Monday, September 30, 2013

THE ULTIMATE PRESUMPTION



Red Deer Life, February 9th, 2009. To presume is to take something as granted. The ultimate presumption is to presume that God will bless.

Was there a revival at this Nazarene church just as announced? No, there were meetings. A revival we would have heard something about.

Almost five years have rolled by since this ‘revivalist’ had his ‘revival’ meetings at the First Church of the Nazarene in Red Deer. Was it a famous revival? Do people talk about it today as a great outpouring of yesteryear by the Holy Ghost? I don’t think so. More likely, there is no distinctive memory of it among those who attended. How different that is from the effects of a real revival. Hear what an Episcopal minister had to say, even twenty years after the event, about revival striking his community in South Carolina through the preaching of Daniel Baker in 1831: “Such was the pervading influence of the religious principle upon the whole aspect of society, that it cast it into the gospel mold and stamped it with its own holy features…For twenty years past there has been a higher moral and religious tone, and a more intelligent and consistent profession of Christianity maintained in that little town than in any other which the writer has visited in Europe or America” (Douglas Kelly, Preachers with Power, 23.) 

A revival happens when God decides to shew mercy to sinners, not when a sinner says a revival will take place. “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy,” says God (Romans 9.15.) Does that sound like God will respond to man’s predicting a revival? There is God’s answer to people announcing a revival: ‘I will have mercy on whom I will.’ That hardly sounds like the God that a pastor like Murray Kumm would speak for!

This church of the Nazarene (if it were true to its name) would know what the Nazarene’s position on revival is: “The wind bloweth where it listeth…so is every one that is born of the Spirit” (John 3.8.) The Spirit of blessing blows where it pleases him to blow. He does not obey man’s presumptuous announcement. So there is Jesus’ own word on the matter.

When you see an ad like this put out by a church, do not wonder if it’s worth your while to attend its ‘revival’ meetings. It is a great sin against God to presume he will save en masse just because a pastor predicted he would. Better to take no part in affairs like that. When someone calls himself a ‘revivalist,’ do not presume that a revival will take place through his preaching. There is no such thing as a ‘revivalist.’ One would have to be God in order to know when and where a revival will occur. The man who calls himself a ‘revivalist’ is attempting to stand in the place of God. We should be surprised that the Holy Spirit does not strike dead the man who presumes that a revival will happen through his preaching.

Notice that these pastors who announce what God is going to do usually predict a work of mercy from him. The word of God is about more than God shewing mercy, though. “Whom he will he hardeneth” (Romans 9.18.) That is the word of God too. Since God reserves the right to do one thing or another, it is just as possible that he will harden instead of shew mercy, is it not? We have many ‘revivalists.’ If we had something like biblical balance in force, would we not have ‘hardeners’ as well? Where are all the ‘hardeners’? God might harden as well as shew mercy, so where are they?

These ‘revivalists’ remind me of those false prophets who were always prophesying good things in Old Testament times. One has to wonder about all the ‘decisions’ they feel responsible for bringing to town. My guess is that the genuine dollars they walk away with number more than the genuine decisions they leave behind.

Whoever you are, saved or unsaved, know this: You are not bound to support a ‘revivalist’ or a church that welcomes one. Keep your money; save your time; do not presume. Say with David, “Who can tell whether God will be gracious….?” (2 Samuel 12.22.) Begin there, and rest assured that that will be less presumptuous in spirit than any ‘revivalist’ is. Do not run after revivals and ‘revivalists.’ Run after Christ by knowing all you can about him, by receiving all his teachings, and by obeying all his commands. You may be visited, then, with a merciful revival of your own. But never presume. Never do that. Presumptuous persons get no revival as long as they presume, not for themselves nor for anyone else.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

DESPERATE PUBLISHING


Red Deer Advocate, May 7th, 2011. There are several ways we could go if we were to deal with the article that this front-page picture points to. Jenna is the young woman to the right; her surviving twin, Marissa, is on the left. Jenna was a single mom who got in with the wrong crowd, the article says. She went from smoking pot to using meth, which lifestyle likely led to her premature death. So there is a sermon of sin leading to greater sin, and of sin’s ultimate issue: death. Don’t sleep around; don’t do drugs; sin is your enemy; determine to have Jesus for your Saviour.

Our subject, however, is in how this newspaper used the murder of a young woman to further its cause to sell more papers. Whether Laura Tester, the woman responsible for the article, is also responsible for pasting the misleading picture that makes fun of murder, I do not know. But it does say just above the article that she is part of the Advocate Staff.

