Should Pentatonix be Promoted by Christians?

Pentatonix

My social media feeds have been inundated this past month with videos of Christian carols by the band Pentatonix. The first time I saw the Pentatonix video of the carol song “Mary, Did You Know” I was impressed by the vocal talent in the production, but something didn’t seem right. They did not strike me as portraying the image of the average evangelical Christian artist.  It is almost unheard for a Christian artist to be promoted on the world’s stage like this.

Well, thank God for the common grace of Google.

While at least one member of the band publicly claims to be a Christian, two other members are openly gay.  Furthermore the band is active in promoting the LGBTQ agenda.  All this at the same time as taking advantage of the evangelical Christian market which may be their top target in selling albums.

But, hey, it’s a free country and anyone can do what they want as long as they do not break the law and/or hurt others, as the old progressive principle holds. Delight in Truth does not have a problem with Pentatonix and their rebellion against the moral code of Scripture, as much as with the Evangelical crowd which claims to be under the authority of Scripture and who loves Pentatonix.

Dear Christians, if you find the Word of God as inspired and authoritative, please stop buying, promoting, liking, posting, and applauding these Pentatonix videos. Would you listen daily to an openly gay pastor who promotes the LGBTQ lifestyle and preaches “really good?” If no, then why promote Pentatonix?

The false gospel of acceptance has made its way into the church via music and artistic expression, and now we are reaping the consequences. Scripture is being challenged and disregarded on the issue of sexual morality, and especially homosexuality.  Large churches like the Presbyterian Church USA and Evangelical Lutheran Church have blown up over the issue, and the Anglican Church (80 million members) is next.

As time goes by, more and more churches will concede and accept into membership and even ordain those who identify with and practice the LGBTQ lifestyle in open rebellion to Scripture.  On the other hand it has to be this way. As we get closer to the Second Coming of Christ the warning given by apostle Peter stands true: “that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires.”

We must stand true to Scripture. We must stand with those who hold it as authoritative, and not with those who rebel against.

photo by Jiro Schneider

Jars of Clay: Another One Bites the Dust

No, the band did not break up if that’s what you were thinking after reading my title.

However, the lead singer of the band caved on the most pressing issue of our day: homosexuality. For the past few days, Dan Haseltine has been on a twitter rant supporting gay love and gay marriage. Among dozens of posts the following:

“So many gay couples display more loving characteristics and healthy relationship practices than most traditional married couples….”

“I don’t think scripture “clearly” states much of anything regarding morality.”

Delight in Truth has followed Jars of Clay since they first came on the scene in 1995. I even went to their first tour when they opened for Michael W. Smith. Along the years they even produced hymn albums, but besides that, there was a constant move toward a crossover message in their music.

There was an underlying spiritual tone in the message, but looking back in retrospect I would not call it the gospel message. It was more of a fuzzy love message typeset on creative lyrics with an occasional scripture reference.

And now this. Haseltine has called into question the authority of Scripture on the issue of marriage.

This will disappoint lots of evangelicals who have been buying their music.  Jars of Clay is already feeling it. The lead singer may have realized that this is public relations nightmare… he is asking on Twitter why Christian radio stations have pulled his songs.

As sad as this is, the Word of God stands true in predicting this exact development:

“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.” 2 Tim 4:3-5

The church is becoming compromised by sin and these are the fruits of this compromise.

The Bible is being questioned as outdated, unfair, and unsound.

At this rate of degeneration we need to seriously consider the words of Jesus:Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” Luke 18:8

Surprised by a Greeting?

I was having lunch today in the hospital cafeteria with some other doctors when a lady passed by, looked at me, and said hello.  I remembered her as a radiology technologist in our hospital, and the last time I spoke to her was one or two years ago. I did not remember her name.  I smiled and said hello back, and I returned to my conversation.

A minute later she passed by again, looked at me again, and this time she said “He is risen!”

I looked up and she had a radiant smile on her face. Time slowed down for a few seconds and I remembered meeting her a few years ago in the interventional suite while she was setting up her equipment. To my surprise she was blasting Jesus music in that God-forsaken radiology room where no anesthesiologist ever wants to do a case.  I remembered telling her that it was a pleasure working with someone who loves Jesus and is not ashamed of his gospel. She seemed very happy that she found a brother in Christ who happened to be a physician, and the sentiment was mutual.

