Sunday, October 31, 2010

The American Idols We Worship

The American Idols We Worship by Kevin Probst

American Idol is a reality show to find new solo talent. It has been running at the top of the ratings for nearly nine years. It is the only program to be rated number one for six consecutive years in the Neilson ratings. The title of the show belies America’s unbridled thirst for celebrity. It is as if America’s youth live their fantasy for popularity and fame and wealth through Kelly Clarkson, Ruben Studdard, Carrie Underwood and Taylor Hicks. Every year we choose another idol to adore.

In theological terms, an idol is defined as anything one might rely on for salvation other than God. It is that which captures love which should be directed to God. An idol can be just about anything. Answering certain questions can help you determine if there are idols in your life. What is it that brings you joy? What do you worry about? What are you willing to sacrifice time and money for? What are the things or the people in your life that you simply could not live without?

The sin of idolatry is addressed more than any other sin in the Bible. In fact, because God saw the danger of this particular sin, he addressed it in the first two of the Ten Commandments. “You shall no other gods before me and you shall not create any gods of your own to worship instead of me.” 20% of God’s directives toward us deal with idolatry. Tim Keller has done extensive study on idols and he says, “Making an idol out of something means giving it the love you should be giving your Creator and Sustainer.” (1)

Keller reminds us of Rocky Balboa when he says he is going the distance. “If I can just go the distance I’ll know that I’m not a bum.” What is it in your life you really NEED to conquer? Have you given yourself to achievement, to the accumulation of wealth, to the acquisition of fame and fortune? Which of those things must you acquire so you will know you are not a bum?

There is within every soul an innate desire to worship the one and true God. We often try to distract ourselves from that primary appetite by substituting secondary objects to worship. We try to heal the pain in our heart by consuming drugs or alcohol or we try to address the emptiness by going on shopping sprees or skipping about from one romantic relationship to another. But these are all temporary fixes, poor substitutes for the salvation that Christ offers us. We are really saying to God, “Your son isn’t good enough or big enough to satisfy my needs, I must heal myself and create my own happiness.”

Unlike the cattle in the field who eat and then lay down in satisfaction, we eat and consume and search for more and more on an everlasting quest for satisfaction. It never comes because the void in our heart is a puzzle space created for Christ. He alone can satisfy our cravings.

Consider Solomon. He was perhaps the wealthiest man in history. Though he had all the toys a man could ever want he was still looking for more to satisfy the emptiness in his soul. He had 700 wives and 300 concubines and probably barn sized closes to hold all their shoes. I’m sure he thought each one would be the one that would finally satisfy his yearning for fellowship and love. No girlfriend or boyfriend, no husband or wife can satisfy completely our desire for love. Only Christ can do that and if we think otherwise we set up others to be our idol.

Americans have idols. We put many things before God. In our search for soul satisfaction we look for it in excessive leisure. Men strain their relationship with their wives and with God by idolizing football and sports. Women go on spending sprees in an attempt to erase the emptiness only to strain their relationship with their husbands and with God. We are especially reminded during the political season that men will do anything to achieve high rank and power. Position and power becomes an idol. We bow at the temple of materialism and worship fashion. We bow at the institute of learning and worship knowledge. We bow at the temple of labor and worship filthy lucre.

Americans have idols. We have made our own gods. Isaiah 44 tells of the man who finds a tree in the forest and he uses it to create a fire to stay warm. He then uses the fire to cook a meal and with what is left of the wood he creates an image and bows down to worship it. “All who make idols are nothing, and the things they treasure are worthless.” (Isa. 44:9)

The absurdity of seeing a man make a wooden object and then say, “Save me; you are my god” is nothing but tragic. Is it not every bit as heartrending to see a man look to modern idols of power, prosperity and sex and say “You are my god, save me.” Isaiah 44 contrasts a man who finds only emptiness in worshipping his own created idol with a man who worships the Creator of all who is absolutely supreme and totally sufficient for the needs of man!

Christ addressed our yearning for stuff in a very concise manner when he said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33) Christ is saying, “Let me fill the void in your soul, let me satisfy all your longings then I’ll take care of all the other things in your life.”

Occasionally I’ll clean out my storage shed. When I do I wonder at the fact that what is now a bunch of junk seemed to have had value in earlier years. There is a lot of junk in our lives. It may appear to have value but in the whole scope of things it doesn’t. When Christ is centered in our lives a lot of stuff becomes junk.

Whatever is the longing of your soul, whether it is strength for the next step, or provision for the next day or supreme truth to sustain you forever, Jesus is there to satisfy our all the longings of our heart.

1. Talking About Idolatry in a Postmodern Age. – Tim Keller

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Success: Discovering the Real Meaning of Success by Kevin Probst

What is the real meaning of success?

Do you ever feel like you are spinning your wheels? The wheels turn faster and faster but the vehicle doesn't move. I remember a few times my father sliding into a ditch on snowy, rural roads in western Pennsylvania. The more he gunned the engine, the further into the ditch his car seemed to sink. There are so many in our society today who believe they are very successful simply because their wheels are moving so fast.

There is a great dialog between Alice and the Red Queen in Lewis Carroll's story Through the Looking Glass. It goes like this:

“Well, in our country,” said Alice, still panting a little, “you’d generally get to somewhere else — if you run very fast for a long time, as we’ve been doing.”

