Apparently there are some who have been upset by remake of We Are the World.  And I have to agree.  How could they replace Lionel Richie's fro with that shaggy comeover thing on Justin Bieber's head?

Oh wait...that's not the problem?

Apparently there is outrage among some Christians that the remake removed Willie Nelson's line, "As God has shown us by turning stone to bread."  They see this as definitive of the secularization of American culture and that Christians should respond with outrage.

But there is only one problem....the line was wrong.  God never turned stones to bread; it was Satan who suggested such an act.  God sent His people bread from heaven (Exodus 16) and quenches our eternal hunger with the bread of life (John 6).

Russell Moore sums up the situation:

These Christians mean well.  They don't want to see the gospel disrespected.  But there's something parabolic here, I think.  It's the same sort of thing we see when Stephen Colbert interviews a U.S. Congressman who wants to legislate the Ten Commandments in federal courthouses but can't name them.  We'd almost rather have the affirmation than the revelation.

...Could it be that the problem is we really want the reassurance that we're "normal"?  We'd like a shout-out in our pop culture and our political speeches to signify that we're acceptable, that Christianity isn't really all that freakish.  But, if that happens, apart from submission to the Cross, is it really Christian anymore (James 4:4)?

Blind outrage is a dangerous thing.  It takes a secondary issue--in this case a non-issue--and turns it into a barrier to the gospel.  Rather than supporting the cause of help for Haiti, we poo-poo the idea and look indifferent and apathetic toward the needs of the world.  Perhaps it is time to stop signing email petitions and joining Facebook groups and start living out the transformational truths of the gospel.  Is our time and passion not better spent quenching the spiritual and physical hunger of others?  It is time for Christians to love the world the way God does (John 3:16) and use our words to proclaim the gospel rather than complain.

But I sure do miss Lionel's fro...Just sayin'

If you have not heard, Pam Tebow will be appearing in a Superbowl commercial about a choice she made in 1987.  Having been advised that carrying her pregnancy to term could be dangerous to her health she chose to carry the baby to term.  It just so happens that the baby she carried to term and gave birth to became the two-time National champion, Heisman trophy winner and all around good guy, Tim Tebow.

While there are any number of opinions circulating over the ad--which is odd since it has not aired yet!--one particularly stood out to me.  Sally Jenkins, a sports writer with the Washington Post, wrote "Tebow's Superbowl ad isn't intolerant; its critics are" and made a number of excellent points.  Jenkins, who is herself a pro-choice advocate, gets to the heart of the matter:

I'm pro-choice, and Tebow clearly is not. But based on what I've heard in the past week, I'll take his side against the group-think, elitism and condescension of the "National Organization of Fewer and Fewer Women All The Time." For one thing, Tebow seems smarter than they do.

Tebow's 30-second ad hasn't even run yet, but it already has provoked "The National Organization for Women Who Only Think Like Us" to reveal something important about themselves: They aren't actually "pro-choice" so much as they are pro-abortion. Pam Tebow has a genuine pro-choice story to tell. She got pregnant in 1987, post-Roe v. Wade, and while on a Christian mission in the Philippines, she contracted a tropical ailment. Doctors advised her the pregnancy could be dangerous, but she exercised her freedom of choice and now, 20-some years later, the outcome of that choice is her beauteous Heisman Trophy winner son, a chaste, proselytizing evangelical.

It is well worth the read regardless of your opinion concerning the sanctity of human life.

In the later part of 2009 a friend approached me with an idea, "Why don't you start writing more often on your blog?"  Even though his motivation for sharing this piece of advice was not pure (He was trying to encourage ways to shorten my sermons and I'm not sure that will happen.), I took it to heart and began to think of ways to structure regular posts into my schedule.  By the end of December 2009 I had decided that I would resolve to post once a week beginning January 1, 2010.

Well...have I mentioned before that resolutions don't always lead to action?  Four weeks in and no real posts; but today it begins.  I promise.  I am resolving to do it!

