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The consequences

cross

People, especially young people, think that bible teaching sermons are old-fashioned, outdated and boring, but this is really what happens when verse by verse bible teaching isn’t happening in the church.

1. It strips the authority of God over the mind of the hearer. God is silenced.

2. It strips the lordship of Christ over His church. God leads the church by speaking to the church, but when it isn’t… preached, God is silenced.

3. It hinders the work of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit uses scripture to save. The scripture also sanctifies believers (changes us).

4. It legitimizes a lack of submission to God. Instead people will submit to the pastor giving the “talk.”

5. It removes spiritual depth and transcendence from the souls of people and it cripples worship. When people don’t have spiritual depth, they are easily manipulated by shallow worship music that is more me-centered than God-centered.

6. When the preacher doesn’t preach scripture, he devalues the importance of studying the bible.

7. It robs people of their only true source of help. God’s word is an anchor when people have really tough times.

8. It creates a disconnect between sound doctrine and life.

9. It dishonors God by omitting the truths that offend and terrify sinners. It is the same as lying to people when the truth is not preached. People cannot change if they don’t understand how sinful they are.

10. It removes protection from error. Faithful shepherds know they have to protect the flock from false teaching.

11. It deceives people into thinking they’ve heard from God when what they’ve really heard is a pastor’s or author’s idea about something. The way to hear from God is to read His word and hear His word.

12. It keeps a pastor from speaking for Christ. They are supposed to stand-in for the glorious shepherd until His return.

13. It disconnects people from the legacy of the past.

14. It breeds a congregation that is weak and indifferent to the glory of God. They can’t find joy because they don’t know the nature of God.

15. It severs the pastor from the sanctifying power of the word. If he isn’t sanctified, then his congregation won’t be either.

Summary of John MacArthur’s teaching on The Consequences of Non-Expository Preaching.
Part 2


The truth about lies – part 5

Please don’t stone me for this blog topic, but much money has been made on discussing sin — all types. We all sin, so that isn’t up for discussion, but somehow, many people have made their life’s work and paycheck by touring the country talking to about (name any sin).

One in particular though, is a “hot” topic right now — homosexuality, or whatever acronyms that are used to describe some facet of it. No matter how we “frame” it, it is still sin. To give time, resources, and so much explanation as so many have to sin, serves only to propagate the lie that deceives us into negating the power of Christ’s death on the cross to overcome ALL sin. The lie says we (people) can save others — that we (people) shouldn’t leave any behind — that we (people) are responsible if people die damned in their sin.

We ALL sin and fall short of the glory of God – Rom 3:23.

That’s exactly why He sent His son, but what I can’t understand is why we (people) spend so much time trying to understand cause and effect of sin (all kinds) when the bible says sin is the result of the fall. There are so many discussions, books, and speakers on sin, that all they do is blunt the true, wicked nature that we all have. Rom 3:10 says NONE are righteous, not even one.

The bible is sufficient for all people no matter what our struggles are. We don’t need to be told from the pulpit or in books the how’s, the why’s, the what to do’s about sin. Jer 17:9 says our hearts are desperately sick and we can’t understand it.

If we really believe that God is who He says He is and His son’s blood is the atonement for our sins, then He alone can release us from the bondage of our sin. The more we try to manage, work through, and survive our sin or help others with theirs, the more we take power away from Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. We don’t save people. We can’t even save ourselves – Christ alone does – Eph 2: 8-9.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to change us, we love as Christ loved and He abides in us — I Jn 4:16, but if we feel awkward, repulsed, or judgmental in being with other sinners, that is a work we need to ask the Holy Spirit to change in us. It’s personal. We all work out our salvation with fear and trembling – Phil 2:12-13.

When the Holy Spirit dwells in us, it does the work of changing our lives – John 4:10. Can we just go back to the bible and believe that IT is sufficient for teaching, reproving, correction, and instruction for our lives.- 2 Tim 3:16.

This isn’t just my opinion, this is what the bible says.

