Saturday, November 22, 2014

The Death Of A Christian School

The news article reported; a Christian School operated by a Baptist Church in Southern California was closing its doors after 36 years.
The school was a ministry of the church and therefore under the authority of the church leadership.  The church’s pastoral staff made the difficult decision to close the school.   According to the leadership, enrollment had steadily declined for several years.  Their current enrollment was about 120 students fewer that it was about 5 years earlier.  No doubt the current national and local economic and jobless conditions played a major part in their decision.  These are extremely tough times for many businesses and Christian ministries are not exempt from hardships.  Tuition is very expensive and, when times are tough, people must make sacrifices or find other options to survive. 

According to the church spokesman, the Christian school ministry had not been financially viable for at least seven years, as the cost of operations had adversely impacted the church’s budget by several hundred thousand dollars.  In spite of austere and cost-cutting measures in the past, they simply could not outlast the recessive economy.

And that, my friends, is the objective, unspun story as it can best be known from direct, verifiable sources even though some of those sources no longer exist in print because the news report was substantially changed overnight.

Once the decision to close became public, news of the school’s problems began spreading like wildfire, as current and former students began posting comments on Facebook.  Within hours an organizational structure began to form, from parents, students, and the community, to garner support to save the school.

Of course, that is heartbreaking and tragic news to the students, parents, and teachers.  And I understand the personal, emotional reactions; the prayer meetings, the tears, and expressions of frustration that manifest themselves in a myriad of ways.  I get it; you have my sympathy.  However, the obvious manipulative slant from the press (evidenced by its own printed revisions) and the strings of misguided and ignorant comments on the internet are troubling for the church. 

So, as a former church and Christian school business administrator, a parent of two Christian school students and the grandfather of Christian school students, a former member of a Christian school board, the husband and father of Christian school teachers, and a supporter of Christian school education for over 35 years, I want to proffer a few random observations from a Christian church’s biblio-centric ministry perspective.

·        The Church is not an organization of human origin.  It is an organism comprised of the regenerated (born-again) believers that form the Body of Christ in this world.  The local Christian church is an assembly of member believers formally joined together for specific and limited ministry purposes that are mandated by God in Scripture.  Those purposes are to preach and teach the Word of God, to care for the members, to build them up in the faith, and to prepare them for the work of spreading the Gospel throughout the world.   As such, the church must be free from any external pressures or alliances that may compromise its mission.  This principle understanding of the nature and purpose of the church is foundational to every other comment that follows.

·        The local church is free to develop a framework of programs that it deems expedient to accomplish its  biblically mandated purposes.  A Christian school can be, and sometimes is, one of those structures only insofar as it is and remains effective to teach the Truth of God’s Word, present all truth in all subjects from a God-centered and biblically sound worldview, and ensure that every student hears the good news of the Gospel and is instructed in righteousness. 

·        One commenter suggested that the church’s priorities are misplaced because it allocates resources to ministries other than the school.  Another questioned how the church could claim to be in financial stress and then send the pastor on a mission trip to Africa.  But a church has multi-faceted ministries just as a body has multiple functions and all of those ministries must be evaluated from time to time for effectiveness and then, either eliminated or supported.   The church’s mission is never to be determined or prioritized by outsiders (non-members), the local community or the “marketplace.”  When an outside group attempts to usurp the control or direction of a ministry, that church is in trouble. 

·        One very harsh comment was critical of the pastor for his teaching and preaching about honoring commitments and yet, letting everybody down by dishonoring the commitments made to teachers and students.  That was immature, uninformed, and irrelevant.  Most Christian schools operate on a year-to-year basis.  Teacher contracts are renewed each year and, unlike government schools, most of them understand that there is no tenure and no guarantee of future employment.  But then, most Christian teachers trust God, and not the State (or the church), to supply their needs.  At least they should.  And most of them are very emphatically certain, at the time of hire, about how God “called them to this ministry” so it would seem reasonable to trust that He is now “calling them elsewhere.”  As for the students, tuition is paid and enrollment is established on an annual basis.  It is a "fee for service"agreement and if you get all the class instruction for which you paid, and a report card documenting your earned grades, the church’s commitment has been honored.  They owe you nothing else.  Sorry!

