Tuesday, November 30, 2010

For Mothers

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, November 24, 2010

Its Written In The Stars

It is written in the stars.

By Kevin Probst

It is my habit to awaken long before sunrise and take an early walk while communing with God. I live far enough in the country so that my view of the sky is not polluted with man-made light. It often looks like a spread of black velvet upon which God randomly threw a smattering of star-lit diamonds. The beauty and wonder of it can literally take my breath away. I feel most near to God during those quiet moments shared before the rest of the world awakens.

Stars seem to hold a special place in the revelation of God. He chose to use the revolution of the stars and the rotation of the planets to provide a means for his creatures to precisely measure time. Gen 1:14 "Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night, and let them serve as signs and to mark seasons and days and years." Certainly God’s communication with mankind was hampered by sin after the fall of Adam and Eve. There was no written scripture for at least 2500 years after the fall. God certainly could have walked away after men chose to disobey but his love compelled him to continue wooing the heart of the unfaithful. God chose to communicate through his own creation.

Psalm 19:1-4 “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” God uses a universal language to reveal himself to mankind through his celestial creation. The Bible is wonderful in its ability to reveal the nature of God but it is not exclusive. Paul declared to the Romans that God also reveals himself through his creation. “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 1:20)

Keep in mind that the ancients spent a lot more time studying the skies than we do today. They often slept on their rooftops because of the excessive heat. They didn’t have televisions and i-pods to entertain themselves. So, they looked and pondered the skies above.

Scientists have contemplated the number of stars in the universe for thousands of years. It is estimated that the Milky Way galaxy alone has 100 thousand million stars. It is also estimated that there are 100 billion galaxies much like ours. Each of those galaxies has 100 billion stars. With that incomprehensible number in mind, consider the words of Isaiah (40:26) “Lift your eyes and look to the heavens: Who created all these? He who brings out the starry host one by one, and calls them each by name? Because of his great power and mighty strength, not one of them is missing.” Not a single star is out of place. God has positioned and named each one of them.

We are often hesitant to study the stars for a revelation from God. We look upon astrology as an idolatrous substitute for the genuine revelation of God. Satan always attempts to corrupt whatever good thing God provides. When Jesus’ disciples asked him what would be the sign of his return he replied, ““There will be signs in the sun, moon and stars.” (Luke 21:25) It is okay to look for signs in the heavens but it’s not okay to believe those stars control our lives. God’s revelation of himself through the stars was evident in the oldest book of the Bible. God had strong words for Job (38:31-32) “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? Can you bring forth the constellations in their seasons…?” You can feel Job’s humility and get a sense of the ancient’s knowledge of the heavens when we read the words in Job 9:9 “He is the Maker of the Bear and Orion, the Pleiades and the constellations of the south”

I recently watched Rick Larson’s presentation, “The Star of Bethlehem”. Larson provides a well thought out explanation for the star that guided the wise men to Jesus. When Jesus was born people saw wonderful things happening in the skies. When Jesus was crucified all hell broke out on earth. The earth shook, the veil of the temple was rent. The sky darkened as the sun was obscured and later that night a blood moon, a lunar eclipse, revealed itself as it peaked over the horizon.

John was exiled to the island of Patmos at a very advanced age, perhaps in his eighties or nineties. John received a great revelation of God by looking to the stars. “A great and wondrous sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet and a crown of twelve stars on her head. She was pregnant and cried out in pain as she was about to give birth. Then another sign appeared in heaven: an enormous red dragon with seven heads and ten horns and seven crowns on his heads. His tail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth. The dragon stood in front of the woman who was about to give birth, so that he might devour her child the moment it was born. She gave birth to a son, a male child, who will rule all the nations with an iron scepter.” (Revelation 12:1-5)

John is describing the birth of Jesus as he sees it revealed in the heavens. Larson makes the case that the “woman” is the virgin (virgo) mother of Jesus. She gives birth to a child from the tribe of Judah (leo). The dragon is Satan who attempts to destroy God’s plan to save mankind by destroying the Christ-child. Herod acts as Satan’s tool to accomplish this. God gives us signs so that we will hunger for more truth. He wants us to draw nearer and strive for a fuller revelation.

We who are Christians anticipate the coming of Christ to earth again. We don’t know the day or the hour of his return but it may very well be written somewhere in the stars.

The Star of Bethlehem produced by Stephen McEveety

Rick Larson’s website: http://www.bethlehemstar.net/

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, November 17, 2010

Idolatry: Creating God in Our Own Image

Idolatry: Creating God in Our Own Image

By Kevin Probst

As an apologetics teacher in a local Christian school, we sometimes debate theological issues. It is a rather common occurrence for my students to vehemently defend the 'right' of a Christian to sin. "Mr. Probst, we sin every day in word, deed and truth. We are human and we can't help but sin." Recently, a student asked me if a Christian who committed a murder would go to heaven. I declared that murder was something Christians were prohibited from doing. I was saddened to observe most of the students in my class choose to argue for sin instead of for holy living and Christ-likeness.

