“It so misrepresents the truth, it’s a sin”

 

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The below is taken in its entirety from Albertmohler.com.

 

Newsweek on the Bible — So Misrepresented It’s a Sin
MONDAY • December 29, 2014
newsweekcover2015
Newsweek magazine decided to greet the start of 2015 with a massive cover story on the Bible. For decades now, major news magazines have tended to feature cover articles timed for Christmas and Easter, taking an opportunity to consider some major question about Christianity and the modern world. Leading the journalistic pack for years, both TIME and Newsweek dedicated cover article after article, following a rather predictable format. In the main, scholars or leaders from very liberal quarters commented side-by-side those committed to historic Christianity on questions ranging from the virgin birth to the resurrection of Christ.
When written by journalists like Newsweek‘s former editor Jon Meacham or TIME reporters such as David Van Biema, the articles were often balanced and genuinely insightful. Meacham and Van Biema knew the difference between theological liberals and theological conservatives and they were determined to let both sides speak. I was interviewed several times by both writers, along with others from both magazines. I may not have liked the final version of the article in some cases, but I was treated fairly and with journalistic integrity.
So, when Newsweek, now back in print under new ownership, let loose its first issue of the New Year on the Bible, I held out the hope that the article would be fair, journalistically credible, and interesting, even if written from a more liberal perspective.
But Newsweek‘s cover story is nothing of the sort. It is an irresponsible screed of post-Christian invective leveled against the Bible and, even more to the point, against evangelical Christianity. It is one of the most irresponsible articles ever to appear in a journalistic guise.
The author of the massive essay is Kurt Eichenwald, who boasts an impressive reputation as a writer and reporter for newspapers like The New York Times and magazines including Vanity Fair. A two-time winner of the George Polk Award, he was also a finalist for a Pulitzer Prize. Eichenwald, however, has been primarily known for reporting and writing in a very different area of expertise. Most of his writing has been on business and financial matters, including business scandals.
When it comes to Newsweek‘s cover story, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin,” Eichenwald appears to be far outside his area of expertise and knowledge. More to the point, he really does not address the subject of the Bible like a reporter at all. His article is a hit-piece that lacks any journalistic balance or credibility. His only sources cited within the article are from severe critics of evangelical Christianity, and he does not even represent some of them accurately.
The opening two paragraph of the article sets the stage for what follows:
“They wave their Bibles at passersby, screaming their condemnations of homosexuals. They fall on their knees, worshipping at the base of granite monuments to the Ten Commandments while demanding prayer in school. They appeal to God to save America from their political opponents, mostly Democrats. They gather in football stadiums by the thousands to pray for the country’s salvation.
They are God’s frauds, cafeteria Christians who pick and choose which Bible verses they heed with less care than they exercise in selecting side orders for lunch. They are joined by religious rationalizers—fundamentalists who, unable to find Scripture supporting their biases and beliefs, twist phrases and modify translations to prove they are honoring the Bible’s words.”
What is really going on here? Did some fundamentalist preacher run over young Kurt Eichenwald’s pet hamster when the reporter was just a boy? He opens with the most crude caricature of evangelical Christians — one unrecognizable in the vast majority of evangelical churches, and even to credible journalists. But the opening lines are truly a foretaste of what follows.
Amazingly, Eichenwald claims some stance of objectivity. “Newsweek’s exploration here of the Bible’s history and meaning is not intended to advance a particular theology or debate the existence of God,” Eichenwald insists. “Rather, it is designed to shine a light on a book that has been abused by people who claim to revere it but don’t read it, in the process creating misery for others.”
But Eichenwald demonstrates absolutely no attempt to understand traditional Christian understandings of the Bible, nor ever to have spoken with the people he asserts “claim to revere [the Bible] but don’t read it.” What follows is a reckless rant against the Bible and Christians who claim to base their faith upon its teachings.