·        The church should fire their attorney.  According to the press report, Jimmy Mettias, the school’s attorney, in direct contradiction to the church’s leadership, said (the school) is “financially self sustaining and sufficient” and the move by the church may lead to litigation.  He also said, “The way the church handled this situation was shameful.  You don’t let people go like that.  It’s a haphazard way of doing things.”  He has planned meetings with parents, teachers and staff in order to discuss the possibility of relocating the school, independent from the church.  He has recklessly created doubt and concern regarding the well-being of the children by stating, “The school is being run by eight teachers, which is a very serious safety concern for parents,” and saying, “They are exposing themselves to significant liability.”  At best, it sounds like his interest in his client is conflicted.  In my opinion, it certainly seems unethical.

·        Finally, because of creeping liberalism, outside influences, and market pressures, most Christian ministries naturally decline. I don’t need to expound on this point here; I have written extensively on this subject in another post.  But as an example, let me point your attention to an organization with which everyone is familiar (or maybe not).  The Young Men’s Christian Association.  No doubt about it; it was a social ministry started by serious, well-meaning, committed Christians for the purpose of reaching boys with the good news of the Gospel.  Years ago they changed (shortened) their name to their initials, YMCA.  Today it is mostly known as the “Y.”  The “Christian” part of the ministry has been successfully obscured or totally lost but the social aspect is still in existence.  Sadly, that downward trend threatens every aspect of Christian church ministry, whether schools, music, missions, youth, or anything else.  And so churches must evaluate them from time to time.  When a church’s “programs” lose sight of their original biblical mandated purposes, the church should turn them back or turn off the lights. 

(The original internet news source for this post has been removed)

originally posted 3/8/12

Indigenous People's Friday Is The Biggest Shopping Day Of The Year

This year my wife's boutique will be open on the Friday of Color.  For those of you who might be wondering what that is; it is the day after Thanksgiving.  If you didn't know that, then you are probably racist. 

You may be aware that it is politically incorrect to use the adjective "black" to describe some people. The correct phrase is "people of color."

Therefore, shouldn't it logically follow that the day after Thanksgiving should be called "The Friday of Color?"

Just wondered!

So we will be open on The Friday of Color.   Unless, of course, our sales are low and our business remains "in the red."  Then, we will be open on  "red Friday" "Indigenous People's Friday."   Either way, we will be open on that Friday for your shopping convenience.

Political Correctness means always having to say, "I'm sorry."

revised.  Originally posted Nov. 2009

Friday, November 21, 2014

The First American President Is Not Who You Think

You probably thought that George Washington was the first president.  Well you might be wrong!
Barack Hussein Obama is the First President to:

apply for college aid as a foreign student, then deny He was a foreigner.

obtain a social security number from a state he has never lived in.

preside over a downgrade of the credit-rating of the United States.

violate the War Powers Act.

be held in contempt of court for illegally obstructing oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico.

require all Americans to purchase a product from a third party.

spend a trillion dollars on “shovel-ready” jobs when there was no such thing as “shovel-ready” jobs (or even a shovel).

abrogate bankruptcy law to turn over control of companies to his union supporters.

by-pass Congress and implement the Dream Act through executive fiat.

order a secret amnesty program that stopped the deportation of illegal immigrants across the U.S., including those with criminal convictions.

demand a company hand-over $20 billion to one of his political appointees.

order a CEO of a major corporation (Chrysler) to resign.

terminate America’s ability to put a man in space.

cancel the National Day of Prayer and to say that America is no longer a Christian nation.

use an auto pen to sign a law without being present.

arbitrarily declare an existing law unconstitutional and refuse to enforce it.

threaten retaliatory actions against insurance companies that publicly speak out on the reasons for their rate increases.

dictate to a major manufacturing company as to which state it is allowed to locate a factory.

file lawsuits against the states He swore an oath to protect (AZ, WI, OH, IN).

withdraw an existing coal permit that had been properly issued years ago.

actively try to bankrupt an American industry (coal).

