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On Easter Bunnies…(sort of)…OK, not really…

I am an American citizen. But, according to the Holy Spirit, I am first and foremost a subject in the kingdom of God—a citizen of heaven (Philippians 3:20). I am supposed to be unafraid to be an alien (foreigner) and a stranger (wandering through a world in which I have no real and final citizenship – 1 Peter 2:11). Because of the rights which God has graciously granted me as a US citizen (which are actually privileges) and privileges accorded to me by God through the work of good men two centuries ago (who were biblically wrong in saying that these are God-given rights, but to whom God sovereignly afforded the right to be wrong about these things), I vote, I speak up–trying to think deeply, and hoping to speak plainly and clearly on how to be a Christian first and an American second. God helping me, I do this always with the idea of being what I am – a heavenly citizen who resides as an alien & pilgrim, and secondly an American citizen.[1]

I think I can do more in being a citizen, and (more…)

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Whose Agenda–Whose Glory?

By events, books,sermon mp3s, and conferences, I have been often forced or moved to think on the priority and importance of the local church–a sacred God-ordained people. The local church is the primary means by which black-hearted rebels are transformed into Christ-obeying disciples through the saving and sanctifying power of the Good News. This is a significant portion of God’s agenda of self-glorification.

The church belongs to God, it is the body of Christ, His bride, and glory.

What are we doing in, about or to the local church which promotes our own agenda and glory?

A Case of Missing the Point…

Recently, I read a post and subsequent comments at a weblog that reveals how some persist in misunderstanding the biblical doctrines of Perseverance and Preservation. The tenor of the article was this: God preserves us, but there is no scriptural promise of or mandate for our perseverance in the faith. The misrepresentations of what “perseverance of the saints” means, the logical fallacies of strawmen, false dilemmas, etc. paint a picture of perseverance which is sadly distorted. Frankly, I do not understand the motivations of those who write articles like this, and the comments which follow; it is as though  the critics haven’t read, or at least understood what “perseverance” writers have actually written.

When we teach that God preserves Christians from the day of trust in Christ until they are in His presence, it means that God will fully accomplish our salvation. The obligation is upon Him to uphold the promises in which we have trusted–this is His preserving work.

But, this preservation does not happen in some unknowable, invisible fashion. Part of the way God keeps us  is by providing means which we take part in–essentially the Christian graces: Bible Intake, Worship, Prayer, Outreach, Service, Fellowship w/ the Saints, etc. These graces are meant to continually remind us, and thus empower us to obey–to express faith. Faith is not faith if it is not resting on the promises of God, and faith is not faith if it does not move from attitude to obedience.  We are corrected, warned, exhorted, encouraged, rebuked, and taught by the ministry of the Spirit in the graces I mentioned above.

If we profess faith in Christ, and consistently and persistently rebel against partaking of these graces and obeying the Spirit’s truth embodied and taught by them, then we had better wonder if we have the salvation we claim to have. In wondering this, and beginning our self-examination, it is not as though we can mutter “well, regardless of my anti-Christ rebellion, and my wanton disobedience to known commands of the Lord, at least I can rest in the delight that I am saved.” Peter, Paul, James, our Lord, and the author of Hebrews would all warn exuberantly to “examine yourself to see if you are in the faith”–or themes similar. If after this investigation of character and belief, we confess our sin, and begin a path of sincere obedience to the Scriptural corrective, it is not that somehow we have contributed to our own salvation, or even somehow maintained our salvation, or even single-handedly muscled ourselves back on the path of sanctification. Rather our God’s  power has come to work in our lives in such a fashion as to achieve His final preservation of us. His power is displayed through the Truth which the Spirit brings to bear on our hearts by the graces I mentioned earlier. Our response to these means is not some works-based effort on our part, it is the proper, nominal response of a disciple of Jesus Christ. Any such return to obedience (both in attitude and action) can only be properly attributed to the work of the Holy Spirit. As before our salvation, and now in our life of sanctification, we can only obey our God through His righteous, alien intervention–first by His regeneration, and now as a consequence of His indwelling, etc.

