The church will soon become irrelevant if it continues to reference letters written 2,000 years ago to defend its position. This was the comment that Rob Bell, the former mega-church pastor made on his recent appearance on the Oprah Winfrey show. To Bell, and others like him, the bible becomes an inconvenience when it does not agree with their positions on the issues of the day. This is the same Rob Bell who denied the existence of hell in his book, "Love Wins". The fact that this school of thought is coming from self-proclaimed pastors is particularly troubling. More and more we are beginning to see religious institutions turning away from the clear commands of Scripture, only to embrace the secular climate of the day. I am convinced that the most dangerous threat to the church is not the outside forces of secular society, but rather the "wolves in sheep's clothing" that have infiltrated the church. Of course, the bible; those poor outdated irrelevant letters from long ago predicted this, so we should not be surprised: "2 Timothy 3:1-5 (NIV)
1 But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
2 People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,
3 without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good,
4 treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God--
5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them."
Mr. Bell and his wife claim the church will soon become irrelevant if it doesn't "get with the program". Well, I disagree. The real church, the people who follow the teachings of Jesus Christ as communicated in His Word, and faithfully follow the teachings of the Bible will become more obvious and more relevant, and more blessed in the eyes of God. While certain religious institutions continue to base their theology on the opinions of people, and what is currently trending on twitter, the real church of Jesus Christ will continue to separate itself by standing true to God's word and remaining faithful to His teachings, regardless of the "inconvenience" it may cause to us and the rest of society.
I like to read. Recently I was reading an account of the training that Navy Seals go through. I learned that the first thing that was expected of them upon rising in the morning was for their bed to be made to perfection. The reason for this was simple; by making your bed each morning, you will have completed your first task, producing a small sense of pride, and encouraging you to perform other tasks in succession throughout the day, causing your day to be productive. It also demonstrates that the small things in life matter.
This new year, millions of people across the globe will be making resolutions; and just like every new year's eve, one of the most popular of resolutions will be to "GET ORGANIZED". Every year this resolution makes the top 10 list, and usually it is in the top 5. Why is this? I think it is because our God made us to desire order and organization in our lives. When we live our lives in contradiction to this, it just doesn't feel right. When I study the characteristics of God, order and organization seem to top the list. In Romans 1:20 the bible tells us: "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse." The universe, and indeed our own planet earth have been created with such precision and order, that no reasonable person can deny the hand of a divine creator. Consider:
- The earth is just the right distance from the sun for us to survive. Any closer and we would burn up, and any further away we would freeze.
- Due to earth's unique position in our solar system, the gravitational force felt on earth is just right. If it were altered just a little bit, then simple tasks like standing or sitting would be impossible.
-The rotation of the earth around the sun and the earth's rotation on its axis are exactly right to sustain life.
-The speed of the earth's rotation on its axis is just right to maintain the proper temperature and aid in several factors necessary to sustain life. If our planet rotated on its axis a little slower, temperatures in the day would be too hot and too cold during the nights to sustain life. If that rotation were faster, we would have equally grave problems.
And I could give countless other examples, but I think you get the point.
In Jesus Christ, God became "flesh", and as such He provide our model for living. Was Jesus organized and orderly? Absolutely! An examination of the gospels gives us a good look into the ordered life of Jesus Christ.
The earliest recorded words of Christ are found in Luke, chapter 2, and verse 49. As a boy of 12 years old, Jesus had gone missing on a family trip for three days. upon finding Him in the temple talking with the religious leaders of the day, his parents were incredulous. His mother asked Him, "Son, why have you done this to us......" The response of the boy Jesus is telling; "Why did you seek me? Did you not know that I must be about my Father's business?" At a young age, Jesus knew what His purpose in life was; to do the Father's business. What about you? What is the Father's business that He would have you do? Have you asked Him? Just like Christ, if we our God's children then we should be asking this every single day, and make sure this is our number one priority. Organizational principle number one then is this:
1) Prioritize your life and activities around the Father's business that He has planned for you. You can only know this if you have a consistent walk with the savior, and an honest desire to seek out and do His will in your life.
