Category: Uncategorized

UFOs & The Church Ministry

Let me begin by saying that I do not believe that UFOs have been seen by those in the know.  I am not sure what some are seeing or if UFOs exist, but I remain unconvinced.  Why do I say that — Simply, where are the pictures!

Every picture I have seen is a grainy, blurred, out of focus, or spot on a cloudy background — kind of like Big Foot & Loch Ness.  Doesn’t anyone have a good camera — on their phone!

Technically we can see a license plate from a satellite, and Google Earth can see your car in the driveway. Still, we can get a clear photo of a legitimate UFO!  Are you telling me we do not have the aerial technology to take a picture of the unidentified flying object?  Present-day drones produce better pictures than I have ever seen presented!

^

Whatever —– Whether or not you are convinced that those in the know have ever actually seen one, I fear that some in ministry and local churches will take up the cause and seriously invest sermonic time into the subject.

If the political injection wasn’t enough, hold on to your hats for a new line of biblical interpretation, exegesis, pulpit examination, and/or theological speculation — “Didn’t you know that the Scriptures have spoken about this long before the world has brought it to the forefront of investigation?”

I remember Dr. John Whitcomb saying in seminary class, “The church grabs onto every new fad that comes along and finds itself a widow 10 years later.”

Do you remember . . . . .

  • Coffee House Ministries
  • The Missional Church
  • Body Life
  • Seeker Sensitive ministries
  • The church growth movement
  • Evangelism explosion
  • The purpose driven church
  • Small groups
  • The Moral Majority
  • Worship Teams
  • WWJD bracelets
  • The Prayer of Jabez
  • This Present Darkness (by Frank E. Peretti)
  • Friendship Evangelism
  • Praise Music (via the charismatic movement – Hillsong)
  • SGM
  • 40 Days of Purpose
  • Care Groups (for deacons)
  • New Calvinism
  • CCM
  • Standing when reading the Scriptures
  • “Good Morning Church”

I’m sure I stepped on someone’s feet — but these and others had or will have had no longevity!

The problem with fads is that a small element of truth, engulfed by an incredible sales structure, sold by “one” person who features its success, that makes it attractive! Add the writing and selling of a book on it, and it goes viral! [1]

Now get ready for another fad, promoted by our governmental leaders and media, that will occupy meaningful time in ministries and the local church — UFOs.

It is a distraction for those in ministry!

“Let the dead bury the dead!”
Think about that for a moment!
Matthew 8:22, Luke 9:60

There are some ministries and pastors who love the novel, the unusual.  Some who quickly gravitate toward and/or talk hold of whatever fad has come down the pike — political, theological, ideological, or evangelistic!  They read a book, hear a speaker, see someone succeed, and they are off to the races to implement it!

There has been, and continues to be, a lot of damage done as the church gets off-message and caught up in the latest fad!  Not to mention that some will spend more time talking about UFOs than sharing the Gospel as they go into all the world.

The Church Simply Needs To Be The Church . . . . Doing what they have been called to do as they stay in their lane!

^



^1

1. If you read the same books, you think the same thoughts!

♦♦♦♦♦

During my years of church ministry, I have had the opportunity to specifically and directly share the Gospel — the forgiveness of sins through the person and work of Christ.  I remember speaking to several adult members of one family whose son was a church member.  Over a period of weeks, I had the opportunity to personally talk to each of them (a dad, and two sisters) over dinner — at Brother’s Pizza.  Brother’s Pizza was a well-known restaurant in the Trenton, NJ area.  In every case, I shared the Gospel and asked them if they would like to accept Christ right now and call upon Him as their Saviour.  They said yes! And bowed their head and prayed to the Lord.  Dad died several years later and still professed Christ as his Saviour as I talked to him in the hospital!  His two living sisters, to this day, are still following Christ.

That son and brother still remember those restaurant meetings!  We call it “Pizza Evangelism.”  There must be something about sharing the Gospel in a pizza restaurant!

Some ministry damage is done by promoting the idea that what may have worked in a particular setting or situation will be effective in another, other, any, and/or all situations.

The Message God’s People Need To Hear — More Often!

