Monday, March 31, 2008

A Rhinoceros Isn't Wine

A Rhinoceros isn't wine because it has a rough exterior and a sweet heart.
Wine has a sweet exterior and no heart.
Origin Unknown

Artists Are Weird

I had aspirations of being an artist when I was young but in my college days I came to my senses and bailed out. The first “art exhibit” I attended on the college campus was too bizarre for my understanding. It featured a large room arranged with modular dividers that formed a labyrinth. The windows were covered with thick black paper and the lights were out so the room was completely dark. The only light in the room came from a flashing strobe light in one corner of the room. The viewers were allowed to stumble their way through the maze in the intermittent light.

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

Friday, March 28, 2008

Winners And Losers

I was once asked to help judge a school speech competition. I was excited for the opportunity until we received the judging instructions. We were told that no child should receive low scores; that all the children were winners just because they showed up. In the end, everyone took home winning ribbons. That is NOT competition. In a competition, someone wins and everyone else doesn't. Second place is just the first loser.

That overly-sensitive mindset has permeated our society to the point that “competition” has become a dirty word. We learned recently that schools are prohibiting games like Red Rover and Dodge Ball. In one school the game of Tag is no longer allowed because someone’s self-esteem might suffer if he has to be “It.”

When my daughter was a new teacher at a local elementary school, she told me that her students played with the tetherballs everyday but they had no idea that Tetherball was a game of competition with rules and that there would be a winner. She had to teach them the game.

Just a few years ago, the national little league association decided to stop keeping score in league games with the youngest players. With all their politically correct psycho-drivel they reasoned that Baseball should be played only for the fun, exercise, and encouragement but not for the competition. So there would be no winners because that would mean there would be losers and the losers might feel badly. But what they couldn’t stop was the kid’s keeping their own scores. The kids knew who were the winners and the losers.

Theodore Roosevelt said, “It is far better to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure, than to rank with those who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in the gray twilight that knows not victory or defeat.”

Remember that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize. So run in such a way that you will win. I Cor. 9:24

The Foolishness and Arrogance of Ignorance

I have an unusual tool that I bought over 45 years ago and it has NEVER been used. When I was in junior high school I needed to buy some drafting tools for a mechanical drawing class. The sales clerk helped me assemble everything I would need; the drawing board, T-square, triangles, mechanical pencils and, finally, one of those three-sided, twelve-inch rulers, the architectural scale. Most of them that he showed me were made of white plastic but I picked out a nice looking wooden one from the display cabinet and said, “I’ll take that one.”

“No, you need one of these,” he said, handing me a different tool. But I liked the one I picked and I was going to buy it. He tried several times to tell me that what I had was an engineer’s scale.

“Yeah, whatever!” I replied sarcastically. I didn’t know why he was arguing with me over semantics. After all, he was just a dumb sales clerk but I was the drafting student and I knew what an architectural scale was. He finally let me have my way and he rang up my order.

When I got home, I realized that an engineer’s scale is NOT an architectural scale. Nothing on that scale was useable to me. It cost me several dollars to learn, the hard way, that I don’t know everything.

Sometimes people who have been “around the block’ a few times try to warn us or save us some grief but we ignore the voice of experience and insist on doing our own thing. Or someone tries to tell us something and we think we know better so we don’t listen. And when that happens, those people will often just let us suffer the consequenses of our foolishness.

I keep that scale around to remind me to listen to the voices of reason and experience instead of just assuming I know it all.

“Any man who understands his own foolishness is already a little wise.” Jewish Proverb

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Ring-Toss Rhinoceros

Rhinoceros

There's a horn on your nose.

Swish!
Shall we play rings on it?

What big nostrils you have?
Snort!

I'll be blown away.


Origin Unknown

Silent Witness - Stealth Evangelism

I saw an ad in a Christian magazine once that presented a practical way to share your faith. The product name was “Silent Witness.” It was a line of sunglasses that were distinguished by the tiny decorative crosses and fishes that were affixed to the frame hinges. The ad claimed that, by wearing them, you could share your faith without ever saying a word; the unsaved would recognize you as a believer when they saw your glasses. This gives inspiration to a new twist on an old Christian chorus, "They Will Know We Are Christians By Our Shades."

What a bunch of poppycock. The unsaved think a cross is some kind of lucky charm and, as far as I know, the sign of the fish was supposedly meant to be a secret sign among believers. Too many undercover Christians are trying to figure out how to do the work of evangelism by stealth but the problem is, a silent witness is NO WITNESS at all.