I’m praying today that churches will go back to the bible and let our LORD, Jesus Christ, do the work of saving souls. The more time and effort we give to understanding sin, the more time and effort is taken away from sharing God’s truth to the very ones who need to hear it.

Let’s let the word of God and the power of the cross change people’s lives.

Trusting God in all things and if you must stone me, at least try to hit the basket. I can use the stones to shore up my path – Ps 119:105.

Sorry. Bad believer humor. I know.


The slave vs. the servant:

Do you know the difference?

I had en ephiphany this morning. Some months ago, I read the book Redemption by Mark Driscoll, which by the way, I won’t recommend reading, but will elaborate on why later on in this blog.

One of the key ideas in the book, is that we are slaves to our “idols” (distractions that keep us from full relationship with God) much like the Israelites in the book of Exodus. The book says that we need to get rid of our idols and become “slaves” to righteousness.

As a mature Christian, I understand what Mark means, but the word “slave” never set well with me because the word has a negative connotation.

Many months ago, I started reading the KJV version of the bible instead of the NIV. I understand it nowdays in a way I never could before. (Thank you Jesus for lifting the veil.) For quite some time, I’ve been matching verses in both translations to see where they differ and if the changes, change the meaning. Many times, the NIV simply takes out the “thee’s,” “thou’s,” and words ending in “eth.” I don’t have a problem with that, but I am noticing in some places where replacing a word with a similar word, changes the meaning.

I think the slave vs. servant is one of those “key” changes that could be problematic in sharing the gospel with nonbelievers.

Websters dictionary defines a slave as one who is bound in servitude as the property of a person or household. Slavery is a condition of hard work and subjection.

The definition of servant is one who expresses submission, recognizance, or debt to another: obedient servant.

These definitions are vastly different as one means you have no choice in the matter, the other means a willing submission, obedience to your debtor.

If you look in the bible for verses that speak to our attitude towards a relationship with God, the NIV uses the word “slave” instead of “servant,” and while it seems the difference is slight, stop to ponder what you think and what you feel about both of those words.

For example:
Romans 6:17-18 – (NIV) 17 “But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you have come to obey from your heart the pattern of teaching that has now claimed your allegiance. 18 You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness.”
(KJV)17 “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you. 18 Being then made free from sin, ye became the servants of righteousness.”

Colossians 3:22 – (NIV) 22 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.”
(KJV) 22 “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God;”

Ephesians 6:5 – (NIV) 5 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ.”
(KJV) 5 “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;”

I’m not saying the NIV is bad, but I think that it’s always a good practice to balance it against the King James to make sure that the meaning has not been lost in translation.

The relationship we have in Christ we’ve chosen in total freedom; and not under the threat of slavery.

When I think of slavery, I think of being owned by someone. It is very negative and makes me think of torture, neglect, being shackled without choice.

When I think of servant, I automatically think of choice: The freedom to choose to serve someone or something. I also think of it as a selfless act of love and gratitude.

Many people are in some sort of bondage to something (eg. TV, video games, drinking, drugs, porno, overeating, to name a few) but isn’t it really that we’ve just chosen to serve those things rather than serve God fully?

When we look at the meaning of servant over slave, we can understand that it was our willfull choice to think, live and act the way we do.

I know. It’s hard to put ourselves under the microscope, but to live as a believer, we must be brutally honest with ourselves. We choose to serve many, many things, but when we become addicted to those things, it truly becomes slavery. We are in bondage.

The good news is that God provides a way for us to be completely “free” of anything that separates us from Him. The question is, do we really, really want that?

As I said earlier, the book called Redemption by Mark Driscoll, makes a valid point in that our “idols” enslave us and keep us from relationship with God, but the book also says that it’s better to be a slave to Christ (righteousness) than a slave to an addiction.

This is where I have to step away from it. Why would people in their right mind choose slavery to one thing to slavery over another? Why would we choose to be a slave to a master we can’t see, don’t know, or understand over being a slave to a material or physical things we can touch, feel, experience?

