The Saddest Altar Call I’ve Ever Seen!

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Anyone who has ever watched a Billy Graham Crusade has witnessed what is commonly referred to as an “altar call”. You know what I’m talking about, right? That endless stream of people walking/running or whatever to the front of the podium supposedly to accept Jesus Christ as their personal Savior.

That’s what an altar call is. Billy Graham wasn’t the one that invented it; Anglican ministers were the ones who did that. Charles Finney is the one that made the altar call famous.

The other night I saw a minister utilize the “altar call” and a couple of people responded to his call to accept Jesus yet no one was waiting there to pray with the respondent

The minister brought enough people with him to listen to him preach pray with respondents yet no one stepped forward to do so.

Usually there is someone waiting for the respondent supposedly to “pray with them and welcome them to the Kingdom”.

Sometimes people go forward to have someone pray with them for a very special need and again there is usually someone there to actually pray with them.

In this case the minister stood off to the side smiling while whispering to one of the other guys who led the show   service but neither of them made any attempt to pray with either person.

Did I forget to mention an “altar call” can’t be found in the Good Book?

I’ve been guilty of this before and I’m sure some of you have either called for one or have taken part in one. That doesn’t make it right does it?

Praying with people publicly is biblical (James 5:14-15). If that was the reason for calling folks up there in the first place that would have been a good thing.

Having folks make a public profession of faith is also biblical (Romans 10:9). Neither of the two fellas coming forward made any type of public anything nor were they asked to.

They walked up their alone, knelt down alone, prayed alone and walked back to their seats alone.

Like I said it was a very sad altar call.

I don’t want to get into motives here but some have actually used the “altar call” as a sort of census or way to count how many folks got “saved” while they preached.

I can’t say that was the case here but I can’t say it wasn’t either.

Did I mention these altar calls aren’t in the Good Book?

I want to be generous and say the minister had the very best intentions when they asked folks to come forward. I’d like to say there may have been some mis-communication between the lead minister and his associate.

I also want a yacht but I don’t see that happening anytime soon.

The saddest part of all this is the message it sent. Christianity is meant to be done in community not in a vacuum.

No one from that community embraced either of those two fellas. They didn’t acknowledge them, shake their hand, nothing.

I didn’t pray with them either. That makes me just as culpable as they are.

Like I said it was the saddest altar call I ever saw.

Something that made me happy this week was recording Calvin’s Corner with my friend Pastor Michael Newnham. This week Michaels Minnesota Vikings beat my New York Jets in the first ever Calvin’s Corner Bowl, we talked about how we as Christians should respond to former Baltimore Raven Running Back Ray Rice, feuding over Eschatology and much more. I’ll leave the player below or you can use the link just above the player to download the program to your portable listening device.

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[audio http://media.blubrry.com/calvinscorner/archive.org/download/CalvinsCorner13/CalvinsCorner13.mp3]

Calvin’s Corner #10: Limited vs Unlimited Atonement

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Pastor Michael Newnham and Phil Naessens talk Fantasy Football, answer a listeners question about two books written by George Bryson and talk about Limited and Universal Atonement plus more great talk on this weeks Calvin’s Corner.

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Calvin’s Corner is now on iTunes and Stitcher.

Listen to Calvin’s Corner on great networks Max Sports Channels and The 405 Media.

Calvin’s Corner #9: Is Good Health a Promise of Salvation?

Calvins Corner LogoWas Martin Luther an Anti-Semite? Is good health part of Salvation? Hell, Sheep, Goats, Works and Fantasy Football on this weeks Calvin’s Corner with Pastor Michael Newnham and syndicated radio host Phil Naessens

[audio http://media.blubrry.com/calvinscorner/archive.org/download/CalvinsCorner9/CalvinsCorner9.mp3]

Download the MP3

Calvin’s Corner is now on iTunes and Stitcher.

Listen to Calvin’s Corner on great networks Max Sports Channels and The 405 Media.

Calvin’s Corner #8: How Could Jesus Die Yet Still Be God?