fire an inspector general of AmeriCorps for catching one of His friends in a corruption case.

appoint 45 czars to replace elected officials in His office.

surround himself with radical left wing anarchists.

hide his birth, medical, educational, and travel records.

be endowed with a Nobel Peace Prize for doing NOTHING.

go on multiple “global apology tours” and concurrent “insult our friends” tours.

go on over 17 lavish vacations, in addition to date nights and Wednesday evening White House parties for His friends at taxpayers' expense.

have personal, taxpayer funded servants for His wife.

retain a dog trainer for $102,000 a year at taxpayers' expense.

employ and transport a personal fitness trainer from Chicago at least once a week at taxpayers' expense.

Quote the Holy Quran and tell us the early morning call of the Azan (Islamic call to worship) is the most beautiful sound on earth

side with a foreign nation against an American states (Mexico vs Arizona).

suggest that our military personnel should pay for their own private insurance because they “volunteered to go to war and knew the consequences.”
allow the enactment and enforcement of an illegal law written by His wife,

suggest that the members of the military were UNPATRIOTIC for balking at the last suggestion.

However, He is NOT America's first black president.  Bill Clinton claimed that distinction for himself but he was wrong.  Before Bill, there were at least four black presidents (look it up).  But B. Hussein Obama might be our First Gay Imperial Muslim Monarch.


some of this content was accumulated by Philip Jennings

Guarding Against "Protestant Popery" and "Spiritual Abuse"

Are we, who are Christians, to submit to the authority of our pastors? Of course we are. Hebrews 13:17 commands us, "Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you."

But that authority (or rule) is not absolute or unlimited. Pastors who demand unquestioning submission are guilty of abusing their power and authority.

Singer/Songwriter, Bible Teacher, Reformed Apologist and Evangelist, Steve Camp wrote;

"It is significant to note that a pastor of a church possesses no inherent authority over the church by virtue of office alone; it is only through that which Scripture affords him that gives him a position of authority. Where Scripture exhorts, he may exhort. Where Scripture calls for obedience, he is to call the church to obedience. Where Scripture edifies, he is to edify. And where Scripture commands, he is to command. But where Scripture is silent, he cannot be vocal and has no inherent authority. He may pray for the flock, he may give wisdom when weighing the facts or circumstances of a particular situation, he may counsel from the principals of the Word, but he possesses no authority. He, in other words, is to guard against spiritual abuse, by faithfully honoring and submitting to the Word of God by which he is thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). And then in response to that truth, humbly serve the flock of God as an under-shepherd of Christ."

Hypocrisy And Dissimulation: More Abuse of Pastoral Authority

I posted a lengthy item Titled Church Leaders: The Abuse of Power and Authority that I want to reemphasize here and expand one very important point on that subject.

“Now when Peter had come to Antioch, I (Paul) withstood him to his face, because he was to be blamed; for before certain men came from James, he would eat with the Gentiles; but when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing those who were of the circumcision. And the rest of the Jews also played the hypocrite with him, so that even Barnabas was carried away with their hypocrisy.

But when I saw that they were not straightforward about the truth of the gospel, I said to Peter before them all, “If you, being a Jew, live in the manner of Gentiles and not as the Jews, why do you compel Gentiles to live as Jews? We who are Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law but by faith in Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, that we might be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the law; for by the works of the law no flesh shall be justified.” (Galatians 2:11-15)

Here in this text, we find Paul publicly rebuking Peter for two actions—his HYPOCRISY and DISSIMULATION. Even though these two words are very similar and sometimes translated as the same word, they are not synonyms. So what exactly was the problem?

Peter, who was a Jew, lived like a Gentile but then he attempted to compel the Gentiles to live as Jews. That is hypocrisy. It is the act of insisting that people live or act in one way when, in fact, you walk contrary to your talk. Most people understand that.

But the word, “dissimulation” seems to be more sinister and sometimes even difficult to identify. And, frankly, it is appropriately applicable to church leaders who abuse their positions or authority in order to manipulate people to protect their own interests or accomplish their own agendas. It means to pretend to act from one motive when, in fact, an action is really inspired by another motive.

