Wednesday, October 31, 2007

It's never a pleasant thing to realize you've made a mistake . . . and it's even more difficult to admit publicly when you're wrong. Unfortunately, I now find myself in this difficult and awkward position.

A few weeks ago I wrote two blogs on a Bill Hybels Bible study our pastor had chosen to do. My comments were critical, to say the least, and to the point. I also wrote that Kevin and I were planning to talk to our pastor about this, but we never did. Truthfully, we intended to do so soon, but schedule issues and the uncertainty of how to approach things prevented us from bringing up the subject. We didn't want to appear pushy or controlling, and there never seemed to be a "right" time to talk. When the study ended, the pressure to resolve this issue faded.

The difficult thing now is that my pastor read my blog, and being the man of integrity that he is, he called me and talked to me about it. So, today I am writing to correct my error: I should never have blogged about this subject until after I had spoken with my pastor. It wasn't fair to him and it wasn't biblical. Kevin advised me to edit my blogs, but again, a busy schedule prevented me from doing it when it should have been done--right away.

I think, in retrospect, it's easy to fall into a confrontational mode when you spend a great deal of your time confronting error. My frustration over the Bill Hybel's material should have been channeled in a more constructive manner, and I sincerely apologize to my pastor for not handling things in the correct way.

A difficult lesson, but necessary.

I am glad that I attend a church where the pastor is a man of God who says what needs to be said in a gracious, Christ-like manner.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

This lesson from John is one of my Dad's very best and a favorite of mine:

The Hand of Jesus

And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that You have sent Me, and have loved them as You have loved Me. John 17:22-23

Jesus told us that when we pray, we should pray this way, “'Our Father in heaven....” (Matthew 6:9) In other words, our relationship with God is the intimate relationship of child and parent. When you see a child take Mommy or Daddy’s hand, and walk with security amidst other people or anything that might threaten them, you know the child is being protected by the parent. Everyone does that. You may have your own children and you’ve done it yourself.

What you don’t realize most of the time as a Christian—and sometimes I don’t stop to think about it either—is that in Jesus Christ, God has given us his hand. He is walking with us through the world, through our tribulations, through our trials, through all of the things which come upon us, through the attacks of Satan—he’s there. The hand never lets go. You may sometimes try and wiggle out of it, but your security rests in the hand that holds you. That’s the intimacy of parent and child.

In this chapter of John, Christ is talking about intimacy between the Father, the Son and the Church. He’s saying my father and I are intimately involved in an eternal relationship—and you are now involved in our relationship, too. His prayer is that we will be in union with him and with the Father, the same way he is in union with his Father. This a revelation: We are in union with God in a way that had never been known before. We have an intimacy with him that had never been disclosed before. This was a New Testament revelation.

You and I can’t ever be gods because there is only one God. We can’t be God because God alone is eternal and we’re finite. So, what is it God’s trying to tell us here? He’s trying to tell us that he has adopted us into his family and bestowed upon us his family name. We are not deity, but we are his children and we inherit as his children exactly what his Son inherits.

In Jesus Christ, we are the inheritors of the glory of God. That may come as quite a jolt to our rather stunted minds, at least it always has to mine. But, nevertheless, it’s true. It is so wonderful, so incomprehensible that it’s truthfulness sometimes slips by us. It shouldn’t. When God says we will inherit and sit with him in his throne, by throne he means the center of authority, the center of power, the center of glory. The very center of Heaven itself is the throne of God. Now, angels sing his praises around his throne, but the Church inherits to sit with him in his throne. That is a stunning fact and it escapes us most of the time.

You may say, “Do you mean that some day I am going to sit at the center of authority—all power, all knowledge, all wisdom? That I will sit in the midst of the Shekinah of Yahweh Elohim, which destroys anything that looks at it? I’m going to be there in an immortal body?” Yes! And not only are you going to be there in an immortal body, but you’re going to judge the angels! I can’t wait until Lucifer comes before me—I’m going to get my licks in, then!

You see, we don’t understand. We don’t understand that we have been destined for the throne of God; that we have been predestined to his glory. The glory that Christ and God had before time began has been given to the Church when we enter his presence. We are not gods. We are not goddesses. We are not deity. We are redeemed children of our Father, and as his children we are heirs and joint heirs with Christ.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

I can't believe the fires raging in Southern California. I've been watching the news coverage since last Sunday, hoping (and praying) the winds would die down. My family and friends are scattered around Orange and Riverside Counties, so it's been hard not to worry about them. My brother, Bryan, sent me some pictures taken from the roof of his building, so I'll be posting those tomorrow. To everyone with family and/or friends involved in this right now, you are in our prayers.