 

1. When I fear my faith will fail,
Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail,
He can hold me fast!

Refrain:
He will hold me fast,
He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so,
He will hold me fast.

2. I could never keep my hold,
He must hold me fast;
For my love is often cold,
He must hold me fast. [Refrain]

3. I am precious in His sight,
He will hold me fast;
Those He saves are His delight,
He will hold me fast. [Refrain]

4. He’ll not let my soul be lost,
Christ will hold me fast;
Bought by Him at such a cost,
He will hold me fast. [Refrain]

 

Robert Harkness (1880–1961) [1]

Robert Harkness was traveling one day with a very popular evangelist. Harkness was a piano player, a good one at that, and often helped the evangelist in his rally’s. One evening Harkness had a conversation with a young man, a new convert, who was nervous about persevering in the Christian life. The young man questioned whether he would have the power, faith, strength to run the race given to him until the final day when he would meet Jesus.  . . . Harkness left the conversation that evening with a burdened heart for men and women who felt this way. He wanted to give them hope. He wanted them to trust, not in themselves, but in their Christ. The one who had saved them. He wanted them not to let their assurance of salvation and glorification rest on their shoulders, but Christ’s shoulders!

When you fear your sanctification is progressing (or regressing) too slowly. When you fear as if your faith will fail. The mornings when the guilt of sin drowns your hope. The evenings when the doubts scream louder than your mind. And the nights, when you seek God but all you find is silence.” [2]


Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy.

To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen..

— Jude 1:24-25

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

— Philippians 1:6



1. https://www.hymnologyarchive.com/robert-harkness

2. https://www.weaponsofgrace.com/content/he-will-hold-you-fast

 

Cloak Rooms

The same passages of Scripture that are rightfully designed to challenge God’s people concerning godly living can also be, and are used to cover wrong-doing!

That is why the Scriptures talk about taking on the clothing of sheep so as to appear biblical.  It appears that one is making a biblical argument, while at that very moment, the Scriptures are being used to cover up or cloke . . . .

  • John 15:22 — “cloke for their sin”
  • I Thessalonians 2:5 — “a cloke of covetousness.”
  • I Peter 2:16 — “liberty for a cloke of maliciousness”
  • Matthew 7:15 — “in sheep’s clothing”
  • Mark 12:38 — “love to go in long clothing”

It is striking when ministries and pastors talk about being loving and kind when they are challenged, criticized, or corrected, while their own behavior was anything but that!  Suddenly, the truths of patience, understanding, love, kindness, and graciousness are raised.

The “newly discovered” passion for such biblical truths are used as a means to quiet the correction and criticism.

Those biblical truths and principles are
for me, not thee!

The righteous and godly Scriptural truths and principles are now used as a cloak to cover fair and legitimate criticism.

Just ask the Lord’s disciples; they saw and heard how effectively it can be used, by saints and sinners — John 12:4-5

Pretty effective — huh?
Who would have guessed?
Great Cover Story!
An Effective Cloak!

This Is The Non-Sense Of Today’s Theological Ideologies

Owen Stachan is not some unknown stranger in the theological world.  He is all too well known!

My concerns are not about his beliefs or positions but more about how many others follow and hold to the same theological positions he espouses.

And this theological position is not some strange and aberrant stance; it is also typical of those who park out around the same Calvinistic campfires.  The stance that — it is all or nothing when it comes to sanctification.

There is little to no room for anything less than total devotion, spiritual growth, and/or change. [1]

I would suggest that the Lord’s own disciples were embarrassed over the Lord’s teachings; at times, they exhibited a lack of love for some of the truths He taught and hesitated in believing all that He taught — as have a wide variety of the many saints of Scripture (that are even identified) — Jonah, Lot, Samson, David, Abraham, Peter, Thomas, Nathaniel, et al.

These kinds of statements [2] and theological ideologies produce sermons that shake people’s faith in their salvation and constantly make people feel that they will never measure up to living out their lives as believers.

As some responded (and many in a similar manner) . . . .

“Christian, do not make your subjective experience with the Bible the grounds for your assurance. Jesus has already understood, loved and obeyed every word of Scripture on your behalf, and He is patient with us as He renews our minds through the Spirit.”

