Sunday, December 31, 2006

Barna Lists Most Significant Religious Findings from 2006 Surveys

The Barna Group has released George Barna's list of the twelve most noteworthy results of 2006, and described a few themes that ran through this year’s surveys. Among the noteworthy outcomes:

· Only 15% of those who regularly attend a Christian church ranked their relationship with God as the top priority in their life; (scratching my head???)
· 75% of teenagers have engaged in at least one type of psychic or witchcraft-related activity; (and where did they learn that from; entertainment media, school peers???)
· 21% of adults consider themselves to be holy, but by their own admission large numbers have no idea what“holiness” means; (say what???)
· "Christian Revolutionaries" distinguish themselves even further from born again Christians; (Revolutionary? What ever happened to the term Fundamentalist???)
· House church involvement rapidly increasing; (no authority, and usually not the same structure as the church is defined in the NT)
· Young people raised in church are disengaging in their 20s; (God was never a part of their life!)
· Most high-profile Christian leaders are relative unknowns to most of the population; (the media Christian leaders have no power and bring no conviction - the general population has nothing shown to them to remember)
· One out of every six people believes that spiritual maturity is meant to be developed within the context of a local church or within the context of a communityof faith. (or they have no intent to develop spiritual maturity at all - they enjoy the world too much!!!)

(The RED comments are mine!!!)

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Why Did Jesus Come? By Dave Daubenmire

(Here is another weekly post from Dave Daubenmire at News With Views which may be of some interest to some of blog readers..... please remember my disclaimer about that site which I have mentioned before in similar posts. Click the link above if you would like to read similar material.....)

Well, it looks like we all made it through the Christmas season. I enjoy the time with family and the great memories we share, but I hate what Christmas has become. Like so many things in Christendom we have turned this holiday over to the Humanists.

Please don’t write to me about the pagan origins of Christmas. I am aware of all that. But in my family, at least, it has been a special time when we shared with our children the significance of the birth of Jesus and what it truly meant to the world. We have tried hard not make it about Santa, his reindeer, Frosty, or ourselves, but the commercialization has bombarded us so hard that it really is easy to lose the true meaning of the season.

As the popular refrain goes: “Jesus is the reason for the season.” Indeed, He is.

But what does that mean? If, in fact, He is the reason? Then why is He so very much missing from the celebration?

On Christmas Eve, after returning from a family gathering, I happened to turn on Fox News to catch up on the latest news of the day. I sat with great interest as the 10 O’clock hour featured a special, aptly named, “The Purpose of Christmas with Rick Warren.” I watched the show with mixed feelings. I was happy that a major news channel would so directly talk about the reason for Christmas, but I was leery of what the message might be. I’m not here to beat up on Pastor Warren, but I always question why and who the media chooses to highlight. “If Jesus is the reason for the season, why is there so much focus on Rick Warren?” I asked my wife. To my chagrin, this feature was only the tip of the iceberg.

The next day Fox ran another special called PURPOSE DRIVEN LIFE: CAN RICK WARREN CHANGE THE WORLD?

“Hmmm”…I thought to myself. “I thought Jesus came to do that.”

On December 22 Larry King Live featured Joel and Victoria Osteen. How can you not like Joel Osteen? He seems like such a great guy, focusing so much of his attention on the “life-enhancement Gospel.” His message of love and acceptance seems so, well, nice. It makes us feel good, especially at Christmas.

“Why is it,” my bride Michele wondered aloud, “that the media wants to focus our attention so much on these two guys?”

Why indeed, I pondered. What makes these two men the face of American Christianity? Could it be because between them they have sold over 80 million books? If the truth be told, more Christians have read their books than have read the Bible.

Remember the old game-show tag line, “it’s not what you say that counts, it’s what you don’t say.” Yep…it is what you don’t say that counts.

I carried that thought with me to my radio show the next day. The message of Warren and Osteen lay in my belly all night. I knew something was wrong, but what they said seemed so good. It is hard to argue with someone so…nice. But then I remembered the phrase that started the whole thing, “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

“Why did Jesus come?” I asked my radio audience on Saturday. “Did they crucify Him because He was so ‘nice'”? (I just did a Bible search and “nice” does not show up in the Bible. Why is it that the media wants to focus on Christian leaders who are so accepting of everyone? Is there an agenda at work here? Are they trying to show us that Christian men are tolerant and loving of everyone and everything? WWJT? What would Jesus tolerate?

Why did Jesus come? You might be surprised.

I John 3:8, “He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that he might destroy the works of the devil.” The devil, huh? When was the last time you heard him mentioned at Christmas?

Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. He didn’t come to be nice. He didn’t come to die for you. He didn’t come to make you healthy, wealthy, and wise, and he didn’t come to give you a purpose or your best life now. He came to destroy the works of the devil. Wouldn’t you think that Pastor Warren and Mr. Osteen could find time to mention the works of the devil, and how "sin" is devastating so many lives?

So, what are the works of the devil? "He that committeth sin is of the devil; for the devil sinneth from the beginning."

What is sin? It is rebellion against God. It is knowing what is right and refusing to do it. Sin separates us from God. Jesus came to mend that broken relationship.

2 Corinthians 5:19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself…

Matthew 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

He came to save us from our sin, not merely to comfort us in our sin!

We waste so much time, effort, and money fighting against the consequences of sin. We would be so much better off if we focused our efforts on defeating (facing) sin itself.

The world is becoming a crazier place every day. Sin is running unchecked because no one will call it what it is because it has become one of the pillars of diversity. All sickness, all sadness, all poverty, all anger, all grief, all trouble is the result of somebody’s sin. Our churches have become nothing more than trauma centers for those ravaged by the effects of society's decadence.

So how does modern evangelicalism respond? Do our pastors rail against sin? Do we preach a Holy God who demands that we too be a holy people? Do we preach a Gospel of victory over sin? Do we preach a Gospel of laying down our lives, or one of getting the most out of our earthly lives?

Sadly, we preach treatment of our sickness, not delivery from it. Sin is the disease, death is the result. Not calling sin, sin is like calling adultery “fooling around.” Doesn’t it make more sense to prevent the sin of divorce, rather than helping restore those ravaged by it? “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”

Imagine for a moment that you are driving in the beautiful Rocky Mountains and as you come around a bend, you are horrified to see bodies of wounded people strewn along the roadway. As you get out of your car to bind the wounds of the injured, you are nearly smashed by another body that falls from the sky. As you look up, you discover that a bridge has been washed out and that hikers are unknowingly walking off of a steep cliff. After a few minutes you realize that more are falling and there aren’t enough workers to minister to the wounded. You turn to another stranger who has recently come upon the carnage and plead, “Please help me bind up the wounded.” To your surprise he turns and begins walking the other way. “Where are you going?” you cry. “Can’t you see these folks are dying?”

“Yes,” the stranger responds. “But rather than taking care of the wounded, I think we would all be better if I went to the top of the hill and told others to watch their step.”

Watch your step, indeed. Jesus came to give us victory over sin, not merely grace in the midst of it.

The word gospel literally means “good news.” Wasn’t that what the angel declared, good news to all people? And what was that news? That Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil and because of Him we now had victory over sin.

It seems to me that the devil is working overtime to make sure that no one mentions sin. If he can keep us focused on our best life now, we will miss the real purpose driven life…Christ’s.

John 8:34-36 Jesus answered them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin. And the servant abideth not in the house for ever: but the Son abideth ever. If the Son therefore shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.

Are you a prisoner to sin? You can be free.

Jesus destroyed the works of the devil. That “good news,” is the message of Christmas. Talk about a purpose driven life!

