How Do You Know If It Is The Pharisees Running The Institution?

#1 – More Focused On Their Preservation Than The Needs Of People — Luke 16:1-13, 14-31

When money is easily spent for the pastor(s) or leadership’s preferred programs or projects rather than on needed raises for staff members who are knowingly underpaid, or on God’s people or others who would be personally or spiritually benefited, you are dealing with the spirit that worked in the hearts of the religious Pharisees — self-serving, selfish religious leaders.

“For me, but not for thee.”
“For ours, but not for them.” 

I often said . . . . “Let’s just close the doors if we can’t help . . . .

  • teens or children go to snow/summer camp
  • buy a handbook or vest for a kid in AWANA
  • cover the cost of ladies who want to attend a retreat
  • give away free “cassettes” / CDs of the message
  • pay for 300-400+ kids at VBS,
  • pay for an over-the-road bus for the 60-120 teens who want to go to snow camp
  • cover the cost for all visitors at the golf outing
  • faculty and staff earn a decent and honest living with some sense of equity etc.

^

#2 – Think They Are Above Others – Luke 18:11

When there is a spirit of superiority, speaking and acting as if one is above others, you are dealing with a pharisaical heart. The attitude of superiority can often be subtle because it can be a covert sermonic message being sent and received as one exhorts others about Christlikeness. A lack of authenticity that fails to acknowledge a shared striving for greater Christlikeness, and/or worse yet, a belief that he has attained, conveys the message that he himself has achieved. The sermon is for those listening, spoken by one who knows spiritual accomplishment — It is pharisaical pietism!

^

#3 – Don’t Do What They Ask Others To Do — Matthew 23:3

Serving, going, helping, being present, calling, visiting, working, forgoing this-or-that, giving, taking the time to talk/know, et al. are all part of the pastoral exhortations of church life.

When these responsibilities are left undone, or passed off to others on the staff or among the lay-leaders, you are dealing with a Pharisee who tells others, but does not do!

Pharisees do what they enjoy doing and what brings them praise and attention.

Refuse and reject all the excuses of why someone else should be or is doing what a pastor has been called to do — which is to shepherd the flock of God!

Pharisees don’t personally visit, call, send a card, show up at the wedding, funeral, shower, all church events, graduation party, special services, school events, etc. — but some do “text” in order to be able to say that they have been “talking” with so-in-so, when questioned.  Because appearances are what matter!

^

#4 – Burden The Souls Of Others — Matthew 23:4

Instead of lifting the load, they create and/or add to the weight.  Rather than. . .

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.
 
Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.
 
For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

. . . . they burden down the souls of men with questions as to their salvation, God’s love of them, His great mercy and kindness, His everlasting love and commitment to His people.

While nothing can separate us from that love, the Pharisees make some feel like the prodigal’s brother — deserving because of his faithful service, not because of the Father’s grace.

^

#7 – Expect and Accept Privileges Others Don’t Get — Matthew 23:6

Going into the ministry does not entitle you to a lifestyle that God’s people don’t have. A Lifestyle that God’s people don’t have. Those in ministry are not the privileged class but are called to forgo those “seats” for others.

“Powering under” is a popular and hackneyed phrase of our day. While it is preached from the pulpit, it is often not reflected towards those in the pew or the local community.

Looking for favors from businesses in the community, accepting money and honorariums for doing what you are paid to do as a pastor, and pressing the envelope regarding the many freedoms accompanying ministry are all too prevalent.

^

#8 – Lack Compassion — John 8:3

The woman taken in adultery is a sufficient example of that lack of compassion for those suffering and even those sinfully suffering.

Let it be them or one of their loved ones, and you will hear about it over and over from the pulpit. Some will use the pulpit to elicit pastoral sympathy during difficult days of health, ministry, family rearing, and finances.

^

#9 – Love The Praises Of Men — John 12:43:

To see this one in operation, just offer some constructive, legitimate, or illegitimate criticism. The response reveals how much the praise of men is loved. Accusations of sowing discord, gossiping, being unloving, and causing disunity will be quickly launched — DARVO!!

Apparently, “dying to self” doesn’t apply in these situations. Instead of understanding how others think and/or why they disagree, some are more likely to be labeled the troubler of Israel — as Elijah.

No, this really is about loving “the praise of men.”
To be in the ingroup,
praise is the only coin of the realm.

The results of all this are being seen in church attendance and giving.

People were never attracted by or to the Pharisees — then or now.

As C.S. Lewis Stated . . . .

 



A Worthwhile Listen 

“Those who love us the most have the potential to undermine our integrity!”