 

In a predictable move, Eichenwald claims to base his research on “works of scores of theologians and scholars, some of which dates back centuries.” But the sources he cites are from the far, far left of biblical studies and the most significant living source appears to be University of North Carolina professor Bart Ehrman, who is post-Christian. Even so, he makes claims that go far beyond even what Bart Ehrman has claimed in print.
Eichenwald’s first claim is that we cannot really read the Bible, for it does not actually exist and never has. “No television preacher has ever read the Bible,” he asserts. “Neither has any evangelical politician. Neither has the pope. Neither have I. And neither have you. At best, we’ve all read a bad translation—a translation of translations of translations of hand-copied copies of copies of copies of copies, and on and on, hundreds of times.”
No knowledgeable evangelical claims that the Bibles we read in English are anything other than translations. But it is just wrong and reckless to claim that today’s best translations are merely “a translation of translations of translations.” That just isn’t so — not even close. Eichenwald writes as if textual criticism is a recent development and as if Christian scholars have not been practicing it for centuries. He also grossly exaggerates the time between the writing of the New Testament documents and the establishment of a functional canon. He tells of the process of copying manuscripts by hand over centuries as if that seals some argument about textual reliability, wrongly suggesting that many, if not most, of the ancient Christian scribes were illiterate. He writes accurately of the Greek used in the New Testament, and then makes an argument that could only impress a ten year old:
“These manuscripts were originally written in Koiné, or ‘common’ Greek, and not all of the amateur copyists spoke the language or were even fully literate. Some copied the script without understanding the words. And Koiné was written in what is known as scriptio continua—meaning no spaces between words and no punctuation. So, a sentence like weshouldgoeatmom could be interpreted as ‘We should go eat, Mom,’ or ‘We should go eat Mom.’ Sentences can have different meaning depending on where the spaces are placed. For example, godisnowhere could be ‘God is now here’ or ‘God is nowhere.’”
Isn’t that clever! But there is no text in the Bible in which this is truly a problem. Context determines the meaning, and no mom is in any danger of being eaten due to confused punctuation. That might impress a fifth-grade class, but not any serious reader. Later in his essay he makes essentially the same argument when he deals with the Greek word translated as worship when the text refers to deity. He rightly points out that translators use other terms when the context is merely human. Yes, the same word is used, but not in the same sense. This is not a translator’s sleight of hand, but common sense. Similarly, when a British nobleman is addressed as “Your Lordship” in public, this does not mean that he is being worshiped in the same sense as when a Christian speaks of the lordship of Christ. Common sense indicates that the same word has a different meaning in a different context.
Eichenwald grossly over-estimates the total number of ancient New Testament manuscripts and he seems to believe that mainstream Christianity in the Patristic era might have been seriously confused about the legitimacy of the so-called Gnostic gospels and other heretical writings. He cited Bart Ehrman as saying,“There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament,” but then he follows that with his own concession: “Most of those discrepancies are little more than the handwritten equivalent of a typo, but that error was then included by future scribes.” So there are many variations, but most are “little more than the handwritten equivalent of a typo?” Then, why is the point even important?
He turns to text critical questions related to the long ending of Mark’s Gospel (16:17-18) and the account of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery in John’s Gospel. These questions would not trouble any first-year seminarian in an evangelical seminary, but they are presented in the article as blockbuster discoveries. Furthermore, with reference to the woman caught in adultery, Eichenwald states: “Unfortunately, John didn’t write it. Scribes made it up sometime in the Middle Ages.” But the fact that the account is not found in the older manuscripts of the Gospel of John does not mean, in any credible sense, that scribes simply made it up in the Middle Ages. Eichenwald seems unaware of the very category of oral tradition.
He also presents a twisted version of Emperor Constantine’s influence in Christian history, getting right the fact that Constantine called and influenced the Council of Nicaea but getting facts wrong when he claimed that Constantine influenced the formation of the New Testament canon by determining which books were to be included. His accusation of political intrigue by Constantine on the question of Christ’s deity appears, within the totality of Eichenwald’s essay, as a pointer to a strange antipathy to the doctrine of the Trinity itself. He argues that the Trinity is never defined in a singular verse of Scripture — orthodox Christians do not claim that any single text does — but he ignores the development of the doctrine of the Trinity drawn from the totality of the New Testament itself.
Eichenwald’s opening sentences trumpeted his disdain for evangelical Christianity’s sexual ethic, and his essay turns to deny that Christians have any textual basis for a negative view of homosexuality. He dismisses 1 Timothy as being falsely claimed to be written by the Apostle Paul, citing, oddly enough, Friedrich Schleiermacher, the father of modern theological liberalism, who made that argument in 1807. There is no counter-argument offered. Eichenwald simply credits the “scholars” he cites without any admission that other scholars hold very different opinions. Interestingly, he appears unable to deny that Paul wrote Romans and that Romans 1:27 identifies men lusting after other men as sinful.
He seems to believe that the teachings about women teaching and leading in 1 Timothy would apply to a woman in political office, failing to read that the text is clearly speaking of order within the Christian assembly. He seems totally unaware of any distinction between the moral law in the Old Testament and the ceremonial law and the holiness code.
In the main, he argues that historic Christianity has been based on nothing but a lie and that those who now represent themselves as biblical Christians are lying to themselves and to others — and doing great harm in the process.
But Kurt Eichenwald’s essay is not ground-breaking in any sense. These arguments have been around for centuries in some form. He mixes serious points of argument with caricatures and cartoons and he does exactly what he accuses Christians of doing — he picks his “facts” and arguments for deliberate effect.
Newsweek’s cover story is exactly what happens when a writer fueled by open antipathy to evangelical Christianity tries to throw every argument he can think of against the Bible and its authority. To put the matter plainly, no honest historian would recognize the portrait of Christian history presented in this essay as accurate and no credible journalist would recognize this screed as balanced.
Oddly enough, Kurt Eichenwald’s attack on evangelical Christianity would likely be a measure more effective had he left out the personal invective that opens his essay and appears pervasively. He has an axe to grind, and grind he does.
But the authority of the Bible is not the victim of the grinding. To the contrary, this article is likely to do far more damage to Newsweek in its sad new reality. Kurt Eichenwald probably has little to lose among his friends at Vanity Fair, but this article is nothing less than an embarrassment.

