Newslinks 08/15/10

August 15, 2010 at 7:46 pm | Posted in Newslinks | Leave a comment
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Sunday’s Newslinks brought to you by At Ease Tees

Obama backs ‘gay’ group at U.N.
A homosexual activist group has side-stepped normal procedures to gain a non-government organization status at the United Nations.

GOP: Obama developing ‘backdoor amnesty plan’
The Obama administration is considering ways it could go around lawmakers to let illegal immigrants stay in the United States, according to an agency memo.

Another Democrat facing ethics charges
A second House Democrat, Rep. Maxine Waters of California, could be facing an ethics trial this fall, further complicating the midterm election outlook for the party as it battles to hold onto its majority.

Amish communities growing rapidly
A new study estimates the number of Amish in North America has doubled since 1992 and increased nearly 10 percent in the past two years alone.

Baptist World Alliance Confirms New President
Virginia native John Upton was elected Saturday to lead the Baptist World Alliance as its new president. The long-time Baptist succeeds David Coffey of the United Kingdom. Continue Reading Newslinks 08/15/10…

The church and the Prince

June 1, 2009 at 3:05 pm | Posted in Christianity | 1 Comment
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I bet at least one of you is wondering about the title. What prince am I talking about? Well, it’s not the Prince that used to be a symbol. It’s also not the Prince of any nation led by royalty. The Prince that I want to talk about is a book by Niccolò Machiavelli. I’ve been reading a book by Dr. Benjamin Wiker called Ten Books That Screwed Up the World, and Five Others That Didn’t Help. In this book, Dr. Wiker talks about various books that have had an extremely negative influence on the thinking and actions of the generations that followed them. The first book that Dr. Wiker talks about is The Prince.

 I am shocked by how much influence the books have had, but reading about The Prince brought me to some thoughts about the church that I wanted to toss out for discussion. The book says that everyone understands that the honest and faithful leader is laudable and praiseworthy. Everyone understands that it is best to be honest and faithful, but Machiavelli questions whether or not the honest leaders are successful ones. The premise of The Prince is that a leader needs only to look pious, holy, and noble. The leaders, while looking like leaders are expected to look, are then told that they can use whatever means necessary to keep themselves in power. Machiavelli says that “goodness” is whatever the ruler does to maintain his rule. He says that being good is something to be tossed aside but appearing good is to be pursued. A prince doesn’t keep his word, but instead practices deception and that is what brings the most successful results.

 Unfortunately, this is in direct opposition to Christian beliefs. Sadly, this thought pattern has shown itself in even religious institutions. While it may not be to the point that Machiavelli encouraged in his book, it made me wonder about some of the basic premises. For instance, Machiavelli says that it is not necessary for leaders to be righteous, holy, noble, or honest as long as they look that way. It is this thought that started me thinking about the church.

 It seems to me that this is one of the founding ideas of the modern Christian church. It seems that the modern church is more concerned with looking holy, righteous, noble and honest, all the while acting like the world and doing whatever they want. They present a façade of what Christianity should be while using whatever means necessary to get what they want. Look at some of the examples we have nowadays. Joel Osteen is the pastor of a “megachurch” in Houston. He is one of the most well known pastors in America and around the world. Many, many people talk about how they love his “sermons” and how he is a great example of Christianity. But what’s the true measure of Christianity? Is it what we think a Christian is, or is there another standard? I believe that there is a much higher standard than what we set for our “leaders”. If someone looks pious and acts that way, does that make them a Christian? If they are soft-spoken and do good things, are they necessarily a Christian? Or, is it an instance of The Prince influencing the church? Does it matter how a “pastor” looks and acts if they fail to preach the truth? Now, before you think I’m just attacking Joel Osteen, listen to what he preaches. A few months ago, Mr. Osteen preached to his 50, 000 plus congregation that he doesn’t eat pepperoni or shrimp because it was something that the Jews were told not to in Leviticus. What does this have to do with the New Testament or the gospel? Does this not sound like the Judaizers that Paul faced in Galatia? What purpose would keeping the Levitical laws have for someone who believes in Christ? The Levitical laws no longer apply to Christians! The moral law (Ten Commandments) still does because Jesus didn’t abolish that law; He fulfilled it (Matthew 5:17).

 How about other examples? What about the prosperity gospel “preachers”? They go around the world “preaching” prosperity and blessing to those who will listen, but to what end? They act piously and righteously (often touting their piousness) but what they preach isn’t found in the gospel. Not only that, there are some statistics that show that the people who follow these false gospel preachers are some of the poorest people. What does this say about their gospel? The influence of The Prince is evident here. In the “prosperity” circles, it’s all about chasing the blessing and gaining God’s favor. Those who preach the prosperity gospel will say that it’s not about money only. They will talk about how they want “believers” to regain the “authority” they lost and live like Christians are supposed to live. If it’s not about money, then why do all of their messages revolve around money? If it’s not about money, then why do they all have to have private jets, million dollar mansions, and designer suits? Why do they constantly talk about “sowing and reaping” and asking their followers to give money so they can gain God’s blessing for their lives? They parade around and shout and yell and get red-faced as they “preach” their “message” with “authority” but the Bible says that the love of money is the root of all evil (1 Timothy 6:10). Machiavelli would be proud. They aren’t killing anyone to keep themselves in the position of power that they have, but they are using deception to get exactly what they want and looking as pious, righteous, holy, and noble while doing so.

