Monday, August 31, 2009

Introduction to Michael Spencer, The Internet Monk

Internet Monk is the personal web space of writer and communicator Michael Spencer. You can learn all about him here.

While I don't like all of his opinions or what he writes, it's hard to deny that his articles are often times compelling. It's that shiny object syndrome. You just can't look away.

The following article is one that he posted as a commentary at the Christian Science Monitor, not a place I would reccomend for Christians to spend any amount of time. But, that's where I found this article while looking for something completely different.

The piece caused quite a stir among blogging evangelicals which prompted Spencer to post the original more in depth three part article.


The Coming Evangelical Collapse


By Michael Spencer

An anti-Christian chapter in Western history is about to begin. But out of the ruins, a new vitality and integrity will rise.

Oneida, Ky. - We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.

Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.


This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.


Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.


Why is this going to happen?

1. Evangelicals have identified their movement with the culture war and with political conservatism. This will prove to be a very costly mistake. Evangelicals will increasingly be seen as a threat to cultural progress. Public leaders will consider us bad for America, bad for education, bad for children, and bad for society.

The evangelical investment in moral, social, and political issues has depleted our resources and exposed our weaknesses. Being against gay marriage and being rhetorically pro-life will not make up for the fact that massive majorities of Evangelicals can't articulate the Gospel with any coherence. We fell for the trap of believing in a cause more than a faith.


2. We Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically, the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministers, Christian music, publishing, and media has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their own faith except how they feel about it. Our young people have deep beliefs about the culture war, but do not know why they should obey scripture, the essentials of theology, or the experience of spiritual discipline and community. Coming generations of Christians are going to be monumentally ignorant and unprepared for culture-wide pressures.

3. There are three kinds of evangelical churches today: consumer-driven megachurches, dying churches, and new churches whose future is fragile. Denominations will shrink, even vanish, while fewer and fewer evangelical churches will survive and thrive.

4. Despite some very successful developments in the past 25 years, Christian education has not produced a product that can withstand the rising tide of secularism. Evangelicalism has used its educational system primarily to staff its own needs and talk to itself.

5. The confrontation between cultural secularism and the faith at the core of evangelical efforts to "do good" is rapidly approaching. We will soon see that the good Evangelicals want to do will be viewed as bad by so many, and much of that work will not be done. Look for ministries to take on a less and less distinctively Christian face in order to survive.


6. Even in areas where Evangelicals imagine themselves strong (like the Bible Belt), we will find a great inability to pass on to our children a vital evangelical confidence in the Bible and the importance of the faith.


7. The money will dry up.

What will be left?


•Expect evangelicalism to look more like the pragmatic, therapeutic, church-growth oriented megachurches that have defined success. Emphasis will shift from doctrine to relevance, motivation, and personal success – resulting in churches further compromised and weakened in their ability to pass on the faith.


•Two of the beneficiaries will be the Roman Catholic and Orthodox communions. Evangelicals have been entering these churches in recent decades and that trend will continue, with more efforts aimed at the "conversion" of Evangelicals to the Catholic and Orthodox traditions.

•A small band will work hard to rescue the movement from its demise through theological renewal. This is an attractive, innovative, and tireless community with outstanding media, publishing, and leadership development. Nonetheless, I believe the coming evangelical collapse will not result in a second reformation, though it may result in benefits for many churches and the beginnings of new churches.

•The emerging church will largely vanish from the evangelical landscape, becoming part of the small segment of progressive mainline Protestants that remain true to the liberal vision.
•Aggressively evangelistic fundamentalist churches will begin to disappear.

•Charismatic-Pentecostal Christianity will become the majority report in evangelicalism. Can this community withstand heresy, relativism, and confusion? To do so, it must make a priority of biblical authority, responsible leadership, and a reemergence of orthodoxy.

•Evangelicalism needs a "rescue mission" from the world Christian community. It is time for missionaries to come to America from Asia and Africa. Will they come? Will they be able to bring to our culture a more vital form of Christianity?

•Expect a fragmented response to the culture war. Some Evangelicals will work to create their own countercultures, rather than try to change the culture at large. Some will continue to see conservatism and Christianity through one lens and will engage the culture war much as before – a status quo the media will be all too happy to perpetuate. A significant number, however, may give up political engagement for a discipleship of deeper impact.

Is all of this a bad thing?

Evangelicalism doesn't need a bailout. Much of it needs a funeral. But what about what remains?
Is it a good thing that denominations are going to become largely irrelevant? Only if the networks that replace them are able to marshal resources, training, and vision to the mission field and into the planting and equipping of churches.


Is it a good thing that many marginal believers will depart? Possibly, if churches begin and continue the work of renewing serious church membership. We must change the conversation from the maintenance of traditional churches to developing new and culturally appropriate ones.
The ascendency of Charismatic-Pentecostal-influenced worship around the world can be a major positive for the evangelical movement if reformation can reach those churches and if it is joined with the calling, training, and mentoring of leaders. If American churches come under more of the influence of the movement of the Holy Spirit in Africa and Asia, this will be a good thing.
Will the evangelicalizing of Catholic and Orthodox communions be a good development? One can hope for greater unity and appreciation, but the history of these developments seems to be much more about a renewed vigor to "evangelize" Protestantism in the name of unity.


Will the coming collapse get Evangelicals past the pragmatism and shallowness that has brought about the loss of substance and power? Probably not. The purveyors of the evangelical circus will be in fine form, selling their wares as the promised solution to every church's problems. I expect the landscape of megachurch vacuity to be around for a very long time.


Will it shake lose the prosperity Gospel from its parasitical place on the evangelical body of Christ? Evidence from similar periods is not encouraging. American Christians seldom seem to be able to separate their theology from an overall idea of personal affluence and success.

The loss of their political clout may impel many Evangelicals to reconsider the wisdom of trying to create a "godly society." That doesn't mean they'll focus solely on saving souls, but the increasing concern will be how to keep secularism out of church, not stop it altogether. The integrity of the church as a countercultural movement with a message of "empire subversion" will increasingly replace a message of cultural and political entitlement.


Despite all of these challenges, it is impossible not to be hopeful. As one commenter has already said, "Christianity loves a crumbling empire."


We can rejoice that in the ruins, new forms of Christian vitality and ministry will be born. I expect to see a vital and growing house church movement. This cannot help but be good for an evangelicalism that has made buildings, numbers, and paid staff its drugs for half a century.
We need new evangelicalism that learns from the past and listens more carefully to what God says about being His people in the midst of a powerful, idolatrous culture.

