Wednesday, December 07, 2016

Qualities of the Adulterous Woman

Bangkok

7:25 AM.

We have converted Daniel's bedroom into an office for me. It's on the second floor of our house. 

I'm sitting at my computer and looking out the window at the two large Norway spruces in our front yard.

My routine is to read some of the book of Proverbs, and to read one of the Psalms.

I'm using the NIV Cultural Background Study Bible, edited by Craig Keener and John Walton. What a great resource this is!

This morning I read Proverbs 5:3-4:

For the lips of the adulterous woman drip honey, and her speech is smoother than oil; but in the end she is bitter as gall, sharp as a double-edged sword.


The Study Bible has a link entitled "The "Strange" and "Foreign" woman." I click on it. 

"The father often warns the son to avoid the “strange” woman (translated “adulterous” in Pr 5: 3; 7: 5; 22: 14; 23: 27) and “foreign” woman (translated “wayward” in 5: 20; 6: 24; 7: 5; 23: 27). But what makes the strange woman strange, the foreign woman foreign? 

The Hebrew words for “strange” (zara) and “foreign” (nokriya) may be understood in a variety of ways. However, it is unlikely that foreign in parallel with strange would be used to indicate a non-Israelite woman. 

The strangeness of this woman is seen in her willingness to operate outside the bounds of moral, legal and customary restraints— an idea that is developed further in the following chapters. 

This lack of restraint is described in Pr 2: 17 as a failure to honor her commitments to the “partner of her youth” as well as to the “covenant she made before God.” 

The first line of this verse thus accuses her of not sustaining her marriage vows, since the words “partner of her youth” refer to her own marriage. And by committing adultery, she is breaking her covenant with God. 

The fact that she is described as having been in a covenant with God is further support for the view that this woman is an Israelite temptress, not an ethnically foreign one. And a temptress she is. Her primary strategy for seducing the man is through her flattering speech and secondarily through physical attraction." 

The adulterous woman...

  • has no problem with immorality
  • has no problem with illegality
  • lacks self-restraint
  • fails to honor her commitment to the young man she pledged her life to
  • breaks the covenant she made with God
  • is out to seduce men
  • kisses up to men with her words
  • works hard on her physical appearance
Verses 5-6 say:


Her feet go down to death; her steps lead straight to the grave. She gives no thought to the way of life; her paths wander aimlessly, but she does not know it.

The adulterous woman...

  • walks the path of spiritual death
  • pays no attention to the words and way of life
  • is a lost soul who wanders, without a destination
  • is ignorant of all the above
Do not hook up with her. Do not fall prey to her mindless flattery. Don't walk the road she lives on. 


Now then, my sons, listen to me; do not turn aside from what I say. Keep to a path far from her, do not go near the door of her house, lest you lose your honor to others and your dignity to one who is cruel. (Vv. 7-8)





Tuesday, December 06, 2016

John Maxwell - 10 Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Temptation

Weaverville, California

One of the most impactful sermons I have ever experienced was at the first PromiseKeepers event I went to, in Indianapolis. The speaker was John Maxwell. He preached on "10 Guidelines for Dealing with Sexual Temptation." After Maxwell gave Guideline #1 the place was electric. I felt, at that moment, that 20,000 men were ready to walk in total sexual purity.

*****
John Maxwell’s 10 Guidelines (For Men) For Dealing With Sexual Temptation

1. RUN!

“Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” (2 Timothy 2:22)

"Flee from sexual immorality. All other sins a man commits are outside his body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body." (1 Corinthians 6:18)

2. ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY

"This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live." (Deuteronomy 30:19)

Every time we choose righteousness, we not only become closer to God, but stronger in our ability to resist temptation.

3. BE ACCOUNTABLE - John Maxwell's list of accountability questions:

Are you spending time alone with God?

Are you in studying the Bible?

Are you praying?

Is your thought life pure?

Have you seen something you shouldn't see (movies, magazines, Internet)?

Are you misusing your power on the job? At home?

Are you walking in total obedience to God? (Remember, partial obedience is disobedience.)

Have you lied about any of the previous questions?