July 2022: Integrity in the Life of a Leader

The Bottom Line When It Comes To Church!

The bottom line when it comes to church is — the sermon!

Church attendance reflects the pulpit!  We see that reality when a congregation knows that so-in-so is speaking tonight or next week.  You will see attendance go up or down based on the sermonic expectations. [1]

As I listen to Alistair Begg, I am reminded again how crucial effective preaching is in ministry.

There is a reason those like Pastor Begg are so oft listened to by so many, and it is because not all preachers/teachers are effective.

I use the word “effectiveness” and not “successful” for a reason.  We are called to be effective communicators because there are situations where one is effective but not successful.  The field of endeavor is a challenging and complicated place to be successful–  if “successful” means having a meaningful impact.  There were situations where Paul was not very successful, but he was effective.

Some like to say that they are preaching to an audience of one — and that is accurate regarding the content of what is being said.   We are called to preach what the Scriptures teach, not what God’s people would like to hear said.

Nevertheless, the truth is that none of us are preaching to only that audience.  Rather, we work hard at message preparation because we know that there is an audience beyond that One.

Some preachers, like Alistair Begg, are consistently excellent — highly effective!  They are clear, thought-provoking, insightful, easy to listen to, and concise.

AND . . . . there are preachers-teacher who are far from effective!

There is a continuum ranging from . . . .

“consistently great – repeatedly great – really good – good – adequate – mediocre – poor – bad -terrible.”

. . . and there is a test by which to evaluate where one is on that continuum!

— “Retellability” —

Are there those who “retell” what was said?

Are there those who remember, repeat, or “retell” what was said?

That is why Alistair Begg’s sermonic clip has gone viral!

What was so effective said by Alistair Begg challenged, moved, explained, clarified, and/or captured a truth worth retelling one’s self . . . .

. . . . and “retelling” others — “You have to listen to this!”

^



^

1. Church attendance may also reflect what is happening in church life.  When serious issues are front and center, as is the case with many SBC churches, attendance is also affected. Dissatisfaction with decisions and leadership also impacts attendance.

Add to that, the presence of a good youth program, the variety of opportunities to serve, other spiritually beneficial programs (such as AWANA / Senior Saints / VBS), personal relationships, and pastoral care and concern.  These, and others, all impact attendance to varying degrees and age groups.

Response:

“I kinda understood churches were for mutual encouragement and exhortation, not simply recieving from a single teacher, professional as they may be. I suppose I am in need of finding the purpose of the church as I read the New Testament”

My Response:

I understand your viewpoint and appreciate it — I totally agree — and should have said what I have often said — there are two wings on the church airplane, preaching and fellowship.

No preaching/teaching, it is not a church, it is merely a social gathering.

No fellowship, it is not a church merely equal to streaming.

Both are as basic as you can get to be called a NT church.

Let me go on to say that no matter how great the fellowship is in any restaurant, if the meal is lousy I’m not going back and investing my time or money in a meal I find continually bland to terrible.

“The bottom line” — not the only line —  has to be the preaching and teaching of God’s Word which also preaches and teaches fellowship and improves the fellowship.

But great fellowship will not improve the preaching/teaching!

I can be part of making fellowship, fellowship — but I can’t do much about bad preaching.

Nevertheless, your point is well taken and I will add this to the bottom of my post!  It is a point worth making!

Social Justice Will Elude The Church Until . . . .

While today’s discussions are about social justice on the macro level, it will continue to allude to ministries and the local church as long as they cannot even get it right on the mico level.

It is like talking about life and death issues — abortion / the death penalty / euthanasia / gun violence — while at the same time having little-to-no interest in even giving blood to help after an attack on an Orlando nightclub or the Uvalde, Texas schoolhouse.

On the micro level, many ministries financially use and abuse their faculty and/or staff. Typically, the salary and benefits are reviewed and revised upward, principally when it involves the top administrators, leadership, and/or pastors. While some may cite the underpaid outliers as being typical, “poor and humble” is not the norm for those in Christian administration or pastoral ministry today.

However, “poor and humble” is the norm for many who are also in ministry as support staff or faculty. 

  • Deals are struck with new employees based on their marital status.
  • Disparate salary and benefits are finagled and negotiated without any standards of differentiation or equitable established pay scales.
  • Secrecy is demanded when it comes to an individual’s contract — else, you are sowing discord and/or engaging in gossip.
  • Some are working over 40 hours for the same employer, at different jobs, which is believed to be allowed and legal under state hour and wage regulations.
  • Men are being paid differently than women.
  • Dubious paid positions are created for administrators, pastoral wives, and children.
  • Reports are broad-brushed when it comes to knowing who is being paid what.
  • Benefits widely and wildly vary between those who are the elite and the underlings. 

