Wednesday, May 30, 2007

When All Men Speak Well of You

One desire that we have as humans is to be liked, to be well accepted. But for one who stands for truth, a truth buckler, being well liked is not something that may be descriptive of his life. Take Jesus for example. People loved him for what he could do for them, but they hated the truth he preached...that man must repent and submit their lives to him by faith.

The Apostle Paul was another, Peter, Polycarp, Wycliffe, Hus, Luther, Calvin, and others. People either love or hate such people. When you take a stand for truth you will be loved by some and hated by many. Jesus promised this (Mat. 10).

It was Jesus who said to his disciples, "Woe to you when all men speak well of you, for their fathers used to treat the false prophets in the same way" (Lk. 6:26). There is often not much scorn or hatred hurled at those who take no stand. But if you stand for the truth, if you are a buckler for the truth and preach it with conviction, expect that many will not speak well of you. And then apply Luke 6:22-23 to your life -

"Blessed are you when men hate you, and ostracize you, and insult you, and scorn your name as evil, for the sake of the Son of Man. Be glad in that day and leap for joy, for behold, your reward is great in heaven. For in the same way their fathers used to treat the prophets."

Monday, May 28, 2007

Defining Truth in Preaching

I believe the Church today is in dire need of men to stand in the pulpit and expound the Word of God without shame, without fear, and without compromise. Too many preachers are content with leaving the truth of the Word of God undefined. Their approach to preaching is "we don't want to preach against and we don't want to preach for a particular doctrine." Instead they seek to focus on the pragmatic. But is this the model we see in the New Testament? Did the apostles simply just allow people to walk the "golden middle way" and not call people to live according to truth? I hardly think so.

Paul said that the Church is the pillar and ground of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15). Jesus prayed to the Father "sanctify them by Thy truth, Thy word is truth" (John 17:17). He also said that we are to worship God "in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). John said that he had no greater joy than to hear that his children walk in truth (3 John 4). If truth was so important to Christ and to the apostles, then why should it not be important in our preaching? Why should preachers be afraid to define what the truth is for their congregations? Are they fearful that some people will not stay? Are they afraid of offending people? Are they fearful they will be called strict and intolerant?

If people don't know what the truth is, if truth is not defined by the Word of God for them, then what will the church look like? Provers 12:17 says "He who speaks truth tells what is right. " A church without truth is like a bank without money. It is good for nothing.

How can we leave people comfortable in the pews week in and week out and not tell them what the Bible says about various doctrines? How can we preach each week in generalities and expect change? Change only comes by knowing the truth and putting it to action in our lives. And that means it won't always feel good or make one happy at the moment. But in the end it will do its purifying work in our lives and we will be more conformed into the image and likeness of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Let's focus on defining truth and not doing what many preachers do by preaching in generalities. People need to know more than God loves them. For example, they need to know the exent of that love, the value of such love, the depth of such love, and the changes that such love naturally brings. They need to know what that love requires of them...an abandonment of oneself. But they will never know if it isn't defined for them by a thorough preaching of the Word of Truth!

Friday, May 25, 2007

Newsweek Video of Jerry Falwell

Here is a great video that Newsweek did of Jerry Falwell. I recommend checking it out! Click here to view the video!

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Dangers of Hybels' Philosophy of Preaching

This is a follow-up to my previous post on Hybel's Leaves Congregation Hungry for Truth. The more I think about his philosophy of ministry and in particular his philosophy of preaching, the more frightening it is.

Here are some of the dangers that qucikly come to mind in thinking about this attitude towards preaching:

1. Offensive to God

Whenever unbelievers are the most satsified people in your church, then you can be sure that God is the most dissatisfied one in your church. James 4:4 says - Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.

How can God be pleased and worshipped when unbelievers are at total ease with what is going on? Worship is about exalting God and attributing His worth to Him as the Sovereign, Holy One of the universe. How can an unbeliever who is completely unrighteousness be at ease in such an environment? It should cause them to feel uncomfortable, knowing they are there as ones "standing on the outside looking in." They should feel as though they are total misfits, not the happiest people in the building!

