Friday, August 29, 2008

For What It's Worth...

A couple of different people have sent me this article from Dutch Sheets in response to the revival in Lakeland, Fl.

I have to be honest, that most of the charismatic movement today makes me very nervous. (If you remember, Dutch Sheets is the guy in the "mess us up" video that we have talked about in earlier posts). Admittingly, I have never been a part of it and it is easy to dismiss things that you have never experienced. So, for that reason, I know that I have to be very careful not to judge something that I don't completely understand. My tendancy is going to be skepticism on this branch of Christianity, but then again I'm skeptical of most of modern Christianity anyway - so they shouldn't feel bad. :)

Additionally, I know that I am not the smartest guy in the room. I certainly can be wrong (I mean, hey, anything's possible) and I have to constantly remind myself that I am supposed to be quick to listen and slow to speak so that I don't embarrass myself or the name of Jesus.

Having said that, let me give a couple thoughts. Number one - I really liked what Dutch had to say. I thought his assessment of the charismatic church in general was very good. I appreciate his humble stance and his desire to remain in the center of God's truth. It's hard to disagree with someone who is accepting full responsibility for something. But let me do it anyway(Ha!)...

Overall, I appreciate the letter: content, tone, direction - everything. With one exception. He did not go near far enough. He said he didn't condemn the Lakeland meetings. It's great that he didn't endorse them (although later he says he endorsed some of it), that's going farther than most other Charismatic leaders would have done - but this meltdown didn't happen because mistakes were made by Todd Bentley or any of the people helping him. I believe it was the inevitable result of something that was never, even a little bit, of God in the first place.

Maybe I don't know enough about it to say that. I apologize if I am going too far - but everything I ever saw looked demonic in nature. The uncontrollable jerking and shaking, Emma the angel, the violent way He (supposedly) healed people, all the things that Pastor Sheets said made him "uneasy". He thinks God was still moving in spite of these things. It seems like a better explanation that fits the context of what was happening is these were counterfeit signs and wonders that the Bible says Satan can perform. (2 Thess. 2:9) What other conclusion can you come to when Todd Bentley is telling people to "believe in the angel (Emma)" if they want to be healed?

Anyway - that's my two cents.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On The Lighter Side

Many of you have been asking how the pool is going so I thought I would give you the word from our man on the street (or pool). Hey, Owen, how is the progress coming?

It's also precious when the mom realizes what is happening. Sorry, this one is not for the queezy - I didn't know the camera was still on.

Now for the serious stuff...

Welcome, all gluttons of punishment, to another episode of - "A Spiritual Kick in the Teeth!" (cue themesong) Today we are going to hit you where it hurts. I guess, because we are participating in this blog, we all fancy ourselves to be people that are truly seeking God and are attempting to line up our whole life (not just the convenient parts) under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This will be a true test to see if that is really true, because nothing probably gauges it better than watching the direction your money goes. Let me take you back to the quote by David Wilkerson that I used on Sunday:

"We are not ready for the coming of Christ! Is this the Church triumphant? Covetous. divorcing, depressed, worldly-minded, grasping for materialism and success, competitive, lukewarm, adulterous, rich and increased with goods, unaware of spiritual blindness and poverty, pleasure-loving, recreation-minded, consumed with sports, politics, and power - is this the Church Jesus is coming for? Simply coping, filled with fear and anxiety, satisfied only to have good health and happiness?"

If your money could speak (and it does, more than you know)would it say that you are materialistic? Would it say that you are rich towards God or yourself? How much money do you spend on pleasure, recreation (schlitterbahn passes, anyone?) and sports in comparison with how much you give to God? If you had a tight month and you had to choose between eating out and going to the movies or tithing, which one would you choose?

When Amy and I were dating, I loved spending money on her. I couldn't make it fast enough. I would sit in my church office, thinking of creative things to do for her and where to take her and all that. I sacrificed things for myself just so I could see the look on her face when I did something for her. Noone had to tell me to do it, it was my pleasure. I was (and still am!) in love! So, then, why is it like pulling teeth to get Christians (who supposedly love God) to give? Why is it so easy to find an excuse why we "just can't give this month"?

As I continue to think about revival and what brings revival and what keeps it from coming, I can't help but talk about this subject. Because if there is one area that I consistently teach on several times a year, and yet it goes largely unheeded - it's giving. I don't think there is a more taught on, yet ignored, teaching of the Bible. Let me give you a couple things to read:

This is a great article on tithing by a man named Dennis Rupert. Read all of it!

This one is from Keith Drury, one of my college professors. This is not so much on tithing, but on the attitude of giving in general. I love stuff like this, because it isn't just teaching on the subject, but it gives me an example to follow of someone who is trying to do as much as they can to fight materialism in their own life and to give as much as they can to the Kingdom of God.

And while you are reading that,
listen to some music by the Newsboys.

Just a reminder that the mp3's I post on here are legal to download and copy for yourself. Or if you prefer the visual version...go here. Sorry, I couldn't embed the video because embedding was disabled by the person who posted it. It's definitely worth a watch, though.