Although bad enough on its face, Peter attempted to disguise and justify his hypocrisy by pretending that his motive was loyalty to the Law of Moses whereas really, it was fear of the Judaisers. And what is worse is that Peter was an apostle of Christ. Peter represented the pastoral leadership of the early Church of God. He had apostolic authority as one who spoke the Word of God. God expected that His church would listen and submit to His apostle’s authority. Peter abused that authority when he demanded allegiance to his words rather than God’s Word.

So how does this passage translate into relevance for the contemporary church? The issue then (and now) as it applies to the church is about the authority and direction of pastoral leadership. It is the act of church leaders not being "straightforward with the truth;" It is pretending to have “spiritual” or “biblical” or "pious" justification for their actions when the truth is, they are acting out of fear, preferences or feelings. That is an abuse of authority and a sinful act of DISSIMULATION.

And Paul says about that, "I withstood him to his face," and then he rebuked him ..."before them all." This had become a public matter resulting in many of the congregation, including Barnabus, being carried away with Peter's sin and so Paul exposed it publicly for the good of the church and for the glory and reputation of God.


Church Leaders And The Abuse of Power and Authority

God has established order and authority in His Church. He gets to design the organizational chart, He is the one who has determined its mission and purpose, and He appoints His leaders.

One of the dangers in leading the Church of God is that the people are, for the most part, defenseless and lack wisdom and discernment. That is why they are compared to sheep in need of a shepherd (pastor). So shepherds have an incredible responsibility for the feeding, guiding, guarding and protection of the sheep for which God will hold them to a high degree of personal accountability.

On the other hand, the sheep are not excused simply because they are dumb. Every Christian is personally responsible for whom he follows and what he swallows. Blind, unquestioning loyalty to pastoral leadership is one of the marks of a cult and any pastor who insists on it is probably an hireling and not a true undershepherd. That is an abuse of pastoral authority.

God’s Word is absolutely clear; church members are to obey and submit to the authority of LEGITIMATE church leadership. And I emphasized that word, legitimate, because that leadership leadership authority is scripturally identifiable, limited in scope, and must be discerned by the members.

Who are the shepherds? In the first book of Samuel in chapter 16 is the account of how God provided a king to replace Saul. He instructs Samuel to go to Bethlehem to the house of Jesse because, “I have provided me a king among his sons (vs. 1).” As Jesse proudly paraded the best and brightest of his sons in front of Samuel, the Lord instructed him with these words, “Look not on his countenance or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him (vs. 7).” Then, one by one, he brought his other sons before Samuel. Samuel rejected every one of them because none of them was the one God had chosen. In this account, it is evident that God ordained and provided His man to lead His people.

In the New Testament, the apostle Paul makes this statement to the church at Ephesus, "And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ”(Eph. 4:11-12). Here, again, we see that it is God who gives His leaders to His Church. Everything we need, He supplies.

It doesn't much matter how much we like a man.  And it is not our privilege to choose or reject men for church leadership based on their abilities, education, experience, charisma, appearance, or style. It is our responsibility to identify God’s ordained man whom He has given to us for His purpose. And His man is objectively identifiable by these scriptural qualifications, and these, and not by our feelings or personal preferences.  And that means ALL of the scriptural qualifications; not just some or most.  

I recently heard of a man who has been accused of some serious impropriety.  Because he aspires to be a pastor and his church leaders are "grooming" him for ministry, they were attempting to cover up his sin.  But the problem is that, if he is guilty of the charge, he is already unqualified by God's standards.  A church must be very careful to not reject the men whom the Spirit of God has appointed.  And that Spiritual discernment is not something ethereal elusive; it is revealed in black and white on the pages of Scripture.

Are there limits to pastoral authority? The foundational basis of a pastor’s authority is his calling and his scriptural qualifications. Christians are to submit only to those who give plain evidence that they are called by God and qualified by His Word.

Hebrews 13 instructs Christians to submit to those who have spoken the Word of God. Church leaders do not have authority in themselves; their authority is only in God’s Word.  Even the apostle Paul limited his authority when he said to the Corinthian church, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Cor. 11:1). Any decisions, directions, actions or directives of the shepherds that cannot be justified by God’s Word cannot be imposed on the sheep.

