Fantasy Football Botherhood

Next week I have the privilege and honor of hosting 12 my closest friends here in New York for our Fantasy Football draft.

Wait did you feel that? It was the feeling of the deep eye roll. It’s the eye roll I get almost every time I mention Fantasy Football.

However our league is in it’s 12th year. Over 12 years these guys have become less “dudes” and more marvelous comrades. As most of us started out in the league as angst filled bachelors with out a clear long term occupation. We now find ourselves married with families and settling into long term career directions.

Growing up I was one of those dudes, that didn’t always relate well with other guys. I didn’t play sports. I was in the marching band, the varsity acting troupe and was the Christian club president. Most of my friends were girls, and save a very small few, most of my relationships with guys were mostly surface level. I never even knew having “bros” that I could share my heart with was possible. (take note however that while this post is a little gushy, they will appreciate it, but still give me crap… which is why I love them)

These guys have guys have been pillars in my life for over a decade. Guys like Dave Sliker, Isaac Bennett, Kyle Gebhart, Brent Steeno, Joel Sorge, Caleb Culver, Clay Edwards, Jon Ramos, Bob Powers, Kenny Reed, Micheal Sorge, Shawn Blanc, and others.

Through many different seasons of life they have been a source of entertainment, relief, counsel, and even discipleship. I’ve grown in faith, love and passion for Christ over the years, because of these guys. I love my FF bros like crazy! Which is why I’m excited to dominate them for yet another year.

So excited for the upcoming football season and excited to hang with these guys up here in my new home state of New York.

Strange Fire…

John MacArthur is one of my favorite Bible teachers. I find his books insightful and compelling.

However he is holding a conference in October called “Strange Fire” calling out the dangers of the Charismatic movement, and it seems to be more of a personal vendetta than a helpful dialog about the activity of the Holy Spirit in our present age. From the videos, and based on his books and previous teachings on the subject, it is being heralded as a stage to blast the “Charismatic church/ movement” as heretical, a false doctrine, and a blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. He even goes on to call it a “work of Satan”. Which I personally believe is dangerous and quite a loaded and scary accusation to make at fellow believers.

(site is here: http://www.tmstrangefire.org/)

His 3 main points:

1. The charismatic church has emphasized the third person of the trinity over the second. The Holy Spirit is meant to testify of Christ and not have attention drawn to him.

2. That the Charismatic movement has emphasized prophecy as equal to or greater than the canonized scripture.

3. That Speaking in tongues and the Holy spirit gifts were for establishing the cannon, and not for today. and can jeopardize the cannon.

As one who not only grew up in the Charismatic movement, was a leader at the International House of Prayer and served under Mike Bickle and Lou Engle, and now pastor a Charismatic church in upstate New York, I must say that most of his conjectures are more accusatory then based on fact.

Sure the Charismatic movement has it’s quirks. It has guys like John Crowder, Todd Bentley, Patricia King and others whom I pray for, consider them brothers to the extent I’m required to by scripture, but wouldn’t want to be known as “affiliated” with them. Not anymore then MacArthur would want to be known as “Affiliated” to Brian McLaren. The Charismatic movement has had strange “revivals” where interesting things have transpired that cause even this charismatic to tilt his head side ways and wonder at times. But it’s had it’s necessary breakthroughs as well.

The streams of the Charismatic river I’ve been apart of, especially IHOP, have taught me the opposite of what John claims they teach.

To MacArthur’s first point. I have only ever heard that the Holy Spirit is the witness of Christ and is important and not to be devalued because His job is to reveal Christ to our hearts. I’ve never heard a message (aside from some of the more wacky folks I mentioned) where the Holy Spirit was to be exalted higher than Jesus, or even equal to Jesus.

I believe there was a season in the last thousand years where an emphasis, or reminder of the Holy Spirit’s ministry was and is important to remember in our living, teaching, and talking about the Gospel.

To Mac Arthur’s second point. In 20 years of Charismatic Christianity, 11 years at the International House of Prayer, I never heard that prophecy was equal to or greater than scripture. In fact it was at IHOP I learned about the 5 “Solas of the reformation” and specifically MacArthur’s favorite “Sola Scriptura”.

I have watched people get rebuked tenderly for trying to hijack meetings with un-biblical prophecies. I have only ever heard that prophecy is to testify of Jesus and the person of Jesus embodied by Scripture and taught about through scripture. I’ve only ever heard that the Bible is the living, active word of God, and is to be defended and protected at all costs. On that note I can at least appreciate MacArthur’s energy to defend the word. I think he’s misguided here.

To his third point. It’s true, we are called the “charismatic” Christians. We aren’t cessasionists. Meaning we believe in the present activity of the Holy Spirit and the gifts. However I don’t believe that is a heresy, in the way he would like it to be. Nor do I see the Bible either condemning the gifts after the cannon. Nor do I see it causes them to cease after the cannon. In fact cessasionism is a hard Biblical argument to make. Which is why it’s usually made through church history and subjective experience. Also why Reformed Calvinist teachers such as Wayne Grudem, Mark Driscoll, etc are not cessastionists.