I'm taking some heat (no pun intended) for my stand on Harry Potter--I guess some people don't like to be told that Witchcraft isn't biblical. Hard to believe, but there you have it. Some people commented that I shouldn't quote one Bible verse as doctrine, but I beg to differ. When that verse is supported by every other verse on that topic, you're safe quoting one verse. By the way, there is one particular verse I would gladly quote as doctrine every day for the rest of my life: "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

I didn't write my article on Harry Potter to make people angry, but it doesn't bother me one bit that it did; it's funny how anger seems to spark the thought process, and people start putting two and two together instead of letting others add it up for them.

One more criticism leveled against me is that I slam Harry Potter and give Narnia and the Wizard of Oz a free pass. This kind of response comes from someone who isn't thinking (as my father always used to say). First, C. S. Lewis characterized the White Witch as evil. Second, the Narnia tales are not centered around Witchcraft, raising the dead, reading tea leaves, talking to the dead, spells, wands and other assorted paraphernalia of the occult. Sorry, they're not. Lewis uses mythological creatures to a certain extent, but it would be a stretch to link them to the occult; the best you could do would be to say they are pagan.

As to the Wizard of Oz, Frank Baum's portrayal of Witchcraft is mixed: both bad and good. Spells are used once or twice, and the Wicked Witch of the West rides a broomstick. But the great Wizard of Oz himself turns out to be nothing more than a stranded actor--and in the end, the entire story is a dream. The plot does not center on Witchcraft or promote the teaching of Witchcraft . . . unlike Harry Potter whose sole theme is learning and practicing sorcery as a way of life.

No comparison.

Incidentally, since when is it against biblical doctrine to use our imaginations? Why can't we use fantasy literature to emphasize the awesome power of God and its triumph over everything dark and occultic? I tried to do this in my youth book, Jack Star and the Secret Door (we're releasing it once again in the next few months). I loved using my imagination to further the Kingdom of God, and I hope most people will see it that way.

Let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Fantasy can be a powerful tool if used correctly. Unfortunately, Jo Rowling used it to further Witchcraft and Gay Rights . . . sad and infuriating, but true. It's time for the Church to hop off the fence and acknowledge Harry Potter for what it is: a tool of the occult.

(If you're interested in reading my complete article on Harry Potter it's available on Christian Worldview Network: My blog entry a few days ago was a shortened version of it.)

Saturday, October 20, 2007

What a difference a day (or a few months) makes. Jo Rowling came out of the closet today--or at least her creation, Albus Dumbledore, did. That's right Potter fans everywhere, Rowling--in her great wisdom--has revealed to all the world that the wisest, kindest, most powerful (and famous) wizard in literary history is gay.

According to Rowling, "I always thought of Dumbledore as gay . . . . Dumbledore fell in love with Grindelwald [a bad wizard he defeated long ago], and that added to his horror when Grindelwald showed himself to be what he was.",,2196020,00.html

What a stand for diversity!

What a triumph for gay people everywhere!

What egg on the face of "Christian" supporters like Christianity Today, the culturally correct publisher of feel-good articles like, "Why We Like Harry Potter" (2000). Christianity Today recommended Potter because "Rowling's series is a Book of Virtues with a preadolescent funny bone. Amid the laugh-out-loud scenes are wonderful examples of compassion, loyalty, courage, friendship, and even self-sacrifice. No wonder young readers want to be like these believable characters. That is a Christmas present we can be grateful for."

Harry Potter a "Book of Virtues?" Is this an alternate reality?

Rowling's agenda has always been clear: she sees nothing wrong with Witchcraft, in fact, she glorifies every little detail by wrapping them all up in the shiny tissue paper of fantasy. The occult is a lucrative business, and Rowling knows this better than anyone else. She's made hundreds of millions of dollars working and playing in the wonderful world of the occult.

Here's my take on Harry Potter: Over the years I read them to see what all the fuss was about, and at first I thought (sadly) that they were entertaining. Offensive, yes, without a doubt--and I said so publicly--but I had to give Rowling her due when it came to story-telling.

Today, after intense research into the world of the occult, I would never read another Potter book or waste my time on a Potter movie again. Sure, the adventure part is great, and it's true that you can teach your kids what not to believe, simply by analyzing a Rowling book, but God hates evil, right? He hates it no matter how fun, exciting or educational it is, and if we love Him, shouldn't we hate it, too?