That’s why Jesus came.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A New Year's Resolution


like Paul, forget those things which are behind and press forward;

like David, lift up mine eyes unto the hills from whence cometh my help;

like Abraham, trust implicitly in my God;

like Enoch, walk in daily fellowship with my heavenly Father;

like Jehosphaphat, prepare my heart to seek God;

like Moses, choose rather to suffer than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;

like Daniel, commune with God at all times;

like Job, be patient under all circumstances;

like Caleb and Joshua, refuse to be discouraged because of superior numbers;

like Joseph, turn my back to all destructive advances;

like Gideon, advance even my friends be few;

like Aaron and Hur, uphold the hands of my spiritual leaders;

like Isaiah, consecrate myself to do God’s work;

like Andrew, strive to lead my brother to a closer walk with Christ;

like John, lean upon the bosom of the Master and imbibe of His Spirit;

like Stephen, manifest a forgiving spirit toward all who seek my hurt;

like Timothy, study the Word of God;

like the heavenly host, proclaim the message of peace on earth and good will toward all men;

like my Lord himself, overcome all earthly allurements by refusing to succumb to their enticements.

Realizing that I cannot hope to achieve these objectives by my own strength, I will rely upon Christ, for “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13).

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

A New Year's Message by Dr. Tom Wallace

(Pastor Mike Walls posted this sermon earlier today on a mailing list with a short New Year's challenge preached to Christians on January 4, 1997.)

Every Day I Will......
  1. Offer myself afresh to the Lord - Rom. 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
  2. Call upon the Lord in prayer - Pslm. 55:17 Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
  3. Search and feed upon the word of God - Acts 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
  4. Seek to die to sin and self - 1 Cor. 15:31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
  5. Speak to others about the Lord - Acts 5:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
  6. Help someone in need - Heb. 3:13 But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
  7. Live and work expecting the Lord's return - Prov. 8:34 Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Twas The Night Jesus Came

(Now this poem is not biblically correct but written to compare about another poem which will be read in many homes tonight. Friends, Jesus is the Truth...... the other poem is definitely fiction. At Christmas, who will you be yearning to see??? And if Jesus did come today, would you be ready???)

Twas the night Jesus came and all through the house
Not a person was praying, not one in the house.
The Bibles were left on the shelf without care,
For no one thought that Jesus would come there.
The children were dressing to crawl into bed,
Not once ever kneeling or bowing a head.
And mom in her rocker with baby in her lap
Was watching the Late Show while I took a nap.
When out of the east there arose such a clatter,
I sprang to my feet to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash
Tore open the shutters and lifted the sash!
When what to my wondering eyes should appear
But angels proclaiming that Jesus was here!
The light of His face made me cover my head -
It was Jesus returning, just as He said.
And thought I possessed worldly wisdom and wealth,
I cried when I saw Him in spite of myself.
In the Book of Life which He held in His hand
Was written the name of every saved man.
He spoke not a word as He searched for my name;
When He said, "It's not here" my head hung in shame.
The people whose names had been written with love
He gathered to take to His Father above.
With those who were ready He rose without a sound
While all the rest were left standing around.
I fell to my knees, but it was too late;
I had waited too long and thus sealed my fate.
I stood and I cried as they rose out of sight;
Oh, if only I'd known that this was the night.
In the words of this poem the meaning is clear;
The coming of Jesus in now drawing near.
There's only one life and when comes the last call
We'll find that the Bible was true after all.

By Margie Knight

Friday, December 22, 2006


A Fundamentalist is wise.
A Fundamentalist is a stepping stone.
A Fundamentalist is a pre-millennialist.
A Fundamentalist is a creationist.
A Fundamentalist is a dispensationalist.
A Fundamentalist possesses spiritual discernment.
A Fundamentalist rightly divides the word of truth.
A Fundamentalist knows the meaning of leaven (Evil, False Doctrine).
A Fundamentalist believes the scriptures contain no error.
A Fundamentalist believes in the divine inspiration of the scriptures.
A Fundamentalist believes in the total depravity of man.
A Fundamentalist believes in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture.
A Fundamentalist believes in capital punishment.
A Fundamentalist believes in separation.
A Fundamentalist believes in Salvation by Grace plus nothing.
A Fundamentalist believes in Eternal security.
A Fundamentalist believes the Church is a lifeboat not a tugboat.
A Fundamentalist is a true Shepherd.
A Fundamentalist gives Christ the pre-eminance.
A Fundamentalist opposes the Charismatic movement.
A Fundamentalist refuses to compromise.
A Fundamentalist contends for the faith once delivered to the saints.
A Fundamentalist hinders Apostasy.
A Fundamentalist warns against false Religions.
A Fundamentalist exposes false prophets.
A Fundamentalist rejects the modern corrupt translations of the Bible.
A Fundamentalist repudiates false teachers and false teachings.
A Fundamentalist identifies by name moderates and liberals.
A Fundamentalist distinguishes between the Church and the Kingdom.
A Fundamentalist distinguishes between the Rapture and Revelation.
A Fundamentalist is God's salt and light in a corrupt and dark world.
A Fundamentalist is loyal to Christ instead of a denomination or program.
A Fundamentalist gives no place to the Devil.
A Fundamentalist holds the key that unlocks the prophecies of the Bible.
A Fundamentalist sows seeds of faith.
A Fundamentalist educates on complete truth.
A Fundamentalist does not support moderates and liberals.
A Fundamentalist suffers with Christ.
A Fundamentalist knows God's plan for the future.
A Fundamentalist believes in a literal Hell.
A Fundamentalist has Bible convictions.
A Fundamentalist believes in a personal Devil.
A Fundamentalist warns of alcohol, tobacco, rock music, gambling, etc.
A Fundamentalist is courageous in the battle for truth.
A Fundamentalist suffers for Christ.
A Fundamentalist stands with Christ.
A Fundamentalist shares the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
A Fundamentalist desires to be holy.
A Fundamentalist is a servant.
A Fundamentalist is consistant and immovable.
A Fundamentalist loves the brethren.
A Fundamentalist desires to be filled and controlled by the Holy Spirit.
A Fundamentalist has a new song.
A Fundamentalist is not easily offended.
A Fundamentalist lives each day for His Saviour.
A Fundamentalist submits to authority.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

I Am Not Ashamed!!!

Rom. 1:16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.
  1. I am not Ashamed because of Hope - Php. 1:20 According to my earnest expectation and my hope, that in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.
  2. I am not Ashamed because of Love - Rom. 5:5 And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.
  3. I am not Ashamed because of Faith - Rom. 10:11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.
  4. I am not Ashamed because of Truth - 2 Cor. 7:14 For if I have boasted any thing to him of you, I am not ashamed; but as we spake all things to you in truth, even so our boasting, which I made before Titus, is found a truth.
  5. I am not Ashamed because of Authority - 2 Cor. 10:8 For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:
  6. I am not Ashamed because of Afflictions - 1 Pet. 4:16 Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.
  7. I am not Ashamed because of Charity - 2 Tim. 1:16 The Lord give mercy unto the house of Onesiphorus; for he oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain:
  8. I am not Ashamed because of Study - 2 Tim. 2:15 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
  9. I am not Ashamed because of Unity - Heb 2:11 For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,
  10. I am not Ashamed because of Desire - Heb 11:16 But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he hath prepared for them a city.
  11. I am not Ashamed because of Abiding in Him - 1 John 2:28 And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.

