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Monday
Mar062017

Why Do We Lose Them?

I think people leave churches because there is no substance to their teaching.

The Barna group found some interesting data on this.

A recent study by the Barna Group found that almost 60 percent of Christian young people ages 15 to 29 have distanced themselves from active involvement in church, CBN News reports. David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group, says a few reasons behind the mass exodus include young people finding churches "shallow," feeling that God is missing from services, and feeling that church is not a safe place to express doubts. He added that in many cases, churches have failed to equip young people to live "in but not of" the world. "[Young people] tell us that ... Christianity has become so hip, so watered-down, so about entertainment -- and they're looking for something of more substance," Kinnaman said.

We have intellectualized the gospel so much that people wonder if you need God to be at the center of church anymore.  After all, if we are talking social issues, and how to love your neighbor most of time, why is God needed?  Most conservative political rallies can talk values.

When you read the Book of Acts, one of the distinctive characteristics is that the early church believed in miracles, healings, and God doing some extraordinary things. I know some groups today make some outlandish claims of prophecy that is not based upon scripture. However, that should never discourage us to believe in God who is still supernatural and still involved in answering our prayers, regardless of how impossible our requests may seem.  As you read the Book of Acts you quickly note that God is supernatural and He is influencing those early believers who believed in Him, with miracles.  It has been a trend for some time where Evangelical believers aren’t accepting miracles but are instead opting out of the supernatural and turning to more of the values of Christianity. It is easier for leaders to teach people on values than it is to look for miracles, since it is more difficult to assure an outcome.  Yet the early church believed God for miracles as indicated by this example of Peter going into the temple.   

Acts 3:6 “But Peter said, "I don't have any silver or gold for you. But I'll give you what I have. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, get up and walk!"

These early disciples believed God could do miracles and exercised their faith in believing God for a miraculous outcome. Are we as quick to say as Peter did, “silver and gold I do not have,” but in the name of Jesus we believe for a miracle?

I am suggesting that if our churches were more focused on the supernatural would the young people who think church is boring and irrelevant be more interested?  The supernatural events in the Apostles’ day either created a riot or revival as you read about their stories in the Book of Acts.

Now, I am not hyping you up to thinking you can walk on water, but I am concerned that we have been missing an ingredient when it comes to understanding God among us. If God dwells among us, then what part of impossible is not possible?

Ephesians 3:17

So that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love.

1 Corinthians 3:16

Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?

If Christ dwells among us and within us, then what is in this world that can defeat us?  The answer is nothing!  So why do we act as if we are the victim of this world rather than the victor?  That’s a good question isn’t it? If God dwells within us then why do we act as if we have no hope, no recourse, and no resolve? If we don’t want to lose our kids to the culture, then it is time we think differently and behave more aggressively against the trends of our day. Perhaps we start with our own theology about the Lord and His ability, like in the Book of Acts, to influence the culture according to faith.

Then I think we turn to the Church, and ask why the Church seems to be downplaying the supernatural when that is a major focus in much of the New Testament?

Don’t back away from this challenge because this generation needs to know your faith affects your life, and nothing in this world can overcome it.

Keeping it honest and truthful...K 

Sunday
Mar052017

Not All Information Is Equal

The Prophet Daniel said: But you, Daniel, keep this prophecy a secret; seal up the book until the time of the end, when many will rush here and there, and knowledge will increase." –Daniel 12:4

With the coming of the digital world we have expended our knowledge base beyond anything imaginable before 1990.  It was rumored that President Obama was elected due to the use of social media. So with so much media and knowledge based information at our fingertips are we better informed?  I think we definitely have more information at our disposal, but are we being informed, I am not so sure? We all know what fake news is these days, but we also have fake information. This is when we have information fed to our electronic devices that is a ploy to get you to read it, and pass it on as news. I have discovered that at least 1/3 of what I read in a day on line is not accurate and even if some of it has a shred of truth, it still comes out in the wash as a lie. Remember, the father of all lies is still at work in our world and he knows how to use technology. Satan probably didn’t invent the Internet, but he certainly has discovered how to use it. Internet use is a marvel for most of us, and we wouldn’t know how to get our information if we didn’t use it. Yet, all information isn’t equal. That holds true in advertising as it does in Biblical exegesis. I was in a church service last week where the preacher said that justice and righteousness are the same thing. That is not true, God uses these words both differently and even though they may over lap, they are different words.  I think the point the preacher wanted to make was that social justice to is considered righteousness and wanted the audience to know they were against the immigration band.  The information was incorrect.