"There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, or one who practices witchcraft, or a soothsayer, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who conjures spells, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD, and because of these abominations the LORD your God drives them out from before you. You shall be blameless before the LORD your God (Deuteronomy 18: 10-13). God takes a very dim view of all forms of Witchcraft, including the entertainment kind. Witchcraft is not cute, funny or inspiring. It is not virtuous, although it often wears the mask of virtue. God calls it an abomination, and I don't know about you, but that's enough for me.

I'd be willing to bet a giant bag of Halloween candy that Jo Rowling planned this Dumbledore announcement a very long time ago. I personally think that one of the reasons she did it was to keep Christianity from claiming even the tiniest shred of Harry Potter . . . ever. It's interesting how she conveniently revealed this final detail long after everyone bought her last book which proves that even Rowling, a woman richer than the Queen of England, still likes to make a buck (or a pound). Just wait until the Harry Potter theme park opens in Florida . . . . Cha-ching.

Albus Dumbledore is gay, and he has been and will continue to be a tremendous influence on millions of children. "One blogger wrote on a fansite: 'My head is spinning. Wow. One more reason to love gay men.'",,2196020,00.html

In the end, though, Rowling has actually done the Christian world an enormous favor by her perverse revelation: she has settled the Harry Potter debate once and for all.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Great news on the church front . . . we found out last Sunday that the Hybels study is finished and we're now beginning a study on the book of John. I was so relieved to hear this, I think I smiled through the entire service.

Any pastor who claims Robert Schuller as his mentor should be avoided like the proverbial plague. Anyone who won't use the word "Christian" because he doesn't wish to offend non-Christians is seriously lacking guts, as my father so eloquently phrased it.

Interestingly enough, I was at a local store the other day and found a book on marriage written by Bill and Lynne Hybels. I couldn't wait to peek inside it (ok--you got me--I could have waited the rest of my life to peek inside it) and see what kind of advice a minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ would give to people on this important subject. For at least five minutes or so (all I could take), I looked for something--anything--from the Bible but couldn't find much, just a verse here and there. The good news is that Hybels was still using the word "Christian" in this book, and it wasn't a bad message from a practical counseling perspective, just mostly carbs . . . and very little meat.

I think that's all that needs to be said on Bill Hybels.

I'm really looking forward to studying John.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Following up on the whole Oral Roberts University mess, as a graduate, I am disgusted with what looks like an orgy of self-indulgence by Richard and Lindsay Roberts. This is nothing new, though, since Oral was gold-plating his personal faucets when I was a student there. Something is seriously wrong when people who claim to be ministers of the gospel lavishly spend the Lord's money on themselves.

A 2,000 square foot closet just for Lindsay Roberts' clothes? Flying by private jet to the Bahamas on a "ministry trip" and staying at the Atlantis resort--one of the premier resort hotels in the world? This is ministry?

Not by any stretch of the imagination. It's people like this that give Christianity a bad name.

This is nothing but self-indulgence, theft of the Lord's money, and just plain sin. Paul warned us about this in Galatians: "You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love . . . . Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life." Galatians 5:13; 6:7-9

Charisma Magazine's Lee Grady made an interesting comparison of the ORU mess to ENRON:

E is for entitlement. Do leaders in your church or organization feel they deserve to be treated like kings? That style may work OK in a monarchy, but Jesus said that in His kingdom leaders must behave like servants. Those with a spirit of entitlement should be disqualified.

N is for nepotism. When leaders show favoritism to family members, they create arbitrary double standards. Christian organizations must stop building spiritual dynasties.

R is for robbery. If a Christian leader is using donor funds to purchase lavish perks for himself, he is stealing from God. Let’s call it what it is. Though the Bible makes it clear that a Christian worker is worthy of his hire, it also condemns ministers who have their hands in the coffer. When the prophet Malachi asked the probing question, “Will a man rob God?” (Mal. 3:8 NASB) he was not just addressing people who didn’t tithe. He was pointing to greedy priests who stole part of the offerings meant for the poor.

O is for overinflated egos. Too many leaders today are drunk with power. Like Nebuchadnezzar, their pride has caused them to go insane. When an egomaniac drives an organization, you can be sure he will eventually crash—and hurt a lot of people in the process.

N is for negligence. God looks for integrity in the little things. He judges leaders not by the size of the crowd or the volume of their preaching but by the way they conduct themselves when no one is looking. In this hour when our enemies are ready to pounce on our every mistake, we must be faithful in the smallest things. That means we must get our houses in order financially.