Christ was always urging people to cease sinning. He told the woman at the well to "go and sin no more." The message of John the Baptist was to "repent". A new generation of Americans is very much into confessing sin but not at all into repenting of sin. Repentance means "to turn from sin and dedicate oneself to the amendment of one's life."  There seems to be a determination to have your cake and eat it too.

Americans are infected with a kind of smorgasbord Christianity. Take what you like and leave what you don't like. They are much interested in getting in but not much interested in growth. Many want to invite a Savior into their lives but very few want him to be Lord of their lives. Salvation is acceptable, even desirable, but sanctification is rejected. We are quick to load up with extra helpings of grace and love but we leave behind sacrifice and repentance. Like children, we want desert but not meat.

A new generation of Americans has been taught that salvation is available to any who will repeat a mantra of magic words. They have a misperception of a God overloaded in grace and depleted in justice. Their god forgives them even before they ask. He forgives their sins even before they commit them. They have formed a god to their own liking who will provide salvation at their own convenience. They set him on a shelf like an idol and call upon him to forgive their sins at their own command and in their own time.

This kind of cheap-grace religion is often propagated by American ministers who are more concerned about the number in their pews than the salvation and discipleship of souls. We invite them to our churches and feed them a cotton candy theology. We massage them and take great pains to be sure they all leave feeling good about themselves. Compare this to Hebrews 4:12 "For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."  We certainly don't want to allow ourselves to plunge into legalism but we must not compromise the truth that God is a God of justice as well as a God of love.

George Barna addresses the "costless faith" of our culture in a cover story for Christianity Today. (1) The message today is that a solution has been devised by a caring God to offer us salvation after the fall of man. A mental consent that He is indeed the son of God pretty much does it. If you can bring yourself to commit to this, you're in. Nothing is said of life change, even radical life change.

Barna states that the purchase of this eternal life insurance policy results in 'born again' people 'living just like everybody else'. Many will claim that the danger of this is that those who hunger for Christianity will embrace an attitude that says, "If Christianity doesn't really change you, I don't want it." Barna says, "Those who have turned to Christianity and to churches seeking truth and meaning have left empty-handed, confused by the apparent inability of Christians themselves to implement the principles they profess." (2)

I believe the greater danger is that thousands are clinging to a theology that says 'you can become a Christian without experiencing any significant changes in your lifestyle.' They believe a deception that they can have the best of both worlds, 'I can enjoy the pleasure of sin and I can still please God and go to heaven'.

Barna's research is revealing, "The spirituality of Americans is Christian in name only. We desire experience more than knowledge. We prefer choices to absolutes. We embrace preferences rather than truths. We seek comfort rather than growth. Faith must come on our terms or we reject it. We have enthroned ourselves as the final arbiters of righteousness, the ultimate rulers of our own experience and destiny. We are the Pharisees of the new millennium." (3)

Works Cited:

1. Christianity Today, August 5, 2002

2. The Second Coming of the Church, p.5

3. Second Coming of the Church, p. 23

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, November 16, 2010

I Won't Be Waiting On Superman by Shannon Probst

Student's test scores in the public schools are declining at a rapid rate. We are no longer competitive with some other developed nations. Thirty or forty years of educational "reform" has produced nothing but higher drop out rates, more drugs, sex and gang violence. Some Americans are fed up with it and have decided to take action.


I am a child of God, a wife to Kevin and a mother to Kameron. I am excited to be home schooling Kameron beginning in August 2010. I am the Children's Ministries Coordinator at CrossPointe Church of the Nazarene in Columbus, GA.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Cam Newton: To be (eligible) or not to be (eligible) by Kevin Probst

Those who have seen Cam Newton play this year all agree, he is a superstar. I only live 30 miles from Auburn and I’ll confess, I hardly paid any attention to him until about midway through the season. What is it with these preacher’s kids, from Tebow to Newton, they sure play good football.

No person in their right mind could possibly think that Cam’s father, the Reverend Newton, could solicit money from certain schools for the privilege of having his son as their quarterback without Cam having knowledge that such a solicitation took place. Of course he knew.

Why would the Reverend ask money from Mississippi State and not from Auburn University? Did Cecil Newton realize his mistake and choose to go another direction with a clean slate or did an Auburn booster find his offer reasonable? Not knowing one way or the other won’t be good for college football.

Some silly things have been said about the ordeal. Those Facebookers who are declaring that he is innocent until proven guilty…Cam Newton hasn’t broken any laws. He may be ineligible but he isn’t guilty. He isn’t going to prison. He may get suspended from football, he may flee the college farm system for the NFL but he hasn’t committed a crime.

