I was asked for a review or a critique of a July 23, 2021 interview between Allen Parr of The Beat, and Priscilla Shirer, a well-known speaker and teacher and author on the Christian ministry circuit. This is that review. I listened to the first 30 minutes of the 58-minute interview.
Before I was saved, I went to Italy. One of those times I visited the Colosseum. I wrote about that visit here. For a short while immediately after I was saved, in reading the passages in Revelation and Peter and Isaiah where the earth will be completely deconstructed and remade, I was sad that all the pretty things would be swept away too. All the “great art”, all the “monuments” like the Colosseum or Pyramids. All the castles and mansions and bridges and things tourists go to see. Awww, I thought.
But of course all those were made by sinful man’s hands and many of them, particularly in art, are odes to false gods. (Botticelli’s Primavera for example). As I matured I began to see man’s works for what they were, pretty, sure, awe-inspiring, yes, but ultimately symbols of debauchery against a holy God amid our history across human epochs. The Colosseum will fall. Now or later, it is guaranteed to be swept away in the calamity of judgment imminently bearing down on us. Let’s start seeing these cracked and tottering monuments of rebellion for what they are- and get used to thinking about the glories ahead made by Jesus’s hands. (John 14:3).
What Jesus has built for us is a body that shall never perish. A universal body of believers who eternally will worship Him in praise and sing, myself included. He has prepared a place for us to be with Him always. He will share with us a new heavens and a new earth whose riches and beauty stunned Isaiah into woeful silence.
Praise God for his coming promises to be fulfilled.
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. (Romans 1:18-19).
What did they suppress, exactly? And where? Or how?
They, meaning unbelievers, deny in their minds that there is a God. They suppress that He made everything in creation. They hate thinking of the fact that He made them, which would mean they are accountable to Him at judgment for their words, their deeds, their lives. They squash their conscience when they do evil.
In Genesis 1:26, God made man in His image. We don’t look like God nor do we possess His incommunicable attributes, but ‘in His image’ means as Phil Johnson preached:
“Humanity bears the stamp of God’s likeness. No other creature, not even the highest archangel, was made in God’s image. We can see the image of God imprinted on the human soul in humanity’s unique moral and spiritual attributes, those things that set us apart from the animals.”
“For example, the human intellect is uniquely capable of self-reflection. We’re creative. We are moved by beauty. We speak a variety of complex languages. Our moral instinct (that innate sense of right and wrong) is unparalleled in the animal kingdom. We have a conscience that declares our guilt when we do wrong. And no other creature manifests anything like the human craving for communion with God. Animals don’t practice religion of any kind.” end Phil Johnson excerpt from sermon “What Creation Reveals”
In around 1400 BC, Moses led the Israelites into the wilderness. They had been released from slavery by powerful acts of God, including ten plagues and parting the Red Sea to aid their escape. (Exodus 1-15)
However, it wasn’t long before the Israelites grumbled. They were sick of manna, they wanted an easier life, they wanted to get there. (Numbers 20:4). So they grumbled some more, against Moses and against God.
When Jesus came down from the mountain, large crowds followed Him. And a leper came to Him and bowed down before Him, and said, “Lord, if You are willing, You can make me clean.” Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, saying, “I am willing; be cleansed.” And immediately his leprosy was cleansed. And Jesus said to him, “See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:1-4).
Notice that in the Bible it’s almost always (with two exceptions) a cleansing of a leper, not a healing of a leper. This essay examines why that distinction exists, and looks at the life of a person in New Testament times who has the disease of leprosy.
Kay Cude poetry, used with permission. Click picture to enlarge
I am consistently drawn to Dore’s work! And each time I utilize one of his profoundly sensitive pieces, I imagine that as he worked on his wood plates, he had no concept of their enduring qualities or that centuries later I and others would be drawn to use them in our efforts to magnify and praise God! How amazed Dore would be to know that his telling works now cover the earth through digital media, or that millions have seen God’s glory through his pieces, and in a more profound way than he could even begin to imagine! Isn’t God just so very wise! His plans to make Himself and His Christ known through art and other forms of media makes our intuitiveness very pale! I believe God selects those desiring to serve Him in this manner and uses their work (spiritual gifts) for His purpose…
I was asked recently for my testimony. Here are the thoughts of a pagan, graciously drawn to our Blessed Savior
I was not saved by the Lord’s grace until I was 43 years old. Before that, I lived in New England and lived a very liberal life. I’m grateful to my patient and loving Savior who elected me, drew me, and lifted me from the pit of sin in which I was living.
Until that time, during my adult life, I could not understand the phenomenon of Jesus. Oh, I understood it to be a phenomenon, all right. No one can dismiss Him, least of all the unsaved. He is a pervasive presence that simply does not go away. I used to actively wonder about His staying power. Buddha comes and goes as a fad, Allah wasn’t even around until 600 AD and wasn’t popular for a long time after that. Pele the volcano goddess waned and Ra the sun god is passe. And whatever happened to Aphrodite and Mars? But Jesus never waned and He is worshiped in every culture throughout every era.
On July 8, 2012, Pastor Jim Murphy of First Baptist Church of Johnson City, NY delivered a sermon titled “The Subtlety of Satan“. I can’t believe it’s been almost ten years! I remember the impact of that sermon like it was yesterday. The church synopsized Pr. Murphy’s sermon this way:
"Pastor Jim looked back over the last fifty years of church ministry to suggest the slow, incremental, and subtle changes that have created a theological crisis resulting in a move away from the foundational authority of the Word of God and into an experiential, emotional, and radically individualized form of Christianity. Not only will this review trace the consequences of the "little" erroneous theological conclusions that have defined the current struggle within evangelicalism, it will also define the way back to biblical Christianity."