Now look at this picture. What you immediately discern from it and the caption above is that here are two girls naughtily whispering about a young mom that has been murdered. They seem to be whispering about the murder as if murder is something one should snicker about. Don’t miss what’s going on here. This newspaper got some picture of the murdered mom with her sister, then pasted that on the front page, making it look as if the girls are snickering about murder, when one of the girls just happens to be the one that got murdered! And why did the paper do this? We all know that evil maneuvers like this are done to boost sales and to make money. Do you think that the murdered mom would approve of having it appear as if she thought so little of murder that she would snicker with her twin sister about her own?

This is the kind of obscene trickery that newspaper staff will resort to in order to sell more copies of some two-bit newspaper! It’s a pity that the murdered woman’s family did not sue this paper for all it’s worth! The Bible is not silent on sin, no matter what kind it is. “Yea, they are greedy dogs, which can never have enough, and they are shepherds that cannot understand: they all look to their own way, every one for his gain, from his quarter” (Isaiah 56.11.) Are not newspaper staff shepherds of a sort? Do they not lead us into the news of the day? Then this quote from Isaiah is close enough to the mark. Is there no special punishment from the LORD regarding sins committed for the sole purpose of making money? Take heed, Red Deer Advocate, and especially the person responsible for this shady piece of business. “He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house” (Proverbs 15.27.) The LORD will repay anyone who dares to gain from making murder into something fun to gossip about! Today’s ministers think ‘repent’ is an outdated word that sinners do not understand. If the word is not understood, why do sinners hate hearing it so much? “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3.19.) Christ has suffered for the sins of all who choose to repent. There’s the gospel, Calvinist style. If a person may be forgiven the sin of murder (and he certainly may), then how much more may a person be forgiven for making fun of it?

Why don't the pastors in my city tackle a public sin like this? Because they are uncaring, clueless, clued out, or cowards. 

Friday, September 20, 2013

GAY PRIDE PROGRESS IN REDNECK CITY


Red Deer Express, August 14th, 2013. Gay pride in a redneck city seems like a queer idea and a perfect storm. But it’s just a queer idea. While I’m not in favor of promoting violence against queer persons, it would be encouraging if rednecks would at least frown upon queer associations. Is it still permissible to frown at those who celebrate what to God is an abomination? If the queers have their way, even frowning at them will be outlawed. Notice the progression. They get a proclamation from the mayor. Next, according to event organizer, Kristol Gallivan, they must ‘come up with bylaws’ (end of article, not pasted in here.) There was no resistance to their gay pride fruit float. But tolerance must be forced. That is the way queers operate. They call themselves queer, but they don’t want to be called queer. The laws protect them, but they want bylaws too. They are tolerated, but they whine about intolerance. Why?

Queers don’t want to feel like exceptions in the crowd. They want to feel at ease walking hand in hand. They want open kisses without criticism. They want to flaunt their Heinz 57 lifestyles like Texan women do their hair. By suppressing an already tolerant community, they hope to gain enough courage to do it all. If they could get away with it, many of them would, I think, go so far as to coerce non-queers into queer participation. From where do I get a notion like that? I get it from inspired history and human psychology. Modern queers are in harmony of spirit with the queers of old. “And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them” (Genesis 19.5.) Queers, deep down, want proof of allegiance by mutual participation. Thanks to God, there are fewer of them than there are of us. The record from Genesis is not surprising in light of human psychology. What do drunks want but everyone to join in? What do drug addicts want but addicted friends? What do fornicators want but open marriages? What is peer pressure but a kind of force? You are a queer thinker if you believe that queers don’t want everyone to dip into their lifestyles. Such promiscuous participation would go a long way toward making them feel that their abominable acts are okay. Then they would not second-guess their queer gestures in public. Then they would handhold, kiss, pet, and set new standards in public for everyone.

Thankfully, a proclamation from the mayor, a reception in a bar, a multi-faith service sanction, and an unobstructed fruit float is not a forceful enough foursome to coerce intimate knowledge of queerdom. The queers who pounded on Lot’s door were unsuccessful against the angels of God. And their modern partners in crime, we should pray, will be unsuccessful due to God’s grace unto salvation. May gay pride progress regress by God’s regenerative act upon gay sinners. This ought to be our prayer if we believe that fire and brimstone, if it doesn’t get you here, will get you Hereafter. That goes for queers, rednecks, and every sinner in between. Jesus may have walked among every kind of sinner. But he participated in no kind of sin. Unlike our mayor, he did not honor sin with a proclamation. He faced it head on with a denunciation: “Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4.17.) That sounds as intolerant as the edict in Leviticus 18.22.