Next, we see that in every day situations Jesus was organized, orderly, and free of clutter. The feeding of the 5,000 is the only miracle of Jesus recorded in each of the four gospels. From Luke's account in chapter 9, we are shown a little bit of the organization principles of Jesus. First, he had the disciples divide the people up into "groups of fifty". Also, after everyone had eaten, the fragments were "taken up". This brief account shows us two qualities that were important to Jesus
1. He valued systems that made processes orderly (dividing the people into manageable groups, and 2. He valued a clean and ordered environment (picking up the pieces) I know that He did not want to waste the food as well, but cleaning up the mess was important too.
What about you? Do you have systems in place for getting things done, or do you tend to "wing it" more often than not. Do you need to de-clutter, whether it's your car, your workspace, your home, or areas of your life? Principle number two then is this:
2) Have systems in place for getting things done, and operate in a clutter-free environment.
Let's look at a final example of the order that permeated the life of Jesus. In John's gospel in chapter 20 Jesus has risen and left an empty tomb. On hearing this, two of the disciples run to the tomb to see for themselves. Upon arriving at the empty tomb, scripture says this: " Then Simon-Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb; and he saw the linen cloths lying there, and the handkerchief that had been around His head, not lying with the linen cloths, but folded together in a place by itself."
You see, even in something as earth-shattering as the resurrection of Jesus Christ, He still took the time to neatly fold the grave clothes and separate them accordingly. Apparently after seeing this, Peter was convinced, for he knew the habits of His Lord. I think we can construct a third principle of order from this example of Jesus:
3)Be neat, organized, and pay attention to detail in all things, for even the small things matter.
I think being organized is a great resolution for the coming year, but let's pattern our lives after Jesus;
- Plan your activities around the important things
- Have systems in place for getting things done
- Operate in a clutter-free environment
- Small things matter; pay attention to detail
Want to change the world? Then start by making your bed in the morning.
God bless, and have a happy and productive new year.
My wife Kathi and I voted yesterday. I feel it is not only everyone's privilege and right to vote in this great country of ours, but also our responsibility. Politics is a messy business, and can produce strong emotions in all of us. On my radio show I often discuss current events in the news, and this necessarily leads me into the arena of politics on occasion. Because my show airs on a radio station that is "Christian talk" in its format, on most topics my audience and I are generally in agreement, as we tend to look at things with a biblical world view. Although our opinions may be grounded in biblical truth, sometimes our reactions are not, however. As I look around, I am keenly aware that our nation seems to be more divided politically than I can ever remember in my lifetime. While some of today's current hot button issues can certainly stir toxic emotions in believers and unbelievers alike (gay marriage, abortion, government oppression, etc.....) , the Christian response to these differences of opinion has often been less than biblical. The Bible has much to say about the role of government, why it exists, and the proper Christian response, but for the sake of brevity, let's look at one central passage. Romans 13:1-7 (NIV)
1 Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.
2 Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.
3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.
4 For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.
5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.
6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.
7 Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor.
Wow! When I study this passage, I notice several things, and am convicted by the Holy Spirit living inside me. Remember that when Paul wrote this, the citizens were living in the midst of one of the most godless and oppressive governments in history. What does he say? First, we must obey our government because God himself established it, and anyone who rebels against government is essentially rebelling against God and brings judgement on himself. The passage goes on to say that we are to pay taxes as well as give honor, respect to our governing authorities.
When we carefully study this passage, at first glance this can be a kick in the gut to many of us. Believe me, I understand the emotions that can be aroused when we realize that our tax dollars are being used for things like funding abortion, infanticide, government instituting same-sex marriage, and paying for the persecution of the Christian church. The way our government is promoting our nation turning its back on God makes me angry, as I'm sure it does many of you; however, there is a proper response we can take, and it is this that I want to focus on for the remainder of this article.