2. Neglect of the Glory of God

To create an environment where unbelievers are at ease and satisfied has to be one that neglects the glory of God. How can God be glorified when sinners are comfortably sitting there on their way to hell? Unbelievers should feel the sting of their sin when hearing the Word of God preached and expounded with conviction. What happened when Peter and Stephen preached Jesus? The people were cut to the heart and some were even outraged by the offensive message of the cross (Acts 2:37; 7:54).

For unbelievers to sit in satisfaction means that much of the glory of God must be left out of the service. I have never been to one of these Willow Creek services, but it causes me to wonder how many times people are called to repent of their sins and live a life of holy obedience. How many sermons have they heard on the depravity of man and the holiness of God?

3. Hinders the Growth of True Believers

This is obvious. When Hybels' own survey shows that the believers in the church who seek to walk with God desire more deep truths, it shows they are a hungry people and that their spiritual growth is not being aided by a healthy dose of the Word each Sunday.

4. Leaves Unbelievers Comfortably on the Broad Road

I don't want to repeat what I've already said, but to leave unbelievers satisfied in the Sunday worship service on a weekly basis leaves them comfortably on the broad road that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). Any preacher who is satisfied with this is not a preacher, but an entertainer and will one day have to stand before God with their blood on his hands!

5. Teaches People a Low View of God and His Word

To stand up and "preach" on a weekly basis where unbelievers enjoy the message more than true believers teaches people that God's Word isn't all that important. It is obvious that these "sermons" cannot contain much Scripture, but rather a lot of stories, jokes, and something to "pump people up" for the week. A person coming away from such a service surely doesn't leave with a greater reverence for God and His Word.

I don't know about you, but I want to be convicted when I hear a sermon. I want the Word of God to strike at my heart and show me my sin. I want to know the great truths of God's grace. I want to know my Lord in a deeper and richer way from my hearing of the preaching of His Word.

To not feed the flock each week is for the shepherd to leave his sheep malnurished and teaches them that they don't really need the Word of God to live a healthy Christian life. It says to them that the Word of God really isn't that important. And it teaches the believers that it is more important for unbelievers to feel accepted than for them to know God and His truth in a richer way.

6. Teaches People that the Gospel is Not all that Powerful

If Hybels' truly believed in the power of the gospel to save people he would preach it. Unbelievers would be miserable and flee the services. An unbeliever would not be able to come week after week with such glee. And for a preacher to do this teaches his people that the gospel is not really that powerful. It teaches them that we need to do more. We need to make sinners feell good first. Jesus never sought to do such a thing. He said that sinners are to forsake all and instantly follow Him.

7. Teaches the Believers that How Unbelievers Feel is More Important than Where they Stand Before God

When the church sees its pastor cuddle up to non-believers without telling them what they are...sinners, and that the pastor doesn't call on them to repent and turn from their wicked way, then they are being taught it is more important to make people feel good than to rescue their souls from hell. God calls us to preach the gospel in season and out of season and says that today is the day of salvation!

May God bring such "preachers" to repent and preach the Word! Avoid the ear tickling and give the people the pure, sufficient, Word that is the only thing that can quench the thirst and hunger of these staggering sheep who are coming each week for nourishment!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Global Warmists Promote Extinction of Humans!

An article reported by usareligiousnews.com states:

The global warmists are now saying that having babies is bad for the planet and that babies should be considered an environmental misdemeanor because a baby’s carbon dioxide output is equivalent to some 620 round trip flights between New York and London. According to the London Times, a green think tank called the Optimum Population Trust is publishing a report that suggests couples wanting to have children should take the environment into account. John Guillebaud, co-chairman of OPT and emeritus professor of family planning at University College London, said, “The greatest thing anyone in Britain could do to help the future of the planet would be to have one less child.” The Times pointed out that the British fertility rate is 1.7, and the European Union average is 1.5. Despite this, Professor Guillebaud says rich countries should be the most concerned about family size as their children have higher per capita carbon dioxide emissions. In another commentary by environmental extremist Paul Watson, founder and president of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, mankind was compared to a virus that is destroying “Mother Earth.” Watson demanded that the population of earth be reduced by one billion people. He also said that humans should stop flying in jets, stop driving cars and stop using boats and ships.