I’ll state again. I love MacArthur for his zeal for the integrity of the word. It’s needed. However, he seems to be barking up the wrong tree here and making enemies out of friends. To call Charismatics “debased”, “unbiblical” and “a work of Satan”.

Well them’s is strong Words.

Changing Our Stance On Homosexuality

This morning I watched the news feeds light up because of a few casual comments by the current Pope on not judging people who are gay. Besides the fact that I really truly am starting to like this Pontiff, I thought the reaction by people everywhere was very telling.

It’s been going on for months now. Last month we saw DOMA overturned and Exodus

Pope Francis saying: “Who am I to Judge Gay people?”

International president and founder Alan Chambers change his stance on homosexuality. Desmond Tutu coming out say God is not homophobic. The pressure is so intense on every side for the church both protestant and catholic to “change it’s stance” on homosexuality. Never before has there been such a drive by secular culture to infiltrate faith/ religion and change it’s meaning so the world can feel less judged.

The Pope’s comments from yesterday are sentiments that I echo. It is not for me or anyone to judge another person for who they are. We are all sinners. All are in need of grace. All are in need of transformation into the likeness of Christ, not the likeness of who we want to be. At the same time no man can change the “churches stance” on homosexuality, because no one can change God and His word.

I fear that we have done such a poor job at representing Christ to the world as believers that we have led them to believe that God is a moral idea that changes with time. That Christianity is simply a moral code to live up to and should evolve with culture and time. Which Christianity is not morality; it’s a man who is God.

God is a person. Doctrine is not a man crafted truth, but a God birthed truth to show us who we were meant to be in his infinite and beautiful imagination. It’s a road map to His heart where we can experience the love, joy and peace we were created for where sin has robbed us.  You can’t change His stance, no more than you can reorder the atoms in your hand.

That said, I have many gay friends. Guys I grew up with. Guys that used to serve with me in ministry. Girls who I consider friends who are now lesbians. I love them. When I see some of those guys I give them great big hugs. I listen to them. I don’t treat them any different then the other acquaintances I have. I do not change my beliefs on their lifestyle. However their lifestyle is between them and God.

We face a difficulty in the church, that wont go away or change. The Homosexual movement is only going to grow. The pressure is only going to increase. We as Christians can not give into the pressure to change God’s stance on Homosexuality. Because it’s His stance, not our own.

That said, In our resolve to stand firm with God and His word, we could use to love and accept the gay community as fellow humans. We don’t need to be constantly known for what we are against, but what we are for. We are for love. The love of Christ that saved our hearts, is available to homosexuals as well. They are brothers and sisters we want to see walk in the fullness of who they were created to be by God.

If there is someone who has genuine love for Jesus, who are we to question their salvation because they are presently gay? Lets encourage their faith. Encourage their reach for Christ. Encourage them in their journey with the Lord in the same way we would encourage those who love God but get drunk regularly and don’t want to admit they are alcoholics. To condemn anyone would be to curse them and assume that our words, not Christ’s, are the one’s that save them. To judge them is to declare that their story is over when it’s not.

It is entirely possible to love homosexuals with genuine affection and hold the line on homosexual acts being a sin without shaming and condemning people. My point is that we as a church need the grace of God to learn how. Not because the church will become irrelevant or because we’ll lose the culture. Those fears are silly. Jesus will always be relevant because he’s the creator God eternal, and to think we ever had a Godly culture in America in the first place is delusional. We need the grace to do this well because it’s the Gospel. It’s who Jesus was. It’s how He treats us.

If we want to see humanity walk in restoration, and have true transformation from sin (like homosexuality) we must remember that it’s God’s kindness and mercy that draws us to repentance. It’s true that sometimes kindness isn’t nice, but it’s always kind.

Romans 2: “… Don’t you know that it’s God’s kindness that leads to repentance.” 

Father show us your love that we may learn to love well.

Benjamin Dunn… No Thank You

I recently stumbled across this video on the interwebs.

I have heard of Mr Dunn for years now. It was no surprise to me that I would not appreciate his brand of “worship” or christian music. I realize lately i’m sounding like such and old fundy. I’m really not becoming one. But there are lines that can’t be crossed  for me. Not because of a religious/ morality, but because of love. I love Jesus and want my life to please Him.

The song and video below is well done… or “dunn”? The music is great. Song is cool. Video is well done… dunn.

However it made me sick to my stomach. If ever there was a video that embodied everything wrong with my generation and where 20-30 year old Christians are headed, this video does that. Again, if as a pastor it didn’t make my heart sink, I would have probably loved it. But I can’t it’s stupid.

Christian dance party, drinking, making out, acting like kids, singing about wanting to be like kids again. It’s a great idea. Lets promote to Christians that what’s best is to stay immature, irresponsible, and do what makes us feel good and get free from all those guidelines that Christians use to imprison folks… sigh.