In chapter 5 of his first epistle, Peter exhorts the elders about their primary responsibility as shepherds. It is to feed the flock of God and not to be lords over them. Here Peter reminds them that the church is not their property; it is God’s. They do not comprise the corporate head of the church; Jesus Christ is. They are not to decide or define the purpose of the church; the Word of God has. They do not have authority to cast vision; they must reflect the vision of Christ. Their responsibilities are to gently and humbly care for and lead the flock by example and always mindful of the fact that they are undershepherds who will give account for any abuse of the sheep.

Should members question the legitimacy of leadership? Wise discernment is not an option; it is a duty of every Christian. 1 Thess. 5:21 says, “Prove ALL things; hold fast that which is good.” Not even church leaders are above the reach of this directive and according to Proverbs 14:15, it is a simple man who blindly believes everything a church leader says. The apostle Paul commended the Bereans because they carefully examined his words and compared them to The Word before they believed him and followed him. 1 John 3:11 commands us, “Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good.” Some things are to be followed and some are not. It is our responsibility to discern the difference. In order to obey this command, a Christian must carefully evaluate every situation in the light of Scripture, regardless of its source.

How should the members deal with elders who abuse their authority? Paul instructs Timothy regarding this matter, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses. THEM THAT SIN rebuke before all, that others also may fear” (1 Tim. 5:19-20). The apostle is NOT prohibiting the act of receiving accusations about sinning elders; he is giving instructions about how it must be done. Sometimes church leaders are wrong and they are not above correction and discipline. Paul’s instruction here is not unlike the instructions from Jesus in Matthew 18 about a sinning brother. The order is the same. First, the matter should be addressed individually. Paul cites an example of this, (Galatians 2:11-15), when he says about Peter, “I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed.” But Peter was guilty of hypocrisy “insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation.” That word, “dissimulation” used here means to pretend that one’s action is from one motive, where, in fact, the action is really inspired by another motive.  Since Peter’s hypocrisy had become public, Paul rebuked him publicly.

If the matter cannot be resolved privately, accusations about an elder must be brought by two or three witnesses. If the sinning elder will not be corrected, the matter is to be brought before the church. Ultimately, the responsibility for all church discipline, up to and including excommunication, lies with the congregation. 



Thursday, November 20, 2014

"Who Do You Say That I AM?"

Graffiti found on a wall of St. John's University:

Jesus said unto them: "Who do you say that I am?"

And they replied: "You are the eschatological manifestation of the ground of our being, the kerygma in which we find the ultimate meaning of our interpersonal relationships."

And Jesus said:

How To Identify Contemporary American Christians

Almost everyone in America is a Christian today (unless they aren't). Even Oprah Winfrey and Barack Obama claim to be Christians. If we are going to use labels to identify Contemporary American Christians it would be good to properly define the terms.  So here they are; I hope you find these useful.

CHRISTIAN- Anyone who believes in the Easter Bunny.

CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN- Anyone who believes in God.

LIBERAL CHRISTIAN- Anyone who is willing to give away everything he doesn't own.

RADICAL CONSERVATIVE CHRISTIAN- Anyone who uses the name “Jesus” in casual conversation, and in a non-expletive form.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Alliterated Sentences

In two of the past four years I wrote 26 blog posts in the month of April for a "Blogging From A To Z" challenge.  The object was to write a post each day for every letter of the alphabet, starting with A.  In 2012 I took the challenge one step further; I wrote long alliterated sentences for the titles for each post.  That was more difficult that the actual writing of the articles.   I won't be doing that again.

Here they are in order and they link to their respective posts:

A is for - Angry Abortion Advocates And Amoral Activists Are Always Anxious to Avow Any Anal Arguments for the Assassination of Amorphous Anthropoids.

B is for - Barack O’Bama’s Banal B-man and Big time Bloviater, Biden, Belches a Buffet of Bloopers, Blunders, Boners, Boo-Boos, and other Blustery Bozo-like Blurbs of Bunk, Balderdash, and Buffoonery.





