Friday, February 02, 2018

Theological Thrift Shops: Taking Position Against Cheap Charis/Church

We've all heard it...  Speaking with a transparently repentant heart, I've preached it!  It's a propaganda and persuasion that promulgates and pushes the poison of cheap grace.  We've taken the divine and acted as desperate merchants who, for the aspiration of pomp and popularity, discounted the price.  To take the verse "all have sinned, and fallen short of God's glory," (Romans 3:23) as a justification for a compromised existence in the so called "believer" is heresy and nothing short of false prophesy in itself.

My wife finds excitement and exhilaration in "thrifting."  For her, to uncover a jewel, pair of shoes, unused small appliance, etc., that would otherwise cost a fortune, for only pennies on the dollar?  That is a slice of high living to her.  Treasures unlimited and untold are to be found in unassuming, quaint little spots like Salvation Army, Goodwill, and consignment shops alike.  They have undoubtedly yielded irrevocably grand discoveries.

Come'on... can you blame her?  Who doesn't just love a good deal?  And the sense of satisfaction, bliss, and accomplishment is evident every single time she "scores."  It can all be summed up in her ultimate quip and question, "Guess what I paid for it???"

I shall never forget her finding some studded Christian Louboutin's (these is red bottoms, theses is bloody shoes).  She rushed into the house and burst in on my introverted masterpiece of minimalism, and largely lethargic disposition, with non-containable glee.  She's holding these pair of pumps and asks three succinct questions:  1)  Do you realize what these are?  Being that I didn't have a clue, she quickly schooled me to the immensity of this find.  2) She let me know, "I Googled them and found out that these are selling online right now for $2100.00.  Okay, so now she has my attention and I'm thinking "this aint good even if she paid HALF that price."  (don't judge me)  Then her all too infamous question 3)  "Guess how much I paid for them?"  Knowing me... I answer in my all too pessimistic way, " I have absolutely NO IDEA."  She exclaims.... "20 WHOLE DOLLARS!!!"  $2100.00 shoes for 20 bucks???  WTH (that's heck btw) With an admitted relief, I was impressed.  I gave her a high five  and said "good job."  I mean, how does that work exactly?  Either someone 1) was in some mode of desperation when they let these go or 2) they didn't realize what they actually had.  AHAAAA!!!

I guess you may see where this is going...  How have we, in Christianity, so discounted the cost and value of grace?  We muddle in the corridors that discount how costly it actually is.  We have slashed the sacrifice of Calvary, and countless Christian Martyrs since that time, to seemingly imply that it requires almost nothing to be a Christian.  We want so desperately to make the next "sell" that we cut the cost by drastic proportions.

How have we done this?  We offer Grace without repentance, Justification by faith without the expectation of believing obedience.  We see the all too common "prosperity gospel" that sells what God does for us without mention or murmur of what He requires of us.  We cater to the theological thrifter...  The Apostle Paul said (2 Timothy 4:3) that the time is coming when "people will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from the truth."  Hmmmm that's ironic. My wife would almost always rather shop at a thrift store now than a main department store.  Why? Because she knows they won't require much of her.  Get that... she KNOWS it won't be costly.  She'll leave there with what must of us call "a steal."  The only time she's go into Dillard's, Macy's, Nordstrom's, etc. is when they appease her discounted disposition. (you know... 75% off the entire stock)

According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer we've ladled out "cheap grace" in alarming proportions.  We have unconsciously given the impression that believing obedience is no requirement when we come to the Christ.  Bonhoeffer declares, "cheap grace justifies the sin but doesn't justify the sinner."  I can picture and imagine there are masses of people congregating in our sanctuaries, synagogues, auditoriums and worship centers week in and out... then they rush out to brag and boast with that all too familiar inquisition, "GUESS WHAT I PAID FOR IT?"