We don’t have to be in ANY kind of slavery. God lets us willfully, freely choose Him.

If you really want to be free to serve a mighty God, the bible is the best book for that; however, in the beginning, you may need help navigating through the passages. Neil T. Anderson has written several books on Freedom in Christ. But there are two I’m thinking about specifically that do a wonderful job of helping people become free — “Victory Over the Darkness” and “Bondage Breaker.”

I encourage anyone who is reading this blog, to take a good look at your life.

What fills your time?

Many of us have to work (and no, that’s not slavery — we get to choose who we serve) but outside of that, how do we spend our “free” time? Do we fill it with kid activities (sports, dance, play dates, etc.) and/or adult activities (hobbies, movies, exercise, etc.)?

None of those are bad things, but inside your daily living, how much time is spent “serving” God? Spending time with God?

To be healthy, we need a balance. It’s different for everyone, but through prayer and bible reading, God will guide you in every part of your life.


The hunger

I can remember when the first food commercial ads came out that said we could “Have it your way” (1974) and tennis shoe ads that told us to “Just do it” (1982).

I can also remember thinking how great those slogans were because they affirmed and promoted self-fulfillment and self-confidence and that perfectly fit with my teenage and young adult mindset because afterall, I was the most important person in MY life. But I hate to admit, I’ve felt this way much of my adult life.

I won’t go so far to say that the commercials are to blame for the totally self-involved and immature-thinking society that we’ve become, but our culture has fed us a steady diet of commercialism that feeds our needs, wants and desires but it always makes us “hungry” for more and the more. And the more we indulge our desires, the emptier we are so the more we indulge.

For example. When the Kindle came out, I wanted one right away. Once I got my Kindle, I heard about the Kindle “touch” and I thought it would sure be nice to have one, but told myself I’d wait a year or two before upgrading. In another example, I have plenty of clothes to work and play in, but The Loft clothing store always has new merch that I feel I must have in order to look trendy and nice while at work and play.

I’m not saying it’s bad to have nice stuff. I’m really not. What I’m noticing though is how quickly we (people) respond to or get hungry for the latest, greatest of things. It is completely self-centered and me-fulfilling and if we’re aren’t careful, it makes us ravenously so (lust/envy).

I expect culture to keep driving the hunger for self-fulfillment, but the one place I never thought I’d see the “me” culture is in church.
It started just as innocently as the Burger King commercials of the mid-1970s did only with coffee bars, casual dress and a choice of contemporary service over a tradition one. Over time, the contemporary services have won out.

Don’t misunderstand me.

I’m not against contemporary music or churches, but most of the worship music in church now is about what God can do for “me.” Churches cater to us in a way that we’ve learned to expect from culture — That we can have things “our” way. The pulpit messages are feel-good, motivational speeches that only talk of God’s love for us, rather than a message that makes us eager to go home and sink our teeth into God’s word and study His will for our lives.

Be honest with yourself.

When is the last time you heard a sermon that you a) wanted to takes notes on, and b) wanted to study scripture more because you were so excited after hearing God’s truth?

More realistic is that twenty minutes into the sermon, your tummy started growling and you looked at your watch and began thinking about what you wanted for lunch and how fast you could jet out of the parking lot to beat the rush at the restaurant you want to hit, or maybe you are one of those who starts thinking about all the things you wanted to get done once you get home.

We live in such a self-centered culture, that even our churches try to give us a short message that fits into our 45 mins that we’ve allotted to God every week. We are living in the times God spoke about in Amos 8:11-12 – vs. 11 says “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. 12 And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it.”

We go to church hungry for what, we aren’t sure, and we leave even hungrier but instead of turning to God’s word, we satisfy the physical hunger with food and then with activities. We all need food, but there is so much more that we need to sustain our Christian lives.

John 6:35 says “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not.

John 6:32-33 – 32 Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven. 33 For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world.”

I’ve written about this before, but God’s not done with me yet. I am still hungry and seeking fulfillment in the wrong places. Not always, but I’m human, so I do.