Calvin's Corner headerOn this edition of Calvin’s Corner Pastor Michael Newnham and syndicated radio host Phil Naessens talk Fantasy Football and answer listener’s questions regarding Mark Driscoll’s repentance, how Jesus could die yet still be God and the differences between Martin Luther and John Calvin plus more great Christian talk.

Download

[audio http://media.blubrry.com/calvinscorner/archive.org/download/CalvinsCorner8/CalvinsCorner8.mp3]

Calvin’s Corner is now on iTunes and Stitcher.

Listen to Calvin’s Corner on great networks Max Sports Channels and The 405 Media.

Free Pastor Saeed Abedini

It’s Wednesday and this is the day we change our Facebook profile pictures to one of Pastor Saeed Abedini, the imprisoned Christian Pastor being held in an Iranian prison for simply being a Christian.

While I can’t possibly relate to what Abedini and his daily struggles are I do know what it’s like to be a long way from home.

I was blessed to have great friends both in Corfu and in the states that I knew cared about me and able to demonstrate that daily. That helped me through the rough times for sure.

Outside of family visits Saeed is mostly surrounded by people who want to make him suffer and see him dead.

When Jesus was on the cross He cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me” and I’m sure Saeed has had similar thoughts during his imprisonment.

Of course Jesus wasn’t forsaken and neither has he forsaken Saeed.

That’s why we change our profile pictures every Wednesday. We want Saeed and his family to know that we do care and haven’t forgotten him. Hopefully it helps him through the rough times as well.

So please feel free to use the image at the top of this posting and replace your Facebook or Twitter profile picture with that of Saeed Abedini.

Did you know that Michael Newnham, aka the Phoenix Preacher and I are hosting a brand new weekly radio program called Calvin’s Corner? On this weeks show we talked about Saeed Abedini and plenty of other topics that I think you’ll enjoy. I’ll leave the player below or you can download the program to your portable listening device by right clicking the image below and selecting “save as”

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[audio http://media.blubrry.com/calvinscorner/archive.org/download/CalvinsCorner2JohnCalvinOnGrace/CalvinsCorner2.mp3]

Ken Silva Passes Away

Psalm_23This morning while I was preparing for my daily show a dear friend informed me that Apprising Ministries Ken Silva had passed away.

Ken and I weren’t exactly what you would call friends by any shape of the imagination. We didn’t agree ethically nor did we agree theologically. To put it bluntly we didn’t like each other very much.

I hate to admit it but my personal experience with him made me question if he had indeed even died. I’m glad I was wrong about that.

I hadn’t thought about him in years until this morning and probably after posting this won’t think about him again. My hope for him is the same hope I have for all professing Christians;

(Joh 14:1-4)  “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.”

May the God Ken Silva professed to know and serve have mercy on his soul.

Putting Feet to Their Faith

Jesus Said...Ministries of Akron Ohio praying before they do their weekly Saturday morning street witnessing......photo from the Jesus Said....Ministries website
Jesus Said…Ministries of Akron Ohio from their website

This morning I was trotting off to the library and like the tool that I am I forgot the library doesn’t open until 10am. I’m glad the library was closed as I got to witness Christianity in action.

Feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. I think that’s in the Good Book somewhere.

That’s what I saw this morning in the Plaza right next to the Akron Public Library. Apparently these kind Christian folks from a ministry called Jesus Said…Ministries meet there just about every Saturday morning feeding the hungry and clothing the naked.

It was a bit chilly with a brisk breeze this morning but that didn’t deter the dozen or so volunteers from putting feet to their faith and doing what they feel the Good Book is telling them to do. It was refreshing to see.

Like I said it was cold out there but Jesus Said…Ministries had a bit of everything going on. They had a bit of live music, plenty of food, clothing and a bit of street preaching as well. They even brought their own kneeling bench so folks wouldn’t have to get dirty praying for salvation.

It’s always nice to see folks putting feet to their faith or in this case clothes on backs and food in bellies. Just in case you were wondering the Good Book says the following;

 (John 21:15-17)  When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.”He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep. ESV from E-Sword

Strong words from the Lord and Savior especially in light of the fact Peter had just denied Jesus. A reminder of what he had done (hence the three separate commands) and then forgiveness.