“A slow sort of country!” said the Queen. “Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!”

There is a great difference between being successful and doing successful things. There are many people who are great at doing things but are not successful people. You may be great at throwing a baseball. You may be great at cooking meals or singing. But just what does it mean to be truly successful?

Many think success will confer greatness. They will dedicate their lives to climbing the ladder of 'success' in order to satisfy a deeply ingrained desire to be significant. Alexander the Great achieved 'success' by conquering most of the known world but then died very young before he could enjoy his status as one of the greatest conquerors of all time. Hannibal was a renowned military genius who filled three bushels with gold taken from his enemies but then committed suicide by drinking poison. Julius Caesar was said to have "stained his garments in the blood of one million of his foes" on his way to conquering 800 cities only to be betrayed and stabbed to death by those who would call themselves friends. These found no satisfaction in their lives because they failed to define success properly.

History is littered by those who committed suicide after they had achieved 'success'. Multimillionaire George Washington Vanderbilt III killed himself by jumping from a hotel window. Kurt Kobain reached the highest rungs of musical success before shooting himself in the head as did the great American author Earnest Hemingway. Adolph Hitler was adored by the German people but shot himself in the mouth rather than be captured by the Soviet army.

Christ told the story of a rich man who was very successful by the standards of the world. He had accumulated so much he decided he must build more barns to store his wealth. This man said to himself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry." (Luke 12:19) But God defines success differently than men do. God said to this man, "You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?"

Christ didn't condemn success but he did condemn those who make success their god. When men bow at an altar to pay homage to success God is offended. Christ asked the question, Why do you "store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy , and where thieves break in and steal." Why not "store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there is your heart also." (Matthew 6:19-21)

Why do we consider ourselves successful if, in the end, everything we've worked our whole lives for gets burned up? Jesus suggests another way of measuring success. Why not make deposits for the next world? Why not lay up treasure in heaven?

Success according to Christ is developing a Christian character. When we give to the poor we make a major deposit in heaven. When we help the downcast and make sacrifices for others we invest in an eternal retirement fund. Jesus summed up success by saying it can be achieved in two steps: Love God and demonstrate that love by loving others.

Jesus tells another story about a man who was lying in a ditch. A man sees him but walks on by. Another man sees him but continues on his way. The Good Samaritan sees him and stops to assist. He gives him his coat. He buys him a meal and provides lodging for him. The sacrifices he made that day are the treasures he will one day enjoy in heaven.

Here is the irony. In order to climb the ladder of Christ-defined success, you must actually come down instead of climb up. Christ demonstrated this by humbling himself and submitting to the Roman soldiers as they abused him and finally hung him on the cross. He didn't look too successful hanging on that cross, but wait until you see him split the eastern sky!!

Beware, if you answer the call to success as defined by your culture, you will put forth great effort to climb the rungs of the ladder. Your life will be filled with the whining sound of spinning wheels. Those you see descending the ladder are the truly successful ones. It's what Christ was referring to when he said, "The first shall be last and the last shall be first."

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Ghosts, Witches and the Road to Endor by Kevin Probst

Witches and Ghosts and the Road to En-dor by Kevin Probst

I recently had a conversation with a friend regarding ghosts. He said he didn't believe in ghosts. I asked him if he believed in spirits and he said, "No, I don't." I then asked if he believed in the Holy Spirit and he looked a bit confounded and replied, "Yes, of course."

Webster defines a ghost as a spirit or a demon, a disembodied soul believed to be an inhabitant of an unseen world.

We live in a very naturalistic age. Those who embrace naturalism believe that nature is all there is. It's not so much that a naturalist wants to affirm the world in which he lives, he mostly wants to deny there exists any other world. As Carl Sagan once said, "The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be." He was denying a supernatural world.

Wasn't John Lennon making the same denial when he wrote his song, Imagine? Imagine "there's no heaven", no hell, nothing but earth and sky.

Worshipping the idol of naturalism goes back thousands of years. The Greek philosopher, Epicurus, declared our existence to be a "blind experiment in a planless world."

So which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did those who paid homage to the idol of naturalism first deny the existence of God and then they went looking for a theory that would vindicate their atheism or did they first worship their own idol of naturalism and then decide there must not be a God after all?

God could most certainly have included in the Scriptures a logical treatise proving his existence and his role in creation but what would that have done to our faith? God teaches us that faith is necessary to establish a relationship with him. Faith is the substance of things hoped for, faith is believing in something for which there is no proof. Instead of presenting us with logical proof, God simply said, "what may be known about God is plain to (all people), because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities -- his eternal power and divine nature -- have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse." (Romans 1:19-20 NIV)

In essence, God is saying, "seeing is believing". How can one look at the creation and deny the existence of a Creator? Some have stepped up to the challenge. Intelligent and well-educated men have declared a logical absurdity that contradicts all of science, that something can actually come out of nothing. They have made science a religion by inserting it into the realm of theology. Why do scientists insist on trying to answer religious questions: "Where do I come from?", "Who am I?" and "Where am I going?" The naturalist believes they came from nothing, evolved from monkeys, there is no meaning in life and they have no destination. Such despair and hopelessness!

