God’s Word is Important, But…
Recently, I read a article about the church today. The article went into great detail about churches that are caught up in today’s feel-good mentality to the exclusion of God’s Word. The article went on to criticize up-beat music, topical preaching and a number of other things in a way that typifies a legalistic religious perspective. What do I mean by that statement?
The article focused on expository preaching and teaching as the only way that God’s Word should be taught with little emphasis on the “Great Commission”. I have observed the results of this mentality in a number of situations and from past experience I can say for sure that expository teaching can, and often does, lead to a legalistic view of others, deafness to God’s Word and an arrogant, elitist, isolationist lifestyle. Today’s ultra-conservative “evangelical” churches are, for the most part, not evangelical at all but monoliths of pharisaical activity that does not display the love of God to those who are perishing. Jesus was a master at calling those in darkness out of that darkness without condemning them but also without embracing the sin in which they were entangled. To do this Jesus relied on God’s Word in the power of the Holy Spirit exclusively. How many times in the gospels do we hear Jesus speak the phrases “Your sins are forgiven” or “Go and sin no more.”? Continue reading
How to Deal with Temptation
Satan Uses Three Avenues!
Today we’ll look at how to deal with temptation. We’ll focus on the temptation of Jesus and how Satan used the same methods he used in the Garden of Eden to temp Jesus. How did Jesus handle the same kind of temptations that caused Adam and Eve to fall into sin? Continue reading
Catch for us the Foxes; It’s The Little Things!
Recently my daughter posted her “Snow Day Activity” on Facebook and it was the scripture in Song of Solomon 2:15. Today I was reading D.L. Moody’s book “The Overcoming Life” (highly recommended) and what did he write about? Song of Solomon 2:15. So I figured that the “Thought of the Day” should be about what that scripture represents to me. Some would disagree theologically but D.L. Moody and I are right in sync so Here we go! Continue reading
Ephesus and Pergamum
In a Tale of Two Churches we’ll talk about two churches in the book of Revelation. The Church at Ephesus (Rev 2:1-7) and the Church a Pergamum (Rev 2:12-17). These two churches operated in completely different methods but had two things in common. They both had to deal with the Nicolaitans yet in their respective response were both displeasing to the Lord thus resting under the same sentence; “Repent or I’m coming to remove your lampstand”.
Let’s begin with the scriptures from Revelation. Continue reading
Doubt In God’s Word is Selfish
Over the years God has shown me that all sin begins with doubting God’s Word. But the doubt we have for what God has said begins with the much deeper and insidious root of selfishness. When we violate God’s Word we also disrupt God’s Order in our life. We’ll start and finish with the same passage but the focus will be on the “Fall of Man” in Genesis.
Galatians 6:7-9 “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”
The Sin of the Way It’s Always Been!
I never cease to be amazed at the power of tradition. No matter how ineffective a ministry has been it can become a tradition or set of traditions that hold people captive with almost mystical power. When you look at the traditions of of the church you see ministries that have been built around programs which have not born fruit for decades. Is it any wonder that many if not most churches are slowly dying on the vine? Is it any wonder that the church of Jesus Christ is no longer the “salt of the earth”?
Having been involved in many churches over the decades one of the things I can say with confidence is that I have never seen a church split over Biblical doctrine. In every case it is over things that simply do not have Biblical precedence and, even more importantly, are rooted in the personal preference of people who have been in the church for a long time. That’s the way it’s always been and we have to keep it that way! The traditions of man!
Traditions have become the inane, anachronistic center of attention in many, many churches.
Fulfilling the Great Commission!
One of the things that has never struck me a quite right is the old notion of inviting someone to church. Recently, I wrote an article on”Fulfilling the Great Commission” and it suddenly dawned on me to as why that old adage “invite someone to church” has never set well in my spirit. The reason is quite simple. Inviting someone to church is not fulfilling the “great commission” but committing the “great cop-out”. It is so much easier to invite someone to church because the sharing of the gospel then rests on the shoulders of the pastor who is trained to to do that! Right! Wrong! The last command that Jesus gave us before ascending into heaven was quite clear. Here it is:
Matthew 28:18-20 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”
What Proceeds out of the Mouth Defiles the Man
The study today is from Mark 7:1-23. (the parallel account is in Matthew 15:1-20). The anchor verses are Mark 7:20-23.
Mark 7:20-23 “And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man.21For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries,22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as well as deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness.23All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.” Parallel passage in Matthew 15:1-20.
One of the things that we believers must learn how to do is meter what comes out of our mouth. It is clear from the scripture in Mark that Jesus was talking to the disciples about what was in the hearts of the Pharisees. Jesus response was directly addressing the fact that the Pharisees were hung up on the traditions of man and their intent was to controlling others using traditions through verbal coercion. The Lord not only directly confronted the heart of the Pharisees (Mark 7:5-8) but He expanded on it in in a way that is meaningful to believers (Mark 7:20-23). Continue reading
The Idol of Education
Over the years I have come to realize that most churches are completely ineffective at ministering the gospel of Christ. My father was as pastor and his father was a pastor before him. I have been in small churches and large churches but one common theme is that the pastors are highly educated but the people are ineffective at the ministry. One of the most disheartening things that I have learned over the years is that many believers worship “The Idol of Education”!
The Worship of The Almighty Education
Over the centuries, actually millennium, those who were formally educated have ruled over those who were not formally educated . A classic example of this is the patricians and the plebeians of the Roman Empire. Panem et circenses (Latin for bread and games), were believed to be the way to keep the uneducated plebs, as they became known, happy. Ultimately the Empire could not stand because they could not afford to pay the army and started using salt for pay (i.e. salaries) as well as the fact that they could no longer afford the bread and games to keep the plebs satisfied. In the end the worlds greatest Empire imploded. Continue reading
The Challenges of Love; The Commands of Caring!
The Backdrop of Denial
Following the Lord’s Supper, Jesus and the disciples went to the Mount of Olives where Jesus told the disciples that they would fall away (Matthew 26:26-34). He used the scripture in Zechariah13:7 to paint of picture of how the shepherd would be struck down and the sheep would scatter. Peter, still having a great deal of confidence in his own strength, proclaimed that he would never fall away. Jesus startled Peter by telling him that he would deny the Jesus three times before the rooster crowed.
Later in the Garden of Gethsemane Peter and the disciples would be found sleeping three times. Peter, even then, the Lord had not gotten his attention. When Jesus was betrayed, Peter rose up and struck the ear of the slave of the high priest which Jesus healed (Matthew 26:51, Luke 22:50-51). Peter then followed them back to the courtyard of Caiaphas the high priest. At some point someone recognized Peter and ultimately he denied knowing Jesus three times (Matthew 26:69-75). When the rooster crowed, Peter remembered Jesus’ words and went out and wept bitterly.