Righteousness is holy and upright living, while justice is making  things right. Again, you may think I am splitting hairs, but they are different words and the meanings are different but similar. Was this a major error?  No, but it proves my point, not all information is created equal. There are more egregious acts of misinformation because people are always spinning words to mean something different than what scripture teaches.  A person can also be fooled when information uses words that no longer mean what they did. For example:

Guy: This word is an eponym. It comes from the name of Guy Fawkes, who was part of a failed attempt to blow up Parliament in 1605. Folks used to burn his effigy, a “Guy Fawkes” or a “guy,” and from there it came to refer to a frightful figure. In the U.S., it has come to refer to men in general.

 

Egregious: It used to be possible for it to be a good thing to be egregious: it meant you were distinguished or eminent. But in the end, the negative meaning of the word won out, and now it means that someone or something is conspicuously bad — not conspicuously good.

Silly: Meanwhile, silly went in the opposite direction: in its earliest uses, it referred to things worthy or blessed; from there it came to refer to the weak and vulnerable, and more recently to those who are foolish.

This is why discernment is an important part of the Christian’s toolbox.

1 Peter 5:8

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

In a day when we accept all things equally, discernment is another word for something that is bad. Yet, Peter says to be on the alert and be of a serious mindset. The Devil has an objective to destroy truth, and he does this by distorting the truth. Discernment brings into focus the truth, and outlines where truth has been replaced.

As a whole, Christians are failing to understand the days in which we live.

 

  1. Christians do not have discernment between what is holy and what is common.
     
  2. Christians do not have discernment to distinguish between a lofty vision and Biblical prophecy.
     
  3. Christians do not have discernment when it comes to Eastern mysticism and universalism creeping into the church.
     
  4. Christians do not have discernment when it comes to Israel and the Jewish people
    .
  5. Christians do not have discernment between what is true spiritual leadership and Christian narcissism.
     
  6. Christians do not have discernment about the pitfalls of those things that get us sidetracked from the gospel.
     
  7. Christians do not have discernment about the information they are fed that is based upon a message of a future of revival as opposed to a future of judgment.
     
  8. Christians do not have discernment about the neglect of the pulpit on issues that affect the spiritual life of the family and the church.
      
  9. Christians do not have discernment about the manipulation of their faith by leaders with an agenda.
     
  10. Christians do not have discernment distinguishing between and the Devil as an angel of light and the movement of the Holy Spirit.

 

1 Corinthians 12:10b “to another distinguishing between spirits”

I know many of you may think I am judging and hard on Christians, and you know, you are right I am. I do not deny it. Why you ask? Simple, here is discernment 101.

Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Does a parent allow a child to play in the street? Do you keep toxic chemicals under your kitchen sink if you have small children?  Do you keep loaded guns in your house that might be used by innocent hands?

Of course you don’t!  So why do you play around with your spiritual life when you know that there are eternal ramifications if you stray away from God?

Do not take anything for granted, develop a discerning mind and make sure that what you hear has a good Biblical base.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

 

 

Monday
Feb272017

What Is God Stirring In You?

Haggai 1:14 “So the LORD stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and the spirit of Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest, and the spirit of the whole remnant of the people. They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God”

Let’s face it all kinds of things stir us up.

 

  • Politics
  • Sports
  • Music
  • Movies
  • Romance
  • Exercise
  • Religion
  • Success

 

The list is endless, but the question I want answered in my life is: “what is God stirring me to do?”  In this statement/verse from Haggai we see how God stirred the hearts of both the leaders and the people to begin the work of rebuilding the temple.  Many of us go to church every week, listen to our favorite Bible commentator by means of an electronic device and even attend a small group study or two, but what is God stirring in you to do?

For some of us He is asking to settle our debts. These are the offenses we have committed against people we know or live with.  Offenses such as lying, gossiping, and slander all in the interest of conversation about others. Yet all of these offenses are debts we owe to someone who we have defamed. Do you have any debts? 

