Friday, January 11, 2013

Might As Well Preach It

Four years ago, there was a big kerfuffle about Rick Warren praying at the Obama immaculation. Warren, who's never met a fence he can't straddle or a hard gospel truth he can't soften, is about as inoffensive and safe as they come. But he's been known to occasionally tell the truth about sin such as homosexuality, and so he was incessantly vilified by many in the party of tolerance.

Ain't nobody less offensive to the reprobate world than Joel Osteen. Smilin' Joel may well be the happiest, smilingest, friendliest, most golly-gee-likable person on the planet, and his false gospel of how great you art doesn't come anywhere close to the Biblical truth. He's everything the Satan-following world could want in a pastor. But on a few occasions, he's been asked about homosexuality, and his answers have been - well, not great, I mean it's Joel freaking Osteen and all, but so far he's at least been willing to identify it as sin. And so the pastor adored by goats everywhere became the object of their scorn and derision.

This week it's Louie Giglio's turn. Giglio, of course, is on the 'right' side of all sorts of social causes. Most notably he's possibly the most prominent opponent of sex trafficking. His activism has earned him enormous cred. But sometime fifteen to twenty years ago, he preached a message calling sinners of all kinds to repent of their sin and turn to Christ in faith for forgiveness and healing - including sinners who engage in homosexuality. A decent enough statement of the requirement and power of the gospel - and for that, he had to go. For the past decade-plus he's meticulously avoided mentioning anything about that particular sin, but still, because he has not openly embraced perversion, he's not welcome. Under pressure from the White House to recant of being a Christian and to lie to people about their sin, he chose to step aside quietly.

So what do we make of all this?

We have three prominent case studies of attempts to court worldly favor to different extents. You have preaching a false gospel of the glory of man, blunting the gospel so as not to offend, good works the likes of which many of us can't dream of pulling off, avoiding taking a difficult stand on anything at all costs, and much much more. Yet when any of these guys - even the rank heretic Osteen - comes within sniffing distance of the actual gospel, what happens? The world's hatred of God pours out in full fury.

So I have a modest proposal. They're going to hate you anyway if you even come close to proclaiming the truth. So why not just go ahead and proclaim the full gospel of Christ?

They're going to hate you anyway. Might as well preach it.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Reading Plans

You've probably seen one of the numerous plans for reading the Bible in 2013 (if not, there's a big list here). I'd like to encourage you to pick one and go with it. Frankly, I don't care which one you go with, or if you develop your own - just go with something. Why? The old adage remains true: failing to plan is planning to fail.

Whenever an activity is beneficial but unnatural - that is, not something we would do by default - we need to plan to do it. It doesn't matter whether it's reading scripture, praying, exercise, making sales calls (for me - some people actually like that, if you can believe it), if we don't plan to do it and designate time to do it, it won't get done. The time will instead go to something else, or more likely, nothing.

And make no mistake, reading scripture is unnatural. By nature, the last thing we want to know is what God says, as we demonstrated in Genesis 3 and have been perpetually shown ever since. Those of us who are in Christ have been born again with a new nature which loves God - but we still have the old flesh fighting against God with all the strength it has left. The last thing it wants us to do is submit our minds to God's revealed will. So if we don't plan to read God's word, the flesh will do all it can to make sure we don't, and more often than not, it'll win.

Pick a plan, and go with it. I guarantee that if you come up short or fall behind, you'll still be significantly better off than if you never set a plan at all.

Which of those plans did I pick, you axe? This year I made my own, sort of. Last year I spent a few months reading through the incredible God's Glory in Salvation Through Judgment, by Jim Hamilton. Apparently I talked about it so much, my wife decided she needed to read it, too. So this year, we're both reading it as we read through the Bible. That means reading through the Old Testament in the Jewish order of Law, Prophets, Writings, then the New Testament. Each of these four sections is roughly the same length, so that gives us about 3 months on each to get through them all in a year. Of course, we'll continue to read other portions as applicable (what we're preaching through, doing in Bible study, etc).

If that type of plan works for you, great, glad I can help. If something else works better, go for that instead. Regardless, you should get this book - it's only 9 bucks for Kindle, for crying out loud!