“Yes. The only thing I can see this tweet producing is hypocrisy, as people scramble to convince themselves that they love the Bible as much as they should so that they can feel a sense of assurance. None of do. We’re still in the flesh.”

There is nothing the Lord did not know about you
when He saved you.



1. What are the implications of this statement for those who do not take the position of “literal 24-hour day” creation and opt for the position of theistic evolution or even evolution?

2. Recently, another well-known pastor remarked that . . . . “I am not sure one is a Christian if they do not regularly attend church — I’m not saying they aren’t, but I am just not certain.”  This is the same type of Calvinistic / New Calvinism thinking non-sense!

If we all read the same books,
we will all think the same thoughts.

That also explains some of how we got here!

A Terrible Response?

One of the speakers at ReThink Leadership Conference was Sam Collier.

Sam Collier recently resigned from pastoring the Hillsong church in Atlanta, Georgia.

Sam Collier launched a “new” church, Story Church.  [1]

“We realize, you know, that it might be better to replant a new place that people can believe in and trust in,”

The following are some of the comments made by Collier about the handling of the Hillsong scandal.  Some of these comments are truly sad because they appear to minimize the horrific damage created by Hillsong ministries — by Brian Houston and others!

  1. “It has been heartbreaking to watch an organization from the inside go through what Hillsong has gone through.”
  2. “Definitely, mistakes were made. We’re not going to shy away from that but they’re really great people.”
  3. “How you manage a crisis is more important than the crisis itself.”
  4. “In a crisis, you must answer what God is truly saying in that moment and trust Him as your North Star.”
  5. “(I chose friendship) because it’s what the Lord told me, number one. Number two, is unless you are on the inside of a scandal that’s going on, you don’t know what’s going on.  Proximity is everything.”
  6. “We’re all one mistake away from being in the New York Post.
  7. “We all have moments we were grateful to God it didn’t come out. Because we’re all broken.”
  8. “If I fail, how would I want to be treated.”
  9. “The greatest threat to success is success. The more we succeed the more we feel we can’t fail.”
  10. “Don’t let your current success blind you from your current blindspots.”
  11. “Just as critical as you are to an organization’s success, you are just as critical to its failure.”
  12. Nobody in this room is perfect. At times we feel our imperfection can keep us from going where we need to go.”
  13. “You don’t have to be a victim of your imperfection. If you will be humble at every turn with your imperfection, God is going to ride with you.”
  14. “You’ll never be perfect, but you can be humble. And if you are humble, God will extend grace.”

^

Hillsong is hardly an example of mistakes, imperfection, or heartbreak!

I might suggest that the “rhetoric of failure” is typically littered with the words . . . .

“We are not a perfect church . . . . .”
“We all make mistakes. . . . ”
“There is no perfect ministry . . . . .”
“We are all flawed vessels . . . . “

The options are not “either-or.”

The issue is not perfect or imperfection!  It never was and never will be!

The choices span a continuum of . . . . .

Great-Good-Above Average-Average-Poor-Weak-Terrible-Damaging



1. https://people.com/human-interest/hillsong-first-black-pastor-leaves-church-saying-his-congregants-dont-trust-leadership/

12 Small Suggestions For Making A Church Service Different Or Even Better

. “Variety’s the very spice of life, that gives it all it’s flavour.”
― William Cowper, hymn-writer

^

#1 – You are allowed to sit or stand during the reading of God’s Word, neither is more honoring or dishonoring in our culture (Additional Note: Sitting is also permissible when singing.).

#2 – You do not need to sing every stanza of a hymn or song.

#3 – Children’s Sunday School, Adult Bible Study, and Small Groups are all allowed to be offered at the same time.

#4 – You do not need to put up the words to a song that the choir or singer is presenting.  The words being sung should be understandable without the words being projected.

#5 – The audio and video people should be professional enough to not make the same mistakes over and over.

#6 – On the last words of a projected song, change to the next slide, we will remember the last few words.

#7 – God’s people want to know their pastors; purposefully incorporate the time to visit with them before the service.