I'm not a prophet. My view of evangelicalism is not authoritative or infallible. I am certainly wrong in some of these predictions. But is there anyone who is observing evangelicalism in these times who does not sense that the future of our movement holds many dangers and much potential?

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Secret CPC Directive Calls for the Dismantling of Six House Churches in Beijing

August 25, 2009



BEIJING—On August 25, 2009, ChinaAid learned the Chinese government recently issued a secret directive calling the government agencies to dismantle at least six major house churches before the end of August. ChinaAid believes these actions have been taken in preparation for the celebration of the 60th anniversary of the CPC's rule in China.



Reliable sources told ChinaAid that the Beijing Huajie Plaza received an order from the PSB to terminate its rental contract with the Beijing Shouwang house church. One of the largest house churches in the area, Beijing Shouwang Church has been renting two floors for their worship and Sunday school services in Huajie Plaza for a few years. The church has over 1,000 church members, and most of them are intellectuals from universities. This is the most recent action against Beijing Shouwang Church since government officials forcibly shut down their church website on April 13, 2009, and raided the church on May 11, 2008.



Click here to visit the reinstated Shouwang Church Website, http://shwchurch.com.



Other house churches in Beijing recently received similar pressure to stop church gatherings. This is believed to be the first step taken by the Chinese government to crack down on the house churches in Beijing.



In mid-August, three government officials, including members of the PSB and RAB, disrupted a baptism service held at a river in the Beijing suburbs by one house church from Haidian district. Outside Beijing, a TSPM church in Zhejiang was also raided, and more than 2 tons of Sunday school materials were confiscated. A house church training school in Shandong province was also raided and banned by the authorities.



Please read more at the China Aid website...




Saturday, August 29, 2009

Turkey: Murder Defendant Again Admits Perjury

Please help us to prayerfully intercede on behalf of our persecuted brothers and sisters around the globe by lifting them up to our Lord regularly. Going forward, our weekend posts, "Watchmen on the Wall," named for Isaiah 62:6, will remain largely committed to these dear saints. --Robert

Prosecutors suspect he’s protecting ‘masterminds’ of slaying of three Christians in Malatya.

ISTANBUL, August 25 (Compass Direct News) – Turkish murder suspect Emre Gunaydin admitted in court last week that he had again committed perjury in the trial over the savage murders of three Christians in southeast Turkey.

Gunaydin, 21, faced off in Malatya’s Third Criminal Court last Friday (Aug. 21) with Varol Bulent Aral, whom he had named as one of the instigators of the attack at Zirve Publishing Co.’s Malatya office in a previous disposition before state prosecutors. Gunaydin, the alleged ringleader of the murderers, told the court that he had lied in a previous disposition before state prosecutors by implicating Aral.

“I named Varol Bulent Aral to reduce the sentence,” Gunaydin said under questioning.

His admission came after Aral testified at length, painting an elaborate scenario of himself as a key player in the “Ergenekon” conspiracy – said to include top level political and security officials, among others – suspected of orchestrating the 2007 Malatya attack with Gunaydin and four other defendants.

Gunaydin initially failed to appear at Friday’s hearing where Aral was expected to testify, sending a note to the court that he was feeling unwell. But the judge abruptly announced a short court recess and ordered Gunaydin brought immediately from prison to the courtroom.

At a hearing three months ago, Gunaydin retracted similar allegations he had made against Huseyin Yelki, a former volunteer at the Christian publishing house where Turkish Christians Necati Aydin and Ugur Yuksel and German Christian Tilmann Geske were bound hand and foot, tortured and then slain with knives.

Plaintiff lawyers have expressed skepticism about Gunaydin’s two retractions, questioning whether he has been pressured to change his testimony in order to shield the actual instigators of the plot. They also remain unconvinced that Aral and Yelki were not collaborators in the attack.

Continue reading........


Friday, August 28, 2009

Eight Reasons.....

Friday is always a good day for some comic relief. So, without further ado...



Thursday, August 27, 2009

How Can I Witness If I’m Not A Very Good Christian?

The only caveat I might add to this short but good answer from Matt Slick is that that none of us are really "good enough" or even worthy to carry the message of our King. It is only through His grace and mercy that we can.

by Matt Slick


Being a good Christian is not a necessity for witnessing. Of course, we are not saying that it's okay to be a sinner in rebellion against God and then go out and witness for Jesus. We are supposed to resist sin. Nevertheless, none of us is perfect and there are times when God will ask us to witness to someone even if we aren’t walking with him very closely. Sometimes God uses this is to bring us to the place of repentance by reminding us and convicting us. But, he also uses it to present the gospel to the lost because it is the gospel that is the power to save people (Rom. 1:16), even if it is preached by someone not walking properly with the Lord.



Philippians 1:15-18, “Some, to be sure, are preaching Christ even from envy and strife, but some also from good will; 16 the latter do it out of love, knowing that I am appointed for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, rather than from pure motives, thinking to cause me distress in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in this I rejoice, yes, and I will rejoice.”





Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why Should We Witness?

C.A.R.M. is a really great ministry with Matt Slick doing a super job in apologetics . I didn't intend to use a particular source more than once this week, but this is so good!

by Matt Slick

Have you ever asked yourself, "Why should I witness?" Several reasons should come to mind.

First, because Jesus commands you to: "Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit," (Matt. 28:19). Also, Ezek. 3:11 says, "and go to the exiles, to the sons of your people, and speak to them and tell them, whether they listen or not..."

Second, you must witness because you love the unsaved (if you don't, you should). The most loving thing you can do is present the gospel in hopes of bringing others to salvation. Galatians 5:22 lists love as one of the fruits of the Spirit. It is love's nature to give. Take for example John 3:16, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son..." Love gives, and if you have only a small portion of His love, you will want to give to others.


Third, witness because it is a wise thing to do. Prov. 11:30 says, "...he who is wise wins souls." Now, I know I am not a very wise person. But, since God says I'll be wise to win souls, or try to, then great, let me at it. I want to be wise in God's sight.

Fourth, witness to keep people out of hell. Hell is a terrifying place of utter anguish and eternal separation from God. Those who are not saved go there. Witnessing is an attempt to keep them out of hell.


Fifth, witness because it pleases God and brings glory to His name.


Sixth, witness so people may find the love and fellowship of God (1John 1:3), the greatest of all treasures. I can think of no greater gift than salvation. It frees the sinner from sin, it delivers the lost from damnation, and it reveals the true and living God to those who don't know Him.

