right response to rebuke and reproof

2 Timothy 3:16-17: 16 34All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that 35the man of God may be competent, 36equipped 37for every good work.

Oh, we are always quick to condemn other people for being critical, judgmental, Pharisaic, legalistic and mean-spirited when we appeal to them for something they taught that was not in line with scripture. We love to climb onto the high horse of self-righteousness and exclaim, “How dare they question what I do in the name of Christ!”  The people on the stage have come to believe that they have a special anointing from God, like David received when he was made king.  They believe this special anointing gives them special status that puts them above everyone else, and especially those mean-spirited, low-life discernment people.  In the New Testament age, only the apostles could claim to have a special anointing because they were personally chosen by Jesus Christ.

So, how did an apostle handle a rebuke and reproof from another apostle? In Galatians 2, Paul is relating a story of what happened in that church when he was there and Peter was there as well.  The Jews from the church in Jerusalem came and Peter eventually segregated himself from the Gentiles and stayed with the Jews.  Paul confronts Peter about this and rebukes him in public, not holding anything back as he showed Peter his error.

How did Peter respond? Well, he didn’t go on and begin to tell Paul that he was part of the “Original Twelve” so he had a higher status rating than Paul.  He didn’t remind Paul that his statement of faith about Jesus being Christ, the Son of God, was the first stone laid on the foundation of Christ.  We are not really told what Peter’s reaction was.

But we can discern what his reaction was. In Peter’s second letter, he places the letters of Paul in equal standing with the Old Testament by calling them “scripture”.  If Peter had held a grudge because of the confrontation from Paul then that statement would have never been made.  Peter was reminded by Paul that the Jews no longer to be considered special because they had been given the Law.  They could not keep the Law so God now included the Gentiles in His plan of salvation and have grafted them into the Vine, Jesus Christ.  In this new covenant, all were in equal standing before God.  Jews were no longer the only people who would receive special grace from God.

Peter is the biblical example on how to handle a biblical rebuke and reproof. If only our megachurch celebrity leaders would read that part of the bible.

proper criticism

I read an article in Christianity Today, Leadership Journal section, that is somewhat short-sighted and is somewhat misleading.  The author claims to be on the side of one group and then calls that group mean-spirited and so negative.  The article is titled “The Church Needs More Creative Christians and Better Critics” by Karl Vaters (http://www.christianitytoday.com/karl-vaters/2016/january/church-needs-more-creative-christians-and-better-critics.html).  In it he refers to four blogs he had read but does not source-link any of them, just gives a general idea of what the article is about.

I will talk about the first one, “10 Biblical reasons any (a new Christian book)”. Well, the Christian book the article is talking about is not new and is not something any Christian should read.  (This is the article he referred to:   http://www.challies.com/articles/10-serious-problems-with-jesus-calling). Jesus Calling is not a book any Christian should read.  My former pastor loved the book.  He read it a few times on our Wednesday night bible study time and something didn’t seem right.  I did not read the book myself but also did not read anything said about it, good or bad, at the time.  I generally do not read daily devotional reading books.  I don’t know why I just don’t have the desire to.

Since then, I have read a lot of criticisms of the book. The articles quoted the book, sourced the quote and then compared it with scripture.  It is a dangerous book.  Emptying one’s mind opens it up for some other entity to enter in and it is not from God.  We as Christians already have the Holy Spirit living within us, why do we need to open our emptied minds to God?  As far as understand what scripture says He wants to fully engaged with Him with all our faculties, not just our hearts (that is another blog post soon to come).

Vaters’ issue is with the critics, citing them for being mean-spirited in their criticism.  These criticisms have been around for years.  The updated printing of Jesus Calling removed the overt New Age verbiage and added Christianese so the book would be more palatable to the Christian community.  The problem is that the book still promotes a New Age tilted way of experiencing God.  If the criticism was presented in sincere manner there is still no guarantee it will be received with humility.

My biggest problem with Vaters point was that it is the critics who are in the wrong. What if the criticism was presented to the person and they did not receive it?  How many times do people in ministry who have a big spotlight shining on them believe they are above reproof and rebuke?  How many times to they cite that they are doing is being done for the glory of God?  How many times is that statement said with false humility and pompous piety?  We do not know if privately these critics already raised their concerns to the person to no avail and now are sharing those concerns publicly because they need to warn unsuspecting Christians of the danger.  It is called discernment.

