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Have you led people astray?

It has been correctly said that American Christians have a belief that is an inch deep and a mile wide.  

Matt 28:19 (NIV) Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,

2Tim 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,

Isaiah 55:11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.

if you take no other message from these pages, this is it-
God's Word is Sufficient and Necessary
whether these pages say so or not; whether we believe it or not, shouldn't we learn it to be sure?

Each of us are responsible to a jealous, Almighty God for our choices and actions.

Evidence of failures of the church leadership?

Divorce rates of Christians is at least as high as non-Christians.   This is a sad indictment on how ineffective your message has been.  No one could do better, if they attempted the same thing.  Sure you have good intentions but when the people  need to be awakened to their sin, there is deafening silence.   We have forgotten God's Word.  Instead of pointing out the God's written penalty of adultery, the pain and suffering you see daily from the results of divorce on spouses and children with lives shattered and financial struggles from these split families.  We have stopped teaching the Bible where this is considered a sin and have traded the perfect Word for psychologic pontifications without the credentials of the author of the good Book.   Marriage is a contract, not a feeling.  We grow closer to our mates when we refuse to violate that contract.  Only then do we portray true love.   Pre-arranged marriages by fathers work, not because of their emotions but because of the contract. 

God hates divorce.  In the Mosaic law, the penalty of being caught in adultery was death.  God's displeasure with this sin is high.  Why are the pulpits largely silent?  Even when discussed, the subject is generally sugar-coated.   Are you worried about funding for your organization or keeping your pastorship?  Is this more important than saving their souls?  We quickly point out the sin of homosexuality when adultery is equally destructive and is minimally discussed. 

Would individuals who know some of the biblical teaching and are struggling with the truth of the gospel see your approach as congruent with the Word?  Would they be convicted and see the need for repentance and fall on the  mercy of God's love?  Would they, see some compromise with a different form of 'love' that says God will forgive this sin so things will be ok.   The 'love' we have shown is that the sin is bad but we absolve their sin cheaply, inviting subsequent intervention by God's wrath. We quickly sweep the issue under the rug since it is so common and undoubtedly we would be stepping on some feet.  By failing to step on their feet, though, they fall into Satan's abyss.  Our current approach has failed.  

In the 2000 census, 1 in 3 children were growing up in single parent homes.  The pain is overwhelming.  We wonder why people don't take contracts seriously- since their most important contract on earth is quickly absolved with no-fault divorce.

Money is always a struggle.  Leading Christian magazines carry glossy ads about how fund raising consultation groups can raise more money so the church can do bigger and better things.  This is a black-eye to God's elect.  Forget programs!  Follow the scripture.  There is an emphasis of raising funds for new church buildings, radio and TV broadcasts, etc.  Surely you don't intend to use it to become more famous but so you can do more for God.  The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.  Are we building God's church (people-not posessions) or are we building our own kingdoms on the backs of others?

Luke 20:46 "Beware of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and love to be greeted in the marketplaces and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 47 They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."

James 4:3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures. 4 You adulterous people, don't you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.

We must test ourselves.  We must seek God's direction.  When we see needs, we should act.  We must not be like the priest who saw more important things to do than to give assistance to the robbed man, only to get relief from the good Samaritan.  We find ourselves bypassing the needy in our country and around the world to purchase greater buildings and infrastructure with increasing additional cost to maintain these things in the name of doing more for God. 

Christ turned the world upside down without massive funding and no possessions.  Sure that is an unfair comparison.  What isn't unfair is knowing that the disciples did exactly the same thing.  Our love of money has weakened our witness, our own reliance on Him and our alignment with God's values.  Aren't you tired of praying that God will meet your ballooning financial obligations?  We live in great wealth, spread it efficiently in God's name.  To love money is to be a friend of the world.

The love of money has contributed greatly to weaker messages from the pulpits.   Because we fear irritating our fellow Christians, even when it is appropriate, we fall into biblical prophecy (see scripture below).  Our fear of the other Christians largely comes from the fear of losing a church's support or income. 

We have banquets for ministries to raise funds!  We should save the money for the overpriced meals and centers by supporting worthy ministries without the extraneous costs.  This is not clearly wrong but the emphasis must be in check from the leaders of the ministries.   It is so much better to know that the contributed $ goes to an efficient ministry that will get the $'s to the place they are needed than to have a full belly.  This is especially true as Christian ministries give care to the starving in Africa, etc.     