We can clearly see from this article what a denial and rejection of the truth leads to...death. Romans 1 speaks of those who worship and serve the creature more than the Creator. This is clearly creature worship. These people obviously have no interest in the Creator or His Word, but they do have great interest in His creation. So much so that they are willing to promote extinction.

A population needs to at least have a birth rate of 2.0 to not decrease and eventually become extinct. As the article says, the UK and the EU both have birth rates that are unable to sustain its current population. So taking into account this group's desires with the known birth rate, their agenda is ultimately a call to exticntion.

James 1:15 says "...sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death." Death is the result of their errant thinking. When people no longer see a need for the truth of God's Word, when they reject the Creator and what He has called on mankind to do (i.e. be fruitful and multiply), the end result is destruction.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Satan's Next Ploy?

FoxNews posted a new article about Hong Kong authorities possibly labeling the Bible "indecent." If they decide to rule it indecent, then it will be mandatory to have a warning label wrapped around the book and will not be able to be sold to anyone under 18 years of age. They are saying that it is indecent because of its sexual and violent content.

Is this the next form of attack on the Word of Truth? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear more of this in the future and having the Bible labeled as "hate speech" type material.

Nevertheless, the Word of God is timeless and its truths trasnform lives for all eternity.

Celebrating 9 Years of Life and Ministry!

It is likely that today is not an important date on your calendar, but for me and my wife it is. It was 9 years ago today that my wife took courage and married me! Praise God! If you would like to read about her, there is a great chapter about her in the Bible...Proverbs 31.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Pastor Jerry Falwell at Home with the Lord

I remember Dr. Falwell one time joking when someone asked him what to write on his tombstone. He said they will write Luke 16:22 - "So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom."

Though I certainly don't agree with everything he has said or done I greatly repsect him as a man of God. He always stood for what he believed was right and he was always faithful to boldly proclaim the gospel anytime I have ever seen him in a television interview or debate. As a graduate of Liberty University I can say that he had a big impact on my life. I will never forget the few exchanges I had with him including the time he intentionally swerved at me in his suburban laughing as he drove by saying hello.

Now he worships with the angels at the feet of Jesus whom he loved so dearly.

May God bless the Falwell family and comfort their grieving hearts during this time of loss.

Denying the Truth of a Creator

World Net Daily reports that assistant professor of astronomy and physics Guillermo Gonzalez has been denied tenure at Iowa State University for being a proponent of Intelligent Design.

One of the ISU authors of a petition against Intelligent Design, Hector Avalos, an outspoken atheist, told the Ames Tribune the petition was motivated by the growing attention given to Gonzalez's work and concerns the university would be seen as an "intelligent design school."

"We certainly don't want to give the impression to the public that intelligent design is what we do," said Avalos, who is an associate professor of religious studies.

Another ISU author and professor, John Patterson, linked the Discovery Institute, a leading intelligent design think tank where Gonzalez is a senior fellow, to the Taliban.

Avalos insisted that the petition was meant only to address intelligent design and not directed at Gonzalez personally.

"The most important action we want is not to suppress Dr. Gonzalez but to express our own view," Avalos told the Journal of Higher Education.

For his part, Gonzalez defended himself against the attack by noting that he had put forth a design argument that was scientifically rigorous, testable and falsifiable, but whatever its merits, he had not taught the argument in the classroom.

What is interesting is that the WND article describes Hector Avalos as an outspoken atheist, but yet on the ISU website he is described as professor of religious studies! When schools of higher learning put an atheist as a Bible professor and then dismiss a professor, because he has a personal belief in ID, then their motives are made quite clear. They want nothing to do with God, nothing to do with truth, and will remove any proponet of such a belief so they can "express their own view." Once again we can see the exclusivism and utter intolerance of such people who claim to be educators; people who are to encourage others to think and explore and to experiment and promote theories. They can't even tolerate one professor who holds a personal belief that he hasn't even taught in the classroom.

