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Divided

The old adage, “Divide and conquer” is one of the devll’s primary goals. He knows that a house divided against itself cannot stand.

Division between a husband and wife can destroy a family and cause divorce.

Division between church members can cause a congregation to split or a preacher to resign.

Division between races and nations cause violence, war and destruction. 

The devil loves to divide. Through division he wins.

God is a God of unity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are one. His creation is one of beautiful unity and cohesion. Everything is intricately made by design and for a purpose. Only God can put things together. The devil can only tear things apart.

What the world needs is its Creator. He and He alone can bring homes, churches, races and nations back together. Politics, money and education cannot prevent division. Only Jesus can. 

 
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Posted by on September 27, 2016 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

Culturally Relevant or Biblically Relevant?

1 Corinthians 6:14: “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?”

Is a church supposed to be “culturally relevant” or is it supposed to be “Biblically relevant?”

In the latter part of the twentieth century, an ideological shift occurred in the minds of Western people. A thought process referred to as “postmodernism” swept over the culture. While I do not want to fully address the concept of postmodernism here, I would point out that the authority of the Christian message, and particularly the Bible, has fallen out of prominence. Simply stated, folks living in this current age have a world view in which the Bible is not considered “the truth” nor is it even thought to be absolutely true.

In response, a group of North American pastors and believers formed an association of “emerging churches” which would become “relevant” to a new worldview. Two thousand years ago, the apostle Paul declared that he would become “all things to all men” in order to lead them to saving faith. (1 Corinthians 9:22). These contemporary leaders made the commitment to “engage” with the contemporary culture, in order to make the message of Jesus more acceptable to those who no longer view the Bible or Christianity as authoritative. Christians were encouraged to become “missional” rather than “missionary.” In other words, the call to “become all things to all men” took on a completely different meaning. In practice, the “church” left the building, emerged from behind it’s walls and decided to become a part of culture instead of being separate from it.

In many ways, this way of “doing church” has been very productive. Large ministries have grown up, millions of otherwise skeptical unbelievers have been reached and the reputation of the Christian message has been improved. To these things, we say “praise God.” The body of Christ certainly needs to tear down the barriers which exist between church and culture. Indeed, Christ compels us to go out into the “highways and hedges’ in order to bring the lost to Him. (Matthew 22) It is a good thing to feed the hungry and clothe the naked. It is a good thing for local churches to have an active part in community affairs. The body of Christ should be at the front and center of efforts to build the Kingdom of God here on earth. Amen and amen. The scandals and  the hypocrisy of pastors and churches has caused irreparable harm to the gospel of Christ over the years. It is no wonder that non-Christians question the authority of our words. Our actions have been inconsistent with our preaching.

On the other hand, this transition to being “culturally relevant” and “emerging” has been costly. The old-fashioned “missionary” approach was not perfect, but it was better. Allow me to explain why.

To begin, the “missional” church has lost it’s Christian distinctiveness. From the conversion of hymn singing and choirs to “praise bands” and “worship leaders”, from suits and ties to tattoos and earrings, from the concept of separation from the world to being engaged with the world, the church is becoming more secular and less “set apart.” The Corinthians struggled to live for Jesus because they could not distinguish themselves as the people of God. In our times, it has become almost impossible to know who is saved and who is not. Church members look, speak, act and behave no differently than non-church folks. While most all of us would shy away from legalism and it’s trappings (dress code, no dancing, no going to the movies, etc) , the people of the Lord have fallen into worldliness and even demonism (1 Corinthians 10:14-22). Some of the same “believers” who raise their hands to praise God on Sunday mornings are raising their glasses in a toast on Saturday nights. A “yoke” was used by farmers to put two animals together in order to pull a plow. Followers of Jesus should be pulling the Lord’s plow, not the devil’s. And yet, many are “fellowshipping” with those who do ungodly things and are having “communion” with people who are not saved. A “missionary”  church, on the other hand, seeks to pull people out of the dark, not walk in the dark with them.