Forget about pushing for bylaws to conform society to sin. Non-conformity to God’s law calls for the bylaw of repentance. Repent, turn to Jesus for justification and forgiveness, and join the Higher Society of Heaven. Join the angels of God who resisted gay aggression.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

THE DARKNESS OF MODERN ART



Red Deer Express, July 31st, 2013. A fabrication may be classified as ‘modern art’ when what it represents is not discernible. As indiscernible as this object is, we are told that it represents ‘a guardian or comforting presence.’ That we have to be told this confirms that the representation may not be discerned by a look. Who, not knowing what this object is given to represent, would guess that it represents something like comfort? The fact that one would have to guess is proof that its appearance represents nothing specific to reasonable persons. This object could represent a hundred things to a hundred lookers: an ancient telephone, a gas pump, a torture chamber, a gum ball machine, the entrance to a root cellar, and ninety-five other things chosen almost at random. Why comfort the hungry man by bringing him food? Why not just sit him down by the comforting Onisama instead? The claim that the object represents a great fruit that the practice of virtue produces (comfort) is an insult. Yes, the claim that one may be comforted by a hunk of metal whose form represents nothing distinct should be insulting to every thinking person.

A piece of art, even poorly done, may communicate a sense of comfort so long as the object is discernible. A painting of a man rescuing a lamb, though poorly executed, might remind a Christian of the Shepherd of the sheep. That would be comforting. However, an object that looks like an invention by a mad scientist is not comforting at all, even after we are told that it should be. After looking at it, we have to declare that we feel nothing but cold indifference or even contempt from this hulking enigma.

An object does not have to be formed according to an existing pattern in order to be art, though that is the safest, and Scriptural, rule. But it must at least be suggestive of something specific. Otherwise, it will appear, to reasonable eyes and minds, like a work of madness.

A person might guess that this object is a stand-in for an ancient type of catapult. But it isn’t. And it can’t be shown to operate like one. “And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be on the towers and upon the bulwarks, to shoot arrows and great stones withal” (2 Chronicles 26.15.) If an object cannot pass for a work of art, then maybe it can pass for a cunning invention that can fulfill some purpose. But the Onisama is neither art nor a cunning invention. It is not made after a pattern and neither does it have a purpose. It can suggest nothing definite to anyone. And yet we are supposed to congratulate the maker of it, shake his hand instead of our head, buy his metal monstrosity, and place it in a public space as if everyone walking by it will be blessed by its comforting aura!

Modern art is the outworking of the modern mind. The minds emerging out of our teaching institutions have been indoctrinated to dismiss or undervalue the principles of truth, beauty, and goodness. So, according to unprincipled modern art, you may have an object that points to no pattern for its source, that reflects no beauty, that is suggestive of nothing in particular, and that has no good purpose to exist. People will call the object a work of art and the maker of it an artist, even if the ‘sculpture’ consists of pieces of metal welded together in such a way as to perplex the onlooker instead of enlighten him.

The Onisama is a dark piece of work that represents the darkness of an art world that is ages behind the darkest epochs of human history. Look at the drawings in catacombs, or those in caves from a distant stone age, and you will see art in greater advance than backwards modern art is. Great darkness has fallen, by degrees, upon our institutes of learning. This endarkening is increasing year by year.

Before it was revealed to Abram that his people would, after many years of affliction, emerge from the darkness of Egypt, ‘an horror of great darkness fell upon him’ (Genesis 15.12.) Unless modern art becomes ‘an horror of great darkness’ to our teachers and artists, no long road toward light can be expected for the art world. An ever-deepening descent into darkness may be predicted if this horror does not fall from above. Abram’s people would not be released until the ‘iniquity of the Amorites’ was full (verse 16.) Many iniquities, I think, have yet to happen before our Western cup is full. Modern art represents a dark culture that cannot, and will not, see the light.

***My letter to the editor about the Onisama was published in the local paper. Here is a copy of that.***

August 2nd 2013

Red Deer Express
Letters to the Editor
Re: ‘Red Deer’s Identity Crisis.’

Dear Editor:

Red Deer residents have been appealed to for ideas about what makes their city unique. We should address, first, what should not make Red Deer unique.

We should not be unique by having too many ‘ghosts’ about town. Many of them have not the significant history required to justify their existence. The unqualified ghosts ought to be uplifted from their present haunts and repatriated to their originators.

There is another way in which Red Deer should not be unique. The ‘Onisama’ sculpture is supposed to “represent a guardian or comforting presence.” It may be a comforting presence to the one who made it. But (with apologies to the builder) if a person were to look at it without knowing what it is meant to signify, would he find this piece of bulk comforting to the eye? It looks like an iron maiden, a slot machine, and a battleaxe, none of which conjure up comforting thoughts. Imagine breaking your leg beside this thing. Would you feel any comfort from its presence? It looks more like a torture device than a guardian. Many of us would like to see these modern art projects removed and then parked in the back yards of their builders.

