Pastor Don Wolan

Pastor Donald Wolan
Downriver Christian Community Church
Melvindale, Michigan

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Always Raymembered!

The Apostle John says that there is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friend. Memorial Day commemorates and celebrates those who paid the ultimate price for our freedoms and blessings by the laying down of their lives for us on the various and numerous fields of battle. As we pause to think about the men and women who paid the supreme price, let us also remember the one who brought true freedom to all of mankind by his death and resurrection from the grave over 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ! Without his total victory over the grave and death, we would still be slaves to our fallen nature.

Freedom is a concept that has been perverted in our sophisticated era into a license for immorality and debauchery. To the founders of our country, however, it meant to be free under God's law to pursue life, liberty, and happiness. These principles still inspire men and women all over the world to throw off the shackles of tyranny and oppression and to pursue lives where true freedom can be enjoyed and passed on to future generations no matter the cost. All of these things are only possible when a nation submits itself to the rule of the King of Kings! Please see Psalm 2 for further elaboration. Submission to any other "king" brings only bondage, judgment, and death!

Take a couple of minutes and watch the following video of Ray Charles singing "America, The Beautiful." This video and song go out to all men and women who love freedom and have paid, or are willing to pay, the price - not only for themselves, but for those who will follow after them. May this song reignite a passion in all of us to see this country restored to the greatness of former days under the authority and Lordship of Jesus Christ.

Ray Charles: "America, The Beautiful"

Oh beautiful for heroes proved,
In liberating strife,
Who more than self, our country loved,
And mercy more than life.

America, America may God thy gold refine,
Till all success be nobleness
And every gain divine.

And you know when I was in school,
We used to sing it something like this, listen here:

Oh beautiful, for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties,
Above the fruited plain,

But now wait a minute, I'm talking about
America, sweet America
You know, God done shed his grace on thee,
He crowned thy good, yes he did, in brotherhood,
From sea to shining sea.

You know, I wish I had somebody to help me sing this
(America, America, God shed his grace on thee)
America, I love you America, you see,
My God he done shed his grace on thee,
And you oughta love him for it,
Cause he, he, he, he crowned thy good,
He told me he would, with brotherhood,
(From sea to shining Sea).
Oh Lord, oh Lord, I thank you Lord.
(Shining sea).

Always Raymembered!

Pastor Don

Déjà Vu All Over Again!

"It's like déjà vu, all over again." - Yogi Berra

Well, Doomsday has come and gone once again, and the modern day prophets have missed the mark again. If there is one thing that is consistent among these modern day apocalyptic speculators is that they are wrong EVERY time, but will never admit it! Names and dates are constantly changed and predictions revised as one prophecy after another fails to come to fruition. Instead of giving up on their careers as failed prophecy teachers, these teachers will go back to the prophetic drawing board to rework their doomsday calculations. Unfortunately, most Christians will continue to guess and anticipate the time of the "rapture" and "Christ's Second Coming." Books, seminars, talk shows, and other sources of information will spew forth the latest and newly recalculated dates and times. It took Harold Camping nearly two days to "revive" his failed timeline for Judgment Day after his current prediction miserably crashed. Judgment Day, according to him, is now October 21st, 2011. Please mark that date on your "end-of-the-world calendar" and make the appropriate arrangements for your departure. I'm sure he will once again recalculate the date when October 2011 comes and goes.

If there is one area of controversy in the modern day church that I believe has devastated its mission, its the subject of eschatology. Eschatology is the study of the end times or the end of the world. It is a subject that has both terrorized and fascinated mankind, as well as the church, for over two millenniums. How can one not be awed by the "moon not giving its light," "stars falling from the heavens," "the sun growing dark," "the earth being burnt up with fire," or a host of other Biblically predicted end time events. There is only one small problem with all these numerous scenarios - the Bible does not teach these events as end-of-the-world phenomena! These signs were taught as the end-of-the-age phenomena! These two views, end-of-the-world versus end-of-the-age, make a BIG difference in how we interpret the Bible and the effect it will have on our daily and future lives! Unfortunately, the supposedly Biblically-based end-of-the-world predictions by these "prophecy experts" has undermined the authority of the Bible and the message of the church to a lost and dying world. How can the message of the Bible be true if the prophecies in it are always wrong?

