The Farce is Strong With This One

No, the title is NOT a misprint or a misspelling. The below link is from The Guardian newspaper.

Star Wars Sunday

A church social club in Berlin, Germany has decided that the truth is irrelevant. However, I have to assume that it is a sign of the times. If you have no desire to draw anything but goats to a service, then you have to use what goats like. After all, using the unadulterated truth of the Scriptures just doesn’t draw crowds these days.

lukewarmpicTwo quotes in the article stood out to me. The first from one of the pastors hirelings. “They trust us to make them part of the church service without making it too Christian or too Star Wars, but to find a good compromise.” (emphasis is mine)

The second from an attender.

Scott McGuire, sporting a Chewbacca costume, said he planned to see the movie later. “I think the whole question of God is very interesting, but getting up early on a Sunday is one of those things. But for something like this, I’ll go,” he said.

However, is it really any different than Hillsong Church that decided to produce the blasphemous 1920 flapper style version of “Silent Night”?

WARNING — This version of Silent Night from Hillsong may require much eyewash, but the damage to your eyesight and brain may be permanent.

 

Choose This Day Whom You Will Serve

Our worship leader prayed for the persecuted Church this morning and, as he did so, I couldn’t help but think of what I have heard about the persecuted Church praying for us, that we will experience persecution so that the Church here can grow. That may sound funny since it seems like there is a church building on almost every corner, but there is more to being a part of the Church than just walking through the door of a building once or twice a week.

The fact is, it is too easy to say you’re a Christian in this country. Although we are becoming a minority, many people still respect “religious” people so we’re okay. If Christianity were to suddenly be illegal, I wonder how many of us would boldly say, “Yes, I’m a Christian.”

Before you raise your hand and say, “I would,” evaluate the way you live your life. Have you truly surrendered every area to Him, making sure everything you do, say, and watch pleases Him? Sometimes I think it is easier to die for Him than it is to live for Him and, yet, if you don’t live for Him now, how do you expect to stand in the midst of persecution?

Like most Americans, I have a pretty comfortable life. My needs are provided, I have a family who loves me and, therefore, much to be thankful for. I am very grateful that I don’t have to fear for my life, or the lives of my family members. At the same time, there should be nothing that I am unwilling to give up if God asks me to. Trust in God means knowing that He knows what’s best for me, and He has a plan whether I understand it or like it … or not.

persecuted

So today, I too am praying for the persecuted Church. May God continue to encourage them and give them grace to stay strong in the midst of the persecution. May He use them to draw others to Him, and may He have mercy on America. May we use our freedom, not for our own pleasure, but for His honor and glory. If we don’t, we very well may experience the horrible things our Brothers and Sisters in other countries are going through. Then we won’t be able to live lukewarm lives. We will either be on fire for God, or we will do what we need to in order to keep our comfortable lives and, in doing that, we will lose them.

Please don’t wait until you are forced to make a decision. Decide today that nothing is more important than pleasing the Father who gave His only Son so that you could spend eternity with Him. He has given so much for you. Today, He asks you to give your life and everything you own back to Him. I pray you will say Yes.

Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is?

A good friend shared a Southern Gospel song with me this past week. It is one that I cannot ever remember hearing, although the group that sings this song is one I listened to for many years. The Southern Gospel group is called Greater Vision. For your reference, I have included the lyrics below before I share some additional thoughts.

1) Preacher I’d say it’s been a while since you heard this request,
but my spirit is tired and I need rest.
I want to hear from Heaven a clear word from God,
A sermon of conviction straight from the heart.

2) I’ve been hearing other preachers say I don’t have to change.
The most eloquent of speakers tell me I’m okay.
But it hasn’t eased my conscience and I know it’s not the truth.
So when you stand before us, can I count on you?

(Chorus) Oh Preacher, you say you want to be my friend,
don’t be afraid to call my sin what it is.
And Preacher, tell me I can overcome,
but it’s only by the blood of the Lamb.
Don’t tell me like I wish it was, Preacher tell me like it is.

3) So open up the Word and let the Spirit lead,
Preach until I’ve heard God speak to me.
Don’t worry about my feelings, don’t worry about my shame,
Just preach the cross of Jesus and that I’m to blame!

(bridge)
Life is quickly passing, the world is fading fast
and the foolishness of preaching is the only hope we have.

Regardless of whether you like Southern Gospel Music or not, there are still pastor-teachers who get up every Sunday or throughout the week and pray that today would be the day they heard such a song from those in their congregations.

