Too Much Church And Not Enough Jesus

Grabbed Frame 102 (2)

Pizza parties. Game nights. Movie nights. Seemingly clever little ideas to draw youth into the church or keep them in. It all sounds good, maybe done with good intentions. Food! Fun! Fellowship! Make it all worth their while. Give them a reason to want to come. We do need to at least make it a little more exciting, right? After all, who wants to go to another boring service? Give them something to do. How about a dance ministry? Step team? Mime? Anybody down for the drama team? Let’s call another week or two long revival, with an exciting guest speaker–or maybe a concert. That’ll bring them in won’t it? Here’s a novel idea: we’ll let them preach to one another and let them have their own worship team. Not a problem here; except let’s make sure that all the parties involved are saved first please? Let’s top it all off with some good music; not that slow old fashioned kind–something new, fresh, rhythmic and LOUD—because every little bit helps.

Unfortunately, the church has dug deep into the world’s grab bag and tried to implement many of these things into itself.  We cannot win the world to Christ using the worlds’ methods. The church has also, without realizing it, tried to improve upon the gospel message. By that I mean to make it more palatable to the taste. Let’s not talk so much talk about sin, and the blood; that’s not appealing. Let’s give them something more soothing and inviting. When this is done, it becomes watered down. A watered down Word will not and cannot save anyone.

I’m well acquainted with most of the arguments for these things. One,  for example says ‘Young people need to express themselves; they need an outlet.’ Take dancing for one. They say, ‘After all, didn’t David dance before the Lord?’ Oh yes he most certainly did! Only David’s dance was not choreographed; his was spontaneous praise.

If all any church can do is to play the music louder and faster to get the youth, (or anyone else for that matter), to jump higher, sweat harder, dance better, and shout louder, then what has been done? Nothing. Where’s the anointing? The doing of all those things does not guarantee the Spirits’ approval or presence.

Today’s church is off track, out of line, and gone astray. It has abandoned the old fashioned gospel and has made a plate at the table of entertainment and a ‘feel good’ message; a catchy, alluring and psychologized message that invites you to, among other things, ‘live your best life now’. It has gotten away from the mission statement given by the Lord Jesus Christ: ‘…Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.’ (Mark 16:15)

The church is not an entertainment outlet. Instead of ‘shakin’, rattlin’ and rollin’, the church should be evangelizing and preaching and reaching the lost with the gospel. Not prosperity. Not social justice. Not a ‘happy, feel good’ word. You go ahead and live ‘your best life now’, and be as ‘purpose driven’ as you want to be, but there are hard times coming. Much harder than the hokum that’s being preached now can handle. The true, cross-centered gospel will liberate the sin-chained souls of men and women. None of the pseudo-gospels (which are actually no gospel at all), have any power to save or set free. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. (Rom.1:16). These so-called gospels only pander to the flesh and to those with itching ears; yearning to be told that everything is alright.

From where I stand, young people are disenchanted; many are deceived, and even more are lost. I see young people leaving the church because they do not see and have not experienced anything that is real. Sheer emotionalism will not cut it; and it is the fault of the church. Young people and others are being fed a steady appetite of ‘church’–or what is called church, and not enough Jesus. More dancing, more sweating, more jumping, more shouting–and no anointing. No power. There is nothing wrong with these things in themselves, but is that all you have? When the enemy attacks and comes in like a flood, if that’s all you do have, then the enemy will come in like a flood, and overtake them!

The church needs to come home to the Cross. That’s where our life in Christ began and where it needs to stay. There are no alternatives. It cannot be improved upon or minimized. Preach it. Teach it. Proclaim it. Live it. Cherish it.

So I’ll cherish the old rugged cross,
Till my trophies at last I lay down;
I will cling to the old rugged cross,
And exchange it someday for a crown.

That’s the Word. Take it with you. God bless you.

Cutting It Straight

NEWSHOWLOGO 145Excuse me as I wax blissfully about one of my loves…

Oh the joy of studying the bible! There is nothing like having a pile of commentaries and dictionaries stacked up on my desk just to go over a passage! The pure joy of plumbing the depths of New Testament Greek just to understand one word! The utter feeling of satisfaction that comes from knowing exactly what you have to do when you get home-STUDY! Yes!

My words may seem sarcastic to some, but it should be apparent that I really love studying the bible! It is my hobby and my pastime, if I may describe it as such. Most and more important than all that, it’s my calling. It is what God has given and gifted me to do for Him as a contribution to His church. I teach, and if I teach for Him, it must be right.     My approach, my preparation, my perseverance, and my presentation must be proper.

