Monday, March 31, 2008
Art is too subjective for me. In fact, it offends most people’s common sensibilities. One must be brainwashed by elite, eccentric pinheads into believing that what appears to be good is not and what is obviously eye pollution is really profound. I remember my art history class showing early examples of art (stick and line drawings of animals scrawled on the walls of early cave dwellers). Today we call that graffiti. When my children did that at home, we spanked them and made them scrub it off. And, by the way, how old must something be before it is accepted as art and we no longer call it pornography? I just wondered because it seems like if it is contemporary, it is despicable but if it remains to antiquity, it becomes classic fine art.
Like the college art exhibit I described, much of what is called “art” insults our intelligence but crackpots continue to create such nonsense because there are so many ignorant people who are willingly deceived into accepting it. In 1982, the "ABC Evening News" reported an unusual piece of what they called “modern art.”
The “artist” set a chair in position for the viewers. The chair was rigged to a suspended shotgun and when a viewer sat in it, he was looking directly down the gun barrel. A timing device had been preprogrammed to fire the loaded gun at an undetermined moment sometime within the next one hundred years.
Crowds of fools lined up to take their turns at sitting for one minute and staring into the shell's path. They knew that the gun could go off at point-blank range at any moment, but they were gambling that the fatal blast wouldn't happen during their minute in the chair.
Most of us would never do anything that foolish. Yet there are many people who live a lifetime calling good, evil, and evil, good. And they are gambling that they can tempt God and get away with their sin. They ignore the risks and the warnings until the inevitable self-destruction.
“Don’t be fooled: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature…will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit…will reap eternal life.” Gal 6:7
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Several years ago I received a phone call at the church office from the irate manager of a restaurant in a nearby city. She was complaining about a stupid “evangelistic” stunt that had been repeated several times in her place of business by one of our members. It seems that the perpetrator would meticulously place Gospel tracts (dozens of them) between the disposable toilet seat covers in the rack in her restroom. Whenever anyone would extract a seat cover, out popped a tract. I asked her how she knew it was one of our members. She replied, “Your church’s name and address is stamped on every tract.” She thought the antic did not favorably represent our church or the Gospel. She was right. I do know that we never intended our tracts to be used for toilet evangelism.
Recently I read a news item about a church with a new method of reaching the masses with the good news. About 800 people every day in West Virginia, receive a “robocall” message (probably at dinnertime) on their telephones. The recorded message tells them, “We want to tell you how you can have heaven and know it, and cause true revival in America.” After a quoted Bible verse and an invitation to repeat a prayer, the message concludes, “God bless you is my prayer. Please leave a message after the tone.”
Yes, the Gospel message is offensive to some; our methods should not be. But I suppose these kinds of “outreach” techniques are the obvious results of modern marketing methods of church growth in a technical age.
I guess I’m just old fashioned but I thought we were supposed to “speak” the Word, not “sneak” the Word.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
But that doesn't seem to be very important anymore to this new generation of evangelical church leaders. "Hey! Can’t we just all get along?" seems to be their ecumenical rally cry. "We don’t need to let our denominational differences get in the way of serving God. Doctrine may be necessary to define the distinctives of our churches but it should not become a hindrance to our relationships and good works. After all, we all worship the same God. We need to just 'agree to disagree,' about our doctrinal differences and join our hearts and hands together in warm, fuzzylove as brothers and sisters in the Lord for the sake of unity and service. "
So goes the lame, inane claptrap that attempts to justify our working and worshipping and fellowshipping and serving together in all kinds of faith-based community programs, parachurch outreach ministries, and interdenominational associations. We celebrate where we can agree and we ignore and tolerate where we disagree. NO PROBLEM! We can just all be friends.
Does that stuff really work? You be the judge.
In his book, Faith Undone, Roger Oakland, recounts how the late Robert Webber, an evangelical Protestant, became a supporter of Catholic views (Experiencing The Eucharist, pp 137-8). From his own testimony, Webber explained that his “most memorable encounter with a style of worship” different from his own happened at an ecumenical weekend retreat.