Give me young men and woman who fear God and love Jesus and His word first. Who serve, love and respect one another by embracing the grace of God that gives us joy, but clean joy… Any way. I could rant and rant.

Watch the video and tell me what you think and if you see what I’m saying.

Re: Just When I Was Starting To Like This Dude

In response to my previous post on Pope Francis’ statements is the following article. It is possible that I jumped the gun in calling out the Holy Father. I agree with Him that we need to do good, and that everyone has the ability to do good because of God. I did feel that as one whose comments are regarded as the highest order, in THAT light I felt that he toed the line a little too much in his address.

At the end of the day I love Jesus. I want the truth of His gospel clear.

But a beautiful family member who I hold in the highest regard sent me this article, and I think it does help me uneasiness.

Friends Don’t Let HuffPo Writers Do Theology

May 23, 2013 By  Leave a Comment

Pope Francis Says All Who Do Good are Redeemed – Atheists Included

It takes some doing to get so many layers of complicated errors all folded into 11 words, but if anybody can do it, it’s HuffPo.

Let’s unpack this elaborate confection of blunders.

1. The first blunder is that what the Pope said–what he actually said, not what the headline reports–is “news” in the sense that it is some sort of startling change in Catholic teaching. It ain’t.

2. Pope Francis does not say that “all who do good are redeemed”. The reason he does not say this is because people–like HuffPo–are all too ready to assume that our redemption depends on us doing good. In fact, all who do good, and all who do evil, and all saints, and all Nazis, and pirates, and Communists and Mormons, Swedenborgians, and Satanists, and plumbers, and students who are getting Fs, and little kids and old coots, and profoundly brain-damaged folk and really brilliant scientists, and tall, and fat, and short people, and Muslims, and atheists, and Jews, and Buddhists and everybody else with a pulse are redeemed. Stalin is redeemed along with St. Damien of Molokai, Jack the Ripper and St Francis of Assisi are both redeemed. That’s not me. That’s the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

605 At the end of the parable of the lost sheep Jesus recalled that God’s love excludes no one: “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones should perish.” He affirms that he came “to give his life as a ransom for many”; this last term is not restrictive, but contrasts the whole of humanity with the unique person of the redeemer who hands himself over to save us. The Church, following the apostles, teaches that Christ died for all men without exception: “There is not, never has been, and never will be a single human being for whom Christ did not suffer.”

In short, the reason we are redeemed–all of us without any exception whatsoever, even Hitler and Judas Iscariot–is that Jesus Christ died for every human being without any exception whatsoever. That has nothing to do with our “doing good”. It has to do with the overwhelming generosity of God to us even when we are not good at all–even when we are pounding nails through his hands and feet.

While we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Why, one will hardly die for a righteous man–though perhaps for a good man one will dare even to die. But God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us. – Romans 5:6-8

So the offer of salvation is extended to all–including atheists, not because of our goodness, but because of God’s grace. However, that does not mean it is a slam dunk that the offer will be accepted by all.

3. Francis *does* say that atheists are capable of doing good, for the simple reason that they are and always have been able to do good by virtue of the fact that the natural law is accessible to any human being. That is true but not news–except to Huffpo.

So at the end of the day, the pope said… well, what the Church has pretty much always said. Which is kind of the job description.

Father’s Day

As I sit in my office and prepare my Father’s Day sermon for Sunday’s services, I am brought to tears of gratitude as I think about my own Father. 

I’ve found at 31 years old that every year you grow up, the more you learn about your self. Which means every year that goes by I realize more and more that the most positive traits I possess were given to me and taught to me by my Dad. He is the kindest, strongest, and most loyal, God fearing man I know.

I love you dad! I’m so grateful for you! I know you like to be known as Zack Hensley’s dad, but I like to be known as Bruce Hensley’s son!

Just When I Was Starting To Like This Dude

Pope Francis Atheists

It’s hard being a rational, thinking, philosophic minded individual with the conviction that somethings are absolute while other things are not. because speaking up on issues like this, you often get labeled as a fundamentalist sycophant with no ability to rationalize your faith.

However, the work of the cross and the need for humans to accept it in order to be saved and empowered through grace for good deeds is a fundamental and absolute truth that can’t be changed with the times. Nor can it be reinterpreted through a relativity in order to satisfy a nation drunk on subjectivity.

Article here:http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/22/pope-francis-good-atheists_n_3320757.html

The Pope saying that even atheists can be saved by doing good deeds is a boundary line we can’t cross. Not because atheists are second class citizens, they are beautiful image bearers of God that need reconciliation. A reconciliation that doesn’t come through good works.

Christianity is not morality, it’s love in Christ. We love others because we are empowered to by our love for Christ. You can’t have the second without the first.

Praying for the Pope. Praying for those in our faith. Let us fight the good fight of faith and lean into the saving work of Christ to empower us to love one another.

Stay classy