. . . . And some believe that ministries and local churches are serious when it comes to issues of social justice!

As with rising costs in our economy, the ones feeling it the strongest are those on the bottom. Likewise, in ministry, those who need health insurance, co-pay consideration, dental, life, extended disability, Aflac, eyeglass, and sick pay the most are those at the bottom. However, they are the ones who are denied or ignored when it comes to such salaries and/or benefits!

When those on the bottom get hit with these various costs, they feel it the most acutely. They are already struggling to make it on their salary and have little discretionary monies. They are already near the seabed and have little-to-no room for any more movement downward! 

Ask a pastor, making $50,000 – $100,000 to cover a co-pay of $5,000. That is 10%-2% of their yearly salary — if we only look at actual salary compensation (and not including housing / utilities / car reimbursement / spending accounts )! 

For many Christian school teachers and/or full-time staff, it is approaching 15-20% of their salary.

I have no “dog in the fight.” But I did fight this battle for 36 years in ministry — and “won” it while I was there!

The pastoral staff was not above the faculty and staff of the church and school. If there is no health insurance for the teachers, then none for the pastors — and all should be on the same program. As full-time employees, we received health, life, Aflac, dental, extended disability, co-pay reimbursement, eyeglass coverage, and sick days as did all other full-time employees on staff or faculty. No pay raises for us if there were no pay raises for others — and no game playing as to what a meaningful pay raise was for others!

I fought against having the pastoral co-pays covered. The insurance costs were outrageous — around $15,000 -$20,000 per family — and still rising (I believe it is approaching $30,000/family today)! 

“No — we are not going to cover the co-pays as well the cost of health insurance!” I fought hard for co-pays not to be covered! That was the only battle I lost — and regretfully lost. The deacons refused to implement such a policy! I said, “Let’s bring it to the church and see if they agree with this policy.” I had no doubt that the membership would agree with my position or at least provide that same benefit for the faculty and staff.

I say — “Regretfully lost” because I know how it works and how things take place in ministry! Believe me, I understand the dynamics that operate in a local church ministry! That coverage just gets lost and blurred when it comes to the benefits provided to those on the top, but it is a brutal reality for those on the bottom! 

While we did pretty well regarding fairness, equity, and justice in compensation and benefits, let me assure you that it is not so with many ministries and local churches.

“Social justice” is just a talking point preached from the pulpit, not from the bookkeepers. With far too many, a lack of fairness, equity, and justice are sorely missing! I understand the dynamics that are at play and how it is explained away! Far too many games are played when it comes to caring, compassion, helping, concern, or financial decency and fairness!

If the truth were known to the members, they would be outraged over how poorly those on the bottom are mishandled and abused! They just do not know, and/or the facts of the situation are covered and blurred!  

Sorry — I don’t hold out much hope for those who want to bring a child into the world, who want to walk away from an abortion, and think they will find much real tangible help and hope from the elite in the local church. Many have yet to show they can handle what they have been given — Luke 16:11.

 

 

 

Twisted – Pt.2

This is but one example of where we are today when it comes to the preaching and teaching of God’s Word in the local church. [1]

No shepherd would ever think that way about his flock during Bible days, just the modern shepherds of our day. Paul’s vision was that he was willing to do all he could — to just win some! Paul worked and labored hard (I Corinthians 15:10; Philippians 4:3) because he understood that his work was more than preaching; but was to spread and grow the church across the then-known world.

To dismiss or marginalize “means” is another one of the twisted positions that characterize today’s preaching.  It is said different ways . . . .

  • We are just trusting God alone to provide.
  • Nothing can give you joy, peace, or satisfaction outside of Jesus.
  • There is no joy or happiness in our circumstances.
  • You need to lean on God, not people, to get you through the rough times of life.
  • You don’t need medication; you need Jesus!
  • Rely totally on the Lord!  You need nothing else!
  • Husbands and wives, you trust God to meet your needs.

Oh yes, every one of those statements could be and should be clarified to make them biblically accurate.  But this kind of bumper-sticker theology posted, taught, and preached latently brushes aside “means.”

Trusting God alone to provide does not mean we don’t work, and work hard to provide for our family, to establish an effective ministry, to raise our children, to develop an effective local church ministry, et al.

I know, those who make such statements don’t mean to deny that!  Really!  These kinds of statements are typically followed by a hardly AMEN from fellow pastors and congregations — with little serious thinking as to what is being repeatedly propagated as Bible truth.

