Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Musings on Noah's Ark, Pontoon Boats and God's Wisdom

Posted by Christine Pack

Answers in Genesis, the premier apologetics ministry for the biblical account of creation, published an article a few years ago about a remarkable man in Netherlands who decided to build a model of Noah's ark, based on the parameters given in Genesis 6-9.  Dutch businessman Johan Huibers has constructed an ark replica that is roughly one-fifth the size of the biblical ark represented in the historical account given in Genesis. Huibers has stated that his desire in doing this project was to bring about a renewed interest in Christianity to Netherlands.

I remember reading this article when it came out, and being so thankful for faithful men like Johan Huibers.  We are living in dark times that only seem to be getting darker, but thankfully, there are always a few people hanging around who take God at his Word, right?

The ark is an amazing thing to ponder, from many different angles.  Here is just one aspect to consider, though I hope to cover more in future articles:

My family and I spent the day on the lake yesterday with another family, good friends of ours. Because there were 8 of us (instead of our usual 4) and also because it was one of the busiest weekends of the year (Labor Day weekend), my husband reserved a pontoon boat for us.  It occurred to me at some point during the day that I never get nervous when we are on the pontoon, even in the choppiest, busiest "water traffic." Why is this? Because a pontoon boat is incredibly stable, with its wide, flat bottom and evenly dispersed weight.  Even in the roughest swells, it never even comes close to tipping.  We have gone out before in some really fun, fast speed boats, but those can capsize in stormy or rough water.  And it also occurred to me that a pontoon is built roughly like the ark that God had Noah build.....which of course was why the biblical, historical ark was so stable, even in the most cataclysmic flood the world has ever seen.

Just another reason to give glory to God, for ALL wisdom comes from him......even in something so humble as boat building.

photo credit: elmada via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

Answers in Genesis

Johan Huibers and His Ark Project

Sunday, September 5, 2010

You, Lord, who know all things....

J.C. Ryle
❝Above all, let us pray daily that our own Christianity may at any rate be genuine, sincere, real and true. Our faith may be feeble, our hope dim, our knowledge small, our failures frequent, our faults many. But at all events letus be real and true. Let us be able to say with poor, weak, erring Peter, 'You, Lord, who know all things, know that I love You.' ❞ (John 21:17)  -J.C. Ryle
I identify so much with the Apostle Peter. My own Christian journey has been like his in some ways: starting out with a zeal for God but no knowledge, being refined, being foolish, learning and being refined more, more foolishness, and finally knowing at the end that HE is God and I am small, insignificant, sinful and wretched. And sometimes all I can do is say, Lord, despite all my wretchedness, my sin, my foolishness, search my heart...and know that I love you.

 Additional Resources 

Subscribe to J.C. Ryle's Christ-centered quotes Mon-Fri 

Monday, August 23, 2010

Grace and peace.

The Sola Sisters are taking a brief break.  We will resume shortly.  

Monday, August 9, 2010

"Christian" Yoga?

Posted by Christine Pack

This recent YouTube video with Caryl Matrisciana on the dangers of yoga is both sobering and informative, and explains why Christians should not attempt to "blend" their worship of God with the pagan practices of Hinduism.  This is a very timely issue right now, given that a Hollywood movie starring Julia Roberts (Eat, Pray, Love) is about to be released and will be presenting a glowing cinematic portrayal of a sanitized, Americanized version of Hinduism.

Yoga is the salvific practice of Hinduism; in other words, it is the Hindu form of "salvation." But Hindus have no concept of sin against a holy God....instead, it teaches that man's greatest problem is his ignorance that he is "God" (or Brahman). Obviously, this is very different from the Christian understanding of what salvation is: Jesus's atoning death for the forgiveness of sins, and being made right with a holy God.