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

The Danger of Unequal Yokes and Interdenominational Alliances

Ecclesiastical and personal separation from false doctrine and worldliness has been an historical characteristic and distinctive of my denomination. And for many years, fundamental Baptist pastors have been careful to warn about and protect their people from unequal yokes and interdenominational alliances.

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

Horn Honking

Justin: What do you get when you cross a rhinoceros and a goose?

Jess: Dunno.


Justin: An animal that honks before it runs over you.



-- Submitted to Boy’s Life Magazine by Justin William T., Tulsa, Okla.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

The Wrong Way

One day my dad and I decided to go in different directions to take care of some business matters. As I was giving him directions to his destination, I pointed down the street and said, “Go west…”

“That’s east,” he interrupted. Somehow he had gotten turned around and was totally disoriented.

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

The Disinformation And Deception of Church Growth Plans

Is Your Church Going Purpose Driven?

The Southwest Radio Ministries has a handy little Brochure that you can download for free to help you make a reasonable assessment. You might need it if you want to know the answer. If your church leaders are attempting that kind of change, you cannot find out by asking them; It’s the wrong question to ask. Here’s why.

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.


Did you see that?
Those instructions are chilling.

In order to accomplish their objective, they must foist it on unsuspecting congregations by stealth. And because they believe their agenda is right, or godly, or noble, or good, they have no problem employing devious tactics because “the end justifies the means.”

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

The Evangelical Error of Accommodation

Many people esteem Francis Schaeffer as, perhaps, the greatest apologist and Christian philosopher of our time. He founded L'Abri Fellowship, a Christian Study Center, in Switzerland, he wrote 23 books, and he produced several films which dealt with the subject of Christianity in view of our secular culture.

His last book was entitle, The Great Evangelical Disaster. In the preface of that book he wrote: "I would say that the statement which I am making in the pages of this book is perhaps the most important statement I have ever written."

It is important to note that when Francis Schaeffer began his ministry, he was a Fundamentalist. But for various sincere and well-meaning reasons he, like many others, shifted away from that position to embrace the philosophies and positions of evangelicalism. However, at the end of his life, in what he calls his most important book, he says:
"Truth carries with it confrontation. Truth demands confrontation; loving confrontation but confrontation nevertheless. If our reflex action is always accommodation regardless of the centrality of the truth involved, there is something wrong" p. 64 - Francis Schaeffer, The Great Evangelical Disaster.

"Although Francis Schaeffer had not practiced separation as a Fundamentalist for most of his life, his statements about truth, as he approached his final years, are quite significant. If we truly love the Lord, and if we desire to stand for the truth of His Word, then we must be willing to separate from error and from disobedient brethren. Francis Schaeffer gave his life and ministry to the Evangelical cause, but finally had to admit that the spirit of accommodation within the Evangelical Christian movement had not preserved the truth as many, like himself, thought it would." The Rev. Mr. Paul Seger, Contending For The Faith.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Resisters, Obstructionists and Troublemakers

Some of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of successful transformation from the old ways of simply preaching and teaching to a new market driven church model are "resisters." Change agents must view all dissenters as wrong. Anyone who disagrees is viewed as intolerable barriers to the Purpose. Change agents must be aware of them, identify them and curb their influence and effectiveness.

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:
  1. 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.
I remain Dedicated To The Resistance,

Is Your Church Being Stolen By "Change Agents?"

If you definitely know for sure that your church is NOT in danger of being influenced by unscriptural “seeker sensitive,” or “purpose driven” philosophies, it is probably because yours is a church that has a very strong emphasis on teaching sound, biblical doctrine.

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

Rick Warren on Fundamental Doctrine

Rick Warren made this statement on May 23, 2005, at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: “The word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.”

The five fundamentals of The Faith to which Warren referred are:
  1. The inerrancy and authority of Scripture
  2. The Deity of Jesus Christ
  3. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ
  4. Christ’s vicarious death and atonement for sin
  5. The literal second coming of Jesus Christ
Rick Warren has a problem with these doctrines BUT, according to God’s Word, they are absolute, non-negotiable and essential for true, biblical faith.