Most creative people create to draw attention to only one entity, themselves. They pretend to deflect the praise and acclaim in public but who really knows what is going on in the heart and mind except for God.  I know.  I write these blogs and wonder if someone will appreciate it so I can good inside.  I don’t want to write them for that reason.  I want to write them so that they turn people’s vision from the horizontal plane or inward direction towards the God who sacrificed His only Son for the sake of His creation.

Vaters immediately calls it criticism, a word usually received with a negative connotation. Why not name it discernment, concern for the orthodox doctrine of the church, contending for the faith as Jude tells us to do?  The ones creating are not challenged of the method or vehicle used in the creative process, they are criticized for the substance or content of their message.  It is called discernment and we as Christians are told to contend for the faith in the book of Jude.

I think creative Christians should continue to be creative but they cannot hold themselves above criticism. They cannot believe that the music or poem or prose or painting or whatever vehicle or method they use is more important than the message remaining true to the written word of God.  And when the message strays and teaches a different gospel than the one preached in the bible, critics should express concern and call the creative Christians for what is not biblical.

It is the health of the church that is of more importance than the hurt feelings of an individual.

i love celebrity pastors!

If these mega-church celebrity pastors are making six figure salaries, then what do the people who attend their church receive in return? I mean it seems all they get in return is the privilege to listen to empty sermons on a weekly basis and to say that they attend a church that pastor so-and-so is the lead pastor.  Oh, what a return on their investment!  They get to say they sit in seat number 6,752 every week at the 10:00am sermon on every Sunday.  Isn’t that wonderful?  They get to sit and listen as the speaker, in all piety, tells the audience how the story of Samson is really about them and their struggle against their critics.

We are moronic and star-struck by the celebrity pastors. We love to listen to them talk about themselves and how we can strive to be just like them.  We can be successful just like they are, driving the nicest and newest cars, live the big fancy home in the gated community, eat in all the best restaurants, stay in the nicest hotels if we just had as much faith as they have.  We could have it all.

Of course they have it all because they have cast their hooks into our wallets and bank accounts. That is where their faith is, in our stupidity and gullibility, in our inherent desire to satisfy the lusts of the flesh and to cash in on a little of our heavenly inheritance while we are still living in the earthly realm.

We can never spend our heavenly inheritance here on earth because it would never manifest itself in a material way. It is chasing after rainbows and searching for that pot o’ gold.

We have to repent and return to the bible. We need to stop listening to people who paraphrase or give a thumbnail sketch of a story because reading the whole text would not jive with their man-centered point.  We need to return to our first love and ignore our ever-present lust of the flesh.

peter pan and the Neverland church

We have embraced immaturity.  The church has entered into the Neverland of church growth.  We have redefined what it means to be a mature Christian.  No longer is knowledge of the bible and orthodox doctrines considered the path to Christian maturity.  No longer is looked upon as a worthy endeavor to study the bible as a layman.  We have accepted the standards setup by the Christian leadership as to what a mature Christian looks like.  Peter Pan has become the person who sets the guidelines and defines the qualities of a mature Christian.

The modern definition of a mature Christian is how much they volunteer, how much they are involved in the workings of the church.  Volunteering for ushering, greeting, children’s ministries, café, and small group leader is considered the truer sign of a mature Christian.  How much is done to advance the vision of the lead Vision Caster is considered the ultimate fulfillment of the Christian life.  The more we do so the leader has to do less is considered maturity.  Submitting blindly to the leader and his authority allegedly given to him because he received a direct revelation from God via a vision is a mark of true maturity.

I have heard vision casters call those who want teaching that is more directly drawn from the bible, teaching centered on the orthodox doctrines of the historical church, who question or disagree with what the pastor is teaching, human excrement.  I have heard pastors claim that those who desire teaching that is exposited from a biblical text are losers, selfish, legalistic, judgmental and Pharisaic.

In Hebrews 5:11-14, we read this:

11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

This is said before the writer moves on ahead of a deeper understanding about the priesthood in the order of Melchizedek, and how Jesus is our priest in the order of Melchizedek.  He scolds the recipients of his letter for not knowing and understanding more about what the scriptures teach about Jesus, for remaining elementary and child-like in their understanding of the Word of God.  The writer of Hebrews indicates that a deeper learning of our Lord and Savior is important but expected.  Advancement in learning is a good thing so that we can edify and encourage one another as members of the church body.

We were part of a small group in our church and I was a little surprised and baffled by the lack of understanding of the bible by the leaders of the group.  They did not know the difference between justification and sanctification.  They had been going to church for years, and not just the one they were in now, the previous church they were leaders.  How can it be expected for them to help others understand the bible and doctrine of the bible if they don’t have a clue themselves?

