The Ugly Truth About Mirrors

This morning I was in prayer over the aversion some people have about attending church.  Church Dodger Doug hates the thought of coming to hear a sermon.  Strangely, he may be OK with an occasional visit to some churches in town, but not others. Why is this so?

An image immediately formed in my mind of Dodger Doug warily entering the front door, taking a seat in the very back pew.  He looks up to the pulpit and instead of gazing at a smiling preacher he sees a tall body-length mirror reflecting a high resolution image of himself.  The reflection clearly displays every facial blemish, skin splotch and protruding fat roll.  Dodger Doug is confronted with the ugly truth that he is not the person he thought he was in his imagination.  Appalled at the loathsome image Doug draws back and swears off the church, pointing to the other blemished congregants and their inherent hideousness as an excuse for not coming back.  But the hard truth is he couldn’t bear to look at himself as he truly is.

Church Dodger Doug may find refuge in another church where the mirrors resemble those you find in a carnival fun house.    The contorted images may entertain him but he never sees himself as he truly is.

Any place where the whole counsel of God is expounded from the pulpit, the preached word acts as a mirror that tears down all guises and shows us just how deeply the image of God in us has been damaged by the raging disease of sin.  Our original honor, dignity and glory has been ravaged by the boils and infected wounds of our own self-inflicted transgressions. Continue reading

Book Club Recommendations

I’ve recently been in discussion with one of the fine deacons at my church about starting a book club  to help encourage reading.  We sincerely desire for people in our congregation to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  My friend Jim has recently established a public access church library where people can check out all kinds of books on theology, Christian living, parenting and so forth.  We even have a limited selection of commentaries as well.

We both have a passion for reading.  It has helped us to mature in our Christian faith.  Reading has fallen on hard times overall in our media-driven society of sight and sound. I find very few people who read anything more than what they can pull up on their web browsers.  I find this trend very disturbing.  I have four kids and the mere mention of reading a book for leisure is met with scoffs and eyeball rolls by all but one. They can’t conceive why anyone would read a book at all- whether for fun or (gasp) for education.  It is completely beyond them.  They think I’m from another planet when I joyfully pick up a book and hunker down for a good long spell.  I’m afraid my children are just a microcosm of young people in general throughout America.  I mean, who has time for books when you’ve got Youtube, iTunes and Xbox 360 to blitz the senses and occupy the mind.

Now, I thought this problem only affected the youth and perhaps to a lesser degree, my generation, but Jim informs me that he knows very few people of his generation who read at all.  Now, Jim is a much more seasoned veteran of life than I, so this remark surprised me.  How long has reading been out of vogue? Since the invention of the television?

Whatever the cause may be, we are looking to remedy the situation by holding a once-a-week book club meeting during the summer break.  My idea is to pick a book and assign a chapter or two every week and then hold meaningful discussions on the content.  My preference is to read established Christian classics.  Now I would love to go over some Calvin, Luther and various Puritan works but these might intimidate those who may not read a lot due to the harder-than-average readability.  I’m willing to read contemporary volumes, (for there are a great many good ones out there) but would generally like to stay away from ‘hot-off-the-press’ books until they are established as doctrinally sound and helpful. So, basically, I’m looking for contemporary Christian classics that work to supplement the daily absorption of the word, which should always be our main source of reading.

I turn to you now, my readers, for help on a couple of issues.

1.  I would welcome any advice on how to effectively facilitate this book club so that it will attract  and maintain a core group of believers who will commit to weekly reading and discussion.  Anybody out there have experiences as a facilitator or as a member of a similar type of church group?  I’d love to hear your input.

2.  I would appreciate any recommendations on great contemporary Christian books that you have found eye-opening and instructive in your Christian walk that would fit in well with the format I’ll be working from.  Really thick volumes and ones that use highly technical language are probably not what I’m looking for.  I have several books in mind but would welcome any ideas.

Thanks in advance.

Fanatical Fundamentalism

Over the years of searching the internet for information on various biblical topics or on certain men of God, dead or alive, I’ve occasionally come across self-proclaimed ‘fundamentalist’ websites that perplex me. They perplexed me back in my Charismatic/Arminian days and they still perplex me as a Reformed believer.  These sites appear solid at first peek.  They often contain tons of articles on biblical subjects that go in-depth.  But once I begin reading the material the red flags of discernment pop up. Has this ever happened to you?