Well, the Bible is not wrong with any of its prophecies. It's the "Bible prophecy speculators" who have pulled the prophecies out of their historic and time-constrained contexts and have twisted and turned them into something that is beyond recognition! EVERY New Testament prophesy dealing with the "end" was addressed to people living immediately after the accession of Jesus. These prophecies were written for their instruction and warning! They are recorded for us in Holy Scripture to once again  prove to us the reliability and truth of God's Word! Gary Demar from American Vision states: "The New Testament is filled with exhortations that a near eschatological event was on the horizon for those living at that time." Here are some examples:

  • The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. - Romans 13:12
  • But this I say, brethren, the time has been shortened, so that from now on those who have wives should be as though they had none. - 1 Corinthians 7:29
  • Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come, - 1 Corinthians 10:11
  • Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. - Philippians 4:5
  • God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. - Hebrews 1:2
  • [Jesus] would have needed to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now once at the consummation of the ages He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. - Hebrews 9:26
  • [Let us not forsake] our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near. - Hebrews 10:25
  • For yet in a very little while, He who is coming will come, and will not delay” - Hebrews 10:37
  • Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! - James 5:3
  • Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door. - James 5:7–9
  • The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer. - I Peter 4:7
  • Children, it is the last hour; and just as you heard that antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have appeared; from this we know that it is the last hour. - 1 John 2:18
  • The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John. - Revelation 1:1
  • Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near. - Revelation 1:3
  • I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown. - Revelation 3:11
  • And [the angel] said to [John], ‘These words are faithful and true’; and the Lord, the God of the spirits of the prophets, sent His angel to show to His bond-servants the things which must soon take place. - Revelation 22:6
  • And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed is he who heeds the words of the prophecy of this book. - Revelation 22:7
  • And [the angel] said to [John], ‘Do not seal up the words of the prophecy of this book, for the time is near. - Revelation 22:10
  • Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done. - Revelation 22:12
  • He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Come, Lord Jesus. - Revelation 22:20

To take these prophecies out of their first century audience and time frame context and apply them to a future time period 2000 years in the future is to do violence to the good news of the Bible's message and to undermine its credibility. Notice what C.S. Lewis said about the supposedly unfulfilled first century end time prophecies and read a blogger's comments about his quote:

…But there is worse to come. "Say what you like" we shall be told, "the apocalyptic beliefs of the first Christians have been proved to be false. It is clear from the New Testament that they all expected the Second Coming in their own lifetime. And, worse still, they had a reason, and one which you will find very embarrassing. Their Master had told them so. He shared, and indeed created, their delusion. He said in so many words, this generation shall not pass till all these things be done. And he was wrong. He clearly knew no more about the end of the world than anyone else." It is certainly the most embarrassing verse in the Bible. …The one exhibition of error and the one confession of ignorance grow side by side. …The facts, then, are these: that Jesus professed himself (in some sense) ignorant, and within a moment showed that he really was so. - C. S. Lewis, The World's Last Night
I agree that this is embarrassing for Christianity. It is clear from a careful reading of the New Testament that Jesus and the early Christians thought the end of the world, and Judgment, was coming soon, but I wouldn't have expected Lewis to admit it. So, "Jesus, mad, bad or God" - or just a preacher prone to making claims and predictions that turned out not to be true? - blogger's comment on C.S. Lewis quote

In his book The Last Days According to Jesus, R.C. Sproul writes that he could never accept the statement from C.S. Lewis that Jesus was wrong about his return. He could accept the notion that "Bible scholars" could be wrong about a particular interpretation of scripture, but he could never accept that Jesus was wrong about anything.

Being wrong about their particular interpretation of scripture, however, will not stop the modern prophets of doom from seeing the "fulfillment of Bible prophecy right before our eyes" with EVERY new disaster, uprising, or event making front page headlines in newspapers. Instead of moving on, these false teachers will give us just more of the same tired, old, and incorrect "latest" revelations of the signs of the end of the world. It will be déjà vu all over again!

Pastor Don

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

It's "Fairy" Obvious!

Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them.  For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. - Romans 1:19-20

Let us begin this morning service with a reading from the scriptures. Let us now bow our heads and turn to the book of Hawkins, chapter 12, verses 10-12! Please read along with me from the "holy book"...
"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
Chapter 20 verse 3 says...."There is no God and that humans should therefore seek to live the most valuable lives they can while on Earth."

Our "sermon" today by Hawkins sets forth for us some simple truths. There is no God, no heaven, no afterlife, no sin, no purpose to our existence here on earth, no soul that lives on past the death of the body, no need for a savior or any other religious figure except Hawkins. He alone know the "truths" of life and death. When he speaks, he speaks ex cathedra without error and fallibly. His views, and his views alone, should be regarded as absolute truth! All on the side of scientific truth listen to him!

