, in the Bible, Jesus' resurrection for instance, then go to the myth and try and shoehorn that theme into it. Then they will clothe the myth with Christian terminology and say,"See, Mithra rose from the dead too."

The NT Gospels are not written in the same way as the alleged parallel myths. It is written as investigated historical fact, Luke and Acts in particular.

There is no way that Mark could have written and convinced a bunch of devout Jews that their Messiah was Jesus using a bunch of recycled pagan myths.

Here are some objections that I raised in my own head:

We have external confirmation that the Jesus story is true while the others do not. There were over 500 people that witnessed the resurrected Jesus. No one can provide any evidence to substantiate the life or existence of any of the other gods.

Jesus fulfilled hundreds of prophecies that were centuries older than the myths that have supposed parallels to Jesus' story. So Jesus' story was written far before He was born in Bethlehem.

This is a question that I wrote and which was selected and asked in the audience question segment of the debate:

We have thousands of Flood myths from all over the world from every conceivable people group; using your logic on probabilities wouldn't the parallelism of these myths increase the likelihood that a global flood actually occurred?

I found Dan Barker to be condescending, disrespectful and disingenuous. He made repeated insults against Jesus and the Faith, he violated the rules of the debate, and he made claims about Christianity that he absolutely must know are not true. Being that he grew up in church and studied the Bible there is no way he could honestly misrepresent what we believe in such a gross way. He did not seem interested in convincing any of us Christians that we were wrong, rather it appeared to me that he was far more interested in reaffirming the unbelief of the atheists that were present

Thanks, Josh, for a great contribution to the show!
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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

We Read the Bible . . . You Can Too!

Copied from

I've made many attempts to have a faithful devotional life, but they were always short-lived. I suppose I expected the discipline of Bible study to be easy for a Christian. When it was difficult and overwhelming for me, I felt discouraged and defeated.

In the process of a family struggle, I cried out to God for help, and He did something I wasn't expecting at all. He revived me. He placed in me a hunger to know Him more intimately, along with a deep desire to read His Word.

I was thrilled. I couldn't wait to delve into the Bible. However, there was something ironic about God's timing. I was the mother of three children under age four. God gave me this great hunger for His Word at the most hectic time of my life! Yet I was determined not to let the busyness of being a wife and mom—or my past discouragements—diminish this appetite.

So I launched into a routine of Bible reading and prayer. Unfortunately, I quickly faced those same struggles with inconsistency that had plagued me for years. But I kept trying.

I also felt an urgency to get more of God's Word into the hearts of my kids. We had just finished a children's devotional book, and I was looking for what to do next ... when an idea hit. I had two goals: I wanted to read the Bible, and I wanted my children to know God's Word. Why not do both at the same time? Why not read the entire Bible together?

My plan was simple: one chapter a day, five days a week. I shared this plan with my husband, Wes, and he provided much needed encouragement. However, after voicing the plan, I became curious to know how long it would take us to read the entire Bible. I put pencil to paper (factoring in "sick days"), and—Yikes!—my plan was going to take EIGHT YEARS!
I must admit, the idea of such a long-term commitment intimidated me, but I had a longing that would not go away. So, we began.

The first few days of reading were tricky. I was all jazzed at the prospect of reading the whole Bible. For some unknown reason, I thought my children would share my enthusiasm. Instead, while I was reading about the fall of man, they were jumping and spinning in their chairs. I felt like I was reading out loud to myself.

But God was gracious to not leave me feeling this way for long. On the fourth day, after our reading, my kids went off to play. Then I noticed what they were playing. They were acting out what we had just read—in great detail. They hadn't appeared to be listening, but they were hearing. They were hearing the Word of God. This was the boost I needed to keep going.
I soon realized that reading the Bible to children is not without some complications. Let's face it, the Bible (particularly the Old Testament) can be quite graphic. I almost panicked when my preschool kids asked, "Mom, what's a prostitute?"

Moments like that prompted me to start scanning ahead so I would know what was coming. I also came up with my own definitions for certain words—words my children needed to hear in order to understand the story but didn't necessarily need a complete definition for just yet. So, for example, a virgin is "a woman who has never been married." A prostitute is "a woman who goes from one man to another to another, instead of remaining faithful to a husband." You get the idea.

Before long, I could tell that they really were listening and getting drawn into each story. After reading about a long line of Israel's kings who did what was evil and provoked the Lord to anger, we came to the end of 1 Kings 16. Here we read about Ahab becoming king of Israel. The Bible says he did more to provoke the anger of the Lord than all the kings of Israel who were before him. When we finished reading chapter 16, I said, "Tomorrow, Elijah comes on the scene." My daughter yelled, "Yay, we need this guy!"

Not only were they following along closely with the stories, but God was increasing their capacity to understand. Once I was working hard to explain what it means to quench the Spirit. I likened it to throwing water on a fire. I was trying to come up with another illustration when I looked over at my son. He had his index finger pointing up, with the other hand covering his finger, while he was singing softly, "Hide it under a bushel, no! I'm gonna let it shine." He got it.
I shouldn't be surprised when they understand, just like I shouldn't be surprised when they want to respond to what we read. I saw this in an unusual and amusing way one morning as Wes was packing for a business trip. My son exclaimed, "While Dad's away, we should fast from sinning." Wes and I looked at each other. "Fast from what?" "From sinning," he said again, smiling. "And the reward for not sinning is donuts!"