Christianity isn't about money or power or position. Christianity is about knowing and loving Jesus Christ--a relationship that produces the fruit of the Spirit, "love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ's have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires." Galatians 5:22-24

Why should any of us have more than Jesus had on this earth? Why are we entitled to a life of privilege when He showed us a life of humility?

To Oral, Richard, Lindsay and assorted spoiled offspring . . . all I can say is, you just don't get it.


Tuesday, October 09, 2007

This latest scandal at ORU reminds me of the days when Patti Roberts, Richard's ex-wife, wrote about her time at ORU and the treatment she received from the Roberts family in her book Ashes to Gold (1987). I remember when she called our home in California to ask my father for advice on whether or not she should write her book. I don't know exactly what he told her, but I think I can guess.

You should be able to find a copy here--but hurry--once the media remembers/discovers Patti the last few copies of her book will vanish. This mess is just beginning and if these people are guilty, I hope they nail them to the wall.

Anyone interested in reading the recent lawsuit filed against Richard and Lindsay Roberts (and co-defendants) can find it here:

If only one item on this long list is true--that Richard Roberts authorized University involvement in a local political campaign--they are in very big trouble.

More to come . . . .

Sunday, October 07, 2007

Walter Martin on smart investing:

Matthew 25:34-40

"Then the King will say to those on His right hand, 'Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.'
"Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' And the King will answer and say to them, 'Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.' "

God gave mankind the capacity to do all of the above things, but the good and faithful servant is the one who invests the talents that God has given and does indeed become a servant to mankind. If the parable of the Good Samaritan means anything, it means that my neighbor is the person who needs me. The command is this: I should love my neighbor as I love myself.

It’s obvious that if we, as professing believers, claim to have a relationship to Christ then we must invest the talents of God. Jesus is not talking about investing money in this passage, he’s talking about investing life. We are good and faithful servants to the degree that we invest our lives, our fortunes, our abilities, and the talents God has given us for the service of our fellow man.

But the person who says,”I believe it” and the person who says, “I should do it,” and doesn’t do it, is the unfaithful servant. He is the one who has all the appearance of godliness but disproves the reality of Christianity in his life, because he does not love his neighbor as himself. If we can see our neighbors—the disenfranchised and the poor—and it never touches us; if we are not going to share our substance with those who are in need, how then do we fulfill this parable?

The unprofitable servant is the one who, when people are hungry, doesn’t feed them; when people are thirsty, he doesn’t give them drink. Jesus is saying, “Don’t you recognize that I’m giving you all of these opportunities to show your devotion to me? Don’t you realize that in caring for the least of these—with whom I identify—you are ministering to me?”

We are supposed to invest the talents that God has given us. If we shut our minds and spirits to the needs of others, how then are we profitable servants? One thing is absolutely certain in this parable: God is telling you—if you really are his child—that you had better invest what he has made available to you: Time, substance, money, concern and compassion.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

I walked into our church a few weeks ago anticipating a wonderful time of worship and teaching (as always). Our pastor is one of those rare men who actually teach the Word of God, so you can imagine my surprise when he opened his sermon with a Bill Hybels (aka Willowbrook) DVD segment and the announcement that we were going to be doing a Hybels Evangelism Bible Study called, "Just Walk Across the Room."

I was not happy, and the only place I wanted to walk was down the aisle and out the door of the sanctuary.

Granted, Pastor enriched this Evangelism 101 with several Bible lessons that were missing from the original Hybels monologue (surprise!), but this "meat" is not included in the adult Sunday School classes (also going through the same study).

You have to see these video clips to actually believe them: Bill Hybels shares the wisdom of his evangelism experience by illustrating how he led his millionaire friend (and fellow yacht-owner) to the Lord.

I kid you not.

Example after example of Hybels rich friends and all their happy sailing times . . . solid, practical examples of how to be a "Christ-follower" according to Hybels, who will not use the word Christian or any other religious term. And your average, everyday Christian is supposed to relate to this? Hybels never even takes off his sunglasses! What kind of Bible study is this?

As I'm sure you've guessed, we will be sitting down with our pastor shortly to let him know that Hybels considers his mentor to be none other than Robert Schuller. I find myself getting angry when I think of all the damage these men have done to the body of Christ with their compromise and people-pleasing theology. It's Schuller and Hybels and Warren and their buddies that have led the mega-church mania, and the thought of six more weeks of listening to him is discouraging.