For those of you who were unable to write down some of the info I was sharing Sunday night, you may want to check out this paper (I would post my notes, but they were hand written--that's right, sometimes I roll old school--and...I'm too lazy to transcribe them right now).  It is a brief introduction (about 12 pages) to the issue of how the Bible has come down to us and whether or not it has been changed over the centuries.

If you are interested in some more extensive reading, you may want to check out this book or this book .  Either would be well worth your time.

During yesterday's sermon I talked about how pride has the subtle way of slipping into the church through things like "story wars."  Times when we try to "out tell" the experiences of others.  In Philippians 2:3 Paul tells us to do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  We need to fight the subtle approach of pride through such competitions and seek the good will of others before ourselves.

Here is the clip from Brian Regan that I used to illustrate the point.  Enjoy!

This morning I noticed something in the questions the religious leaders asked Jesus in Mark 12 that I had never thought through completely before.  It is apparent when you read the questions that the answer is a non-issue.  In both cases, in Mark 12:13-27, Jesus is confronted with an issue not because these men want an answer, but because they want to prove their point.  The Herodians, who were pro-Rome, wanted to show that Jesus' teaching could not both respect the authorities and the LORD; they were wrong.  The Pharisees, who denied the resurrection, wanted to produce a speculative question to reveal the inconsistency of Jesus theological system; he showed that it was their theological system which was inconsistent!

What in the world does this have to do with followers of Jesus?  When I go to God in prayer, am I looking for an answer, or just for God's rubber stamp?  Do I truly desire God's leading as I face situations daily, or have I set my own course and simply desire God to tell me I'm right?  These religious leaders thought they were in step with the principles of God and because of that had a desire for Jesus to simply tell them their way was correct.  Are we looking for the same outcome?

A heart which is set and focused on the ultimate glory of God in all things must struggle with this temptation daily.  There exists a fine line between initiative and presumption.  Initiative is seeking God's heart and glory and looking for opportunities to further those purposes; presumption is taking advantage of an opportunity and, after the fact, trying to make sure it brings glory and honor to God.  We must desire with a humble heart to seek God's glory and then look for opportunities, otherwise we have the danger of embracing the heart of the religious leaders and presuming upon God not His desires but our own.

I have just started reading a book by John Piper, God is the Gospel, and a section really hit me hard.  As Piper talks about his reasoning behind the purpose of the book he asks a searching question, would you be happy in heaven if God were not there?  Especially as we enter a season in which the Christian catch-phrase will be "Jesus is the Reason for the Season!", do we treasure God Himself or His gifts more highly?  Is Jesus really the reason we eat, sleep, breathe and live?

Piper makes his point very clear:

My point in this book is that all the saving events and all the saving blessings of the gospel are means of getting obstacles out of the way so that we might know and enjoy God most fully.  Propitiation, redemption, forgiveness, imputation, sanctification, liberation, healing, heaven--none of these is good news except for one reason: they bring us to God for our everlasting enjoyment of him.  If we believe all these things have happened to us, but do not embrace them for the sake of getting to God, they have not happened to us.  Christ did not die to forgive sinners who go on treasuring anything above seeing and savoring God.  And people who would be happy in heaven if Christ were not there, will not be there.  The gospel is not a way to get people to heaven; it is a way to get people to God.  It's a way of overcoming every obstacle to everlasting joy in God.  If we don't want God above all things, we have not been converted by the gospel (p. 47).

One of the Biblical examples that come to mind is the priest Simeon in Luke 2.  Here is a man who has waited his entire life to see the Messiah.  All of his life has pointed to the moment of seeing Jesus and Luke makes it sound like this was Simeon's deepest desire.  Listen to his words in Luke 2:29-32:

Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel.

 

 

His deepest desire was to see the Christ; and now that this has happened he is ready to die.  Probably not what most people expect the pastor to say at their baby dedication service, but Simeon desired God above all else and since he had experienced the Christ he was ready to be with the One he desired.

My deepest desire is that God would be the treasure of my heart even in a confusing, item-centered holiday season.  Not prestige, comfort, family, or even the things of God; but just God Himself.