Saturday, January 29, 2011

Ben Roethlisberger: Unforgiven

Ben Roethlisberger: Unforgiven.

By Kevin Probst

I read an article recently authored by a man named Buzz Bissinger who writes for the Daily Beast. The article was not so much a treatise on the football talent of Pittsburgh’s controversial quarterback, rather it seemed to be a character assassination piece. As I was reading Bissinger’s vitriol I was reminded of the recent calls to reduce the angry rhetoric after the shootings in Tucson. I don’t think too many are listening. I know someone out there is probably concerned for Roethlisberger’s safety, fearing someone will be compelled to bring harm to the target in Bissinger’s crosshairs.

I’m not writing this piece to defend the actions of Roethlisberger on that fateful night in Milledgeville, Georgia . If he is guilty as accused I think his actions were despicable. But I can sympathize with whoever was assigned to investigate the accusations of the young college girl against one of football’s most successful quarterbacks. Would Roethlisberger lie to save his career? It’s likely. But how much credence can an investigator give to an inebriated college kid? How accurate can her statements be? How inebriated was she? What does she remember and what does she not remember happened on that “Rainy Night in Georgia”?

Bissinger doesn’t hide his regret that “Roethlisberger was never criminally charged”. He seems to insinuate that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was covering for Roesthlisberger after producing “500 pages of hemming and hawing.” Maybe, just maybe, there were legitimate reasons why no criminal charges filed.

Bissinger states that the “contrition of Big Ben has turned into the all too familiar condescension of Big Ben.” He goes on to ridicule Ben’s apology and declare it insincere. “…he was deft enough to talk the talk and do his best to squirm out of it….I was young, I was dumb, I apologize to my teammates, I apologize to the fans, I promise never to do something like this again, I have found religion and will from now on attribute every success on the field to God. (as if God gives a flying crap about football)” (parenthesis his)

Again, I’m not defending Roethlisberger. His apology indicates he feels guilt and wants to rectify some wrong committed. National Football League Commissioner Roger Goodell must have had good reason to suspend him for six games. Bissinger makes a good point that Roethlisberger had a history of inappropriate behavior and poor decision making in his personal life. Even Coach Cowher warned him that one day he would suffer consequences for such behavior.

This is why men have less fear standing before God in judgment than they do standing before men. God is merciful. He is a God of grace. He is a God who grants second chances. Bissinger’s article casts stones of ridicule and disbelief at Roethlisberger for his claim to have “found God.” But what if Ben’s “contrition” is genuine? What if Ben’s ‘condescension’ is actually true humility?

Mr. Bissinger ends his article by making a ridiculous declaration that God may very well care about football if “the Packers break your (Roethlisberger) legs on the first series of downs.” Only a perfect being, a person who never sinned or ever made a mistake in his life would have the authority to pray for such a thing to happen to his fellow man. We must not be so condescending as to question a person’s repentance to God. That is an issue between Roethlisberger and God and we dare not interfere in something so important.

I don’t know if Ben Roesthlisberger has truly found God but I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt. If Mr. Bissinger apologized for wishing harm to Big Ben I don’t think we should question the sincerity of his apology. We should give him the benefit of the doubt.

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, January 28, 2011

Jonah: You can run but you can't hide.

Jonah: You can run but you can't hide.

Jonah may have refused to go to Nineveh but God refused to give up on Jonah. God could easily have said, "All right, Jonah. Go ahead to Tarshish. If that’s the way you want it. I'll just get someone else to go to Nineveh." But God was as determined to work with Jonah as Jonah was determined to avoid Nineveh. God is as concerned with the messenger as he is with the message.

When we run from God, there is no place to hide. I've had my own 'in the belly of a whale' experience. Nearly 12 years ago I began to suffer severe consequences for my disobedience. My family was falling apart. I was unhappy and I was frantically trying to find some contentment in my life. I traveled all over the state of Georgia looking for a job and a place to relocate. I interviewed for teacher and administrative positions in Macon, Savannah and the Atlanta area. Finally, I accepted a teaching position at Duluth High School. I felt good about teaching in one of the top ten schools in Georgia and receiving pay in the second highest paying county in Georgia.

But contentment can be very elusive. You might think that a person couldn't possibly be lonely living in a community of 4 million. I'm sure I was the loneliest guy in Atlanta. Without going into a lot of detail let me just say that God took me into the belly of the whale. There was an inexplicable darkness in my life. I felt like I was being suffocated by my own attitudes of self-reliance and self-justification. I finally realized how futile it was to think I could run from God. I wanted to be left alone but the Hound of Heaven pursued me with a persistence that was mind-boggling.

In the midst of my darkest storm when the gales were blowing and the waves were sweeping over me, when I found myself sinking into the deep, black waters of despair, I heard the voice of God whispering to my heart. "Why don't you give up trying to do it your way? Why don't you try it my way?" In my attempt to run from God I discovered him to be in the place I was fleeing, waiting there for me even before I arrived. There was no place to hide.

There are reasons for the storms. Sometimes it’s the only way God can get our attention. I began to have long discussions with God. I blew the dust off my Bible and began seeking him. A willingness began to blossom in my heart and I told God I was tired of trying to do it my way. I reached a point in my misery where there was nothing left for me to do but to cry out in my despair: "Please save me from this misery. Tell me what to do and I'll do it."

If you find yourself in troubled waters, if you've been swallowed by a problem that is too big to handle, if you've been thrown overboard by the trials of life and you feel yourself sinking into the cold, murky waters…then God is trying to get your attention.