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.
But we are called to be watchful; to guard The Truth; to earnestly contend for The Faith. We are to examine every teaching and philosophy in the Light of Scripture. We are exhorted to resist and correct or separate ourselves from those who teach and practice error.
If church leaders really believe that God is giving them new visions and that He desires for them to change the nature and purpose of their churches, they should be men enough to own up to it, admit it, declare it openly and then convince the people of their vision. Then the people would know what they were doing and would be able to make informed decisions about their continuing attendance and support.
But in most cases that would not work; most real Christians would never agree to unbiblical methods if they really knew what was happening. That is why, according to the Purpose Driven “instruction manual,” the process must begin secretly with a few change agents in the church who are willing to take it over by stealth. Resisters must be identified and marginalized. By the time the people realize what has been done to them, it is too late to reverse the damages.
Dedicated to the Resistance,

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Rick Warren's "Purpose Drivel"

The good people over at Truth Matters recently picked up one of my articles here on this blog titled, Who Are The Seekers To Whom The Seeker Sensitive Churches Are Sensitive?

I was honored that they would post it there; Truth Matters is a great site dedicated to the Truth of the Gospel.

Following my post on that site are several comments. One of them in particular is an excellent critique of the errors of Rick Warren's unbiblical teachings. It was submitted by a man who identified himself simply as, Pastor Bob. However, the author is Pastor Gary Gilley who originally titled this article, "The Gospel According to Warren." All of Pastor Gary's articles can be viewed at the web site of Southern View Chapel.

Regardless of all the light that has been shed on the subject; regardless of the confessions of error by some of the leaders, themselves, (addressed in another post Here), I am truly amazed at the mindless determination of so many of our pastors who remain willfully blind, ignorant and dedicated to follow these modern church growth gurus and lead their unsuspecting people down the happy trail to error and destruction.

With Pastor Gary Gilley's permission, I am posting his article here in full. It is quite lengthy but it is an excellent exposition. Thank you, Pastor Gary.


No one has exemplified the market-driven approach better than Rick Warren, pastor of the huge Saddleback Church in southern California and author of The Purpose-Driven Church and The Purpose-Driven Life. While Warren is open and up-front about his philosophy, strategy and methods, nevertheless things are not always as they appear.

For example, “purpose-driven” sounds better than “market-driven” but it is basically the same thing. In his book The Purpose-Driven Life, his opening statement is, “It is not about you,” then turns around and writes a whole book about “you.” He belittles pop-psychology then repeatedly promotes it by simply calling it something else. He publicly cuts ties with Robert Schuller, then regurgitates some of the most odious things that Schuller has been teaching for thirty years. He claims commitment to the Scriptures then undermines them at almost every turn. He will tell his followers that he is not tampering with the message but only reengineering the methods, when in fact he has so altered the message as to make it all but unrecognizable.

This brings us to his most disturbing alteration, the gospel itself. To charge Warren with modification of the gospel is an ugly accusation, one that should not be made lightly. What is the evidence for such an indictment?

Consider the following: In the video that accompanies the “40 Days of Purpose,” Warren leads his listeners in prayer at the end of the first session. The prayer goes like this: "Dear God, I want to know your purpose for my life. I don't want to base the rest of my life on wrong things. I want to take the first step in preparing for eternity by getting to know you. Jesus Christ, I don't understand how but as much as I know how I want to open up my life to you. Make yourself real to me. And use this series in my life to help me know what you made me for." Warren goes on to say: "Now if you've just prayed that prayer for the very first time I want to congratulate you. You've just become a part of the family of God.

Warren would be hard-pressed to find biblical backing for this presentation of the gospel. We find nothing here about sin, grace, repentance, the person of Christ, Calvary, faith, judgment, or the resurrection. This is the ultimate in a mutilated, seeker-sensitive gospel: the seeker comes to Christ in order to find his purpose in life, not to receive forgiveness from sin and the righteousness of God. Then, to pronounce someone a full-fledged member of the family of God because he has prayed such a prayer (based on minimal, if any, understanding of the person and work of Christ), is beyond tragic.

Does Warren do any better in his book, The Purpose-Driven Life? A little, but not much. Concerning eternity he tells his readers, “If you learn to love and trust God’s Son, Jesus, you will be invited to spend the rest of eternity with him. On the other hand, if you reject his life, forgiveness, and salvation, you will spend eternity apart forever” (p. 37). There is just enough truth here to be confusing, but the New Testament never tells us to learn to love and trust Christ in order to be saved. We are told to repent (Acts 17:30) and place our faith in Christ (Ephesians 2:8-9), not “learn to love and trust.”