That was the first of a series of requests he made to fast and pray. We had read accounts of people who fasted and prayed, and he was ready to participate. He wanted to obey, and that obedience was prompted by the Word of God. We did try to fast from sinning while Dad was away. (And Dad agreed to try not to sin while he was gone.) I'm not sure it was a total fast, but in the end we did enjoy the donuts.

How could I go from an inconsistent devotional life to a steady time of reading and meditating on Scripture? God used my children! He took a discipline that had been a struggle for me and made it an immeasurable joy. I am overflowing with gratitude to God for giving me this idea and for constantly fueling the desire to be in His Word.
After five years, we finished the Bible on March 19, 2007. We spent the day celebrating together as a family. The experience was more than simply maintaining a discipline; it was about getting to know God.

On March 20, 2007, we started over in Genesis. Together, we continue—one chapter and one day
at a time.

Carrie Ward is a wife and mother of four. She and her husband, Wes, make their home in Niles, Michigan.
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Saturday, September 12, 2009

The Finest Food in Israel

In John chapter 6, we read a very interesting exchange between Christ, the Jews, and his disciples. Within this exchange we read one of a few difficult teachings that Jesus delivered over the course of his ministry. This teaching found in the greater context of the Bread of Life discourse says:

"Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

This proved to be a very divisive saying by Jesus. In fact, it was because of this teaching that many of Jesus’ followers left him.

Clearly in the context of John chapter 6 we see that Jesus is revealing himself to be the archetype of the Manna “come down from Heaven”. However there may be more to consider in our Savior’s statements than what we see in the immediate context.

The Priest’s Provision

The tribe of Levi was distinct from the other 11 tribes. Unlike their brothers, God said that they would have no inheritance when they arrived in Canaan; that is, they would not receive any tribal land as their own. Rather, God said that He would be their inheritance. This meant that the Levites responsibilities within the nation of Israel were a little different than the other tribes. They attended local altars, supervised cities of refuge, served as judges and educators, and were charged with the daily duties in and around the Tabernacle. Since the Levites had no land of their own and because of their differing role within the nation they were not able to provide for themselves. Therefore, the Levites lived off of the tithes, offerings, and burnt sacrifices of the other tribes. This of course meant that the priesthood was supplied with and survived on the very best provisions that the Land of Israel had to offer.

Upon first consideration the idea that anyone would dare eat the burnt sacrifices off of the Altar of God sounds blasphemous. It is often assumed that these offerings were holy, set apart, unto God alone. This was not the case. In fact we read in the Torah that the diet of the priests was specifically outlined and commanded. Leviticus, chapters 6 and 7, gives us the specific instructions on what the sons of Aaron should eat and how they were to partake of these offerings.

“The LORD spoke to Moses, saying, ‘Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, This is the law of the sin offering. In the place where the burnt offering is killed shall the sin offering be killed before the LORD; it is most holy. The priest who offers it for sin shall eat it.’”

"These are the regulations for the guilt offering, which is most holy: The guilt offering is to be slaughtered in the place where the burnt offering is slaughtered, and its blood is to be sprinkled against the altar on all sides. All its fat shall be offered: the fat tail and the fat that covers the inner parts, both kidneys with the fat on them near the loins, and the covering of the liver, which is to be removed with the kidneys. The priest shall burn them on the altar as an offering made to the LORD by fire. It is a guilt offering. Any male in a priest's family may eat it, but it must be eaten in a holy place; it is most holy.”

"The same law applies to both the sin offering and the guilt offering: They belong to the priest who makes atonement with them. The priest who offers a burnt offering for anyone may keep its hide for himself. Every grain offering baked in an oven or cooked in a pan or on a griddle belongs to the priest who offers it, and every grain offering, whether mixed with oil or dry, belongs equally to all the sons of Aaron.”

Things are far different today than they were those thousands of years ago. The current age in which we find ourselves and the New Covenant that we are under has rendered the Levitical priesthood and the sacrificial system obsolete. Today we understand that it is Jesus who is our Great High Priest and the perfect satisfactory sacrifice. We also know that we, the Church, are a priesthood unto God. In fact, we are called a Holy Nation of royal priests unto the Lord (1 Peter 2:9, Revelation 5:10).

So where does that leave us with regard to Jesus’ declaration in John chapter 6, that unless we eat of his body and drink of his blood then we will not be raised to life? Again the context clearly shows that Jesus was revealing himself to be the better Manna; the Manna that sustains and yet does not perish. However, could have Jesus also been pointing forward toward the Communion Meal? We remember that Jesus would later break the bread of the Passover Seder and instruct his disciples to take and eat. “This is my body broken for you.”, and he would pass the cup of wine saying, “Take this cup, it is my blood poured out for you.”