When I told my friend that I believed in ghosts he looked aghast. I clarified by telling him that I am not willing to deny that there is a supernatural world and bow with the masses to the idol of naturalism.

2 Kings Chapter 6 tells the story of Elisha who had defied the King of Aram. The king sent a vast army of horses, chariots and warriors to besiege the prophet's hometown. When Elisha's servant saw the great army he began to panic and he ran to Elisha and asked, "What shall we do?"

Elisha calmly invited his servant to step away from his natural world and consider the supernatural world.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, “O Lord, open his eyes so he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha." - 2 Kings 6:16-17

Elisha's servant got a glimpse into the supernatural world.

We are fascinated by the supernatural world that parallels our own. Even naturalists and atheists are often intrigued by the possibilities of a supernatural world. Demons, werewolves and vampires are popular in our literature. But God instructs us clearly in his word that we are not to be obsessed or try to participate in a world that belongs not to us. 1 Samuel 28 tells of the Witch of Endor who was employed by Saul to call up the ghost of Samuel after his death. The witch was successful and the spirit of Samuel first uttered these words: “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” The woman realized how dangerous it was to try to communicate with those in the supernatural realm? "I took my life in my hands and did what you told me to do," she said to Saul.

Rudyard Kipling repeated the warning in his poem, En-Dor

"Oh the road to En-dor is the oldest road

And the craziest road of all!

Straight it runs to the Witch’s abode,

As it did in the days of Saul,

And nothing has changed of the sorrow in store

For such as go down on the road to En-dor!"

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Cry Out to Jesus - Third Day

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Theology: Are we under law or grace

Theology: Are we under law or grace

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Relationship with Christ: Are we Under Law or Grace?

Relationship with Christ: Are we Under Law or Grace?

Theologians have been debating it for hundreds of years. After Christ’s work was done on the cross we now have access to his wonderful grace. Where does that leave the law? Is there no more place for law in the Christian life? Has law been replaced by grace? Jesus gave us clear direction on that issue when he preached on the mount: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17) Paul reaffirmed what Jesus said in Romans 3:31 “Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law”

Many would argue in defense of sin. Now that we have access to grace we are no longer under law therefore any sin we commit it is automatically forgiven by a merciful God who offers an everlasting supply of grace to his weak and feeble followers. This is a dangerous belief with unspeakable consequences. Some are so disillusioned that they are willing to entertain the idea that sin may be good in that it proves the grace of God. To this Paul rises up in indignation when he says in Romans 6:1-2 “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?”

Christ, and Paul who followed him, are not asking for a shallow confession or a soft repentance that is tinged with insincerity and proves ineffective. They are calling for a tangible repentance. A confession so remorseful and honest that, when joined with the grace of God, it causes one’s thinking to change. It changes our attitudes and it altars our behavior in a radical way. The consequence of a tangible repentance will be a deep and personal relationship with God that will result in good works so that our light might “shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” – Matthew 5:16.

So, if we are saved by grace, what is the purpose of the law? The law is like a great spotlight in the hands of God to show us the darkness in the deep, inner recesses of our depraved souls. The law is the great revealer. It exposes that which is contrary to God and provides us an opportunity to confess that which we now see which hinders God’s work in our lives.

I have a Llewellyn Setter, she is about 5 months old. She could be an excellent bird dog even though I don’t bird hunt. She is a family pet and an inseparable companion to my five year old son, Kameron.

Every morning Keely and I take a walk down an old country road near my home. I use this time to pray and meditate and begin my day by focusing on the things of God.

Keely walks with a leash. The leash is what gives me control over her. Without it she would run and rampage through the neighborhood completely out of control. She is young and still being trained. Occasionally she will pull the leash attempting to go in a direction I don’t want to go. If I gently jerk the leash she will fall back beside me. Sometimes she digs her front paws in the ground in an attempt to resist going forward. Again, a gentle tug reminds her she has a master.

The law of God is like a leash. It helps us to keep in line. It enables us to walk beside the Savior and prevents us from getting ahead or falling behind. It is the vehicle through which we demonstrate our love by submitting to the will of our master. “If anyone love me, he will keep my word” – (John 14:23). We will occasionally want to sniff out the pleasures of the world but a gentle tug on the leash reminds us of the relationship we have with the Master and how “friendship with the world is enmity with God?” (James 4:4)

As we get older and more mature in the faith we walk with less resistance. We love Him more and more and we treasure our fellowship with the Master. In fact, there will probably come a time when the leash is totally unnecessary. We walk with him simply because we want to and wouldn’t dream of leaving his side because the aroma of his holiness is so much more attractive than the stench of sin.

The question is not law or grace? The question is how these two work together to sanctify us in our walk with the Master.

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Highest Branch:

Highest Branch Mobile:

Shannon is contemplative. We are about to pick a pumpkin to carve for Kameron's halloween.
Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Marriage: Conflict Resolution

Marriage: Conflict Resolution by Kevin Probst

I know many older couples who have been married for fifty or more years. They have learned the secret of staying together. I love to ask them about their long journey through married life. These couples could fill books with advice on how to make a marriage work. One thing they all have in common, they had to learn to deal with conflict.