The NCAA finds itself in a dilemma. If they declare what the father did had no bearing on the son or on Auburn University they it opens a Pandora’s Box full of future difficulties. It may become just standard procedure for fathers, uncles and grandfathers to try to sell the athletic ability of their family member to the highest bidder. Setting such a precedent would be disastrous for college football.

The situation at Auburn is likely just the tip of the ice berg. Cam’s situation didn’t come to light until he found himself under tremendous scrutiny as a leading Heisman candidate and Auburn was having an undefeated season. Were the spotlight shining so brightly on other college athletes their sins might also be discovered.

Sadly, if Cam Newton is declared ineligible Auburn’s season goes up in smoke. That may be justice served for Cam and also for the university if they offered him money but it’s a travesty for all the other players who invested hundreds of hours of practice time and put their faith and trust in the university when they signed on the dotted line. They are innocents and they don’t deserve to be punished for the poor judgment of a father and his son.

Enter Tony Dorsett, one of my favorite football players of all time. Dorsett called this a “modern day lynching”. Ridiculous! Had Tebow’s father asked for money you had better believe the press would have been all over it and Florida would have been in the same boat with Auburn. Race has nothing to do with this story and any person that insists on injecting race into the story must certainly have a racist agenda of his own.

No one would envy the decision that must be made by the SEC commissioner, Mike Slive. But most are going to question whether that decision was made based on what is best for the integrity of the game or will that decision be based on what is best for the prosperity of the game? If the decision isn’t made before the SEC championship game the championship could become a farce several months down the road when the ‘champion’ is declared ineligible. There will be one SEC team who will have to live with the question “what might have been” had the decision of eligibility been decided earlier.

What if Auburn goes on to win the National Championship? In one fell swoop, Auburn might go from top to bottom, from 14-0 to 0-14. Auburn will be embarrassed, the SEC will be embarrassed and all of college football will have to put an asterisk beside the 2010 season.

In order to avoid such embarrassment and avoid confusion and chaos of an imposter champion….I think Cam’s eligibility might be in danger.

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

Idolatry: Who Gets Your Time by Kevin Probst

Idolatry: Who Gets Your Time ?

By Kevin Probst

Jesus was invited to a gathering at Mary and Martha's house. Martha was slaving away in the kitchen to prepare a meal for her guests. Her sister Mary was in the living room sitting at the feet of Jesus as he taught. Martha was fuming because her sister wasn't in the kitchen helping. She finally boiled over. She stomped into the living room and briefly explained her grievance to Jesus. "Lord, Don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!" (Luke 10:38-42)

I think there was a moment of silence that must certainly have felt like an eternity to Martha. Eyes widened, jaws dropped and finally Jesus spoke, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken form her."

One could feel irritated that Jesus chose to reprimand the hard worker while seemingly rewarding the slacker. It rubs us the wrong way because it goes against everything our culture teaches us. Martha was in a hurry, Mary was not. Jesus is teaching us that there is a virtue in waiting. He wants us to separate from the rat race and find quiet moments to learn and listen.

Busyness is so much a part of our culture that we tend to define ourselves by what we do rather than who we are. The first question we often ask when we meet someone is, "What do you do?" This question serves to depersonalize the relationship. Why must we determine a man's value by what he does? Isn't a man's importance determined more by who he is rather than what he does?

There is another account in Jesus' life. A high level government official came running to Jesus and fell at his feet and with tearful eyes he plead with Jesus to save his dying twelve year old daughter. Jesus lifted him to his feet and began following him.

As Jesus continues through the crowd he suddenly stops and asks a mysterious question, "Who touched me?" He disciples were dumbfounded. "Why, Lord, we are being pressed about by the crowd from every side and you ask 'who touched me?'"

Jesus replied, "If feel power has gone out of me."

Slowly, a woman emerges from the crowd. "I touched you," she said. "But I have been completely healed." Jesus acknowledged her and sent her on her way "in peace."

What is Jairus doing during all this? He is chomping at the bit. His daughter lies dying and Jesus presses the pause button in his life to deal with a woman who had been already healed. "Hurry, hurry, Jesus! My daughter lies dying."

Jesus never got in a hurry. He never bowed to the idol of busyness. He refused to live in a superficial way, rather, he chose to live in the reality of the moment. It's how he wants us to live.

Our lives are so hectic many of us live with chronic fatigue. Sunset fatigue is a term used to refer to the fact that many of us return overwrought from our jobs at sunset. Ironically, the people in our lives whom we love the most, those we claim we would die for only get our leftovers.