It Is All About Him

Jesus tells the Pharisees in John chapter 5 that while they had diligently searched the Scriptures to find the way of eternal life they had failed miserably because they had not understood that the testimony of the Scriptures and the true way to eternal life was found in him. We see something similar in Revelation 19:10; John tells us in this passage that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. That is, the central theme of the Old and New Testaments is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Finally we see Jesus making the definitive claim that all the Scriptures were about him in his Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said that he, “…did not come to destroy the Law and the Prophets but to fulfill.” I believe that Jesus is here declaring that he is both the fulfillment of prophecy and the embodiment of the Moral and Ceremonial Law. In other words, he was not only perfectly obedient to the Moral Law but Jesus was the realization of everything the Ceremonial Law’s types and symbols pointed to.

Therefore, this is what we see when looking for Jesus in the sacrificial system. - That Jesus is the total atoning provision for our sin in the Burnt Offering, he showed himself to be wholly consecrated to the will of the Father in the Grain Offering, he made reconciliation with God in the Peace Offering, he is the perfect propitiatory sacrifice in fulfillment of the Sin Offering, and he is the complete redemptive payment of the Guilt Offering.

What Now?

Next time you take communion meditate on this; think about how we, the royal priesthood of God, symbolically feast upon the eternal and perfect once-for-all sacrifice given for us. It is a meal that we did not work for but was provided for us by the labor of another. This meal is solely the result of a sacrifice given for the guilt of sin and without it we’d starve to death. Though it is marked by death it is absolutely satisfying and all that we need; in fact, we are being nourished by the finest food that the Land of Israel has to offer.

For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. – 1 Corinthians 11:26
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Friday, September 11, 2009


I woke up this morning totally oblivious to the significance of the day. It wasn't until I opened my Facebook account to see the many status updates memorializing the the day, that I remembered. It was 8 years ago this morning that 3000 souls were lost in the terrorist attacks that came against our nation. As we memorialize our lost and reflect upon the tragedy of that day, I want to remind you of another 3000 who perished; about another tower that fell; and another 3000 who were saved.

3000 Lost

It was only a few weeks into the Exodus of the Hebrew nation that Moses ascended Mount Sinai to receive the tablets of the Law, that would bind Israel in covenant to their God. After forty days on the mountain, Moses descended to hear a great celebration. Unfortunately, the celebration was not in exultation of God’s covenant Law coming down to them, but in worship of the the golden calf that was built from the bounty of the plunder of Egypt. Moses' anger boiled at this rebellion and he called for all those who were on the side of God to come to him. The Levites rallied to his command and they went through the camp slaughtering all those who worshipped the golden calf. 

Three thousand Israelites were killed on that day.

A Fallen Tower

In Luke 13 Jesus is told about a certain group of Galileans who were killed by Pontius Pilate. The inquiry was intended to find out whether these Galileans were worse sinners than their brothers since they had died in such a tragic way. Jesus answered them, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish." He then uses another tragedy to highlight this point. "Or [how about] those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

3000 Saved

Seven weeks after Jesus' sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the grave his disciples were gathered together in Jerusalem, celebrating the Feast of Weeks and waiting to receive the promised gift of the Holy Spirit. As they were assembled together there came a sound from heaven like the blowing of a violent wind and the manifestation of God's presence, in flames, above each of their heads. They were each filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in different languages as the Spirit enabled them. This miracle caused a great stir in Jerusalem and many people gathered around
the disciples because of what they witnessed in the Temple's court that morning. However, some mocked the disciples and accused them of being drunk. Peter stood, with the other Apostles, and addressed the crowd. He explained that it was only nine in the morning and that they were not drunk as they had supposed, but that what they'd just witnessed was the fulfillment of a prophecy given by the prophet Joel. He then declared to them that Jesus was the Promised One of God, that he was both Messiah and LORD and they'd murdered him. When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other Apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call."

Three thousand Israelites were saved on that day.

God's Good Pleasure

So as we reflect upon the infamy of that day, let's not forget that we survived September 11th, 2001, not because we were better people than those who died that day, but because of the gracious good pleasure of our God. It's by the extension of his mercy toward us, that we are the ones memorializing the day, rather than being remembered for having died that day. 
Like those Hebrew rebels, we too have worshiped the creations of our own hands rather than the Creator. And like them, we too warrant the wrath of God and his justice against our rebellion. The 3000 that tragically died 8 years ago were not greater sinners than you or me — for there is none that does good and we have all fallen far short of God's glory. We are all deserving of their fate and unless we repent we too will likewise perish. 

The good news is this, like those 3000 who turned to Jesus at the behest of Peter's call 2000, if we will turn from our rebellion by turning to Jesus the King, and call upon his name, we too will be saved from death.
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Friday, June 19, 2009

Becoming a Slave

Today, June 19th, is a day that is celebrated by many in the United States. Today is Juneteenth. June 19th, in the year 1865, is the day that the last state in the union received the news that slavery had been abolished. I thank God that slavery has been abolished in the United States.

Not all slavery is bad however. I thank God that there is one slave owner who will never release His slaves. I want to thank my Master for the day He purchased me. July 15th, 1987 I became a slave of Jesus Christ.