In addition, I have heard our pastor say disparaging remarks about home bible studies.  The reason is because there is always someone who likes to show off their knowledge of the bible.   The other reason is because it is not monitored so the potential for heretical teaching is high.  The implication is that the only one can trust to really teach the truth of the bible is the pastor.  Who’s to say that he may teach something that is heretical?  Who can question him on what he teaches?  This is a dangerous precedent in that if the lead pastor is the sole authority on the interpretation of scripture then who is to hold him accountable for a message that is not biblically sound.

This is the immaturity of the church.  The lead pastor and leadership design services that are supposed to be attractive, entertaining and fun.  The people in the church are encouraged to serve as a means of spiritual growth and leave the bible teaching to the pastor.  The people are spoon-fed teachings with topical messages that address personal needs.  This doesn’t lead to spiritual growth but to stagnation.  Performing good works is a fruit of our faith and devotion to our Lord but it is not the only sign of spiritual maturity.  Teaching others what you have learned is also a good work because you are edifying the church.

The church needs to escape from Neverland Christendom and seek to grow in knowledge of Jesus Christ.  It is time for the Captain Hooks, the discerners, to be bold for their church so it does not grow too sick.  All teaching should be held accountable to the word of God.  No pastor or teacher is above being challenged on what they are teaching.

heartless tugs on the heart

I have listened to some of these people speak who are part of the seeker-driven movement and Emergent church.  They all sound so earnest as they play their word games.  They apply this tone in their voice as they speak words that are supposed to seem profound but only sound profound because of the inflection in their voice.  They just sound so thoughtful as they philosophize in vagaries and wordy sentences.  Do they ever really get to a point of answering a question directly?

We have become a church who is easily led by our emotions.  We have become dependent on how we feel that we have accustomed to letting our emotions govern our opinions and decisions.  We have lost the ability to think and reason detached from our feelings.  We listen to this liberal church leaders as they speak with a heavy dose of piety dripping from every word which is designed to get the listener to stop listening with their brain and listen with their emotions.   And if they are successful at that they have us.

The Emergent church as lost its momentum because they became too overt in their presentation.  They were too clear in their views in regards to orthodox theology, denying outright central doctrine.  They used a lot of questions to get one to ask those same questions in their mind.  But each question is not a question but a statement.  By posing it as a question they meant to disarm their listeners and get them to think and question essential doctrine.  Does it sound familiar?

What did the serpent do in the garden?  Didn’t he lead Eve along with a few questions followed by a mocking comment at the absurdity of God’s proclamation, “Did God really say that? That isn’t what He meant you silly girl.”  That was followed by telling her that God has something that He doesn’t want to share, not only that, He is terrified of the power you would attain if you ate of that fruit!

The seduction hasn’t changed, only the apparent reward.  You can come to our church, enjoy the rocking music and the part stand-up comic routine and storytime sermon.  Come as you are because God has accepted me he will also accept you, affirm you where you are in your journey and allow you to feel like part of the family.  This is the seeker-driven model.  This is how they present Christianity.  They are not far from the Emergents in their beliefs it’s just that they are more skilled at disguising them.  They slip on occasion when they speak and manage to recover the mask before it falls too far.

It’s all a play on words meant to play on our emotions.  We have lost the skill to use our brains.  If we use our brains and oppose what is wrong in light of the teaching of God’s word then we are often called Pharisees, bigots, ignorant, unloving, legalists, moralists and divisive.  Ee-gads! What terrible people we are for using our brains.  We have to re-train ourselves to listen with our brains and not appeals to the heart.  The church of Christ depends on it.

The seeker-driven model is dangerous.  It is that harmless piece of lettuce on the burger you ate in a Central American restaurant.  You eat lettuce all the time except they washed the lettuce in local water with its local parasites and amoebas that wreak havoc to your gastric system.  I know, I made the mistake and paid for it for almost two weeks.  It must be purged from your body or you will suffer.  We must purge the false teaching and false promises from the pulpit.