Joe Louis, the great boxer of the 1940's was about to meet Billy Conn in a championship match. Joe said these words that continue to live on through the generations: "You can run but you cannot hide." We can run from God but there is no place to hide. The Psalmist said, "Is there anyplace I can go to avoid your Spirit? To be out of your sight? If I climb to the sky, you're there! If I go under ground you're there! …'re already there waiting!" (Psalm 119)

God pursues us because he loves us. He refuses to allow us a place to hide because he loves us too much to allow us to become self-absorbed in our own difficulties. You may think God is a million miles away but "The LORD is near to all who call upon Him…" (Psalm 145:18) If trying it your way hasn't worked out very well for you, why not yield and try doing it God's way. If you really think about it….we really having nothing to lose except all the things in life that make us miserable.

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, January 27, 2011

Pittsburgh Steeler Trivia

Pittsburgh Steeler Trivia

By Kevin Probst

Having grown up in western Pennsylvania I’ve been a Steeler fan since my mother changed my first diaper. I loved the rivalry the Steelers had with Oakland during my youth. I still love to watch replays of Franco Harris’ Emmaculate Reception. I thought Chuck Noll was the best coach ever. I thought Lynn Swann was magical when he soared skyward for a reception. Terry Bradshaw seemed to be the ‘Pete Rose’ of football and loyal fans formed “Bradshaw’s Brigade”. Not the greatest talent but definitely the biggest heart. And I think Ben Roethlisberger might be remembered the same way. We were all so proud of the team “The Chief”, Art Rooney had put together and true fans seemed to be unaffected by near zero temperatures in the “Blast Furnace”, Three Rivers Stadium. Fans waved their “Terrible Towels” and bellowed “Here We Go Steelers”. What few people realize is that the proceeds from the Terrible Towels, over $2.5 million since 1996, go to Alleghany Valley School which serves nearly 1,000 children with special needs.

The logo of the Pittsburgh Steelers was adopted in 1962. Many may not realize the meaning of the symbols on the logo. The logo consists of an encirclement of three astroids (I guess the mathematical term is hypocycloid) with the word ‘Steelers’. The astroids consist of three colors: yellow represents steel, red stands for iron ore and blue symbolizes scrap steel. The motto attached to the symbol is: “Steel lightens your work, brightens your leisure, and widens your world.”

On February 6 all eyes of the Steeler Nation will be directed toward Dallas in hopes of winning a record 7th Super Bowl. Some of the more notable fans who will be watching include: Rush Limbaugh, Hank Williams Jr., Charlie Daniels, Michael Keaton, Adam Sandler, Snoop Dog, Seth Myers, Jim Furyk, John Grisham, and Burt Reynolds.

What they said:

“Now that I’m here, I don’t want to just be here, I want to be here for a long time.” Hines Ward, 1998 4th round draft pick.

“Chuck and I hit it off the first day we met. We had an argument.” Art Rooney

“I am very aggressive and very physical. On the field I guess I am just plain mean.” Jack Lambert.

“He had no teeth, and he was slobbering all over himself. I’m thinking, ‘You can have your money back, just get me out of here. Let me go be an accountant.” I can’t tell you how badly I wanted out of there.” Denver rookie QB John Elway, on Jack Lambert, after playing his first game as a pro in 1883.

“The Steelers drafted guys who were bigger, stronger and faster than I, but they never found one who could take my job away from me.” Jack Lambert

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, January 23, 2011

Jonah and the Whale: Jonah was a Nationalist.

Jonah and the Whale: Jonah was a Nationalist

Jonah Chapter 1:1-3a "The word of the Lord came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2“Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me.” 3But Jonah ran away from the Lord and headed for Tarshish. He went down to Joppa, where he found a ship bound for that port.”

Jonah heard the word of the Lord clearly. "Go to Nineveh and preach." Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have such a clear direction from God? If God would only send us a blueprint for our lives or at least send a post card with written directions. It’s not usually that easy. Even though God used great clarity with Jonah, Jonah chose to be very stubborn. He actually turned about and went in the exact opposite direction from Nineveh!

You might think at this point God would say, "Okay, Jonah. Just be that way. I really don't need you, I'll just get someone else." God loved Jonah and had prepared him and gifted him for this particular mission. It’s reassuring to know that God doesn’t easily give up on us. If Jonah had continued in his disobedience what would have happened to Nineveh? God would have sent someone else? If God determined to bring revival to Nineveh it was going to happen with or without Jonah.

Sometimes God has to teach me reality. When I begin to feel indispensable to the school in which I teach or the church in which I preach I’m reminded that God sometimes chooses us and he finds ways to use us but we must never believe that he needs us! What he chooses to do he will do with or without us

Jonah went down to Joppa, he went down into the hold of the ship and was thrown overboard and then he went down into the black, stormy waters and he was swallowed by a fish and he went down into the belly of that fish. Jonah was spending a lot of time and energy going down. Down is the general direction we all take when we are living in disobedience.

Why didn't Jonah want to go to Nineveh?

Was it because he didn’t care about souls? This can't be true because when he was in the ship and the storm was about to destroy them he sacrificed himself to save others.

Was it because he was afraid and he feared death? Not likely. Jonah seemed to have a death-wish. He requested over and over in the book of Jonah that he die.

My five-year old son, Kameron, asked his mother if he could play Super Mario Brothers on the television the other night and he was told ‘no’. He wasn’t having a good day and so he sort of went off and lost it. He came running to me and said, "Mama told me I can't play. She just ruined my life." He got really hysterical, "I just want to die." I tried to keep from smiling as I told him that by bedtime he’d probably want to live again.