The Lord has not only ordained the ends, but he has ordained means.  The created world and the laws that operate demonstrate that reality.  Oh yes, it is all held together by His power — but that does not mean that the laws which operate are being supernaturally commanded to operational status every millisecond.  Can the Lord controvert those laws?  Absolutely!  That is called a miracle.  Pregnancy and childbirth are not miracles. It can be and was with the birth of Jesus.

Wealth is not a miracle.  It can be, as Jacob finally admitted (Genesis 31).  But there are means to wealth (Proverbs 24:3ff). We are never to trust in the power of wealth, but it does have power, as many wicked men have come to know.  Yet the Lord can remove that power in a moment (Psalm 73:18)

Poverty is not the curse of God.  It can be, but there are means that accompany poverty (Proverbs 24:30).

Medication is not evil or sinful.  It can be.  But it is a means the Lord uses to stabilize us physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Our whole being was affected by the Fall.  We are lost spiritually, but the Fall has also impacted us physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Does it make a difference to experience a beautiful day, soft breezes, mild temperatures, and an awesome location?  To say that circumstances are not part of our joy or happiness [2] is to deny what we, as real people experience.  Are there hot-hot, rainy, miserable, or cold to the bone days that are unpleasant?  I do not enjoy those days!  I can still say . . . “This is the day that the Lord has made, and I will rejoice in it.” [3]  Let me assure you — the new heavens and earth will be a beautiful place and absent these miserable and terrible physical circumstances of earth — for a good reason!

Husbands and wives, you are the means God has ordained to meet your wife’s or husband’s needs. That does not mean that you are the only avenue, but you are a significant and meaningful part of His means! As children and parents, we are the means the Lord has provided for our parents and children. That does not mean that God does not provide directly and indirectly as well. But the clear and repeated pattern is the Lord, “along with you” — is the means.

Sanctification is not only progressive, but it is part of our personal responsibility.  Does the Lord work in our hearts?  Absolutely!  But we also work on our hearts.  God chose David out of the flocks for a reason (Psalm 78:72).  He rejected Saul for a reason.  Sanctification is not parallel to justification — all by God’s grace!  We work out our salvation (Philippians 2:12), never our justification.  Sanctification is not passive; it is active!  Go “passive” and see where that leads!

Can the Lord fight for us?  He has, and He does.  But men and women died fighting in real battles!  He can slay an army overnight, and has!  But He has also roused and raised up men and women to fight with sword and shield. In those fights, wives were widowed, and children lost their parents!

David hid from Saul for a reason!  The reason was not that God could not protect David had he shown up at the palace dinner table.  Upon Saul’s death, David called upon his men to learn the bow, not because only such a proficiency could or would save the lives of men.

Men come to know the Lord because of His established means — our prayers, our lives, our testimony, and the words of Scripture.  Yet, the Spirit blows where He will!

This tendency to play down “means” is part of the theological-ideology of the present-day Calvinistic and New Calvinist movement.  It runs parallel with the warping of God’s sovereignty!  

The false implication is that God works via some supernatural aura that descends from above to meet the needs of people — and His special people.  He can, and He does do that — and more so — and less so — throughout the Bible (Judges 6:13). Nevertheless, there is no mystical cloud that naturally descends from heaven that replaces God’s ordained means when we have been given the means and ought to have the will!

Work, and work hard to establish and strengthen the local church and its people!  There is a reason that some churches, ministries, youth groups, and/or activities do not show real growth!  Don’t put the aggregate responsibility on the Lord, as if that is His will.  Not to point out that our ministries are in America, not in an occultism-laden land.  God created a world where growth is a natural principle of life and of all things that are living.

Laziness comes at a price; the price is a lost world, the ministry, meaningful growth, and the needs of God’s people.

Unless the Lord makes it clear otherwise, we are called on to do all we can and should as a spouse, parents, workers, witnesses, pastors, members, citizens — and as lights in an unjust and twisted world.

^

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^

1. Put that together with this, if you can . . . .

It sounds like “leading” and “preparation” matter.

Why not let God alone make SB proud? Just preach the Word, feed the flock, and proclaim the Gospel!

When The Dam Breaks

My son bought a beautiful piece of ground with a LARGE lake situated on it — a 12 acre lake. In the course of considering the purchase, he learned a lot about lakes AND DAMS.

Earthen dams have the potential of breaking through and releasing a flood of water onto the neighboring properties.  In this case, it would be over 30 million gallons of water. The engineers he consulted indicated that tree growth, dead roots, ants, and burrowing animals can destabilize such a dam.