Saturday, November 15, 2014

What Will Happen When Conservatives (and Christians) Don't Vote?

There is no question that many of us conservatives are often disappointed that some of the Republican candidates in our presidential elections are NOT the ideal conservatives. In fact, some of us don’t consider them to be conservative at all. Nevertheless, all we have is whom we have.  That's it and we must support them in the general elections.

Dennis Prager is one of the most articulate, intelligent, and reasoned conservative political thinkers and philosophers on talk radio.

In 2008, he posted an important article on  titled, “Why I Support John McCain.” Every conservative who ever considers not voting or casting a vote for a third party or write-in candidate should read it. We all want the ideal candidate and the ideal presidency but we cannot afford to act in a way that, in effect, says, "if we can't have what we want, we are willing to destroy what we have.
The choice then, was between John McCain or Barack Obama but the future would find us in a similar contest between Obama and Mitt Romney.  Dennis Prager made several, very compelling arguments and clearly described the unprecedented potential for the serious damage that most likely would occur in our country as a result of the first leftist presidency in our nation’s history.

Here are some excerpts from his post:

“Conservatives who will not vote for McCain are well-intentioned utopians.”

“…given how active most liberal judges are, it won't matter much if the country has some conservative epiphany and then elects a Republican president and Congress. Because even if the Congress and the president will not pass liberal legislation, a liberal Supreme Court will. On almost any social issue that matters -- the right to bear arms, late-term abortion, the definition of marriage, capital punishment, and many others -- a liberal Supreme Court will rule on these issues, and there will be nothing that a post-Obama Republican president, even with a Republican congress, will be able to do about them.”

“However noble their intentions, conservatives who do not vote for John McCain will be morally complicit in what happens to America during an Obama presidency.”
Dennis Prager
As it has played out, Dennis Prager was right.  But I would go even further.

I would suggest that Christians who do not vote for Republican candidates because they are not conservative enough, are not only morally complicit in the degradation of our republic, they are, in fact, guilty of the sin of failing to do what is right.  They are personally responsible for and deserve the ungodly leadership we have.  In a representative republic, Christians who neglect their civic responsibility, cannot claim no immunity for the evil actions of their government.  It represents us yet, in the last few decades, the number of eligible Chiristian's that actually voted, was under 40%.  You had a chance to vote and you didn't.  In a sense, you had a talent and you chose to bury it and hoped that God would be pleased. 

Please read Dennis Prager's post in its entirety here.

Friday, November 14, 2014

The Failure Of Seeker Sensitive, Purpose Driven Marketing Plans

If you are still a proponent of the Seeker Sensitive, Purpose Driven models of church growth, I believe that you are well-intentioned and have a sincere, evangelistic desire to be more relevant, attractive and acceptable to contemporary cultures and the unchurched communities around you. For that reason, many of your church leaders are tempted to affect radical changes in your traditional worship services and programs. Everything about church is carefully planned to reach certain demographic markets. Therefore you might find your church's "ministries" list reading like a menu; something for everyone. Bowling ministries, Superbowl ministries, Starbucks coffee shop ministries, skate park ministries, and a plethora of other attractions are planned to reach the customers in hopes that, if they like us, they might join us.  I recently heard of a church that was doing a weekly beer ministry; a limit of three beers with a bible study.

Does they work? Of course they do if your purpose is to increase attendance. That's good marketing but it asks the wrong questions. The right questions are; who is the Church? Whose is the Church? And who is the object of your worship?

In the marketing plans of the Church Growth movement, the consumer is the object. Somehow, we reason, if we can get them in and keep them in long enough, they might like us and stay around long enough to "get saved."

Two things happened in the movement a few years ago that should cause you (if you are serious about your ministry) to take an honest, critical look at what you are doing.

First - In June of 2006, Pastor Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel founder and senior pastor, rejected the emerging church movement and asked that all of those CC pastors who were moving in that direction cease calling themselves Calvary Chapel churches. In a subsequent action, a notice was placed in the Calvary Chapel Distribution Website stating: "The teaching and positions of Rick Warren have come into conflict with us at Calvary Chapel. Pastor Chuck has directed us to discontinue this product effective immediately."