 What about the whole conflagration with Miss California? Carrie Prejean has been held up as a role model for Christians (young women especially). She talks about her faith and when she answered the question Perez Hilton asked, she was lauded as a wonderful example of Christianity. Is this true? Think about this for a minute. Here is a “Christian” woman parading around IN A BIKINI!!! What kind of example is she setting? So she thinks that marriage is between a man and a woman. That’s great, but is she a role model? I will not have my daughter doing what she does…ever. The bible makes clear statements about how women (and men) should dress modestly (1 Timothy 2:8-9). How can you be modest when your body is almost totally uncovered? How does this reflect Christianity? Is it because she claims to be a Christian or thinks that marriage is between a man and a woman that she is a Christian? I think that it’s great that she believes in traditional marriage, but that alone doesn’t make here a Christian. She goes to a church, but that doesn’t make her a Christian either. She seems to be using Christianity to forward her career. She looks and sounds pious, but where is the fruit? If she understands what the bible says and was taught by people who understand the bible, then she should know that what she wears and how she presents herself does not line up with Christianity. She would know that parading around in a bikini on a stage in front of millions of men (and women) could likely cause many of those watching to sin by lusting after her. Now, I understand that they could lust after her even if she dressed modestly, but do they need help? What really irks me is that she seems to have no concern or care for what she’s doing. She’s basically said that she doesn’t care if people don’t agree with what she’s doing, she’s a Christian and she’s going to continue to model and do pageants. Machiavelli would be proud.

 Watching what is going on in the church and seeing how so many people call themselves Christians and then do whatever they want, I can’t help but wonder how small the true church is. I can’t help but think about the parable of the wheat and the tares. It seems that the church is full of weeds. There are a number of people who look like wheat, but they have no fruit. The new game for the church is to see how quickly you can start a church, fill the seats, and then build your new buildings. Of course, this doesn’t happen when you preach the true gospel. To get this to happen, to build a “megachurch”, you have to compromise the gospel. You have to preach what people what to hear to keep them comfortable. You have to have programs that help people to feel like they are doing something good and “reaching out” to others. If you have this, then you’re off to a good start. Unfortunately (in these churches), it’s not the gospel that saves. Instead, it’s the emotional experience that people have and then spend the rest of their lives creating. I have said this before but I still can’t help wondering how you can grow a “megachurch” and preach the true gospel. The bible itself says that people will hate the message of the true gospel. If people are going to hate that message, how likely is it that you’re going to have thousands upon thousands to fill a former sports arena?  If you really want to see the effects of the gospel clearly, look outside the US.

 The church of America today (and to a large extent the rest of the world) is playing with the principles found in Niccolò Machiavelli’s The Prince. They strive to build a convincing façade of holiness, righteousness, and piety while doing everything that they can to fill and grow their churches (even if it is directly against the scriptures they are supposed to uphold). Is this what Christianity is? Nope. Christianity is about recognizing that you are a wretched sinner and that you have been saved by the grace of God. It is about Jesus Christ taking the punishment for your sins (crimes against God and His law) and you being released. It is then a life of striving to be an example of Christ on earth. It means that you repent of your sins as soon as they are committed and share the truth of the gospel. This is Christianity. It is not about being perfect, it is about striving for perfection while understanding that you will need God’s grace daily for the sins that you still commit. To those who profess and play up their “Christianity” for the public eye and to gain anything for themselves (whether it be money, congregants, or anything else) you need to stop. You are doing nothing other than making a mockery of my Lord and Savior…

Jesus has left the building

April 14, 2008 at 10:42 am | Posted in Christianity | 2 Comments
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I don’t watch American Idol (gasp!!). I may be one of the eight or so people that don’t. I don’t have any desire to watch it. But I do hear about what happens on the show from time to time. What they did last week was blasphemous but typical of much of the programming that’s on TV today.

Last week was the “Idol gives back” week. They had all of their events and special guests to help them raise money for those in need (some of the money goes to support abortion too…). The theme for the week was “inspiration” and the remaining idols were to pick a song that inspires them. Much of the music selected was the “I’m ok, you’re ok, we’re all ok and we feel good” stuff. One idol sang about how we’re all “innocent” (that’s not true according to scripture!). The entire show was spent talking about how we could help those in need and we can lift man out of poverty, with absolutely nothing about God. Then for the big finale, they decided to sing, “Shout to the Lord“. You may be saying, “Well, what’s wrong with that? Aren’t you a Christian? Shouldn’t that be encouraging to you?” Yes. It should be encouraging, but it wasn’t. There was something different about the song than I remember it. They changed some of the lyrics and even removed a few lines. What did they change? Here is the first few lines of “Shout to the Lord” from American Idol:

My shepherd, my savior

Lord there is none like you

All of my days, I want to praise

The wonders of your mighty love

As you read that, if you know the lyrics, you’ll see something is missing. Well, not something, Someone. Here are the original lyrics:

My Jesus, my Savior

Lord there is none like you

All of my days, I want to praise

The wonders of your mighty love

They took Jesus out of the song! Why? Why is it His Name that offends people so much? Now, they did sing it again with the correct lyrics, but this entire scenario got me to thinking. People talk about God all the time, although they rarely mean the God of the Bible. Even among Christians, when God is talked about, it is often not the God of the Bible. It is an image of God that they have created for themselves.