Happy Reading! Let me know what you think.

Monday, August 18, 2008

I Hope You're Hungry

I know I'm early, but you just have, have, have to read this article by Dave Wilkerson. Make sure you read and don't skim- it is awesome. It is exactly what we have been talking about.

A Christless Pentecost

We could take weeks disecting the whole thing. Tell me what you think

Song of the Week

Just a reminder of who He is!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Video of the Month!

Okay, I have to be honest-this just makes me laugh.

Yes, I wasted 15 minutes of my life watching it too and, like you, I feel stupider having viewed it. That being said-I have some questions:

1. Am I the only one in the room that wonders how college age kids don't think this is absolutely retarded?

2. Do you get the feeling that most of those kids were "messed up" before they got to church? Maybe, like, in the parking lot with some rolling papers and munchies?

Anyway, I think this can be useful to us. Obviously, we can have a bunch of knee jerk reactions to it, but what is really wrong with it? If you had to explain it to someone, what would you say?

Take your best shot, but stay conversational - don't get preachy. ie: "This is what is wrong with the church today", etc. Really try to explain why we don't believe this is of God. Make sure you don't make fun of how anybody looked (ahem: worship leader), just stick to the facts. Okay? Alright, let's hear it...

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

It's Tuesday!

Good morning, Everyone! Just want to give a shout out to our college peeps who may already be homesick and are looking to this blog to give them a touch of home. Be assured that you are missed, and that your parents are already redecorating your rooms to be used for something else.

Our post today is something for you (and the rest of us)to ponder as you encounter new people, challenges, and worldviews in school. I came across this great post on the web that I want to share with you:

In his book "The Normal Church Life," (An Exposition of the First Epistle of John), P.G. Mathew states, the book of First John deals with four main themes: (1) orthodox doctrine (2) practical personal holiness, (3) the Christian community life of love, and (4) the assurance of Salvation.

This epistle flies in the face of today's secular society because our secular culture hates uncompromising imperatives. Our society has an absolute commitment to moral and philosophical relativism. The surprising thing is that today's churches have become like-minded. Few churches preach orthodox doctrine; even fewer require practical holiness. We hear very little today of sin, repentance, holiness, judgment, or hell. The prevalent view is that mere mental assent to the facts of the gospel constitutes salvation, so that one can accept Jesus as Savior yet continue to live in sin and still expect to be saved! Any call to obedience is labeled as legalism. "Carnal Christianity" has become the norm.

John writes with authority and clarity: "This is love for God: to obey His commands" (1John 5:1, 3). Unlike the "carnal Christian," the one who is born of God will believe sound doctrine, will live to please God and the brethren, and, thus, will enjoy assurance of salvation.

To say you "know God" (1John 2:4), and have fellowship with Him (1 John 1:3), yet not obey Him or grow in holiness, is patent, self-refuting nonsense. If you do not walk in the light of Jesus, you are walking in darkness. If that be the case, you are not living according to the truth (1John 1:6), you are lost because only the truth can set you free (John 8:32), and you have no fellowship at all with God because "in Him is no darkness at all" (1John 1:5). If you claim otherwise, you are deceiving yourself (1John 1:8), and accusing God of being a liar (1John 1:10)... -- Toby Miller

I have no idea who Toby Miller is, but what he says is central to what I have been struggling with for some time. When I started this blog, it was for the purpose of connecting and spurring on those who are hungry and thirsty for deeper fellowship, understanding of the Scriptures, and more of God in general.

I am coming to realize, that is going to be a very small number of people. Most people who call themselves Christians could not pass the test of 1 John. We have sent some of our graduates to Christian colleges like OWU and CFNI (my apologies to any acronyms I have forgotten). My guess would be that 75% of students on those campuses that claim to be Christians, probably aren't.

The worry I have for myself, and for those who just went off to college, and anybody else who rubs shoulders with people who claim to know Christ, is that we will be sucked into the contemporary definition of Christianity that is full of carnality, self-righteousness, selfish ambition and hot air, instead of love for God and His commands, and love for people. Go ahead - read 1st John, and see if most Christians you know would pass the test. See if you pass the test!

We were recently looking for Sunday School teachers for the youth and for two of the kids classes. What do you think the bible's qualification of that leader should be?

Consider Acts chapter 6 when the qualification for SERVING FOOD was to be someone who was full of the Spirit and full of wisdom.

A couple other well known leadership passages are 1 Tim. 3:1-13 and Titus 1:5-9.

Compare those qualifications to our qualification list most of the time:

1. Breathing (this is important, but not required)

2. Willing (again, this is desired, but not necessarily required for leadership)

3. They must at least claim to be a Christian.

4. Not an axe murderer. (We are pretty insistent on this one)

5. Charismatic. (If they are good with people - hey, they must be leadership material!)

We've accepted our list because the need is great, and there is a shortage of qualified candidates, and the ones who are qualified are already doing too much. Thankfully, we scored great teachers and leaders in all three of our classes - but if they had not come forward, what would we have done? We would have been glad just to have someone "cover" the class. After all, we can't afford to be too picky, right?