I Am Ashamed

  1. I am Ashamed because of Sin - Rom. 6:21 What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death.
  2. I am Ashamed because of Unpreparedness - 2 Cor. 9:3-4 Yet have I sent the brethren, lest our boasting of you should be in vain in this behalf; that, as I said, ye may be ready; Lest haply if they of Macedonia come with me, and find you unprepared, we (that we say not, ye) should be ashamed in this same confident boasting.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Born Again???

(I thought I would share another post from Dave Daubenmire which was published December 14 on News With Views - let me remind you of my disclaimer about not agreeing 100% with that particular website; but spit out the bones while you eat the meat!!! Simply click on the link above to go directly to the article and website.)

Born Again? You hear that phrase thrown around a lot these days. Seems like everywhere I go, I run into folks who claim to be “born again.” As I wrote in last week’s column, who am I to judge the salvation of another.

But the kicker is, the strange places that I run into these “born again” Christians. As I have stated before we do some ministry on the streets and it always sets me back a notch or two when I hear “born again” come out of some folk’s mouths. I find them heading into abortion clinics, outside strip clubs, drinking and swearing at Ohio State Football game parties, sleeping on the streets, and yelling at the referee at high school basketball games. Yep, those “born again” Christians are everywhere. Nearly 85% of Americans, or so George Barna tells us. Maybe we should look at that term.

John 3:1-7 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews: The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him. Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother's womb, and be born? Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

I have said often that I am not a Biblical scholar. I haven’t spent one minute in formal “cemetery” training. Most of my education has been in the “school of the wilderness (hard knocks),” and when I find something that challenges me I do as the Bereans, “in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” Although I don’t think he is a theologian, former New York Yankee great Yogi Berra always said “you can look it up.”

Read the full passage of John 3. It includes John 3:16, the Scripture hung in football stadiums around America. It is in this chapter that Jesus speaks about being “born again.” Pardon my lack of formal training, but I believe that the phrase “born again” is scarcely seen again throughout Scripture. You will certainly find the term “repent” many more times than you will “born again.”

Why in American Christianity do we have so much “born-again-ness,” but so little repentance?

Allow me to fast forward to the Crucifixation scene. It is at the death of Jesus that Nicodemus once again appears and except for John 3 and John 19:38, we don’t hear much about him. He was present to hear Jesus’ treatise on being born again, and was there to give Christ’s body a burial. Other than that, we don’t know a whole lot about him.

But here is what trips me up, (must be a root jutting up on the path in the wilderness), where does Nicodemus walk the aisle and say the sinner’s prayer? Where does he come to an altar, have brothers lay hands on him, and get up a brand new man? What stadium full of men did he do that in? If we are to pattern ourselves after the Scriptures, certainly someone can point me to where Nicodemus “came to Christ.”

Yet, by the millions, we have drawn people to an altar, had them repeat a simple prayer, told them they were “born again” and on their way to Heaven, only to see them with their face painted, beer in hand, screaming at a football game the next weekend. So my question is, how do you really know if the “Sinner’s Prayer” really takes? How can you be sure that the latest convert really is “saved”? Is saying a prayer really all that is required to get to Heaven?

If Nicodemus never walked an aisle and repeated a prayer, how can we assume that he was “born again”? And if he didn’t, can we assume that walking an aisle and saying a prayer will make us “born again”? Sorry to shake your theology, but I’m just trying to be a good Berean.

I know of churches that keep records of how many “salvations” they have witnessed. “How do they know?” I ask myself. Are they counting those who are “saved,” or those who said the prayer? Are those numbers really the same?

Judas was one of Jesus’ closest followers, so close he kept the checkbook. Yet at the end of the story it is clear that even though he was a follower of Jesus, Judas was never “saved.” Yet we hear nothing about Nicodemus being a follower, or a disciple, or saying the Sinner’s Prayer, yet at the end he was there taking care of his Savior’s body.

Born Again….what does that mean? How did Nicodemus seemingly “get it,” while one of Christ’s disciples didn’t?

One thing that I always notice when we work with the homeless is that all of them have said the “Sinner’s Prayer.” Because so many different ministries reach out to this hurting group with food and clothing, the homeless almost feel an obligation to repeat a prayer. “Say a prayer, get a sandwich? Why not!” As we minister to them amidst the smell of urine, alcohol, and drugs they will all tell us that they are “born again.” Seems they had a prayer the week before with another group who was offering supplies.

They have said the prayer, they have “received Christ,” and they are “born again.” You see, they have made Jesus their Savior, they have not made Him their Lord.

Lord---a person who has authority, control, or power over others; a master, chief, or ruler.

The homeless are no different from many in the Church. They have no problem receiving the benefits of Christ’s death; they just don’t want to fulfill the requirements of His new life. They want Jesus to take them to Heaven; they just don’t want to be bothered with Him now.

What did Jesus have to say about this? Read Matthew 7. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand:

Judas said all the right things, but Nicodemus, somewhere along the line, had a change of heart. Which one is with Jesus today?

Unfortunately, Christianity has been Americanized. It looks nothing like the first-century church. In a nation where abortion is legal, 50% of the church is divorced, homosexuals want to marry and heterosexuals don’t, government is corrupt, and there is a battle over the legality of Christ, eighty-five percent of Americans think they are on the winning team.

My coaching career was spent mending broken programs. I remember walking the halls and inviting young men to come out for the team. I assured them that the team was open to anyone who wanted to play, and that the team needed them in order to be successful. That “football evangelism” over the years produced a great amount of fruit.

But here was the catch. The team was open to anyone, but once you were on the team there were certain expectations you were required to follow. No drinking, smoking or drugs, no long hair, keep your grades up, respect your teachers, and represent your school with honor. Isn’t it amazing? Today you have to follow more rules to be on a football team than you do to be on God’s team. God doesn’t care how you behave, but your football coach does? Give me a break!

John 3:19 “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.”

So, where do you stand? I’m not interested in whether you walked an aisle and said a prayer. I don’t care how much money you give to your church, if you sing in the choir, or if you have been elevated to the role of pastor or deacon. Is Christ your Lord?

Luke 6:46 And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Matthew 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

Everyone loves that Savior part….few can swallow the Lordship requirement.

Matthew 6:21 For where your treasure is there will your heart be also. ….24 No man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Born again, huh? Accepted Christ as Savior, did you? On your way to heaven…despite how you live? Living your best life now, are you? Jesus said our best life would be later.

Who do you serve? Who do you follow? Who is your Lord?

That’s how you know if you are “born again.”

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Ho! Ho! Ho!

(Pastor Mike Walls of Smithfield, NC posted this poem on a mailing list last night which some of my blog readers may enjoy....)

The devil has a demon,
His name is Santa Claus.
He's a dirty old demon
Because of last year's flaws.
He promised Jack a yo-yo,
And Jill a diamond ring.
They woke up Christmas morning
Without a single thing.

He tells the children white lies,
White lies as black as hell;
While pious parents stand by
And listen to his tale.
God says to train our children
In the WAY that they should go,
And not the way of idols
That Cry Ho! Ho! Ho!

It's either a gobble-gobble,
Or a Wine-O-Saints Nick;
Or a trip down the bunny trail
Or a witch flying on a stick.
They're all the devil's disciples,
Putting on their seasonal show
To take the glory from God's Son
With their silly Ho! Ho! Ho!

In "God We trust" is our motto.
"Oh Worship the King" was our song.
Brave men that once stood for something,
Are no longer right, but wrong.
The rebels are running our Country.
Our leaders are cursed with a woe,
Because they have turned from the true God,
To dumb idols that cry Ho! Ho! Ho!

One day they'll stand before God
Without their bags of tricks,
Without their red nose reindeers,
Or their phony Old Saint Nicks:
For Revelation twenty-one,
Verse eight, tells where they'll go;
Condemned to an everlasting Hell,
Where there'll be no Ho! Ho! Ho!