We may think that these offenses are unimportant, however they are important to God. Many people I know in ministry want to be builders of something new and exciting, but just as a person who wants to build a new house, when they apply for a loan they are denied. Why?  Their debts are too large to get a loan. Character baggage or debt is a problem we don’t often address among ourselves, we would rather claim God’s forgiveness and move on. That might be fine for those in the confessional with God, but what about the victims of your poor behavior? I have noticed that unless a person develops humility along with confession and restitution to God and others, they will never mature into what God wants them to become. Jesus said we should keep our relationships with others current by not incurring the debt of unforgiveness nor hold a grievance that could evolve into bitterness or resentment.

Matthew 5:24-25  “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.

As we review the news each day I know you feel as helpless as I do about being unable to change it. The world will continue to implode but one of the changes we can make is to be different people. I wonder how God is stirring you to change? What changes need to be made in you that would affect people in your sphere of influence?  We may not be able to negotiate peace in the world, but we can be at peace with those in your life. Maybe I start my own peace initiative by changing how I treat people around me, and making amends to people I have maligned. (this is huge, but most difficult to do)

Our passion is another area we need God to help stir within us.  Our passion needs to come back to the basics of the gospel that teaches that we are a new person in Christ. Passion for God needs a revival in our churches, and we pray God will stir us to reclaim it. 

So what is God stirring in you?

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

Sunday
Feb262017

I Am So Scared

I hear the words, “I am scared” all the time. People are scared of the immigration crisis, they are scared of our new President, and they are scared about the ramifications of the end times. These words do not come from third world countries they come from Americans. American lives when compared to the lives of most people in the world have been sheltered from the terrors of governments that haunt most people. Whether the country is run by a dictator like North Korea, or by a religious system that fosters terrorism, being scared isn’t in their vocabulary. Their word is survival.

Let’s just take a stab at how many people communism killed in order to gain and maintain control.

Author Stephane Courtois, Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS) in Paris, offers the following rough breakdown of the numbers of people that communism killed:

USSR -- 20 million

China -- 65 million

Vietnam -- 1 million

North Korea -- 2 million

Cambodia -- 2 million

Eastern Europe -- 1 million

Latin America -- 150,000

Africa -- 1.7 million

Afghanistan -- 1.5 million

Communist movements, parties not in power -- 10,000

AND PEOPLE ARE SCARED OF PRESIDENT TRUMP!  Really?

Homosexuals are endangered in most countries of the world, except in the West. In Iran for example, if you are guilty of homosexual activity, your fate is in the hands of a Sharia Judge and the penalty is usually death.

Islamic Penal Code of Iran of 1991 Book 2, Part 2 (Punishment for Sodomy)

Punishment for sodomy is killing; the Sharia judge decides on how to carry out the killing.

It has been reported it is illegal to be gay in 76 countries. Punishments range from fines to short and lifelong prison sentences, hard labor, forced psychiatric treatment, banishment, whippings, and death by public stoning.

In the West our debates are over what bathroom transgender people should use.

The news media is once again being questioned because of their bias. I personally want the news to be without political bias, a desire I doubt will ever happen in our world. However, we are all better off when we have a free press.

There are countries in our world that there is no free press. Here is a list of the most restricted countries where there is absolutely no free press.

Eritrea

North Korea

Saudi Arabia

Ethiopia

Azerbaijan

Vietnam

Iran

China

Myanmar

We may not like what the press say today, but at least we still have the freedom to say it without being imprisoned or silenced.

As you can see from just a few issues that being scared is quite different than fighting for survival. I realize that America has some problems but when we compare those problems with what other people face in the world, we still have a long way to becoming them.

I say all of this for one reason:  “we are not to live in fear!”

It has been reported that there are 365 “fear not’s” in the Bible one for each day of the year. It really doesn’t matter how many times the Bible says it because it is a foundational to our faith.  Fear does not find a home when God is in control.

Isaiah 41:10

Don’t be afraid, for I am with you.

Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God.

I will strengthen you and help you.

I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.

America will progressively become more afraid and scared as we transition further from the principles of scripture. When God is replaced by our culture and the humanism of thought, fear will rule the land. It always takes God to eradicate fear. Faith in God has always kept us from being a country based upon fear, but fear will always be the default when we deny faith. 