Several years ago , Ruth Bell Graham, the late wife of Billy Graham, was asked if she and Billy always agreed on everything. ‘My goodness, no!” she said, ‘If we did, there would be no need for one of us.’ Even those marriages that appear to be made in heaven have conflict.

The issues that married couples must cope with today are very serious and sometimes overwhelming but perhaps more important than the issues themselves is how couples choose to voice their disagreements. When they become verbally aggressive, when they swear and hurl insults at each other, when they slam doors and walk out in a huff mumbling something about divorce, they have failed in that area that is most important, communication.

Neil Warren says, “If you want your marriage to crash and burn, let conflict rage but refuse to learn the skills necessary for managing it. Well-managed conflict is like a stairway leading to higher and higher levels of marital excellence.” (1)

Dr. David Powlinson says “cravings underlie conflict. Why do we fight? Its not, ‘because my wife/husband…’ – its because of something about you. Couples who see what rules them – cravings for affection, attention, power vindication, control, comfort, a hassles-free life – can repent and find God’s grace made real to them, and then learn how to make peace.” (2)

This isn’t a new concept, James taught this thousands of years ago: James 4:1-2 “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.”

Occasionally I will have conflict with the woman I love most. The passage in James comes running to my rescue. I am a professional persuader. I spend all of my time trying to teach apologetics to students who need to learn to defend their faith. I use my persuasive skills to try to convince people to follow Christ when I preach from the pulpit. My students think I am a wise man. My congregants think I am a spiritual man. My wife…well, I’m just the guy she rides home with. She sees me in all my faults and in all my shortcomings. She has no adulation for the man who reveals so often that he is a clay vessel.

When we have conflict, I am reminded of a perverted need I have to be admired. It is usually my cravings for relaxation, for attention, admiration or affection that causes conflict. It’s what I want that I’m not getting at that particular time.

My five year old son, Kameron, will often go to his room and pout when he doesn’t get what he wants. We are not so unlike small children when we fail to handle conflict.

So, after my wife and I have experienced conflict I will often go to my room and pout. I will fantasize about her coming in and asking for forgiveness because she has failed to recognize how incredible I am as a husband and father. When she doesn’t show up, the Holy Spirit usually does. He shows me the source of the conflict. It’s what I want but don’t have. Then I end up being the one who has to apologize, again!

The solution to solving conflict is spelled out in James 4:10 “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.” When I am in conflict with my wife, God is in conflict with me. It’s much easier to resolve my conflict with my wife when I first resolve my conflict with God. If we humble ourselves and repent he is faithful and just to forgive us. (1 John 1:9)

Our honest and humble confession is effective because the Son of God resolved the greatest conflict of man; that which existed between a Holy God and sinful man. That conflict has been dealt with and it is settled forever. Christ went to the cross, he rose from the grave, he sacrificed himself for our salvation and in so doing he takes the hand of sinful man and joins him to a holy God.

Resolve conflict by recognizing what cravings you have that are not being satisfied. Offer a genuine, sincere, brief, specific apology. Make sure Christ is centered in your relationship.

1. Battlefields and Playgrounds – Neil Warren

2. Seeing With New Eyes – Dr. David Powlinson

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Marriage: Vicious Cycle

Marriage: The vicious cycle.

Our craving to have our perceived needs met causes conflict in marriage.

The root of the problem with conflict in relationships, whether between two people, two friends, or two nations is that fact that a sinful craving or yearning to be satisfied is not being fulfilled. In a marriage it is crucial for the couple to understand the needs of the other.

What are the needs of the wife? Ephesians 5:25 instructs husbands to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” We are to be to our wives what Jesus Christ was to the church.

When we come to Christ he is never too busy to listen. We would never hear Christ say, “Wait a minute, I’m busy right now.” He is eager to hear the voice of those whom he loves. In like manner we should never be too busy to listen to our wives. Our wives need communication. They need to talk and we need to listen.

A wife needs to feel secure in the love of her husband. I’ve had men come to me and say, “I’m not sure if I love her or not.” And I say, “Love you wife.” “But you don’t understand.” Yes, I understand that a vow was made for better or worse, this is worse, for richer or poorer, this is poorer, in sickness or in health, this is sickness. We must be men of our word, men of integrity. We made promises, we should keep them. We promised to love our wives, we should love them.

But a wife not only needs to be loved, she also needs to have love demonstrated. I’ve also heard men say, “I’d die for my wife.” Maybe we should work on picking our dirty socks off the floor before we think about dying for her.

The leaves on the plant in our living room occasionally turn brown. I can pluck them off one by one or I can say, “I’m tired of looking at that dying plant, it’s time to get another.” Maybe the wiser thing to do would be to analyze the soil and purchase some plant food. Many live in dead, wilted marriages. Instead of looking for a new one maybe they should try to figure out what makes the marriage grow, what would bring new life into the marriage.

Every wife needs to feel like she is cherished by her husband. Not only will a concerned husband pray for his wife, he will also let her hear him pray for her.

What are the needs of the husband? A husband needs someone who is reliable. A wife who comes home and half-bakes some frozen nuggets for dinner and then retreats to spend the next four hours on the computer fails to fulfill the needs of her husband. She is sending a not so subtle message to her husband that her computer friends and fantasies are more important than he is. This marriage is in deep trouble.