We live in a day that even the slightest scent of God or truth or the Bible or Christ is utterly intolerable. May we be faithful to stand for the truth in this dark age.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Hybels Leaves Congregation Hungry for Truth

A survey conducted among Willow Creek attendants had revealed "mind-blowing" results, as Hybels put it. It asked how satisfied attendants were with how Willow Creek serves them at various stages in their spiritual development. Pre-Christians, or people who are still seeking and exploring Christianity, rated Willow Creek "very high." Ratings dropped slightly among new Christians but were still "fantastic." Adolescent Christians rated the church as good. But fully devoted followers of Christ indicated less satisfaction, saying they are not sure the church is helping them as much at this stage in their life.

"We want more of the deep truths of God," they said, according to Hybels. In Vision 2010, Willow Creek leaders will be altering the way they coach to teach attendants how to be "self-feeding individuals" early on in their spiritual development. Rather than expecting to be spiritually fed each week with a 35-40 minute sermon on Sundays, congregants will start learning how to take responsibility for their own feeding. Everything else – the worship services and the classes at Willow Creek – will just be "whip cream" on top. Click here for full article.

How amazing to see that the most satisfied individuals at Hybels' church are the unbelievers! Shouldn't that tell him that he has failed as a pastor? He has left his sheep hungry. Maybe he should read the gospels again and see what Jesus says about feeding the sheep.

What is so sad about the whole ordeal is that he continues to do the same. It is encouraging that he wants to teach his people how to study the Bible, but he himself has no interest in teaching them the deep truths of God! The professing believers in his church say "give us something to eat" and he says "you will have to learn how to feed yourself, becauase I won't do it!"

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Transitions

In life we sometimes experience transitions that we do or do not expect. We are currently in a ministry transition and are seeking the Lord's will as to what He would have us do next. In about 3 weeks we will have been here in the Czech Republic for 6 years. It is hard to believe, but we are thankful for it. The Lord has taught us so many things we could not have learned anywhere else. There are exciting options before us, but we are trusting the Lord to make His will for us clear.

The book of Acts is a book of transitions. Paul's journeys brought many surprises and we shouldn't be all too surprised when we face unexpected surprises in our own ministries. The main thing to remember is that the Holy Spirit is the one who sent out Paul and Barnabas (Acts 13), and He is the one who sends people today. We just need to walk with Him and preach the Word of God (Acts 13:5).

All you can do is preach the Word of God and be faithful. Pray that this will characterize our lives!

Friday, May 4, 2007

Hell is Truth Seen Too Late

The Gospel of Matthew precisely describes the tragic end for those who reject truth as an eternity separated from God in Hell. Two types of people will one day face this frightening fate.

1. The Future Hellish Reality for many "Christians"

A terrifying truth is that many so-called "Christians" reject the truth, yet think that they have it. What a frightening reality it will be for those who walk in darkness and think they walk in the light. How horrifying to be on the broad road that gives every indication you are headed to the gates of splendor and come to the end only to find out that you were on the road that's end is destruction.

Many will one day stand before the Lord having done all kinds of things for Him and will hear Him say, "depart from me, I never knew you." Jesus repeated such sentences of doom to the Pharisees in Matthew 23. They go through all the motions, they know the spiritual lingo, they do many spiritual things, but it is all empty. These people do not know the Truth, they have no life, and are on the wrong way. They do what they do for personal satisfaction and self-glorification, and miss the one element that allows them to enter the narrow gate, belief in the Way the Truth and the Life. Belief is not merely possessing intellectual facts or doing spiritual works, it is a belief that is accompanied with surrender and repentance from sin to Christ.

Jesus calls us to deny ourselves, prepare to die if need be, and follow Him. That is how belief manifests itself, and that is the cost of following Jesus. It is one thing to give lip service to the truth, it is another thing to have a transformed heart manifested in obedience and love to Christ.

2. The Future Hellish Reality for Those Hositle to the Truth

Many today say there is no such thing as truth. They deny Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. They shout that there is no God. They say that there are many ways to God and each person has his own way. But these people are self-deceived and have bought into a lie. God has revealed Himself and leaves man without excuse for their rejection of Him and the truth of His Word.

When people reject the truth of Scripture and buy into man-made religion and artificial assurance of what will happen to them as they enter death's door, they will face a frightening reality. They will see the result of their rejection and non-acceptance of the truth. But Hell will show them that it is too late.

Which road are you on? your neighbor? your co-worker? your relavite? Let's not be or allow others to be informed by Hell itself!