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Four R's of the Consistant Christian Life

One of the saddest plagues to infect our modern day Christianity is the lack of consistency. Many Christians in our fundamental churches are on and off, up and down, hot and cold, there one Sunday and gone the next. This lack of consistency is one thing that is hindering revival. This weakened testimony also hinders others from coming to the Lord, as we have no power in our Gospel witness - this is contrary to what the Lord commanded us to do. Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

What is needed to bring about consistency in the Christian life???
  1. Relationship with the Lord - This is the most important aspect in building consistency. Insure that your relationship to the Lord is everything that God wants it to be.
  2. Resolve - We as Christians must resolve everyday that we are going to live our lives according to the word of God. We must resolve in our heart that on a daily basis we are going to die to self and live as unto the Lord. Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Resolving for the right will keep us from wallowing in the wrong!
  3. Reproduction in our Christian service - We must purpose, not simply promise, to reproduce our faith in the form of service. All believers must find out what God wants them to do and then do it. Rom. 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. We must be busy in the service of the King!
  4. Resilency - In order to be and to remain consistent in our Christian lives, we must be resilent against the attacks of the Devil. Regardless of what the enemy might throw at us we must display resilency in the face of it. Without it we are out of the battle and become a victim rather than a victor. Be resilent at all costs, for remember - 1 John 4:4 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.

I believe that by applying these four principles we as believers can live a victorious Christian life and not only be consistent but also remain consistent. The only really useful Christian is a consistent Christian. Don't give the devil the upper hand - stay consistent and keep him on the defensive.

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The "Good Book" Business

(This article from the New Yorker online magazine was posted on another mailing list early this evening; it provides reasons why there are so many Bible "per"versions on the market today, written from a secular viewpoint. Of course, you will see from reading the article, they admit some of the things we who hold to the one true word of God have been accusing them of in the past. I have emphasized some of the article in RED TYPE.... the complete article can be found by clicking the link shown above.)