This time I made eye contact and said “Amen, Amen!”

I should have answered with the traditional eastern Christian salutation “Truly, He has risen!” I missed the opportunity, but such is the situation when one is surprised…

This greeting is not practiced as much here in the United States, but this wiki page shows the various countries where it is the norm around Easter.

This beautiful exchange was significant because it showed me once again that while we as believers are living in the world, we are not alone. We have other believers around us, and God uses them to encourage us.

Our love for God unites us.

The Resurrection unites us.

So let it ring… Christ  is risen!

How Much Do You Love the Word of God?

I was at church last night and was seated behind an older gentlemen who, for lack of a better term, is very “lively” during church sermons.

He’s that guy that comments (fairly loudly) along with the sermon and finishing bible verses from memory that are being read from the pulpit. At one point there was a boy’s choir singing a song in English (I was in a Romanian church) and he celebrated and praised God throughout the entire song. At the end of the song he said to himself, but still out loud, “Praise God for you little men the song that you sang so beautifully. I have no clue what you said but I’m sure it was glorious!”

He was entertaining to say the least.

We stood for the reading of the word of God. That’s when I noticed his Bible. It looked to be easily 30 years old, housed in a ratty fo-leather zip case. His bible was open to Ephesians 2. As I glanced over his shoulder, I noticed that the pages themselves were almost smokey in color. Hmm. Old paper. There were small water stains on the open pages of what could only have been at one point tears. There were hectic highlights of pen and pencils of every color, and scribbles dotted the edges of the page. Sometimes the scribbled notes looked like they were trying to squeeze into a specific verse as they were carefully written in the small blank section between the lines.

The pages looked like they had been bent every which way at one point. The dog-eared corners appeared to be clinging to the rest of the page for dear life. One third of the page containing Ephesians 2 was held together by clear packaging tape. Through the tape I could see that a whole section the size of a half-dollar had at one point actually detached from the paper and was only held together by the shiny packaging tape.

The page edges were charcoal in color. Not by design as I’m sure they were once white, but by being handled with the dirty hands of a laborer who flipped through them after a day of hard work for years on end. The poor ribbon (if you can call it that) reminded me of thick, used dental floss. I’m sure at one point it was red, but now it was a dull pink, with intensely frayed edges that appeared to have endured one or two bouts with a scissor.

Through all of that, this man held that bible gently in both hands and looked at it as if it was made of silk and rubies. He delicately turned the pages as to not pull off a dog-eared page corner, and when he closed his bible for the night he did so with the utmost care.

As I was sitting behind him watching him, I glanced down at the brand new Allan bible laying in my lap. The pages were so white they almost sparkled. The regal art gilt with the gold on top of the red begged for attention. My 3 perfectly cut Allan ribbons shimmered as the light hit the royal blue fabric. My fingers melted into the soft highland goatskin leather as the bible shifted in my lap causing it to move in my hand. And through all that, the only thing I could think of was, “I hope one day you look like that ratty, tattered, well used bible”.

There is nothing wrong with enjoying the beauty in the design of all of the wondrous bibles available to us. But I was reminded of a valuable lesson last night. What is truly sacred in the bible is not the cover, the pages, the art gilting, or the ribbons but the unchanging words of the Creator. I for one would rather the words live in my heart, than on the pages on which they were printed.

“….my heart stands in awe of your words. I rejoice at your Word like one who finds a great spoil.” – Psalm 119: 161-162

written by Delight in Truth friend, Paul Tanca

Superbowl Vs. Church Service

Delight in Truth has been a critic of Mars Hill pastor Mark Driscoll on select topics, but not today. Today I commend the Seattle  pastor for standing up to overwhelming pressure to cancel his church’s afternoon and evening services in favor of the Superbowl.

He decided to go ahead and hold AND preach the 4 pm (Pacific Time) service, smack in the middle of the Superbowl. What makes this even more noteworthy is the fact that Seattle’s favorite team, the Seahawks were playing.

Said Driscoll:

“I fully expect it will feel like we missed the rapture, as many saints will not be in the room.”