Secondly, the “missional” church has lost it’s biblical distinctiveness. While the overall message of the Bible is simple, the Bible itself is extremely complex. God’s Word is meant to be more than just a “love letter.” God intended it to also be a manual for living. In order to accommodate the postmodern crowd, many are ignoring or evading biblical material which does not “relate” to where people live. In doing so, we are robbing ourselves and others of the richness and power of the infallible Word of God. Albert Mohler addressed the state of postmodern preaching as such: “The sacred desk [pulpit] has become an advice center, and the pew has become the therapist’s couch.” In other words, the Bible is viewed not as redemptive, or convicting, but therapeutic; a means to heal people’s hurts or fix their problems. Some of the  so-called “emerging’ pastors and ministries have concerned themselves with making the Bible relevant to the culture rather than changing the culture to fit  what the Bible teaches, The parts which make people “feel better” are preached. The sections which cause lost sinners to cringe are conveniently avoided. Mohler added that “Time is short, God’s wrath is certain, and eternity hangs in the balance.” To put it bluntly, there is little time to waste. We need to do it right.

I understand that are some who are “culturally relevant”, “missional” and are doing it right. Many of them are successfully winning lost souls to faith in Christ and effectively making disciples for the glory of God. Many are making a definite impact for the Kingdom. Others, sadly, have sacrificed the integrity of the Cross and denied the blood which was shed there. By compromising the holiness of the Christian walk and remaining silent on unpopular biblical truths (sin, hell, God’s wrath and demands for righteous living) many are doing a greater disservice to God than they are doing a service for Him. As for us, we choose to remain BIBLICALLY relevant instead of culturally relevant. We choose to stand upon the proven power of God’s Word and to keep ourselves undefiled by an ungodly culture which rejects the authority of God. (Jude 20-25) All the while, we will be intentionally “missionary” , sending the message of salvation out to the world with the goal of bringing folks out of darkness into the marvelous light of Jesus.

 
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Posted by on November 18, 2014 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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People Are Watching

Matthew 5:16: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

It has been said that you are the only Bible that some people will ever read. As a follower of Jesus Christ, do others see God working through you?

An old preacher once said: “The word “Christian” is both a noun and an adjective. We need more “adjective Christians”, more Christian Christians, who are more Christian in thought and spirit and deed as well as name.”

The name “Christian” literally means “like Christ.” Are you a Christian?

 
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Posted by on November 12, 2014 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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Watching

1 Thessalonians 5:2: “For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.”

I was thirteen and left alone to watch my younger siblings and cousin. My parents had gone to dinner with my aunt and uncle.

While I was babysitting, thieves broke into my aunt and uncle’s house next door. They stole jewelry and appliances by breaking through a sliding glass door. Although we were only 50 yards away, my siblings, cousin and I heard and saw nothing. We weren’t exactly expecting anything to happen either.

Jesus will return to earth when most people are not looking. The majority of folks will be too busy to notice. As a result, many will be totally unprepared.

Wake up. Look up. Pray up. Don’t be caught off-guard when our Lord comes.

 
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Posted by on November 11, 2014 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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Why America is Not Being Blessed

Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

In September 2012, at the Democratic National Convention, the Democratic party deliberately left the mention of “God” off their platform. In response, Republicans and other conservatives heavily criticized the President and his political party. On the second day of the DNC, “God” was reintroduced to Democrats and  a heavy round of “boos” and hisses reverberated through the audience. A number of attendees were angry that “God” had been put back on the Democratic Party agenda. At the same time, Democrats openly endorsed homosexuality and abortion. As you know, the party’s candidate, Barack Obama, was re-elected as President of the United States.

What has happened since Obama’s re-election? Nothing but bad, that’s what. Our nation has been rocked by one disaster after another. Consider the following:

The ATF “Fast and Furious” deal, in which Eric Holder was held in contempt of Congress and Obama refused to testify.

The attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi by terrorists,which then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton covered up and the administration continues to lie about.

The NSA investigation and revelations by Edward Snowden, which uncovered that U.S citizens and our allies are being secretly spied upon by our government.

The IRS scandal, which exposed how the Tea Party and other conservative groups were being unfairly interrogated. When confronted, The IRS chief Lois Lerner and her associates conveniently lost all of their e-mails.

The military deserter and Muslim sympathizer, Bowe Bergdahl, was illegally “brought home” by Obama in exchange for five well-known terrorists.

The horrible treatment of our veterans by our VA hospitals and the subsequent shake -up at the VA administration.

The ongoing international friction between Obama and Russia’s President Putin and with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The disastrous roll-out of Obama Care and the continuous cancellations, rising premiums and utter chaos which has been created in our medical systems.