Both Purpose Driven and the emerging church promote contemplative spirituality, which is a belief system that is contrary to biblical Christianity.

Second – As a result of a multi-year study on the effectiveness of their philosophy of ministry, Willow Creek’s leadership determined that most of what they had been doing for many years and what they had taught millions of others to do had not produced solid disciples of Jesus Christ. The experts admit being wrong.

If you want to attract a crowd, the "seeker-sensitive" model produces results. If you want solid, sincere, mature followers of Christ, this is a loser. In a shocking confession, Bill Hybels stated: "We made a mistake. What we should have done when people crossed the line of faith and became Christians, we should have started telling people and teaching people that they have to take responsibility to become 'self feeders.' We should have gotten people, taught people, how to read their Bible between services, how to do the spiritual practices much more aggressively on their own."

The original copy of this story, FIRST-PERSON: A shocking confession from Willow Creek Community Church leaders, by Bob Burney can be found at

Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Devastation of Opposing Ideologies In Church Leadership

It is inevitable that in many churches, there will be tension among the members over two opposing ideologies concerning the ecclesiastic work and purpose of the church. And it would not be unusual for the church’s leadership to be divided also. When that happens, there is disunity, confusion, and conflict. On one side is a sincere, evangelistic desire to affect changes in the worship services and programs with for the purpose of being more relevant, attractive and acceptable to contemporary cultures and the unchurched community. On the other side is an attempt to preserve traditional and conservative methods associated with orthodox Christianity. We could argue about which ideology is wrong but one thing is certain; they cannot both be simultaneously right.

So I think it is important here to make some objective observations and statements. Ideas have consequences and, right or wrong, conflicting ideas, if acted on, will result in huge consequences. Churches must have leaders who can be trusted and who are in agreement. Whenever disunity over major, philosophical ideas exists among any church’s leadership, the climate is ideal for a church split. The leaders have the duty to identify where they believe God is leading and what He expects them to do. And they must all agree and lead in the same direction, with transparency. Then the people can follow.

Church Transitions teaches that a paradigm shift toward more pragmatic methods of church growth must be affected in secret and in contradiction to the church's sensibilities. That is dishonest and potentially destructive. Discerning members will be able to recognize ample, tangible evidence of the existence of those conflicting ideas with their resulting affects, schisms, and confusion in the church. For the sake of church unity, unless and until church leaders agrees that a change in direction and purpose is right and that God is leading them, members must insist that their leaders guard against any philosophical and functional changes.

That is not always easy to do. Those who would attempt change believe, wholeheartedly, in their mission and will continue to work their agenda. But they will not be able to operate by stealth forever. In time, many members will be able to identify the leaders by how they initiate, favor, support, encourage and actively engage in new practices and programs that may seem contrary to the old ways.

I am not interested in arguing here for personal preferences; I am concerned about the damage to the members when disunity in leadership results in confusion and disagreement. God is not the author of confusion. Leaders must debate among themselves, the opposing ideas in the light of Scripture and come to agreement. God’s will is discernable and they must determine it and lead the church with clarity and unity. If there remain any who will not submit in unity, they should be removed from the leadership for the protection of the church and the glory of God.

Dedicated to the Resistance

More Justification For The Second Amendment

Early this morning I was working on the fence on the back part of my property.  All of a sudden, a couple mixed breed pit bulls came trotting into the yard.  As soon as we made eye contact, one of them began to bark and run toward me in full-on attack mode.  I'm generally not afraid of dogs so I just stood my ground and began growling back and yelling commands to “get out o’ here.”  He was undaunted and I was certain that we would make some physical contact and I was going to be hurt.  He got within three feet and stood there, teeth bared and growling.  During the next few moments, he lunged at me a couple more times every time I stopped yelling.  I got louder and more commanding, waving my arms in threatening gestures.  By this time he was less than two feet away.  I was gripped with fear.  I'm not young and strong anymore.  Everything on me hurts and I can't outrun the dog and I knew that, if he ever sensed my fear, he would take me down.  And I knew that if he ever got his teeth into my neck I was probably going to die.  Suddenly he retreated and ran off with the other dog.