This is the sad reality. Many saints were not at church Sunday because many churches across the US have cancelled afternoon worship to make room for assisting at another kind of worship. The sanctuary for this type of worship is the football stadium, while the gods are the game, the athletes and the depraved performers of the halftime show. The worshipers are non other than the crazed fans in the stadium and living rooms across this country.

Proponents of service cancellation have their arguments. There are no Bible verses telling us that we have to attend every church service. There are no verses telling us what time we should worship. There is no Scripture telling us we will lose our reward for missing a church service.

True.

But there is a commandment saying “You shall have no other gods before me… You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God” (Ex 20: 3,5)

Cancelling worship service in order to watch how others delight in the vices of this world says a lot about where the lukewarm Christian’s heart is.  It says that we love the things of this world and possibly love the world itself. If you love a thing of the world to the point that you are addicted to it, you love the world. It is a painful truth which may be difficult to accept.

But there is good news also.

We had youth night at church on Superbowl evening. And to my delight and surely, to the Lord’s delight the youth showed up to worship God. The true God.

And it was an opportunity to remember this Scripture:

“Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15

Strange Fire Was… Strange

Strange Fire

The Strange Fire conference led by John MacArthur at Grace Community Church has concluded.

And it was a bit strange.

Pentecostal and Charismatic indictment was in order.  Any manifestation of the miraculous spiritual gifts (even biblical) was put in the same category as mysticism.  That’s too bad.

The conference had its lighter moments too, especially when neo-Calvinist charismatic and controversial pastor Mark Driscoll showed up and set up shop on campus with a bunch of his new books.  He was kicked (ahem, gently asked) out.  Todd Friel of Wretched also had a great line in one of the sessions: “This conference is called Strange Fire, maybe next year’s conference will be called Strange Water, about that infant baptism stuff…” 🙂 That was a jab at MacArthur who was joined by the cessationist infant baptizing crowd in this endeavor.

On a more serious note, the conference did nothing but drive a wider wedge between people who love the Lord. Initially, MacArthur asked the “faithful Pentecostals” to join him and denounce Word of Faith, Toronto Blessing, New Apostolic Reformation and Bill Johnson type of charismatism, but then he turned around and slammed anyone who is not a cessationist with respect to spiritual gifts and miracles in the strongest possible terms.

So the conference failed on that front. Instead of winning over on his side those of us who continue to believe in the miraculous gifts as described in 1 Corinthians 14 and practiced biblically, MacArthur slammed us as demonic and mystic. Typical cessationist approach.

Well balanced and well-respected pastors and theologians like John Piper and Sam Storms were criticized from the pulpit. Again, for something that is black on white in the Bible.

There was however, a bright spot in the conference: Conrad Mbewe, the so-called Spurgeon of Africa. He is a reformed preacher used by God in a mighty way in Africa to denounce the prosperity gospel and charismatic abuses. He was the only speaker who actually differentiated between those involved in charismatic abuses and continuationists who are grounded in Scripture. He made the point that the latter are fewer and fewer in Africa.  He used to have university colleagues in Pentecostal circles, and they would exchange doctrinal points and Bible study experience.

That’s right, Bible study among Pentecostals and Charismatics.  It is sad that such a concept is rare now-a-days.

That is where the baby is found in the murky bath water.  There are still those of us who study the Word of God and are committed to its prescriptions, and continue to believe in the gifts of tongues and prophecy.

The Body of Christ should not be divided over secondary issues like continuation of spiritual gifts.  We should denounce heretical theology and manifestations found in some charismatic circles, but accept those believers who are grounded in the Bible and have experienced the miraculous work of the Holy Spirit.

photo: the Christian Post

Can We Call Christian Music, Christian?

In the Los Angeles area where I live there are two contemporary Christian music (CCM) radio stations, Air 1 and the Fish.

They play a variety of Christian bands and songs, including some Christian crossover bands like Switchfoot and also some more mainstream bands like Lifehouse (whose lead singer is a professing Christian).

Some songs have an overtly “Christian” worship message like songs by  Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman which we occasionally sing at church, while other songs seem to have positive lyrics without mentioning the name of Jesus.

I do not have a problem with their choice of artists and songs.  It’s a free country and radio stations are free broadcast what seems fit for their audience.