A life of repeated instances of obedience, over time, is a marker of our salvation. While there will be sinful straying, both aware and unaware (at the time), the pattern is obedience–submission to Christ’s Lordship. At the end, when we see Him, we will not say “O Lord, how delightful that I, in my own power and capability persevered!” No, rather, we will rejoice in His upholding His promises–to keep us, and to keep us by providing the means and power to keep going through the agency of the Holy Spirit. Will there have been human effort in our attempts to walk in obedience? Of course, but Who empowered it, Who provided all the means to know how to choose right, Who jealously, passionately desired the good things of God for us, within us (James 4)? Our God! And then, as now, we would and could take no credit for the work of perseverance–for such obedience could only be prompted by and empowered by God–as He preserved us.

This is not works-based salvation or sanctification–it is the faith of the Gospel. Do not let others deter you from a biblical understanding of the Spirit’s work in us. Their efforts demean the power of the Gospel, pointing to man-centered, diluted Gospel understanding. Our hope rests only in God’s preserving and persevering power! I will post a Scriptural defense of this some time, but this is an acceptable and proven understanding of God’s power in our lives, as defined in the Scripture.

Careful Exegesis and Exposition Matter…Really They do…

So…will this conference be about not stealing someone else’s land through fraudulent border-keeping? See Deut 19:14, 27:17; Prov 23:10…

This is what the “young men” mean when they are say they are frustrated with the “old” guys, and the “old” guys offer this kind of exegesis and exposition.  By the way, age-wise, I am an old guy. Without attending the conference, I promise not to steal someone anyone’s land–and now am on my way to being a good fundamentalist Christian.

This is why we work at careful interpretation…We do not get to read back into the OT the meanings we want it to have!

Now, tongue back out of cheek…I know they are talking about not giving up traditional ways of thinking, as long as they line up with the Bible, but isn’t it a bad start if we misuse the Text to make our point?

On Burning Qurans, Terry Jones, and our “Rights”

This rough, I might clean it up later, but I posted this recently at a friend’s Facebook page. If it is helpful to you, good…

From what I can see of the NT & the OT, our faith is not a tit for tat kind of thing. “Vengeance is mine–I will repay” says GOD. If someone is burning Bibles, we are called to feel compassion and pity and chalk it up to ignorance. Don’t forget Saul of Tarsus was willing to kill and may have been part of the process of killing Christians (Acts 8:1 – 3, 9:1)–and yet God showed compassion to him–through Ananias (who was nervous about meeting and helping Saul (Acts 9:13f), and brought him to salvation.  Paul calls his unbelief and opposition to Christ “ignorance”…There is Pauline, and Petrine precedent for this attitude:

(1 Peter 1:14 14 “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance…” Ephesians 4:17-18 17 “So this I say, and affirm together with the Lord, that you walk no longer just as the Gentiles also walk, in the futility of their mind, 18 being darkened in their understanding, excluded from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the hardness of their heart;…” 1 Timothy 1:12-13 12 “I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who has strengthened me, because He considered me faithful, putting me into service, 13 even though I was formerly a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor. Yet I was shown mercy because I acted ignorantly in unbelief;”

If someone is naming the name of Christ–i.e. calling themselves Christians, yet are false teachers, then we go after them like Paul and John say to. Neither Paul or John, gave quarter to apostasy or stubborn false teaching. But, the example of the Apostles, and our Lord was to crush false teachers, feed the sheep, and show compassion to those acting in ignorance. But, if they are unbelievers, and not false teachers as described above, our business is to evangelize them–not to foster hatred. Terry Jones is adding to the offense of the Gospel, and it is sinful to do that–in the name of patriotism, in the name of indignation, in the name of vengeance, or whatever. Even if he thinks he is somehow helping God, it is more like Peter’s “Malchusian moment” when he foolishly, and sinfully took off the high priest’s servant’s (Malchus) ear. If anyone needs censure here Jones does. Not censorship, he has the freedom to be foolish and sinful. But, simply because the Constitution allows it, that doesn’t make it moral.

And you are right, it is no big deal to offend Christians–I would posit that our Lord not only taught that, but gave the ultimate example of humility. He modeled and taught a humble acceptance of crimes done against Him, murderous crimes, and He bore the Cross, despising the shame. He told us that we should expect to be hated, despised, harrassed, persecuted and lied about–and we are never to raise a hand in an unbiblical way so as to prevent our being able to evangelize even our persecutors!. When Paul wrote Romans 13:1 – 7, speaking to the matter of obeying “authority”,  Emperor Nero was the “authority”–burning Christians as party lights, and persecuting the Church in numerous ways. And Paul’s response? Romans 13:1 – 7. However offended I am, (and I do get offended), however indignant I am (and I do get so sometimes) at the actions and mindset of Islam, as a Christian, I don’t get to foster those feelings, and should repent of them if they would get in the way of my evangelizing a Muslim.