Why publishers love the Bible.
Issue of 2006-12-18
Posted 2006-12-11

In a sixth-floor conference room of an office building near Nashville International Airport, Rodney Hatfield’s BlackBerry buzzed with an incoming e-mail: “The Lord placed a vision on our hearts of a skaters’ Bible. We really love the N.K.J.V. and would love to use this version. Who can I talk to regarding this? We hope to pack the study Bible with testimonies from pros, devotions, skating tips, etc.”
Hatfield is the vice-president of marketing for the Bible division of Thomas Nelson Publishers, and the N.K.J.V. (the New King James Version) is its best-selling translation. Thomas Nelson has a history stretching back to 1798, and, in the American market, it is by some measures the largest Christian publisher, the second-largest publisher of Bibles, and the ninth-largest publishing house of any kind. The e-mail was from a Florida skateboard ministry, and Hatfield read it impassively but not dismissively. After all, one of the company’s lead titles for the fall, “The Family Foundations Study Bible,” had its origins in a similarly unsolicited suggestion from an outsider. True, that source was more estimable (a major Christian retailer) and the idea less fanciful. But the general principle—that Scripture can be repackaged to meet the demands of an increasingly segmented market—is at the heart of the modern Bible-publishing industry.
The familiar observation that the Bible is the best-selling book of all time obscures a more startling fact: the Bible is the best-selling book of the year, every year. Calculating how many Bibles are sold in the United States is a virtually impossible task, but a conservative estimate is that in 2005 Americans purchased some twenty-five million Bibles—twice as many as the most recent Harry Potter book. The amount spent annually on Bibles has been put at more than half a billion dollars.
In some ways, this should not be surprising. According to the Barna Group, an evangelical polling firm, forty-seven per cent of Americans read the Bible every week. But other research has found that ninety-one per cent of American households own at least one Bible—the average household owns four—which means that Bible publishers manage to sell twenty-five million copies a year of a book that almost everybody already has. Thomas Nelson’s Bible sales increased more than fifteen per cent last year, and such commercial possibilities have begun to attract mainstream publishers to an area dominated by a half-dozen Christian houses. Penguin published two new editions of the Bible this fall, and in July HarperSanFrancisco, part of HarperCollins, announced the creation of a Bible imprint. In June, Thomas Nelson, which last changed hands thirty-seven years ago, for $2.6 million, was purchased by a private investment firm for four hundred and seventy-three million dollars.
This is an intensely competitive business, and, despite the provenance of “The Family Foundations Study Bible,” publishers rarely rely on mere inspiration. Another new Nelson release, “The Grace for the Moment Daily Bible,” had a more typically strategic genesis: it is an extension of one of the publisher’s most popular brands, a series of devotional books by Max Lucado, a Texas minister whose many titles have sold nearly fifty million copies. Nelson has seventeen imprints in addition to the Nelson Bible Group, and when it has a popular writer like Lucado it will spin him off into as many different lines as possible. The “Daily Bible” features Scripture portions paired with short essays excerpted from other Lucado titles. In the absence of such ready-made material, Bible publishers formulate projects using classic market research. Every year, Nelson Bible executives analyze their product line for shortcomings, scrutinize the competition’s offerings, and talk with consumers, retailers, and pastors about their needs.
Nelson categorizes “Grace for the Moment” as an everyday-life Bible, whereas “Family Foundations” is a study Bible. The distinction points to one way in which publishers sell multiple copies of the Bible to the same customers. “They each have a different purpose,” Hatfield told me. “It’s kind of like a tool chest. All the tools are tools, but they’re designed for doing different things.” And there are distinctions within each category. There are study Bibles that focus on theology, on historical context, or on practical applications of Biblical teachings. There are devotional Bibles for new believers, couples, brides, and cowboys. On an air-plane recently, I saw a woman reading a surfers’ Bible very similar to the proposed skaters’ one. The variety is seemingly limitless. Nelson Bible Group’s 2006 catalogue lists more than a hundred titles.
“I almost liken it to what happened in radio,” Wayne Hastings, the publisher of Nelson’s Bible division, said. “Look at satellite radio—what is that, a hundred and seventy-eight stations? And it’s all niched. We’re doing the same thing in Bibles.” In this process, style is nearly as important as content. Bible publishers depend heavily on focus groups, surveys, and trend-spotting firms. For cover designs, they subscribe to fashion-industry color reports. Tim Jordan, a Bible marketing manager at B. & H. Publishing Group, an arm of the Southern Baptist Convention, said, “It doesn’t have to be ‘a King James Bible in black bonded leather, and we might offer it to you in burgundy.’ In years past, that might have been O.K., but the game has changed.”
Bible publishing in the twenty-first century involves an intersection of faith and consumerism that is typical of contemporary American evangelicalism. Peter Thuesen, a religious historian and the author of “In Discordance with the Scriptures,” a history of Bible translation controversies in America, sees in Bible publishing “a growing comfort with commercialization.” He explained, “Different kinds of packaging can always be seen by true believers as having an evangelical utility. If it helps reach people with the Word, then it’s not bad. You can consecrate the market.”
As with so much of American popular culture, the modern era of Bible publishing has its spiritual roots in the nineteen-sixties. Through the first half of the twentieth century, the Bible, literally hidebound, had been synonymous with the establishment. Though there had been two major American translations—in 1901 and 1946—they were scholarly and dense, and the archaic King James Version, of 1611, remained dominant.
Into this world came “Good News for Modern Man.” Published by the American Bible Society in 1966, “Good News for Modern Man” was a Bible for the young and disaffected. It resembled a mass-market illustrated paperback novel. A year later, five million copies were in print. Other publishers were quick to follow this lead, according to Paul Gutjahr, a professor of religious studies and English at Indiana University. Tyndale House published the Living Bible, a freewheeling paraphrase. The spirit of the era is best captured by an edition of the Living Bible put out under the title “The Way,” which features psychedelic lettering and photographs of shaggy-haired young people and describes Jesus as “the greatest spiritual Activist who ever lived.” The success of these accessible, culturally relevant Bibles alerted publishers to a new world of possibility. They introduced women’s Bibles in pastel colors, recruited celebrity pastors to write exegeses, and made room for breezy spiritual pep talks alongside, or instead of, the scholarly commentary.
“Good News for Modern Man” was revolutionary not just in its packaging but also in its text. Until then, major Bible translations in English had taken an approach now known as “formal equivalence,” striving to maintain the sentence structure, phrasing, and idioms of the original Hebrew and Greek. The Good News Translation, as it’s usually known, followed the precepts of “functional equivalence”—translating not word for word but thought for thought, with the goal of capturing the meaning of the original text, even if that required massaging the words or reordering sentences. Walter Harrelson, a Bible scholar who served on the committee that produced the relatively formal New Revised Standard Version, in 1989, likes to say that formal equivalence carries the reader back to the world of the Bible, while functional equivalence transports the Bible into the world of the reader. Harrelson is a proponent of formal equivalence, and argues that preserving the linguistic qualities of the ancient text reminds readers that the Bible is “a document from another world that is luminous and transforming of our world.” Proponents of functional equivalence counter that, to the original audience, the Bible would have sounded contemporary and vernacular, and that translators should preserve these qualities.
The popularity of the “Good News” Bible proved that there was a following for functional equivalence, and other publishers began tinkering with the formula. By far the most successful has been the New International Version, a moderately functional text published by Zondervan in 1973. Highly readable, it was more accurate than its sixties predecessors and more theologically conservative than the 1946 Revised Standard Version. These qualities enabled it, by 1986, to supplant the King James Version as the best-selling translation in America.
The effect of the functional-equivalence approach on the message of the Scriptures is most striking when it comes to rendering metaphors. A literal translation of God’s words to straying Israelites in Amos 4:6 reads, “I gave you cleanness of teeth.” The New International Version eliminates the potential misreading that God was punishing the wicked with dental hygiene, and translates the phrase as “I gave you empty stomachs.” Functionally equivalent translations, at their most radical, often bypass the exotic metaphors of the Bible entirely. Matthew 3:8, in the N.R.S.V., reads, “Bear fruit worthy of repentance.” The Contemporary English Version (1991) reads, “Do something to show that you have really given up your sins.”
It is estimated that there have been more than five hundred English translations of the Bible, and there has never been a time in American history when so many translations have been in widespread use at once. A large Christian bookstore may carry as many as fifteen, although the top six account for ninety-five per cent of sales. Considering that the King James Version lacked a significant rival for three centuries, one could question the necessity of so many versions. Publishers can point to the fact that new archeological discoveries are constantly shedding light on the best way to reconstruct the piecemeal documents that make up Scripture. Language use evolves, too, of course, though it’s hard to argue that anything truly significant changed between the publication of the English Standard Version (2001), Today’s New International Version (2002), and the Holman Christian Standard Bible (2004). A more important factor, it seems, is market demand for more choices. Different denominations want translations tailored precisely to their needs, and the more translations that are available the greater readers’ desire for yet further variety.
There are also commercial incentives. The King James Version is in the public domain, but if a company wants to publish a study Bible or a devotional Bible using a modern translation, it will have to pay royalties to the owner of that translation. Commissioning a proprietary translation is often more cost effective in the long run, especially since it can be licensed out to other publishers. Kenneth Barker, a theologian who ran the committee that translated the N.I.V. and has worked on three other translations, told me that he doesn’t think a new version will be needed for at least twenty-five years, but he doubts there will be such a long break. “We like to think that the motivation is all holy and pure,” he told me, “but finances do enter the picture, and publishers and Bible societies like to have their slice of the pie.”
The popularization of the Bible entered a new phase in 2003, when Thomas Nelson created the BibleZine. Wayne Hastings described a meeting in which a young editor, who had conducted numerous focus groups and online surveys, presented the idea. “She brought in a variety of teen-girl magazines and threw them out on the table,” he recalled. “And then she threw a black bonded-leather Bible on the table and said, ‘Which would you rather read if you were sixteen years old?’ ” The result was “Revolve,” a New Testament that looked indistinguishable from a glossy girls’ magazine. The 2007 edition features cover lines like “Guys Speak Their Minds” and “Do U Rush to Crush?” Inside, the Gospels are surrounded by quizzes, photos of beaming teen-agers, and sidebars offering Bible-themed beauty secrets:
Have you ever had a white stain appear underneath the arms of your favorite dark blouse? Don’t freak out. You can quickly give deodorant spots the boot. Just grab a spare toothbrush, dampen with a little water and liquid soap, and gently scrub until the stain fades away. As you wash away the stain, praise God for cleansing us from all the wrong things we have done. (1 John 1:9)
“Revolve” was immediately popular with teen-agers. “They weren’t embarrassed anymore,” Hastings said. “They could carry it around school, and nobody was going to ask them what in the world it is.” Nelson quickly followed up with other titles, including “Refuel,” for boys; “Blossom,” for tweens; “Real,” for the “vibrant urban crowd” (it comes bundled with a CD of Christian rap); and “Divine Health,” which has notes by the author of the best-selling diet book “What Would Jesus Eat?” To date, Nelson has sold well over a million BibleZines.
The success of the BibleZine was all the more notable for occurring in a commercial field already crowded with products and with savvy marketing ideas. This year’s annual trade show of the Christian Booksellers’ Association, in Denver, brought such innovations as “The Outdoor Bible,” printed on indestructible plastic sheets that fold up like maps, and “The Story,” which features selections from the Bible arranged in chronological order, like a novel. There is a “Men of Integrity” Bible and a “Woman, Thou Art Loosed!” Bible. For kids, there’s “The Super Heroes Bible: The Quest for Good Over Evil” and “Psalty’s Kids Bible,” featuring “Psalty, the famous singing songbook.” The “Soul Surfer Bible” has notes by Bethany Hamilton, who lost an arm to a shark in 2003. “2:52 Boys Bible: The Ultimate Manual” promises “gross and gory Bible stuff.” In the “Rainbow Study Bible,” each verse is color-coded by theme. “The Promise Bible” prints every one of God’s promises in boldface.
It is easy to ascribe a cynical motive to publishers’ embrace of commercial trends. Tim Jordan, of B. & H., concedes, “You do get some folks that say you shouldn’t treat the Bible as a fashion accessory or a throwaway.” Nonetheless, he feels that, from the point of view of a serious religious publisher, fashion can’t be ignored as a way of reaching new audiences. The point, he says, is “to expose as many people as you can, because we believe that it’s God’s word, we believe that it’s life-changing, and we don’t take that lightly.”
An unusual challenge of Bible marketing is that there is no living author to do promotion. (Hmmm..... I wasn't aware that God had died!!! This comment is from me, not the author of the article) As a result, endorsements by well-known pastors become crucial. These are often the only names that will go on the cover. Hatfield asked about targeting the pastors David Jeremiah and Rick Warren: “Maybe there’s even a customized version of this that they can brand for their ministry.” The megachurch movement has created attractive possibilities for Bible marketers. A single recommendation from the pulpit of the right pastor can mean ten thousand potential sales.
There is also concern that Bible publishers, for all their marketing ingenuity, have outsmarted themselves. Tim Jordan said, “There’s been research that has shown that half the people who come into a Christian bookstore intending to buy a Bible, with money in their pocket, leave without one, because they get overwhelmed.”
In an auditorium at the Christian Booksellers’ Association show this summer, Nelson’s Wayne Hastings, a dapper man, nearly bald with a trim mustache, took the stage for a seminar on this issue. For half an hour, he laid out his company’s new research into customers’ “felt needs.” According to Nelson’s findings, people don’t come into a store looking for a specific translation—the criterion by which most retailers arrange their Bible shelves—but, rather, to meet a need.
Of course, Tickle is questioning an industry trend, not publishers’ sincerity. “I have yet to meet the first head of house that wasn’t in it with some sense of calling as surely as a clergyman is,” she said. Sitting in the Zondervan suite during the Christian Booksellers’ Association show, Paul Caminiti, the head of the company’s Bible division, cited an appropriately Biblical parallel, a story from the Book of Acts about Philip the Evangelist and a man known as the Ethiopian eunuch. The Ethiopian eunuch “was really the chief financial officer for the Persian empire,” he said. “He was a brilliant man. He was probably the Alan Greenspan of his day. But he has a text Bible—and he has been to Jerusalem, so he is one of these people who is spiritually intrigued—but he can’t make head or tail of it. And it’s not because he isn’t smart. So God sends Philip alongside.” According to the Bible story, Philip ran up to the Ethiopian’s chariot and, in the King James Version, asked, “Understandest thou what thou readest?” The Ethiopian answered, “How can I, except some man should guide me?” Philip, Caminiti explained, “provides just a little bit of color commentary, and the light comes on.” After listening to Philip’s explication of the passage, the Ethiopian orders his chariot to stop by some water so that Philip can baptize him. “And that’s what we’re doing,” Caminiti concluded. “We’re coming alongside the text and providing some color commentary. And some color covers.”