To take advantage of Newsweek’s title — it so misrepresents the truth, it’s a sin.

To read the Newsweek article in full, click: HERE

6 Convictions Needed When Approaching God’s Word

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God’s Word is…. well God’s Word and because it is, we would do well to read it with a set of convictions. Below are 6 of those convictions. Certainly, there are more. Feel free to comment below on convictions you have when you are sitting down to read the very Words of God.

1.) It is GOD’S Word

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV)

Scripture is the God breathed out Word of God.

What does that matter?

Well, if this is our conviction it will affect how we approach or even if we will approach God’s Word.

When this is our conviction we will approach God’s Word not seeking to impose my thoughts and will on it. Rather, our desire is that the Word brings to us the thoughts and will of God for our lives.

If it is God’s Words than it is my Authority! While my thoughts can tend to be shifty, God’s Word remains. It is objective and unchanging! Shifty people need an anchor for the soul!

Consider: Without this initial conviction:

What do you have?

What is the Bible?

How does your view of the Bible affect how you read it?

2.) God’s Word Is Understandable

The Word of God is not veiled. It does not need someone to come along and decipher the code! God intends us to “get it”.  He is a revealing God.  He is not a code to be cracked – He is the God who reveals Himself on every page.  Through His Word He makes known to us, who He is and what He has done for fallen man.

3.) God’s Word Is Useful

2 Timothy 3 (see above) shows us not only that the Word is God breathed, but that it is useful.

…….profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

4.) God’s Word Is Effective

“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11 ESV)

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. (Hebrews 4:12 ESV)

How effective is the Word of God!

5.) God’s Word Should Be Approached In Humility

  • Am I the authority or is He?
  • Do I Submit to God’s Word or Does the Word submit to me?
  • My life vs Gods Word – what must change?
  • Feelings vs Truth – subjective vs objective – fleeting vs never-changing

“I’ve heard the story of a man who was in Paris visiting the Louvre. He was particularly interested in seeing Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. After examining the painting for some time with a critical eye, he announced, “I don’t like it.” The guard stationed there replied, “Sir, these paintings are no longer being judged. The viewers are.” It is the same with God’s Word, which is not what is being judged. Its readers are.”

Bullmore, Mike (2011-08-02). The Gospel and Scripture: How to Read the Bible (The Gospel Coalition Booklets) (Kindle Locations 163-167). Crossway. Kindle Edition.

6.) God’s Word Is About Christ

The entire Word of God is about God redeeming fallen man. That redemption comes through God the Son, Jesus Christ. As we read the Word with Christ in view, we will see that everything prior to Jesus death anticipates Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. All that we read post Christ’s death looks back to that event. God’s Word is about…. Christ!