Just a few more reasons why yoga cannot be separated from its occultic origins are:

(1) The mantra meditation lowers mental barriers and opens one up to the demonic realm (though it often doesn't "feel" demonic at first...it feels "good" and "spiritual".....even holy);

(2) The yoga positions themselves are all prayer postures designed to honor one of the millions of hindu gods;

(3)  The "Namaste" is an unbiblical practice. "Namaste" is when the yoga practitioners bow to one another while each says "Namaste." "Namaste" means "I am bowing to the 'God' within you." This is obviously not a biblical concept because we cannot assume that everyone we would meet in life has God within them. For the Christian, there are only 2 kinds of people: those who are spiritually dead (the lost), and those who are born again believers in-dwelt by the Holy Spirit. For me to practice the "Namaste" would mean that I would be giving false hope and assurance to the lost that I am recognizing them as my spiritual brothers and sisters.

(4) The yoga positions themselves are not only for the purpose of honoring and worshiping Hindu gods, but they are done in a very specific order for the purpose of aligning and opening up the"chakra" system.  It is believed that this alignment will not only enable one to meditate more deeply, but will also awaken something called "kundalini," also known as "serpent power." In the yoga tradition, it is believed that a "serpent" lies coiled and sleeping at the base of the spine until it is "awakened" and begins to uncoil, slowly moving its way up the spine, and allowing the practitioner deeper meditation and union with "Brahman."

Brahman is supposed to be this infinite, transcendent reality from which all things came - including the millions of Hindu gods. The aim of yoga is to attain union with Brahman......basically, the ultimate purpose of yoga is to release people from the Wheel of Life, and their karmic debts, and to prepare its practitioners for death.

However, the response I often hear from Christians is this: "But as a Christian, I can 'do' yoga unto the Lord!" My question would be: How is that any different from the golden calf incident, recorded in Exodus 32:1-6, in which Aaron tried to claim that they were honoring the Lord with their syncretized religious worship?
"When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, "Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don't know what has happened to him." Aaron answered them, "Take off the gold earrings that your wives, your sons and your daughters are wearing, and bring them to me." So all the people took off their earrings and brought them to Aaron.  He took what they handed him and made it into an idol cast in the shape of a calf, fashioning it with a tool. Then they said, "These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt." When Aaron saw this, he built an altar in front of the calf and announced, "Tomorrow there will be a festival to the LORD." So the next day the people rose early and sacrificed burnt offerings and presented fellowship offerings. Afterward they sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in revelry." (Exodus 32:1-6, my emphasis)
This story is one of the most powerful biblical warnings there is against incorporating pagan practices into our worship of God.   What most people don't realize is that this well-known incident wasn't about straight up paganism. No, this story records how God's chosen people blended together (1) what they had been taught to do by God with (2) pagan practices that were familiar to them from their years of captivity in Egypt. They knew about altars and making offerings to God. And they knew about pagan animal worship from their exposure to Egyptian culture. When Moses delayed returning to the people from atop the mountain where he was speaking with God, the people  decided to create their own tangible way of worshiping God. So they set up an altar, added a little Egyptian flavor in the form of cow worship, and called it a festival for the Lord. And God saw this, and was very pleased? Not exactly. This is what the Bible records:
"Then the LORD said to Moses, "Go down, because your people, whom you brought up out of Egypt, have become corrupt. They have been quick to turn away from what I commanded them and have made themselves an idol cast in the shape of a calf. They have bowed down to it and sacrificed to it and have said, 'These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.' "I have seen these people," the LORD said to Moses, "and they are a stiff-necked people. Now leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. Then I will make you into a great nation." " (Exodus 32:7-10, my emphasis)
God was not pleased - and only Moses' intercession on their behalf saved them from being completely destroyed by God. As if that weren't a clear enough warning against mixing pagan worship practices with worship of God, we are also warned in Deuteronomy against spiritual syncretism:
"The LORD your God will cut off before you the nations you are about to invade and dispossess. But when you have driven them out and settled in their land, and after they have been destroyed before you, be careful not to be ensnared by inquiring about their gods, saying, 'How do these nations serve their gods? We will do the same.' You must not worship the LORD your God in their way..." (Deut, 12:29-31a, my emphasis)
God is quite clear on how we are to worship and approach him - and it is not through blending our worship of him with pagan practices.  I recognize that it is very hip and cool and popular in today's global, syncretized culture to meld different things together. We are most certainly an experience-driven culture, always seeking the fresh, exciting, "new" thing. And we also like our smorgasbord religions, with a little of this, a little of that. But we have clear mandates from Scripture about how we are to worship and approach God. We are to be set apart from the world - not syncretized with it - so that's God's truth will shine like a beacon in the darkness.