Matter of fact... back to my wife's infamous "steal" of the infamous $20 Red Bottoms  THEY WERE A SIZE 34 (about a US size 6/6.5)... Okay and????  SHE WEARS A SIZE 8!!!.  So, she knew, and even admitted, that she would NEVER wear them.  Get it?  They didn't fit her!  You get the picture here?  She knew she would never "walk" in them!!!  The satisfaction, sense of attainment, pride, and contentment was in the bargain itself.  There was absolutely no expectation that she'd ever apply them.  She held and had something she would never use simply because someone offered it to her "'at a price she couldn't refuse."

So I ask.... How many are in our pews and stadium seats from week to week with NO intentions of ever walking in what we've offered them?  They're only there because it's a "bargain center."  Wow!!! Theological Thrift Centers... We invite them to, without conscious and in seeming celebration, to be hearers of the word and not doers. (James 1)  They're not patrons and part of your ministry because it's better but because you're "cheaper."

Reality is this.... Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, Channel, Burberry, Tiffany will hardly (if ever) be found at a discount center, or on sale. THEY DON'T HAVE TO.... They're authentic.  They know they're the real deal.  For sale???  Discount??? Are you serious, do you know what this is?  Maybe you can get a knock off somewhere, but not the real thing.

So... stop trying to sell the real thing, Jesus the Christ, on the tag of grace without repentance.  Cheap Grace???? That's an oxymoronic expression...  Christ told the rich young ruler "if you want this, you've got to sell all that you have, give it to the poor and follow me."  Christ tells us we must deny ourselves, take up the cross daily and follow Him."  That cross is  bloody... That cross is costly. The cost of salvation, demands the high cost of discipleship and obedience.   Reality is that grace is free but is definitely not cheap....

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Beyond The Veil

Today I read a comment by my brother thrice (biologically, in Christ, in preaching) Pastor Kraig L. Pullam. He basically makes issue with those who constantly want to go "higher" in the Lord. His point was a good one... Instead of higher why not deeper??? Hmmm. I have always felt that way but never really articulated that clearly. (Well said BROTHER Pastor)

As I facilitate a survey of the book of Hebrews with our congregation, I am certainly feeling Pastor Kraig on this idea of going "deeper." Realizing that we have a "great high Priest on the order of Melchizedek" is a great starting point for the believer. To understand that we have been invited into the "Holy of Hollies" to dwell continually in God's presence is an idea that, in and of itself, shatters ritualistic/superficial/legalistic mindsets we see way to often. I want to take advantage of the opportunity to walk beyond the outer court and continue until I am in a place where God and I commune. Yes Pastor Kraig, I want to go deeper in my pursuit to draw closer. Over and over again the Hebrew author invites us to "draw near" (closer).

It's no small task though. It takes (chapter 5) "confidence" and (chapter 10) "full assurance of faith." Far too often we encounter those who are much to timid and/or unsure about their relationship with, and access to, THE Father. Thus, we see a disenfranchisement of an entire congregation (or should I say Parish) of people. They are infused with the idea that they must follow the "old", rather than "new and living" way. Catholics caught within the confines of a Confessional Cabin to cry "vain repetition" toward (not God) what they call the "Vicar of Christ"??? We are assured by the word of God (1 Timothy 2:5) "there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." The Vicar, Victory, and Veil were all conquered by Christ... We have the right to walk "Beyond the Veil" that was rent "from top to bottom" by Christ Himself.

So... with ALL that said. (lol) I accept Jesus Christ and the privileged access to the Father that comes through HIM and HIM ALONE. Though I "forsake not the assembling" of myself together with the people of God on a regular and consistent basis, I realize that the responsibility and practice of drawing closer to God is mine individually. So... I refute the idea that any Person, Priest, or Parish has the monopoly on God-access and can somehow usher me into a place that has not already been exposed through the work of Christ.