A husband needs a wife who is honest about money. If she is sneaking around spending money without his knowledge the marriage is in trouble.

A husband needs someone who will respect him. Ephesians 5:33 instructs the wife to “respect her husband.” He doesn’t want her to speak badly about him to her friends.

The number of husbands in our culture who struggle with pornography is phenomenal. 50% of families have a pornography problem. 60% of pastors say pornography is the major issue in their churches. 2 of 3 divorces identify pornography as a significant factor. (1) How should a wife react when her husband confesses he has a problem with pornography? Railing him and demeaning him and making him feel worthless is not an effective way to change his behavior. Perhaps she should tell him how crushed she is. She should reveal the pain it has caused her. Then she should tell him she will pray that God will deliver him from his addiction. It is extremely hard to take this path but pornography is something that must not be shoved under the rug.

He made a marriage vow to her and then crushed her under his heal by making her feel she wasn’t beautiful or good enough. She was made to feel incapable of meeting his needs.

He feels disrespected. She feels unloved. He can’t love her until she respects him and she can’t respect him until he loves her. When her need to be loved and his need to be respected is not met, conflict is inevitable.

The vicious cycle can only be broken when we stop setting our own standard for love and respect. We are imperfect beings living in an imperfect world. We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church. The church isn’t perfect. Wives are not to set the standard for respecting their husbands. Any man knows that it’s much easier to live by God’s standard than their wife’s standard.

We often fail to understand that the primary purpose of our marriage is to show the relationship between Christ and the church. If we fail to do this we are being divisive and dishonest and we’ve lost an opportunity to reveal Christ to a

1).  Websense Internet Misuse Report 2003

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Marriage Conflict: The honeymoon is over, now what do we do?

Marriage Conflict

The Honeymoon’s Over, now what do we do? By Kevin Probst
Two of God’s most beautiful creatures come together in marriage. No marriage was ever more perfect. They both believe they have found the perfect mate. They will live their entire lives together in a state of bliss. Their relationship will be the envy of all who know them. The euphoria of being married to this perfect person will endure forever and forever. Books will be written about their lifelong romance. In the distance there can be heard the voices of the angelic host singing, “Hallelujah, Hallelujah, Hallelujah.” They are showered by rice as they dash to a limousine to begin a weeklong celebration of their arrival to heaven on earth.
The week in paradise soon ends. Their feet finally hit the ground. The warm fuzzies become more fuzzy than warm. They look on in horror as the monster of reality, like a phoenix, rises out of the ashes to reveal itself. Bliss is replaced by anguish. Euphoria is replaced by uncertainty and then the horrible realization begins to set in: They are not two perfect creatures who married each other, rather, they are two self-willed sinners with two different sets of desires from two different backgrounds, they are frail, they are imperfect and they are expected to get along with each other.
Two men were standing in a cemetery. They were standing over a grave and one of the men kept saying, “How could you do that to me? Why did you die? Why did you die?” As they were about to leave they fell in step and one said to the other, “I would just like to give you my condolences. I heard you saying, ‘Why did you die, why did you die? I’m sure that was the tomb of your wife.” The other man said, “No, that was the grave of my wife’s first husband.” (1)

Is there conflict in your marriage? If your answer is “no” then please contact me, I want to help you write a book and I want to be your agent as we go on tour making millions of dollars teaching your methods for marriage.
Every marriage has conflict. It is because of how we are designed. Conflict is unavoidable.
There are three ways of dealing with conflict:
1. Full speed ahead. This is like the charge of the light brigade. When you are confronted you grit your teeth and roar like a lion and prepare to pounce on the enemy.
2. Full retreat. Those in full retreat avoid conflict at any cost. Instead of expressing their anger they suppress it. Instead of open and honest communication they just hold it all in. When they see that 'certain' one walking toward them in the grocery aisle they turn and go another direction and continue to seethe inwardly.
3. Full acceptance. These just run with their problems. They accept conflict as a normal part of life and they avoid confrontation even if it means compromising some of their core beliefs.
I had a conversation with one of my grown sons this week. His mother and I divorced nearly ten years ago and we talked of it. He said to me, "When you guys divorced everyone was so surprised, you guys never seemed to fight. I could count on one hand the number of disagreements you had."
I replied to him, "That's very true and that was the problem. We both suppressed our anger and avoided confrontation. We shoveled it all under the rug and over time we created a mountain of unresolved issues. Conflict is unavoidable but it can be constructive if you learn form it.
I have been studying a passage from the Bible that is life changing: James 4:1 says, "What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?" The cause of conflict is the battle going on within yourself. Next time you are in a relational conflict ask yourself, "What yearning is in my heart that is not being fulfilled?" It is humbling to admit but I've discovered that when I experience conflict the cause is more than likely the "passions that are at war within" me.