Typically, such earthen dams do not breach because of a single climactic event but a chain of events that come together at a point in time. The forces have been in play for a considerable period of time.

Actually, that is what has been and is happening with MANY ministries and local churches today. The dam is giving way, a contemporary dam that stretches from . . . .

RaviZ-SBC-Megachurches-Well-known Ministries-
John Piper – John Mac Arthur – James Mac Donald – Hybells – Hillsong – Driscoll –
Association of churches [1]- Local Churches.

I have said it before, and it needs to be said again — the many leaders who were elected and posted to guard and prevent what has and is taking place all need to resign. They are complicit in what they allowed to happen!

The causes of that complicity are varied . . . . .

  • relationships prevented them from speaking out
  • fear of being labeled a trouble-maker created a damaging silence
  • a stubborn unwillingness to see what was obvious to those outside of that ministry blinded them
  • a protectionist spirit that was more committed to an institution than God’s people caused them to ignore legitimate criticism
  • et al.

^

When dams breach, it is not because of a single climactic event,
but a chain of events that come together at a point in time.
The forces have been in play for a considerable period of time.

^

THEN the dam breaks.  It is only when the “dam breaks” that people begin speaking up about what was happening!  Now people are permitted to speak up without being intimidated and chastised!

THEN the dam breaks! And those who were supposed to guard the flock join in the chorus — as if they had nothing to do with what happened. Suddenly, they have the gift of discernment.

THEN the dam breaks! And NOW they claim to have had the gift of prophecy and saw it coming. A few caveats — “Yea, we should have addressed it earlier.” “Yes, we were concerned.” — and they are excused from any complicity!

 They are not prophets;
they are actually reporters on the scene,
redirecting accountability! [2]  

^



1. Most are very familiar with what is happening with the SBC, but it is not only one of the largest convention of churches, but it is even the with the far-far smaller GARBC.

2. Adding insult to injury is the fact that some get to fail at oversight over and over. They didn’t see it with a school administrator, a youth pastor, a staff member, or a ministry leader. Now they fail again when it comes to yet another ministry leader. They are finally compelled to report on it. They now utter the “same words” — commensurate with their newly found clearsightedness — that others were censured for speaking. They speak as if they have any greater discernment now than was true with the past leader they endorsed and/or defended.

Fire them all!
They are not leaders; they are followers!
They ought to be shamed for allowing this to happen!

Aloof!

Too many ministry leaders and/or pastors are aloof from where the flock is in life and living.  They don’t . . . .

  • know their names
  • know their family members
  • know whether they are in or out of the hospital
  • know whether they are in the church service or not
  • take the time to call, talk to, pray with, or understand what is happening in their lives
  • call to congratulate
  • personally talk with or visit someone who is seriously ill and/or dying

. . . . but we are family!

“Appreciate you brother/sister!”
No one believes that any more than what most political figures say these days (on both sides of the aisle)!

Some are in love with theology, preparing messages, a small circle of friends, Bible study, preaching, or reading another theological book — but not with God’s people!

When we seek to fulfill our calling to ministry, but

fail to care for people,
fail to minister to the real needs of God’s people,
fail to know and/or care about what is happening in their lives,

we have already failed our calling.

It’s Twisted!

“Anything that makes you need God is a blessing!” — Thank was what was said on the car radio by a well-known Bible teacher [1] as I was driving across Florida to visit a friend dying of cancer.

That is more than inaccurate, though it aims at and woefully misses a biblical truth taught in the Scriptures.  It is a dangerous and damaging teaching.

I can imagine all kinds of injustice and horrific deeds of men that makes people need God and even causes them to seek His help, and those actions were wicked and evil!  They were not a blessing, nor a blessing from God!

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

The clear understanding of the passage states that there are gifts that are not good and perfect, and that not all gifts come from above. The good and perfect come from His gift shop. The bad and evil come from a different owner’s shop!

The good and perfect come from the Father of light, and some come from the prince of darkness.  That truth is unvarying — no shadow of any turning will ever be found when it comes to what the Lord God gives!

Some not-so-good gifts come from powers of darkness and evil, including wealth/money, popularity, power, talents, position, resources, and prominence.  Those “gifts of darkness” have been given to “devour people as a lion” in life and living.  Those “gifts” have perpetrated and perpetuated some of the most horrific acts of evil.  Vladimir Putin was given many of those gifts — from the prince of darkness.

And check out that verse in its context — “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man.” The Lord was never a party to the sins that tempt or too often overcome mankind.