The angels of heaven rejoice greatly when anyone passes from judgment into salvation (Luke 15:10). Shouldn't we as Christians rejoice too? Shouldn't we weep over the lost? Shouldn't we ask the Lord of the field to send laborers into His harvest (Luke 10:2)? Certainly! The salvation of others is the goal of your efforts. The love of God is your motive. Is there anything greater? So, give.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Relationship Myth

The assertion: "I have to build a relationship with someone before I can share my faith with them."


One thing is true. Relationships are good to have and to develop. But how well must I know someone before I can witness to him?


First of all, let me say that the people I have known the longest and who I know well also know me very well. This fact alone makes it twice as hard for me to broach the subject of eternity with them. They may have known me before I was a Christian. Or perhaps they are a family member and have seen my behavior at it's worst. In any case, while I must strive to reach these people as well, the stakes seem higher in a close personal relationship, and that alone skyrockets the fear component.


This is often referred to as "friendship evangelism." My friend Tony Miano has said this: "Friendship evangelism without the verbal proclamation of the Gospel is neither friendship nor evangelism."


Romans 1:16 says this: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (emphasis mine). It is the Gospel that God uses to draw sinners to Himself. That is why he has given us the task of being ambassadors for Christ. (See 1 Corinthians 5:20)


No amount of relationship building will have any influence on whom God saves. It is His work alone and He purposes the Gospel for this end. I did say though, at the beginning of this article that relationships are a good thing. That being said, I am able to begin a relationship in about two minutes on the street. It may not be the kind of a relationship that will grow and last for years, but it will be one motivated by genuine love for the lost sinner. This can be done with a warm greeting, a tract or a simple question: "Hi, I'm Robert and I'm out here today with some friends asking a question: What do you think happens when you die."


I can honestly say that of the countless times I have asked that question, I have rarely been flat out dismissed. People actually do think about eternity. To ignore this fact in the name of "earning the right" to speak to them about Christ displays a lack of concern that frankly baffles me.


Let's remember that God does the saving and that really, nothing we can do will sway His decision one way or the other.


Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me." John 14:6






Monday, August 24, 2009

What Happens To Those Who Have Never Heard The Gospel?

This week, we will be focused on finding answers to tough questions, fears and concerns about personal one on one evangelism.

Today we have a audio clip from Wretched Radio with Todd Friel. A caller phoned in on the program's "Free for all Friday"a few weeks ago to ask about those who have never had a chance to hear the Gospel. Listen as Todd gives a short but solid answer to this big question.



Sunday, August 23, 2009

Preacher Threatened With Arrest For Reading Out Extracts From The Bible In Public


Thanks to Tony Miano for posting this story on Facebook. Even though this has taken place in the U.K., It hits close to home.


A street preacher is at the centre of a row over freedom of speech after police threatened to arrest him for reading the Bible in public.


By Andrew Alderson, Chief ReporterPublished: 9:00PM BST 15 Aug 2009


Lawyers acting for Miguel Hayworth, 29, have demanded an explanation over the alleged intimidation and abuse of power by three officers.


Andrea Minichiello Williams, the director of the Christian Legal Centre, has written to Peter Fahy, the Chief Constable of Greater Manchester, over the incident.

She claims that Mr Hayworth and his father, John, 55, were unlawfully and unfairly treated as they preached Christianity in the city at the end of July.

"They were clearly told that reading the Bible and preaching can be offensive and that they could be arrested," she wrote.


"Furthermore, they were subjected to abuse and intimidation. They were told that they were being monitored and filmed," she wrote.


Critics claimed that a Muslim preaching his religion in the street would not have been treated in such a way by police.


India: Officials On Defensive at "Watch List" Designation

U.S. religious rights panel cites culture of impunity at authorities allowing atrocities.


NEW DELHI, August 18 (Compass Direct News) – Ahead of one-year remembrances of massive anti-Christian violence in the eastern state of Orissa, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) has put India on its “Watch List” for the country’s violations of religious freedom, evoking strong reactions from the Indian government.


USCIRF Chairman Leonard Leo said in a statement on Wednesday (Aug. 12) that it was “extremely disappointing” that India “has done so little to protect and bring justice to its religious minorities under siege.”


The U.S. panel’s decision was “regrettable,” a spokesperson for India’s Ministry of External Affairs, Vishnu Prakash, said in a statement on Thursday (Aug. 13), after the USCIRF put India on the list due to a “disturbing increase” in violence on minorities and a growing culture of impunity in the country.



Continue reading.....





Saturday, August 22, 2009

Vietnam: Authorities Raid, Threaten House Churches

Christians note increase in government harassment – some of it violent.

HANOI, Aug. 6 (Compass Direct News) – Local authorities in Vietnam have balked at registering house churches, contributing to a recent uptick in sometimes violent harassment of congregations. Four police officers and two government officials broke up the Sunday morning worship service of a house church in Tran Phu Commune in Hanoi on July 26, announcing that it was illegal to worship and teach religion. The police chief of Tran Phu Commune in greater Hanoi, Dang Dinh Toi, had ordered the raid.

When Christians under the leadership of Pastor Dang Thi Dinh refused to sign a document admitting they were meeting illegally, an angry police officer shouted, “If I find you meeting here next Sunday, I will kill you all like I’d kill a dog!” Officials had previously refused to grant the church’s application for registration. Pastor Dinh and the national leader of the Ecclesia Revival denomination, Pastor Vo Xuan Loan, appealed to commune authorities the following day – again trying to register the church according to the Prime Minister’s 2005 Special Directive Concerning Protestants. The commune head angrily proclaimed, “There are absolutely no Christians in this commune!” and then shooed them away, church leaders reported.

Continue reading....

Friday, August 21, 2009

Mark Driscoll Responds To Phil Johnson. Or Does He?

In his message at the Shepard's conference, Phil Johnson made some pointed biblical admonitions concerning Mark Driscoll and his style of preaching/teaching and use of contextualization.

I'm not sure that Driscoll has adequately responded in this video and I wonder if he should have responded more fully to Phil Johnson' assertions.

That being said, I love Mark Driscoll and think his teaching is solid and that his testimony bares fruit. I'm not always crazy about how he communicates his points, but as they say, I "eat the meat an spit out the bones" where I can.

What do you think?



Thursday, August 20, 2009

How Would You Introduce Christ To A Room Full Of People?