This blog seems a little scatter-brained like an Emergent teacher’s monologue but it is the subtlety of the message that appeals to the emotions and bypasses the brain and logic.  We are to worship God in spirit and in truth, our hearts and brains.  Always be soberminded and not drunk on the words of worldly knowledge.

more thoughts on human nature

I have had more thoughts about my something my ex-wife said to me.  I’m not sure if I shared this part but one of my daughters received inappropriate messages from a boy her age.  She was upset, her mom was upset and I was upset.  I had to call the parents of the boy in question and so on and so forth.  It is now a he said/she said situation and these situations never have a winner.  I believe my daughter and would defend her accusation but I didn’t see the need to pursue the matter with the boy’s parents when they did not find the messages.  They would defend him just like I would defend my daughter.

In the ensuing conversation with my ex-wife I told her what I said to my daughter.  I said to her that this is how the world is.  Some boys will say inappropriate things because they are influenced by the music they listen to, the movies and television shows they watch and their friends and these influences shape their sexual attitude.  I also mentioned that it doesn’t help that most clothing designed for women is meant to accentuate their bodies.   I am not validating or excusing any inappropriate sexual comments.  It is wrong and always will be wrong to make such comments.

Her mother told her it should not matter if she walked naked down the hallway the boys should not have any sort of sexual comment or thought about her.  And then she latched onto my statement about the clothing, completely ignoring what I had previously said, started on some diatribe about men’s attitude towards women is that men feel like sex is owed to them by women and that men are taught by their fathers and brothers to assert their dominance over women, with whatever means necessary.  I was incensed but refrained from responding.

After I calmed down and had time to think about it, I realized that those comments came from a wrong view of the basic nature of man.  She believes that people, men and women, are born with a good nature.  Anything that can be seen as bad or evil must’ve been learned by the person.  All bad behavior is learned behavior and if people were not exposed to bad things they wouldn’t do bad things and we would have a utopian society.  In other words, a pipedream.  This is a worldview that is doomed to confuse people, anger people and depress people because they will not be able to understand why people do bad things.

I told my kids that what I believed was that people are born with a bad (read: sinful) nature with the ability to do good things.  Many people more knowledgeable than me have developed better arguments and provided a better dissertation on this topic.  I basically told my kids that all of this behavior that seems contrary is not learned but instead is inherent in all of us.  We are born with these tendencies and do not need to be taught how to do bad things.  Quite the opposite, we need to learn good behaviors because we are essentially selfish.

As I thought about this afterwards I realized that if we held to the latter view, even if we are not necessarily born-again Christians, we would probably have a less stressful life overall.  We would encounter this type of behavior, understand where it comes from, a sinful nature inherited from Adam, and be able to move on.  We would know not to dwell on the whys and hows and what was that person thinking when they did that.  This is what is usually causes people to pay vast amounts of money to therapists and psychiatrists and such because they do not know how to process evil intentions of other people

the mutation of liberal theology

I’m sure there were liberal theologians throughout the history of the church.  After the Age of Enlightenment with the achievements of man and his place in the universe we became arrogant and a little more bold in our thinking.  Men began to boldly declare atheistic views which were usually left to corners of society.  We advanced in technology, inventing things and improving existing things to make life easier.  We thought we were on our way to a better society and man was going to be the driving force without God.

Then the church adopted this thinking to doctrine and theology.  They incorporated man-centered ideas into their teachings by taking away things attributed to God and assigning them to men.  This became more prominent in the 19th century and really took hold in the early part of the 20th century.  Since it has been accepted as part of the mainstream church and the conservative doctrinal arm has been fighting off this scourge after ignoring the problem in hopes it would go away.  But it didn’t, it sunk its tentacles into the church and we are still trying to fight off this infection.

The main teaching is that God will not punish man for their sins.  Either all would be saved in the end or God does not have the authority to punish sins.  They attacked all the essential doctrines surrounding the gospel.  The liberal teachers had made headway after gaining the beachhead of doctrine.

Today, the teaching has morphed into something different, something worse and a lot more destructive.  Like a virus that mutates, liberal doctrine has mutated into Word of Faith, Prosperity and Emergent teachings.  It seems the assumption made by the teachers like Joel Osteen, T.D. Jakes, Hillsong, Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn and others is that what the liberal theologians of the early 20th century is true because they allude to it.  Now that God is a God of love and not one of wrath then all that He is ours for the taking.  We can loot heaven so we can live like pirate kings on earth.

This is so dangerous because we all want everything, every comfort, every gadget with no worry about money or anything that would make us look poor.  This appeals to the base lust and covetous notions within us all, even those who are saved by the blood of Christ.  We want it all without paying the cost, and are willing to give money to the panderers of the theology of tickling ears.

The liberal theology was dangerous before but has now morphed into something far more cancerous and deadly to the church body.