Well... I think I just felt like rambling. At least I posted though. Love you all


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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Major Demands/Unlimited Supply

No doubt it's been several months since I last attempted to post. I probably don't have to convince the average Pastor that there have been several "swift transitions" during that time. High points (mountain top) and low point (valley lows) have come in their fair share. I have seen sickness, death, victory, and defeat. From passing of an infant child to walking across the stage to finally receive my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, it's been an eventful few months. Even now I am engaged in trying to lead or congregation through a "down time" into another "growth spurt." All of that while tackling two (yes It's crazy) Master's programs simultaneously. We can't forget the demands of family life. I have attempted to ever increase my involvement and effectiveness as a husband and father. I would guess it sounds like I am bordering or on the verge of complaining. However, that's not it at all. I am actually taking a moment to rejoice and thank the Lord for His unwavering and overwhelming providence. I the face of every DEMAND that life and ministry have presented THE LORD has been faithful to "supply all my need according to His riches in glory."


Wednesday, March 04, 2009

You Are A Preacher!!!

Today I am gleaning and gathering nuggets from a little book by W.W. Melton entitled "The Making Of A Preacher." It is a book that my father twice (in flesh and ministry) Pastor William L. Pullam made me aware of many years ago. It is NO LONGER in print, and he only had one copy which his father Deacon Lloyd A. Pullam gave to him early in his ministry. Recently he, my father, found a copy that was up for bid and consequently he won the bid for it. (amount undisclosed) On this past Sunday, when preaching at his fine church, he presented it to ME... Wow!!! ME??? To say that least, I am humbled and honored that he would think enough of me to give me a copy. I was sitting on the porch glued to this book and it seemed like, with every point, I was challenged, changed, and re-charged about my call into gospel preaching ministry. I thank my heavenly father above for such great insight and moving my earthly father to share.

Here's an excerpt from Chapter 1 "You Have Decided To Be A Preacher" :

"You are a preacher. What is your attitude toward sin? There are those who try to make a joke of sin. Are you among them? One's attitude toward sin will be the measure of his attitude toward Christ the Saviour. It will be the standard by which his attitude toward repentance, faith, regeneration, and redemption are measured. Any man who regards sin as a harmless defect in life, but nothing more serious, will think of Christ as a good but unnecessary person- and I spell the word with a small "p." Whoever makes a joke of hell must, out of necessity, make a joke of heaven. The man who would take the fire out of hell would also take the glory out of heaven. He that belittles sin will also belittle repentance. The man who denies the doctrine of atonement through the blood of Jesus has no Gospel to preach. A preacher who denies these great fundamental truths is a traitor if he stands in the pulpit and repudiates the things for which he claims to be called of God to proclaim, and for which he is paid by the church to proclaim."

There is SO much more but I understand how LONG posts usually don't gain much audience.

Soli Deo Gloria,
Pastor Kevin L. Pullam

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Endless Possibilities!!!

It has been accurately stated that "you cannot have an 8 track religion in a ipod generation." Yes... Traditional value and moral is where we find our source, substance, and sustaining. However, we must be careful that the traditional doesn't catch the "ism" bug. Man... Such indoctrination and stagnation can create a great dilemma. I am witnesses a great many, otherwise vital and vibrant ministries, falling and failing because they have failed to notice the difference between tradition and traditionalism. "What's the difference" you ask. Jaroslav Pelikan says, in The Vindication of Tradition, that “Tradition is the living faith of those now dead, Traditionalism is the dead faith of those now living.”

I am realizing more every day that the possibilities for God's people, and ministry, are endless. There are SO many things I envision the body of Christ doing to effect change for the Kingdom and in the lives of those who, otherwise, would not know Jesus Christ as the Living Lord and Savior. He is able to do "exceedingly, abundantly, above, all that we can ask or think." (Ephesians 3:20) Thus, my patience is wearing thin for short-sightedness. Those with a cold disposition and faithless attitude have begun to be one of the greatest irritants for me. Who are we to say what God CANNOT do in the life of anyone that has Him on their side?