I wrote about that sermon here. One of the things that caught my attention was the fact that the Pastor repented for not paying attention to some of the other gateway points of encroachment satan uses to enter into the church in order to corrupt it. We all know that elders are charged with guarding the pulpit from satan’s wiles against polluting the word of God. But satan enters in through other points in the church too. He enters in via the church library. Via the women’s ministry. Via the music.
Pastor Joel Webbon of Right Response Ministries interviewed Justin Peters about that very point of entry. Peters called music the “Gateway Drug” to heresy.
Music contains doctrine. It can present good doctrine or poor doctrine or heresy. As the congregation sings good or bad or heretical words, it changes the mind and heart. It’s meant to. Good music points to God and changes one’s affections toward Him and extols His attributes. Bad and heretical music points to ourselves and nudges us away from heavenly affections.
Music is one infiltration point. The music you sing in your church matters. The clip below is 6 minutes. Under the video are some resources about the importance of singing good music in church, and why.
Hymns are wonderful didactic tools, filled with Scripture and sound doctrine, a medium for teaching and admonishing one another, as we are commanded to do in Colossians 3:16… ~John MacArthur
Grace Community Church, Generations of Grace-Hymnody: Here, the ministry of John MacArthur’s church through opera singer Phillip Webb presents a short backstory to a hymn, and then he sings the hymn with instrumental backup. You might need to plug in your email to access the 93 hymns.
Truth for Life ministry by Alistair Begg discusses Music and Worship, with Keith Getty, saying,
Music has been a fundamental element of Christian worship from the earliest days of the church. As Keith Getty points out, though, its power is not guaranteed. Singing lyrics with shallow theology or leaving the actual singing to the “professionals” will not help form the body of Christ. Music’s transformative power in worship is only present when the full Gospel is proclaimed and when the congregation sings God’s truth as one body.
Tend your fences...because satan is subtle.
For a lot of people in the US, summer is only just getting started. For me, I go back to school on August 2, so my summer break is winding down, fast! It always flies by quickly, but this year more than ever. I moved from one town to another on June 1, and it took a good 3 weeks to get settled. That, plus some other issues happening, made this year’s summer break seem like a blink.
The SBC Annual Meeting didn’t go well, and that took energy from me, and then the plagiarism scandal pushed me over the edge. I hate sermon plagiarism because it is deception, lying, laziness, and offends God severely. Pastors are given a high position in God’s economy. They are to share the word of God with the people divide it rightly. When pastors deliberately fail at this repeatedly, in my mind it’s a sin of the highest order. So that wearied me too.
Let’s take a break. Here are some nice, wholesome, pleasant links for you that have nothing to do with any scandal.
BOOKS: Carrie Graham Koens and her husband adopted 5 children from Latin America a few years ago. The children didn’t know English, or much of anything outside their home country. The oldest was sullen and resentful. Carrie relates a beautiful story of striving to find common ground with her newly adopted kids, through reading aloud. Here she reviews The Enchanted Hour: The Miraculous Power of Reading Aloud in an Age of Distraction, and offers a beautifully written personal experience story, here.
FOOD: Here at Good, Cheap Eats, Jessica reviews her experience with the subscription of Imperfect Produce (changed to Imperfect Foods). In my area there’s Misfit Market, and there are many other subscription boxes you can try. While it was available in my area, I belonged to a produce co-op where you went to a location and picked up your ordered box. You ordered a box, but accepted whatever came in it. It was a frugal alternative to full price produce at the supermarket, and I was introduced to produce I had not heard of before. I now have too many food allergies and a much more limited range of produce (and foods in general) I can eat, so subscription boxes wont’ work for me any more, but I thought Jessica’s review of this particular subscription was fair and honest. Check out her other essays for great information on a range of food-related and kitchen topics.
MANSION: Want to buy an 11-acre mansion set on the cliffs of Dover, (In England) complete with its own lighthouse? Only 4.25 million UK pounds. Can’t quite pull that out of your pocket? Then take a virtual tour and enjoy the beauty, and dream a little.
MOVIES: Need a pleasing, feel-good family movie to rest your eyes and not blight your soul? I enjoyed Blue Miracle with Dennis Quaid. Here, The World reviews it positively, if you want to find more about it. On Netflix.
ART: The bustling NY City Tribeca art scene is as far away from here, a rural county with cows and pastures and farmers trundling up the road on tractors, but that’s why I’m fascinated with it. People in America live vastly different lives from each other in vastly diverse settings. Here is an art essay on the Tribeca gallery scene and the realtor who helped bustle it.
CATS: I’ve been missing having a cat lately. Not enough to get another one, and my lease forbids animals anyway, so I’ve satisfied my need to see kitties with watching Youtube videos. Of those, thousands abound! I watched a short series from wife and husband Rachel & Jun, who had pity on a starving, injured cat, caught it, and brought home to foster in their small apartment in Japan.
WRITING: We’ve had art, books, and now writing. Next will be music, thus completing my surf today of the arts I enjoy. I agreed with Doug Eaton who says that writing can be and often is a spiritual discipline. It is for me. I found this on Challies’ roundup links so a hat tip to him. Writing as a Spiritual Discipline
MUSIC: At Grace Community Church, there’s a media section of Hymnology. Opera singer Phillip Webb introduces a hymn by giving the backstory of the author, then he sings it. It’s a relaxing, educational, sweet 4 minutes. You can watch for free but need to sign up with email to get in. GCC doesn’t spam you. Hymnology from Hymns of Grace