Jonah seems to get a bit hysterical as he repeats over and over in this book, "Why don't you just let me die?" Jonah wanted to die. He told the pagan sailors to toss him overboard.

I believe the real reason for his disobedience was his nationalism. He loved the Jewish people. The Ninevites were Assyrians and they were bitter enemies of the Jews. "If I go to Nineveh God might have mercy on our enemies. He might spare them, he might even save them." Jonah wanted God to drop his hammer on the Assyrians. He wasn’t interested in grace or mercy even though he was about to become a great recipient of both.

It may do us all well to remember that God is not American, Chinese or African. It’s very easy to become blindly loyal to your country or your church denomination. We must remember that he is neither Catholic nor Protestant. He is neither Methodist nor Baptist. God loves us all unconditionally. We must learn to put our loyalties in proper perspective and love others as Christ has loved us.

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

Jonah and the Whale: Fact of Fiction?

Jonah and the Whale: Fact or Fiction?

By Kevin Probst

I read the story of Jonah and the Whale to my five year old one night before bed. I became really animated and put a lot into it trying to bring the story to life. I thought for sure he would ask me to “read that one again.” This is the stuff of Veggie Tales. But upon finishing the story he was quiet and thoughtful. So, I asked him, “Well, Kameron, what do you think?” He replied, “You’ve got to be kidding, a whale swallows a man? Isn’t that hard to believe?” At a loss for words, I simply said, “I suppose it is.” But I left his room determined to learn more about Jonah.

There is a popular joke circulating about Jonah. A little old lady on an airplane was reading her Bible. A man sitting next to her was skeptical and gave a little chuckle and asked, “You don’t really believe all that stuff, do you?”

The little lady looked sharply at him and said, “Of course I do, it’s in the Bible.”

“Well, what about the guy who was swallowed by the whale?” he asked.

“Oh, Jonah…Yes, I believe that, it is in the Bible,” she said firmly.

“Well, how do you suppose he survived all the time inside the whale?” he asked.

“Well, I don’t really know. I guess when I get to heaven, I will ask him.” Said the lady.

“What if he isn’t in heaven?” the man asked with sarcasm.

“Then YOU can ask him,” replied the lady.

It’s easy to be skeptical about a fish eating a man. But Jonah is referred to in the writings of Philo, a Hellenistic Jewish philosopher and also in the writings of Josephus, a Jewish historian. Jonah was a historical figure, not a mythical figure. The most common biblical scene carved into the catacombs under the city of Rome is the picture of Jonah and the whale. Jonah’s experience in the belly of a whale for three days and his survival and deliverance parallels the burial and resurrection of Christ. The early Christians who met secretly to worship in the catacombs where many of their friends and relatives were buried held fast to the story to reinforce their hope of a resurrection of their dead.

While researching to discover if it’s feasible that a whale might swallow a man I learned that there are two types of whales. The baleen and the non-baleen whale. The Blue whale and the Humpback whale are examples of a baleen whale. These whales drift through the water with their mouths open and they filter bits of food from the water through a sort of mop looking screen. Non-baleen whales have no such ‘scanner’. Rather, they have teeth to chew with. The Beluga and Orca are non-baleen whales. It is not feasible that any of these whales could swallow a human being.

But there is one non-baleen whale that is large enough to swallow a man. A Sperm whale can reach 60 feet in length. Sir Francis Fox was a manager of a whaling station and after his retirement he wrote a book entitled, Sixty-three Years of Engineering. He insists that a Sperm whale can “swallow lumps of food eight feet in diameter, and that in one of these whales they actually found the skeleton of a shark sixteen feet in length.”

Although the Sperm Whale is only found in the Pacific area, in 1928 one was discovered beached on the shores of England. Mr. G.H. Henn was a witness to this event and he wrote about his experience. He was “one of twelve men, who went into its mouth, passed through its throat, and moved about in what was equivalent to a fair sized room. Its throat was large enough to serve as a door. Obviously it would be quite easy for a whale of this kind to swallow a man.”

But was the fish in the Jonah story a whale? Only the King James Version makes the claim. In most other translations the ‘whale’ is referred to as a “great fish”, a gad gadol, or a great “sea monster”. Why would it not be possible for God to create a special ‘once only’ creature and assign that creature with a special mission to search out a man in the Mediterranean Sea and swallow him? Maybe the creature that swallowed Jonah was roaming the currents 3,000 years ago but is now extinct?

Maybe those who have trouble believing have a preexisting supposition. They simply cannot believe that miracles are possible. They have no belief in anything supernatural or anything that cannot be explained by natural laws. Surely, this event recorded in the book of Jonah must be categorized a miracle. Those same skeptics also refuse to believe that a virgin gave birth to the Messiah, or that Sarah gave birth at age ninety, or that Christ was actually resurrected from the dead. If you can’t bring yourself to believe in miracles, in the ability of God to demonstrate himself in the supernatural then one might as well scrap the entire Bible. The real question may not be, “Was Jonah swallowed by a whale?” Perhaps the real question should be, “Does God exist?”

No one can prove that Jonah was swallowed by a whale. Supernatural events don’t lend themselves to rational explanation. Perhaps the real clincher for most believers is the verse in Matthew 19:26 “With God all things are possible.”