But these radio stations are labeled as Christian.

This is where the disappointment comes in.

The Fish advertises their music NOT as Christian music, but music that is “safe for the whole family.”  Why not call it Christian music for the whole family or CCM?

Air 1 advertises itself  as the “positive alternative.” Why not the Christian alternative? 

The answer most likely has to do with ratings and audience capturing. People are not as likely to listen to a station that plays Christian music, even if the music is really good.   So they compromise the message a little to avoid the Christian label.

Because it is offensive to be an exclusive, Jesus only, one-way-to-heaven believer which is how the evangelical Christian is viewed (and should be viewed).

We are diluting the way we are representing ourselves in society, to make ourselves more palatable for it.  Instead of Christian we call the music “positive.” Instead of using specific terms for God like Father, Jesus, Holy Spirit we resign to using generic, inoffensive terms like “god.”

90% of Americans or more believe in god, but just try to mention the name of Jesus in a secular context and see how poorly received it is.

Christian music now is positive music.

Because the term “Christian” is not politically correct.

It is in fact offensive.

Moral Failure Among Church Leadership

How is it possible that we have failures such as Gosnell’s crimes, acceptance of sexual deviancy, and close to a moral anarchy-type system in our society?

Is it possible that the Church has failed in setting the proper example?

Is it possible that Church leadership shares a good portion of the blame?

A recent study out of Pennsylvania reveals that about 20% of pastors PUBLICLY hold morally corrupt views that are not biblical.  This goes a long way toward explaining why some churches have become the world, and they no longer are a shining moral beacon.

The Pennsylvania Pastor’s Network interviewed EVANGELICAL pastors from across the state, and here are some of the shocking results:

  • Exclusive salvation only through Jesus Christ: 89% teach that view
  • The Bible is the only completely reliable source of absolute moral truth: only 78% teach that view
  • Abortion is morally wrong: only 78% teach that view
  • Same-sex marriage is morally wrong: only 82% teach that view

The questions were focused on teaching, but the thrust of the study lets me believe that perhaps the numbers are much worse with respect to these pastor’s personal beliefs.  They are more likely to hold morally unacceptable views privately but suppress them publicly.

The main issue in the above study is the issue of inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture.

The ones who do not hold to absolute moral standards are also less likely to hold the Bible as the ultimate inerrant truth.

These are wolves in sheep’s clothes who shepherd or rather corrupt the flock.

On his way final way to Jerusalem, apostle Paul called a conference with the elders of the Ephesian church, and prophesied a painful truth which has proven to apply to the universal church along the ages.

Acts 20:

29I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. 30Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. 31So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears. 

How painfully true this is in our day and age.  The spirit of Rob Bell has infiltrated the evangelical church and as many as 20% of the pastors have been corrupted according to this study.

But the glass is only half empty.  Praise God for the other 80% who continue to hold to biblical truth.

May God strengthen them by the power of the Holy Spirit!

A Blood Washed Iraq: Update From Narcis

Narcis and his family have moved to a very hostile environment to extend the Kingdom of God in that place.  Keeping specific names of cities censored for their safety, here is an update from them:

Temperature Rising

As we move into the Spring the weather steadily increases in Iraq.  We’ve already hit quite a few 90+ degree days this month and it will only increase from here on in.  The temperature is also rising in a couple of other ways.

There have been widespread protests in Iraq over the last 4 months or so between differing sects and political parties.  This has unfortunately caused violence in the forms of shootings, roadside and suicide bombings.  At least hundreds have been killed!  This tension has recently taken a turn for the worse when …, a city just an hour south of us became one of the focal points of the uprising.  Prompted by certain acts of violence, government officials fired on protesters a couple of days ago, killing dozens and wounding hundreds.

What seemed to be happening only in the distant southern part of Iraq now seems to be getting closer to the north.  This is raising fears in many, that with similar sectarian uprisings in Syria and previously other places, these events might invite radical parties to join and devolve into a revolution.  However, as these temperatures rise, one thing is certain.  Our God is an All Consuming Fire and Jesus the Life Giving Spirit still holds the office of Baptizer in the Holy Ghost and Fire!

We believe this region is in the cross-hairs of God’s end-time purposes of filling all things with His Son, and we couldn’t be more excited about it!