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Seven Ways to Split Your Church

Matt. 12:22-30 Then was brought unto him one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. Or else how can one enter into a strong man's house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.
  1. Focus only on our own desires - Jas 4:1-3 From whence come wars and fightings among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members? Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
  2. Listen to every criticism - Prov. 26:20 Where no wood is, there the fire goeth out: so where there is no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.
  3. Focus on your pastor's weaknesses and not his strengths - Heb 13:17 Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.
  4. Speak the truth or practice love - but never combine the two - Eph 4:15 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
  5. Store up wrongs for future use - Heb 12:15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;
  6. Only forgive those that ask you to forgive them - Col 3:12-13 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
  7. Hide your sin by speaking out against others - Matt. 23:25 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye make clean the outside of the cup and of the platter, but within they are full of extortion and excess.

Eph 4:1-3 I therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

Monday, December 11, 2006

A Preacher On The Fence

From out of the millions of the earth
God often calls a man
To preach the word, and for the truth
To take a royal stand.
"Tis sad to see him shun the cross,
Nor stand in its defense
Between the fields of right and wrong:
A preacher on the fence.

Before him are the souls of men
Bound for Heaven or Hell;
An open Bible in his hand,
And yet he will not tell
All the truth that's written there,
It haveth an offence -
The joys of Heaven, the horrors of Hell -
A preacher on the fence.

Now surely God has called the man
To battle for the right.
"Tis his to ferret out the wrong
And turn on us the light.
And yet he dare not tell the truth,
He fears the consequence,
The most disgusting thing on earth
Is a preacher on the fence.

If he should stand up for the wrong,
The right he'd not defend;
If he should stand up for the right,
The wrong he would offend.
His mouth is closed, he cannot speak
For freedom or against.
Great God deliver us from
A preacher on the fence.

But soon both sides will find him out
And brand him as a fraud,
A coward who dares not to please
The devil or his God.
Oh God, free us from fear of man,
From cowardly pretence;
Cleanse out the dross and fear of loss,
And keep us off the fence.

Author unknown.......

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Are You A Fool???

  1. An athiest is a Fool. Pslm. 14:1 The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.
  2. A sinner is a Fool. 1 Sam. 26:21 Then said Saul, I have sinned: return, my son David: for I will no more do thee harm, because my soul was precious in thine eyes this day: behold, I have played the fool, and have erred exceedingly.
  3. A Bible rejector is a Fool. Prov. 10:8 The wise in heart will receive commandments: but a prating fool shall fall.
  4. A rebellious son is a Fool. Prov. 15:5 A fool despiseth his father's instruction: but he that regardeth reproof is prudent.
  5. A loose tongued man is a Fool. Prov. 29:11 A fool uttereth all his mind: but a wise man keepeth it in till afterwards.
  6. A lazy man is a Fool. Eccl. 4:5 The fool foldeth his hands together, and eateth his own flesh.
  7. A man who would be wealthy without God is a Fool. Luke 12:20 But God said unto him, Thou fool, this night thy soul shall be required of thee: then whose shall those things be, which thou hast provided?
  8. A braggart is a Fool. 2 Cor. 11:23 Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft.
  9. A liar is a Fool. 2 Cor. 12:6 For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me.

Conclusion: If you are going to be a Fool, be God's Fool. 1 Cor. 3:18 Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

My Sole Consolation

They tell me my Bible's outdated, that its teachings are no longer true;
God's just an etherel spirit who cares nothing for me or for you.
They tell me that all men are brothers, and they laugh of the need of rebirth,
They talk of a coming new kingdom that's evolving right here on the earth.
They scoff at the Birth of my Saviour; He was only a man, so they say;
His life was the perfect example, where we follow as He leads the way.
They altered each creed in my Bible, each doctrine they've ripped to a shred;
They say I've not need for Salvation, and that Christ did not rise from the dead.
I listen, but all they tell me makes me cling to my Bible the more:
For nowhere but in its sacred pages is the comfort I've sought o'er and o'er.
No, this book is my sole consolation; I believe it is holy and true;
I'll cling to its teachings forever, for I've faith in its Author - don't you?

Copied from the Keystone Baptist

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Prayer Request For Pastor David Reagan

Please help me pray for a dear friend of mine and my family, Pastor David Reagan of Antioch Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN. He has a highly practical, biblically based web ministry, Learn the Bible (click the link above to take you to that site) with many great resources for the serious Bible student, as well as one who is seeking the truth about God and His word. His website receives thousands of hits per day and is reaching into the entire world, with many comments received from third world countries from persucuted Christians thanking him for the many Biblical resources which can used for their spiritual growth and ministry where they are located. Pastor Reagan was a tremedous help to me several years ago, and he has provided me much Godly counsel and wisdom as he helped me grow stronger in faith and purpose in serving my Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Please read the following information from their Learn the Bible newsletter dated 12/7/06 regarding Pastor Reagan's current health condition.

Brethren, Pray for Us - I Thes. 5:25

As many of you are aware, our Pastor has been dealing with a great deal of pain in his hip area for nearly a year. For the longest time, doctors were not able to find the heart of the problem. On Thursday, November the 30th, Pastor Reagan was diagnosed with cancer. We are not sure what type of cancer it is at this point. We ask that you pray fervently for the Lord's will to be accomplished in the life of our Pastor, his family and our church during this time of trial. We do not believe Pastor Reagan's work here is done and so we are trusting God to heal him. Below are some words of encouragement penned by Pastor Reagan after receiving the diagnoses.

"I do not know how to explain it apart from the Lord, but I have quickly received complete peace about the situation. I have always lived my life on the assumption that anything that happened to me totally apart from my own actions was automatically the will of God for my life. This assumption has always served me well. Why worry about those things that I truly cannot change. Therefore, I am convinced that this is of the Lord for His good. Though it may sound strange, I in a real way feel honored that the Lord would allow me to go through this trial for His sake. It is not persecution, but it is in the midst of a time of service for Him."