This video has made it's way around the internet at least one other time, and I have to say that I never quite gave it the thought that Rob-roy has. This is eye opening and helps me to remember to closely examine anything like this that I come across. Thank you Rob-roy for your discernment. -Robert

Friends,

I have had a video of Steve Harvey sent to me by multiple people as a “forward” that has become very popular in Christian circles. I appreciate it being sent my way by brothers and sisters in the Lord I love dearly. Perhaps you have seen it? The emails that have been forwarded have introductions from other people at the bottom of the forwards to the video such as:

“Remember this is not a church audience that this comedian (Steve Harvey) is addressing and there is nothing comedic about this.... Just amazing & powerful. WOW!”

Or

“WOW!!!!!!!!! This was totally awesome!!!!!!! Not only the intro but the crowd reaction!!!!!! This is Steve Harvey, a comedian, addressing a secular audience. The subject is: "How Would You Introduce Christ to a Room Full of People?" It's hard to imagine that this is a comedian and not a preacher, and this is an audience and not a congregation. It must have been at the end of his routine, because...well, you'll see.”

With that kind of set up watch the video and pay close attention to what is and is not said when introducing Christ.



Now that you have watched Steve Harvey do his introduction please allow me to step out on a limb. Almost everyone I know loves this video and is moved by it. What I am about to write puts me in danger of really turning people off that I care about. That is not my intention. My intention is to honor Christ and in that regard I submit the following observations to prayerfully consider.


... How we introduce Christ says a lot about us. Jesus asked "Who do you say I am"....



First let me say that his introduction was very emotional and moving. Secondly, I think the question is an important one. How would you introduce Christ? Is there a wrong way? Is every introduction equally valid no matter what the content?

How we introduce Christ says a lot about us. Jesus asked "Who do you say I am". He also said if people do not believe He is who He claimed to be they will die in their sin.

Regarding Steve Harvey’s intro of Christ, like much of modern Christianity there was something very important missing. Did you notice what that was?

It was striking to me that the central accomplishment of Christ was not mentioned at all by Steve Harvey in his introduction. We should not leave out the most essential part of the first coming which was the Cross and the conquering of death and sin. Even the people of Jesus time cheered him for his miracles and accomplishments. But then crucified him within the same week.

The very reason that Christ came, the Cross, was missing from the long list of accolades in Harvey’s intro. It is also missing from many churches, many messages and many souls. May we never become distracted from the central message of Christ but be determined by His grace to preach the Cross and Christ crucified for the forgiveness of sin. Too much is at stake to leave out the most important part.

This may sound harsh but Satan hates the cross. And because it was missing from Steve Harvey’s intro of Christ I believe Satan was satisfied that Jesus ultimate work and demonstration of love was left unspoken. As Christ looked at the multitudes with compassion and emotion it is important to consider the same concern for a crowd on the video that hears of a Jesus that does not include the very reason He came to earth. To save sinners and call them to repentance at the Cross in demonstration of amazing grace.

Paul was determined to preach and know nothing but Christ and Him crucified. It is sad to see so great a salvation neglected and missing. And even more so that it’s disappearance has largely gone unnoticed.

I pray that in our proclaiming the name of Christ that we honor Him by never leaving out the purpose for which He came and the purpose for which He will return. Judgment day is coming soon and the Savior came that men would repent and have faith Him, that they would not perish in Hell but have everlasting life through Christ alone. Oh what a gift His grace is. And oh what a terror it is to die apart from His mercy and fall into the hands of the living God.

On that day when the second coming does occur He will be introduced by his Angels with the sound of a trumpet, flaming fire and in a robe covered in blood as every knee bows and tongue confesses Him to be Lord. Although for most it will be too late there is still time for those you care about that still have breath. Go share the words of life with them that they may have a real introduction to the only one who can save. Our Savior Jesus Christ who is rich in mercy, forgiveness and love. And whom will bring justice and judgment to those who refuse to turn to Him for salvation.

Love, Rob-roy

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Open Source" Sermon perparation

Here is yet another head-scratcher from the blog of pastor Jeremy Jernigan of Central Christian Church of the east Valley here in the Phoenix area.

This time he is employing the gimmick of "open source" sermon preparation. I'm not sure if this is his idea or the latest fad in an increasingly world-driven church model. The idea is that he is inviting people to send in their ideas for sermon illustrations, whether that be movie clips, stories, quotes, illustrations or (hold on to your hats) scripture verses--so long as they pertain to the subject of loyalty.

Here's my idea pastor Jernigan: Why not simply do the heavy lifting of pouring over the scriptures for yourself and submit yourself to hearing from God through His Holy Word instead of soliciting ideas from folks some of which may not be Christians at all.

May I submit my idea? The Bible alone is our all sufficient guide, tool and source. Rely on it alone for your message and you'll do just fine.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Won't Believe Your Eyes....

I received this invitation in the mail for a new church starting in my area in a movie theatre. There will be free food, gifts and prizes including a Grand Prize giveaway of a Home Theatre Audio System. In order to win you must fill out an information card and be present to win during the August 23 service. Although I do not know them, I care about the pastors of this church and others like it. I do not know their motives but do know the error with which they have engaged and will be sharing this with them for their prayerful consideration.




Below is the front and back of the mailer.


All this has a familiar ring to it. I spent almost a decade in radio broadcasting in my 20's. During that time I ran many contests and giveaways that provided these exact requirements to win and utilized top notch mass marketing techniques to reach targeted demographics. Any cursory read ofthe scriptures will show that this modern approach to draw people to church is worldly wisdom and nothing more.




Paul preached "Christ crucified"... not "Home Theatre System limit one entry per household void where prohibited all rights reserved."




This issue is not about Church in a movie theatre. It is about the method and message used to draw people to Church regardless of where it is located. The desire to be the coolest Church and reach some men by any way possible has become a twisted means of justifying anything goes in reaching the lost. It reeks of idolatry against God and the turning away from Christ and Him exalted. Is this really the message that Jesus came to preach? Is this what the Savior died for? Is the great commission to be reduced to gifts, giveaways, gimmicks and gadgetry? May it never be!

The end does not justify the means. In God's word He provides not only the promise of His will but also the Biblical means with which He carries out His will. To disregard His means is to disregard His will which is to disregard Him. To disregard Him is to disregard the only means by which men may be saved. Yes we must reach the lost. But we must reach them by the means that God has commanded that we use and not clutter and confuse theGospel appeals to the lusts of the flesh.

What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his very soul? If the whole world does not compare to one's soul then how much less does a Home Theatre prize? The world is dying and the best we can come up with is this? The words of life are not enough? The gospel is insufficient and requires Marketing 101 to get results and reach the masses?