2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage--with great patience and careful instruction. 3 For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. 4 They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. 5 But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

How many times do leaders push their own books and 'resources' to help raise their ministry's funding?  Is this appropriate?  Shouldn't we return to the Book that was purchased by the blood of many former Christians and Israelites?  Since when have any of us written anything more applicable to life than that of the Bible?  If we really believe this is true, why aren't we pushing the Holy Bible?  Where is our outcry to reverse this trend?  Leaders are much too quick to direct people to their own works than to God's. 

Why do we send people to read other books more often than we compel people to read the Bible?  We cannot improve on the Bible.  It is the Word of God.  We must avoid at all costs the tempting reasoning that includes psychology in addition to the scriptures.  The scriptures are sufficient.  If we try to improve on this, we fail.  These pages are no different.  It would be better to be reading the Bible with an honest perspective than spending time here.

As we study the Bible, God is not like Walt Disney.  He is not Mr. Rodgers.  He is not a touchy, feely fellow who directs us to be in tune with our inner feelings or to become in line with the feminine side of our wives.   There is nothing like this in the Bible.  Disagree?  Find it.  Maybe the search will open up new discoveries in the manual for our lives. 

Of course, it is important to have and nourish a good relationship with your spouse and the children.  In our zeal to fix our problems, many have centered their goal on repairing the family, still a noble objective.  But...what is the problem?  It has taken precedence over what is most important.  If we look at the scriptures, very little deals with family values, although there are many examples of mistakes, there is little teaching specifically aimed at this subject.   Contrast this to the overwhelmingly recurring theme of God's judgment on a people who turn their backs on Him.  To 'rightly divide the word of truth', warning of impending judgment must take precedence, since it has in our Bibles.  When we try to rearrange our priorities such that we concentrate on family ahead of our Saviour, we have chosen to seek a lesser god and are not reversing the direction we are going.  Yes, we are very, very, very busy rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.   With this approach, our doom is also certain, unless we repent.

How many of the lessons we get to raise our children come from scripture?  Not many.  We should largely abandon this approach in order to concentrate on Biblical teaching to change each individual in the family.  Then the appropriate raising of children becomes clearer.  No more psychology.  Teach the children and the parents the Word.  Now we cannot afford to waste church time on these lessons backed by one or 2 scriptures in a half hour's time.  We just need the Word!  Can we really do better than God?  He knows the right approach and priorities.         

Let us condemn the media, with their anti-Christian proliferation on violence and sexual promiscuity.  Who among church members today choose to subscribe to HBO, indiscriminantly go to movies that may portray great evils or actually pay actors to sin for our entertainment, causing them to sin to receive our discretionary money.   We will be held accountable for this!  We waste our dollars in a manner to cause others to sin at the same time we neglect our brothers and sisters in need.  We must condemn the practice of homosexuality and homosexual activism but let us remove the sin of adultery from our own eye first.  Point out sexually transmitted diseases (STD's) and their destructive nature such as HIV and human papillomavirus (HPV) that causes cervical cancer. 

There is much confusion among Christians these days because of the leaders' failures to see things through a scriptural lens and to prioritize what is needed.  For example, in single's classified ads for dating, ads are taken out to invite a third person for an 'alternative' experiment as a threesome.  To narrow the choices, the person considers themselves as a "Christian" or another religious affiliation.  If we don't point out these errors, they may well perish.  

1 Corinthians 5:12 What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church ? Are you not to judge those inside? 

Season your messages by upholding those Christians undergoing persecution worldwide.   Put emphasis on prayer for these fellow Christians.  Teach the value, sincerity and depth of strength to stand firm.  The suffering church has always been the most effective church.  We should learn from them.  We should help them as much as we can.  Support ministries who aid these individuals.  Give examples of what they are going through to help awaken the fat and happy, disgusting to God, consumers in the pews in America, including me.  With such knowlege, people will respond.

Evangelism is a great calling.  Indeed, if we were to name the person who has most impacted Christianity in this century, Billy Graham rises to the top of our lists.  He has been greatly gifted by the Holy Spirit and has been faithful.   If only we could all be like him, right?

Not true, as he himself would assuredly agree.