When I was younger I taught history in a local high school. I also coached football, basketball and baseball. I would leave my home at 7:00 AM and not return until 9:00 PM. I had two small children who seldom saw their father when they probably needed him most. I would do anything in the world to change that. We can make amends, sometimes we're given second chances but we can never, ever go back! You can't place a value on time spent with those you love.

Christ never failed to take time for people. I'm still trying to learn that lesson. The people in our lives are far more important than shuffling the paper in our lives.

“Time is free, but it's priceless. You can't own it, but you can use it. You can't keep it, but you can spend it. Once you've lost it you can never get it back.” - Harvey MacKay

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

Idol of Busyness: What we learn while sitting in the waiting room.

Idol of Busyness: What we learn while sitting in the waiting room.
by Kevin Probst

One lesson we all learn in life is that it doesn’t get any slower. Life is more complex and busier for you today than it was a year ago. A year down the road will find you busier than ever before. The trend will probably continue for the rest of your life. Fewer emails? Fewer phone calls? Fewer responsibilities? Not going to happen. The problem is we often adapt to being more busy but more busy doesn’t necessarily correlate with a deeper walk with God.

Growth in the Lord can’t be micro-waved. You can’t say a quick prayer and expect God to add a decade of growth to your spiritual life. My five-year old son is so eager to grow up. He expects to grow an inch after every meal. Spiritual growth, like physical growth, is a slow process. Bowing to the idol of busyness is not at all conducive to spiritual growth. It’s like watching a nascar race. They circle at track at 200 miles an hour for 500 miles and end up where they started. Sometimes we find ourselves in a ditch spiritually, our wheels are spinning and it sounds like we are moving, but were not.

Isaiah said, “Those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength.”

Have you ever sat in an ICU waiting room? There is no place like it on earth. People serve each other. They take messages for each other. They fetch coffee for each other. They will go out and buy food for people they have never seen before and will never see again. There are no racial barriers there. There is no political or religious bias. Everyone is focused on the door through which the doctor will come with his next report. People sitting in an ICU waiting room realize that the only thing we really have is love. I wish we would all live our lives as if we were living them in the ICU waiting room.

The heroes of the Bible all had to spend time in the waiting room. Abraham and Sarah waited 25 years for the child of promise. Joseph spent years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. David fled from Saul while waiting to be made king. Hannah waited years and years before finally becoming a mother. Peter and the disciples were instructed to wait for the Holy Spirit. We who call ourselves Christ-followers wait patiently for his coming.

Like an athlete going to the gym for body building, God takes us to the waiting room for character building. Deprivation can be a major part of the process. God can always do more than we ask, but God will never do all that we ask.

I sat down with my youngest son, Kameron, the other day to discuss what he might want for Christmas. As he was giving me his list I began to think Santa might need to leave his sleigh and bring a semi-truck. I tried to break the news to Kameron that he wasn’t going to get everything he wanted. I know if I give him everything he wants I will ruin him. The term we most often use is “spoiled brat”.

God does the same for us. He wants to form us into quality individuals and that is not done by pandering to our every want.

Catherine Marshall wrote in Adventures in Prayer, “Waiting seems to be a kind of acted out prayer that is required more often than I could understand until I saw the remarkable faith muscles this act develops, for isn’t it true that waiting demands patience, persistence, trust, expectancy, all the qualities we are continually beseeching God to give us.”

We often pray, “God, increase my faith. God, increase my strength. God, increase my desire for you.” How does God answer these prayers? He invites us into the waiting room.

Abraham had to wait but during that time God was forming the Father of the Jewish people. Joseph was prepared for a high government position while he sat in prison. David wrote some of his best poetry sitting quietly in fire-lit cave. Hannah waited and waited for a child until she finally cried out to God, “I will dedicate any child I have to the Lord.”

It’s not easy being in God’s waiting room. The biggest temptation is to bow to the idol of control. To grab the bull by the horns, take control of the situation and set out on your own. We can’t claim to be a Christ follower if we are leading the way. God controls the traffic lights in our lives. We love the green light but the red light gives us problems. It’s often the red light that keeps us from being broadsided.

May God help us to slow down, find some traction in our lives and take our place among those “that wait upon the Lord.”

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, November 14, 2010

I have a 'WAIT' problem.

I have a ‘wait’ problem.

By Kevin Probst

Perhaps you’ve heard the story of a man having a rather self-serving conversation with God. He asked God a question, “God, is it true a minute is like a thousand years?” God said, “Yes, that’s true.” “Well, I guess a penny to you would be like a million dollars?” God said, “Yes, that’s true.” The Man then said, “God, can I have a penny?” to which God replied, “Wait a minute.”

We Americans put a premium on time. Did you know that the best selling shampoo in America combines shampoo and conditioner and this eliminates two minutes from your shower?  We bow to the idol of busyness.