Truly the depravity of our times is reaching its fullness when Churches abandon God's way and succumb to the ways of the world in order to reach the world. But in doing so they reach the world by giving the world more of the world which only expedites its death instead of giving them Christ and Him crucified the only one who can save. The last thing the world needs is more of the world with the only difference being "Church" labeled across the top of it which in reality is no church at all because it has a gospel that is no gospel at all.

Christ and the apostles were up front with the Gospel. We should be as well. At best this marketing plan is a bait and switch if the gospel is fully preached once the lost show up for the prizes. At worst it is the despising of the Holy Spirit that has a form of godliness but not the power thereof. Who needs the Holy Spirit when pragmatic and calculated marketing plans and secular wisdom have everything taken care of? This is not a game. On judgment day that will be clear. It therefore should be clear this type of affront to the precious Gospel of our Lord should be mourned and rebuked. People can come and win free gifts and even become a church member but they will still die and go to Hell without saving faith in Christ.

It is the Father that draws all men to Christ when He is lifted up. We must stop lifting up the things of the world in the name of the Church that do not have the power to save but work against the Holy Spirit to the condemnation of men's souls to Hell. Such men will be held most accountable on the Day of Judgment. Pray for their souls and the souls of those they reach that they would turn to God and that Christ be given all glory. Even in marketing mailers to a world of lost people that need much more than another contest. They can get that anywhere.

Love, Rob-roy

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Growing in Faith


A few nights ago, one of my children came to me crying. "What is Heaven like, will we just be there forever....and then what?" I explained to her that as humans who think in terms of time and space, we have a difficult time understanding God's idea of eternity. Our responsibility is to read our bibles, pray and ask God for wisdom and understanding. With that comes faith in things unseen. A couple of days later, I read this devotional. I couldn't wait to share it with her! God's providence is so exciting sometimes. How humbling.



by Randy J. Guliuzza, P.E., M.D.


"These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them." (Hebrews 11:13)



All believers should hold fast the profession of their faith without wavering. A believer faces many challenges, but two seem particularly difficult to handle. First, our eternal destination cannot be seen with our physical eyes. Without something material to see or hold, our human nature is not satisfied and on occasion raises questions in our mind: "Is heaven really there?"; "Am I missing out on something here on earth?" The writer to the Hebrew Christians was aware that questions could lead to doubt, then to discouragement, and even cause some to "draw back" (Hebrews 10:38-39).


Though we cannot literally see heaven, we can "see it afar off" by faith. This is only done by implicitly believing the Word of the Lord. Paul said there is a special power in God’s Word enabling believers to grow "from faith to faith" (Romans 1:17). The fact that faith itself is the fuel to energize even greater faith is illustrated in our text verse. Noah, Abraham, and others had "seen" the promises by faith, which led them to even stronger belief until they were deeply "persuaded of them." The promises eventually were so real to these saints that they "embraced them" like a fellow companion in their daily walk with the Lord. Only by faith do His promises become an integral part of our lives, able to guide our daily activities and long-range plans.


The second challenge we face is fear of the world’s reprisal, directed to anyone daring to not conform to its practices. This fear has stopped many believers from "confessing" their faith and is why the final step to "dying in faith" may be so difficult. Like nothing else can, being willing to publicly proclaim your belief in God’s Word builds faith and truly honors Him.









Sunday, August 16, 2009

Nepal: Christians Increasingly Vulnerable In Secular State


Going forward, each weekend I plan to post news articles concerning our persecuted brothers and sisters from around the world. Please use these stories as a reminder to pray for those who are being mistreated and even tortured for their faith.


As law and order breaks down, Christians come under attack.


KATHMANDU, Nepal, July 30 (Compass Direct News) – Three years after a pro-democracy movement led to the proclamation of Nepal as a secular state, some Christians say they are in greater peril than ever. They are now being targeted by militant Hindu organizations that blame the church for the abolition of Hinduism as the state religion and the end of monarchy. Since May, when the Nepal Defense Army (NDA) – which claims to have links with militant Hindu organizations – struck one of Kathmandu valley’s oldest and biggest churches, the group has threatened to drive all Christians from the country. And now a group claiming to be the parent organization of the NDA has warned that on Aug. 10 it will start a “Save the Hindu nation” movement.


Last month, the Rev. Pius Perumana, a senior Catholic priest, received a phone call. “The caller said he was in charge of the NDA in Kathmandu valley,” said Perumana of Ishalaya Catholic Church, located in Godavari on the southern rim of the capital. “However, I recognized the voice. It was Ram Prasad Mainali himself.” Perumana said he has received at least five threatening calls from the Hindu supremist ordering him to close all Christian organizations and leave Nepal, he said. The NDA leader has also been calling Protestant pastors, demanding money. In districts outside Kathmandu, where security is weak, some pastors are said to have paid up out of fear.


It Is a Fearful Thing to Fall into the Hands of the Living God

Note: I have slightly edited the following article by Ken Ham of Answers in Genesis to include the actual YouTube video, not just the link provided on the original post.

Even though it is gross sacrilege, I have included a YouTube video for you to view the mock “communion service” conducted just outside the Creation Museum gates on Friday—by an atheist attorney for the atheist professor who lead the 285 atheists on a tour of the Creation Museum. Once you watch this, read the passage of Scripture below—like the watchman in Ezekiel, regardless of the response of these atheists, I believe we are obligated by Scripture to warn them of their fist-shaking against the God of the universe and how He intends to deal with such things:



Now consider:

For if we sin willfully after we have received the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful expectation of judgment, and fiery indignation which will devour the adversaries. Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know Him who said, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord. And again, “The LORD will judge His people.” It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (Hebrews 10:26-31)

HT: Around the World with Ken Ham


Saturday, August 15, 2009

What is God’s plan for animals?

Answer



Everybody immediately thinks of their dog or cat, just like that, or their horse, or whatever. Well, I just have to tell you one thing. Animals don’t have souls. Now we don’t want to take the time to support that, but if you were to study carefully the Old Testament, you’d find that animals do not have souls. They do not have spirits. They have bodies and they have instinct, and there’s a great difference.


The difference is that a soul and a spirit has what you would call self-consciousness. That is the ability to know that it lives, and to think and to reason and to feel and to collate facts and make conclusions. An animal has no self-consciousness, does not know that it exists and cannot collate facts and make conclusions; it can only operate on the basis of instinct. It can be trained to function in a certain way.