Many of these ‘ghosts,’ and probably all of these modern art pieces, make Red Deer appear corny and eccentric. Let’s not let Red Deer continue down this road of eccentric uniqueness. Let’s be unique in some other way.

Friday, September 13, 2013

THE PERIL OF SELF-REFORMATION


Red Deer Advocate, August 13th, 2011. The apocalyptic look that descended upon Manhattan on 9/11 is so stamped on our memory that it is difficult to imagine a recovery there. But, believe it or not, this picture was taken after 9/11, not before. Over a decade has passed since that modern day of infamy in New York City. And business has begun to move on as it was doing when terror stopped New Yorkers in their tracks.

To rebuild and get moving again is good. Do not mistake me for being critical of that. And some of these folks in the picture may have gotten right with God since 9/11 just as they promised to do. I do not dispute the possibility.

But most persons who made promises in their moment of fear are back to “eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage” (Matthew 24.38.) This newspaper picture is an apt figure of this biblical text. There is nothing wrong with eating, drinking, and marrying. What Jesus teaches by the saying is that most people continue in this world, in spite of warnings to repent, with nothing but worldly objects in view; and in the end, because of that shortsightedness, they miss the kingdom of God and the glories to come, just as the multitudes in Noah’s day missed the boat and perished.

Now do not misunderstand what I say. I’m not saying that the terror strikes were a good thing. These acts of terror were evil, and the guilty parties deserve nothing but merciless justice. The culprits responsible who are still alive still deserve the full force of the law, and they should be found and put to death. What I am saying is that every single calamity, whether it be a terror strike or a natural disaster, should be taken by those yet alive as a warning to repent of their sins. This is what Jesus meant when he said, “except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13.3.) Not all persons will perish by the same kind of blow. But anyone might perish suddenly without warning. That is the meaning. Jesus warns sinners to beware of perishing everlastingly.  

Naturally (or it may be more correct to say in some cases, supernaturally), many persons, when in the midst of a terrifying event, make promises. I have heard of two sorts of promises made by persons deeply touched by the terrible event we call 9/11. A few may have promised to get right with God and may have since been saved. I don’t remember hearing that promise being made, however. So I leave that alone. (1) Some have made promises to themselves to improve. (2) Others have made promises to God to live better lives. Let us suppose the best, and interpret ‘improvement’ and ‘better living’ to have meant moral progress by these persons. And let us suppose that some moral progress has been achieved by them. Moral progress by self-effort is self-reformation. This makes the world a better place. And it is better for the world to have self-reformation than degradation. But self-reformation falls short of getting right with God; and all persons who pursue this route will come short of entering God’s glory. They must, if they die still self-reforming, enter an eternity of misery instead. Therefore something better than self-reformation should be desired and promised.  

Because God demands perfection from all who desire heaven, and no man can become perfect by his own efforts, something more than self-reformation is required before eternal security can be granted. Man needs a fundamental change by God. He needs regeneration, not reformation. Reformation in the form of sanctification is acceptable; but this can only take place upon a basis of regeneration. “Ye must be born again,” says Jesus Christ. Regeneration (a change wrought upon the heart by the Holy Spirit) is a must, or a sinner cannot, and will not, be saved. Moral progress may be worth something to you right now; but it will count for nothing with God at the Pearly Gates.


Most of us have made promises to ourselves and to God; and we have utterly failed to fulfill these promises. We cannot live up to our promises; God can live up to his. The wise thing to do, then, is to lay hold of some promise by God. It says in John 3.16 that whoever believes on the Son of God has everlasting life. So the promise of God is that if you trust the Son, everlasting life is yours. The regeneration that you need will be taken care of so long as you believe on Jesus Christ. But how do you believe? Do not focus on your faith, or belief, or trust (all three are one and the same.) Focus on the proper object of faith: Jesus Christ and him crucified. You do this by Bible study, prayer, and close attention to godly writings (like those by C. H. Spurgeon or John Bunyan.) These are the means of grace available to you in order to your desired faith. You must unite to Jesus by the bond of faith; that must be your goal. Then, if by faith in Christ crucified for your sins, you lay hold of God’s promise of everlasting life, your eternal welfare will be secured. When death comes, maybe suddenly, maybe gradually, be ready, by faith in Christ and the promise of God that is annexed to it. Apply every means of grace at your disposal. Your promises will ultimately come short. Self-reformation will end in peril. What you need is a promise from God.