What’s Been Happening 

F… and I just arrived back home a few days ago from a trip to Baghdad.  It was wonderful being with brother A W, he and his church are a real source of divine life, presence and relief to Baghdad and Iraq.  We were also able to minister in one of the local churches and meet with several of the Pastors from Baghdad to discuss what we might do together towards building the Church and advancing the Kingdom there.  After hearing about the planned House of Prayer and Mesopotamian School of Ministry, they asked us if we would be willing to do something similar with them in Baghdad.

We are praying about how we can partner with them in facilitating a network of prayer for Revival along with training that we can do via modular courses and in various other ways.  On the home-front, we are still working to get registered in the North and finding a location that would suit our needs.  At this point we still need a financial push to be able to do so.  Please let us know, if you or someone you know would be potentially interested in sponsoring this project for Jesus’ Glory!

Getting Involved

One of the things we feel in our spirits as a team, is that God is going to draw more and more attention to the Middle East in these coming days and years.  The same principalities that opposed Daniel in this region are still around, working their best to deceive the nations and sweep literally millions into a Christ-less eternity.  One of the ways we would love your involvement is in the place of prayer.  We host different “prayer sets” for the region and would more than welcome anyone (preferably a few at a time), that would want to stream in with us and join in agreement for God’s manifest Glory in Iraq and beyond.

If you think of us, please pray for God’s tangible abiding presence, grace, wisdom and favor, signs and wonders, and souls souls! If you are interested in learning more about that please email me back and we can contact you back and see how we can connect.  Thank you all precious saints of God for loving Jesus and doing His will.  We are so grateful for all of your friendships, prayers and support and pray that God would deeply mark you all with His precious Life, Death, Burial and Resurrection Glory!

The Post-Modern Christian and the Gray Areas

How would you like to have a cool and relevant young pastor like megachurch pastor Steven Furtick (above) to give you plenty of latitude on decision-making in those gray areas that really nag the post modern Christian?

Gray area topics have become a legalistic battle ground for the lukewarm Christian today.

What gray areas are we talking about?

Watching HBO shows and R-rated movies, drinking alcohol (I will add smoking marijuana where it is legal under this topic), cussing, going to bars, and many other items that world loves to indulge in but which are not necessarily spelled out in the Bible as sins.

Steven Furtick and his Elevation Church have touted that they are not afraid to talk about anything in their church, so in a current series of sermons he addressed some these gray area issues.  The problem is that there wasn’t much denouncing going on.

“I’m not going to try to make black and white issues out of what’s gray in the Word of God. That would be malpractice on my part,” Furtick said.

On the issue of alcohol he says “The Bible has more to say about gluttony than it does about drinking,” leaving the door open for those who wish to consume alcohol to go right ahead… but… stop short of getting drunk.

On R-rated movies, again, he does not denounce exposure to lust, sex, cussing, and occult in them, but points out that there are more “sinful” things in network comedy shows than in R-rated movies.

He is more concerned with the personal testimony of a Christian who attends R-rated movies, something which I respect.  Furtick  points to the fact that believers and unbelievers may be watching us going to these movies and stumbling on that fact.  But this is not enough.

It is not the gray area act that is sinful for Furtick, but the fact that others are observing the Christian perform that act.  In other words, Christian liberty reigns supreme even in areas where sin may be involved… but just make sure you’re not a stumbling block for others.  Nice…

To his credit he does give a filter for gray area decision-making using the formula “Is it best? Does it build (others up)? Does it bind?”  But he does not categorically denounce things like rated-R movies that may lead to lust, for example.

The main issue at hand is that spiritually infant Christians need concrete guidance from their pastor.  Wishy-washy statements like Furtick’s may lead the Christian to indulge in sinful behavior.  An alcoholic drink may lead two, three, ten and then everything breaks down. Also, why not address specific subject matter of movies and shows?

The Word of God is our ultimate guide and we should avoid anything that has to do with the deeds of the flesh listed in Galatians 5: “sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, envy, drunkenness, orgies…”

Remember, when in doubt “Abstain from all appearance of evil.” 1 Thessalonians  5:22

How much can the post-modern Christian lean over the cliff without falling to his demise?

image credit: Vimeo.com