Paul and Silas evangelized their jailer–their enemy. I don’t think that Terry Jones is doing the equivalent of sitting in prison, singing hymns and leading the jailer to Christ. When we became Christians, we surrendered our rights, if those rights in any way shape or form cause a stumbling block for the progress of the Good News. We are Christians first, Americans second. Peace and grace.

Bridges…vehicles…connections

Posted in run on sentences, Uncategorized by Sam Hendrickson on 9 June , 2010

I began writing this as I tried to write something more than “Happy Mother’s Day” in a card. Couldn’t finish it. Finished it for my Pop’s card. In many ways it needs polishing, but it was in this form when I sent it to them:

There is a distance which separates persons, and for you and me that measures approximately 367 miles. There are real limitations imposed by such a large number. These are magnified by time constraints, physical capabilities and whatnot.

There is a distance which separates loved ones which can be bridged by letter, telephone and other modern communication methods. Its limitations are time, poor handwriting, or “we don’t want to use up all your minutes.”

There is a distance which separates loved family members which can be spanned by nothing so clumsy as phones, cars, emails or pen on paper. Rather, it is traversed by three vehicles: thought, memory & prayer.

First, thought is fueled by the knowledge that at whatever time I think of you, you both are busy doing busy things. Then, I wonder what those things are, and wish I were there with you—and in a way, I am.

Second, memory is like the first—thought. I see images, faces, events, feelings, delight, sorrow, laughter, worry, good food, great smells, glances, songs, conversations, etc. These shadows of the past—no—these shimmers of light & life dance through my mind often when I am thinking of or doing something of mundane importance. And I am with you.

These two feed the third vehicle—a connection not between us, but between God and me. For there hardly passes a day during which I do not remember you, and thinking of you I traverse an infinite space and address my Lord concerning you both—creature to Creator, son to Father, redeemed rebel to Savior. It is of no special significance that I am praying, but more so that He is listening. What an amazing thing that God hears! He hears me—a sinful, rebellious son of Adam, who through the redemption favored him by faith, can now do more than send wishful thinking in the Great Sovereign’s direction. No, rather I can approach Him with confidence, through the permission, privilege and authority of His eternal Son, Jesus Christ. And because of Christ, my prayers for you are heard. And the Spirit of Christ interprets my prayers with groanings to deep to be expressed by human mind and mouth.

What grace that He should hear His creation cry! What hope that He should bring some to life forever with Him. Only faith in the Cross-work of Christ gave me such a bridge! And through Him, my thoughts, memories and concerns have real significance—no mere casting hopes into a wishing well, or simply “wishing you well”—but the King of the Universe leans down to hear His child—because of Christ.

May He watch over you both and lead you in His ways…

In the wake of (continuing) political & societal shift…

I posted my initial root thoughts of this on a friend’s facebook recently. In light of recent political events, people are vowing to begin listening to Limbaugh, Ingraham, Hannity, etc. in an increasing fashion, or for the first time. There is a certain sense that I congratulate them (more…)

An incomplete, but perhaps helpful analogy

Posted in buckley, Emerging thingie, robbelltheology, run on sentences by Sam Hendrickson on 4 April , 2008

The influx of the influence of Emergent teaching and teachers has been dramatic–the actual coming in has been gradual, but the spread of their influence seems to be connected to a full and open throttle. I saw this article by W.F Buckley, whose memorial is today, and it appeared to me to be analogical (in some ways and not others), to how someone within the realm of Christian orthodoxy might view many of the events, teachings, and ministries related to Bell, Wright and other emergent-types–including a connectivity to some of the people we have met who left orthodox Christianity for this stuff. It connected with me not so much about how the person changes, but the ideas.

A partial quote from the article:

“If I ever heard a song played by the Grateful Dead I wasn’t aware of it. If I had been, I’d have pricked up my ears and listened real hard because I have a memory. It is of a young man who came to work at my shop. He had just graduated from Harvard, wanted to do some opinion journalism, and qualified for a summer internship that stretched into two or three years. It was toward the end of the decade of the Sixties that he drew me aside one day, after we had gone to press. He said that he had been to a concert by the Grateful Dead and that it was a wonderful experience, and that he would go again whenever the group was in reach, and he invited me to join him at one of the concerts, which I wish I had done….” Read all of it here.