First, we need to realize that our leaders will ultimately be held responsible to God for their actions. When our President comes out and publicly condones same-sex marriage and pushes this agenda forward, he and others promoting this "abomination" will be called to account. The same goes for those promoting the killing of babies in the womb, as well as other well documented atrocities. What is our response to be? Unfortunately, in far too many cases the response of the church has done far more harm than good. Distancing ourselves from those who believe differently, calling them names, and bringing condemnation in the public arena obviously is not helping the situation, but only expanding the divide that exists between us. Yelling at someone is never a good way to bring someone around to our way of thinking. So, what are we to do? Taking my cue from Scripture, here is what our response as Christians needs to be to an unbelieving world.
1. Be obedient. In the passage we just looked at, Paul says we are to SUBMIT to the governing authorities. It is our responsibility to obey, and not to rebel. We are not responsible for what our tax dollars are being spent on, and the actions our government takes or the policies it endorses. As I mentioned earlier, they will ultimately answer to God for their actions. However, so will we if we decide to rebel against our government by withholding taxes or any other unlawful means.
2. Vote. Just because we are to be obedient to government does not mean that we are to passively accept the circumstances we find ourselves in. We can make a difference by voting for candidates who will affect positive change and educating and winning over others in our circle of influence with "gentleness and respect".
3. Pray. The Bible says that we should pray for our leaders. We should pray for their health and safety. We should pray that God would impart wisdom on them. We should pray that if they do not know Christ, that they would come to know him.
4. If led, we should become active in the political process. I believe that some Christians mistakenly believe that we should stay away from running for political office or serving in our government. Nothing could be further from the truth. The stories of Joseph and Daniel are two powerful examples from God's Word how He can mightily use a man of God in government.
5. Make disciples. This is by far the most God-honoring and effective thing a Christian can do to influence society. In Matthew 28 we are commanded to make disciples. If everyone reading this will do their best to bring the gospel message through both actions and words to those that God has brought into our lives, and pray for our leaders to come to know Christ then our society will ultimately be changed from one of godless-ness to god-fearing. will you do your part? Instead of condemning, criticizing, and yelling at a lost world, let's decide to allow God to use us in changing our society one person at a time. Will you join me?
As I sit down to write this, an interesting situation is developing in the city of Houston. It seems that openly gay Houston mayor Annise Parker, and Houston city officials are intent on forcing some local pastors to turn over sermon notes and other personal communications simply because they had the audacity to speak out against an ordinance passed by the city council. The details of the story can be found here. Regardless of your view on homosexual or transgender issues, this turn of events should sound the alarm bells to everyone reading this. Ms. Parker, and her cronies on the Houston city council are not happy about the public backlash the passage of the "bathroom bill" has created, and are determined to quash any resistance to it by making an example of these local pastors. The voters of Houston have spoken, and have garnered three times the signatures needed to put this measure to a city-wide vote, and this has brought out the fangs of the good mayor and her local cronies. The good mayor is crying "foul", and want to have these pastors investigated. This is nothing buy simple bullying and intimidation, and the mayor should be ashamed of her actions. However, there is a big picture here that we all should be concerned about, regardless of your thoughts on the "bathroom bill". We currently live in a culture where our freedom of speech is methodically being stripped away from us, and we are slowly but surely moving towards and authoritarian state (remember the I.R.S. targeting scandal?). If you lean left politically, you may have approved of the I.R.S. bullying. Likewise, is you have a problem with religion then the city of Houston's actions may not be a concern for you either. Here's the problem. This issue is not one of party or politics, but of principle. If we, as a citizenry do not stand united against government oppression and intimidation in EVERY instance where someone's rights are being trampled then it will only be a matter of time before you find yourself in the cross- hairs of "Big Brother". When this happens,will anyone be left to stand up for you?