 

For further study check out this easy to read booklet:

The Gospel and Scripture:  How To Read The Bible By Mike Bullmore

 

Ear Tickling Relevance

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I begin this post once again stating that I am not for irrelevance!

The church must be relevant and as I said in the last post – Truth IS relevant.

Read the last 2 posts here:

The Cry For Relevance

Truth IS Relevant

 

My concern is when the church, pastors, and believers lust to be relevant today. And in that lust there lies a warning or concern. Is it possible that in the lust for relevance that we lose sight of truth and in so doing we become “ear ticklers”?

Is it possible in the name of wanting to add people to the church that we water down the message of the Gospel and ones need for salvation?

And, if we water down the gospel and yet we are “relevant” don’t we need to ask: “What exactly are people being saved to?”

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. (2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV)

Paul has been exhorting Timothy to preach the Word. Why? Because the Word IS relevant.

It is a sad day when pastors concern themselves more with political correctness than bible correctness. It is dangerous when we study cultural relevance without seeing how relevant the Word is to our culture.

In the name of love, we don’t want to offend. We allow culture to define what is love. This then silences or edits the believer from saying anything of value at all.

The gospel my friend, IS offensive.  The Word, speaking of itself, says it is “folly to those who do not believe….”

The Word calls us sinners. Sinners need to repent. Because, hell and judgement awaits the un-forgiven sinner…..

And that is offensive! It is offensive to sinners, but it is relevant to sinners!

The Christian, the pastor, the church that says nothing of sin, repentance, and our need for a Savior…. well that is like a Dr. who will not tell the patient he is chronically sick. The Dr. is by no means showing love by withholding that information. No, we call that malpractice. And the Dr. gets slapped with a lawsuit for that lack of love!

Listen to the words of Jesus:

“If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours”  Jesus  (John 15:18-20).

I do not hear Jesus saying here, “Be relevant so everyone will be attracted to you and your church!”

In Mark 10 we see Jesus being relevant to the rich young ruler. And the result of His relevant truths caused this man to walk away sad.

Be careful, Christian.  A wrong understanding of relevance might render you silent and thus irrelevant in a culture that needs truth and love. If cultural relevance is your guide, well, you are on shifting sand. Today’s cultural relevance will be irrelevant tomorrow. Grass withers, flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever….

God, help us to grow in our understanding of your Word. Let us see how incredibly relevant it is to a lost and dying world. And help us to speak without fear and with much relevance, love, and care.

 

Withering Grass and Fading Flowers

Grass withers

 

It has become the phrase I like to recite prior to preaching God’s Word.  But, it is more than just a “phrase”. It is truth. And truth has value.  I know, truth has lost its value in our culture, but that does not make it any less valuable. My youngest son used to value pennies more than nickels just because he had more of them.

My heart is like a child sometimes with what has real and lasting value.

Prior to preaching, this little phrase brings the truth of God’s Word before me. And as it sits before me, and I trust before the people of Trinity Community Church, it instructs my / our faith as I seek to preach God’s amazing, eternal, Word.

The phrase?

The grass withers, the flowers fade, BUT the Word of the Lord remains FOREVER!

Here is that text in its wider context.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry!”
    And I said,“What shall I cry?”
All flesh is grass,
    and all its beauty[d] is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
    when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
    surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
    but the word of our God will stand forever.

The rest of Isaiah 40 is….. well…. amazing!  But, for now, for today – consider: all that is around you is withering and fading and yet God’s Word is forever.

That truth sure puts the “stuff” of this world in its rightful place. The things we value, the stuff our hearts crave, and all the that we desire…. fading and withering.

God, help me to put my heart and my faith on that which does not fade or wither!

“Truth Speaking” IS Relevant

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Isn’t “The Cry For Relevance”, by pastors and churches an effort to attract people to our churches?

And….. attracting people to our churches…. that is good, right?

But, in so doing, don’t we have to be extremely careful about our motives?

If we are seeking to build “our” kingdom come, Rather than “HIS” Kingdom come…. then perhaps not. But if Jesus is the King and it is His Kingdom that we are seeking to build…. perhaps, yes!?!

Recently,  Michael Paulson of The New York Times asked Brian Houston, (founder of the very popular Hillsong movement) a very simple question:

“Can your pastors preside at same-sex marriages?”