Now, when I speak of fundamentalism I’m speaking of a specific niche in the Christian world.  It isn’t just someone who adheres to the ‘fundamentals’ of the faith as the term meant when it first entered the American lexicon a century ago.  No, it has devolved into a term describing a group of people who mercilessly denounce every doctrine that is even at slight variance from their own well-groomed, polished theological system. They can be legalistic, cruel, judgmental and condemning.  Digesting this grace-deficient rot can make you gravely ill, like the time I ate that pizza pocket with black olives.  And like that pizza pocket you will do well to never consume such garbage again.  From my experience, here are a few tell-tale signs that you’ve stumbled onto a fanatical fundamentalist site: Continue reading


I think I want this.

I’m not a fan of so-called Christian apparel, including t-shirts that often feature banal pop culture references or trite aphorisms that are meant to do all the ‘witnessing’ of the gospel for us.  But this struck me as funny.

Not sure why I’m amused though, because it’s absolutely true.  It’s a humble reminder that the only contribution to my salvation by God’s grace is my great sin.

HT: Nola’s Devotionals

Grasping God

I am currently reading Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology and last night I came across a section on God’s incommunicable attributes.  This refers to the fact that God possesses certain attributes that he has not shared or passed on to mankind.  For example, God is eternal and infinite in his being, having neither beginning nor end.  However, man is finite and has a definite beginning.  God is independent in that he does not depend on any source outside of himself to sustain his existence.  Since he created all things he does not require creation to ‘Be’.  Man cannot claim this attribute.  These traits are opposite of his communicable attributes, or those qualities of God that he has shared or passed on to mankind.  Examples of this would include God’s love, justice, and mercy.  Man has the capacity to express each and everyone of these divine attributes, though not to the degree and scope that God does. Continue reading

Random Ramblings – TD Jakes, Mimes and Helping Yourself

Ok, this is a quick post – a little bit of live-blogging if you will. I’m sitting here at home watching in disbelief as TD Jakes promotes his new book, Reposition Yourself – Living Life Without Limits on TBN. First of all, he has four mimes complete with white face make-up, acting out his sermon in the background as he talks about breaking free of the bonds of mediocrity.

Yikes! And I thought Powerpoint presentations had great potential to divert our attention away from the word, Oh my! Four clowns making wild hand gestures and overly dramatic physical contortions to the tune of a Christian message cancels out the effectiveness of Bishop Jake’s usually compelling delivery. Welcome to the brave new world of self-defeating ministry, folks.

He’s promoting this book pretty heavily. The sermon he’s preaching is lifted from the book and he interrupts himself every few minutes to run a mini-infomercial giving us an inside flap style synopsis of the book’s contents. He says it’s about personal fulfilment that can be achieved by making small adjustments to your life that, oh by the way, you can only discover if you buy his book. He made a remark that God had given him fresh new perspectives that he is unveiling to the world so we can live the abundant life. The hair on the back of my neck rises every time I hear preachers using words such as ‘fresh’ and ‘new’ in the same sentence with ‘God’ and the ‘bible’.

And in an ‘Oh my goodness, no he didn’t’ moment, he actually spouted the old worn cliche’ ‘God helps those who helps themselves’ in the midst of his message! He even quotes the ‘faith without works is dead’ scripture in support of it. Does he have any inkling of what the grace of God really is? Can man help himself in any way in regards to salvation? Does God expect us to work our way to glory in our own strength? It is utter foolishness at best and rank heresy at worst to make this unsubstantiated claim as if it had any basis in scripture.

I’ve had enough, time to change the channel. If you are a fan of TD Jakes, may I humbly suggest you do the same.

Random Ramblings: Busyness, and Righteous Anger

I can’t believe it. I missed Wednesday church last night. In and of itself that is not hard to swallow, but the fact that I just plain forgot about it – that’s just unbelievable. I am becoming more and more convinced that the world system has one goal, and one goal only; distract people with activities and responsibilities to keep them occupied in order to prevent them from going about their Father’s business. That’s it in a nutshell. Unfortunately, in our fast-paced American culture, it is working to perfection. Continue reading