The street preacher from Jesus Said…Ministries used the same approach to the crowd of about 150 that Jesus did with Peter reminding them they are sinners and then showing them the way to forgiveness by grace through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

I’d say a job well done and if you reading this are in the Akron Ohio area you should check out Jesus Said…Ministries and see if you can either volunteer or maybe donate some food, clothing or even your time and put feet to your faith.

You’ll be happy that you did.

Jesus was mistaken yet still is God?

Sometimes I don’t know what to think about the Contemporary Christian Music (CCM) industry. I don’t want to paint the entire industry with a broad brush but lately it’s been difficult for me not to think that a good portion of the industry hasn’t the foggiest idea what the Good Book actually says.

Case in point; there is a “worship band” named Gungor with a lead singer named Michael Gunger who’s floating around the idea that Jesus may have been wrong about Adam and Noah.  Specifically he said the following;

“And even if He was wrong, even if He did believe that Noah was a historical person, or Adam was a historical person, and ended up being wrong, I don’t understand how that even would deny the divinity of Christ. The whole idea of the divinity of Christ being fully human and fully God, that God lowered Himself to become a human being with a human brain, in a human culture with human language and human needs and human limitations,”

Jesus Christ, the God Man, the Son of God, one third of the Trinity, was wrong about Adam and Noah? Here’s one thing Mr. Gunger missed when or even if he’s ever even read the Good Book;

(John 1:1-3)  In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Jesus is eternally divine and to believe otherwise is a serious mistake to make. To even insinuate that somehow God made a mistake or got His facts wrong denies what the Good Book says about Him.

I can’t believe a Christian would even entertain such a thought let alone say something like this publicly but Gunger also believes in “theistic evolution” as opposed to biblical creation so this really shouldn’t surprise anyone.

The strange bit, at least for me, was claiming that Jesus somehow being wrong wouldn’t be denying his deity. The Good Book has something to say about this as well

(Isaiah 40:28)  Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.

(Psalms 18:30)  This God—his way is perfect; the word of the LORD proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.

(Job 12:7-10)  “But ask the beasts, and they will teach you; the birds of the heavens, and they will tell you; or the bushes of the earth, and they will teach you; and the fish of the sea will declare to you. Who among all these does not know that the hand of the LORD has done this? In his hand is the life of every living thing and the breath of all mankind.

(Num 23:19)  God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind. Has he said, and will he not do it? Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?

The Numbers quotation sort of brings this thing home doesn’t it? I can see how standing alone one could run with this and get into trouble because it does say “God is not a man” but when you look a little deeper and add the following to it alongside the John 1:1 reference it all becomes crystal clear.

(Philippians 2:5-11)  Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

I probably just confused you didn’t I? I’ll try and tie this up real nice and put a bow on it for you.

The answer is real simple. Jesus is the same yesterday today and forever. He was with God in the beginning and is the creator of all things now and forever. To even insinuate that Jesus was mistaken about the very thing He created denies what the Good Book says about Him, the Father and the Spirit of God. Anyone teaching such a thing is teaching against the eternal divinity of Christ and that dear friend is blasphemy.

Furthermore; just because Jesus took the form of a man and became man for our sins doesn’t mean he stopped being God. It only means He was being obedient to the Father, even unto death. Denying that denies the entire plan of Salvation which is actually denying Christianity.

Geesh. Mr. Gunger is a mess and I hate to say it but he isn’t alone. The CCM is littered with misinformed people spouting off about things they should just stay silent about. Especially something as grievous an error as what Mr. Gunger has committed.

Finally, today is Wednesday and this is the day we remember Pastor Saeed Abedini by changing our Facebook profile picture to something like the one below. Abedini is the Pastor falsely imprisoned in Iran for being a Christian. If you are unable to do this please pray for him and his family.

 

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Being drawn or dragged?

Now that I’m back in America I’ve been visiting lots of different services looking for that church home the Good Book talks about. It’s definitely been an adventure and while I’m enjoying it to some degree the inconsistency makes me shake my head.

For example; I attended one gathering where the lingo was all about how everything under the sun was “God brought you here” or “God made sure that would happen” but at the end of the service God supposedly needs you to cooperate with him in order to save you for eternity.