Just how does the unbeliever go about learning to love and trust Jesus? These are fruits of regeneration, not means to regeneration. On page 58 Warren gives perhaps his most complete gospel presentation found in The Purpose-Driven Life. There he tells his readers that they must first believe God loves them and has chosen them to have a relationship with his Son who died on the cross for them. Warren writes, “Real life begins by committing yourself completely to Jesus Christ.” I would not argue with that, but how are we to commit ourselves to Christ? Warren states, “Right now, God is inviting you to live for his glory by fulfilling the purposes he made you for… all you need to do is receive and believe…. Will you accept God’s offer?” Then he again offers a sample prayer, “I invite you to bow your head and quietly whisper the prayer that will change your eternity, ‘Jesus, I believe in you and I receive you.’” He then promises, “If you sincerely meant that prayer, congratulations! Welcome to the family of God! You are now ready to discover and start living God’s purpose for your life.”

It is worth noting that this gospel presentation is found on Day 7 (of the 40-day journey). We are to assume that the content of Days 1-6 have led up to this invitation to receive Christ. What Warren believes a sinner needs to know to become part of the family of God has presumably been presented in the first week of the journey. But Warren has said nothing about who Jesus is, why He died on the cross, in what manner He is their Savior, the cleansing power of the blood of Christ, repentance or confession of sin, the consequences of sin, or again, the resurrection of Christ. In a biblically illiterate, post-Christian era, it cannot be assumed that the unbeliever has any concept of any of these things. This is especially disturbing in light of Warren’s central message: find God and you will find yourself (purpose).

When this is undeniably the thesis of The Purpose-Driven Life, and the “Forty Days of Purpose” campaign, the unbeliever would naturally conclude that he is praying a prayer that will enable him to solve the problem of lack of purpose in his life. Where in the Scriptures is the gospel ever presented as Warren presents it? We are hopeful that Warren does not personally deny any of the essential elements of the gospel, but he certainly does not give them proper weight and he leaves much to the imagination of his readers.

John MacArthur is on target when he writes, “Listening to a seeker-sensitive evangelical preacher today, we’re likely to think it’s easy to be a Christian. Just say these little words, pray this little prayer, and poof! you’re in the club.”

[i] Admittedly, salvation is received by faith alone in Christ alone, but it is not received by mouthing a little prayer lacking in biblical content and understanding, with the hopes that you will find purpose in life. As a matter of fact, one evangelical leader is reported to have entitled a sermon in response to the seeker-sensitive gospel, “How to Fill Your Church with Tares.“ MacArthur warns, “People are breezing through those wide, comfortable, inviting gates with all their baggage, their self-needs, their self-esteem, and their desire for fulfillment and self-satisfaction. And the most horrible thing about it is they think they’re going to heaven.”

[ii] Ladies Home Journal- Warren’s popularity with the masses has risen to such levels that he has now been asked to write a monthly column for the Ladies Home Journal. While some may question why a secular magazine would be interested in what an evangelical pastor has to say, certainly we can rejoice that Warren has been handed a worldwide forum (readership estimated at 14.5 million) in which to proclaim God’s truth, including the gospel, to a largely unbelieving audience. What a privilege. He has been given a platform from which he can herald the excellencies of Christ.

But, unfortunately, Warren has not done that. Rather than preach Christ, Warren’s message, as reflected in the title of his article is, “Learn to Love Yourself.” In his March, 2005 article the man who opened his book with the words, “It’s not about you,” shows that he really thinks it is. He tells his readership, “To truly love yourself, you need to know the five truths that form the basis of a healthy self-image.” What are they? (All the following are direct quotes from Warren’s article).
  • 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.
What a disappointment! Not only does Warren not share the gospel, the glory of Christ or any theological truth, he muddies the waters by offering anemic pop-psychology none of which is supportable from Scripture.

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).

Nowhere in Scripture are we ever told to love ourselves. We are told to love God with all of our heart, soul and mind. We are also told to love others as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). Some jump on this phrase, “as yourself,” as proof that God commands us to love ourselves. That is not true. The Scriptures tell us we already love ourselves (Ephesians 5:28-29); we do not need to be encouraged to an inordinate self-love that amounts to self-centeredness. As a matter of fact, the only passage in the New Testament that actually speaks of self-love considers it a sinful sign of the last days (2 Timothy 3:2).

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.