Saying "I'm sorry" is often not enough. It only serves as a temporary band aid until the next eruption. What is needed is what Voddie Baucham refers to as "tangible repentance". (2) Tangible repentance is a change of attitude that leads to a change of behavior. If you are really sorry about your harsh words or your ugly attitude then tangible repentance will eventually cause you to cease repeating them.
Conflict is not what destroys marriages, its our failure to learn to handle conflict that brings destruction to the marriage
1. The Puzzle of Our Needs and Conflicts, Erwin Lutzer
2. Gospel Healing for Hurting Marriages, Voddie Baucham

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Chile Miners - Clear Perspective after 70 days underground

Kevin Probst - Is a teacher of Apologetics and History at Calvary Christian School and Associate Pastor of Crosspointe Nazarene Church church in Columbus, Georgia.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

"He who keeps the tongue doth keep the soul"
Whats down in the well comes up in the bucket

Public Schools Destroyed by 'Justice'

Public Schools Destroyed by 'Justice'
Kevin Probst

I grew up the youngest of three boys. My father was formerly a sergeant in the U.S. Army and never really ceased be a sergeant even after leaving the military. So, the three of us were often told to “shape up or ship out.” I can still hear his voice at the foot of the stairs every Saturday morning, “Up and at ‘um, boys. We have work to do.”
My father was stern but fair. It would have been unimaginable for him to apply some sort of ‘quota’ disciplinary system to the three of us. If one of us deserved more discipline than the other it was because we earned it honestly. He was never one to equate fair discipline with an equal number of spankings per child. That would be absurd. If we got it we deserved it.
But such absurdity is actually the norm for our government’s Department of Education. Included in the Obama administration’s $4.3 million Race to the Top initiative is a piece of litigation that will attempt to address the unevenness of disciplinary action in our public schools. At issue is the disproportionate suspension and expulsion of African-American students. Rather than take the ‘road less traveled’ and dig deep for some creative solution to the prevalence of violence and misbehavior in our schools, this administration has decided to take the easy road and simply count beans.
Federal moneys will be withheld from those schools who fail to have proportionate discipline in regard to their distinctive racial groups. African-Americans seem to have a greater occurrence of misbehavior, followed by Hispanics, then whites and finally Asians. Of course, this may vary in different school systems that have different percentages of each race. The troubling assumption being made here is that there is a blatant racism at the foundation of our system for discipline in the public schools. Imagine the chaos in our society if we used a quota system for sending people to prison? That policy would allow a certain criminal element in our society a tremendous advantage and it would also increase the number of misdemeanor offenders who would find themselves in prison simply because a quota had to be met.

A disciplinary quota system will only bring chaos to public schools. Can you imagine a principal dependent on federal funds who decides to turn his head when a certain student has been found with a knife in his possession because the ‘quota’ has already been exceeded?

In view of the fact that our society is becoming more and more racially blended, how difficult will it be for the principal to determine the race of the offender? Will those who are mixed be able to claim a race most convenient for any particular day? Will we have to man our public schools with a DNA patrol?

No one would deny that discipline in the public schools is a huge problem. I taught 15 years in inner city public schools and I often felt more like a cop than a teacher. But the decision to discipline by racial quota may be the most asinine policy those disconnected Washington bureaucrats have ever come up with! (for more on public schools) (religion, theology and apologetics)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Are they schools or are they prisons? Kevin Probst

I’ve spent nearly 30 years of my life as an educator. Had I the opportunity to do it over again I would not choose any other profession. It has been a most enjoyable experience to help mold the minds and hearts of young people who will be tomorrow’s leaders. I’ve never dreaded Monday mornings like so many in the workforce. I was born to teach and I’m grateful I’ve had the opportunity to spend most of my life doing what I love most.

Would I advise my students to become teachers? I often struggle with that question. If they are Christians who choose teaching as a lifetime profession they may have to teach in government schools or universities where the environment is hostile to God

Christians in public institutes of education are now being punished if they don’t conform to the humanism being taught. Julea Ward, who was enrolled in the counseling program at East Michigan State University, was expelled because she felt compelled to counsel homosexuals using her own biblical worldview rather than the humanistic worldview of the university. Jennifer Keeton, a student at Augusta State University in Georgia was warned that the school would withhold her degree from her unless she ceased witnessing for Christ to the other students.

We like to divide our world into two realms, that which is sacred and that which is secular. Isn’t that really a misnomer? Isn’t God sovereign over his entire creation? All the world belongs to God and the two existing realms include that which is sacred and that which is rebellious. The ‘secular’ school system in America has revealed its rebellion toward God by embracing humanism. Our children are trained that the government is the Big Brother who will take care of them from womb to tomb. (Socialism) God is extracted from the science classes and history classes. They teach that the solution to our problems is not God, it lies in the ingenuity of man and his ability to use new technology. We put a man on the moon, we found a cure for polio, we’ve even developed an efficient, man-made heart to replace the one provided by God. Man has taken precedence while God has been relegated to the back burner.

Many Christian teachers are hopeful that their efforts in government schools can help bring about reform. They deserve much applause for their efforts but the religion of the schools is humanism and our institutions are so infested with it that reform seems impossible. When God saw that reform or repentance was not an option, he destroyed man with a flood. Many believe there is no reform option, the only hope for the present system is to deconstruct it and rebuild. The phenomenal rise in charter schools, private schools and homeschooling indicate the desperation in America for a better system to educate its youth.