And so we don’t have any reason to believe there’s anything in heaven relative to animals. Now I know old Dr. Ironside said, “Well, my dog is going to be there, I don’t care what anybody says.” And there may be some of you who think that yours is going to be there, but you’d have a hard time getting it through the scripture.


The only problem we have, of course, is that there will be white horses descending from heaven. Now we do not believe that these would be…well I don’t know how to say this…they would not be typical horses. Typical horses would not descend from heaven, and typical horses would provide problems for heaven that heaven is not set up to handle. So whatever…you understand, right? So whatever, whatever the word of God has in mind, it is something very unique and very distinct.







Friday, August 14, 2009

The Doctrine of Repentance

It takes a little more effort to read the writings that are over three hundred years old, but well worth the effort!

Counterfeit Repentance
by Thomas Watson

To discover what true repentance is, I shall first show what it is not. There are several deceits of repentance which might occasion that saying of Augustine that `repentance damns many'. He meant a false repentance; a person may delude himself with counterfeit repentance.

1. The first deceit of repentance is legal terror A man has gone on long in sin. At last God arrests him, shows him what desperate hazard he has run, and he is filled with anguish. Within a while the tempest of conscience is blown over, and he is quiet. Then he concludes that he is a true penitent because he has felt some bitterness in sin. Do not be deceived: this is not repentance. Ahab and Judas had some trouble of mind. It is one thing to be a terrified sinner and another to be a repenting sinner. Sense of guilt is enough to breed terror. Infusion of grace breeds repentance. If pain and trouble were sufficient to repentance, then the damned in hell should be most penitent, for they are most in anguish. Repentance depends upon a change of heart. There may be terror, yet with no change of heart.

2. Another deceit about repentance is resolution against sin A person may purpose and make vows, yet be no penitent. `Thou saidst, I will not transgress' (Jer. 2.20). Here was a resolution; but see what follows: `under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot'. Notwithstanding her solemn engagements, she played fast and loose with God and ran after her idols. We see by experience what protestations a person will make when he is on his sick-bed, if God should recover him again; yet he is as bad as ever. He shows his old heart in a new temptation.

Resolutions against sin may arise:
(1) From present extremity; not because sin is sinful, but because it is painful. This resolution will vanish.
(2) From fear of future evil, an apprehension of death and hell: `I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him' (Rev. 6.8). What will not a sinner do, what vows will he not make, when he knows he must die and stand before the judgment-seat? Self-love raises a sick-bed vow, and love of sin will prevail against it. Trust not to a passionate resolution; it is raised in a storm and will die in a calm.

3. The third deceit about repentance is the leaving of many sinful ways It is a great matter, I confess, to leave sin. So dear is sin to a man that he will rather part with a child than with a lust: `Shall I give the fruit of my body for the sin of my soul?' (Mic. 6.7). Sin may be parted with, yet without repentance.
(1) A man may part with some sins and keep others, as Herod reformed many things that were amiss but could not leave his incest.
(2) An old sin may be left in order to entertain a new, as you put off an old servant to take another. This is to exchange a sin. Sin may be exchanged and the heart remained unchanged. He who was a prodigal in his youth turns usurer in his old age. A slave is sold to a Jew; the Jew sells him to a Turk. Here the master is changed, but he is a slave still. So a man moves from one vice to another but remains a sinner still.
(3) A sin may be left not so much from strength of grace as from reasons of prudence. A man sees that though such a sin be for his pleasure, yet it is not for his interest. It will eclipse his credit, prejudice his health, impair his estate. Therefore, for prudential reasons, he dismisses it. True leaving of sin is when the acts of sin cease from the infusion of a principle of grace, as the air ceases to be dark from the infusion of light.

For more of Thomas Watson on this topic, including true repentance, click here.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Inward, Upward, or Outward?

By John MacArthur

If the average evangelical congregation were surveyed concerning the primary purpose of the church, it is likely that many diverse answers would be given.

Several purposes, however, would probably be prominent.

A large number would rank fellowship first, the opportunity to associate and interact with fellow Christians who share similar beliefs and values. They highly value the fact that the church provides activities and programs for the whole family and is a place where relationships are nurtured and shared and where inspiration is provided through good preaching and beautiful music. A favorite verse for such church members is likely to be, “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35).

At a level perhaps a step higher, some Christians would consider sound biblical teaching to be the church’s principal function, expounding Scripture and strengthening believers in the knowledge of and obedience to God’s revealed truth. That emphasis would include helping believers discover and minister their spiritual gifts in various forms of leadership and service. Like fellowship, that too is a basic function of the church, because God “gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ; until we all attain to the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a mature man, to the measure of the stature which belongs the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4: 11-13).…

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

What’s the Point?


This article comes to us from Todd Friel in the Wretched Radio Newsletter.


When all is said and done, what should be the result of a witness encounter?

Like Horshack, you probably just shouted, “Ooh, ooh, pick me!”

Not so fast Ron Palillo.

Let me give you four options before you give your final answer.

1. The heathen feels like a wretched sinner.

2. The heathen understands the love of God.

3. You made it all the way through without passing out.

4. Jesus is exalted.

The correct answer: 4.

Yes, 1, 2 and 3 are important, but if you take a survey through the book of Acts, you will discover that the ultimate goal of apostolic Gospel preaching was: Jesus.

Let’s see if I can prove it. And if I can, you and I may need to reconsider how we share and preach the Gospel.


Acts Sermon #1: Acts 2:14-40
The Holy Spirit has fallen on the apostles and 120 others as they begin to speak in foreign languages. After Peter explains to the devout Jews that they are not drunk but fulfilling the prophecy in Joel 2, he launches into his sermon. How does it begin?

“Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst.” The remainder of Peter’s sermon is all about…Jesus.

Acts Sermon #2: Acts 3:11-26
After the lame man was healed and a crowd gathered, Peter sees the opportunity to launch into an open air sermon (gotta love that). How does Peter begin the sermon? By explaining that the miracle was performed by Jesus. How does Peter end the sermon? He proclaims the resurrection of Jesus. What did Peter talk about in between? Jesus.

Interestingly, the reason why Peter and John were arrested was because “they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” (Acts 4:2)


Acts Sermon #3: Acts 4:8-12
Peter and John have been arrested for healing the lame man and Peter gives his defense. What does he preach? Bingo! “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”

What is that name? Jesus.

Eleven More Sermons

There are at least ten more sermons in the book of Acts and each sermon either begins with Jesus or climaxes with Jesus.

Consider Stephen’s sermon in Acts 7. He didn’t give the learned Jews a history lesson for nothing. He preached through the Old Testament to demonstrate that it was all headed toward a fulfillment in…Jesus. That is when the rocks started flying.