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Happy National Athiest's Day

The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good. -Psalm 14:1

Professing to be wise they became fools. -Romans 1:22

I have learned, through years of experience in dealing with drug addicts, that the way to reach them is not to argue with them about what they are doing, but to show them how stupid they are. They are not abusing drugs; they are using drugs to abuse themselves. The same applies with the stupidity of denying a Creator, with creation staring at you in the face. The atheist will only harm himself. - Ray Comfort

Atheists Who Inspire

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Friday, March 27, 2009

Doing My Job While I Work

I had the wonderful blessing of sharing the faith while at work today. I have done this in the past but I distinctly felt like today's witnessing encounter was ordained by God. Granted, they are all ordained but this one was a bit different. Let me try and explain...

One or two days ago I was struck with the curious thought of why unbelievers in the past have often apologized for cussing around me. I sat and contemplated the possible reasons why that might happen. Is it merely a matter of respect? Are they just concerned that a Christian might be overly sensitive to vulgarities or is it something more? Maybe they feel convicted around us. Is it a visceral response to a person whom they perceive spiritually to be a representative of God? I thought it might be a little bit of both. While it had been some months since this last happened I thought I might considered how I should respond to an apology should it ever happen again.

Flip the calendar forward to today. This afternoon I stopped to speak with a coworker about some work related issues and during the course of the conversation he let a 4-letter word fly. Guess what he immediately did next? He apologized.

In a split second I determined that God was in this encounter. God had brought the very scenario that I was immediately involved in into my heart just days before. Realizing that the Holy Spirit had orchestrated this conversation gave me great boldness to witness.

So I immediately went into my line of questioning. It was a very short line as I only needed to ask one.

"Why did you just apologize?"

"Cause some religious people get offended by cussing."

"Funny it really doesn't offend me too much."

"None of it?"

"Well, yes actually. I do not like it when people blaspheme God?"

"What is blaspheming?"

"When you use God's name as a cuss-word. Have you ever done that? Said, 'Jesus Christ' or 'G. D.?'"

"Yeah but not too often. I sometimes say Jesus Christ when I hurt myself."

"Have you ever considered what you are doing when you do that?"

And that was the transitional point in the conversation.

We spoke for about 10 minutes from that point on about the Law and the Gospel. I could truly see the conviction of his sin and the fear of judgement upon him. He became fidgety and he tried to dodge the topic a few times but we were able to keep the conversation on point. It went very well and I am overjoyed that I was afforded the opportunity to share the Gospel with him while at work.

Witnessing on the job is almost as hard as witnessing to a family member.

Please pray for Scott.
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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Deborah 13: Servant of God

Late last year I posted a video on YouTube called "How to Make Your Child a False Convert". What you will see if you watch this video is an evangelistic invitation in which a pastor invites a room full of children to become Christians without explaining sin, Christ's atoning work on the cross, His death, or His resurrection. She simply has the children repeat an impotent prayer after which she popishly pronounces them saved.

For the most part the majority of the responses to the video were positive. I did however receive my fair share of negative commentary. Most of the negative comments revolved around a singular complaint; namely, that the speaker was addressing the audience at a level of their understanding. Therefore, my criticisms were unwarranted.

well considering she is talking to children and its really up to the parents to teach about God and salvation , I don't see any thing wrong in the video.pretty tame actually and sounded ok.

This is for kids remember. She just talks to them in a language they understand!!Give it a rest whith those stupid comments!!!


In response to the video I wrote an article which I entitled "How To Not Make Your Child a False Convert". In it I argued that children are much brighter and have a much greater capacity to understand than we give them credit. I contended that while we should use age appropriate language when proselytizing children we should not remove those essential elements that actually make the Gospel good news. The children can get it!

Consider Deborah Drapper. Deborah was saved at 6 years old and is now 13. Watch this short biography on Deborah and you decide if you think that this young girl has the mental capability to understand the doctrines of Salvation.

To view the full length video please hit the following link: Deborah13:Servant of God

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marriage and Men

Jesus is the only perfect man to ever live. Because most men fail to look to Him as our example, there exists 2 extremes in men: chauvinism and cowardice. Pastor Mark Driscoll preaches to men about being real men who love God and serve their family well in this sermon from Trial.


1. Your father: Adam (Genesis 1–3)
Marriage is a covenant (Prov. 2:16; Mal. 2:14).
Men are the covenant head, responsible for their wife and family (Gen. 2:18; 5:2; 1 Cor. 11:2–16, 14:33–34; Eph. 5:21–33; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:3–5; 1 Pet. 3:1).
Adam and Eve both sinned, both are at fault, and both are cursed, but God held Adam responsible (Gen. 3:9).
Marriage is cursed (Gen. 3:16). Work is cursed (Gen. 3:17–19). Jesus is the only hope (Gen. 3:15).

2. Your Manhood
Like Adam, the sins of men fall into two general categories: sins of comission (doing what you’re not supposed to do) and sins of omission (not doing what you’re supposed to do). This leads chauvinistic or cowardly tendencies:


No Sissy Stuff Sam: whatever women do, do the opposite

Success and Status Stewart: masculinity = material success

Give’em Hell Hank: angry and abusive

I’m the Boss Bob: domineering and controlling; in authority, not under authority

Little Boy Larry: never grew up, disorganized, lives with his mother, etc.