#8 – Know the names of your sheep and visitors.  Not knowing a person’s name speaks a terrible message.

#9 – Find out the situation, and/or condition of the sheep before talking about them, rather than asking the audience or the staff to fill you in while on stage.

#10 – Quit saying — “In conclusion / Let me close by saying /  . . . .”  — when it is not
“In conclusion” and you are not closing.

#11: Stop talking on stage to the staff and pay attention to the service, singing, and announcements like expected with God’s people.

#12 – Only offering “age defined” Bible study classes is like being forced to eat at the same restaurant while you may not enjoy that kind of food, or the cook’s ability to prepare and present it. Why not provide some options and variety!



How Can You Say That About David?

David was a man after God’s own heart.

That statement seems odd to many who know the story of King David.

Some may not understand one of the prominent characteristics that marked and guided David.  It is apparent that the Lord understood it!

Yes, David, a man after God’s own heart!

Are we talking about King David . . . .

  • David, who committed adultery with Bathsheba.
  • David, who had Urriah’s life put in purposeful and fatal jeopardy.
  • David who was stopped from killing Nabal by Abagail — that David?
  • Are we talking about David who hid in Ziklag under the feigned loyalty protection of King Achish?

Yep — that David!

When David was confronted by Nathan the prophet, David did not fend off his clear and confrontational charge of Nathan. He understood Nathan’s parable was not only about him, but how egregious his doings were. Nathan’s parable had to powerfully stab the heart of David — by all of its passionate imagery!

David wrote Psalm 51, a well-known Psalm to all of us who, like David, know and understand how stained we are from birth with the ability to do what we know is wrong!

Abagail confronted David, and again David listened and reversed course. He heard the argument that Abagail was making and yielded to her words!

When returning to Ziklag with his army and seeing the city in smoke and the inhabitants deported — his response . . .

“And David was greatly distressed . . . . but David encouraged himself in the LORD his God. And David said to Abiathar the priest, Ahimelech’s son, I pray thee, bring me hither the ephod. And Abiathar brought thither the ephod to David. And David enquired at the LORD”.

David knew that he was responsible for the situation and his only hope was to go to the Lord for merciful help!

^

David’s life was marked by some heinous sins, he was also marked by a quality that God takes note of in our lives — self-awareness!

David was self-aware of himself and his own layers of sinfulness.

Again, when David was cursed by Shimei while fleeing the city of Jerusalem, he responds with a level of understanding that some never come to in life and living — (II Samuel 16:5-12).  David understood that such words were deserving and more — it was from the mouth of the Lord!  He was a bloody man!

As is seen repeatedly, David was a man you could talk to, and he would listen! He had ears to hear because he was self-aware of himself, his tendencies, his sinful leanings, and his own ability to justify and rationalize his sinfulness.

^

If you have been following what is happening in one of the largest “denominations” of churches in America, the SBC, you will witness an example of the lack of that quality.

Pastor Tom Buck, whose wife has written a book talking about how rough and abusive her husband was in the many early years of their marriage, decided to point his finger and identify a deacon who committed adultery over 20 years ago.

While claiming that he and his wife story was written to illustrate God’s redeeming work midst their marriage, the redeeming work in the marriage of that deacon is worthy of condemnation and removal.

Oh no, that deacon who has shown true repentance over the past 20 years, and has served admirably and with integrity on many different levels over the past 20 years, is not granted the margins of grace that Pastor Tom Buck speaks about in his own marital situation — as a pastor!

^

It is sad to say, but there are too many pastors who are so lacking in self-awareness. They preach on this-or-that, and have no idea of their own failure in that very area. Like Pastor Buck, those in the audience wonder how he could say what he says in light of what he himself has done, said, or gone through. The response is — “You are kidding me! How in the world is he able to say or do that?”

√ I have personally heard and seen pastors speak against the nomination of a church officer or deacon because of the behavior of one of their children. In contrast, their own children should have disqualified them from pastoring.

√ I have personally heard and seen pastors talk about love, kindness, forgiveness, care, and concern, while they failed to show those very same qualities in dealing with and dismissing a member(s) of the church.