Jesus said in Matthew 19:26 “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly; so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” If Jesus believed it I have no problem believing it

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, January 22, 2011

Kermit Gosnell: Why Are We Killing Our Children?

Why are we killing our children?

By Kevin Probst

Elijah was a man of great courage. He challenged the prophets of Baal to prove the existence of their God and declared boldly, “My God is bigger than your god.” While the prophets of Baal sweat bullets trying to pray down fire from heaven, Elijah first soaked the offering with water and then called down fire which consumed the entire sacrifice and licked up any water remaining.

Why was Elijah so eager to stick it to the prophets of Baal? Why was God willing to reveal himself in a way he rarely does? It certainly had something to do with avenging the deaths of innocent infants. Infant sacrifice was a significant part of the religion of Baal. Infants were often sacrificed to purchase the promise of protection and prosperity from their false god. When Heil rebuilt the city of Jericho he sacrificed two of his children to ensure future success for the city. Archaeologists have found the remains of burnt bones in places where Baal was worshipped.

God was angered by the practice. He informed his people through his prophet Jeremiah that he would cast them off into captivity because of their pagan practices and willingness to commit infanticide. Americans are appalled to learn of the ancient practices of infant sacrifice. They often compare such atrocities with the murder of six million Jews by Hitler’s henchmen.

Is it not interesting how we see the splinter in the eye of another without seeing the beam in our own eye? I was reminded of such hypocrisy when I read the story of Kermit Gosnell recently. Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in west Philadelphia for several decades. He was arrested last week for the brutal murder of seven infants and an adult female patient. What Gosnell would refer to as ‘snipping’, others would refer to as cold-blooded murder. Gosnell had no qualms about performing partial birth abortions. That process involves partially extracting the infant and then brutally murdering it. Gosnell went a step further, he induced labor and forced the birth of healthy infants and then “snipped” the spinal cord with a pair of scissors and disposed of the remains. At least the ancient pagans buried the children they murdered.

Why would a man do such a thing? Money, no other reason, just money. Gosnell charged anywhere between $350 to $3,000 for early or late-term abortions. He made millions running his killing factory, as much as $1.8 million in a year’s time. We’ve been told that the love of money is the root of all evil, Gosnell demonstrates that for us.

We deceive ourselves when we imagine that we are civilized. We look back on the pagans in King Ahab’s day with disdain and disgust. Yet, we fail to have the same anger toward the very common pagan practice of infant killing in our modern society. Since the fatal Supreme Court decision of Roe vs. Wade, nearly 50 million babies have been sacrificed to our gods of convenience and family economics. Very little has changed in 3,000 years. We lift up our material gods, we offer to them our infants in hopes of experiencing prosperity and comfort and then we go about our way with a sick sense of satisfaction and a false belief that we have become our own gods. We now decide who will live or die. We now decide that the primary purpose of sex will not be for procreation but for our own convenient pleasure. If the conception of an infant interferes with our desire for comfort and increased wealth, we simply kill it.

Here’s a news flash for modern day pagans. The blood of 50 million innocent babies cries out daily to a God of justice. If God “hurled” his own people into the hands of the Babylonians and Assyrians because they were participating in the pagan practice of infanticide, he must do the same to the pagans in our modern society or he can no longer claim to be a just 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.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Just Three of the Reasons We Homeschool our Son...

Homeschooling is not for everyone but its working out very well for us.  Our five year old son is enjoying opportunities to develop his creativity.  His masculine need for activity is not stifled by a seven hour sit in a little chair and an afternoon nap on a futon.  He works at his own pace and gets loads of individual attention from his mother who is the primary instructor.  He is bonding with his family and he gets plenty of socialization opportunity through church, soccer, extended family and friends.  He is 'miles' ahead of most of his peers in reading and mathmatical skills.  As a family we have had to make serious sacrifices in order to homeschool but in the long run the benefits have far outweighed the inconveniences.

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, January 15, 2011

Is Glenn Beck a Christian?

Is Glenn Beck a Christian?

Let me begin this article by stating unequivocally that I am an ardent Glenn Beck fan. I love to listen to his commentary and as a high school social studies teacher, I love to watch him spread chalk on his slate while he teaches Americans what our founding fathers believed. Now, with that said, let me take off my teacher hat and put on my pastor’s hat. I have serious problems with Glenn’s theology and his ministry to fellow Christians.

Is Glenn Beck a Christian? There is only One who can judge the hearts and minds of men and I’ll certainly leave that question alone. But, I think Glenn is doing irreparable harm to the Christian faith for reasons I’ll reveal later in this piece.

One thing is undeniable. Glenn Beck is one of the hottest personalities on television. He is making millions for himself and for FOX News. Most conservative Christians would agree strongly with Beck’s conservative political views and they might assume that because they agree with him politically, they must certainly be on the same page theologically.

Rev. Garlow, pastor of Skyline Church, a church associated with the Wesleyan denomination said, "I have interviewed persons who have talked specifically with Glenn about his personal salvation - persons extremely well known in Christianity - and they have affirmed (using language evangelicals understand), 'Glenn is saved,' " Garlow believes that Glenn “understands receiving Christ as savior."

If Garlow is correct about Glenn’s conversion experience, how can some of his religious views be justified unless we assume Glenn is simply ignorant in regard to the Holy Script.

Brannon Howse, a conservative radio talk show host and founder of Worldview Weekend declared, "The Apostle Paul warns Christians against uniting with unbelievers in spiritual endeavors. While I applaud and agree with many of Glenn Beck's conservative and constitutional views, that does not give me or any other Bible-believing Christian justification to compromise Biblical truth by spiritually joining Beck."