I taught several years in an inner-city school. I learned soon after my arrival that it wasn’t so much about academics. It was more about monitoring disruptive classrooms. Your skills as a disciplinarian were far more valuable than your skills in academia. Some inner city schools seem to be in essence, de facto prisons. Students often park their cars in a fenced in lot that isn’t unlocked until 3:30 PM when they are paroled home. The inmates are herded from room to room at certain time intervals. They stand in line to receive food and eat off of plastic cafeteria trays. They are lined up during certain times of the day for a corporate visit to the restroom. The monitor decides who does and doesn’t speak. The inmates often fight with each other and there are certain ones always at risk to escape the compound. There is frequent rebellion against those in charge of the facility. Armed security guards patrol the passageways. Guns and weapons are confiscated along with drugs and drug paraphernalia.

Serious students must ask themselves: Just what am I being prepared for, prison?

There are better ways to educate. But they will be elusive until we truly put the child first and invite God back to the classroom.  (For more on public schools)

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How Do I Know God Has Called Me To Preach?

I sometimes have students approach me at Calvary Christian School and ask, “How do I know what God’s will is for my life?” I then ask them, “What do you want to do?” If they have previously surrendered to Christ I usually discover that God has preceded his calling in their lives by placing within them a desire. It’s not always a desire to preach or teach, sometimes it’s a desire to work with babies, to fix people’s teeth or to work with animals.

I was a junior in a Christian boarding school when I felt God calling me to preach and teach. There was no rebellion toward the will of God in my life. I set about preparing myself to answer his call with great gusto. I went three years to a Bible College and then went on to the university and achieved degrees in teaching and administration. After completing college, through a series of unexpected circumstances, I found myself preaching in a small church in Columbus, Georgia. I had said ‘yes’ to the path God had chosen for me.

I soon discovered that it may be easier to choose the right path than it is to stay on the right path. Satan began to do a work on me. The church was difficult, in need of major changes but with huge obstacles preventing change. I was young, immature, and wondering why I was in a small church in Columbus instead of preaching in a Billy Graham Crusade. I then began to feel the lure of materialism. I had friends who drove nicer cars and lived in bigger homes. I felt like I’d never ‘be known’ if I didn’t leave the church and strike out on my own.

I left the church and entered public education and spent 15 or more years taking the path most traveled. I followed the crowd. I turned my back on the will of God and I suffered heavy consequences. I frittered away my relationship with God. With God absent from my marriage it soon ended. I fled Columbus and spent two years teaching in North Atlanta where God pulled the rug out from under me and showed me just who I really was. In my moment of greatest despair and deepest loneliness, I realized that doing life my way wasn’t going to bring peace or satisfaction. Doing it my way had already cost me way too much. So, I surrendered to God and returned to Columbus to seek his will once again.

What I discovered was that the callings of God are without repentance. The first thing God began to speak to me about after restoring my relationship with him was my call to preach. Sermons began to come to me. I began to listen to sermons on the internet and on television. I attended church and left every service feeling that I should be in a pulpit somewhere proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ.

I thank God for second chances. I am now an associate pastor of a Nazarene Church here in Columbus. I have ample opportunity to preach and teach the word of God. I have a wonderful wife who is very supportive of my ministry. She would tell you that if I didn’t have a willing congregation come hear me on Sunday mornings I would preach to the empty pews and the lofty rafters.

How do I know I am called to preach? God placed an overwhelming desire within. I have to eat, I have to sleep, I have to breathe and I have to preach. I can say along with Paul to the Corinthians (9:16) “Yet when I preach the gospel, I cannot boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”

I am compelled and I desire to preach but the paradox is that it is not a pleasant thing. The responsibility of accurately preaching the truth is weighty on the soul. The burden of being chosen of God to share a message of salvation that may very well determine the eternal destiny of some who listen is not a burden I would wish upon anyone. The feeling of unworthiness is a constant battle. There is a constant awareness that I am too small for the job, that I am imperfect. I’ve got such a long way to go. I’m not all I wish to be. I’m not even near what God wants me to be. I may not be all that I should be but, praise God, I’m not at all what I used to be! I am reminded daily that there are more things I don’t know than there are things I know. But one thing I know for sure, God has called me to preach and I’m going to do what he has asked me to do.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Environmental wackos pitch cutting carbon emissions...disturbing.

Very Disturbing pitch from environmental wackos to cut carbon emissions. Didn't want to post it but if you interested go to the website. Not for children. Gives you a glimpse into the minds of this people.

Abortion Survivor: Gianna Jessen

The man who tried to abort her had to sign her birth certificate!! "I have aborted over a million babies and I consider it my passion". The Born-Alive Infant Protection Act was not around to save her.  George W. Bush signed the act into law in January of 2002.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Soap Opera in the "Church"

Soap Opera in the “Church”

If you live in the Atlanta area you are probably becoming weary of the whole Eddie Long saga. Bishop Eddie Long is pastor of the New Birth Missionary Baptist Church which has a reported 25,000 members. Four young men have come forth recently to accuse the pastor of sexual improprieties. Long seemed to be preparing his followers for more revelation yet to come by saying that he is not a perfect man. But there may have been a streak of defiance in his tone when he compared himself to David, slayer of Goliath, “"I have five rocks and I haven't thrown one yet."