Who Are You To Judge???

(Here is a portion of a News With Views article by Dave Daubenmire posted 12/6/06 which I thought might be of interest to some of my blog friends. Click the link above to read the entire article.)

...... “We’re Christians too, but we actually follow what Jesus told us…JUDGE NOT,” she spit the words through her clenched teeth, “You would better represent Christianity if you followed that command as well. Young lady, who are you to judge?”

Sadly, most Christians think “judge not” is the eleventh commandment.

Unfortunately, as we do ministry on the streets, that is the one Bible verse that most people love to quote. They are not sure where it is found, but they do know that those are the words of Jesus. In fact, in today’s modern Christianity, “judge not” carries more weight than another of Christ’s one-liners, ”Go and sin no more.” This is a situation where a little Bible knowledge can be a dangerous thing.

JUDGE NOT and THOU SHALL NOT are not stand alone statements.

If you don’t mind, I think it would be healthy if we allowed the Lord to complete the thought. If your mother said to you “EAT NOT”…wouldn’t you like to know the rest of the statement? Eat not, why?

Mathew 7:1-5 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother's eye.”

You see, Jesus commanded us to not judge hypocritically, He never commanded us not to judge. He asked us to remove the speck so we could “see clearly” to help our brother.

I Corinthians 2:15 “But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.”

We are instructed to judge all things….things…not people. Killing an unborn child is an action, a thing if you will, and actions, things, and fruits, are to be judged.

Matthew 7:15-18 “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.” Jesus clearly delineates between good and bad, and exhorts us to do the same. That requires judgment.

Still not convinced? How about I Corinthians 6:2-4 “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters? Know ye not that we shall judge angels? how much more things that pertain to this life? If then ye have judgments of things pertaining to this life, set them to judge who are least esteemed in the church.”

“….How much more the things that pertain to this life.” Abortion kills a child. Why are we afraid to say that? If abortion can’t be judged as sin, what good is the church? Abortion is not a woman’s mistake. It is her sin. Christ has called us to tell her. How else will she ever know she needs forgiven? Not all mistakes are sin and not all sins are mistakes. In fact, most sins are done on purpose.

But here is the gist of the issue. The sin problem in America is compounded by the “cheap grace” doctrine taught in most churches. Perhaps we should ask ourselves, does Jesus forgive pre-meditated sin? If I take a gun and shoot my wife, but before I pull the trigger I ask the Lord to forgive me for what I am about to do, does He forgive me? Heaven forbid!

The only sin Christ can’t forgive is unconfessed sin. He didn’t die for mistakes, he died for sins. We would do well to call it what he called it. Sin is sin, and it requires a payment. Without the shedding of blood sin cannot be forgiven. How can you ask forgiveness for a sin if no one told you it was a sin?

James 2:12 So speak and so do as those who will be judged by the law of liberty. 13 For judgment is without mercy to the one who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.

Hmmm, mercy triumphs over judgment, huh? So, in other words, there can be no mercy unless judgment comes first.

Have you ever heard of a judge in a courtroom giving someone a suspended sentence? What does that mean? Would it be safe to say that the defendant was found guilty by the judge, but the judge offered the defendant grace or forgiveness from the penalty? Can the judge suspend the sentence before he pronounces the verdict? Of course not. Grace requires guilt. Guilt requires that some one cast judgment. Grace comes only after the guilty verdict has been determined.

Our sins have found us all guilty. When Christ died on the cross He in effect served your time. He didn’t suspend your sentence, He served your sentence. A price had to be paid. Remember, mercy triumphs over judgment. No judgment, no mercy.

The price of sin is death. That is a scary thing. The soul that sins, it shall die. If you sin, you die. Christ came so that you wouldn’t have to. He died in your place.

In an American courtroom what does a judge do? Is it not his job to listen to the evidence and determine the guilt or innocence of the defendant before him? He doesn’t judge the person, he judges the evidence. The penalty follows the verdict.

Can anyone imagine a defendant saying to the judge “judge not, Your Honor,” or “who are you to judge”? That would be ridiculous to say. Judging is his job. It would be a sad state of affairs if the judge was more worried about being nice than he was about rehabilitating lawbreakers and protecting the innocent.

Would my friend at the abortion clinic have been more loving, would she have been nicer, would she have been more Christ-like, if she had stood silently by while that young teenage girl killed her child and embarked on a life of regret as a result of the second “mistake” she was about to make? If we loved her wouldn’t we want to prevent that?

Silence isn’t golden, it’s yellow. Warn the wicked. What Would Jesus Do? I’ll let you be the judge.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Five "C"s To The Ministry

I believe there are five "C"s to the ministry; The Community, The Crowd, The Congregation, The Committed, and The Core.

Our job is to go into the Community and invite them to be part of the Crowd on Sunday, where they can hear the Gospel and be saved, and then to baptize them into the Congregation where they can be taught to be Committed to the Lord and the things of God and the local church, then as God begins a new work in their hearts to become part of the Core that is in the Service of the King!!!!!

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Is It Right, Or Is It Wrong?

Prov. 4:14-15 Enter not into the path of the wicked, and go not in the way of evil men. Avoid it, pass not by it, turn from it, and pass away.

Sincere Christians always seek God's guidance in their daily activities. The first mention of the name "Christian" is found in Acts 11:26 as it is apparent there was found a noticably different lifestyle in them, the followers of Christ, by the other citizens of Antioch. We who claim to be Christians today must depend upon the word of God for our own daily direction in following the commands of God.

Prov. 4:25-27 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
Prov. 5:21 For the ways of man are before the eyes of the LORD, and he pondereth all his goings.

But situations often arise that test the ability of the Christian to discern right from wrong or to make the better choice. Situations vary, but the word of God remains an absolute guide; this is the only way we can keep our walk within God's will:

Rom. 12:1-2 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Here are some questions to ask yourself to determine God's view on situations which arise in our daily life:
  1. Can you ask God to bless it? Prov. 10:22 The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it.
  2. Can you thank Him for it? Col. 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
  3. Is it to the glory of God? 1 Cor. 10:31 Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. Or is it of the world? 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
  4. Is it a stumbling block to others? 1 Cor. 8:9 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak.
  5. Will it be a weight? Heb. 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
  6. Is it to please God or man? Col. 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
  7. Do I realize the consequences? Gal. 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
  8. Will it serve the right master? Matt. 6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
  9. Will His indwelling presence permit it? 1 Cor. 6:19-20 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.
  10. Would I want to be doing this when Christ comes again? Matt. 24:44 Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.
  11. Does it promote love? Rom. 13:8-10 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
  12. Is it something Christ would take part in Himself? Luke 9:23 And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.

Saturday, December 02, 2006

Do We Have a Preserved Text?

(Since many people today have similar questions regarding Bible versions and preservation, I thought I would post an excellent article by Pastor David Reagan from his Learn the Bible web ministry which addresses this topic. Click the link above to find the article and access other articles at his website. Please help me pray for Pastor Reagan..... he was recently found out he has cancer.)

Question: Please don't be alarmed by my question. I am doing some research, and some questions are coming to light. Here are a few:
1. How can we say that the Masoretic Hebrew text is a word for word exact copy of the "originals," when the KJV translators apparently didn't believe this?
2. How can we say that the Textus Receptus Greek NT is an exact, word for word copy of the "originals?" The KJV translators did not depend upon a single Greek manuscript for their work, so apparently they did not believe they had an exact copy of the originals?
3. How can we say the 1611 KJV is a "verbally preserved," (word for word) English translation of the "originals?" It appears by reading the "Preface to the Reader" included in the 1611 that the KJV translators did not believe their work was absolutely, word for word perfect.