Houston replied (in part), “It can be challenging for churches to stay relevant. Because many mainstream churches upheld what they would believe is the long established view of what the Bible says about homosexuality. But the world has changed around and about them.”

He continued, “So the world’s changing and we want to stay relevant as a church. So that’s a vexing thing. You think, ‘How do we not become a pariah?'”

Yikes, it was a “yes” or “no” question….

Well, those statements kinda blew up and so……before the week was out, Pastor Houston issued a follow-up statement saying, “Nowhere in my answer did I diminish biblical truth or suggest that I or Hillsong Church supported gay marriage…. My personal view on the subject of homosexuality would line up with most traditionally held Christian views. I believe the writings of Paul are clear on this subject.”

Hmmmm…..ok, good…. I think…..  Much could be said here, but this post is not about the content of what he said.  Rather, the point I am seeking to address is this Cry For Relevance.  So, I press on…..

A few thoughts:

1.  I am NOT for:

  • I am NOT for irrelevance.
  • I have NO desire to drive people away from Christianity, the church, or Jesus Christ.  I don’t want to be pariah, either!
  • The goal is not to be as non – relevant as possible, offend people, or create a greater divide in our conversations.
  • I don’t want to unhelpfully create any more road blocks in ones understanding of true Christianity than already exists.
  • In light of the above, it needs to be said……  I do not hate gay or lesbians!
  • While, I disagree with that lifestyle choice, that does not mean I hate them nor does it mean that I discriminate against them.

My concern centers on this lustful desire for relevance. A problem which, Jesus Himself, did not concern Himself. Jesus never watered down His message.

Why? Because, Truth is…. truth.

While I am at it, I might as well potentially offend some Christians:  I take issue with those who shout from the street corner to the passerby’s with a pronounced arrogance and a lack of compassion and love, and do so in the name of truth. There is a reason that our culture, when speaking about Christians, say we are filled with “hate speech”. (Though that phrase is often tossed around to mean: hate speech is anything someone speaks out against what I am engaged in…)

That said….

2.  I AM for:

  • Speaking the truth in love
  • The above does not mean that the Christian should be silent!
  • Paul, in Ephesians 4 calls the believer to maturity when he says:

…..that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes. Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ…  Ephesians 4:14-15

Consider:

  • Does a person who is not living for Christ need relevance or truth?
  • Does one exclude the other?
  • Isn’t truth…..well……. relevant?

Ultimately what is needed most is not my relevance, we need truth. And, that truth just so happens to be extremely relevant to the world we live in!  Where do we find truth?

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever!

 

The Cry For Relevance

Church

The cry for “relevance” in the Christian community today is deafening.

Consider: The cry for relevance is often louder than the cry for God’s Word or the Gospel!

Don’t misunderstand:

  • I am not for Christians being irrelevant in society and culture!!
  • To be irrelevant in todays society, is to have no voice.
  • No voice is neither, wise or necessary.
  • I DO think the Bible IS relevant!!!
  • Whether a person realizes the relevance of the Bible does not determine IF the bible IS relevant.

Is their any caution to be given in the midst of the cry for relevance?

Relevant churches

Relevant evangelism

Relevant music

on and on it goes…..

Sometimes, Christians are not comfortable in their own skin…..

Paul to the Corinthians:

“For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God” (1 Cor. 1:22-24).

The gospel IS a stumbling block, it IS folly to the unbeliever.

Which means:  We must be careful that our desire for relevance does not = compromise.

Ours is a day that can easily be captured up in the desire to “reach” people, at the expense of remaining faithful to the Word.  And…. if we are reaching people, while NOT remaining faithful to the Word…. then what exactly are we reaching people to?

Pragmatism?

Our opinions?

Self- Authority?

Our hope is in the Word of God itself!

“And by neglecting the Scriptures, we lose track of what we are reaching people to. If it’s to a savior other than the holy, triune creator God of the Bible, or if it’s to a God other than the one in the Scriptures who died to appease God’s wrath toward sinful men, justifying completely those who repent and believe, then we’re no longer offering salvation at all, and we’re not building a ‘church.’  We might have gathered a good group of people who do good things, but it’s not the bride of Christ.”  Matt Chandler

There is such a lust for relevance today.  We want to be liked, accepted, thought well of in society.  And it is this lust that (potentially) waters down biblical truths in the name of “reaching people”.