“The group consisted of Catholics, Lutherans, Presbyterians and evangelicals who met monthly to read and discuss Scripture, to pray together, to talk, and to just have fun. When the time came for many of us to graduate and move on to new places, we decided to bring our two-year fellowship to an end with a weekend retreat at a local Catholic conference center. It was there we faced an issue we had never even discussed. Could we take communion together? Could a Catholic priest give the bread and wine to an evangelical? Could an evangelical receive the bread and wine from a Catholic priest?”
Admittedly, the priest shared the same dilemma but decided to break with the church’s tradition of offering the “body and blood of the Lord” to only Catholics. Why? Because in his experience, he believed that all of his new-found friends in the group were true Christians devoted to the Lord. At that point, Webber apparently also began to question his own beliefs about separation and began to think of them as just “prejudices:”
“I considered the spiritually rich times I’d shared with these people…. Those memories said, ‘Go ahead. After all, there is only one Lord, one church, one faith, one baptism, one Holy Communion.’”
“In that moment, God broke through the walls I had allowed to separate me from my brothers and sisters of different denominations. I am convinced the prejudices we hold and the walls we build between ourselves and other communities of Christians actually block our experience of God’s presence in our lives… rejecting a part of God’s church keeps us from experiencing what the creed calls ‘the communion of the Saints.’”
Webber’s participation in that single experience changed him. His emotional attachments and experiences determined his beliefs:
“You might say I was surprised by joy!... I had never had an experience like that in my life. In that Catholic chapel, a new worship experience had bumped up against that old prejudice of mine, and a new attitude was born. I had taken into myself the experience of another tradition, I had been in dialogue with another worship tradition, and I was surely the richer for it.”
Monday, March 24, 2008
-- Submitted to Boy’s Life Magazine by Justin William T., Tulsa, Okla.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
And that’s when the arguing started. I pointed to the late afternoon sun that was setting in the west but no matter how hard I tried, I could not convince him of the truth. Finally, I referred to the ultimate authority; the book; the travelers “bible.” I opened my Thomas Brothers Guide and showed him where we were, where he wanted to go and how to get there.
He studied the map for a few moments, closed the book, pointed west and arrogantly declared, “I don’t care what the map says; that’s east.”
My dad was sincere but he was wrong. Sure, I could have been more sensitive and allowed him to go the way he thought was right. But that would have been foolish and unprofitable.
Almost everyone will say they want to go to heaven when they die but most of them do not care what the guidebook says about how to get there. They don't want to be told about sin and repentence and atonement. They just want to go their own way. But it would not be very loving to allow people to travel a life-time journey down the wrong road and miss their desired destination all in the name of sensitivity and tolerance. Proverbs 16:25 says, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
God wants us to receive His free gift of salvation and spend eternity with Him in heaven but we can only get there His way. That way is by biblical saving faith in Jesus Christ alone; we cannot earn our way into His favor by our own good works.
“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9)
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Your pastoral staff or the change agents in your church will never accomplish their agenda by standing up in front of the congregation and boldly declaring, “This is what we want to do and this is how we are going to do it.” In their training materials, Church Transitions by Dan Southerland, an associate of Saddleback Church, instructs how to pull this off successfully. Initially, a small clique of church staff, possibly (and preferably but not necessarily) including the pastor or a new pastor, plans the change without telling the rest of the church membership. The clique is trained to initiate the change in eight published steps. The church membership is not to be informed of the transition until the fourth step. This means the church membership is not told until it is too late to make a difference.
Now, back to the question; when asked, “Are we changing to a Purpose Driven, or seeker sensitive, church model?” most change agents can unflinchingly look you squarely in the eyeballs and flat out deny the truth because they are convinced that, technically, what they are telling you is not a lie. Here’s how.