I picked up a long-handled flat hoe for protection and returned to my chore.  It was only a few minutes later when they returned and the scene played out similarly.  Only this time he seemed even more fierce and intent.  But I had my 24 oz. straight-clawed, waffle-faced framing hammer in my hand.  I was determined to hurt him before he could hurt me.  So there he was again, within three feet, teeth bared and growling; and there I was maintaining eye contact, hammer raised and yelling back.  I figured that, if he got within striking distance, the sharp claws of my assault hammer were going right through the side of his skull. Even though he was out of my reach, I wildly swung the hammer in his direction and, again, he retreated.  
Oh, incidentally, Animal Control never showed up; you know the old saying, "when seconds count, the police are just minutes away."  Well I knew I was on my own so I found and loaded my .32 automatic pistol, strapped it on my side and went back to work.  Sure enough, about ten minutes later they returned.  This time they were on my driveway near the door to my house.  It occurred to me, that if my wife had come out into the yard, she might have been severely injured.  The dogs saw me again and the one charged down the bank toward me on a full run.  By the time I pulled my hand gun, he was within six feet and still coming fast.  I had no time to aim; I just pointed and fired.  Drat! I missed him but the noise startled him and he turned and ran.

From now on, I'll be wearing my .32 on my belt while working in my yard.  The next time, I will empty the magazine and make sure he is dead.  In the meantime, I need some more practice at the range. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Why Did You Pick THAT Song?

 Admittedly, there are several songs that I avoid for use in our congregational singing because of the way they are often used to evoke emotional responses to over-simplified easy believism.   I Have Decided To Follow Jesus is one of them. It was popularized by the Billy Graham crusades and has become inseparable from its use in evangelistic altar calls.

But the story behind the song leads us to a wholly different understanding of the writer’s intent.  It is not a statement about our part in choosing salvation.   It actually stands as a radical call to suffer and die with Jesus.

In the late 1800’s missionaries from many western nations saw an evangelistic explosion in northern India, which was in the grips of the most oppressive forms of Hinduism.  Violent and hostile reactions in the provinces resulted in scores of missionaries being martyred as well as many new converts being killed.  Nevertheless, the gospel made amazing inroads into this previously off-limits area.
In one particularly brutal village in the Indian province of Assam. A husband and wife, with their two children, professed faith in Christ and were baptized. Their village leaders decided to make an example out of the husband. They arrested the family and demanded that the father renounce Christ or see his wife and children murdered.

When he refused, his two children were executed by archers. They gave him another chance to recant.  Again he refused and his wife was also brutally murdered.   When he still refused to renounce his faith, he followed his family into glory.

So what does that have to do with this song?  

Well witnesses later reported that when he was told to recant or see his children murdered, the man said: “I have decided to follow Jesus, and there is no turning back.”

And then after seeing his children killed, he reportedly said, “The world can be behind me, but the cross is still before me.”  Then, after watching his wife being pierced by the arrows, he said, “Though no one is here to go with me, still I will follow Jesus.”

As a result, a revival broke out, and those that had murdered the first converts came to faith themselves. The accounts of the martyred family were so astonishing and widely circulated that most Indian believers were familiar with it. The martyr’s last words were put to traditional Indian music and became one of the first uniquely Indian hymns. 

So, apart from its historical setting, the song can easily be presumed to be about free will and our role in choosing salvation while minimizing the sovereign work of God in regeneration.  However, in this context, the word “decided” doesn’t have a minimalistic feel to it, but rather has a once-for-all commitment attached to it; a commitment that the author knew would lead to his imminent death. 

God is saving Hip people for His purpose, which is ultimately, always for His glory. Choosing to follow Him is no frivolous or flippant matter.  This song is about the cost of picking up your cross and following after Christ even if it means torture or death.

So, that’s why I picked this song.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Universal Health Care

“It’s amazing that people who think we cannot afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, and education somehow think that we can afford to pay for doctors, hospitals, medication and a government bureaucracy to administer universal health care.”

Thomas Sowell