The movie Noah was especially gory, action packed, full of drama, and entertaining in some ways. From a Christian's point of view though, I wasn't pleased with how the movie played out. In many ways the movie did not show what the bible actually says about the ark, Noah, and his family. In my opinion, if you are going to make a movie about a story in the Bible, you have to make it biblical. For example, in the movie Noah only had one son that brought a wife with him. In the Bible however, God provides all three sons with wives. Another thing that bothered me was that God's name was never said in the movie whatsoever. He was always referred to as "The Creator". The movie also made it seem as if Noah made all the decisions, not God or "The Creator". Noah in the movie was confused about whether or not God intended for man to be in the new world. Noah in the Bible knew what God wanted because God told him himself. He was not confused. He did not try to kill his own grandchildren. I could honestly go on, and on, and on about all the things that upset me biblically in this movie. All around the movie was an okay film, but as Noah says in the movie, "The creator does not smile upon it".
- Adella Lonas
There is a news story that came out this past Friday that you need to be aware of; "U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet". This is a move that has the potential to directly affect everyone reading this post. Just like the "GLO-BULL" warming agenda, what this is really about is control, and the ability to generate revenue through taxation. A global organization in control of the internet is really accountable to no one, and will have the ability to spy, levy taxes on internet usage, and control available internet content based on "global" standards, which means even more American rights, protections, and freedoms can be damned. Everyone knows that if you want a news story to fly under the radar, then release it on a Friday where it will fizzle out over the weekend, and that is exactly what our government has done in this case. I encourage everyone to continue to keep up with this story, and share it with as many people as you can. We need to voice our concerns to our elected representatives in congress as well.
I just finished reading another "the sky is falling" global warming piece in our
local newspaper. When I finished, I stepped out my front door and watched the
snow coming down harder than I've seen it fall in several years. Sorry
guys, still not buying it. In the article, Nobel prize winner
Mr. Chu predicted dire consequences a few decades from now unless we
change our ways. Didn't Al Gore predict a couple of decades ago that by
2013 there would be no more polar ice caps. Yeah, that didn't happen. Also
in the article Mr. Chu recommended there be taxes on carbon
emissions. That's what it's really all about, and people are starting to wake up
to that fact. Of course the headline in the article I read made sure to include
the fact that Mr. Chu is a "Nobel Prize" winner. Wow, a Nobel prize winner. So I
should believe him because he won a popularity contest among his peers? He may
have won the Nobel prize, but the only credentials you really need to figure
things out are common sense, good observation skills, and a knack for
spotting B.S. Sorry Mr. Chu, I like my credentials better than yours.
I like sports. When I watch sports though, I watch them for the event itself. I DO NOT tune in for politiical spin and indoctrination. That's why it disgusted me to see Bob Costas interviewing the President during the opening ceremonies of the Winter Olympics on Friday evening. We get it Obama; we get it N.B.C.! You want Americans to embrace homosexuality as if it were normal. Why else would N.B.C. give our President an extensive interview about the "human rights violations" of Russia in its views toward homosexuality? Costas and Obama looked like two giddy school girls as they talked about the "message" we are sending to Russia by flaunting openly gay representatives in America's part in the opening ceremonies. Cut out the politics N.B.C. and just show us the Olympic events for crying out loud. With approximately only 2% of the population claiming to be homosexual, quit acting like it's half of America .( See this study http://downloads.frc.org/EF/EF08L42.pdf) I watch sports to get away from this kind of stuff.
Joel Osteen is coming to Knoxville. I couldn't care less, except for the fact that thousands of people will come out to hear him speak, and will be deceived into believing that they are listening to a "man of God." Mr. Osteen is just another false teacher who has prostituted himself by preaching a non-biblical message to hordes of unsuspecting sheep who call themselves Christians, but have no idea what the Bible really teaches. The biblical ignorance of the crowd that will come out to hear Mr. Osteen speak really cannot be challenged. How else can you explain the thousands of people that will turn out to hear this man speak as God's ambassador? The prosperity gospel is popular. I get it. It sounds great, puts butts in the seats, and money in the offering plate. The problem is that it is not what the Bible teaches. I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul had to say to the Ephesian church in the book of Acts. "For I know this, that after my departure savage wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock." Sheep, meet Mr. wolf. In John 14:6 Jesus says; "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me." It seems Mr. Osteen has never read that passage. Listen to him dodge this question in a 2005 interview with Larry King. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKF_QgNezBY