So, how did the story turn out?  How did the Lord view the golden calf incident? Was He "honored" by the claim of the Israelites and Aaron that they were, in fact, worshiping him with their incorporation of pagan religious practices?
"He took the calf they had made and burned it in the fire, and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the Israelites drink it." (Exo 32:20)
Bottom line? Christians must not be tempted to "borrow" practices from false religions and fool themselves into thinking that they can honor the Lord in this way. And if they have done so, they should repent.....or they might just end up drinking ground calf juice.

photo credit: vaXzine via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

Yoga Can Be Hazardous To Your Health

Yoga Alliance Shows Its Hindu Teeth

Christian Yoga an Oxymoron?

Yoga Training: Not Just Exercise

Yoga For Children: Not Child's Play

Yoga: From Hippies To Hip

Yoga: Its Spiritual Roots Can't Be Separated From Its Physical Movements

Julia Roberts: "I'm Definitely A Practicing Hindu"

Doctor Prescribes "Therapeutic" Yoga For A Christian Woman with Devastating Consequences

Friday, August 6, 2010

Julia Roberts: "I'm Definitely A Practicing Hindu"

Posted by Christine Pack

Julia Roberts, who stars in the upcoming movie Eat, Pray, Love - which presents a sort of "Americanized" version of Hinduism - recently said in an interview that she is now a practicing Hindu.

Only in America could we find a way to romanticize the core theology of Hinduism to the point that it looks appealing - when in reality it is a religion of despair.  The "Americanized" form of Hinduism, however, as artfully put forth in Eat, Pray, Love, "feels" very good to the sinful flesh.   As a friend of mine pointed out....food binges, Eastern spirituality, and free love?  Please!  So much more appealing than the biblical concepts of crucifying the flesh, dying daily to self, and laying down one's life.

Julia Roberts needs to read Out of India by Caryl Matrisciana to get an understanding of the underlying ugliness and despair of true Hinduism.  Writer and producer Caryl Matrisciana was born and raised in India, and witnessed first-hand the devastating effects of Hindu thought and beliefs on the culture around her.  The goal of Hinduism is for its practitioners to realize that one's soul is identical to Brahman, the "Supreme Soul."  Or, in layman's terms....we are all "god," which is the core theology of the New Age.

But, UNTIL a Hindu attains this knowledge, they are, according to eastern belief (Hinduism/Buddhism), trapped in the cycle of birth, life, death and rebirth (reincarnation).....a theology which leads to utter despair.

We've written before about the fact that the New Age, that "dated" 80s movement starring Shirley MacLaine running down the beach with her crystals clanking, never really went away, it just became absorbed into our culture.  New convert and "practicing Hindu" Julia Roberts has just proved this point...in spades.  Hinduism and New Age Spirituality are here to stay.

photo credit: david_shankbone via photo pin cc

photo credit: indi.ca via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

"Christian" Yoga?

Universalism: The Gospel Message of Emergent and New Age Spirituality

Karma Just Doesn't Cut It

Yoga Alliance Shows Its Hindu Teeth

Christian Yoga an Oxymoron? 

Yoga Training: Not Just Exercise

Yoga For children: Not Child's Play

Yoga: From Hippies To Hip

Yoga: Its Spiritual Roots Can't Be Separated From Its Physical Movements

Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Response and An Open Letter to Anne Rice

Dear Anne-

Thank you for engaging on this.  Please know that the purpose of my original post about you was not to quarrel or dispute with my brothers in Christ over at White Horse Inn.  There is a difference between biblically exhorting and quarreling...and I was simply hoping, by God's grace, to exhort them to test all confessions of faith against God's word.