I suppose the opinions of both Garlow and Howse could be correct regarding Glenn Beck but it seems to me that Glenn could be categorized as a New Age Mormon. He may be doing great harm to genuine, scriptural Christianity by promoting beliefs and doctrines that are contrary to Christ’s teachings. Were you to add Glenn’s listening audience together with fellow New Ager, Oprah Winfrey, millions and millions could be led astray.

Beck has written a new book with author and psychiatrist, Dr. Keith Ablow, entitled The Seven Wonders That will Change Your Life. Excerpts from his book reveal some of his beliefs that conflict with Christianity. Beck indicates on page 56 of his book that he has read A Course in Miracles by Helen Shucman, a leading New Age guru.

Beck reveals Universalist leanings when he encourages his readers on page 132 of his book to “Pray to whatever higher power you believe in…Praying that God or Nature or the cosmos or your own internal, immeasurable reservoir of spirit allows you the courage and faith to find and then face the truth.” Jesus Christ declared, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)

Beck seems to agree with Oprah that there are actually many ways to salvation and to heaven when he writes on page 157, “Finding what worked for me made all the difference. Finding what works for you will do the same.”

He denies the existence of original sin. “There’s no original sin left in the world. Everyone’s just recycling pain now.” (p. 154) A few pages later he declares that “People are inherently good.” Turning to the Bible we learn that Jeremiah taught something entirely different. “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” Psalm 51:5 says, “Behold, I was shaped in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

Dr. Erwin Lutzer reveals how strongly some evangelicals oppose Glenn Beck’s belief system when he expressed his opinion on Brannon Howse’s radio program. He stated that pastors who attended and supported Beck’s rally in Washington, D.C. were participating in heresy. Not only does Glenn Beck promote New Age philosophy but he also belongs to a group most Christians would consider a cult.

Glen and his wife, Tania, joined the Church of Latter Day Saints in 1999. Some may question Glenn’s knowledge of and loyalty to the beliefs of the Mormon faith but he is a very intelligent, informed man who would unlikely make such a commitment to an organization he didn’t understand. Mormons fail the Christian litmus test because their fundamental beliefs diametrically oppose those of Christianity. They believe that Joseph Smith was a divine prophet who arrived on earth in the 1800’s. He wrote a divinely inspired book call the Book of Mormon. The Christian Bible teaches strongly against such a thing in Proverbs 30:5-6 "Every word of God is flawless; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. Do not add to his words, or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.”

Space prohibits the consideration of many other Mormon beliefs such as proxy baptism for the dead, anticipation of achieving God-status, inhabiting a planet exclusively your own and the practice of polygamy.

I love Glenn’s politics but when it comes to religion he is in the same boat with Oprah Winfrey and a multitude of others who are promoting another Jesus and another gospel. There is only one way, Glenn. No other way will lead to eternal life.

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, January 12, 2011

Jared Loughner's Heart

Jared Loughner's heart.

It's surreal. If you've ever read George Orwell's 1984 you are aware of his depiction of the Thought Police. It was their job to identify and eliminate members of society who were having thoughts of opposing the existing government. If Orwell was writing a prophetic book he only missed it by about 25 years.

The politicization of the Tucson Tragedy has created an atmosphere of hysteria in American culture that has drowned out the echoes of the soul of a nine-year old girl crying for justice and has callously trampled on the broken hearts of those who are suffering from the loss of their loved ones.

The bandwagon to condemn free speech is overloaded because so many have jumped on as it passes. Everyone is entitled to their own beliefs about speech but if you think it should be limited and monitored, who will do the monitoring? Who has or what is the perfect standard by which we can declare certain speech approved? Choosing this incident in which an innocent nine year old girl is murdered by a man who is very mentally disturbed doesn't seem to be the proper place to instigate a fight over the first amendment.

Robert Wright jumped on the 'ban the first amendment' band wagon when he wrote for the New York Times, "The point is that Americans who wildly depict other Americans as dark conspirators, as the enemy, are in fact increasing the chances, however marginally, that those Americans will be attacked."
When Mr. Wright, wrote of certain Americans wildly depicting other Americans as "the enemy", was he talking about our president? President Obama declared last October that "if Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, we're gonna' punish our enemies and we're gonna' reward our friends" then the November elections would be lost. Were his words intended to inflame Hispanics? Who are the 'enemies' he was referring to? Are they good, law abiding citizens of America who happen to want to enforce the laws of our constitution?

John Green, the grieving father of the slain nine year old, would like the press to refrain from using his daughter's death to encourage restrictions on our first amendment rights. His wishes are being trampled by political zealots like Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik who declared unsympathetically, "When the rhetoric about hatred, about mistrust of government, about paranoia of how government operates, and to try to inflame the public on a daily basis, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, it has impact on people especially who are unbalanced personalities." Is this the 'pot calling the kettle black'? Will his words inflame someone to attempt to assassinate his unmentioned targets: Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin or Glen Beck?

No one would deny the power of words. "Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18) It would benefit our society if those with influence would use the power in their words to build up and point people to truth and love rather than using them to divide and draw people away from truth. Our problem is often not so much the words we choose, it’s the fact that we no longer know how to find or define truth.