Dominos Pizza became a number one name in pizza, not because they make the best quality pizza, but because they promise to deliver in less than 30 minutes. The CEO of Dominos said, “We don’t sell pizza, we sell delivery.”

Why is it when Americans eat out we go looking for ‘fast’ food rather than ‘good’ food?

We dedicate ourselves to busyness because we are convinced that what we do is what gives us value. We think the more we do the more important we become. There is a great danger that busyness may become an idol in our lives.

John Ortberg said, “For most of us, the great danger isnot that we will renounce the faith. It is that we will become so distracted and rushed and preoccupied that we will settle for a mediocre version of it.”

Do you ever feel like you are infected with “hurry-sickness”? The faster I go the behinder I get. Its like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, “Now here,” she said, “it takes all the funning you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast.”

I recently took inventory to determine if I suffered from “hurry-sickness.” I concluded that I do suffer from that common disease because when I’m driving down a two lane road and I come up behind a car in one lane and a truck in another, I’ll always get behind the car because I know it will accelerate faster.

I was in Wal-mart shopping with my wife. I was frustrated as we approached the check-out lanes. There were probably thirty check-out lanes but only three or four were operating. So, I look for the shorter line. As we moved toward the cashier I looked at the line I chose NOT to get in to see if I had indeed made the right choice. The lane we were in was an express lane and yes, I counted the number of items in the lady’s cart ahead of us.

Perhaps you’ve read of Walsh’s marsh mellow experiment out of Stanford University. Four year old children are given one marsh mellow and told if they can refrain from eating it for fifteen minutes they will be rewarded with a second. (See Below)
I obviously have a ‘wait’ problem. I don’t want to wait for anything. I want instant gratification. We don’t take time for eggs and bacon, we just grab a pop-tart. We seek instant information on the internet, we want instant communication on our cell phones, we throw everything in the microwave because we want instant meals.

How many marriages fail because couples are too impatient to do the long, hard grunt work required to make it work? How many end up head-over-heels in debt because they acted on impulse when buying a car or a house?

We want it and we want it NOW! How many in troubled marriages seek instant relief from their pain by having an instant affair? How many run off to the mall for a shopping binge searching for instant relief from boredom or depression only to find it brings a momentary lift but no long term satisfaction.

Busyness can be like heroin, cocaine or alcohol. It can become addictive. Some of us get a buzz from the thrill of provided by busyness because it makes us feel needed, valued and important. Some apply the salve of busyness to heal a wound of low self-worth.

Busyness is not always good, sometimes it can be downright debilitating. When I find myself too busy for my family or too busy for God I remind myself of this verse in Isaiah, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength.” (40:31)

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, November 12, 2010

Drinking From Wells We Did Not Dig: A Tribute.

Drinking From Wells We Did Not Dig: A Tribute.

By Kevin Probst

I thought about my father on Veteran’s Day as I always do. He served during WWII in the European sector. My uncle Fred was somewhat of a legend for his heroics during the conflict with the Germans. They shipped my Uncle Paul to Asia. They were truly a Great Generation of men for which I have the utmost respect. Though they survived the war each one was willing to die for freedom and liberty and honor. They certainly loved their country and they embraced a hope for her future. My father not only fought for a truth he believed in, he also fought for the sons he did not yet have.

Were I able to invite my father back from his grave for a period of time he would certainly be astounded at the country for which he fought. He would want very much to know about our sitting president. I cringe at the thought of explaining to him why our president leaves our shores and bows to the heads of other states. He wouldn’t understand why our president apologizes to our enemies. I think my father would me misty eyed if he knew that our president criticizes his own country. How could it happen that the country he fought so hard for now has a president who apologizes to countries who support and cheer those who attack us.

Benjamin West, the great Anglo-American artist, informed King George III that George Washington, having won the war against the British, would not pursue a kingship, rather, he would return to his farm. King George III said: “If he does that, he will be the greatest man in the world.”

I wouldn’t dare compare George Bush to George Washington, but I would like to point out that Republican presidents serve and then go home. Democratic presidents (Carter and Clinton) continue to criticize and nip at the heels of any sitting president. Wouldn’t it be more noble to retire with dignity rather than pretend you still have power. There is something tragically sad about that.

George Washington was great because he knew and employed self-restraint. He understood and supported the reasons why the Constitution limited a President’s power. We had just fought a war to preserve the right to treat even kings like any other. Washington understood that great power he had and the necessity of reining in that power lest he or any of those who followed him would corrupt and abuse that power. He understood his role was to defend the Constitution, not rewrite or reinterpret it.

