How Pop-Evangelicals Undermine God in Sanctification

9 11 2006

tire-slash1.jpgI have found that I have personally become quite exercised about some of the various methods and practices that are employed within the popular American evangelical community. Sometimes I have, through introspection, wondered if my offense was based upon my preference and these evangelicals’ divergent view of ministry. In other words, I wondered if my issue was chiefly my offense or God’s.

So in effort to have clean hands, a clear conscience and pure motives I examined this, and tried to understand what in the world contemporary evangelicalism is doing. And you know what? I’m offended. But now more than ever I feel that my offense is rooted in the attack upon God’s method for accomplishing his own end.

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Is Mr Rogers the NT model for preachers?

31 10 2006

mr-rogers.jpgOn Sunday night my favorite Senior Pastor exhorted the flock here at Omaha Bible Church to be demanding of their pastors. In our study of 2 Timothy we are learning about specific non-negotiables for the pastoral ministry.

In chapter 2 pastors are commanded to ‘be strong in the grace of the Lord Jesus’. Pat took this opportunity to question what strong does and does not look like. In typical form Pat (who previously exhorted preachers to look less like Richard Simmons and more like Arnold Schwarzenegger) contended that preachers should be noted for strength and conviction rather than a pasted smile, polyester zip up sweater, theological puppet shows (drama), while always being concerned with being everyone’s friend and calling everyone and everything ‘special’. Well this quote aside Sunday night was an encouraging sermon within a great study on an awesome book, so therefore, consider it recommended.

Another killer quote: “Daintiness would slur a sermon just as a pink ribbon would make a cannon appear rediculus”

> listen > download

note: before anyone gets loose with the ‘but Mr. Rogers was a decorated war hero with 200 confirmed kills in Korea’ comments, please read this. Fred was not a war hero, he was a nice guy who wore sweaters and did puppet shows. But I did read somewhere that Rick Warren was a Navy Seal…(joking!)





hymns for the doctrinally challenged

26 10 2006

This is funny.

I had a similar thought as I heard one of the most man-centered and man-exalting sermons in my life. What did they have the nerve to close the service with?….that’s right, “How Great Thou Art”…it really should have been, “How Great I art”…or whatever you do with ‘art’ when it refers to the first person in 17th Century Old English J

..
(ht: Gavin Brown)





CT article on John Stott & Evangelism

18 10 2006

john-stott.jpgChristianity Today has an interview online with John Stott. Stott has some great comments and then some interesting and rather peculiar statements as well. See if you pick up on them.





Tickle Me Evangelical!!

26 05 2006

ooohhh-that-tickles.jpg

Recently I was at a garage sale with my children when I was impacted by a sobering and effective illustration. My two-old daughter pulled a stuffed animal out of the “10 cent pile” and was calling me with tremendous excitement. She had stumbled upon a used Tickle Me Elmo doll. Perhaps you remember the craze that surrounded this doll a few years back as parents stormed the toy stores in effort to secure the prized Christimas gift. Elmo was indeed the thing at one point. But now, where is he? He sits at the bottom of box ( a discount box no less) in a garage sale in Omaha, Nebraska.

As I walked up to the garage sale lady with my dime in hand to purchase the prized find, I was struck with the similarity between the consumer mentality of the evangelical church and that of the world. It seems as though evangelicals are just as caught up riding various waves that come along as their worldly cousins.

From The Prayer of Jabez, to The Passion of the Christ, to Promise Keepers, to promoting the Republican right, to Purpose Driven Life, and now The DaVinci Code, evangelicals seem to be painfully addicted surfing various and sundry cultural waves. Even the pop-evangelical pope Rick Warren boasts that you must be adept at “surfing spiritual waves”. But is this surfing distracting and distorting the Christian purpose and message? Or even worse, are evangelicals surfing waves that bring them further and further away from the shore of truth and more and more into the choppy waters inhabited by demonic sharks?

truth-extraction.jpgFor the second straight year, while attending the Shepherds’ Conference at Grace Church, I was able (forced) to attend service at Warren’s Saddleback church. In listening to Warren talk I was so utterly impressed with the theological content of his message. Some say that Warren ignores theology, I say they are wrong, he does teach theology, it is just heretical! I heard Warren tell me and thousands of others that Jesus died for me to show me how good I am. I heard him tell me that it was not important how many days it took God to create the earth. I heard him tell me that I was the reason for God creating the earth. His statements were hitting me in the side of the head like bricks in light of Ephesians 1 & 2 which tell me that God does everything for his own pleasure and exaltation. And that my sin rendered me helplessly dead and unable to extricate myself from my miserable and disgraceful plight! However, when I looked around at those present, they were not cross checking his paraphrased translations with the Bible, instead they were sitting in an almost euphoric glee as Warren masterfully tickled their ears with his soft words.

Why?

Evangelicals are distracted, deceived and disinterested.

All of the “stuff” has distracted evangelicals from his job. The Satanic spam comes fast and furious and unfortunately it is working. Churchianity is distracted; wandering down paths it should not be while avoiding the path brings the good news of Christ. It would not even know the gospel to even defend it! Justification is seen as some dusty old doctrine that Calvin or somebody made up instead the truth by which the church stands or falls. And you know what? Satan loves it. It is so demonically becoming to distract, blur and otherwise deceive the professing followers of God from their mission.

Why can’t we just be content with the Bible and its shameless exaltation of the crucified messiah? Why can’t we just have our hearts stirred by the grace that brought in and through the gospel? Why can’t we just study God’s attributes and by so utterly amazed by his gracious stooping to rescue us from ourselves? Why can’t we just join the angels in their holy befuddlement in view of grace?