4.LISTEN TO YOUR WIFE

5. BE ON GUARD

Seldom travel alone.

When you have to travel, call your wife every night.

Talk positively about your wife to others.

Choose friends wisely. "Bad company corrupts good character." ( Corinthians 15:33)

6. DETERMINE TO LIVE A PURE LIFE TODAY

"Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)

"Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7)

7. REALIZE THAT SEXUAL SIN ASSAULTS THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS CHRIST IN YOUR LIFE

"Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ himself? Shall I then take the members of Christ and unite them with a prostitute? Never!" (1 Corinthians 6:15)

8. RECOGNIZE THE CONSEQUENCES OF SEXUAL SIN

"But a man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself." (Proverbs 6:32)

"For the prostitute reduces you to a loaf of bread, and the adulteress preys upon your very life." (Proverbs 6:26)

9. THINK OF YOUR CHILDREN

10. GET A NEW DEFINITION OF SUCCESS

Maxwell's definition is: Success is having those who are the closest to me love and respect me the most.

Praying Book Study at Redeemer - Jan - May 2017


Image result for johnpiippo praying


I will lead a five-month book study on my new book Praying. In this study, which will include practical application, we will cover many aspects of a praying life. I will take participants deep into a life of prayer. 

Everyone who attends will receive a copy of the Study Guide. 

First meeting - Saturday morning, Jan. 7, 10 AM, in the blue classroom. 

I will teach out of my book. 

You can attend without buying the book, or you can purchase it at amazon.com

This class will meet once a month, Jan - May. 

Our prayer focus will be the Psalms. 

A sign-up sheet is in the lobby. Or, send me an email - johnpiippo@msn.com.

My Sermon on The Lord's Prayer - #1

My sermon on The Lord's Prayer: Part 1 can be heard HERE.

Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.

Facebook Atheists Are Mostly Unbelievers in Atheism

Muslim women in Jerusalem

Nietzsche is to atheism as John the Baptist is to Christianity. Nietzsche was a prophet who saw deeper than your basic village atheist. "God is dead," said Nietzsche, "and here are the implications." One of which is that a person cannot deconvert from Christianity to atheism and bring Christian morality, or any morality for that matter, with them.

This is what Nietzsche the prophet revolts against, and despises; viz., the shallow sophomorisms of people who claim atheism and moralistically mock Christians as evil and hypocritical.

Such behavior is ironical, since all along it is the Facebook atheists who are the hypocritical fools, in what for Nietzsche was the great atheistic apostasy.

Terry Eagelton got this right. Here is an extended quote, with some parenthetical comments along the way. Go slow now. Pay attention, all ye atheists.

"Nietzsche speaks scornfully of French freethinkers from Voltaire to Comte as trying to ‘out-Christian’ Christianity with a craven cult of altruism and philanthropy, virtues which are as distasteful to him as pity, compassion, benevolence and suchlike humanitarian claptrap. [Think now of Facebook atheists.] 

He can find nothing in such values but weakness cunningly tricked out as power. These, too, are ways of disavowing God's disappearance. [The Facebook atheist is truly an unbeliever, but in their professed atheistic faith.]

God is indeed dead, and it is we who are his assassins, yet our true crime is less deicide than hypocrisy. [Because humanitarian claptrap is hypocritical atheism.]

Having murdered the Creator in the most spectacular of all Oedipal revolts, we have hidden the body, repressed all memory of the traumatic event, tidied up the scene of the crime and, like Norman Bates in Psycho, behave as though we are innocent of the act. We have also dissembled our deicide with various shamefaced forms of pseudo-religion, as though in expiation of our unconscious guilt. Modern secular societies, in other words, have effectively disposed of God but find it morally and politically convenient – even imperative – to behave as though they have not. They do not actually believe in him, but it is still necessary for them to imagine that they do. [Today's atheists cannot, in word and deed, extricate themselves from the metaphysical foundation laid by Christian theism.]