The list of people who truly "hunger and thirst after righteousness" is scary small. I'm afraid that we have accepted a "norm" for Christianity that is the opposite of the real definition of Christian.

I've said all that to say this (which I hate when people say that, because if that's the case why didn't you skip all that and get to the this right away?). This is what is on my mind this week:

Uno. We can't compare ourselves to other people who claim to be christians to see how we are doing. The people we are comparing ourselves to may not be Christians. They may go to a Christian college, they may listen to Christian music and they may even be studying for the ministry - that doesn't mean they are saved. To look at others for approval instead of God's Word is to accept compromise as a way of life.

Dos. one of the reasons we are in this predicament is because we are basically ignorant of the Bible. We, who claim to be God's children and even ministers of the Gospel of Jesus Christ probably couldn't quote 10 verses of the Bible if our life depended on it(The 10 commandments and Jesus wept don't count). I used to be an Elvis fan (some would say freak). I could tell you all of his movies and when they were released and a multitude of other facts that noone in their right mind should care about. Some of you are that way about a favorite sports team or TV show. Can you name all 12 of Jesus' disciples? I rest my case.

Three. I wish I was more afraid of offending God than I was offending people. We have to start lifting up and holding each other to a higher standard. That's why I started this blog. So we could learn together, sharpen each other, and, if needed, correct each other (in private, of course).

Only a fool despises a parent's discipline; whoever learns from correction is wise.
(Proverbs 15:5 NLT)

Mockers hate to be corrected, so they stay away from the wise.
(Proverbs 15:12 NLT)

A wise person is hungry for knowledge, while the fool feeds on trash.
(Proverbs 15:14 NLT)

If these verses are true, why do avoid confrontation like the plague? Why are we terrified to confront someone because of the possible repercussions of suggesting to a brother or sister that what they are doing/thinking is wrong? Could it be because they(we) aren't hungry for knowledge, and they(we) despise discipline and they might avoid us so they don't have to answer for their actions? We know they aren't going to receive it well and so we keep our mouth shut. On either end, that's a sad state of affairs for the Church.

So, wherever God may lead you - don't be afraid to be set apart and shine for Him!

Well, that's all for today. I'll post a new song tomorrow (I know you are beside yourself with excitement)and I'll be looking for what you have to add to the discussion!

With Love!!


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Here I Go Again...sort of.

I am much less irritated now (at least no more than normal) so I am going to give posting another shot.

I'm not going to go back, though, and post what I originally wrote because I have been thinking a lot about what John Miller posted about Joshua from the comments yesterday (Here is the Link).

It's amazing to me how much Jesus is mirrored and foreshadowed in the Old Testament. We alluded to that on Sunday through 2 Timothy:

You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.
(2 Timothy 3:15 NLT)

Even the O.T. gives us the wisdom we need to become saved because it really tells the story of Jesus, albeit not perfectly or completely.

I was studying the book of Joshua today for Sunday and I found even more through Rahab, when she let down the spies from her window. Take notice of the condition the spies gave her to spare her life when they came back to take the land:

Before they left, the men told her, "We will be bound by the oath we have taken only if you follow these instructions. When we come into the land, you must leave this scarlet rope hanging from the window through which you let us down. And all your family members—your father, mother, brothers, and all your relatives—must be here inside the house. If they go out into the street and are killed, it will not be our fault. But if anyone lays a hand on people inside this house, we will accept the responsibility for their death.
(Joshua 2:17-19 NLT)

Sounds an awful lot like the passover, doesn't it? But instead of blood it is a scarlet rope. She was to hang it from her window (instead of over the door) and when they saw it, her and anyone who was in the house where the scarlet rope hung would be saved. Then the spies hid in the mountains for,(is this significant?)3 days before they went to tell Joshua what had happened. Joshua waited for...anyone? Bueller?... 3 days before he told the Israelites to follow the ark of the covenant into the promised land. In Joshua chapter 1, Joshua had told them to get ready because in, hello, three days they would be leaving for the promised land.

The crossing of the Jordon on dry ground is still another illustration of salvation through Jesus. As the ark went forward across the Jordon,they were to follow it. The waters parted just like they did at the Red Sea, and when they came through the other side God would then defeat their enemies and lead them into their place of rest. It was an illustration of our passage from death to life when we follow Christ.

It really is quite amazing when you think about it. God was writing the story and illustrating it before anyone knew what the plot was. May His name be praised.

I posted a song of the week yesterday (in the lost post) but I've changed it after reading Joshua.

Song of the Week

Click Here! Or else!

This is Bebo Norman. You gotta love anyone with a name like Bebo. This song is going to make it into our worship sets before long. I like it alawt!

And then I came across this video of the song which is, frankly, a little creepy.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

I am severly irritated

I just wrote my whole blog and then clicked the wrong button and lost it all.

If you need me, I'll be in Owen's room jumping off the top bunk.

It is just way too depressing to start over again right after a tragedy of this magnitude,(I'm sure that there has been a case study done somewhere) so I will repost it later when I don't feel like pulling my hair out. Okay, maybe I should pick a different example that takes longer...