The only way I feel full and satisfied is when I spend more time reading about God’s truth and less time on whether the new shirt I want will go with the pants I already have.

Today, I’m asking the Lord to fill me with the eternal “bread of life” instead of the stale bread of earth.


The redeemer

All of us have a redemption story and most, if not all of them fall into one of four categories. Psalm 107 gives us a snapshot of what those types look like, but what do they look like in current culture?

The first type is the “Seeker.” (vs. 4-9)
The “Seeker” is someone who is a wanderer. They are hungry and thirsty for something meanginful that makes them feel important and happy, but everything they try is short-lived and offers immediate gratification, and leaves them wanting more. It’s a bit like eating Chinese food. You can eat a boatload of it. Stuff yourself, then an hour later, your hungry again.

Seekers also have no ties, no commitments, or no anchor in their lives. They remain aloof and always eager for the next adventure, the next thrill, or the next Chinese meal, hoping that will satisfy the deep longing they have.

Have you ever experienced the thrill of a fun and dangerous roller coaster ride or a parachute jump and then automatically wanted to do it again?

Seekers are forever searching for the fastest, dangerous roller coasters and highest, difficult parachute jumps in order to sustain the “adrenaline rush” they get from the activity.

The second type is the “Captive.” (vs. 10-16)
The “Captives” are people who are prisoners that live in darkness often shackled by something they cannot readily see. They are so enslaved sometimes that they remain in bondage until they die and many times they die as a result of the bondage.

You might be thinking that we don’t have slavery in our current culture, but almost all people are enslaved by something. Overeating, drugs, and drinking are some of the most obvious bonds, but watching questionable TV shows, listening to negative, degrading music, and participating in risky and damaging behaviors are invisible bonds that enslave us that no one but you knows about.

Repeating these types of behaviors over and over changes our perceptions and our thinking, which influences our decision-making processes and determines our behavior. It creates a pattern of sin that is very difficult to break. When this happens, you are enslaved.

The third category are “Fools.” (vs. 17-22)
No one wants to be in THIS category, yet many are. They are the people that think they know best. They also don’t understand their own limitations. Oftentimes, they get in situations where they’re in over their head, they feel overwhelmed, and they put themselves in danger without thinking about the ramifications.

These types of people, lose jobs, money and friendships and sometimes their lives for their foolish decisions. They reap what they sow.

The fourth type of person is “Self-Sufficient.” (vs. 23-32)
This type actually sounds like it should be a good type to be. These people are successful in business and in relationships. It seems that everything they touch turns to gold. Whatever they want, they go out there and grab it. People like this don’t see the need for God. As long as they can control their circumstances, they do well.

Being this type of person though is almost more dangerous than being any other type because they don’t leave any room for God. They think if they can’t make something happen, then it can’t be done.

In all of these scenarios, one thing is apparent. They all need deliverance (redemption) from themselves.

Seekers need a leader they can trust.
Captives need a savior who can liberate them from bondage.
Fools need wisdom which only comes from the truth of God’s word.
The self-sufficient need a deliverer when they can no longer control their circumstances.

Our path to a relationship with Christ is our own, but no matter what your redemption story is, there is only ONE redeemer.

God, through His son Jesus Christ is our leader, our savior, the source of wisdom and a deliverer who always provides a way of escape for us.

1 Corinthians 10:13 (KJV) “There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.”

Thank you, Jesus!


The mistake


Uh oh.

I’ve made a mistake.

Well, I’ve made many, many mistakes over my lifetime, but none quite so deceptive as the current one.

For a few years now, I’ve been reading the books of Christian authors who write about the “Christian life” and while I believed they were just helping me discern what God wants from me, just this morning God showed me in scripture:

Galatians 1:6-9 (KJV) which says, “6 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: 7 Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. 9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.”

My latest, greatest favorite was Francis Chan’s “Crazy Love” book.

This book grabbed my attention quickly because the focus was on the “lukewarm” believer of Revelation 3:16 (KJV) which says, “So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.”