Let that one resonate for a minute.

God is in control of everything and everyone in the universe except your salvation. That’s what they seem to be saying. I’ve heard that quite a bit over the past month.

I’m not going to disparage anyone here but sometimes I wonder if the Gideon’s left these preachers the Good Book because it clearly says the following;

 

(Joh 6:44)  No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.

Now on its own and in modern English (this is the ESV from E-Sword.net) that word “draws” could lead folks to believe in cooperation between man and God. It’s an easy mistake to make and one I’ve made before. Now what we need to do in order to figure this thing out is once again go to the Good Book and re-examine that word “draws”.

This is from E-Sword.net and Strongs dictionary.

ἑλκύω, ἕλκω

helkuō    helkō

hel-koo’-o, hel’-ko

Probably akin to G138; to drag (literally or figuratively): – draw. Compare G1667.

Total KJV occurrences: 8

There you have it and it took all of about five minutes to do and it was free compliments of www.e-sword.net.

I don’t know about you but being dragged doesn’t sound like all that much fun and a far cry from “I let God into my life”.

“I cooperated with God” does sound better but I hate to say it but that isn’t the reality of what the Good Book is saying is it? My own personal experience, i.e. my testimony supports the dragging because I know for sure I wasn’t cooperating. Your mileage may vary.

I’m not all that certain I would want to follow, worship or obey anyone that needs me to cooperate with them on something as important as my eternal destiny but to each their own I guess.

There’s obviously much more to this and we’ll get into all that in due time.

Have a great day everyone!

Mark Driscoll and the North Pond Hermit

While I was away I didn’t pay much attention to the world of Churchianity. I ignored the TV Preachers. I didn’t pay attention to the various cults that we’ve highlighted here. Basically I did what I said I was going to do. I took a break, worked on syndicating my sports and other radio shows and spent time freelance sports writing.

It was important for me to do this. I needed it and now that I’m refreshed and mostly refocused I’m ready to get back after it.

One thing I did follow was the Mark Driscoll Mars Hill saga. Mainly I followed it through Michael’s blog the Phoenix Preacher. If you’ve never been to his site I suggest you do.

Anyhow, what a mess of a situation they have on their hands. They being the Board of Elders or as they call themselves The Mars Hill Church Board of Advisors and Accountability. I think they should call it the Thrown under the Bus Club because there have been plenty of Elders over the years who have found themselves right underneath the bus.

If you would like to read further you can visit here and I’m sure if you use Google you will find plenty more.

I can’t help thinking about all the people claiming to have been abused by some within that ministry. The Good Book instructs us to feed his sheep not to eat them alive.

I also can’t help but wonder if Driscoll showed the community Jesus. I know he talked about Jesus a LOT but did he show them Jesus? Doesn’t look like it as far as I can tell.

At the end of the day, regardless of how many public relations firms are hired, how many excuses are made or even how this all plays out Mark Driscoll knows what he did and what he didn’t do. More importantly so does the God he claims to serve.

Let’s hope Driscoll does what he’s supposed to do before God decides to makes him do it.

Did any of you catch the story of “The North Pond Hermit”? It’s an incredible tale and something I thought about doing years ago. Not because I was angry or disillusioned or for any other reason but to simply disappear.

Christopher Knight lasted 27 years out in the wilds of Maine by his own choice. He only spoke to one living soul during that entire time and all he said to that person was “hi”.

No heat no light no motor cars and not a single luxury. Plus the guy claims he never once was ill. He says you need other humans for that.

Oh the places I could go with this.

I enjoyed this bit in the article;

 One book Chris never stole was the Bible. “I can’t claim a belief system,” he said. He celebrated no holidays. He meditated now and then but did not pray. With one exception. When the worst of a Maine winter struck, all rules were suspended. “Once you get below negative twenty, you purposely don’t think,” he told me. His eyes went wide and fearful from the memory. “That’s when you do have religion. You do pray. You pray for warmth.”

It’s always that way isn’t it? Only praying when something bad happens or when we want something. Chris Knight gets a pass but The Good Book says we believers are to “pray without ceasing”.

I’m certainly not there yet.