God is too vital a piece of ideology to be written off, even if it is one that their own profane activities render less and less plausible. There is a performative contradiction between what such civilisations do and what they proclaim that they do. To look at the beliefs embodied in their behaviour, rather than at what they piously profess, is to recognise that they have no faith in God at all, but it is as though the fact has not yet been brought to their attention. One of Nietzsche's self-appointed tasks is to do precisely that. [Nietzsche exposes the deeds of the so-called atheists, which speak louder than their confessions.]"

- Eagleton, Terry. Culture and the Death of God, pp. 157-158

Monday, December 05, 2016

Using Leibniz's "Identity of Indiscernibles" to Show that the Idea of Multiple Gods Is Logically Incoherent

Near Brasilia, Brazil

Instead of there being one God who exists and created all that is, why could there not be multiple Gods? 

One answer sometimes given to this is Ockham's Razor, which states that causes should not be multiplied unnecessarily. For example, if I come home and discover a pan of freshly baked brownies on the table, I understand my wife Linda to have made them. But someone suggests, "Why could not the brownies have been made by several bakers? Why assume just one person made them?" Because, using Ockham's Razor, there is no need to multiply causes unnecessarily. That the cause of the pan of brownies is "my wife Linda" is enough explanation. Similarly, "one God" is enough explanation for the cause of the universe.

I'm thinking that one could employ German philosopher Leibniz's "Identity of Indiscernibles" to argue that the idea of multiple Gods is incoherent. This is an idea in process. Here we go!

Assume that "God" has essential attributes, which causally determine God's contingent attributes. For example, because God is essentially love, God's responses to unloving situations will be logically predictable. When God sees death, e.g., God respnds with comfort out of his loving compassion. God's particular manifestations of his loving compassion are not essential to the being of God, but contingent.

Now imagine there are two Gods, or even twenty-two Gods. If we define "God" as essentially omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent, then Gods One through Twenty-two are also essentially omnipotent, omniscient, and omnibenevolent. Were they not, then they would not be God. Given these omni-attributes, such as omnibenevolent, each of the twenty-two Gods will respond in exactly the same ways to, e.g., a particular human death. Sharing all the needed knowledge, they each would choose the very best response to that death, which would be the same. This would mean that each of the twenty-two Gods would share not only the same essential attributes, but also the same contingent attributes.

What is called "Leibniz's Law," viz. the Identity of Indiscernibles, states that no two objects have exactly the same properties. But in our example we stated that twenty-two Gods share exactly the same essential and contingent properties. Using, therefore, Leibniz's Law, Gods 1-22 are "indiscernible"; namely, they are the same object, which is to say there is only one God.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains:


"The Identity of Indiscernibles (hereafter called the Principle) is usually formulated as follows: if, for every property F, object x has F if and only if object y has F, then x is identical to y. Or in the notation of symbolic logic:
F(Fx ↔ Fy) → x=y.
This formulation of the Principle is equivalent to the Dissimilarity of the Diverse as McTaggart called it, namely: if x and y are distinct then there is at least one property that x has and y does not, or vice versa."
If at least one of our twenty-two Gods had the requisite essential attributes, but each of the other twenty-one Gods had different essential attributes, then each of the other twenty-one Gods would not be God. The same applies to any varying contingent properties. Therefore, logically, there can only be one God, and the idea of multiple Gods is logically incoherent.

Jesus Is Looking for Followers, Not People Who "Make a Decision"

Custer Airport, Monroe

To the Church in America: In 2017 focus on making disciples rather than providing programs to entertain the deciders

Jesus commanded us to make followers. Invest resources in this. 

Many make "decisions" for Christ and stop there, or fade out. Some of these deciders become disciples - praise God! Others don't.

Jesus is not trying to get people to some decision point, with discipleship as a nice, but unnecessary, add-on. For Jesus it's all about being a disciple and following after him. It's in following Jesus that we come to see that a person's decision was real.

Is it possible to make a decision to follow Christ as Lord and not follow him? No, it's not. It makes about as much sense as saying, "I have decided to take up the game of golf," and then not take up the game of golf. Or, proclaiming in front of hundreds of people, "I have decided to eat this banana," and then proceeding to not eat it.