It seems to me that the desire to suppress speech is a blatant attempt to revise and sometimes contort history and reality in order to promote a certain political agenda. Dr. Alan Gribben is publishing a compendium of Mark Twain's "Huckleberry Finn" and "Tom Sawyer." The words chosen by the literary master have been edited out of the work to satisfy the demand for political correctness in our present culture. The "n" word is replaced with the word "slave". Do we do justice to those who endured the pain of slavery by removing the "n" word? Is the pain of their suffering watered down? Is it being diluted by our present day political correctness? Doesn't the reader of Mark Twain's novel need to understand that Jim ran away from the plantation because of the torment of slavery? Readers need to feel the full force of why Jim hid away on a river raft fleeing from the bounty hunters. Doesn't the use of the 'n' word remind us of a wound on our cultural past we dare never forget? What makes the 'n' word offensive is the hatred in the heart of the one who utters it.

The motive of those who want to eliminate free speech is questionable. If their motive is to promote a certain political agenda in order to experience political victory over an opponent then the cost of sacrificing our liberty for such a thing is too great. If their motive is to reduce the pain and suffering that harmful words cause then they are to be commended. But ignorance abounds. We cannot eliminate pain in our society by policing thoughts and words that come from the mouths of our citizens. The problem is not in the words that are uttered, the problem is in the fountain from which those words spring. Changing the way we use words doe not indicate a change of heart.

Our words reveal our hearts. Jared Loughner's actions cannot be explained or blamed on the words of others. "…out of the heart come evil thoughts and murder." (Matt. 15:19). Many will attempt to explain away the actions of Jared Loughner by blaming others for carelss speech. Some will blame his parents, some will blame his drug usage, and some will blame Rush Limbaugh. Very few people will place the blame where it belongs, Christina Green and others died as a result of murder launched from an evil and sinful heart.

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, January 11, 2011

Roxanne Green - mother of Christina Green, the 9 year old killed in Tuscon

Roxanne Green is interviewed by Fox's Gretchen Carlson.  This interview reaches into the very heart of the tragedy.  Those who would politicize and trivialize what has happened by raising the vitriolic rhetoric should be ashamed of themselves. 

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, January 10, 2011

Why did Jared Loughner do it?

It is a natural response for humans to look for reasons for aberrant behavior in their fellow humans. Why did the terrorists attack us on 9/11? Why did Jim Jones kill all those people in Guyana? Why did Seung-Hui Cho open fire on classmates at Virginia Tech? Millions are asking today why Jared Loughner opened fire in front of a Tucson Safeway?

I’m amazed to watch seemingly intelligent people assign motives to Loughner’s actions. Some are saying he killed six people (as of this writing) because he attempted to join the army and was rejected or because he was expelled from a local college. Millions of people suffer similar setbacks daily, they don’t go out with a 9mm and start killing people.

Others have said he turned into a vicious killer because he smoked pot. Again, millions of Americans destroy their minds with drugs but they don’t go on killing sprees.

Perhaps the most common reason given for Loughner’s behavior is his unstable mental condition. Lynda Lorenson, 51, attended classes with Loughner and emailed messages to her friends: “We do have one student in the class who was disruptive today, I'm not certain yet if he was on drugs (as one person surmised) or disturbed. He scares me a bit. The teacher tried to throw him out and he refused to go… we have a seriously disturbed student in the class, and they are trying to figure out how to get rid of him before he does something bad.” His strange behavior was observed six months ago and some were frightened by him.

So, if Loughner is too crazy to kill Talibans and he is too disturbed to attend college why is it okay for him to wander the streets of Tucson?

Some are wondering who is more nearly insane, Loughner or the Sheriff investigating him. Sheriff Clarence Dupnik couldn’t resist politicizing a tragic event by addressing blame to conservative ideology as he placed blame on “the vitriolic rhetoric that we hear day in and day out from people in the radio business and some people in the TV business…” Is it not insane to apply blame to individuals who have a certain political philosophy that doesn’t happen to match yours? Is it not inappropriate and immoral. It nearly reaches the level of radical church groups propagating their political and religious beliefs by protesting at the funerals of our fallen soldiers. Mr. Dupnik, you are responsible for enforcing the law and administering justice to citizens in your jurisdiction. Please focus on doing that rather than proselytizing for those with a certain political agenda.

Rebecca Monsour, a former aide to Sarah Palin said, “"This is a terrible politicization of a tragedy. We don't know (Loughner’s) motive. It doesn't seem like he was motivated by a political ideology. Craziness is not an ideology."

Fortunately, there are many people voicing opposition to the ‘crazy’ sheriff’s politicization of this tragedy. Lamar Alexander, Republican senator from Tennessee said, “It's tempting to say this person's actions might have been a result of [another] person's comments, but I think we need to be very careful about imputing any of these actions on someone else.” Agreed. Why can’t Loughner be responsible for his own actions, he and he alone?

Unfortunately, Sheriff Dupnik’s methods are not so unusual. Radical liberals blamed Conservative ideology for the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. Somehow they make Sarah Palin and the Tea Party responsible for the actions of the Fort Hood assassin. These accusations are outrageous and reveal that insanity in America is a chronic, widespread problem.

Why are members of the media referring to Loughner as a ‘boy’? He is twenty-two years old. Why isn’t he referred to as a young man? It is as if calling him a ‘boy’ makes him less responsible for his actions because he hasn’t grown to adulthood yet. The maturation of American’s young men has certainly been retarded by our lowered expectations. We don’t really expect junior to go out and get a job and support himself. It really is quite alright if he stays home and plays video games until he is thirty.