Bible reading and especially bible study are obvious necessities of the Christian life. Along with prayer, they are commonly known as spiritual ‘disciplines’. They’re called disciplines because they don’t come naturally to us. We will do them and do them to a greater degree as we surrender ourselves to the Spirit of God. Without bible reading we will not know fully what the Lord wants to communicate to us, and without bible study, we will remain in a state of spiritual infancy. For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. (Hebrews 5:12).

As I study the Word, first my approach must be right. I must believe that it is His Word and not my own. But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him. (Hebrews 11:6). I must be careful not to insert any of  my own bias into it. I must not force a meaning into it that is not there. When this is done, it plants the ungodly seeds of false doctrine.

When it comes to bible study, the scripture we love to tout the most, and rightfully so, is found in 2 Timothy 2:15. It says, Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. Having said that, it is important to note that the word ‘study’ in this verse (in the original Greek), actually has no direct reference to reading or studying as we understand it. It is from a verb that means ‘to make haste’, ‘to be zealous or eager’, or ‘to make every effort.’ So what is it that we are supposed to be eager and making every effort to do? We are to be presenting or showing ourselves as approved unto God. But how? Stay with me.

Secondly, my preparation to study the Word must begin with prayer. Asking the Lord to quicken His Word in the mind and heart and remove any obstacle so that they are ready to receive from Him. The fact that the Holy Spirit here uses the word ‘workman’ here, indicates that I am a laborer, and that the business of being approved unto God will not be easy. Satan will do all he is able to do to sidetrack and derail our faith. This is why we must keep our eyes on Christ and His cross, knowing that the battle was already won there. That leads directly into the third point. Perseverance will only happen on my part as I continue to rest my faith in Christ and all He accomplished on the cross. Anything less weakens me and pulls me away from Him.

Finally, there is the presentation of the Word. Approval also has to do with a proper handling of the Word. The phrase ‘rightly divide’ is one word in Greek and it means ‘to cut in a straight line.’ As I prepare to teach or preach, I am to be honest in my handling of it. The Word must be taught and preached in a straightforward manner, being careful not to tickle any ears in the process. In other words, as a minister of the Word, I must resist the temptation to tell people what they want to hear; which will probably make them feel good. Rather, I should speak exactly what the bible says, mincing no words. It should be understood that the Word does not always bring comfort as we know it. In 2 Timothy 3:16, we read among other things, that scripture is useful for reproof, which has the idea of bringing conviction, and also for correction; two things that we need from time to time as we traverse this life in the Lord.

As it pertains to the Word, when I approach, prepare, persevere and present the Word with these things in mind, and make every effort to do so, I will know that I have been approved unto God; maybe not unto man, but that doesn’t matter. When it comes to the Word, cut it straight–and no tickling!

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Planes, Thangs, Autmobiles and Other Sins of The Rich and Righteous

ilovemoneyI’ve never actually wanted to be rich. I mean I’ve just never had the itch to have a whole lot of money. A decent roof over my head, and having my basic needs met seems to have always been enough for me. Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve had plenty. I’ve been at that place where I didn’t have to worry about food, rent or mortgage and the like. I’ve also been in that place where I had pretty much nothing; living paycheck to paycheck, so to speak. So I’ve been in both places and truth be told, plenty is better. When one does have plenty though, the tendency is to forget God; we become comfortable. Having nothing much will keep you on your knees. I think I can rest somewhere in the middle.

Obviously there is nothing inherently wrong with being rich. If God chooses to bless me greatly financially, if He chooses to bless the fruit of my labor, or if He chooses to bless because I have been a good steward of what He has provided, or whatever the case may be, I would graciously receive whatever He gives with thanksgiving. However, I believe that the seeking out of wealth, for wealth’s sake and devoting one’s whole life purpose to the accumulation of riches will prove to be problematic. ‘Money is root of all evil!’ they say. Well they are wrong. It’s the love of money that is the root of all evil. 1 Timothy 6:10 says: For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows. See the problem? Loving money and setting one’s heart on it is a form of greed and causes one to take their eyes off the Lord and wander away from Him. It also causes the offender to be on the receiving end of much sorrow and misery. It’s better to take the Apostle Paul’s advice (actually a command), to young Pastor Timothy. He told him, ‘Flee these things.’ (1 Timothy 6:11).