Here is Dallas Willard's definition of a "disciple" of Jesus:

"A disciple is a person who has decided that the most important thing in their life is to learn how to do what Jesus said to do. A disciple is not a person who has things under control, or knows a lot of things. Disciples simply are people who are constantly revising their affairs to carry through on their decision to follow Jesus."

Disciple-making is not popular in American entertainment-driven, consumer churches. For one reason, disciples cannot be microwaved. But a life of slow-cooked Jesus-following is vastly more satisfying, as any of Jesus' disciples know.

***
I am currently writing Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

My new book is: Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Sunday, December 04, 2016

My Sermons Online

My sermons are online here.

Powerpoint slides also available.

***
My book is available here: Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.

Nietzsche and the Christian Moralism of Deconverted Atheists

Detroit

Was there ever a greater atheist than Nietzsche? Not in my mind. Woe to the sophomoric Facebook atheists who have not come to grips with their new shepherd. They are the "village atheists" Nietzsche so vehemently derides.

What is their problem? It is (especially for the so-called "deconverted atheists") that they thoughtlessly retain certain core beliefs intrinsic to the Christian theistic worldview, co-opting them into their "atheism." This is, for Nietzsche, a category mistake of the first magnitude.

Consider, for example, the Facebook atheist's outrage at the supposed evils of religion. In their moralistic protesting they function as Christians in atheistic disguise, for the righteous moralism that fills their being is precisely core to Christianity.

As Nietzsche knew, real atheism abandons such moral beliefs as it launches into its nihilistic ocean. Terry Eagelton explains:

"Nietzsche sees that civilisation is in the process of ditching divinity while still clinging to religious values, and that this egregious act of bad faith must not go uncontested. You cannot kick away the foundations and expect the building still to stand. The death of God, he argues in The Joyful Wisdom, is the most momentous event of human history, yet men and women are behaving as though it were no more than a minor readjustment...

in Nietzsche's view it does not follow either that we can dispense with divine authority and continue to conduct our moral business as usual. Our conceptions of truth, virtue, identity and autonomy, our sense of history as shapely and coherent, all have deep-seated theological roots. It is idle to imagine that they could be torn from these origins and remain intact." (Eagleton, Terry. Culture and the Death of God, p. 156)

Friday, December 02, 2016

Presence-Driven Churches Cannot Have Multiple Stacked Services

Linda, at Weko Beach, Michigan

You couldn't have a Presence-Driven Church that had multiple services stacked like pancakes one after the other, timed and choreographed to begin and end on time, so as to shuttle people in and out.

This is because the Presence-Driven Church is kairos-driven rather than chronos-driven. The Greek word chronos refers to clock time (as in, "The service begins at eleven and ends at noon"). Kairos is event-time. Kairos is the word used biblically to refer to God's timing (as in, "At the appointed time God sent his Son").

Those first church gatherings in the upper room in Jerusalem were kairos happenings in an a-chronos culture. Thank God Acts chapter 2 doesn't read like this:

When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. Unfortunately, it was noon and time for the service to be over.

I experienced kairos culture while teaching in India. I was to preach in an isolated village located on the Deccan Plateau. I was being driven in an all-terrain vehicle on deeply rutted dirt roads, and we were late. I looked at my watch. My host told me, "Don't worry. Even if we are hours late the people will still be there. They are waiting for you to come." How different, I thought, from American culture! In an event-oriented culture it is the event that is important, not the time.

The presence of God, in the person of the Holy Spirit, is unpredictable and nonprogrammable. The Holy Spirit cannot be choreographed and orchestrated. God's presence operates by kairos time. Thus, it will not be contained by pre-set temporal parameters. We are digitized fools to box God into sixty-minute containers.

This is why multiple, stacked services cannot work in a church family that wants to encounter God's presence. God is a God who loves relationship, and who likes to hang around doing what God does. God is a dwelling being. God-events are slow-cookers. What kind of Christian would really be looking at their clocks if the living God was in their midst? Unfortunately, many American Christians are more concerned about what chronos it is, than absorbed in the timeless kairotic experiences when God manifests his nonprogrammable presence.

***
I am currently writing Leading the Presence-Driven Church.

My new book is: Praying: Reflections on 40 Years of Solitary Conversations with God.