Friday, September 30, 2011

Qualified Elders and the Idolatry of Satelite "Churches"

"For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you...v. 5, holding fast the faithful word that he(the elder) has been taught, that he may be able, by sound doctrine, both to exhort and convict those who contradict," Titus 1:5, 9.
     There is no time to mess around, we must cut to the chase here.  The American Evangelical Church, those who claim the title evangelical, is about to die.  It has given in to almost every crass whim of culture and is breathing its last breath.  The final sign of its impending rigor mortise is this: the satellite "church".  What I mean, to be clear, by satellite "church", is a "church" whose primary teacher/preacher is piped in on a big screen from miles(sometimes hundreds or more) away.  A recent survey showed that 59 of the 100 fastest growing churches in the country are of the satellite variety.  Friends, what this displays is a complete and total lack of discipleship and the fawning adulation of the celebrity pastor.  This trend is sweeping the church and even once reliable men like John Piper are allowing this charade to be played, miming the idiocies of the business conference world.  Mark Driscoll, James McDonald, Ed Young Jr. and multitudes of other popish pastors are emulating this silliness forgetting that their primary charge is to disciple others and furthermore, as Paul admonished Titus, select particularly mature and faithful men to teach and exhort their flocks.
     Having sounded the alarm, more will have to be said as the rotting edifice of American evangelicalism collapses upon itself.  While it may sound as if I am alarmed, I know that God will keep those who are His, He is sovereign, holy, gracious and just.  What arises out of this destruction will be a stronger, more faithful and more loving church in America.  It is in times such as these that we must, more than ever, learn, live and love the glorious gospel of our loving Savior!

Friday, September 16, 2011

3 Reasons to Start Discipling Using Genesis 1:1

     "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," Gen. 1:1.

     Tomorrow I will be teaching a group of men and I decided I would start at the beginning, Genesis 1:1.  Here are at least 3 good reasons to start with this text.
     1)  It is foundational.  God started here and He could have started with anything.  He could have told Moses about our sin and need for redemption through His Son Jesus Christ right away but He, in His truly infinite wisdom, started with, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."  So this seems like a great place to start discipling men.  Even more, we have such a low tolerance from so many "evangelicals" for the first two chapters of Genesis.  This silliness started with C.S. Lewis who often showered contempt on the Old Testament and believed that the OT was more myth than anything.  His disciple, Tim Keller, continues in his tradition and mangles the creation account of Genesis into something so far fetched not even a three year old could believe it.  Evangelicals who take the whole counsel of God seriously need to return to sanity and teach and understand the whole of scripture as it was intended to be understood.  We must turn from the heresies of men like Lewis and Keller.
     2)  It magnifies Christ's atoning sacrifice for our sins.  Modern evangelicals have largely reduced the gospel to what Christ did on the cross for our sins.  They provide no context for this and largely ignore the rest of the gospel.  Yes, there is more to the gospel.  Mark' account starts off with, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God."  He didn't launch into the Crucifixion account immediately but told the whole story of Jesus starting with the beginning of His ministry.  Included in this are the words of Jesus' about God's creation and Jesus took it seriously.  We are also told, in John's Gospel, that Jesus was the one who God the Father created everything through.  Christ is not just our redeemer but He is the One who spoke and the universe leapt into existence.  Christ upholds all things even now.  He is the all powerful creator of the universe, "whom was pierced for our transgressions and who was wounded for our iniquity.  The chastisement for our peace was upon Him and by His stripes we are healed," Isaiah 53.  When we juxtapose these two awesome truths, it makes Jesus' obedient, loving sacrifice that much more astounding.  Like finally walking to the edge of the Grand Canyon after only seeing it in photos all of your life.  He "traded Heaven's throne for a cross," 1John, and that is beyond compare!
     3)  It magnifies/glorifies God and puts man in his place.  We all need to see things from God's perspective.    Before we judge someone, we are always told to "walk a mile in their shoes."  Genesis 1 helps us to put God's shoes on.  Genesis one tells us that God is before time and He is in time.  Confusing?  Yes.  Contradictory?  No.  I'm not going to explain it, well, because I can't, but meditate on it.  He also created everything.  We are, in reality, not able to create anything.  Sure, we can rearrange God's stuff to make stuff, but we can't speak it into existence.  God did and can.  Because God created all things, He knows it all.  I can't remember more than ten phone numbers.  There are many other things that we can know about God through this one verse, but that is for you to ponder and meditate(biblically) on.  We should consider these things and it should help us to see God in all His glory and that should motivate us to speak of God and His power and glory to those we meet.  It will make all our problems seem insignificant next to God's all consuming power and love.  It has been said that, "The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever."  Those are powerful words and Genesis 1 is our first step to knowing Him and enjoying Him for all eternity. 
     God bless you and learn, live and love the Gospel!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pray Without Ceasing: Don't Flirt With Disaster