“Phillip went down to the city of Samaria and began proclaiming Christ to them.” (Acts 8:5)

Phillip then approached the Ethiopian eunuch and “preached Jesus to him.” (Acts 8:35)

Saul got saved on the road to Damascus. The scales were removed from his eyes and what did he do? “Immediately he began to proclaim Jesus.” (Acts 9:20)

Peter preached “peace through Jesus Christ” to Cornelius and his household. (Acts 10:36)

Paul preached Jesus in the Areopagus in Acts 17. Paul preached Jesus in Acts 22 as he presented his defense before the Jerusalem mob. Paul preached Jesus to Felix in Acts 24 and to Agrippa in Acts 26. In fact, “Agrippa replied to Paul, ‘In a short time you will persuade me to become a Christian.’” (Acts 26:28)

Consider the last words of the rather abrupt ending to Acts. “And Paul stayed two full years (in Rome) in his own rented quarters and was welcoming all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all openness, unhindered.”

The conclusion is unmistakable, the main emphasis in the preaching of the apostles in the Book of Acts is: JESUS.

What do we do with this? Well, I am not entirely sure. I am still digesting the above information since hearing a magnificent sermon by Pastor Ty Blackburn just ten hours ago. I think I have three conclusions (ugh, that sounded kind of emergent).

1. Lighten up on the apologetics
Do we lose apologetics entirely? Nope. We are always prepared to give a reason for the hope we have (I Peter 3:15). But as we study Paul’s apologetics, he reasoned with people from the Scriptures (Acts 17:2). The emphasis of Paul’s apologetics was not big bang cosmology, but Jesus. Paul used the Old Testament Scriptures to demonstrate their fulfillment in Jesus.

Yes, we use apologetics; after all, the mind has to be convinced of the truth. But perhaps we have been letting the atheists take us down apologetics rabbit trails that take the focus off of the name that gives them the shakes.

2. Start in different places, end in the same place

It is obvious in the Book of Acts that each sermon has a distinctly different starting place. With the Jews, the sermons typically began with Jesus the Messiah. With the Greeks, Paul began with creation. We also notice that each circumstance demanded a different opening. The first words out of our mouths don’t need to be “Jesus the Nazarene”, but our sermons and witness encounters should be like the apostles: Jesus centered.

While we may spend some time (and it may be quite a bit of time) discussing creation and the Law, we better make sure that we end our message with the name that saves.

3. Dwell on Jesus

Does this mean we should no longer use the Law and preach the Ten Commandments? Certainly not. But I am suggesting that maybe our (ok, my) witness encounters have not been as Jesus centered as they should be.

As Pastor Blackburn preached, “After our witness encounters, Jesus should be left ringing in their ears.”

What does all of this look like?

I am not sure.

As we make our way through the month of August, will you ponder this with me? How can we make sure that Jesus is the star of our message?

I will be trying to do this in witnessing and preaching. Will you kindly offer your suggestions and give your critiques? If I fail, chastise me. Should I stumble across a particularly good presentation, tell me.


Be listening. I will be trying. Give me your advice, opinions and suggestions.
idea@wretchedradio.com

Together, let’s make sure that Jesus rings in everyone’s ears.

- Todd


Tuesday, August 11, 2009

The Trinity: Some Helpful Documents


Recently, a family member asked me to explain the doctrine of The Holy Trinity to her. I did my best to explain all I know, but it also reminded me of a couple of really good resources that are great teaching tools. Both documents are PDF files from the Wretched Radio Website.


The first one is is called "The Holy Trinity." The second file is the historic Athanasian Creed.


Both do a really good job of explaining the triune nature of God. Some people are leary of extrabiblical texts and writings, so to learn a little more about the history of the Athanasian Creed, read more here.



Monday, August 10, 2009

Gospel For Asia

A representative from Gospel for Asia spoke at my church today. Headed up by K.P. Yohannan, the primary aim of Gospel for Asia's ministry is to share the Good News of Jesus Christ with those who have never before heard His name by sending native missionaries.

Gospel for Asia trains and sends native missionaries because they have proven extremely effective. They are already familiar with the language and culture, and they live at the level of the people they serve, thus removing many social barriers.
100 Percent Goes to the Field

Gospel for Asia sends 100 percent of the money you donate for work on the mission field to the field. Nothing is taken out for administrative expenses.

What methods do native missionaries use?

While films, radio, television and video are becoming more common in Asia, the most effective methods are still those that we find in the New Testament book of Acts!
The most effective evangelism happens face-to-face in the streets. Most native missionaries walk or ride bicycles between villages much like the Methodist circuit riders did in America's frontier days.

Street preaching and open-air evangelism, often using megaphones, is the most common way to proclaim the Gospel. Sometimes evangelists arrange witnessing parades and/or tent campaigns and distribute simple Gospel tracts during the week-long village crusades.

Since the majority of the world's one billion illiterates live in Asia, the Gospel must be proclaimed to them without using literature. This is done through showing the Man of Mercy film on the life of Jesus and also by using cassettes, flip charts and other visual aids to communicate the Gospel.




Sunday, August 9, 2009

Bangladesh: Police Torture Pastor, Two Others


This weekend we will be focusing on the persecuted church. God's strength through His faithful servents is evident in places where true Christianity is most violently opposed. Could this ever come to America? Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Local Muslim leaders prompt officers to arrest, abuse evangelistic team.

DHAKA, Bangladesh, August 4 (Compass Direct News) – At the urging of local Muslim leaders, police in western Bangladesh have tortured a pastor and two other Christians for legally proclaiming Christ. Habibur Rahman, 45, pastor of Boalia Spiritual Church (Boalia Ruhani Jamat) in Boalia in Cuadanga district, 220 kilometers (136 miles) west of Dhaka, said he was about to meet with 11 others for a monthly meeting on evangelism at 8 p.m. on June 8 when local police stormed in and seized him and Zahid Hassan, 25, and a 40-year-old Christian identified only as Fazlur. Police blindfolded them and took them to Shamvunagar police camp. “While beating us, police told us there will be no Christian in this area,” the pastor said. “Police hurt our hands, lips, thighs and faces with burning cigarettes. They beat me in the joints of my limbs with a wooden club. They beat us for one hour, and I became senseless at some point.”

Read more....

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Somalia: Islamists Behead Two Sons Of Christian Leader

This weekend we will be focusing on the persecuted church. God's strength through His faithful servents is evident in places where true Christianity is most violently opposed. Could this ever come to America? Please pray for our persecuted brothers and sisters.