In the end, doesn’t it boil down to what we believe about the Bible? Is it the very Word of God??

Paul says to the Romans – I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ for it is the is the power of God to salvation.

Do you believe that?

Or does God’s Word need some “props” – do you feel the need to take the “edge” off?

Or to quote Bono of U2 – “stop helping God across the road, like a little old lady….”

“The issue of sin and depravity is as old as the fall of man. Likewise the Word we live by is just as relevant today as it ever was. God is not in catch up mode when it comes to being abreast of current trends, trials, and temptations.”  David Ravenhill  Read full article here.

The Word of God is where our convictions MUST lie.

The grass withers, the flowers fade, but the Word of the Lord remains forever!

 

 

 

 

 

The Consumer Driven Church

NYC

How about this for the next book title on church?

The Consumer Driven Church.

At the consumer driven church you “do” church the same way in which you “do” your grocery shopping.  In the small town I live (Titusville, Fl). You can drive to Aldi’s because they have great prices, but they don’t always have the vegetables you need.

NO Problem – you can drive to Publix which is only 5 minutes from Aldi’s and grab your veggies.

But what about the movie rental?

Again, not a problem! Wal-mart is on the way home and they have not 1 but 2 Redbox machines!

Consumerism…. You gotta love it!

My family regularly utilizes all 3!  (Not to mention the often sought after cup of coffee at Starbucks which is located in the Target! – Located across the street from the Wal-Mart!!)

As for me and my house….. we will shop around.

Have you noticed?

Have you noticed our Americanized consumerism has seeped, more like flooded, into the local church?  Today, pastors are tempted to think that they need to cater to this mentality in order to build a church! The result is sometimes funny and sometimes sad.

Sometimes funny:

I like Aldi’s!  Mostly because they are NOT Wal-Mart!  They know who they are. Small grocery chain, with limited space, and thus limited product.  That’s Aldi’s and that is why I like them!

How silly would it be for Aldis to TRY to be a Wal-Mart.  The joy of the Aldis experience is: I don’t have to engage with ALL THAT STUFF.  Aldis is…. simple.  I like simple!  The point is – Aldis knows who they are.  Aldi’s is not trying to be someone they are not.

Knowing who you are is helpful in that it helps you know who you are NOT!

Crazy, isn’t it,  when the little local church tries to be the Wal-mart – super center church.  I have fallen victim to this, at times, over the years and I shake my head. How silly, even funny (yes, I am laughing) when we don’t know who we are and we try to be something else. It is a dumb way to try to build a local church.

In the consumer driven church we run to the Aldis church for relationships, the Wal Mart church for youth programs, and the Publix church for quality worship music.

I don’t think we are aware how much consumerism has affected the psyche of the average American church goer.

Aldis is comfortable in their own skin.  As a church member in your local church….. are you?

Sometimes sad:

It is sad when a church – that is an Aldis –  is lustfully trying to be the Wal-mart.  It is sad because we are not accepting who God has called us to be or who we are in Christ.  AND, this is the saddest part…..  often this church will do whatever is necessary to please the consumer.  This is not only sad, it is dangerous! Sad and dangerous because the church regularly translates into church consumerism. Which regularly translates into “watering down” God’s Word to make it acceptable and palatable to as many people as possible.

I Timothy 3-4

Paul, having instructed Timothy that Gods Word is God breathed and all the implications of that truth, then charges Timothy to “Preach The Word….”. As a part of that charge, Paul goes on to say:

For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

(2 Timothy 4:3-5 ESV)

You see, what you see in churches today who have bailed on God’s Word regarding: sexual purity, marriage, family, parenting, and on and on….  is not so much about those issues. Drill down deeper than the surface issues and you will find a church or individual members and or pastors who no longer believe God’s Word is the Authority.

When God’s Word is no longer the Authority – the pastors and churches will cave to the pressures of people, fear of man, and consumerism.

You do not want consumerism to drive your church! 

A Long Way Around The Block:

Sorry, I took you a long way around the block to “get the mail”. But, here is my main point. What is your conviction about YOUR local church and about God’s Word in that local church? Is there ANYTHING more needed in the consumer driven culture that we live in than the Word of God?!? ANYTHING?