You wrote to Sola Sisters:
"This article is a perfect example of the kind of quarreling and disputes that infect Christianity and Christians. Roman Catholics aren't Christian? This is precisely why my commitment to Christ demands that I have to step away from organized religion."
My response would be that I think the heart of the issue is that there are certain things in Scripture that Christians are holding the line on that you find offensive, even wrong.  But do we get to "cherry pick" only the truths that "feel" good and spiritual to us while rejecting others?

Anne Rice, Author
My pastor often makes the statement: "We are reformed, always reforming."  Meaning, we all have gaps in our theology, but we don't "close the gaps" with our own man-made wisdom....we allow Scripture to "reform" our thinking.  Let's say there is something that I hold as a "truth," something that I think has guided me faithfully for years.  I love this truth, I embrace it, I speak about it to others, it has value to me.  And let's say that in ongoing Bible study, one day I realize this "truth" to be in error.  What happens to this "truth?"  Bye-bye, is what happens to it.  It has to go.  It's been great knowing you, dear "truth," but I have something better:  Scripture.....God's truth.

What I have discovered in my own life, as I grow older and study the Bible more, is that the ideas I've come up with as I travel through life - which oftentimes have seemed so profound along the way - have always been shown for what they are in light of Scripture: Silly little nothings. Futile thinking. Vain imaginations. (2 Cor. 10:5, Rom 1:21-22).  I must reform my thinking in light of Scripture because I am a Christian.  I do not insist that its truths must "work" alongside mine.  I bow the knee in humble submission to God's Word.

Anne, I would be the first to admit that not all professing Christians speak the hard truth of Scripture in love.  But this still does not mean that these hard truths are not there, and that they do not demand a response: they do.  Your response has been to say:
"In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian."
As gently and lovingly as possible, Anne, I must tell you that I and my fellow Christians have not drawn the line in the sand on these issues....God has.  Your quarrel is not with us; it is with Him.

And I also have to wonder: have you ever heard the true gospel message?  It is not simply that there is a God high and holy - even pagans and lost people know that through natural revelation.  And I gathered from listening to your interview that you at least felt this truth pressed upon you.  But this is not the gospel.

The gospel message of salvation is that there is a sovereign creator God who has made us, and owns us, and has a righteous claim on our lives.  But we have sinned against this God who made us and takes care of us by breaking his moral laws....and without his merciful and loving intervention, we will die in our sins and be condemned to hell forever.  It is a wretched, desperate situation.  But God, being rich in mercy and loving-kindness, made a way where there was none: He has made a way for sinful man to be reconciled to a holy God. How could this be done?  It seems impossible, given God's nature.  We are sinful, wretched, depraved.....and He is pure and holy beyond our comprehension.  And after all, the Bible itself plainly lays out the bad new for us in Proverbs 17:15:
"Acquitting the guilty and condemning the innocent—the LORD detests them both."
Will not justice be subverted if a holy God does both of these things - acquit the guilty (us) and condemn the innocent (Christ)?  And yet, God - in his magnificent, unsurpassable wisdom - found a way to do just this thing without compromising his perfect, holy justice.  He sent his Son, Jesus Christ, who lived a perfect life, never sinning in thought, word or deed, and who, because of this, was able to offer up his life as a ransom for many. I broke God's laws, and Jesus paid my fine in his life's blood so that I could be released from the rightful condemnation of the law.  But this gift of salvation, though given freely, is narrow and exclusive.  Only those who recognize their sinful wretchedness and need for a Savior, and repent and place their faith in Christ's atoning work done on their behalf, will see the kingdom of Heaven.  The very first words of Jesus's public ministry (Matthew 4:17) were: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."  Narrow is the way, and few be those who find it. But ah, the wretched, human heart, which hugs its sin and depravity close, and would rather perish, clinging stubbornly and unrepentantly to its right to determine what "truth" is....

In closing, I am praying for you to be given "eyes that see" and "ears that hear." I also welcome your response, either publicly or privately.

(one of the Sola Sisters :) )

photo credit: lanskymob via photo pin cc

 Additional Resources 

Anne Rice Rejects "Christianity?"

Proverbs 17:15 - What Is Real Christianity? by Paul Washer

The Stranger on the Road To Emmaus

A Former Roman Catholic Priest Gives His Testimony