I could go on and on with this comedic nonsense, but I think I have fully illustrated my point. Over the past weekend, Yahoo columnist Liz Goodwin did a story on Stephen Hawkins, focusing on some comments he made about life, death, God, and the origin of the universe. If you are not familiar with who Stephen Hawkins is, I would suggest you go to Wikipedia. Hawkins is famously known as a theoretical physicist and a former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge for over 30 years. He is also well-known as the author of the New York Times best selling book, A Brief History of Time. His other accomplishments are so numerous and well-documented to the point that I would hardly have the space in this blog to list them. He is world famous and, like E. F. Hutton, when he speaks people listen!

In spite of all his incredible accomplishments, Hawkins is most widely known for for his physically disabling condition. Hawkins has a progressive, debilitating disease commonly known as Lou Gehrig's Disease or Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. This horrible disease affects the central nervous system and leaves its victims completely paralyzed or dead. Stephen Hawkins has suffered with this disease for many years but has accomplished more in his lifetime than many of us would accomplish in ten lifetimes! Despite his physically limiting condition, Stephen Hawkins possesses one of the greatest minds of the 21st century. Fortunately for Hawkins, modern science has made it possible for him to communicate with the world and has allowed us a small glimpse at his incredible mind.

Stephen Hawkins, despite all his many accomplishments and awards, has wandered off the scientific reservation and has trespassed into the strange domain of fairyland himself. Priding himself as a man who is "led by the evidence," "convinced by the scientific method," or "trusting in the faculties of reason," Stephen Hawkins has boldly gone where few others have dared to go. He has been an outspoken critic of God and has replaced scriptural truths with some of his own. Here are a few of his "true" "fairyland" beliefs.
  • "Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist."" 
  • "It is not necessary to invoke God to ... set the Universe going,"
  • "We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star."
  • "For millions of years mankind lived just like the animals. Then something happened that unleashed the power of our imagination. We learned to talk."
  • "There is no place for God in theories on the creation of the Universe."

Many other similar and foolishly incredible quotes could be added to the above list, but I think you get the point. Stephen Hawkins has just "revealed" to us the answers to all of life's toughest questions. How does a man who is trained in and deals with advanced mathematics, logic, and careful and critical investigation make absolute pronouncements about metaphysical questions? How does Stephen Hawkins KNOW the universe can and will create itself from nothing? Has he ever observed this before in a laboratory? Has he ever SEEN something create itself spontaneously from nothing? ALL science is based on a cause and effect relationship. What caused nothing to become something? HOW does Mr. Hawkins KNOW that it is not necessary to invoke God to get the universe going? How did it get going if there was NOTHING to get it going in the first place? What kind of explanation is "SOMETHING HAPPENED" that unleashed the power of our imagination? What kind of SCIENTIFIC EXPLANATION is that?

The world ridicules Christians for invoking God as the creator and sustainer of all things, but then posits NOTHING as the creator and GRAVITY as its sustainer! Who is kidding whom? Romans 1:19-20 tells us that all of creation itself testifies to the the existence of God and that mankind is without excuse when it comes to acknowledging the reality of a God. When one of the world's most brilliant men throws all sensibilities and reason out the window, it's "fairy" obvious to me who is telling and believing a fairy story!

Pastor Don

Saturday, May 14, 2011

That's My King!

At our Bible Release Class last Tuesday, we talked about Jesus being the King of Kings and what that phrase means and should mean to us. We concluded the class with a video from YouTube - a sermon preached by the late Dr. SM Lockeridge. Dr. Lockeridge preached these words in Detroit in 1976, and they impacted me as a modern Psalm of declaration and adoration. I've posted his entire sermon for your viewing pleasure. For a more dramatic presentation of the sermon, watch the video below. May the message serve as an inspiration for you to acknowledge, proclaim, and know the King of Kings in a more personal and glorious way!

"That's My King"
by SM Lockridge
My King was born King. The Bible says He's a Seven Way King. He's the King of the Jews - that's an Ethnic King. He's the King of Israel - that's a National King. He's the King of righteousness. He's the King of the ages. He's the King of Heaven. He's the King of glory. He's the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that's my King.

Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don't try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

He's enduringly strong. He's entirely sincere. He's eternally steadfast. He's immortally graceful. He's imperially powerful. He's impartially merciful. That's my King. He's God's Son. He's the sinner's Savior. He's the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He's honest. He's unique. He's unparalleled. He's unprecedented. He's supreme. He's preeminent. He's the grandest idea in literature. He's the highest personality in philosophy. He's the supreme problem in higher criticism. He's the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He's the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That's my King.

He's the miracle of the age. He's the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He's the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He's available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes and He saves. He's the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent, and He beautifies the meek. That's my King.

Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He's the wellspring of wisdom. He's the doorway of deliverance. He's the pathway of peace. He's the roadway of righteousness. He's the highway of holiness. He's the gateway of glory. He's the master of the mighty. He's the captain of the conquerors. He's the head of the heroes. He's the leader of the legislatures. He's the overseer of the overcomers. He's the governor of governors. He's the prince of princes. He's the King of Kings and He's the Lord of Lords. That's my King.

His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you . . . but He's indescribable. That's my King. He's incomprehensible, He's invincible, and He is irresistible.

I'm coming to tell you the heavens of heavens can't contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can't get Him out of your mind. You can't get Him off of your hands. You can't outlive Him, and you can't live without Him. The Pharisees couldn't stand Him, but they found out they couldn't stop Him. Pilate couldn't find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn't get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn't kill Him. Death couldn't handle Him, and the grave couldn't hold Him. That's my King.

He always has been, and He always will be. I'm talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He'll have no successor. There's nobody before Him, and there'll be nobody after Him. You can't impeach Him and He's not going to resign. That's my King! That's my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. We're around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but it's God's power. Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? And ever and ever and ever and ever. . . And when you get through with all of the forevers, then . . .Amen!

And everyone said! AMEN!!!!
Pastor Don

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

"You Can't Handle the Truth!"

Jessep (Jack Nicholson): "You want answers?"
Kaffee (Tom Cruise): "I think I'm entitled to them."
Jessep: "You want answers?"
Kaffee: "I want the truth!"
Jessep: "You can't handle the truth!"
- From the movie A Few Good Men

By now, everyone is aware of the dramatic Special Forces operation conducted over the weekend against Osama bin Laden, one of the masterminds behind the 9-11 attack on the twin towers and top leader of the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. He has been responsible for numerous terrorist attacks, resulting in many injuries and deaths throughout the world. Bin Laden had been on the FBI Most Wanted List since 1999 and spent the last 10 years in hiding throughout the Middle East, trying to avoid detection by the United States and its allies.

When the news arrived that bin Laden had been killed by a covert military operation inside Pakistan, it truly was a time of relief and rejoicing for those who had been personally affected by bin Laden's hideous crimes. All the hard work and resources that had been used to bring about this end gave the country a sense of great sanctification. We truly felt that any mission that we undertook and devoted the necessary resources toward accomplishing could be completed successfully.

When it came time to announce publicly the details of the operation and questions began to be asked about the raid, the sense of pride we all felt began to evaporate into a cloud of total disbelief and bewilderment. The first White House press conference reported that Osama bin Laden had been killed in a firefight with Navy Special Forces and that bin Laden himself used a woman as a shield as he fired at Navy Seals. Later, it was officially reported that bin Laden was not armed but rather killed as he "resisted" capture and a woman was shot in the leg as she attacked Navy Seals! After a firestorm of questions and more confusion, it was officially reported that bin Laden was unarmed but killed while reaching for a gun. When it was pointed out that the story's details keep changing, it was stated that "the fog of war" hampered an accurate reporting of the operational details.

There were also many other troubling events associated with the details of the story. Reportedly, bin Laden's body was flown to an aircraft carrier and "washed" and "wrapped in linen" for burial. His body was handled with "the greatest of respect" in its preparation for burial. Prior to burial at sea, an Islamic prayer was said over the body. This prayer pleads with "Allah" to grant entrance into paradise for the deceased! Great accommodations were also made to "respect Islamic burial traditions" even though we were told numerous times that Osama was not a "real Muslim" and that our war on terror is not against Islam!

Listening to all the conflicting reports and information about the incident caused me to reflect on something Jesus said. In John 8:31-32, he said, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Jesus provided a reference for ALL truth with his teachings and commandments. He continually used the phrase "I tell you the truth" when stressing the importance of something he as going to say. Truth was a vital element to his life, mission, and teaching.

To ignore or redefine truth is to begin to chip away at the foundation of what truth really is and to bring about the undermining of any society. Truth is now a concept that is stretched, bent, ignored, or cut and pasted together in our post-modern culture. It is has been used selectively many times as a political and military tool when the desired results may be embarrassing or illegal or to throw the enemy off a scent. The title of the former Soviet Union's major newspaper was Pravda, or The Truth, and was used exclusively to misinform and mislead the Russian people to believe whatever the Soviet leaders wanted them to believe!

This nation is now rejoicing and getting closure because a long sought after enemy has finally been brought to justice. To obfuscate on how the mission was accomplished or details concerning bin Laden's termination just brings about more questions and mistrust of any governmental explanations when the story continually changes. Every detail does not have to be given about what happened, but at least give a basic consistent narrative and report after a careful examination of the operation has been made! We have suffered together as a nation awaiting this day, and now we rejoice together. We don't want "answers" to what happened - we just want the truth! As a nation, we can handle it.

Pastor Don