The record number of adults who are not employed, which some say is as high as 60 percent of the population. This includes those who are reporting unemployment, those who are not reporting it because they have given up looking for work, and those who are living on some sort of government assistance/sustenance. We have fewer adults working than at any given time in our nation’s history.

The increasing instability in the Middle East, punctuated with the startling rise of ISIS and the administration’s ineptitude in stopping it. The war on terror has been largely abandoned and radical Islam is spreading like an aggressive cancer.

Thirty states and the District of Columbia have now approved same sex marriage, although the majority of Americans still oppose it. Five more states have appeals pending. The will of American voters has been overturned by liberal judges and courts.

The deadly Ebola virus has made it to the U.S. and the CDC and Obama administration give contradictory statements on how it is being spread and what is being done to prevent it.

Whew. Have you read enough? Can I stop now? An argument could be made, and substantiated by historical research, that our nation is in worse shape than ever.  In fact, there are numerous things that I could have mentioned but chose not to.

How have the people of God responded? Are Christians making a difference? Tragically, the answer is a resounding “NO.”

Statistics provided by a number of agencies report that Christian denominations, including Southern Baptists, are in steady decline. Morals within the Christian community are not much different than those of non-believers. Mega-churches are outpacing normal-sized churches in terms of numerical growth, but the impact of  “Jesus followers” upon the culture appears to be minimal at best. Conversely, the influence of the culture upon the church is increasingly strong.

To answer the question, “why America is not being blessed,” one needs only to read Psalm 33:12: “Blessed is the nation whose GOD is the LORD.” The god of America is no longer Jehovah, the God of Abraham, Issac and Jacob, the God who has revealed Himself in Jesus Christ. The Democrats and their President hissed at God in 2012. The majority of Americans chose a leader whose allegiance is to Muhammad not Jesus. John the Baptist warned that “even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees.” (Luke 3:9) God is laying the ax to the trees of a nation which once stood as a beacon of light to the rest of the world. The only remedy for the United States is repentance and a return to God. Until that happens, our nation will not be blessed.

 
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Posted by on October 16, 2014 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

The Devil’s Tricks, God’s Treats

Ephesians 6:11: “Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles [schemes, tricks] of the devil.”

In a couple of weeks, children across North America, and other places in the world, will go “trick or treating” as a part of Halloween. The original idea of this custom (which is largely forgotten) is that a person would perform some type of mischief (trick) upon a homeowner’s person or property unless a treat (food, money, candy) is given in return.

This practice led me to think about the “tricks”, or “mischievous schemes” that the devil performs in order to keep people out of church. Here are three that I thought of.

TRICK #1: “It is better to think about God while sitting in a fishing boat, than to think about fishing while sitting in a church.”

You can substitute hundreds of activities in place of fishing here. Going to the lake, the mountains, the beach, Grandma’s house, sleeping in (after all, Sunday is a day of rest), sports….the list is almost endless.

TRICK #2: “I would go to church if it were not for all the hypocrites in the church.”

God is good but people mostly are not. Even church people behave badly. All churches have hypocrites and phonies. People in church hurt other people’s feelings. They say and do things to offend others. And guess what? The same happens in every part of life. Hypocrites are everywhere. Strangely, I have never heard anyone say, “I would go to work if it were not for all the hypocrites at my job.”

TRICK #3: “I don’t need church in order to worship God.”

Many of us have “God moments” outside of church. Creation itself cause us to reflect upon the goodness of God (Romans 1:20). I have personally stood before the ocean, or upon a mountain, and marveled at His handiwork. To this point, I have never broken out into a worship service, nor have I seen anyone else do it. Individual praise is one thing; public, congregational worship is another.

The question is, Why does the devil “trick us” into not going to church? Three reasons:

1. The devil does not want us to worship with other believers, because God will be glorified and Satan will be reminded of his forthcoming destruction. The devil hates it when we sing praise songs to God at church. He hates it when the offering plate is passed and people give their money to God and not him. He hates it when people are praying to the Almighty. And, oh how he hates the Word of God. He hates it when a man of God opens the Word of God and feeds the people of God. Therefore, the devil will do everything in his power to trick folks from going to the house of God.