Sturdy Oak Owen: absolutely dependable but emotionally absent

Hyper-Spiritual Henry: Hides behind religious behavior and “God talk.” Talks at you but not to you.

Good Time Gary: irresponsible life of the party

3. Your Savior: Jesus Christ (the Last Adam, 1 Cor. 15:45)
Ephesians 5:25 calls men to love their wives as Christ loves the Church. Men are not ready to be good husbands until they are a part of the Church and understand how Christ loves the Church by taking responsibility for her and sacrificing himself for her.

The essence of true masculinity is taking responsibility.

4. Your Wife
Understand that a wife’s fears (1 Pet. 3:6) are legitimate; men dominate the lives of women and children, for good or for evil. Honor your wife:

Honor her maritally. Take a wife honorably. Establish right priorities, and be a one woman man–absolutely faithful to your wife.

Honor her physically. Be strong for your wife, not against her. Be protective of her and present with her.

Honor her emotionally. Be emotionally present and intimate. Take her on dates.

Honor her verbally. Speak honorably to her. Speak honorably of her, when she is present and absent.

Honor her financially. Provide for the financial needs of your family, organize your budget, and be generous towards your wife.

Honor her practically. Consider her needs and how you can serve her.

Honor her parentally. Be “Pastor Dad” by shepherding your children (praying with them, teaching them about Jesus, reading the Bible with them, etc.).

Honor her spiritually. You initiate and lead prayer, Bible, chats, church attendance, etc. Take responsibility for your church.
What happens when you fail to honor your wife? God ignores you (1 Pet. 3:7). Repent.

Further Study:

Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, by Wayne Grudem and John Piper
God, Marriage, and the Family, by Andreas Kostenberger
New Men, Soft Patriarchs: How Christianity Shapes Fathers and Husbands, by W. Bradford Wilcox
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

The Fallacy of Relevancy

So, what's wrong with this picture?


Josh Elsom captured this moment; and a picture is worth a thousand words.
The picture reminds me of the old Sesame Street song, "One of these things is not like the others. Which one is different? Do you know?"Four kids on bikes. Their bikes are similar. Their clothing is similar. Their hats and sunglasses are similar. And standing in the midst of those four kids, proclaiming the Law and the Gospel, is Mark Mackey--a 57-year-old bread truck driver and evangelist.

Mark doesn't look like the people to whom he is speaking. He isn't dressed like them. He's old enough to be their father. And he doesn't have a spiffy BMX bike so that he can relate to them.
What Mark has, however, is of far greater value and is far more powerful than relevancy. The reason Mark was able to engage these four young people in spiritual conversation is simple, really. Mark loves God and loves people.

Mark long ago realized that he didn't have to be "of" the world in order to reach the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ. Unlike so many so-called ministries these days that cater to the worldliness of the lost, Mark is modeling Christ-likeness in his evangelism efforts by speaking the truth in love.

Yes, it is true that those kids would have remembered Mark had he rode up to them on his own BMX bike, sporting the hair, clothing, and backward hat of a person 1/4 his age. They would have remembered how silly and unauthentic he looked.

Instead, what those kids will likely remember is that an older guy who they will never likely see again cared enough about them to speak honestly and lovingly to them about the things of God.
And it is the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, not worldly relevance, that the Lord uses to draw unbelievers to repentance and faith.

Thanks for your godly example, Mark.

-Tony Miano
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Monday, March 23, 2009

Protecting Our Idols

What pops into your head when you hear the word "idol"? The first thing that may come to many of our minds might be a small figurine carved out of wood or ivory and placed on an altar. Or a statue adorned with jewelry or flowers with incense burning on either side. In many cultures and religions that would be an accurate definition of an idol. The Hindu religion for instance has hundreds of millions of these idols which are ascribed deity.

In the West our idols look much different. They look like office buildings, bank accounts, sports teams, televisions, or even family. You see an idol does not have to be carved out of wood it can be carved out of the heart. An idol is simply anything that you pay obeisance to. It is the thing you work for, the thing which you invest in, the thing you love, and that you sacrifice for. Idolatry happens when a gift of God is esteemed higher than God Himself, the giver of gifts.

Idols are the objects which we attempt to guard when they are endangered. When something or someone threatens our idol we sin to protect it. For instances people will lie on their 1040A to protect their bank account, they will spend 80 hours a week at work to further their career, and they will tear down a friend to protect their idol of pride.

People will do the most unbelievable things to protect their idols. Consider the following story published this morning in the AP.

More women needing cash go from jobless to topless

By KAREN HAWKINS, Associated Press Writer Karen Hawkins, Associated Press Writer Mon Mar 23, 12:01 am ET

CHICAGO – As a bartender and trainer at a national restaurant chain, Rebecca Brown earned a couple thousand dollars in a really good week. Now, as a dancer at Chicago's Pink Monkey gentleman's club, she makes almost that much in one good night.

The tough job market is prompting a growing number of women across the country to dance in strip clubs, appear in adult movies or pose for magazines like Hustler.