Answer: Thank you for your letter. With your spirit as it is, the letter certainly does not disturb me. You are dealing with some of the same things I have had to deal with as I got further and further into the subject of Bible preservation. I grew up with a simple faith in the King James Bible, then I went to Bible college and became convinced that there was no such thing as a perfect Bible. Later, the Lord got ahold of me and turned me back to the King James Bible. I saw the lines of manuscripts and the evidence for the King James readings that was ignored by the scholars and knew I had the evidence I needed for faith in the King James text.

For a while, I studied out every problem with the intent to answer every charge against the King James Bible. But as I went on, I realized that there was always going to be another problem and another issue to solve. Some of the key ones needed answers, but I could easily spend my entire life trying to answer every question. I went through another transition. I returned very close to the simple faith I started out with in my youth. I believe God is in charge of the preservation of His Bible.

Now, that being said, my newfound knowledge of manuscripts and their transmission made it impossible for me to go back to the simple faith without some inner understandings. These understandings help me to see the breadth of God's hand on the preservation process without being able to comprehend all the intricate details and workings of the Lord. Here are some of the things that helped me most.

PRODUCT: First, I had to determine what it was that I held in my hand. My conclusion is that the King James Bible is God's perfectly preserved text for the English speaking people of today. Although it is God's perfect word in the English and although it fully translates God's word from the Greek and Hebrew, I know that a strict word for word translation from any language to another is impossible by definition. A different language requires a different vocabulary, a different syntax, and so on. The King James text is more literal than the modern versions, but it is not perfectly literal. The perfection is in the results as contained in the King James text. God started with His words in Greek, Hebrew, etc., and ended up with His words in English. It is as simple as that.

PROCESS: I have studied evidences until I am full of evidences. I have preached one message called "Twenty-Four Proofs of the King James Bible." However, we must understand that evidences are just that. They lend support to the resulting conclusion. They are not absolute undeniable proofs. We read the evidences and come to a conclusion. Now, before you can say that this is unsatisfactory, let me point out that this is our approach in several key areas. How do we know that there is a God? We see the evidences of creation, conscience, etc., but we must finally come to the conclusion that God is the only answer that makes sense.

Closer to our subject, consider the canon of the New Testament. How do we know that the twenty-seven books of the New Testament are those placed there by God? Surely you do not believe we can trust in the conclusion of a Catholic Council hundreds of years after the books were written. The truth is, there are numerous evidences. None of them are a complete test-tube proof in and of themselves. In addition to this, we have some scriptural principles. Jesus told the apostles that the Spirit of truth would call things to their remembrance (Gospels and Acts), teach them all things (Epistles), and tell them of things to come (Revelation) [John 14:26; 16:13]. We expect God to keep His word and we expect Him to provide His word for His people. But those who expect nothing from God are ready to reject the validity of the New Testament canon.

Consider the process of accepting the canon. We see the promises that God would provide His truth. We see the evidences that He did it through the twenty-seven books of the New Testament. And, finally, we accept by faith that God did what He said He would do.

PROOF: So, what is my proof that the King James Bible is God's perfectly preserved word for today? I see two precepts concerning God's words. First, He will preserve His words (Psalm 12:6-7). His truth (which is His word - John 17:17) will endure to all generations (Psalm 100:5; 117:2). Also related to this is God's assumption that we have His words and can obey them. But there is a second and important precept. It is this: Man will always pervert and corrupt the true words of God (see 2Corinthians 2:17; 4:2). Taking these two precepts together, I come to two conclusions. First, God's true word will always be available somewhere on earth. Second, there will always be corruptions and counterfeits of God's holy word. Therefore, my job is not to determine whether or not God preserved His words. That would be a direct rejection of the information given to me by God. Rather, my duty is to discover that true word and where it is in the world today.

These promises and truths turn me to the evidences. How would God validate His word in the world today? It would certainly be a powerful text. It would change lives, bring revival and produce missionaries. There would be internal and external evidences. The text would have historical confirmation. The text would resonate with those closest to the Lord. This is not the place to go into the evidences, but I have been totally convinced by the evidences that the text of the King James Bible is God's perfect text for today. It could also be in other languages. I do not know. But I fully believe it to be in the English Authorized Version of 1611. As you can see, the evidences examined in the light of the promises lead to faith in the perfect word of God. To me, it is that simple.

PARTICULARS - However, you bring up other problems as well and I understand that these can be very troubling. You have discovered that there are variations in the Hebrew Masoretic text, the Greek Textus Receptus, and even in the King James English text. How can we deal with these? First of all, remember that man naturally corrupts everything he touches. This is true even when he does not mean to corrupt, but it especially true when he means to corrupt as is often the case. But my faith is not in the transmission powers or translation abilities of man. It is in the providential working of God to preserve His words.

Any individual copy may have errors in it (no matter how honest and benign). God does not promise to make sure that my individual copy of the Bible has no mistakes. If I find it in a text that is supposed to be true, I will not throw away the Bible, but only correct the copy I have. I have done this with misprints in the King James Bibles I have owned. To require each single copy or even one single copy to have no errors is to put the faith in man. Man makes mistakes. However, honest mistakes can usually be discovered and corrected.

I believe that there have been thousands upon top of thousands of forces moving on the Bible text for hundreds of years. Dishonest men have changed the text; honest men have made honest mistakes; true scholars have tried to correct the errors and alterations. Yet, if our only hope in the text rests on the labors of man, I would agree that it has been lost. But would God allow His words to be hopelessly lost in errors and corruptions. We must believe that He wants us to have His pure words. Therefore, I believe that He providentially works in the affairs of men, taking their errors and attempts and bringing out at certain times and in certain languages His perfect word and His perfect words.

We believe that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28), but we do not look on all things as good. God can pile up a bunch of negatives and make the end result a positive. He is good at multiplication, and when you multiply a negative by a negative, you get a positive. According to Psalm 76:10, he will turn the wrath of men into praise for Himself. This is His common way of working in the world. Therefore, the fact that the King James translators did not consider their work perfect has nothing to do with it. In fact, it is true that none of them did perfect work. They began with multiple translations before their time. Then, they passed their translation work from one person to another and from one committee to another. No lengthy text was the product of one individual translator. But the final result was the product of God working with power in the entire process. They were not inspired translators. God worked providentially among them to preserve His perfect text.

Finally, I believe that the work from 1611 to 1769 (though minor to the extreme) was God's final purifying of the text from typographical errors and such. On several occasions, I have allowed a congregation to choose a chapter in the Bible for me and I would then read them that chapter from a 1611 reprint of the King James Bible. To this date, no one has caught the first change in the text. I know there are a handful in there, but they are not of the sort that we see in the modern versions.

I cannot in a letter solve all your problems. They are real and I know that they are honest ones. However, I warn you not to try and understand it all. God says of man that He "hath set the world in their heart, so that no man can find out the work that God maketh from the beginning to the end" (Ecclesiastes 3:11). That means that He purposely hides the way He accomplishes His will from our eyes and understanding. His ways are unsearchable (Romans 11:33). In the end, we must come to Him in faith. If you were to go into a study of the canon of scripture in the same way you are studying manuscripts, you would probably be alarmed at the questions this would raise. The truth is, our belief in God, in the preserved canon of scripture, or in the preserved words of God, all come down to faith. Will you believe God's promises or not? I hope this helps you to think this through. God is trying to bring you to a breakthrough. I pray that He will see you through it.