Tell the families of Uvalde, Texas, whose children were killed, the parents of a young five-year-old child who was sexually molested, the wife whose husband has shattered their marriage, and the friend of mine who is dying of cancer (likely due to the unsafe environmental factory conditions) that what they are going through is a blessing, a blessing FROM God!

The underlying ideology of this kind of thinking and such statements has led to all kinds of passivity and inappropriate actions.  Poor-to-terrible counseling, wrong-doing, social injustice, and horrific abuse have been left unaddressed (and even justified as biblically appropriate and justified) because of this type of thinking — “We need to see this as from the hand of God.” [2]

Yes, I understand that God uses sin, sinlessly.  That God can still bless us, and does, midst our sin and the sins of others.  But the sin was sinful, it is not therefore acceptable to be left unaddressed, and it is not a blessing from His hand.  Any attempt to promote some passivity towards the sinful actions of men is but an argument to allow it to be more acceptable and/or for it to continue unaddressed!

I understand the truth that we can find rest for our souls during the most overwhelming times of life in Jesus, but not in some belief that or Lord was even close to complicit, found any pleasure in, or took some functioning part in the evil actions of men.

√  Rather, I find comfort in that He fully understands my pain, grief, sorrow, heartbreak, deep anguish, anger, and hurt — and sympathizes and empathizes with all that I feel.

√  I find comfort in the sure and confident hope that He will fully address the evil and wicked actions of men, in this life and/or in the life to come!

√ I find comfort in the sure and confident hope that He has fully planned and provided for an everlasting world to come where evil and the evil of men will be forever vanquished.

√  I find comfort in a humility of mind that recognizes that I cannot explain all that happens or is allowed to happen.

√  I find comfort in the understanding that there are mysteries and secrets known only to God, that we have not been told — that there is far more about God than contained in pages of Scripture!

√  I find comfort in that what God allows to happen is thoroughly consistent with all that we do and can understand, though we cannot reconcile them in our minds and hearts in this twisted and fallen world.

√  I find comfort in that we can run to Him in time of need (Matthew 11:28-30), and He can give me rest and peace which passes the peace I receive by understanding (Philippians 4:7) — that it passes the peace that I can and do get at times with understanding. [3]

  • No, I can’t explain why your child died at such a young age.
  • I wish I could explain why dad left, or you were put up for adoption, or mom was addicted, dad was an alcoholic, but I have no good explanation.
  • I don’t know why the marriage / family life was so pot marked with wrong-doing and evil/wickedness.
  • I have no explanation for why that house was swept away in the storm, and the house next door was untouched.
  • I can’t understand the Holocaust.
  • I have no knowledge of whether God is judging America by a pandemic or why your loved one died from it at the age of 32.
  • I don’t know why you live in America and others in Ukraine.

Nevertheless, I’ll hold onto the humility of mind that understands the biblical truth that we can find rest for our souls during the most overwhelming mysteries of life — in Jesus.

I need not adopt some twisted view of God’s sovereignty that somehow makes the wrongful, wicked, and/or evil actions of men more acceptable, a blessing, and/or anything less than wrong-to-evil — in order to find that rest! 

^



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1. Link to Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth’s “Revive Our Hearts” radio ministry on June 9, 2022

2. It is founded on a false and/or twisted understanding of the sovereignty of God, too often rooted in a theological ideology promoted by such men as John Mac Arthur and John Piper — some of the most prolific speakers, writers, and influential men over the past 40 years!

There is a connection between the present-day controversies involving John Mac Arthur and John Piper, concerning the abusive environments and/or teachings and their theological ideology!

There is a reason, not the only reason, that some ministries and local churches have failed to address wrong-doing and abuse, and it goes back to a twisted view of God’s sovereignty and a twisted theological ideology!

3. There was a day when Joseph got “understanding” as to why all that was happening was happening.  At times we get that kind of understanding, providing a measure of peace.

5 Changes That We May Well Regret In Coming Years

“Progressive” and “Transformational” are words that mark our culture and also mark the 21st-century church.

It is remarkable that in such a short space of time, the local church and worship have radically changed.

We may well look back at these initial years of our new century and have some serious regrets about what has taken place and what has been lost.

5 Losses Of Our Church Culture

#1 – Bible In Hand: Far fewer Christians carry an actual Bible to church. What at one time marked a Bible-believing church — Bibles in hand, turned to the passage under exposition, and resting on our laps for viewing and sermonic reference — is no longer a typical part of church culture.