“Purpose Driven” is Rick Warren’s plan, "Seeker Sensitive" refers to Bill Hybels' plan. These are trademark plans among several plans that are all broadly categorized as the "Church Growth Movement" or "Chruch Marketing." Most change agents employ a plan for church growth or vision that is a variation or compilation of one or more plans that they have "customized" for their own use. So, if asked, they can, technically, be "truthy" in their deception. The real question to ask is this, “Do we have a vision for church growth and a developed marketing or business strategy to help us achieve that goal?”
And even if you carefully phrase the question, they will still tap dance around it or give you a bunch of "truthy" non-answers but it will be much more difficult. You will need to become educated on the subject, listen carefully for the buzzwords, and be able to identify the symptoms.
Dedicated to the Resistance
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Rick Warren endorses a popular church management tool titled, Leading Congregational Change, as “a book you ought to read before you change anything.” It sets a very negative tone in describing resistance. Resistance is defined as “the opposite reaction to change. It can come in many different forms – confrontational or passive-aggressive, from known troublemakers or loyal supporters…”
The book outlines the following steps for dealing with resistence:
- Identify Resisters. These are those who question the need for systemic change, distrust the dialectic process, and criticize the transformational methods. They refuse to shift their primary focus from the actual Scriptures to the positively phrased "purpose" or "vision" or "mission statement." LCC warns change leaders to expect resisters and identify them to the rest of the change team in order to lessen their impact. Rick Warren actually demonstrates his open hostility to resisters by comparing them to a disease that must be dispelled for the body to be healthy. In The Purpose Driven Church, he writes:
"When a human body is out of balance we call that disease.... Likewise, when the body of Christ becomes unbalanced, disease occurs.... Health will occur only when everything is brought back into balance. The task of church leadership is to discover and remove growth-restricting diseases and barriers so that natural, normal growth can occur."
Resisters may be identified in two ways; they may have spoken out previously or they may have come privately with objections. It is important to identify them before they become vocal and committed to obstruction.
2. Assess Resisters and Determine the Degree of Resistance. Leadership Network has a “feedback” data system available to help track negative or uncompromising attitudes of members. According to the Change Agent’s Guide, "Resisters should be judged for relative sophistication and influence." [
3. Befriend, Involve and Persuade Borderline Resisters. Participation in small group dialogues may encourage some borderline resisters to conform to the group’s peer pressure. Others will quietly leave on their own.
"Coercive power only strengthens resistance," wrote Robert Vanourek in Reflections on Leadership. "...Instead the leader's skills at 'facilitating' the group should be used. The ideas should evolve from the group. Then the leaders can simplify them in a persuasive fashion. Then commitment to the vision can be gained."
The most effective way to deal with resistance is to divert the attention off the truth and play on emotions with a lot of touchy-feely, compromising happycrap. "For unity's sake, we must never let differences divide us," wrote Pastor Warren. "We must stay focused on what matters most — learning to love each other as Christ has loved us, and fulfilling God's five purposes for each of us and his church."
4. Marginalize More Persistent Resisters. They obstruct progress and it may become necessary to encourage "divisive" members to go elsewhere. That is usually not too difficult because when those members leave, they usually keep quiet out of “obedience to the Lord” for the sake of avoiding strife and conflict. Of course, some will stay and fight. When that happens, The LCC outlines how change leaders should bastardize Scripture by misusing Matthew 18 out of context to deal with unruly members.
5. Vilify Those Who "Stay And Fight." In the book, Making Change Happen One Person at a Time: Assessing Change Capacity Within Your Organization, resisters were labeled "tares in a wheat field." At this stage, negative labels, accusations and slander are permitted, if not encouraged, to circulate. Resisters — now labeled as divisive troublemakers — are vilified and blamed for disunity, for slowing the change process, and for distracting the church body from wholehearted focus on its all-important vision, mission or purpose.