Preaching

Sadly, this is far from truth. Many of you, who are regulars here at DefCon, know some of our story. In early 2013, I was called to pastor what I thought was a conservative, evangelical Bible-believing church in north-central California.  It took less than 2 months to ascertain that several of the “elders” were not even true believers. One was living in open sin, and they took great offense at my preaching that salvation is by grace through faith alone in Christ alone.

In one leaders’ meeting, one “elder” stated this while pointing at my Bible, “I don’t really know much about that book, but if you are telling me that my friends and family who do not believe in Jesus Christ are going to die and go to hell…well, I would rather die and go to hell with them than to believe what you are telling me!”

Can you imagine such a response by one who is supposedly “called” to be a shepherd? Why would a church even ask a person to be a shepherd when they don’t know The Book?

A few months later, just shy of 70% of the congregation voted against taking a stand on the issue of homosexuality and homosexual marriage. Obviously, this was not a congregation that was interested in singing the lyrics of this song. They did not want sin called what it was. The men who claimed to be elders and who were supposed to be leading spiritually and watching over the flock had little to no interest in the truth of God’s Word.

Sundays come and Sundays go, and far too many faithful ministers prepare messages wondering who will show up and whether they are even upset from the Word that was ministered the week before. On the other hand, there are hirelings posing as shepherds who refrain from speaking boldly because they are afraid of losing a paycheck. Such individuals have NO BUSINESS being in the pulpit.

While there are many other things that are on my heart, I want to use this post to address those who normally sit in congregations each week. Let me tell you what a true pastor looks like.

  1. A true pastor will be faithful to the Word before he is faithful to your pet peeves.
  2. A true pastor will be obedient to the Word before he will be obedient to what you THINK you want to hear.
  3. A true pastor will honor God first and foremost before he will honor requests to dumb down the Scriptures.
  4. A true pastor will normally be found in a small gathering long before he will be found preaching to large crowds who come for everything BUT exposition of the Scriptures.
  5. A true pastor may not show up for every party you have at your house but he will keep you before the Lord each time you are brought to his remembrance.
  6. A true pastor has a family that he has been called to take care of but they will often wait long hours for him to come home because he is “needed” in another part of the harvest field for a few more hours.
  7. A true pastor may have to work long hours outside of ministry-related duties and still have to find time to juggle family, ministry, preparation, and maybe squeeze in some rest. He may do this because it is better than taking a paycheck from a congregation who thinks they can hire and fire him if he doesn’t tickle their ears.
  8. A true pastor will struggle with his own sin and concerns while preaching to himself each time he opens the Scriptures. He will strive to be faithful while at the same time endeavoring to be more like Jesus Christ knowing that he fails miserably.
  9. A true pastor weeps when he sees entire families walk away because they didn’t like the music or lack thereof, or because they chose to walk in the paths of heretics they read after or watch on TBN. He knows that what they are following after does not change their lives. He knows their struggles are real and hopping from church to church is not going to change them to be more like Christ.
  10. A true pastor is concerned when telling it like it is about sin and shame produces little response in the lives of the hearers,, and he wonders whether it is worth all the effort.
  11. A true pastor may often take the blame for much that has nothing to do with his own life, his family, or his ministry. However, he will also know that the blameshifting is merely a cry for help from those who do not want to be helped.
  12. A true pastor may often wonder if there is “anybody else in Israel that has not bowed the knee to the gods of this world” but will rejoice when he finds even one or two of the 7,000 who have not bowed.
  13. A true pastor knows the world is dying and on their way to hell apart from the saving grace of Jesus Christ, but will normally minister to people, some who think they are “good enough” to get there on their own merits.
  14. A true pastor knows that the foolishness of preaching is the ONLY hope we have to offer to the world.
  15. A true pastor will know that to strive to be most eloquent in the eyes of the world will only bring further heartache.
  16. A true pastor knows that this world cannot be his home, that he is only a stranger on a journey to a better land, and that the rewards this world has to offer are corrupt at best and will rot away.
  17. A true pastor may at times be captured in moments of weakness by thoughts of wanting to hear compliments, but in the end remembers that the only true accomplishment will be to hear, “Well done, you were a good and faithful servant.”

For those true pastors who have refused to bow the knee to the gods of this world and the sinful desires of congregations, you are loved with an everlasting love. Your rewards will be few down here. Your body may be worn down as you strive to juggle all of your efforts to show Christ to others, but strive to remain faithful as we look toward a land whose builder and maker is God. True pastors, you have a high calling.