Employers across the adult entertainment industry say they're seeing an influx of applications from women who, like Brown, are attracted by the promise of flexible schedules and fast cash. Many have college degrees and held white-collar jobs until the economy soured.

"You're seeing a lot more beautiful women who are eligible to do so many other things," said Gus Poulos, general manager of New York City's Sin City gentleman's club. He said he got 85 responses in just one day to a recent job posting on Craigslist.

The transition to the nightclub scene isn't always a smooth one — from learning to dance in five-inch heels to dealing with the jeers of some customers.

Some performers said they were initially so nervous that only alcohol could calm their nerves.
"It is like giving a speech, but instead of imagining everyone naked, you're the one who's naked," Brown, 29, said.

Eva Stone, a 25-year-old dancer at the Pink Monkey, said dealing with occasional verbal abuse from patrons requires "a thick skin."

Makers of adult films cautioned that women shouldn't rush into the decision to make adult movies without considering the effect on their lives.

"Once you decide to be an adult actress, it impacts your relationship with everyone," said Steven Hirsch, co-chairman of adult film giant Vivid Entertainment Group. "Once you make an adult film, it never goes away."

The women at the Pink Monkey say dancing at a strip club might not have been their first career choice, but they entered the business with their eyes wide open. The job gives them more control and flexibility than sitting in a cubicle, and "it's easy, it's fun and all of us girls ... look out for each other," Brown said.

In this economy, "desperate measures are becoming far more acceptable," said Jonathan Alpert, a New York City-based psychotherapist who's had clients who worked in adult entertainment.
For some, dancing is temporary, a way to pay for college loans or other bills. Others say they've found their niche.

Dancers at the upscale Rick's Caberet clubs in New York City and Miami can make $100,000 to $300,000 a year — in cash — even with the economic downturn, club spokesman Allan Priaulx said.

Priaulx said 20 to 30 women a week are applying for jobs at the New York club, double the number of a year ago.

Still, analysts say, the industry isn't immune to the economic recession. Business is down an estimated 30 percent across all segments, including adult films, gentleman's clubs, magazines and novelty shops, said Paul Fishbein, president of AVN Media Network, an adult entertainment company that has a widely distributed trade publication and an award show.

"In the past, people have said this industry is recession-proof," said Eric Wold, director of research for financial services firm Merriman Curhan Ford. "I definitely don't see that; maybe recession-resistant."

Strip club dancers and managers said they're drawing in the same number of customers, but fewer high rollers.

"They're not getting the big spenders," said Angelina Spencer, executive director of the Association of Club Executives, a trade group for adult nightclubs. "They're not getting the guys who come in and drop $3,000 to $4,000 a night anymore."
Still, the clubs' operating structure leaves them with low overhead and profit margins of up to 50 percent, Wold said.

Dancers are independent contractors, paying clubs a nightly flat fee depending on how long they work. At the Pink Monkey, for example, dancers who arrive at 7 p.m. Sunday through Thursday pay a $40 "house fee," while women who don't arrive until midnight pay $90. And they keep their tips.

Wold and others say it's almost impossible to estimate the size of the adult entertainment industry because few companies are publicly traded. He does pay close attention to three that are: Lakewood, Colo.-based VCG Holding and Houston-based Rick's Caberet, which own clubs, and New Frontier Media, a Boulder, Colo.-based adult film producer and distributor.
All three are profitable.

Rick's Caberet had $60 million in revenue in its 2008 fiscal year, up from $32 million the year before, Wold said, and he estimates VCG will have $57 million for last year, compared with $40.5 million in FY2007. New Frontier Media generates more than $400 million in consumer buying a year.

Larry Flynt, whose half-billion dollar Hustler empire publishes magazines, produces and distributes films and operates a casino, said he's continued to do well. But he doesn't expect those who are solely in the film business to survive.

"A lot of the small studios are out of business now, there's no doubt about that," Flynt said.
Adult magazines also are struggling along with the larger publishing industry, and have to cut pages like everyone else.

But the economic realities aren't keeping jobseekers away.
Vivid Entertainment's Hirsch said the number of women in his business has doubled in the last couple years, with roughly 800 working as adult actresses. "It is more competitive than I've seen it in 25 years," he said.

That doesn't mean all the newcomers are planning on lengthy careers in the industry.
Stone, who has a bachelor's degree in graphic design, took up dancing four years ago to help pay her student loans. She plans to go to graduate school this year to pursue a master's in education.
Brown, meanwhile, has a ready answer for those critical of her career choice.

"I have job security," she said.
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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bobby Schott

1 Corinthians 1:21 tells us that," pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe." and in verse 27 of the same chapter that,"God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong..."

God is in the business of taking weak vessels and using them for His glory. He uses the shepherd boy to defeat the giant, the farmer with an army of 300 to defeat a nation, and rag tag group of 12 to change the world. Such is the case of Bobby Schott.

Please watch the following video and consider how God uses the most unlikely people to do the most amazing things for His Kingdom.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Christ's Only Prayer Request

Did you know that Jesus made only one request for prayer in the Scriptures?

Yep, and it is found in Matthew 9:37-38.

Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."