Rather than believe in self we are told to “believe on the Lord Jesus” (Acts 16:31). Rather than believe in self Paul confirmed that we are inadequate in ourselves (2 Corinthians 3:5), being mere earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7). Rather than believe in self we are told that anything we accomplish is through God’s strength (Philippians 4:13). Rather than believe in self Paul said that he “boasted in his weaknesses, that the power of God may dwell in me” (2 Corinthians 12:9). How can this evangelical pastor, who has emerged as the most recognized Protestant leader in the world, one who is looked to for spiritual insight and guidance by millions, miss the mark so widely?

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)?

On the contrary, what we believe is of utmost importance. Did the Holy Spirit inspire the Bible for us to ignore what it teaches? Are the words of Jesus insignificant? Are the doctrinal truths of the New Testament epistles nothing more than filler?

Concerning salvation, it does matter what you believe about Jesus, the cross, the resurrection, sin, judgment, the gospel and so forth. Warren is doing a great disservice to the church of God. As he minimizes the content of the gospel, trivializes Scripture, belittles doctrine and replaces them with psychology, mysticism and worldly wisdom we are reminded of Paul’s warning in Colossians 2:8, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.”

An Alternative to Warren’s Methods and Message My wife and I recently attended that worship service of an evangelical church which has adopted the purpose-driven model popularized by Warren. The service was disturbing on a number of fronts, including irreverent worship, unbiblical musical selections and a general attitude of apathy.

But what was most troubling was the sermon. The pastor, surely a well-meaning and sincere servant of God, had no clue how to exegete the Scriptures. In his topical message he pointed the congregation, by means of PowerPoint slides, to dozens of passages. But in astounding fashion he managed to misinterpret, either through spiritualizing, missing the context, reading a poor translation, etc., every single passage. Not once did he provide the correct interpretation of any verse of Scripture, yet as far as I could observe no one seemed to notice or care.

This provided for me further insight into what I have been suspecting and observing. Warren’s philosophy of ministry, misuse of Scripture, weak gospel message, infiltration of psychology and disregard for theology is being embraced by evangelicalism because that is where much of evangelicalism is already residing. Warren is not so much an initiator as he is a product of his time. I believe he has caught the wave of what was already happening in evangelicalism. What he has done successfully is connect the dots – develop methods, programs and a message that seems to work. Pragmatism has become the final arbitrator in our society and increasingly in our churches. “If it works it must be of God,” so goes the common wisdom.

But pragmatism is an unreliable trailblazer. In our more reflective moments few of us are willing to believe that success can always have the final word. For example, Mormonism is the most successful “church” in the world today. Yet, none of us is willing to believe that God is blessing the Mormon Church. If pragmatism is our guide, we will be hopelessly tossed about by every wind of doctrine (Eph 4:14). We need something more stable – a true foundation.

Back to the Bible I Timothy 3:15 describes the mission of the church as being the pillar and support of the truth. Whatever else the church does, it must take this commission from God seriously. No one but God’s church is interested in such a project – it falls on God’s people, the true church, to be the one place where truth is believed, upheld, and gloriously proclaimed.

Of course, the truth that the church has to offer has a source – the Word of God. All the church does must emerge from the Scriptures. Every method, program, evangelistic effort, and message the church declares must find its roots firmly planted in biblical truth.

This leads us to Warren’s, and his imitators’, Achilles’ heal: Warren does not begin with the Bible. At first glance “The Purpose-driven” programs and message are quite attractive. They seem to speak the language of the people; they are successful; they are saturated with Scripture, much of its teaching is on the mark, and many promoting and involved in The Purpose-driven Life are sincere and well-meaning. But upon close examination there is a fly in the soup. It is no ordinary fly either – it is a huge, quarter-pounder filled with deadly poison. We can attempt to ignore the fly, hoping all will be well, but ultimately we must either deal with the fly or allow it to alter our soup to something altogether different.

What is the fly? It is this – Warren does not begin with Scripture, he begins with people. His church was started on the basis of a survey asking people what they wanted in a church. He quizzes the congregation on the kind of secular music they like and provides that kind of music. He starts with the felt-needs of people and then crafts a message to meet those needs. He determines what he believes people need to hear and then goes to Scripture to find support for his philosophy of ministry.