I don’t know why Jared Loughner killed six people and wounded so many others, including Congresswoman Giffords. But I’ll ask the questions few others will ask. What were Jared Loughner’s religious beliefs? What God was he worshipping when he bowed to the shrine he devised in his back yard? Did he ever claim to be a Christian? Did he ever go to church? Was God ever a part of any of his life in any way?

Jared may very well be crazy. But our society is quick to pull the insanity card to explain immoral behavior rather than simply call it what it is, its sin. In our effort to remove God from all areas of life we must also remove sin. We explain sin away by using substitute words like “disease” or “illness”. Maybe, just maybe, Jared Loughner has an evil heart.

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, January 7, 2011

The Course of Empire by Thomas Cole

One of my favorite artists is Thomas Cole who was born an Englishman but came to the United States and settled in Steubenville, Ohio.  Cole painted a series of pictures that depict the birth, ascent and decline of empire.  Do empires fall slowly and gradually as portrayed by Thomas Cole or do they fall suddenly?  Is history cyclical or is it rythmic? Does it repeat itself or does its pulse rush like the waters of the Niagra on some occasions but on others it just trickles like the creek running through the yard?

Savage State

Pastoral State

Consumation State

State of Destruction

                                                               State of Desolation

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, January 6, 2011

What does $14 Trillion look like??

What the 14 Trillion National Debt Looks Like
Infographic Source: National Debt

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, January 5, 2011

Homeless man with a God-given gift....

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

Is This The God of Calvin?

What I’ve discovered over the years when observing and even participating in religious debate is that most have learned and studied diligently the side they defend but few have done due diligence in learning just what the other side believes. As associate pastor of a Nazarene church and a strong follower of Arminian theology, I am astounded over and over again when Calvinists accuse my team of promoting salvation by works. A thorough study would reveal to them that Arminius was not one to promote salvation by works. I can only believe that those accusers are confusing Arminianism with Semi-Pelagianism.

It is also shocking when advocates of Calvinism peg Arminians as humanists. The accusation goes something like this, “Arminians believe that their salvation is dependent on what they do rather than on what God does, therefore it is human centered.” They believe that Arminians overemphasize the human responsibility of confession and de-emphasize God’s desire to forgive. In my entire lifetime I’ve never heard an Arminian praise God for his salvation without giving God all the glory for the work that was done.

Many Calvinists seem to think that Arminians would limit the sovereignty of God by suggesting that human decision can in some way diminish the will of God. Arminians are, indeed, strong advocates of free will. But empowerment is foreign to our perception of free will. Free will is God’s gift to men because he desires something more than a contract relationship. He wants relationship to be meaningful and without free will that is impossible. Free will is not a display of man’s power, it is a demonstration of the tenderness in the heart of God. Many Calvinists would frame the argument in such a way as to declare that God cannot compromise his sovereignty by giving us free will. The Arminian would first reply that God can do anything he chooses to do and secondly, it may appear that God’s sovereignty is compromised but only if you measure sovereignty in human terms. It seems a bit haughty to an Arminian to even suggest that the decisions of men could in anyway threaten or compromise the very nature of God. “How great is God – beyond our understanding.” (Job 36:26)

Arminians are also accused of placing too much emphasizes on an emotional experience whose ultimate goal is an inner feeling of happiness. The Calvinist would proclaim that the chief end of God is to bring glory to himself. Arminians are not in disagreement with that but Arminians are often accused of promoting the idea that the chief end of God is to bring happiness to the heart of man. Most Arminians would strongly refute that accusation by declaring strongly that the chief end of God is NOT the happiness of man but the holiness of man.

The high-Calvinist idea of irresistible grace is confusing to many Arminians. Human decision is entirely removed from the salvation equation. According to this interpretation, humans are so utterly depraved that they cannot cooperate in any way with God for salvation. Only those elect sinners are fortunate enough to receive salvation, not because they chose Christ, but because Christ arbitrarily chose them. Arminians agree with Calvinists that no man can come to Christ unless he is first drawn by the Spirit of God but they also believe that God allows man to accept or reject his salvation. Arminians have difficulty with the belief that if God chooses some for salvation he must also choose some for damnation. This portrays a God who assigned a significant portion of humanity to hell unconditionally.

If this is the God of Calvin, Arminians strongly resist the idea that God who would simply assign certain people to hell to meet a quota. They interpret this as heartless and unjust. If those people were assigned to hell before the foundation of the world how can they be held accountable, how are they deserving? My Calvinists friends provide this answer to that question: “We all deserve hell, some of us were just fortunate enough to be chosen to go to heaven?”

Arminians are declared arrogant by certain Calvinists when they make free will statements such as, “I have decided to follow Jesus.” If that is an arrogant statement, isn’t a Calvinist’s declaration that they are one of the chosen (predestined) ones every bit as arrogant?

Arminians question the nature of a Calvinist God who seems to be the author of sin. The Arminian believes that sin entered the world as a result of abusing God’s gift of free will. Man and man alone is responsible for sin. The Calvinist must credit God with being the author of sin. They would declare that God’s purpose is to reveal his holiness.

To declare that all that happens is the will of God because he is ultimately sovereign and nothing can happen that is not within his will makes God morally ambiguous. It seems contradictory to say that a child dying of starvation is God’s will even though it is extremely grievous to his heart. This requires us to believe in a God who uses suffering and sin as vehicles to reveal his goodness. How can we love a God whose goodness can only be known by observing the horrendous suffering of his creatures?