True believers, you have a responsibility to pray for your pastor, to support him, to love him, and to realize that he is only human. Every message will NOT be easy to hear. He is tasked with the incredible and heart-breakingly overwhelming responsibility of protecting you from the dangers of all the heresy and false teaching that is spreading like wildfire throughout evangelicalism.

True believers, it is easy to sing songs like this when they have catchy tunes or lyrics, but how often have you actually walked up to your pastor and told him such words? How often have you said, “Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is!” and then instead of getting offended and looking for a new church next week prayed and asked the Lord to help you be a faithful Berean Christian who will stand for truth even when it is not popular?

 

The Ultimate Act of Submission

Submission is a common theme in the Bible. At times it is interpreted improperly, causing a reaction of repulsion in many. Does the title of this article make your stomach turn a little? This is a theme we must explore.

Is submission only about wives submitting to husbands as Paul commands in Chapter 5 of his letter to the Ephesians? Do you immediately see that domineering husband pounding his fist on the table calling his wife to submit? I hope you’ll readily agree that there is so much more to submission than just wives submitting to husbands, but often this is the only picture non-Christians have of Biblical submission. I want to propose to you that there is a form of submission – the ultimate act of submission – that makes Christians unique in the world.

Even the words “submit” and “submission” have such a negative connotation in the world today. They carry a negative connotation because the concept (or misconception) stomps on our self-centered independent spirit. We don’t WANT to submit, because we are self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-righteous, self-centered, selfish…it is all about us – me, myself, and I. We reject the idea of submitting to another, even if we don’t admit it, the reaction is tucked deep into our hearts.  How can I submit to another when my focus is locked like a tractor beam on ME!?! I don’t have to submit to anyone else, some might say. I am free and independent.

Are we free and independent? Or are we to submit to something greater? So, what is the ULTIMATE act of submission for all of mankind?

We know we are to submit to the Government and authorities that God has put over us (1 Pet 2:13-17, Rom 13:1-7). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Children are to submit to their parents (Eph 6:1-3). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Slaves are to submit to masters…or more realistic today, employees are to submit to employers (Eph 6:5-8). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Wives are to submit to their own husbands (Eph 5:22-23). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

As believers, we are all to submit to each other (Eph 5:20-21). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

Husbands are to submit to Christ (Eph 5:23-33). This is beautiful and gospel centered, but not the ultimate act of submission.

We must do all these. Its not negotiable. But there is still something greater. If all these Biblical commands are not the ULTIMATE act of submission, what is?

Prayer.

Man giving into dependency on his creator is the ULTIMATE act of submission. Simply praying.

Prayer is the ultimate act of submission for mankind because it forces us to look away from self and look to another in dependency. We must set our self-sufficiency and self-reliance down in the hallway before entering the prayer room to face our maker and find sufficiency in HIM and reliance on Him and dependence on HIM.

Jesus tells us: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 ESV)

You get no fame when praying in secret. You get no accolades from those who hear when praying in public like the Pharisees. It can’t be an act. I’m not talking about public prayer, which is often a time when we show off and pray so men can hear us. I’m talking about the secret really prayer. It must be true submission to our God. We find yourself face-to-face with God in the Throne Room of Heaven and faced with the decision to submit to Him or to treat Him as our cosmic vending machine. Do we face Him and pray for what we want and then expect God provide because He is submissive to US? Or do we fall on our face in desperate reliance on the one who holds the stars in the sky (Heb 1:1-3)?

What does it look like for you? Is prayer for you just a chore or a laundry list of wants delivered as fast as possible? Or is prayer a time when you fall on your Abba, Father in complete reliance, dependency, worship, joy, and conversation. Is prayer cold and distant? Brief and lacking passion? Or are your regularly moved to tears and daily plead with God for His mercy and grace? What does it look like for you?

Paul and the other writers of the New Testament bring prayer to the forefront often with the following commands:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people… (1 Timothy 2:1 ESV)

Rom 12:12 – be in constant prayer
1 Cor 7:5 – devote yourself to prayer
2 Cor 1:11 – help us by prayer
Eph 6:18 – praying at all times in the spirit
Phil 4:6 – don’t be anxious…but in everything by prayer
Col 4:2 – continue steadfastly in prayer
1 Thes 5:17 – pray without ceasing
2 Thes 3:1 – pray for us
Heb 13:18 – pray for us
Jam 5:13 – if anyone is suffering…let them pray
Jude 1:20 – building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit
Rev 5:8 and 8:3 – we see the prayers of the saints in heaven

And from the Gospels:

Mat 6:5 – and when you pray you must not be like the hypocrites
Mat 6:9 – Pray like this…our Father
Mat 21:22 – and whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive
Luke 6:28 – pray for those that abuse you
Luke 10:2 – therefore pray earnestly to the lord of the harvest to send out laborers
Luke 22:40 – pray that you will not enter into temptation

Obviously Jesus, who was obedient and submissive to the Father, prayed in secret as our example. Jesus made prayer a priority:

Mathew 14:23 – And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray.
Mark 1:35 – And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.
Mark 6:45-46 – Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go before him to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. And after he had taken leave of them, he went up on the mountain to pray.
Mark 14:32 – And they went to a place called Gethsemane. And he said to his disciples, “Sit here while I pray.”
Luke 6:12 – In these days he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.