Now I read that Pastor Creflo Dollar (yes that is his real name), is asking for money to purchase a new jet for his ‘World Changers’ ministry. The old one purchased in 1999 has engine problems. The new luxury jet will cost 65 million dollars. He’s asking for 200,000 people to contribute 300 dollars apiece to meet the need. The statement from his website reads in part: ‘…we believe it is time to replace this aircraft so that our Pastors and staff can continue to safely and swiftly share the Good News of the Gospel worldwide. We need your help to continue reaching a lost and dying world for the Lord Jesus Christ.’ Awww. Just the right combination of compelling words to almost make one want to give out of duty and compassion. But here’s the problem with the statement. Aside from the phrase ‘Good News of the Gospel’ being redundant (the word gospel already means ‘good news’; it’s like saying ‘good news of the good news’), there is a much more serious problem. What exactly is the gospel that he is preaching? Creflo Dollar teaches a ‘prosperity’ gospel. It is both nefarious and unbiblical. It is a gospel laced with untruths, half truths and scripture twisted so tight it takes discernment of the highest order to weed it out. He is also a major proponent of the ‘gospel of grace’ or ‘grace revolution’, as it is touted, which states that since we’ve been forgiven, there’s no need to ever confess your sins again. Basically, though they don’t say it in so many words, I am to ignore the convicting power of the Holy Spirit if I sin, as a matter of fact, it’s not the Spirit convicting you, it’s the devil trying to make you sin conscious, because I’m already forgiven! That, my friend, is very near blasphemy; attributing the work of the Holy Ghost to the devil. Here’s what scripture has to say about those who promote false gospels which are actually no gospel at all and preach another Jesus: Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple. (Romans 16:17-18).  

That all being said, why would a truth loving child of God want to support this type of ministry or any like it that preaches and teaches the things they do? I’ve only given you the most basic tenets of what they believe; it’s all much more intricate. The Apostle Paul stated that he preached ‘Christ crucified.’ (1 Corinthians 1:23). That speaks of the Cross, and we can do no wrong by preaching the same.

But alas, Creflo Dollar will get his 65 million dollars and his new luxury jet and will probably continue spouting his pseudo-gospel. These men and women have countless followers who support their ministries and have made it possible for them to live like kings and queens. Their lavish lifestyles filled with planes, cars, houses and land are all passed off as blessings from the Lord. The jury is still out on that one. Building a ministry and lifestyle on the backs of the deceived is not my idea of being blessed.

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9). Powerful words. So powerful, he had to say it twice.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.

Don’t Tickle My Ears-Tell Me The Truth!

truthliesFor the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned to fables. (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

A smile. A scripture. A shout. Your best life is now! A smile. A scripture. A shout. You are the righteousness of God! A smile. A scripture. A shout. It is the year of your destiny! Depending on who you see, you may hear that it’s the year of plenty, or the year of power, or something else. Which year is it? Anyway, these are just a few of the more popular mantras heard nowadays from various preachers and teachers.

Look, no one wants to hear a ‘hard’ word. We could do without all the, what most call ‘negativity.’ Preaching about things like sin, judgment, and the like is not considered a good day in God’s house. Most prefer to be told that everything is alright, or how good they are and definitely how good God is. Only there is a problem. What about the difficult times? How do I deal with temptation or the more weightier issues of life? You can’t deal with these types of things with just a simple smile, a scripture (usually out of context), and a nice sounding slogan. Tell me how to deal with real life. Don’t give me candy, or sweet sounding remedies. Please, tell me what I need to hear, not what I want to hear!

Our scripture above from 2 Timothy says that the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine. We are there. I believe that now, more than any time in history there has been an inundation of false doctrine that has entered the church. The devil knows his time is short. Anyone who is willing to step into his world of doctrinal deception will be welcomed with open arms. The verse then says that at that time they will not endure sound doctrine. Who are the ‘they’ in this verse? Believers. It says that believers will not be able to endure or bear or even put up with truth. Many believers these days are hungering for something fresh, new and different. Don’t give me the same old messages recycled. Tell me something that will excite me. Look, if the Word doesn’t excite you as it is, you’ve already fallen off. No one needs to add a little spice or sugar to it to make you feel better. The scripture goes on to say that in order to fulfill this lust for more, believers will seek out preachers and teachers who will tell them what they want to hear. The itching ears referred to here is their desire to be audibly tickled. As we said, ‘Tell me what I want to hear; make me feel good.’ What immediately happens when anyone desires to have their ears tickled? They automatically turn their ears away from the truth. They choose poison over medicine. Notice that final phrase in verse 4, ‘and shall be turned unto fables.’ If one turns away from what is true, they have only one recourse, that is to turn to lies, fables and myths.

The Apostle Peter tells us what we should be desiring. In 1 Peter 2:2 he says: As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby. Once again I say, don’t tickle my ears-tell me the truth! It’s what we need.

That’s the Word! Take it with you. God bless you.