     "Pray without ceasing," 1 Thessalonians 5:17.

     Today as I was driving my route truck down a dusty gravel road in south central Nebraska, I heard a sports talk show host incredulously ask why people would pray for an athlete's contract negotiation.  He remarked that he wouldn't go into detail regarding his religious views yet his dogma's showed forth despite his foggy pronouncement.  He was reading a Buddhist book and remarked that he kept his prayer life focused on his families health and the well being of those in the midst of disastrous occurrences. 
     We see this elitist incredulity pop up often this time of year as camera's will glance at large men, all geared up, sitting in a circle and praying before and/or after a game.  These folks will banter about why God would care who won a football game when there are earthquakes, wars and famines all over the world!  The aforementioned sports talker cajoled that, "these people(who pray for players contract negotiation) are probably the type who pray for kitties!"  Yep, I pray for my dog, I would pray for a cat too if we had one.  But, we must ask, are these elitist's correct?  Does God have more important things to worry about than football stuff, kitties and dogs?
     Well, yes He doesn't!  There are people scattered around our globe suffering beyond what we can imagine and people living right in your neighborhood who are in desperate condition.  God can handle them. In fact, God may use us as an instrument of mercy in their life.  Yet, the question reveals a lot about the questioner's  faith.  They have a deficient view of God and a complete misunderstanding of the Christian life at the very least.  Their view of God seems to indicate that they believe in a less than all powerful deity.  They seem to think that God only has time and or energy to deal with the really, really big stuff.  We can handle the small stuff on our own.    We don't want to overload poor, kind of powerful God.  We are strong ourselves and can do some of the lighter lifting, allowing God to do the really heavy stuff.  This view shrinks God and elevates man.  God owns the the cattle on a thousand hills(understatement) and spoke the universe into existence.  I don't even own the house on our hill and I speak my ignorance into infamy daily.  God can handle anything...anything.  Me on the other hand, I'm a fairly impotent little man.
     Even more, this question reveals that those who ask it do not understand the Christian life(or the Gospel itself) at all.  "Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God and His peace that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus," Philip. 4:6-7.  We are to "pray without ceasing".  How is this done if we do not pray about the situation at hand, whether it is a football game, a hurting neighbor, an election, a hurt toe or any number of other random, normal occurrences that present themselves daily.  A Christian's life is to be marked by prayer.  How did Daniel's enemies trap him?  They set him up so that his righteousness, particularly his fervent prayer life, would get him thrown into the Lion's den.  Nehemiah prayed silently to God and requested a great favor from King Xerxes at the same time!  Who said that men cannot multitask!  Prayer to a Christian should be a continuous conversation with God.  It is a relationship and God does not want us to take our eyes off of him.  When a brother/sister has an issue, tell them you'll pray for them...and do it, now, and then again later.  If your car is making weird noises, ask for God's help.  It would seem to be an easy enough problem for Him.  Is there such a thing as a big problem for God?  His answer isn't always our desire(it should be) but we must learn to turn to Him on all occasions, with fervency and humility.  Even if it is for your kitty. 
     God bless you all and learn, live and love the Gospel!