The ability to underscore, make marginal notes, see a verse in its context, or follow along as a passage is taught have been radically altered or lost.  Instead, a passage of Scripture and/or selected verses are flashed on a screen and/or viewed on the LCD of a phone or iPad. [1]

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#2 – Great Congregational Song Leading & Singing: There was a time when great congregational singing was part of the church service.  A great congregational song leader was part and parcel of what made a church service what it was.  Those hymns became so well-known that we can still sing them 10-40 years later. [2]

The congregational singing that marked the Bible-believing church(as people broke into parts) is now — maybe at best — a congregationally indistinct sound, by a small number of people, singing musical-melody-only, and marked by a moshpit-long-all standing up-repetitive religious song time.

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#3 – Weekly Services:  Sunday School, Morning Worship, Sunday Evening, and Mid-Week Service were all part of what marked Bible-believing churches.  If you were looking for a good church on vacation, look for one with a Sunday evening or mid-week service.

Rather than realizing the vital need for Bible teaching, as did Rober Raikes or William Booth, ministry leaders and even local church pastors have decided to weaken the structure.  While many a ministry began with “just a few, “just a few” isn’t worth the time anymore.  And too often, why there are “just a few” attending isn’t a question that is addressed!  [3]

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#4 – Church Bulletins:  This may seem small, but it had great benefits!  There were several great benefits of having a church bulletin. Knowing what is happening within the local church community, getting to know people and ministries by name, being reminded about those who were sick or shut-ins, rejoicing over the birth of someone’s new child, the date and time of a wedding, funeral, church event, attendance or offering numbers, learning about the accomplishments of fellow believers, heartened by a Bible verse or inspirational thought, and being encouraged about up-coming events was all part of was part of the Sunday church bulletin.

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#5 – Hymn Books: There was a time when we as parents held the church hymn book at our child’s viewing level, followed across the lines with our finer, as our children learned the words, flow, and music of a church song.  The words are only needed and are now projected on a screen.

Following the music, singing parts, an effective all-congregational song leader, and congregational singing have been replaced by an overly loud, guitar-prominent, and drummer-led stage performance.

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Not only has our American culture accepted and/or allowed some of the most extreme positions to influence the direction of our country, but ministry leaders and pastors have also allowed and/or encouraged some of the same kinds of excessive changes in direction.

Many may well look back and regret these five changes [4] that have been allowed or encouraged by ministry leaders, deacons, elders, church staff, and/or the pastors of Bible-believing churches.  Some may no longer assess them as concerned and prudent shepherds of God’s flock, but rather as part of the problems they themselves denounced!



1. There are a good number of implications to this approach when it comes to being a “Berean Christian.”  No surprise that Christians are and will be easily deceived by speakers who control what is seen and read during a sermon or Bible teaching time.

2. Many of the religious songs of today will be no longer in but a few years.  They have no “entrenchment value” or strength.

3. Some ministry leaders and pastors, from one side of their mouth, decry what has happening in culture and the world around them, while from the other side of their mouth, close down their Sunday evening or mid-week service.  They are pastoral pretenders, not serious contenders, who ought to be ashamed of such complicity — Philippians 3:19; Revelation 3:18, 16:15

4. A sixth regret could easily be our view of Sunday as a different day.  For too many, Sunday is no longer marked out as a different day — by the way we prepare, dress, attend, arrive, participate in, serve or parentally value the Sunday worship service of our Lord!  This, too, has been allowed and/or encouraged by church leadership.

If You Read The Same Books, You Will . . . .

In response to the horrific tragedy that has captured the minds and hearts of “all Americans” in Texas, Roger Olson has published an interesting article that reveals the dangerous tendency of Piper’s Calvinistic teachings and the proliferation of his theology as found in his oft quoted statement — “God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him.”

Olson makes that point as follows . . . .

I began this blog as a place to respond to the growing influence of hard-core, aggressive Calvinism in America (now elsewhere as well). The so-called “Young, Restless, Reformed Movement” (YRRM) was sweeping through college and university campuses under the influence of people like John Piper and Wayne Grudem. I was at the starting place when that movement began. I was teaching Christian theology as a non-Calvinist at Bethel College and Seminary in Minnesota. Piper and Grudem had been there not long before me, also teaching biblical studies and theology, but left before I came on faculty.

Many of my students were quoting Piper and Grudem in class as if what they wrote and taught was God’s Word. Of course, neither of them ever said that about what they taught and wrote, but many young (mostly male) Christians latched onto their teachings about God’s sovereignty as if it is the only orthodox, biblical interpretation.

Over the years I have said here many times that IF I were a Calvinist I would have to look at a horror such as unfolded yesterday in Uvalde, Texas and praise God for it. Let me be clear: I do NOT praise God for it! But IF I were a Calvinist I would have to if I wanted to be logically consistent. I realize that very few, if any Calvinists do that, but my argument is they are being inconsistent when they don’t.