It is right here that we need to step back and carefully examine the Purpose-driven philosophy. I have found if you skip the foundation undergirding any system that the superstructure can appear beautiful – for a time. Again take Mormonism. Its outward emphasis on family values and morals is certainly winsome. It is its foundation which is faulty. By the same token we need to examine The Purpose-driven Life’s foundation. Has it been laid after careful study of the Scriptures? Or are its building blocks made of secular fads, philosophies and pragmatism, mortared together with careless use of Scripture? If the latter is your conclusion, as it is mine, what are we to do?

Believe it or not, there is an alternative to PDL and other such programs. It sounds simplistic and old fashioned but it has God’s stamp of approval. It is a return to the Bible. Our pulpits need to return to the unabashed exposition of Scripture. Our Sunday school classes and Bible studies need to toss the manuals and guides written about the Bible and open the Bible itself. In our local church we have dropped all commercial Sunday school curriculum -- which has been watered down to the point of uselessness – and simply teach the Bible. Our 4-5 years old are being taught selected biblical stories. Ages 6-7 will go through the Bible from Genesis to Revelation in those 2 years. Ages 8-9 will go through the Bible yet again. Ages 10-11 are being taught hermeneutics and Bible study methods and applying those methods to the study of the epistles. Ages 12-13 are taught Bible-college-level courses on systematic theology. High schoolers are taught straight Scripture with emphasis on biblical discernment. At this level many of them begin to teach children as well as their peers. All adult courses are focused on the study of Scripture, along with classes on church history, theology, and biblical living. All sermons are verse-by-verse expositions of the Word. Certainly our teachers use commentaries and Bible study aids but it is the Scriptures themselves that are studied.

I have found an amazing thing – when people are fed a steady diet of biblical truth they have little craving for cotton candy fads. Why would anyone trade in the fountain of life for cisterns that can hold no water (Jeremiah 2:13)? Of course many have and do, but the solution is not to crawl into the cistern, it is to showcase the fountain.

But this “return to the Bible” approach has one fatal problem – we are in the midst of a crisis of confidence in the sufficiency and authority of Scripture. If we do not believe that God’s Word is sufficient, then we will not showcase it. If we do not believe in the final authority of the Word then we will look for alternatives. What the church and the world need today are men and women of God who believe with all of their hearts in the sufficiency of His Word. We need a church that is not ashamed of Christ “and His Word” (Luke 9:26); and who will boldly proclaim it from the housetops.

It is reported that Charles Spurgeon once said, “There is no need for you to defend a lion when he’s being attacked. All you need to do is open the gate and let him out.” With Spurgeon I believe it is time to once again open the gate and let the Word do its work.

Pastor Gary Gilley,

His Eye Is On The Sparrow

One day one of our caregivers at the retirement home came running into the dining room where I was eating lunch and hysterically reported the misfortune of a little sparrow in the yard. The bird had been drinking up the water on top of one of the sprinkler heads on the lawn and its foot had become lodged inside the pop-up mechanism. Obviously troubled and moved with compassion for the bird, the caregiver pleaded for my help.

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

California Declares War On Home Schoolers

The state has declared that parents must have credentials to home school their kids. According to H. Walter Croskey, a state appellate court judge, “Parents do not have a constitutional right to home school their children.” Parents who do not comply with state credentialing may face criminal sanctions and penalties for civil contempt.

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

Cockroaches

“These Clintons are like cockroaches. They’ll be the last thing left after a nuclear blast.”
Rush Limbaugh

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Why Christian Ministries Slide Down The Slippery Slope To Liberalism

Many Christian ministries, I’m sure, are started with good intentions for the right reasons. God’s love compels us to good works. But the problem with organized ministries is that they grow into businesses that become dependent on “customers.” With bigger facilities, special interest programs, large organizational structures, the multiplicity of professional staff, and large budgets, the financial concerns often become a matter of survival. After all, if the people stop coming, we lose our jobs and our facilities and we close our doors. That’s why it is so easy for all ministries, including churches to lose sight of their God-centered purposes and succumb to the seduction of pragmatic marketing techniques.

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

Senior Discounts, The Benefits of Growing Old

Last week marked a milestone for me. I crossed another decade marker and turned 60 but, for some reason, I don’t feel any different. Turning sixteen was a “biggie.” That was a right of passage. At last I could drive (legally) and I rushed right down to the DMV to get my license. At twenty-one, I was legally an adult. But this birthday seems uneventful. The most startling reality is that suddenly I recognize that my wife will also soon be a “sixty year old senior citizen.”

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.