Sadly this is a prayer which is woefully neglected in the hearts of most professing followers of Jesus Christ. Why do we not pray with great sincerity to the Lord to send more laborers into the harvest? There can only be three reasons; ignorance, apathy, or self-preservation.

First, one may have no knowledge that this request has been made by our Lord. This state of ignorance would indeed be temporary, of course. For if one knows what he has been saved from and how he has been saved from it then his conscience would demand that something be done. Intuitively the regenerate man will pray for laborers to be dispatched into the world.

Second, the professing christian may be apathetic to this request. They simply do not care whether other people (neighbors, friends, or family) are saved from the wrath of God. They may claim with great passion that they care but in the deepest parts of the heart they do not. This is a very dangerous place to live by the way. Charles Spurgeon said,"Have you no wish for others to be saved? Then you are not saved yourself. Be sure of that."

The third reason that this prayer fails to be uttered is because of self-preservation. Understand, there is no way that this prayer can be honestly spoken without taking action. How can one genuinely pray for laborers to be sent while sitting on one's own hands? It can not be done, the faithful child of God knows who they are and knows to what they have been called. The carnal man may know as well but still refuse to execute faithfully that which is required of his commission. So because of the burdening of the conscience this third man will not pray the request of his Lord. He knows that praying this prayer for laborers would implicate him in his lack of zeal for the lost. He would therefore rather remain quite, exclude the prayer for laborers, and remain safely planted in his home. There is no suffering for the sake of Christ for this one. There is no mockery for the one who does not move, there are no stones thrown at those who do not speak, and there is no burning stake for those who do not love.

You know the only safe person of these three would be the one who is ignorant, but if you've read this far then you no longer have an excuse.

So pray to the Lord of the Harvest that He would send more laborers into the fields; that is, in addition to you.
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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

God Is My Provider

This post is a little different than those which I have written in the past because it will expose some information that I would normally consider private. However, I believe what God has miraculously done in these recent days will far outweigh what small amount of humiliation I may experience in revealing my fallibility. I pray that this, the story of my past mistakes and God's restorative work, will serve as both a lesson and a blessing to you.

God has been working aggressively over the last 5 years to tear down the idols in my life. Many of these gods were quite visible and took center stage on the mantle, while others were tossed in the dark recesses of the closet. One by one they have fallen. Two weeks ago God completely destroyed the largest of my asherah poles. His name was Mammon.

Mammon manifest himself in a number of ways; the nicest television I could afford, the most impressive surround sound I could get my hands on, an overpriced home, a hot rod Mustang, and on and on. I was always hot on the tails of the Joneses.

What God revealed to me about this god in these last weeks was that he was a god of materialistic pursuit; a lifestyle of having, getting and pride. One of the problems associated with serving a god like mammon is that one's sins are not confined to the obeisance one pays him. He requires more time at work and less time at home. He demands that one gets more and give little back (even to God).

This was the god that my God began to expose this last year and fully destroyed two weeks ago.

The following video contains the short story of how God through the working of His Holy Spirit transformed my heart and redeemed what was lost.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Cup

What did Christ actually go through in Gethsemane? Listen to this amazing sermon clip by C.J. Mahaney to find out.

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Jesus Said,"I AM God, Worship Me."

Two articles below this one you will find an entry entitled "You Shall Worship the Lord Your God". Last week this article and its associated video were picked up by Todd Friel, host of Wretched Radio.

This video is Todd Friel's response to Khaled Yasin's $5000 Challange.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

You Shall Worship the Lord Your God

I found myself in another online debate this weekend. This time it was on YouTube. I normally do not pay much attention to the comments that go on below the videos that play on YouTube, many of them are sensless and many more are just profane. However, both the video I watched and the comments that followed could not be left unchallenged.

The claim that is made in this video is that Jesus Christ never claimed to be God. The man attempting to make the case is Khaled Yasin, a lecturer and teacher of Islam. The argument that this man brings is remarkably weak and intellectually dishonest. However, his weak reasoning and poor hermenuetics may be enough to trouble the unprepared heart and unrenewed mind. Rather than presenting his complete arguments here I will just have you listen to this teacher in his own words. The video will be posted at the end of this article.

There were a few points that I made in the course of this debate but I want to focus on one issue. That is, that Jesus allowed Himself to be worshipped. And the fact that Jesus would allow Himself to be worshipped can only mean one of three things. He was either a blashpemous liar, a lunatic, or He was who He claimed to be, God manifest in the flesh.

I used a bit of strategy when coming to this point and I believe that it will prove to be very useful. I wanted the Muslims to tell me that men should not be worshipped as God and that God alone is worthy to be praised. The line of questioning went as follows:

What is a person to expect by worshipping Muhammed? What would Muhammed do for them or tell them if they got down on their knees and praised him as Allah? Would he accept them? Would he take them to Paradise?

Muslims do not worship Muhammed (pbuh). We worship Allah only.

I realize that. But if I wanted to worship Muhammed as Allah would he allow it and receive it?

nope, he wouldnt allow it. because he himself is a human being messenger, only saying the "words" of god, not being godly himself.