Father refuses to give al Shabaab extremists information about house church pastor.

NAIROBI, Kenya, July 1 (Compass Direct News) – Islamic extremists have beheaded two young boys in Somalia because their Christian father refused to divulge information about a church leader, and the killers are searching Kenya’s refugee camps to do the same to the boys’ father. Before taking his Somali family to a Kenyan refugee camp in April, 55-year-old Musa Mohammed Yusuf was the leader of an underground church in Yonday village, 30 kilometers (19 miles) from Kismayo in Somalia. He had received instruction in the Christian faith from Salat Mberwa. Militants from the Islamic extremist group al Shabaab entered Yonday village on Feb. 20, went to Yusuf’s house and interrogated him on his relationship with Mberwa, leader of a fellowship of 66 Somali Christians. Yusuf told them he knew nothing of Mberwa and had no connection with him. The Islamic extremists left but said they would return the next day. Yusuf fled, and the following day the al shabaab militants showed up at his home in Yonday. Batula Ali Arbow, Yusuf’s wife, said the extremists ordered her to stop what she was doing and took hold of three of her sons – 11-year-old Abdi Rahaman Musa Yusuf, 12-year-old Hussein Musa Yusuf and Abdulahi Musa Yusuf, 7. “I watched my three boys dragged away helplessly as my youngest boy was crying,” Arbow said. “I knew they were going to be slaughtered.”

Read more...

Friday, August 7, 2009

An Atheist's Question


by Ray Comfort


"Do you ever doubt the existence of God? And if so, why?"


Do I ever doubt the existence of God? Not for a moment. However, an intellectual belief in God’s existence is really a non-issue. This is why: I live in a solid, well-made house. Do I ever doubt the existence of a builder? Not for a moment.


My wife has a well-made and reliable vehicle. Do I ever doubt (for some strange reason) the existence of a car maker? Not for a moment.


I own a well-made computer...I'm sure you get the message. I never doubt that there was a maker of these things, because these things can’t make themselves. My common sense tells me that they had to be made by someone with an intelligent mind. The alternative is ludicrous.


However, the issue I think you may be driving at is rather, "Does my faith in God ever waver?" The answer to that one is the same. Do I ever doubt God? Not for a moment. There’s a reason for this unwavering faith.


If you asked me if I ever waver when it comes to faith in my wife, I would answer the same--not for a moment. This is because I trust her with all of my heart. She is a trustworthy person. She always keeps her word. However, there is a possibility that she could let me down. That could happen because she is a sinner. She is fallible. But God is not. He is without sin, so you can totally trust Him with all of your heart, and you will never, ever, be disappointed in Him.


Life’s terrible circumstances may shake you to the core, but if you catch a glimpse of God’s incredible integrity as well as His ability to keep His word, and therefore you trust Him, your faith will only grow through life's lion’s den experiences. His promises are immutable. They are a solid rock. See Matthew 7:24-25 for details.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

You Be the Judge!


by Todd Friel


Let’s play a game. You are the judge. Your job is to rate the following two scenarios on a scale of one to ten. One=just plain dopey. Ten=that makes a ton of sense. Ready?


Scenario One:


Dr. Megan U. Feelgood walks into an exam room, puts on her best bedside manner and begins, “Mr. Johnson, I know you are a successful man and you have a lovely home and family, but I would like to invite you to spend some time in a place that really makes me happy. Now, perhaps you have had a bad experience in the past with hospitals, but I want to tell you about my hospital. There is a frozen custard machine in the cafeteria. It is the tastiest custard I have ever had and you can eat as much of it as you want if you will just check into the hospital. Won’t you come?”


Mr. Johnson considers how much he likes custard and responds, “Um, thanks Doc, but I can get custard any time I want. Besides, I am not that nuts about custard. Can I go now?”


“Not yet,” Doctor Feelgood blurts. “You see, the hospital has a killer sound system and the announcements they make are really relevant. No more of that, ‘Paging Doctor Schultz business.’ These are really relevant announcements.”


“Can I get out of this goofy robe?”


“You aren’t getting it, Mr. Johnson. Every Friday night the hospital organizes a patient social and all the patients get together and have a great time.”


“See ya, Doc.”


What do you rate that scenario? Illogical or brilliant?


Scenario Two:


Dr. Grace O’Lone walks into an exam room with a serious look on her face. “Mr. Johnson, I have taken ten x-rays and they all conclude the same thing. You are sick and you are going to die. Your demise is certain and painful. Look at these x-rays, they don’t lie.”


Mr. Johnson is trembling, “But Doc, I don’t wanna die.”


“Are you certain?”


“I have never been more certain in my life,” Mr. Johnson sobs.


“I have some good news, Johnson. They have a cure at the hospital.”


Mr. Johnson doesn’t even wait to take off his flimsy robe as he runs out the door to the hospital.


You be the judge. Is that scenario more reasonable and logical? One to ten?


May I ask you, how do you share your faith?If you encourage someone to attend your church because it has Starbucks coffee, a thumpin’ sound system and relevant messages, then you are Dr. Megan U. Feelgood. You are Dr. Grace O’Lone if you hold up the mirror of God’s Law in an effort to help a sinner understand his infinite offense against God. That is the man or woman who will flee to the cross of Christ in gratitude. If we lure people to our churches by promising fun or relevance, then we are doing two things wrong:


1. We are using the church as an evangelism method. We were told to “go and preach,” not invite and entertain.


2. We are creating false converts who are visiting the hospital with the wrong motives.


Now, it is possible that someone may step foot in the hospital’s door because they like custard. It is possible that some may hang around the hospital long enough to somehow discover they have a terminal illness and need the hospital for more than fun. But honestly, doesn’t that sound silly?


And so, my seeker sensitive friend, may I challenge you? Is it really a good idea to lure people into church to fill their felt need until they eventually hear the truth about their real need? More than that, is it a Biblical idea? Jesus commanded us to go and make disciples, not send out postcards promoting a relevant lecture on marriage. Furthermore, we are not commanded to make sure people have fun on Sunday. We are sent to preach repentance and faith for the forgiveness of sins. Please. Please. Leave the safety of your church and do what you have been commanded to do. Go make disciples. Use the Law as a schoolmaster to help them understand the exceeding sinfulness of sin. Then they will flee to the Savior for mercy and you will not have to plead with them to attend church. When God soundly saves people, they will desire fellowship with the brethren all by themselves. You be the judge. But remember, you will be judged for your decision.