Let us be clear here. This kind of Calvinism which goes back to John Calvin himself, if not further back, teaches that everything that happens, without exception, is planned, ordained and rendered certain by God FOR HIS GLORY. Thus, whatever happens, however horrific to us, causes God to smile. Remember the Calvinist hymn “God Moves in a Mysterious Way” — “behind a frowning providence God hides a smiling face.”

According to Piper, events such as the killing of children is truly evil but only because God  has forbidden it. But also, God plans, ordains and renders it certain. According to Piper, evil events such as this sadden God—because they are necessary. But they are necessary for the greater glory of God (as is hell)! . . . .

Fortunately, for me, I am not and never have been a Calvinist and so I can look at such horrific events and call them what they are: pure evil. Who is really behind them? Not God but Satan. They are not part of God’s plan and they do not glorify God. . . .

I will ask you to respond to one question only: Why do you NOT praise God when you hear about a mass shooting including of children—assuming you do not. If you do, then all I can say is you may be consistent but you probably worship a different God than I worship.

If you would like to read his full article in its context, here is the link.

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I remember talking to a member of the “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”  As most realize, the Jehovah’s Witnesses will not serve in the armed forces, give allegiance to the United States flag, or be involved in law enforcement.  In our talk, I asked him what he would do if someone broke into their home and was attacking his wife or his daughter — assaulting them physically or sexually.  His answer was — “I would pray.”

My response to him was . . . .

If you are saying that you represent what the Scriptures teach as the righteous and proscriptive will of God, as found in the Bible, then I have good reason to not believe anything you say as being biblical.  If you can so twist the Scriptures to allow for that kind of response — “I would pray” —  then you have the ability to twist Scripture to mean anything!

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I remember talking to an individual who was a pastor/Bible teacher/reformed theologian/and-or Calvinist who repeated that God is most glorified when we are most satisfied in Him. . . . .
[You can finish it!]

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I refuse to follow a theological ideology (or teacher/pastor/ministry) that travels anywhere near the vicinity of a belief that suggests that God is the author of evil.  Such an ideology is misguided, dangerous, and damaging!

I will leave theological room for the belief that there is far more about God that I don’t understand than I do, and some of Who He is and what He does is hidden and unknown.  It is part of the mysterious nature of the God-head!



P.S. You do not have to be in agreement with all a fellow believer, professor, writer, or theologian holds to in order to find value in their analysis.  I say that for those who dismiss Roger Olson’s helpful and/or valuable insights primarily because he resides in a different camp than they might reside.

If you read the same books, you will think the same thoughts!

There is more to a Christian’s view of life and living than is seen through the colored glasses of a Reformed/New Calvinistic/Calvinistic theology.

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Roger Olson PDF

Some other comments on the article:

“The only way I can imagine God being glorified through evil is in His ultimate resolution of the matter in a final judgement.”

Calvinists are “reductionistic in nature. They take one tenet, such as God is love or God is sovereign, and deduce from that tenet everything that happens in the world.”

“You may not care about being a consistent Calvinist but some Calvinists do and they have been making a lot of noise during the last three decades (or so). And a set of seemingly contradictory beliefs is something to work on, not just embrace. “

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“Augustine tells of a vision of seeing a little boy at a beach scooping up the ocean thimbleful by thimbleful and emptying it out on the sand. Then he sees an angel who tells him that this boy will have emptied out the entire ocean long before Augustine has exhausted what can be said about God.”

Here Is Love

You Cannot Outdo Great Hymns With Deep and Moving Content!
1849

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If you would like to listen to it, in all of its simplicity and depth here is the link: MP3 Link

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Here is love vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as a flood
When the Prince of Life, our ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Here is love. Lord, we remember.
From our hearts we lift Your praise,
Raising high the living anthem
All will sing through endless days.

On the mount of crucifixion
Fountains opened deep and wide.
Through the floodgates of Your mercy
Flowed a vast and gracious tide.
Here is love like mighty rivers
Poured unceasing from above.
Heaven’s peace and perfect justice
Kissed a guilty world in love.

O what love! Great love!
Dying Lord, what love!

Here is love vast as the ocean,
Lovingkindness as a flood
When the Prince of Life, our ransom,
Shed for us His precious blood.
Here is love. Lord, we remember.
From our hearts we lift Your praise,
Raising high the living anthem
All will sing through endless days.

http://lnwhymns.com/Hymn.aspx?ID=151