The following is the unabridged response:

Mohammed would be wise not to allow himself to be worshipped; for as Jesus said in His rebuke to Satan, “You shall worship the Lord your God, and Him only shall you serve.” The Apostle Peter took this commandment very seriously. When he entered the house of a man called Cornelius, the man fell down at Peter’s feet and worshiped him. But Peter, being a wise disciple of Jesus, lifted him up and said "Stand up; I too am a man." The Apostle Paul and his disciple Barnabas reacted in like manner when the people of Lystra tried to bring bulls to sacrifice to them. They both tore their clothes and rushed out into the gathering crowd and shouted, "Men, why are you doing this? We too are only men, human like you!” These were very wise men who would not allow themselves to be worshipped. In the book of Acts we actually have a great example of what may happen to a person who does allow men to worship them. King Herod put his life on the line when he allowed his audience to worship him as a god. When Herod failed to direct this praise toward the one true God, an angel of the Lord struck him down, and he was eaten by worms and died.

Jesus was different than all of these men. He was worshipped many times, yet he never once rebuked a person for giving Him the thanks, honor and praise that should only be given to GOD.

Here are but a few examples:

Matthew 2:2 - The wise men who came from the East came looking for the Jewish Messiah, King of the Jews. Not only did they come bearing gifts but they came to worship him.
Matthew 14:33 – After Jesus demonstrated His power and authority to even control the weather his disciples worshiped him.
Matthew 28:9 – After the two women discovered that Jesus had risen from the dead they ran to spread the news of His resurrection. On their way back to tell the disciples, Jesus appeared to the women. They both fell at His feet and worshipped him.
John 9:38 – After Jesus reveals Himself to the blind man He had healed, the man worshipped Jesus. In each case Jesus did not forbid their worship nor did he defer their worship toward GOD.

But perhaps the most conclusive and inescapable passage in the scriptures that shows Jesus allowing Himself to be worshiped as God can be found in John 20:28. Thomas was absent the first time that the Messiah appeared to His disciples. When his friends told him about Jesus’ appearing, Thomas said that he would not believe unless he were able to see the scars with his own eyes and thrust his finger and hand into Jesus’ wounds. Eight days later Jesus appeared and said to Thomas, "Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe." Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!"

Jesus the Messiah was either a lying blasphemer who allowed himself to be worshipped or He was precisely who He claimed to be, the God of Heaven and Earth.

Before I close this article I want to share with you one more perspective concerning the worship of the God-man Jesus, the perspective of GOD ALMIGHTY. I will spare you my commentary and simply allow the inspired writer of the letter to the Hebrews to speak for God himself.

God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.

For to which of the angels did He ever say: “You are My Son, today I have begotten You”? And again: “I will be to Him a Father, and He shall be to Me a Son.”? But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says, “Let all the angels of God worship Him.” And of the angels He says: “Who makes His angels spirits and His ministers a flame of fire.” But to the Son He says: “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; a scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your kingdom. You have loved righteousness and hated lawlessness; therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions.”

Not only do we see that the holy angels worship Jesus as God but we also find that GOD Almighty declares the Son worthy of woship as God.


The thread of comments can be found here. Warning: Explicit Language

$5000 Reward If You Prove That Jesus Said I am God, Worship Me

Listen to Todd Friel discuss this article and video on Wretched Radio!
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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Prepare to Suffer!

"Will you join the Son in diplaying the Supreme Satisfaction of the Glory of Grace in joining Him on the Calvary Road of Suffering?
There is no other way the World is going to see the Supreme Glory of Christ today except that we break free from the Disneyland of America and begin to live lifestyles of Missionary Sacrifice that look to the world that our Treasure is in Heaven and not on this Earth.
Are you living a lifestyle that says that? Does the world look at your lifestyle and know that your Treasure is in Heaven and not in your Home, Car, Paycheck, Retirement account?
Paul says in 1 Corinthians 15:19: If in this life only we have hoped in Christ, we are of all people most to be pitied. Why?

Do our lives represent one to be pitied if Christ, the Cross, the Gospel, Heaven, and Hell are not true?" - John Piper

For the complete sermon see How Our Suffering Glorifies God.

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Joseph: The Shadow of Messiah

In the entries to follow this brief article I will be writing about the amazing story of Joseph, son of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. I will be focusing my study on the specific typology that we see in the account of Joseph's life and how it applies prophetically to the Savior; both what has been fulfilled and what is yet to be fulfilled in the life of Messiah Jesus.

I want to lay a quick foundation before digging into this story and this may require a brief review or explanation of what a type is. Simply put a type, or typology, is an interpretive practice of taking a person, thing or an event and defining it as symbolically representative of something yet future. So we can look at people, things or events in the Old Testament and see that they are prophetically symbolic of people, things or events fulfilled in the New Testament, or even in our future. For an example of this please read my article on Noah.

I pray that this short series of articles will be as much a blessing to you as the study of this story has been for me. For many, the striking similarities between the lives of Joseph and Jesus will be new and exciting. For the rest of you who are familiar with these amazing parallels, well I hope to surprise you. Many would suggest that all has been fulfilled in the shadows of Joseph's life. I simply ask that you stick around and see what treasures may have been left on the ground and are ready to be gleaned.
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