In a way, I’m not surprised that this happened on American Idol. The show has absolutely nothing of Christianity in it. That’s made clear by how the “judges” treat those who sing a song that actually has Christian value. What does surprise me is that in churches across America today, Jesus has left the building. A number of churches (many of them either “seeker sensitive” or “emergent”) are removing the cross from their churches. The reason it’s being removed is that they are concerned that it might offend someone!! That’s what scripture says it’s supposed to do!! The cross is offensive to those that don’t believe! It shows them that they are sinners and that they are responsible for the death of the one truly innocent man. By removing the cross and other things that might be offensive to the non-Christians, you are starting down a slippery slope. Not having a physical cross is debatable, but the physical cross isn’t the only thing that has been removed. I’ve spoken on this before and it continues to grow in popularity in churches across the nation. Pastors and leadership in our churches continue to remove Jesus from every aspect of “church”. They no longer talk about the cross. They’ve stopped talking about sin, judgment, and hell. They have removed the power of God for salvation. They have not just removed the “offensive” cross; they’ve begun to remove everything that MIGHT be offensive to someone. In the end, they have made “church” more of a club or social gathering instead of what it’s supposed to be.

Because they’ve removed the cross, because they’ve stopped talking about sin, judgment, and hell, because they no longer say anything that might offend someone they’ve had to replace it with something else. Without the cross and the truth of eternal damnation, they have had to build a completely different religion based on a “God” that doesn’t exist and preaching a message that lulls people into a false sense of security with nothing but twisted scriptures and platitudes holding their belief system together. This is how the modern gospel started. We rarely hear about the real gospel anymore. Instead, we hear about how God loves us. We hear about how He wants to dote on us and would never harm one of His kids. We hear about how He wants us to “prosper” and bless our socks off. Really? He does? All of this “new” gospel is not new at all. It’s the same thing that Satan’s been using from the beginning to tempt people and lead them away from God. How many poor Christians do you know? How many believers are struggling with finances? Are they all in that position because they don’t have enough faith or because they are “out of God’s will”? Or is there something more to it?

Not only have preachers begun preaching something other than the cross, they’ve mixed the tenets of other religions in with the Christian faith to make a religion suitable for themselves. Some have added things like yoga and Eastern mysticism to their beliefs. They are adding Eastern meditation to their daily routine. This method of meditation causes you to “empty your mind”. That’s not scriptural, but many are doing it. Others have added “New Age” beliefs to Christianity. They are talking about “God-consciousness” or “Christ-consciousness”. They are talking about how we all have “God” in us. How we can achieve “synchronicity” with “God” and be on the same level with “Him”. We have removed the fear of God from our preaching and our way of life. We have moved away from the truth of the Word of God and into a big melting pot of lies, trying to mold a golden calf that we feel comfortable worshipping without any conviction about doing wrong or having our sins weigh on us to the point that we cry out to the true God for forgiveness and repent.

The body of Christ exists ultimately to tell others the truth of what’s to come. We are supposed to be telling others about how Jesus is coming back to judge the world in righteousness and how if they are caught in their sins they will find themselves in hell. We are to tell them how they are storing up the wrath of God for the Day of Judgment and that they will have to stand before Him and give an account for every idle word they’ve spoken (Matt. 12:36). They will have no excuse for their disbelief and will not be able to just “talk to God about it”. By the time they stand before God, it will be too late. We are supposed to be telling them that they are not promised tomorrow and that the only way that they can know they will go to heaven is to recognize that they are a sinner, repent of those sins, and put their complete faith in Jesus Christ.

 

Sadly, we’re not telling people this. We’re not redeeming our time like we should be. We are spending days and weeks with people, laughing and joking, but we don’t tell them the truth that they need. They could die tomorrow and we would be guilty of comforting someone straight into hell. Their blood will be on our hands. What will you say to God for all the souls that you didn’t tell the truth of the gospel and are now in hell because they died without Christ?

If we are truly Christians, then we will stop trying to build bigger churches, run programs, and spend our time and money entertaining people. If we’re truly Christians, we’ll take that time and money and invest it into the lives of men, women, and children that need the truth of the gospel. We’ll put it into ministries that are helping others instead of doing our own thing. We’ll start to make the impact on their lives that Christ has made on ours. We’ll start being Christians…

Your thoughts?


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