The display of royalty emanating from the White House was foreign to previous presidents. Mike Pence, in a speech to the students of Hillsdale College told of an incident in the life of Calvin Coolidge. “President Coolidge, like Lincoln, lost a child while he was president, a son of sixteen. ‘The day I became president,’ Coolidge said, ‘he had just started to work in a tobacco field. When one of his fellow laborers said to him, ‘If my father was president I would not work in a tobacco field.’ Calvin replied, ‘If my father were your father you would.’ Young Calvin contracted blood poisoning from an incident on the South Lawn of the White House.”

The loss of his son brought a stark reality to Calvin Coolidge. He had real limitations as president. “In his suffering he was asking me to make him well. I could not. When he went, the power and glory of the presidency went with him.”

We have had scores of presidents and many of them have been great men. But not one of those who were truly great was convinced of their own greatness. We must be very wary of a man who enjoys and relishes his position on the pedestal. The French politician and philosopher Charles de Montesquieu once said, “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” It is never the president’s duty to rule over us, rather, it is his obligation to govern from a position that identifies him as one of us. There should be no condescension, there should be no ‘ruling class’ mentality. There should be no delusion that he is a ruler. The founding fathers were very clear that this great country is not to be governed by its politicians, rather, it is to be governed by its citizens.

The blood of thousands of patriotic Americans stain the soils of Yorktown and Gettysburg. American blood was spilled on Iwo Jima and soaked the sands of Omaha Beach. I shall never believe those lives were sacrificed in vain. They died because they believed that America would be great, not just for a season, but until the end of time. I believe in the future of our country because we are descendents of great men, great men who founded this country, great men who fought and died for her and great men who governed and guided this ship through many troubled waters.

"We have all drunk from wells

we did not dig, and been

warmed by fires we did not build".

We all have an obligation to those who dug those wells and built those fires. Thanks Dad, Uncle Fred and Uncle Paul. I have only realized recently your greatness. I pray God will help us to continue to raise up generations of great Americans.

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, November 10, 2010

A Lesson Learned


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, November 9, 2010

Education Problems in Public Schools

James A. Watkins presents an excellent summary of what is wrong with education in our public schools.

Education Problems in Public Schools

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

Idolatry: Cleaning the Junk from our Lives.

Idolatry: Cleaning the Junk from our Lives.

By Kevin Probst

My mother passed in April of 2009. The following summer my two brothers and I met at her home in Meadville, Pennsylvania to conduct an estate sale and put the old homestead on the market. We cleaned out the attic, the garage and the basement. We set up tables in the yard and placed an assortment of items on them to sell to those who were passing by. I grew a bit nostalgic as I looked at the objects I had grown up with. There was mom’s favorite chair. There was that old hammer dad always used when he was involved in some building project or just tinkering around the house. When I was a child all that stuff had value but now that decades had passed we were just selling a bunch of junk. My memories made it valuable to me but for those coming off the street it had little value at all.

We accumulate a lot of junk in life. At the moment of purchase it seems to have great value. Then as the years pass it slowly transforms into a piece of junk. Eternity is going to change all our stuff into junk. All the hours you labored for your employer, all the minutes you sat in front of the T.V. and all the time spent mesmerized in front of your computer ….a thousand years from now it will all just be junk. I think this is what Jesus was teaching when he said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. (Matthew 16:25)

When we are willing to give up our idols and commit ourselves to Christ a lot of things in life we used to value becomes junk.

An idol is whatever we have chosen to be center-stage in our lives. God created us in such a way that we can’t possibly experience total joy and satisfaction unless we place Him at the center of our lives. Tim Keller, in his book, The Reason for God, warns us of the consequences of placing other people and other things at the center of our lives:

•"If you center your life and identity on your spouse or partner, you will be emotionally dependent, jealous, and controlling. The other person’s problems will be overwhelming to you.

•If you center your life and identity on your family and children, you will try to live your life through your children until they resent you or have no self of their own. At worst, you may abuse them when they displease you.

•If you center your life and identity on your work and career, you will be a driven workaholic and a boring, shallow person. At worst you will lose family and friends and, if your career goes poorly, develop deep depression.

•If you center your life and identity on money and possessions, you’ll be eaten up by worry or jealousy about money. You’ll be willing to do unethical things to maintain your lifestyle, which will eventually blow up your life.

•If you center your life and identity on pleasure, gratification, and comfort, you will find yourself getting addicted to something. You will become chained to the “escape strategies” by which you avoid the hardness of life.

•If you center your life and identity on relationships and approval, you will be constantly overly hurt by criticism and thus always losing friends. You will fear confronting others and therefore will be a useless friend.

•If you center your life and identity on a “noble cause,” you will divide the world into “good” and “bad” and demonize your opponents. Ironically, you will be controlled by your enemies. Without them, you have no purpose.

•If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous, and cruel. If you don’t live up to your standards your guilt will be utterly devastating." (1)

Paul addressed this problem of choosing something or someone other than God as the primary object of worship in our lives. Ephesians 4:22-24 “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, crated to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Paul is saying, “When I was clinging to the old self, the old life-style, I was holding on to a bunch of worthless junk. But when I responded to the call of Christ he swept the junk out of my life and made me a new creature.”