Actually, my friend, I do believe we are in the consumer driven church mess that we are in BECAUSE we have pushed God’s Word to the perimeter of church life.  No, I am not saying the Word is not read! OR that the word is not preached. I am saying in the consumer driven church the Word is used to “prop” up a sermon rather than “drive” the sermon. The Word becomes secondary rather than primary. Perimeter rather than at the Core.

3 things to consider:

1.)  Is the Word of God the priority in your church?  (This does not mean that the Word is read or even preached.  It, means…is the conviction that Gods Word is GODS Word permeating into the life of the church?)

2.)  Is the Word of God the authority in your church?  (All of us have an authority! Opinions or what you picked up from the professor in college or…….?)  If the Word is not your authority, what is?

3.)  Is the Word of God enough in your church?  (I am not saying other things (i.e.programs and ministries) are not important, but even other things must be built on the Word of God itself.)

 

 

Looking for a church? 4 simple things to consider….

typewriter

The grass withers,

The flower fades,

But the Word of the Lord remains forever

Isaiah 40:8

I have a friend that likes to ask people who visit the church I belong to (Trinity CC): What are you looking for in a church? Whether we realize it or not we all have an answer to that question. We might not even be looking for a church, and yet, we still have an answer to that question.

Maybe it’s:

  • trendy music
  • a cool worship leader with a “tight” band
  • high octane youth group
  • a children’s program that competes with Nickelodeon
  • the look of the building
  • convenient parking
  • a relevant pastor
  • Small – home groups
  • programs
  • vision
  • charismatic
  • non charismatic
  • dynamic preaching
  • creativity
  • missional
  • and on and on and on it goes.

Jonathan Leeman, in his outstanding book Reverberation says: “Are any of these things bad? Not at all. Most are fine or even good. The question is, Where are we placing our confidence?”

I want to re-iterate what J. Leeman said – these are not bad things!  Who doesn’t want relevant sermons, or a good band?!? BUT…..Where are we placing our confidence?

It seems to me that the church today is placing less and less of its confidence where we ought……in the Word of God. The result of a misplaced confidence is concerning.

 4 things to look for in a church:

1.) Does the Word of God drive the church in all of its ministries?

The Word of God must be central to all the church does.  The Word must drive.  This is much more than just reading scripture or preaching from a passage of the Bible.  It is the DNA of the church that hungers for the Word and gladly submits to God’s Word.  So, what is driving the church? What or who is in the drivers seat?

2.)  Due to the above, does the church have a conviction about preaching God’s Word?

We are in and seem to be headed for difficult days!  Does your church preach God’s Word, without apology, and with conviction? If God’s Word is our confidence, then we should not be shy in our preaching and proclamation of it! The goal is not to be politically correct, the goal is to be biblically correct.

Pastors, the most loving thing you can do for your congregation is to preach the Word.

I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.

(2 Timothy 4:1-5 ESV)

 3.) Is the church God centered or man centered?

Who is at the center?  You?  Me? A pastor? Dynamic youth leader? a hard working deacon? or a long term member? When we make the church to be primarily about man, we miss out on the very reason we exist as a church.  Why does the church exist? We exist, first and foremost, for the worship of God!  ALL else falls into place UNDER this ultimate and primary purpose.

Have you noticed the Word of God is…..  a God centered book?

4.)  Does the church have a gospel culture?

What is a “gospel culture”?

It is one thing to “know” about the gospel.  Anyone can know the gospel factually. One can even share the gospel with others.  BUT, is the gospel functioning in the life of the church? Does the gospel permeate down into all the ministries of the church? The gospel is the focal point of the Word of God, oh that it would be the focal point of the church!

To read further about what the gospel is click here.

I hope you have found a good church where you love to worship God! There is no perfect church! The church I have the privilege of pastoring is always seeking to grow and is always needing to grow in the above!  We have NOT arrived, no church has!

If you are lacking in conviction about these 4 questions above, pray, and ask God to help you to grow.

Or, if you do have a conviction, and you see ways in which your church is lacking in the above….. Get involved! God has given you a passion for the above for a reason. Get involved and help your church to grow in the 4 areas listed above.

 

Is there more than these 4 things to look for in a church? Sure. But, I hope these are at the core of your heart if you are currently looking for a church to call home.