If we look at Christ's command to the disciples-

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."   

Billy Graham has done a great job at evangelism.  Christ didn't tell us to simply evangelize.  That most likely was Billy's calling and as part of the body of Christ, it is totally appropriate.  We should emulate Billy's faithfulness. 

Our failure comes from our view that evangelism is the sine- qua-non of what we should each be doing, when Christ told us to make disciples.  Discipleship requires discipline and perseverance.  It requires for each of us to learn what God has commanded us to do.   Our desire to be like Billy Graham has helped lead us to where we are today with miles of theoretical 'Christians' exhibiting shallow faith and essentially no knowlege of God's Word.  How many will hear 'depart from me I never knew you' because the leaders failed to warn of their errors.  As shepherds of your flock, you will be accountable to God for their well being.

By all means, please stop telling church members to take EE (Evangelism Explosion) or some other worthy approach to sharing your faith with others, 'so then you can share the gospel with your family and friends'.  None of the disciples took EE.   Absolutely every Christian should be willing, able and actively trying to pass the good news along, without an artificial prerequisite, certificate or degree.  How many have put off sharing with another in order to first complete EE, only to be delayed or never have taken this course?   This is undoubtedly good training but please do not imply that it is needed to be effective- an inadvertent heresy. 

Seminary training should also be viewed with a somewhat jaundiced eye.  Disciple yourself to learn, avoid putting off doing the work of a disciple for extra training.   The Pharisees noted that the disciples were untrained men.  A very intelligent, academic fellow I know was a non-believer.  Multiple times he was confronted by folks with apologetic arguments for the faith, each of which were legitimate.  It was not till an uneducated fellow carrying a cross ran into him and he was saved.  Education is nice, not necessary.

Where is our sense of urgency?
When you preach, preach as if this is their last time to hear the Word.  Oftentimes it is. 
Soon it will be for all.

Do not misunderstand. 

We are currently in a period of God's judgment. 

The graphs in these pages relate to the incumbent pain and suffering for our exclusion of God's moral values.  We may not see it like the frog in gradually boiling water.  

It may be too late.  Now, now is the time to fall on our knees in repentance.

Why was politics used in these pages?  It wasn't a misguided 'single issue' approach to electing a politician.  It was to try to point out the church's failure and to call for a return to biblical values in order to try to reverse God's judgment on our nation. 

We did not repent, primarily because of the church leadership's failure.  We must repent of our willful holocaust, we the people of God have silently allowed!!!  Therefore by our actions, we have asked our loving God to call us to Himself, begging His judgment upon us, the only thing to which we may listen.  He loves us, therefore He will judge us so that some may be saved.

Prayer is neglected by our leaders.   The 2001 National Day of Prayer has come and gone.  We should be proud of our involvement in such a worthy day, right?  No.

That day simply was a missed opportunity by many of the Christian leaders.  It is as if we forgot how to pray.  We have forgotten how utterly destitute we are and how we have offended God Almighty.

Listening to many well-meaning Christian radio shows that day was disappointing.   First, and foremost, where were the prayers?  Billy Graham's prayer (~30 sec) was read as the only prayer on these broadcasts.  The people leading this event chose to run infomercials for other ministries and their literature and 'resources' instead of using their broadcast time for leading a humble, contrite, gut-wrenching prayer.   Surely there were a few clusters of prayer that were great.

Meals were consumed, this day became a celebration by many Christians.  For example, an Evangelical church held a prayer luncheon at which time the only prayer was the reading of Billy Graham's prayer.

If you want an example of what we should have been praying, take a look at this, or the Lord's Prayer!

Abraham Lincoln, in an 1863 Proclamation Appointing a National Fast Day said:

Now, therefore, in compliance with the request and fully concurring in the view of the Senate, I do, by
this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the 30th day of April, 1863, as a day of national humiliation, fasting and prayer.

"…it is the duty of nations as well as of men to owe their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth, announced in the Holy Scriptures and proven by all history: that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord:

And, insomuch as we know that, by His divine law, nations like individuals are subjected to punishments and chastisement in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins to the needful end of our national reformation as a whole people?

We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious Hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own."

We should be in sackcloth and ashes.  We are too busy spending time eating with politicians to convince them of our agenda.  We lack humiliation, fail to fast and pray. 

Just another missed opportunity.

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