Ironically, those change agents who despise the doctrines of separation from worldliness and unbiblical alliances, employ the use of church discipline, isolation and excommunication of members who are faithful to the Word of God.
6. Establish Rules, Regulations, Laws and Principles That Silence, Punish or Drive Out Resisters. At Saddleback, every new member must sign a "Membership Covenant." It includes this innocuous promise: "I will protect the unity of my church... by following the leaders." This covenant is backed by more of the same kind of sloppy and irresponsible misapplications of verses such as Ephesians 4: 29 ("Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths....") and Hebrews 13:17 ("Obey your leaders and submit to their authority....") that keep scripturally ignorant members submissive and silent.
If you don’t know for sure; if you have any doubts, the chances are very good that you should have plenty to worry about. Most Christians, in churches that are being commandeered by “change agents” of the Church Growth Movement, have an uneasy sense that there is something wrong but they just can’t quite figure out what it is.
Many of the old traditions, methods and customs have been replaced with the new and the modern. That is not necessarily always bad and in some cases, changes should be made. But, you might be legitimately concerned about the appropriateness of much of what you see happening around you.
One thing you can know for sure; if your leadership has already decided to “change the way we do church,” THEY WILL NOT TELL YOU ABOUT IT!
If you question any changes, they will attempt to make you feel old-fashioned, self-centered and irrelevant or they will attempt to intimidate you into submission and silence with misapplications of Scripture. If you really believe your leaders might be engineering a new paradigm shift or a major change in purpose, don’t ask them about it. THEY WILL LIE! They will tell you it is not happening, when, in fact, it is and they will continue to work their purpose driven agenda.
The prescribed methodology for church transitions stresses the importance of stealth operations. The change agents work with a very few, close allies and then, identify and marginalize anyone who may be resistant to their objectives. The members must NEVER BE TOLD until the process has become firmly embedded.
Dedicated To The Resistance
Monday, March 17, 2008
- The inerrancy and authority of Scripture
- The Deity of Jesus Christ
- The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ
- Christ’s vicarious death and atonement for sin
- The literal second coming of Jesus Christ
If Rick Warren identifies Christians who hold to these basic foundational doctrines of THE FAITH as narrow and legalistic, then I am proud to declare here that I am narrow and legalistic. Furthermore, I am disgusted about the general degredation of the word “Evangelical.” Today, there are so many liberals and non-believers who are comfortable with that tag. Actually, in Rick Warren's vacuous theological framework, Christianity is very broad; everyone is an evangelical Christian. As for me, I do not wish to painted with that broad brush; I will just wear the label, “Fundamentalist” as a badge of honor.
Starting TODAY, I am beginning a new topic (label) on this blog and I intend to post often on this subject. The label is, “Hirelings and Dumb Sheep.” There is a dangerous threat facing the majority of Christian churches today. It is commonly known as the Church Growth Movement and is perpetrated by men like Rick Warren. It is pervasive; it is subtle and it is probably impacting your church. Hirelings are at work to change their churches from Christ-honoring bodies to man-pleasing centers for the sake of growing their numbers. And they are able to do it because, for the most part, the sheep are totally unaware of the dangers and are willing to blindly trust and follow their shepherds.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
- Accept Yourself - God accepts us unconditionally, and in his view we are all precious and priceless. Focus on this and you will not waste any time and effort trying to be someone you’re not.
- Love Yourself [Warren’s wife affirms], “God really does love me without strings attached.” [On this basis we apparently have been given the freedom to love ourselves]
- Be True To Yourself - Discover, accept and enjoy our unique "shape" [which refers to Warren’s S.H.A.P.E. program] ….Be content with them [our weaknesses].
- Forgive Yourself - God doesn’t expect perfection but He does insist on honesty. When I honestly admit my errors and ask forgiveness in faith, He doesn’t hold a grudge, doesn’t get even, and doesn’t bring it up again. We should practice such a forgiving attitude with ourselves.