When I was a child I always hated to hear my mother say these words, “Kevin, you need to clean up your room.” Now I have a five year old son who hates to hear his mother say the same words. But after the deed was done I felt so good to have the mess cleaned up, to have all the junk cleared away. There was such a sense of satisfaction to be clean and to know my mother was pleased.

Christ wants us to clear the junk from our lives. When we allow him to help us do that we have such a since of satisfaction. The song writer captured it just right when he wrote:

"All my life long I had panted

For a draught from some cool spring,

That I hoped would quench the burning

Of the thirst I felt within.

Feeding on the husks around me,

Till my strength was almost gone,

Longed my soul for something better,

Only still to hunger on.

Poor I was, and sought for riches,

Something that would satisfy,

But the dust I gathered round me

Only mocked my soul's sad cry."

Hallelujah! I have found Him

Whom my soul so long has craved!

Jesus satisfies my longings;

Through His life I now am saved.

1. Tim Keller – “The Reason for God.”

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, November 8, 2010

Tithing Rap

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

Idolatry: The Idol of Good Behavior

Idolatry: The Idol of Good Behavior

By Kevin Probst

Tim Keller wrote in A Reason for God, “If you center your life and identity on religion and morality, you will, if you are living up to your moral standards, be proud, self-righteous and cruel. If you don’t live up to your standards your guilt will be utterly devastating.”

We can make an idol out of good behavior and moral standards. It’s easy to look around and say, “Well, I’m better than they are, therefore, I must be doing pretty good. Surely I’m going to heaven.” But Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles? ” (Matt. 7:21-22) Morality becomes an idol for many because they look to good behavior for salvation rather than to Christ.

It’s very hard for us to unlearn this concept. Almost from birth we are taught that good behavior will reap great benefits. One of the earliest ditties we teach our children is:

You better watch out, You better not cry,

Better not pout, I'm telling you why:

Santa Claus is coming to town.

He's making a list, And checking it twice;

Gonna find out Who's naughty and nice,

Santa Clause is coming to town.

He sees you when you're sleeping.

He knows when you're awake.

He knows if you've been bad or good,

So be good for goodness sake!

To please our parents, to please our teachers, to please Santa Clause and to please Jesus we are taught to be good. Granted, being good goes a long way toward pleasing all of these but ‘being good’ is not pleasing to Jesus when our behavior causes us to ignore Christ’s words to Nicodemus, “You must be born again.”

Paul said it very well to the Philippians (3:7-8) “But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ…”

Paul is saying, my family used to be my righteousness, my occupation used to be my righteousness, my education used to be my righteousness, my own efforts used to be my righteousness…I used to count these thing for righteousness but now I understand that my righteousness is as filthy rags. (Isa. 64:6) I was bowing to my own idols of rubbish and junk, they are nothing but dung. “Behold, old things have passed away and all things have become new.” (2 Cor. 5:17) The old nature tells me I can earn my salvation but my new nature tells me that salvation comes through faith as a gift of God.

Jesus was led up into the wilderness and Satan challenged him to turn stones into bread and to cast himself down to prove his deity. There is certainly nothing wrong with turning stones to bread, He once turned water into wine. What Satan was really tempting him to do was to be self-sufficient. “You can have everything you want apart from your walk with God.” An idol always says to the human heart, “I can do for you all the things God can do. You don’t need God.” Isn’t that what Satan was telling Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden?

God had some words for Ezekiel, you can find them in the 14th Chapter, verse 3. “Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?”

Surely God looks out over idol infested churches today and he says, “People are filling the church and they have idols in their heart and they want to ask me for help and they petition me for things. Why should I answer them when they have adulterated their love for me?”

If good behavior or a moral code or our own self-righteousness is an idol we must identify it, repent of it and take it to the cross of Christ.

I teach in a Christian high school and every year in October we take nearly 150 students off on a student retreat. It is a time of recreation, socialization and spiritual renewal. On the last night of the retreat we build a campfire and have an open microphone section for students to share with others. What often happens is that the session devolves into a slough of self-pity. Young students will grab the mic and tell long stories of how they were misused, abused and how cruel the world has been to them. Then other students will gather around them and hug them and weep with them and they all end up bathing in their own self-pity. Many will make strong vows of devotion to God but a week later there is evidence that what was said in a moment of emotion was lacking in long term commitment.

They are sorry for the consequences they have suffered as a result of living in a sinful world but they haven’t yet learned to hate sin. Real repentance is not so much confessing your sin because you fear the Lion of Judah will drop his hammer on you and devour you. Real repentance is realizing how hard and calloused your heart has become in its failure to realize how sin has crushed the heart of the Christ of Calvary.