Making God responsible for sin instead of man distorts who God really is. Theologian David Bentley Hart frames the dilemma: “It requires us to believe in and love a God whose good ends will be realized not only in spite of – but entirely by way of – every cruelty, every fortuitous misery, every catastrophe, every betrayal, every sin the world has ever known; it requires us to believe in the eternal spiritual necessity of a child dying an agonizing death from diphtheria, of a young mother ravaged by cancer, of tens of thousands of Asians swallowed in an instant by the sea, of millions murdered in death camps and gulags and forced famines. It is a strange thing indeed to seek (making God ultimately responsible for such things and removing the human contribution)…at the cost of a God rendered morally loathsome.” (Eerdmans, 2005, p. 99)

To all my Calvinist friends, please don’t receive my words in the wrong spirit. I’m wanting much more to defend Arminianism from false impressions rather than to be critical of another’s belief system. Most of the disagreement between Calvinists and Arminians is due to misperceptions and failure to understand. I want to have a clear mind and heart when considering these matters. If any of my statements in this paper are off the mark please help me understand more accurately the teachings of Calvin.

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, January 2, 2011

Everlasting 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.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

"But I want it NOW!"

I saw a mother and her son in the checkout line of the grocery store. The boy was probably four or five years old. While waiting for his mother to unload all the groceries he was perusing through the candy and gum rack. His eyes lit upon something he wanted badly and he placed it on the conveyor. There was no protest from his mother and as they were leaving the store he asked for his treasure but his mother refused. What followed was not pretty. He threw a little hissy fit. His mother was firm, “I told you, not until we get home!” His vocal cords went into full throttle, “But I want it NOW!”

I’ve thought of that incident as a microcosm of a major problem in our modern society. We want it NOW! We can’t wait to buy the new car. We can’t wait to get that big screen T.V. We are consumer beasts gobbling up everything in sight. We want to be gratified instantly. For some reason many in our society, especially younger members, believe it is normal to have as much as the neighbors do. They believe being head over heels in credit card debt is a normal lifestyle. At twenty-five years of age they expect to live the lifestyle mom and dad live even though their parents have worked a lifetime to achieve it.

I grew up in a small town of 17,000 people in northwestern Pennsylvania. I had no idea that my family was poor. I used to ride with my father on Sunday mornings to pick up children for Sunday School. One of our pick-up spots was a place we called “Shanty Town.” They were about twenty or thirty tar paper-covered ‘shacks’ that you might think were uninhabitable. My brothers and I never thought of ourselves as being poor because we were always so connected with those who had less than we.

As we grew and became more aware of the world we realized just how poor we were. We were poor but happy. We didn’t have a lot of extras but we certainly had all we needed. I can’t tell you how many retired couples I’ve talked to who have stories of “starting out.” Their stories pretty much begin like this, “When we were young we had nothing….” and they almost always end with this, “…but those were our happiest years.” Jesus said it best, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.” (Luke 12:15)

Have you ever thrown an adult hissy fit like the little boy in the grocery store? “But I want it NOW!” Your credit cards make that possible. How many people do you know who have a swimming pool they never use? Do you know someone who has a motorcycle in the garage that hasn’t been started for 6 months. I’ve known my neighbor, George, for 8 years now and he has the most beautiful bass boat I’ve ever seen. In eight years I’ve never seen George take his boat out of his garage! Instant gratification may not bring the satisfaction sought but it very well might bring economic bondage.

I’m reminded of the fellow Luke told about in his fifteenth chapter. A son went to his father and asked for his inheritance. He was very rude. What he was really telling his father was, “I can’t wait for you to die, I want my share now.” His father gave him what he asked and “Not long after that, the younger son got together all he had, set off for a distant country and there he squandered his wealth in wild living.” His immaturity and addiction to instant gratification is nothing short of astounding! The prodigal son learned that sin is very costly. Bad habits are expensive to sustain. Self-destruction isn’t free.

Americans spend millions of dollars in destructive behavior. They spend large amounts of their income purchasing alcohol, drugs and tobacco products which are very destructive when used improperly or excessively. Most people who try to sustain a $200 per day drug habit can’t, so they turn to crime. Over $3,000 is being spent every second in America for pornography.(1) Tourists in Los Vegas lose $17 billion annually.(2) The average American spends $1100 per year on lottery tickets. We are not much different than the prodigal, spending money like drunken sailors in our attempt to find satisfaction through materialism and seeking instant gratification. Might we learn from the writer of Proverbs what the prodigal son failed to learn, “…Drunkards and gluttons become poor, and drowsiness clothes them in rags.”

We no longer own credit cards in our home. My wife and I have decided to live by the principle of previous, wiser generations who believed, “If you can’t afford it, don’t buy it.”

We recently enjoyed our Christmas together. We probably had less gifts this year because we, like other Americans, are affected by the floundering economy. When all the gifts were unwrapped and our five-year-old son was playing with his new toys, I turned to my wife and asked, “How much do we owe for all these Christmas gifts?” She smiled and gave me one last gift, “Honey, we don’t owe a penny. It’s all paid for.”

I am reminded again of the Puritan preacher, Jeremiah Burroughs who said, “What a foolish thing is this, that because I have not got what I want, I will not enjoy the comfort of what I have!” I am also reminded of Paul’s admonition to Timothy, “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.”

To those who are Christ-followers, wealth is not measured so much by one’s material possessions. Christians are wayfarers in this world, simply passing through to their eternal home. Their wealth can never be understood nor can it be taken away by those “who lay up treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy.” (Matthew 6:19)

1. Internet Pornography Statistics, by Jerry Ropelato


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