Friday, May 25, 2012

Itching Ears

"A loving God would never send anyone to hell."  "God hates homosexuals."  "If you give enough of your income, God will make you rich."  "If you pray hard enough and claim it, you'll have everything you ever wanted and never have hardship." "We're all climbing the same mountain that leads to God, we're just on different sides of it." "God understands that you struggle with pornography and He loves you just the way you are, it's not a big deal because He has grace."

Sadly, the above list aren't things I've heard people outside the church say.  These are things I've heard inside the church, from Christians.  Even more sad, some of them are from pastors claiming to preach the word of God.  It wouldn't necessarily be such a big deal if these "christians" didn't twist scripture to make it sound as if this stuff was biblical, but they do.  AND, many of them have whole followings of people that lift of the same cry, simply because they're either too gullible or too lazy to pick up the Bible, read it and realize it doesn't say ANY of that.

Our generation, as a people, have not taken serious the warnings littering the pages of the New Testament pertaining to false teachers within the church.  These warnings are directed right at us and we still fall into the traps they warn against.  Warnings like, Jude 3 & 4 which say:

Dear friends, I had been eagerly planning to write to you about the salvation we all share. But now I find that I must write about something else, urging you to defend the faith that God has entrusted once for all time to his holy people. I say this because some ungodly people have wormed their way into your churches, saying that God’s marvelous grace allows us to live immoral lives. The condemnation of such people was recorded long ago, for they have denied our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.

Ungodly people have indeed wormed their way into The Church.  They stand on a platform in which things that couldn't be farther from the Gospel message are delivered as the Good News Jesus "meant" to teach.  But, if you look for it in the pages of God's divine revelation to man, the Bible, you'll not find what they preach.  Oh, you may find a scripture verse, taken out of context, that if twisted just the right way seems to lend credence to what they say, but it's a hard sell.  The truth is, some of the stuff, being preached as Jesus' message, couldn't be farther from the Gospel message and has effectively made them (as a church) not Christian.  It is SO important to know where, what the preacher is teaching comes from.  1 John 4:1 says:

Dear friends, do not believe everyone who claims to speak by the Spirit. You must test them to see if the spirit they have comes from God. For there are many false prophets in the world.

If what is being taught does not agree with the whole of scripture, run!  The only way you will know if it does is if you read the Bible yourself.  At out church our Lead Pastor encourages the congregation to "not just believe what he says", but to go home and read it for ourselves and allow God to speak it to our hearts.

Here's a couple clues to help determine whether the church you're attending is not teaching Jesus.  These aren't all inclusive and at the very least you should do some biblical checking if you see any of these in your church.

1.  They don't say the name Jesus.  If the pastor never (or even rarely) says Jesus, his message may not be about Jesus.  We should be unashamed of the Good News about Christ (Romans 1:16).  Part of that is not denying His name and who He is, because if we do, He will deny us (Matthew 10:33).

2.  If they suggest "there are many roads to God".  There aren't.  There is one way to God and it's through Jesus, He said so Himself (John 14:6).

3.  If every Sunday sermon is somehow linked back to "God needing your money for His work to be done".  He doesn't need your money, He's God.  He does, however, need and desire your obedience and trust, and part of that is tithing.

4.  If they use the word "HATE", other than to refer to God hating actual sin.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "christians" say "God hates fags."  It turns my stomach EVERY time.  If that's the case, "God hates sleaze ball adulterers", "God hates sluts (this includes anyone that is promiscuous - that is anyone that has had sex with more than the person they are married to)", and "God hates anyone that doesn't follow all ten commandments to the tee". This is crap and not even close to truth.  God IS love.  He hates sin, because He's holy and it separates us from Him.  With that said, He did everything necessary to reconcile us to Him because He doesn't hate us, but loves us (ALL of us) without measure.

5.  If excuses are made for sin because "it's a part of who you are".  As Christians we are not to copy the ways of the world, but we're to be transformed into a new person (Romans 12:2).  And if we are children of God then we are called not to continue sinning (1 John 3:9).

6.  If what they teach and believe is NOT biblical in basis and does NOT line up with scripture.  If they teach out of any other text as a "supplement" to or further revelation of the Bible, they are not teaching Jesus, thus not Christian.

There are other indications, some may not necessarily mean they're not Christian, but they may have their priorities set wrong.  If they are more concerned with your feelings, rather than your holiness, they may be catering to your itching ears rather than feeding your soul.  If they are not actively engaged in seeking the lost and serving the needy, they may be Christian, but they are not carrying forward the mission of Jesus. 

All the above stuff is simply cultures way of presenting a "gospel" that is pleasing to hear and requires little from us.  We don't take seriously Paul's words to Timothy when he warned,

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.

Many are chasing myths, because it's easier than the alternative - a life of servanthood in which we take the hard steps to love others with the love of Jesus, forgiving trespasses against us and pouring ourselves out for the sake of others.  But easier isn't better.  In this case, it's destructive.  Don't just believe what you're told by a passionate speaker with a pulpit.  Seek truth, in the pages of the Bible.

Seeking Truth,

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Be a Man of God... It's Easy, Right?

With the approaching of my two older son’s birthdays I wanted to do something impactful.  James is 15 and Andrew is 13. My younger son’s birthday is coming up in June, but being a toddler impactful looks like sprinklers or bouncy castles.  Since this was Andrew’s birthday in which he enter teen-hood,I wanted to do something that prepared him for his fast approaching manhood.  I wish I had done this for James at 13, but better late than never.  Because I don’t just want to prepare them for manhood, but godly manhood and because I wanted the most beneficial impact, I enlisted the help of some guys which have had huge impact on my life.  All these guys have been mentors, friends or both.  I truly believe one of the best ways to teach your children to follow God, after being the example yourself, is to surround them with other godly men and women. 

Here’s the rundown of the who’s who of godly men in my life (that have also been influential in my son’s lives, too.  That was the criteria.  It does no good for someone that affected me, to speak into my kids’ lives.).  They are:  Jeff Maness,  Andy Hazelet, CurtisMarshall, Thomas Hogan, Morgan Clark & Devon Arredondo.

I asked each one of these guys to record a short video and share one thing that God has shown them for what it means to be a man of God.  Then I sat and watched the videos with them.  Shared my own thoughts with them and gave them a special gift to commemorate the day.  I also intend to write each message into a small journal I bought them and give it to them on their next birthday.

What these guys had to share with my boys was without a doubt, amazing.  Since some of them don’t listen to instructions so well, there were actually more than 6 things, but here’s what they (collectively) told my boys about being a man of God.

Be teachable.
Be pure.
Be a man of prayer.
Be obedient.
Be in His word (because obedience is found there).
Be serious about the task of being a man.
Be a pursuer of righteousness and godliness.
Be a man of faith.
Be loving.
Be diligent.
Be gentle.
Be aware of who you run with (Be in Christian community).

Way more than I could have asked for or expected.  I love these guys.  And I love that they care for my boys and I enough that at the drop of a hat they’d do this for them.  Not only that, but that's a list I want to be living.

Trying to live that list,