2. The devil does not want us to fellowship with other believers, because there is strength and security in numbers. When a soldier wanders off from the platoon, he is a wide open target to get killed by the enemy. “Fellowship” is not about pot-luck suppers, dinner on the grounds or ice-cream socials. Fellowship is about praying together, encouraging each other in the faith, bearing each others’ burdens. Fellowship makes us stronger and the devil knows that.

3. The devil does not want us to serve with other believers. When church members do ministry projects in their community, give time, money and efforts to reach lost souls, support preachers and missionaries, the devil is infuriated. His kingdom is threatened by the onslaught of God’s people doing God’s work, especially when they are unified in their mission. When a lost soul is rescued form the devil’s hell, there will be one less person occupying the eternal flames of damnation. Misery loves company and Satan does not want to be alone in his suffering.

Church is a good thing, Church is God’s place. Church is God’s people. Church is God’s way of being with His people in the here and now. One day, the saved on earth will gather to their home beyond the shore and we will understand it better. For now, however, we meet Him at His house, in order to receive the treats which await us from a loving Father. Don’t let the devil trick you out of God’s treats.

 
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Posted by on October 13, 2014 in Daily Verse & Prayer

 

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The Ongoing Conflict

On any given day, followers of Jesus face conflict. We are in a battle between good and evil, right and wrong, moral and immoral, godly and ungodly. The war is primarily a spiritual one, an inward struggle between our fallen, human nature and the new nature which we have in Christ. The Bible refers to the steady conflict between “flesh” and “spirit.”
In addition to the personal fight that believers must contend with, there is also the war between us and the unbelieving world. The Bible tells us not to love the world nor the things in the world. We must abstain from attitudes and actions which displease and dishonor God, even if that means we are to have enemies. While we are commanded to love others with the unconditional love of God, we are nonetheless called to take sides and oppose people and their sinful behaviors. As much as we dislike confrontation, avoiding it is impossible for true Christians.
One such war is the one which involves following the teachings of Christ and being an American. Many Christians happen to be patriotic citizens who support their nation and it’s military. I am that person. I am a proud American and a flag-waving patriot. My first allegiance, however, is to Jesus. When a conflict arises between pleasing God and pleasing man, I will obey The Lord first. I make no apologies for my commitment.
With regards to the issue of same-sex marriage, we are facing one of the most significant cultural changes since time began. Nothing has been more radical nor controversial. Herein is my personal conflict. As an American, I fully understand this to be a civil rights issue. I would personally support the establishment of civil unions, whereby tax-paying, law-abiding citizens are not penalized nor discriminated against simply because they have chosen to have a life partner of the same sex. In my opinion(as an American) homosexuals should have the same civil rights as heterosexuals. I personally disagree with homosexuality, but I do not dislike nor judge homosexuals. They are people just like me. We are all sinners who put our pants on one leg at a time.
As a follower of Jesus, however, I strongly oppose homosexual marriage. I cannot and will not support it, not now and not ever. Why? Because my first allegiance is to God and His written Word. You see, I am one of those old-fashioned, uncompromising Christians who believes that the Bible is my authority and guide. I am obligated (as an undeserving recipient of God’s grace and eternal salvation) to obey what the Bible says. Therefore, I will have enemies on this particular issue. There will many who will not take a stand for God’s Word on this hot topic, but will give into public pressure and personal emotions. As hard as the proponents for same sex marriage try, they are unable to make a biblical case for their argument. The book of Genesis is not contradicted by the New Testament nor the personal words of Jesus. God’s design has been, and will continue to be, marriage between one woman and one man, period. My stance is not AGAINST same sex couples. Rather my stance is FOR biblical marriage. And yes, the critics are right: the Bible also teaches against adultery, co-habitation and divorce amongst heterosexuals. And yes, no one sin is any greater than another. None of that, however, changes the design of our Heavenly Father. His plan is still perfect, while our obedience to the plan may not be.
In conclusion, we are called to love. Jesus even told us to love our enemies. In the cultural wars between right and wrong, Christians will be forced to choose sides. Conflict is both inevitable and unavoidable. As an American, I can see that same sex marriage will soon be the law of the land. As a Christian minister, however, I will not agree with the law. If I am left alone to only marry heterosexuals all would be good. If I am forced to disobey the laws of my God, I will choose to disobey the laws of man instead. I truly hope that I will never be forced to do so.

 
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Posted by on October 11, 2014 in Daily Verse & Prayer