That should be enough “soap opera” drama to satisfy reporter from TMZ. But the drama just keeps giving and giving. Amos Dotson, 26, a rapper and producer of “rock alternative” music declared that he was a “son” of the Bishop in 2003. He was “sat down” by the Bishop and reprimanded for sleeping with several women in the church. What is troubling is that Dotson was told that his actions reflected poorly on Long and the church. Shouldn’t there have been some mention that his actions reflected poorly on the image of Christ whose name he claimed?

Enter another character in the saga. Reverend Dennis Meredith is pastor of the Tabernacle Baptist Church in Atlanta. He has strongly criticized Bishop Long and compares him to Goliath rather than David. Meredith urges Long to “come out with the truth”. One could easily question Meredith’s motives. Is he defending the truth of God’s word and Jesus Christ, the bearer of that truth or is he simply defending several young homosexual men in the church? Meredith, claims to be a messenger of God and a bearer of truth yet he lives a lifestyle that God’s word declares to be an abomination to God. (See Leviticus 18:22). Rev. Meredith is openly gay and bi-sexual and 85% of his church is gay, lesbian and bi-sexual. Can you say, “Sodom and Gomorrah?” Meredith makes an outrageous claim that he is trying to help the “body of Christ” while living in gross sin.

Someone who reads this post will peg me by saying I have no right to judge another. I would never trespass into that area that belongs to God alone. God is final judge of the actions of all men and he warns us not to presume that we can do his job better than he. But Christians and fellow ministers in our politically correct world have been neutered by their fear of lifting a voice to oppose those who do more harm to the gospel than good. If Bishop Long is guilty as accused then he should confess his sins and resign his position. Rather than throwing stones, Christians should rally around him in an attempt to restore a brother who has fallen.

A similar thing was happening in the church of Corinth when Paul gave them godly advise: “I have written you in my letter not to associate with sexually immoral people— not at all meaning the people of this world who are immoral, or the greedy and swindlers, or idolaters. In that case you would have to leave this world. But now I am writing you that you must not associate with anyone who calls himself a brother but is sexually immoral or greedy, an idolater or a slanderer, a drunkard or a swindler. With such a man do not even eat. What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside. “Expel the wicked man from among you.” (1 Cor. 5:9-13.)

The sin in the Corinthian church was as shocking to the unbelievers as it was to those who were followers of Christ. How shocking that Reverend Meredith would throw stones at Bishop Long. What’s more amazing is that it seems those looking on are more shocked than those within the church.

Paul didn’t mince any words. We are to expel those in the church who are involved in sexual immorality. It’s not judging, it’s being obedient to God’s command to keep the church pure. Bishop Long says he is an imperfect man, if that means he has been involved in sexual immorality while preaching against such sin, then he needs to come clean and confess his hypocrisy and resign his church and seek restoration.

God’s heart is grieved when he sees the church polluted with such sinfulness. Be mindful that anyone can start an organization and call it a church. The true church of Christ is still “spotless and without blemish.”

I want your money

"We could say they are spending like drunken sailors but that would be unfair to drunken sailors because the sailors are spending their own money." - Ronald Reagan

Friday, October 1, 2010

Should Christians takeover? Or Serve?

As a conservative Christian I strongly favor conservative Christian candidates to fill positions in our government. But I often ask just how might our politics and culture change were Christians running the government? Would we then be restored as a Christian nation or would we be defined as Christian because we have Christian leaders rather than because our citizens are born-again believers. Having a Christian leader doesn’t mean we embrace his Christianity. I think we are sometimes lured into the ‘mission’ of electing Christians to political office and then we believe the fallacy that by doing this we will become a Christian nation. We will only become Christian if we have a reviving of God’s Spirit, if we repent of our sin and a turn back to God rather than to a conservative government.

Augustine of Hippo proposed in his City of God that there are only two cities, the City of God and the City of Man. He didn’t portray these two cities as corresponding to earthly institutions. The church does not represent the City of God nor does the government represent the City of Man. The cities he referred to were invisible.

All true believers belong to the City of God. They love their Creator. They live their lives to bring glory to him and they expect to live eternally with him.

All those who reject Christ as the Savior belong to the City of Man. They love the creation more than the Creator. They love themselves more than God. Everyone on earth is a citizen of one city or the other.

I believe Christians are obligated to vote their conscience. I believe Christians should be actively seeking to reform our government and point others to Christ. But I believe we must take care not to equate reforming the government with evangelizing the lost. Should our major effort not be in building the City of God rather than the governments of men?

Some would take Augustine’s analogy a step further. They would say we are actually citizens of two kingdoms. This earthly kingdom belongs to God because he created it and he is sovereign over it. But his main focus is on the establishment of his church. The church is made up of those who have been redeemed, those whom he has called out of this world. As dual citizens we have obligations to both his earthly and heavenly kingdoms.

Jesus recognized that we have a mission to accomplish in this earthly kingdom because he prayed this in John 17:15 “My prayer is not that you take them out of this world but that you protect them from the evil one.” While I believe Christ wants us to live in this world , I believe he wants us to demonstrate a Christ-likeness to those who are lost by obeying His command to come “out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you."

We are temporary citizens living in a very sinful culture. Rather than spending so much time trying to reform a kingdom that will one day pass away, should we not be much more committed to building a kingdom that will last for all of eternity?