- Believe in Yourself - Start affirming the truth about yourself! The truth is God has created you with talents, abilities, personality and background in a combination that is uniquely you. It’s your choice. You can believe what others say about you, or you can believe in yourself as God does, who says you are truly acceptable, lovable, valuable and capable.
Briefly, remember that Warren is not writing to believers but to the general populace, which he would have to assume is largely unsaved. With that in mind consider: To this audience he tells them that God accepts them unconditionally. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are unacceptable to God in our natural state. It would take the death of the Son of God to provide the means whereby we could be accepted by God and only those who are in Christ are acceptable to the Father (Ephesians 1:3-14).
Christ calls us to deny self (Luke 9:23) not love self. To tell the unbeliever to accept and be true to himself is to condemn him eternally. Should one who is dead in his trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1) be told to be content with his weaknesses? Warren may be attempting to soothe the troubled hearts of his readers, but he is not pointing them to the Savior. Not a word can be found in Scripture about forgiving ourselves. This is a modern psychological invention, not a biblical principle. God calls us to confess our sins to Him and He will forgive us (1 John 1:9). We lack the ability and authority to forgive ourselves; that is God’s prerogative.
Perhaps the key is in his view of doctrine. In The Purpose Driven Life Warren wants us to have no doubt that, when we stand before the Lord, “God won’t ask about your religious background or doctrinal views. The only thing that will matter is, did you accept what Jesus did for you and did you learn to love and trust him” (p. 34)?
Instinctively, my sarcastic humor kicked into overdrive; “Do you believe in the sovereignty of God?” I inquired.
“What does that mean?” she asked.
I replied, “It means that God is aware of everything and is in complete control. Nothing happens that He does not allow. So that bird is predestined to become cat food.”
I thought my answer was witty but she was more disgusted than amused. So I left my lunch and followed her to the bird.
The solution seemed simple enough; I would just lift the pop-up sprinkler head and the bird would be free. But my attempt only frightened the bird more as it wildly flapped its wings and frantically tried to escape. In its desperate struggle its foot was bloodied and it appeared as though the bird might lose it.
I knew what I had to do to protect the bird in order to free it. I lunged my hand down quickly over its frightened little body. I sensed its panic and felt the pulse of its racing heart. With the bird firmly gripped in my strong hand, I was able to remove its foot from the sprinkler. When I opened my hand, the bird quickly flew away.
I suppose that God could provide a tasty sparrow for a hungry cat. But in this case, in His providence He directed that caregiver to me for help.
God used that incident to remind me of His watchful care over His creation as described in the words of a familiar song, “His eye is on the sparrow and I know He watches me.”
If He would do that for the bird, surely, He will take care of His children.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
According to my good friend, Brad Dacus, president of the Pacific Justice Institute, “The scope of this decision by the appellate court is breathtaking. It not only attacks traditional home schooling, but also calls into question home schooling through charter schools and teaching children at home via independent study through public and private schools.”
Upon hearing this news, my wife’s response was, “well, at least our daughter doesn’t need to worry (She is a state-credentialed teacher who is home schooling our grandchildren). Don’t be fooled. California’s attack on home schoolers is neither in the best interest of quality education nor the welfare of children; it is in the best interest of state-mandated, liberal, humanistic indoctrination and social engineering. The real target of this attack is Truth and every Christian should be very concerned about it.
First, it is extremely audacious and arrogant of this state to suggest that all education must meet its own standards. In order for most home schoolers and private schools to meet this state’s standards means to, in effect, “dumb down.” The State of California spends nearly $11,000 per year, per student on public education (one of the highest per capita rates in the nation) and ranks 47th out of 50 states in terms of measurable success. The more money we invest, the worse it gets. Who among us wants to come down to that level?
Second, the purpose of this attack is really about state regulation which, if successful, will escalate to all forms of private education. The ultimate objective has more to do with the content of education than the qualifications of teachers. So, my daughter really does have much to be concerned about because if the state can, it will dictate the curriculum or rescind her credentials.