God help us to realize that it is not so much what we do as it is about who we are.

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, November 7, 2010

Idolatry: Making Good Things Ultimate Things

Idolatry: Making Good Things Ultimate Things

By Kevin Probst

Two women were attending a party for those of the upper crust in their community. Neither cared for the other at all but both were fairly expert at putting on airs. One of the women was wearing a string of pearls and the other approached her with a gibe, “My dear, are those pearls real?” to which the other woman replied, “Why yes they are, can’t you tell?” The first woman retorted, “Well, the only way for me to tell would be to bite them.” The second woman’s witty response went something like this, “Yes, but for that you would need real teeth.”

We live in a world of counterfeits. Sometimes its hard to tell what is real and what is not. We have fake hairpieces, fake nails, and false teeth. We paint on faces and sometimes pay for someone to reconstruct ourselves. We can have artificial limbs, glass eyes and mechanical hearts. Obviously, counterfeits are not always bad.

But some counterfeits are unacceptable. You would not want to try to pass a fake $20 dollar bill at your local bank. Faking a diploma or college degree on a job application is probably not a good idea. Its fine for women to wear costume jewelry but it’s not okay for men to buy it.

Because our culture is so immersed in counterfeits it is very difficult to distinguish between what is fake and what is real. Though most of these counterfeits are harmless, there is one counterfeit we often try to pass off that is extremely harmful to society. We cause extensive harm when we try to replace He who is all powerful, all wise, all knowing and all loving for all of eternity with a cheap substitute.

Americans are deep into idolatry. We worship idols when we build our self worth on anything or anyone other than our Creator. We have a rather simple perspective of sin when we think sin is simply doing things that are bad. Sin is sometimes making good things the ultimate things in our lives. There is certainly nothing wrong with friendships and marriage and family but when we allow these to replace God as central in our lives we commit the sin of idolatry.

I sometimes counsel married couples who are struggling in their relationships. Most often the complaint is that their needs are not being met. When husbands and wives look to each other to fulfill all their needs they fail to realize the impossibility of that premise. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says “He has also set eternity in the hearts of men”. There is a void in our hearts, a sort of puzzle space that only God can fill. When we try to fill that space with other things or other people we are guilty of idolatry. Loving something or someone else more than God violates God’s purpose for creating us and it can only lead to depression. Investing decades, even a lifetime in a relationship that can only bring relative satisfaction can lead to despair. Only God can satisfy all our needs.

A good thing can be elevated to the status of an idol. I asked a young co-worker the other day if her parents were Christians. She replied, “Well, my parents think they are okay, they may even call themselves Christians because they are good, hard-working people.” Sometimes our idol is our own moral record. “I’m good. I’m actually better than most people I know, therefore, God accepts me because I am good.” An idol is anything we look to for salvation rather than God. If we think our own effort to live ‘good’ lives will save us then we have an idol.

God expresses his hatred for idolatry by dedicating 20% of the Ten Commandments to this sin. Commandments one and two declare, “You shall have no other gods before me and you shall not create any gods of your own to worship instead of me.” The Bible mentions this sin over 1,000 times. Wasn’t it the sin of Adam and Eve? Didn’t Satan convince them that they could make a go of it without God? Wasn’t that Satan’s temptation of Christ in the wilderness? It wasn’t really about turning stones into bread, it was about tempting Christ to strike out on his own and demand independence from his Father.

Rocky Balboa said, “If I can just go the distance I’ll know that I’m not a bum.” We have an idol anytime we define ourselves by anything other than Christ. Sometimes we define ourselves by our achievements, by our ability to amass wealth or by how much fame we can claim. What is it in our lives that we cling to in order to prove that we “are not a bum?” (1) If we can find what that is then we can identify our idol.

God created us to worship. We all worship something or someone whether we admit it or not. We wither worship God or we worship idols. Our pain and emptiness increase when we turn to idols for salvation. When we feel pain we turn to drugs or alcohol for temporary salvation. When we feel emptiness we go on a shopping spree or skip from one romance to another instead of turning to Christ. What are we really saying when we employ all of these poor substitutes for true salvation? We are saying to Christ, “Thanks, but no thanks. You are not big enough to solve my problems. I am more capable than you.”

If my wife were to come to me today and say, “Kevin, I love you so much but I want to share myself with another. You will still be number one. You will still get ‘most’ of my attention but I also want to love another.” I would feel within an anger and jealousy. My feelings don’t need some sort of psychological interpretation. They are put there by God to preserve the relationship he has given me. Doesn’t God feel the same way? He won’t allow us to love another. He will be jealous and he will expose our idols and demand we address our sin of idolatry….because he loves us so much!

1. Removing Idols of the Heart – 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.