It is because there is a regrettable pursuit of “spiritual elmos” rather than the glory of Christ. It is more flattering to be sitting in the crowd and be told how wonderful you are by the mouth of a well respected author than it is to be told how disgustingly sinful you are via the mouth of God in the Scriptures.

It is time to shake evangelicalism and let the chaff go lest we find ourselves in a fad museum with the other spiritual Elmos. As John MacArthur once said concerning such fads, “they are lessons in obsoleteness!” May God be pleased to resuscitate evangelicalism from its stupor and use it for his glory.





Think of Him as God…or responding to the preaching of an effeminate Jesus

24 05 2006

broken-glass.jpgI can remember preaching at a local prison and upon hearing my message on the glory of Christ one of the inmates remarked that it seemed as though I was talking about a different Jesus. It was as if this Jesus was stronger than the one he was familiar with. Regrettably this concept of a weak Jesus is not limited to a prison, but pervades much of the contemporary understanding of who Christ is and what he does.

This is not surprising as much of American theology comes not from the biblical presentation of Christ but rather from the historic drawings of a weak, casper milktoast, effeminate Jesus who is some sort of divine doormat; helplessly ignored and trampled upon. A contemporary example of an auxiliary to this is the satirical portrayal of evangelicals through the character Ned Flanders in The Simpsons.

Whether it is Hollywood, Catholic paintings, Feminist restructuring, weak pastors/leaders or whatever, the source of the undermining of Jesus’ power is opposed to Christ…one may rightly say it is anti-Christ. It is Satan’s job to be an adversary to the mission and agenda of Christ, by attacking his person and work. It is the church’s job to promote and defend his person and work as revealed in the Scriptures.flanders.jpg

Instead of painting Jesus as a divine doormat who’s weakness is expressed in his inability to gain followers we should proclaim a powerful Jesus who arrests enemies and makes them his followers. How often do we hear of in the context of evangelism of Jesus knocking on your heart, hoping you’ll open the door…Can’t you can just see the Son of God biting his fingernails with anxiety over your impending decision. How can anyone pray or worship a god who is just like them?![…wait a minute…that is another post for another time– ;-D]

I don’t get the idea that Jesus was unable to get words in or to get his point across. He seems to have regularly had the floor during his public ministry and this ministry was in large part confrontational with the result being anger by some, conviction and amazement by others.

Consider the following scenes and consider his power, control and supremacy:

  • He endures all of Satan’s demonic artillery in the form of temptation and then commands him to flee…which the devil obeys. (Matt. 4.1-11)
  • He commands the wind and sea to be still…and it obeys. (Mk. 4.39)
  • He casts out demons. (Matt. 8.24-34)
  • He marches into the temple and turns over all of the tables while chasing out the religious hypocrites with a scourge of cords! (Jn. 2.12-21)
  • His sermon sound bytes are propositional and end in exclamation points!! (Matt. 3.2; 4.17; 23.15; 23.33)
  • He speaks and the galley of soldiers falls flat on their backs. (Jn. 18.5-6)
  • He answers the most powerful men in the region with confidence and without flinching. (Jn. 18.20-23; 33-38)
  • He suffers in prayer under the weight of divine wrath, even pleading with his Father in the shadow of Gethsemene. (Matt. 26.36-45)
  • He marches to Calvary to give up his own life for satisfaction of divine wrath in the place of sinners. (Matt. 27.32-34).
  • He was self-less upon the cross even crying out for others and pleading with a criminal.(Lk. 23.34; 42-43)
  • He cared for his earthly mother while paying her eternal debt. (Jn. 19.26-27)
  • He proclaimed with great power that the work was indeed finished. (Jn. 19.30)
  • He gave up his own life. (Lk. 23.46)
  • He raised himself from the dead. (Jn. 2.19; 10.17-18)
  • He sits in heaven as the great High Priest for the saints, making intercession for them. (Heb. 7.25-28)
  • His redemption is aggressively and mercifully applied through the gracious work of the Holy Spirit.(Heb. 2.16) (consider that this greek word translated help is also used in Acts 16.19 and translated “seized” and in Acts 18.17 it is translated “took hold of” in reference to the apprehension prior to Sosthenes’ public beating!)….The saving Sherriff arrests lawbreakers and applies divine grace (Jn. 6.44).
  • He will come again in power to judge and destroy opposition, once and for all. (Rev. 20.11-15; 2 Thess. 1.7-10)
  • He is described as one who’s tongue is like a “sharp two-edged sword and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Rev. 1.16).
  • At the Second Coming, He will kill his opposition with his sword, which comes from his mouth (Rev. 19.21).

I love this Jesus! This is the Jesus who I can worship, who is powerful and good. It is him that is precious! (1 Pet. 2.7)

At the very least we who name the name of Jesus Christ must start by first having our minds informed and renewed by Scriptural Revelation rather than the inaccurate caricature that prevails in our culture. In so doing, we must also, as faithful stewards of Christ, proclaim this truth to a misinformed world and church that God might vindicate his honor and glorify his son through the accurate depiction of Jesus and if he is pleased, gracious application of his redemption to their lives.

Let’s pray to a powerful God who has a powerful Son who does powerful work in this world. After all, isn’t the “different-ness” of God (from you and I) one of his most appealing aspects?!!!

This is to be done without prideful condescension, but with Christ like tenderness and passion, maintaining a fidelity to the truth and the glory of God, knowing all the while that it is the grace of God that any (including sinners like you and me!) receive the biblical Jesus and are impressed with him. May God be pleased to impress many more hearts with the infinite glory and delight of knowing Jesus Christ.