The Pacific Justice Institute is a Christian non-profit ministry that has committed to the defense of parents’ God-ordained rights and responsibilities to teach our children in the context of a God-centered world-view. This kind of legal defense is very costly and PJI provides their services for free. I’m sure they would appreciate your donations. PJI’s press release on this issue can be seen on their website at Pacific Justice Institute.
Please take a few moments to sign PJI's home school petition to Governor Schwarzenegger and forward it to as many people as you can.
Another ally in this battle for the minds of our children is Assemblyman Joel Anderson who has taken the first step in protecting parents' rights to home school by introducing Concurrent Resolution 115 in the Assembly, calling on the California Supreme Court to reverse the lower court's decision.
Please call your assemblyman and senator and urge them to become co-sponsors of Assemblyman Anderson's home school resolution.
Friday, March 7, 2008
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
That is the essence of the seeker sensitive movement in churches today and it affects para-church ministries as well, including Christian schools and residential facilities for the elderly. The movement is driven by a philosophy that focuses more attention on secular marketing strategies, business techniques, and surveys and polls than to New Testament instruction.
Now, regardless how much you may disagree with this premise or how angry you might become at the suggestion, if you are involved in a Christian ministry and want to be really honest about it, you must face the reality that there are at least four areas of concern that have a great impact on your ministry.
First, you are probably more subconciously but pragmatically concerned about people’s felt needs than about their real, spiritual needs.
Second, you must be savvy about and engaged in modern methodologies of marketing. The consumers, students, members, or residents must be pleased, kept happy, or given what they want or they will go elsewhere.
Third, the Gospel message will be diminished or distorted. The real, biblical Gospel is offensive and people are not really interested in hearing the Truth about their sin, God’s holiness, or the future implications of His wrath. They are more interested in their present comfort, their own selfish desires, and feeling good about themselves.
And finally, your doctrine will be downgraded. You might fool yourself by obscuring your precious doctrines in generalized, innocuous, non-threatening statements of faith for the purpose of being more inclusive and tolerant. But if you insist on and hold fast to sound, biblical doctrine, you will severely limit your "customer" base.
It is absolutely imperative for godly, pastoral leadership to guide, guard and protect Christian ministries from the dangers of worldly philosophies. Your ministry's growth and success will either be determined by your clever designs and abilities or by God's sovereign determination and power, but not both.
“The fact is that while we may be able to market the church (or any other Christian ministry), we cannot market Christ, the Gospel, Christian character or meaning of life…Neither Christ nor His Truth can be marketed by appealing to consumer interest because the premise of all marketing is that the consumer’s need is sovereign, that the customer is always right and this is precisely what the Gospel insists cannot be the case.” Dr. David Wells
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
We have been enjoying the privilege of “cashing in” on all the senior discounts that many merchants offer to seniors at age 55 but we did notice that, by the time we reached that age, many of them had raised the bar to age 60. But I have to admit, we have enjoyed some of those already. My wife discovered that some stores offered discounts to people over 50.
I have been getting senior discounts in one of our local fast-food restaurants for several years because, sometimes, young people just assume that anyone over the age of 30 is ancient. That doesn’t bother me. I gladly pocket the extra change.
I did manage to get a senior checking account at our bank a couple years before I officially qualified. When I was perusing the brochure, I saw that the benefits and perks were just exactly what we needed so I asked the branch manager. When she told me NO because we weren’t old enough, I sarcastically responded, “I have to be old enough. I am the ‘father’ to 140 senior citizens.” She was amused at my remark so she gave us the account.
My old age gets me very little sympathy among the residents at the retirement home. They think I’m just a kid. There is an old French proverb that says, “Forty is the old age of youth; fifty is the youth of old age.”
Well, I guess I will just continue doing the work that God has called me to until He takes me out. But for right now, I need to go get my senior discount card at one of our favorite restaurants.