√ I have personally heard and seen pastors rationalize, explain away, defend, and justify clear and even grievous wrong-doing by them and/or others, while preaching about the sins of the world around them and calling for a revival in America.

Not so with David. David was self-aware of his sin and sinful tendencies. Self-awareness springs from a humility that “gets it.” Self-awareness and humility are the cousin traits that marked David — and traits that Saul never had. They are symmetrical qualities.

Jonathan — David — or the experience of life could never get Saul to grab hold of them — no less see as absent in his own make-up — though they tried!

It leads to the . . .

 “for thee, but not for me-ism.” 

“For Thee, But Not For Me” —  is what we see in the world of politics . . . . and rightfully decry!

The continuing saga of the SBC is a microcosm of what happens when there is such a lack of self-awareness.

Justice – Part #2

Podcast LINK

Attorney Matt Martens joins host Marty Duren on this episode to talk about systemic injustices in the US legal system.

Matthew Martens has worked both as a federal prosecutor (9 years) and as a criminal defense attorney (11 years). His cases have ranged from capital murder, drug trafficking, firearms violations, and child pornography, to securities fraud, mortgage fraud, voter fraud, and public corruption. He has tried more than two dozen cases across the country both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He is currently a partner in the Washington, DC office of one of the world’s largest law firms. Matt’s first book, Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal (Crossway), is due out in early 2023.

Podcast LINK

https://uncommontarypodcast.com/2022/04/12/matthew-martens-systemic-injustice-the-bible-and-the-us-system-ep96/

You can follow him on Twitter @martensmatt1.

Justice

Matthew Martens has worked both as a federal prosecutor (9 years) and as a criminal defense attorney (11 years). His cases have ranged from capital murder, drug trafficking, firearms violations, and child pornography, to securities fraud, mortgage fraud, voter fraud, and public corruption. He has tried more than two dozen cases across the country both as a prosecutor and defense attorney. He is currently a partner in the Washington, DC office of one of the world’s largest law firms. Matt’s first book, Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal (Crossway), is due out in early 2023.

“How is it possible when it comes to criminal justice in the US we have two opposite camps? One cries ‘defund the police’ & the other ‘more law & order.’  My conversation with Matthew Martens is enlightening. Have a listen and learn.” — Jen Oshman

===========================

“When it comes to criminal justice we have two opposite camps in this country: one side cries “defund the police” and the other side demands more “law and order.” How is it possible to have two very different perspectives on the same criminal justice system? And how should Christians be grappling with the way justice is currently carried out in our country?

On this episode we hear from Matt Martens who is a criminal lawyer, a graduate of Dallas Theological seminary, was a federal prosecutor for 10 years, has written for the WSJ and WaPo and is currently writing a book entitled Reforming Criminal Justice: A Christian Proposal (forthcoming with Crossway in 2023). Martens has a unique and qualified perspective with his robust background in both theology and both sides of our legal system.

From a theological perspective, Martens says Jesus not only declares us just, but is making us just. Meaning the gospel is not only about our individual salvation, but also our sanctification and how we live amongst one another. Part of preaching the gospel is seeking justice in our midst.

From a legal perspective, Martens says many Americans just don’t know how our system really works. He says there are outrageous injustices built into the system that the average person simply doesn’t know about. He wants to change that through his presence online and in his forthcoming book.

Two primary reasons we don’t see our criminal justice in a unified way, Martens says, are because we have varying degrees of education about our history as a nation and varying degrees of knowledge and experience with how our justice system currently operates.

Have a listen and learn. Martens covers a ton of both history and present realities. You’ll hear about how our criminal justice system was organized after the Civil War and how some of those practices remain today; how jury selection can have a huge and unjust impact on the accused; how both our bail and plea bargain systems coerce innocent people to confess guilt to crimes they did not commit; the realities of a broken policing system that leaves many crimes unsolved and prevents victims from experiencing justice; and more. Martens closes this episode by telling us what you and I can do to seek justice in our own localities.” — Jen Oshman

Podcast LINK —  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/all-things/id1449943664?i=1000548574978

You can follow him on Twitter @martensmatt1.