Keeping it honest and truthful…..K

Wednesday
Feb222017

When Clergy Stop Believing

A friend of mine sent me a video of a church service from our community where the participants were trying to convince the audience that Jesus never came to die on the cross for our sins. This video is 20 minutes long, and you may not want to view it to the end. However, it does require at least five minutes of your time to catch the drift of their teaching.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XRYiqZ2x0aU

 

Matthew 10:35-37

35 For I have come to turn ‘A man against his father, a daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 A man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ 37 Anyone who loves his father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; anyone who loves his son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.”

Enemies are not always those who come from foreign lands, nor are they obvious in their opposition to you. Many enemies live much closer in proximity to you. As the scripture indicates, they could be even in your own household. Most of us would interpret that as meaning family, but I think we could extend that to mean those who claim to worship the same God as you. Those teaching on this video seem to forget so much of scripture that defends the purpose of why Jesus came to earth. Even John 3:16 implies that God gave His son over to death that we who deserve death for our sins would be spared. The goal of Jesus was the cross as the Apostle Paul said: "From that time on Jesus began to explain to His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that He must be killed and on the third day be raised to life." (Matthew 16:21 NIV)  

"For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel - not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power." (1 Cor. 1:17 NIV)

1 Corinthians 1:18  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

 

Once you gut the cross out of Christianity you no longer have Christ at all. I believe many clergy have fallen under a spell of delusion. Another example is Rob Bell, a former mega church pastor who was brought up in a godly home and had strong theological training based upon a solid Evangelical base.  Rob Bell has found a new gospel of late.

For those who had any questions, Rob Bell has now made himself totally clear: He is willing to trash parts of the Bible as "letters from 2,000 years ago" when God's Word contradicts his views on same-sex "marriage."

Bell appeared on Oprah's Super Soul Sunday program together with his wife, Kristen, to promote their new book The Zimzum of Love: A New Way of Understanding Marriage. In an interview last December, Bell explained that on page 16 of the book, he and Kristen give their "whole hearted affirmation" to same-sex "marriage."

That was no surprise in light of his announcement in 2013 that he supported redefining marriage. In fact, that had been his position for years, although he had not proclaimed it publicly prior to 2013.

But on Oprah's show, he and Kristen went much further, dismissing the words of Scripture and criticizing churches that were determined to be faithful to God. 

This may not be of a surprise to anyone, but it is a pattern that is driving these leaders to abandon the teaching of the Bible. This isn’t anything new, but it will take many people by surprise as more of the superstars in the church start to sport a new gospel. Remember, Jesus said the last days will be days where great deception will take place, and those who drift away from Him and His words will become prey for new ideas that play to the emotions.

This behavior by clergy was common in Jeremiah’s day when the priest was bribed and the prophet spoke falsely for his own gain. Clergy are easy targets of the evil one, because they pride themselves in being an expert about God. They become proud and unteachable by the Spirit of God, and often there is a shortage of humility among these learned theologians. Here is a statement you probably won’t like, but it is mine to make. My least favorite people are people of the cloth. So many of them have prostituted themselves with molesting young boys as priests in the Catholic Church or as Protestants inventing a God that doesn’t exist according to the Bible. When Clergy tell us the cross doesn’t matter any more, or they tell us sin is okay as long as it’s done in love, I think its time for new leadership models. I loved what I saw in our Vice President recently when he made a stop at the Jewish cemetery in Missouri where 200 gravestones were toppled over. He not only stopped to condemn this act of violence, but he took off his jacket and helped clean it up. That showed me that our Vice President isn’t just a Sunday morning Christian.

Listen, I know we need to pray for our clergy, and we need to befriend them as people, not as supernatural icons, and we need to keep them honest on what they tell us from week to week. I am going to leave you with a great quote from the late David Wilkerson.

God hates the LUKEWARM GOSPEL OF HALF-TRUTHS that is now spreading over the Globe. This gospel says, 'Just believe in Jesus and you'll be Saved. There's nothing more to it.' It ignores the Whole Counsel of God, which speaks of Repenting from former Sins, of Taking up your Cross, of being conformed to the Image of Christ by the refining work of the Holy Spirit. It is totally silent about the Reality of Hell and an After-Death Judgment.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K

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