Prayer is the air that the Christian must breath. If we come with a laundry list of wants and desires and not with a heart of true and complete submission, are we even praying at all? If we come self-reliant and self-sufficient, have we really come at all? I doubt it. How can we enter the Throne Room of Heaven with anything less than hearts on fire?

If we were faced with what Isaiah saw in his vision of the Lord on the throne in Isaiah 6, would we pray the same way we pray every day? Or would we respond as Isaiah did, “Woe is me, for I am a man of unclean lips!”  We need to get on our knees and prostrate in full submission and hear from our LORD.

Prayer is the ultimate act of submission for mankind, and I say mankind because there was another form of submission that has already been fulfilled. It is the true one and only holy and righteous act of submission that was fulfilled by Jesus Christ on the cross. God himself, in the form of man, equal to God but stripped of his majesty and glory was submissive to the Father to the point of death on the cross (Phil 2:5-8) having been made to be the sins of the elect adopted children of God (2 Cor 5:21). The Son of God submitted to the full punishment and death for all the sins of his adopted siblings. This can never be duplicated and will never be repeated because it is finished. Finished in Christ, who submitted for us once and for all.

Are we able to submit to our God in the truest sense? To submit to Him through prayer? Or will we hold onto our self-sufficient, self-reliant, self-centered disbelief?

The Daniel Plan.

Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan has begun and Jennifer Pekich was there for its inception. Her report from inside the lion’s den (pun intended) can be found here.

Here’s a quote from her article:

Following Dr. Hyman’s talk my best friend arrived to observe the day with me, only to hear Dr. Amen mention in his presentation that he did a brain scan on one of his clients who had a habit of cheating on his wife. The brain scan showed that there were “holes in the pre-frontal cortex of his brain” which controls the impulses. In other words, this man wasn’t sinful, he was “mentally ill.” All he needed was to get on the “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” program and his personal struggles with sin were remedied. Once again Jesus was removed from the equation. My friend and I were dumbfounded when we listened to the Saddleback crowd cheer. My best friend couldn’t contain it any longer and let out a, “You’ve got to be kidding me!”

The best quote from Jennifer’s article, however, was when she made this observation of the event:

I have to admit that visions of the masses being manipulated by Adolf Hitler’s oratory skills came to my mind, only this particular crowd had just been manipulated by a really bad infomercial.

You can listen to Jennifer’s interview about her visit to Saddleback here on the Crosstalk radio show. You can also read an article on this event by Lighthouse Trails here and another article by Marsha West here.

Hinn defends Hinn.

Benny Hinn attempts to defend himself . . . he doesn’t do such a good job.

From Justin Taylor:

Just in case you need a refresher on the numbers, here’s some of what they found on an expense report:

  • cost of his 7,000 sq-ft house: $10-million
  • amount spent per month for his private jet: $112,000
  • price of his two cars: $80,000 each
  • cost per night for staying at 5,400 sq ft luxury hotel room during a “layover”: $10,800 per night paid
  • tips for a 3-day period: $4,500.

Quotes (636)

“For centuries the Church stood solidly against every form of worldly entertainment, recognizing it for what it was—a device for wasting time, a refuge from the disturbing voice of conscience, a scheme to divert attention from moral accountability. For this she got herself abused roundly by the sons of this world. But of late she has become tired of the abuse and has given over the struggle. She appears to have decided that if she cannot conquer the great god Entertainment she may as well join forces with him and make what use she can of his powers. So today we have the astonishing spectacle of millions of dollars being poured into the unholy job of providing earthly entertainment for the so-called sons of heaven. Religious entertainment is in many places rapidly crowding out the serious things of God. Many churches these days have become little more than poor theaters where fifth-rate “producers” peddle their shoddy wares with the full approval of evangelical leaders who can even quote a holy text in defense of their delinquency.

And hardly a man dares raise his voice against it.”

A.W. Tozer
1897 – 1963