Hallelujah... I am expecting GREAT and MIGHTY things to be made manifest in the life of every believer that has the audacity to believe, trust, and walk by faith rather than sight. "With people it is impossible, but not with God. For with God ALL things are possible." (Mark 10:27)

God Be Praise,

Kevin L. Pullam

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Stop Shoulding On Yourself

Yeah... I know. It's a feasible yet controversial statement. A statement about the well intentioned dragons that get caught up in the "conceptual" stages about what "should" be done. We've all witnessed those who have a firm grasp on what the problem is and, even more, what should be done about it. However, though they've put their minds and mouths in motion, they never make it into material movement and manifestation.

"We SHOULD take ministry beyond the walls of the church." "We SHOULD be more supportive of the pastor, his vision, and his leadership." Or, "what the pastor should have done is this and that." "Back in the day, when we had the previous opportunity, we SHOULD not have proceeded at the time." You see what I mean? A people and place that simply SHOULDS all over itself.

The bible says, "I must work the work of Him that has sent me while it is day, for night comes when no man can work." (John 9:4) It would seem as if we are repeatedly, in the word of God, admonished to DO in action rather than in concept. It's not enough to say "I should have given food to the hungry" or "we should have an agency to help abused women and children."

I am challenged and convicted to rid myself of the "should" that surrounds me and engage in ministry in an even greater way.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Freudian Mindset

Wow... I am preparing for a test, that commences in the morning, for a class called "Psychology of Personality." One of the strongest "theories" we have been wrestling with is that of Sigmund Freud. It's amazing that, though he was a self-proclaimed atheist, much of his overall perspective for humankind had a biblically relevant application. In a nutshell, Freud believed in the basic "badness" of the human race. In his estimation, we are ALL inanimately bad and thus have natural tendencies that gravitate toward an almost evil outcome and destiny. However, he believed that through a set and sequence of pregenital "stages" that one could learn to deal in society to be a functional person by way of healthy or functional advancement through each aforementioned stage. He believed that there were three levels of consciousness: The "id" The "ego" and The "superego." Id being the unconscious level of personality. Id, being driven by the pleasure principle, is an unfiltered and unquenchable force that basically seeks to do what is wanted and not what is politically correct. The superego is the "middle man" that basically tries to convince the id that his desire is understandable but not practical at the time. Thus the superego is fashioned to redirect the energies of the id to wait until there is some socially acceptable time and place to carry out it's driving desires. The ego represents the socially conscious level or echelon of personality existence. The ego has internalized the socially acceptable "means" of societal principles. So... The ego is a place that absorbs what is learned in society to be "morally right" in the eyes of the masses. What parents, church, God, etc has taught serves as the "acceptable" avenue for the id to satisfy it's urge.

This is important and amazing. Freud inadvertently substantiated the claims of the Holy Scriptures. Over and over again we see how, through the fall of Adam (subsequently mankind) we are all overcome with the tendency and penalty of sin. David said, in Psalm 51, "I was born into sin and in sin did my mother conceive men." Isaiah said, in Isaiah 6, "for I am a man of unclean lips and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips." Jesus Himself said, in John 3:18, "whoever believes in Him (Jesus) is NOT condemned, but he who does not believe is condemned ALREADY." Unfortunately, we all have a sin mechanism that is innately healthy WITHOUT the acceptance and sacrifice of our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ. Yes Freud... we ARE innately doomed to a life of evil and condescending tendency withOUT the intervention and intercession of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank God for the promise in 2 Corinthians 5:17... "if ANY man be in Christ he is a NEW creation, old things are past away BEHOLD, all things are become new."

Though Freud ultimately takes a pessimistic approach to the plight and plot of people, thank God there is a great high priest that, according to the Hebrew writer, has offered a new and living way. Thus the Freudian mindset, though having some validity in premise, is ultimately not the last voice on the matter.... Hallelujah!!!


Kevin L. Pullam