The whole book is crafted around the concept that a “lukewarm” Christian is one who lacks “good works” in reaching out and helping others. On the surface, that’s convicting, especially for believers, but somehow, Chan’s writing has made me feel like “works” is part of salvation.

That is not biblical.

Ephesians 2:8-9 (KJV) is clear about how we are saved. It is by grace alone. “8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

After some thought, and lots of scripture reading and prayer, God’s given me an understanding of His words. When matched against men’s and women’s interpretation of His truth, it is definitely misconstrued and terribly misused.

I wonder if instead when Jesus speaks about “lukewarm,” He is referring to the state of our heart. Where we kind of half-heartedly believe in God. We half-heartedly share our faith, we don’t really die to Him. In other words “We still call the shots.”

When we really, absolutely die to Christ, we don’t need any other author to tell us how to live. The bible is our sole source for living in the truth, the way and the life. It is for our instruction, reproof and conviction, according to 2 Timothy 3:16.

The more we read what man’s interpretation of scripture is, the more we are apt to start believing him over what God intends.

I used to have a hard time understanding the bible, but over time, God has lifted the veil from my eyes and set in my heart what His intentions are. I have to believe, that for every other Christian, God will do, wants to do, or is doing the same thing.

I’m not saying Francis Chan or hundreds of other Christian authors aren’t Christians. God may be speaking to them and giving them an understanding of the scriptures, but He will do that for any who seek Him.

Be wary of those who profit mightily from interpreting God’s word for our lives.

Matthew 7: 14-15 (KJV) says, “14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

My salvation and your salvation are dependent upon our faith in God’s grace alone.

It is personal, it’s definitive and it’s eternal.


The translation


I’m a firm believer that God speaks to us primarily through His word. That’s the reason He wrote it. It is our source of truth.

The only “real” truth in a world full of lies.

Pastors translate passages of the bible and call it a sermon, authors write books and bloggers write blogs around snippets of scripture, and much our culture has been trained to read the bible via a daily devotional email or in hard-copy devotions that were made so popular over the last couple of decades.

I’m not going to bag on pastors or authors. I enjoy reading and listening to other people’s viewpoints about scripture, for sure, but I don’t always accept their view as “gospel truth.”

I know alot of people who say that certain authors break down the scripture in such a way that they can understand it.

That bothers me, because just the change of a word or a phrase, and the use of only one verse, can change the whole meaning and therefore the interpretation of scripture as well. When that happens, we are relying more on man’s interpretation than on God’s word to enlighten us to His truths.

I get a few different email devotions every morning and I read them, then I look up the same verses in different translations other than what the devotion used, and I look at the scriptures around the verse to get a sense of the context.

This brings understanding to God’s word.

For example, earlier this week someone shared a verse with me that had alot of meaning for them and they gave it as an encouragement to me. The verse Jeremiah 29:11 is well known in the NIV translation; it goes like this:

For I know the plans I have for you, “declares the Lord,” plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

This verse is one that inspires such hope for Christians, but this is a bit different than what the King James version states.

KJV says “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”

To put context ( vs. 1-13) around this verse, God is speaking to the elders, priests and others whom Nebuchadnezzar had carried away captive and is warning them against false prophets. He implores them to listen to Him and gives instruction to them about seeking Him and praying to Him alone.

In many devotions, verse 11 in the NIV has been pulled out of context and is primarily crafted around “our plan, our prosperity, our hope.”

It’s a feel-good verse for sure, but how many Christians do you know who never get to realize positive plans, lose jobs/livelihoods, feel hopeless over a terminal illness or sudden death.

It’s seems a false hope to me.

The KJV version of this verse seems to say that the Lord was thinking about His people in captivity, thought of peace and no evil for them, and that they would have an expected end.

An “expected end” could mean anything but I would never assume it meant prosperity.

As the scriptures get whittled down even further and get mingled with the interpretations of man, I know I must remain vigilant in searching for God’s truth, even in a feel-good devotion or an uplifting sermon.

Hail to the King!
The King James version, that is.