Saturday, December 31, 2011

Just a Little Twist

All it takes to change the Word of God and how It is presented is a little twist.  Most little twists are not even noticeable, but they carry huge ramifications.  Here's a recent example to show you what I mean.  I recently heard a sermon from a pastor in my area; the pastor of a regular Baptist church. The sermon was on The Prodigal Son, a familiar passage of Scripture to most of us.  There are a few twists in this sermon, but the one I'm going to concentrate on here is the fact that this pastor states "All things work together for God's glory, but not all things work together for our own life."  This statement is around the 17 minute mark here in this online sermon.  If you listen to the whole thing, you will note that this pastor had previously quoted Romans 8:28 and clarified that things don't necessarily work together for good for those who are not called and who do not love God.  That's not how the Bible states it, but that's how this preacher presents it here. I won't argue this point,  but when he states this at minute 17, it is not qualified by those who don't love Him.  As a matter of fact, he says, "in our own life..." indicating he's talking to his believing listeners (members of his church).

This is just a little twist.  God states in Romans 8:28, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."  At minute 17, this preacher disagrees with God on this issue.

One might argue that this is a small point, not that big of a deal. But, it IS a big deal and I'll tell you why. If this preacher disagrees with God on this point, what other points does he disagree with God on?  When God makes a statement, we don't get to disagree with Him.  If God says that all things work together for good, then all things work together for good whether we see the good or not.  This is faith in Who God is. This is faith that God is Who He says He is.  

Disagreeing with God from the pulpit is the perfect way to plant doubt in the minds of the people listening.  One little doubt has huge consequences. The serpent fed Eve a little doubt....just a little statement, "You shall not surely die....."  as though the idea is totally ludicrous. And Eve took the seed of doubt.

You might think I'm being hard on this preacher.  I don't think so.  The handling of the Word of God is not to be taken lightly.  God manifests His Word through preaching. Preachers have the responsibility of presenting God's entire Word as faithful and true.  This preacher is a doubter and has fed his doubt to his people.

I have issues with a number of other things in this sermon, like his portrayal of God's foreknowledge and predestination and his thoughts on man's perceived free will.  But, I wanted to focus on this one little twist today and draw attention to it.  

Really listen to preachers.  Weigh what they teach and preach. Compare their words to Scripture and make sure they measure up.  Make 2012 your year to be like the Berean people of whom, in Acts 17:11, it is recorded that they not only listened with eagerness to the messages, they also searched the Scriptures daily to make sure what Paul taught was the truth.  This is a responsibility we all have the opportunity to practice. You might be surprised at how much doubt is being planted once you start practicing this.

They searched the Scriptures DAILY. That's how committed they were to the purity of the preaching.  


Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Real Pause

There's a lot of hype about saying "Merry Christmas" instead of "Happy Holidays" this year.  I, personally, don't get offended either way.  Saying "Happy Holidays" does not mean that someone is leaving Christ out of Christmas, it simply means  they hope their hearers will have happy times through all the holidays of this season.

But, did you notice that the entire world pauses for Christmas?  Yes. The entire world pauses for Christmas. Whether they "celebrate" it or not, they pause.  And that pause speaks volumes because the world does not pause for any other "holiday" or occasion in the same way it pauses for Christmas.

Even though they might not understand what it's all about, they pause.

Even if they are just looking at their retail bottom line, they pause.

They pause for our Christ, even if they don't know Him.

They pause.  Think about that. The entire world pauses.


Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Filter Bubbles and Christ

Mark Zuckerberg said, "A squirrel dying in front of your house may be more relevant to your interests right now than people dying in Africa."  He was making that statement in light of filter bubbles - that conclusion reached from the links you consistently click.....the profile that was created for you by your internet usage patterns. The conclusion that a dying squirrel is more relevant than people dying in Africa is reached by what is clicked on, what is viewed and what is read on the internet.

What is a filter bubble?  It's the practice of online engines creating a profile for you that filters what you view by analyzing and keeping track of what you click on, view and read.  Oh, yes, they keep track and they form a pattern and create an entire profile of you, then direct your internet usage to conform to that profile in what they think will be the branches of the internet you want to see or read.  You can easily see this demonstrated by having a group of friends, both male and female, both liberal and conservative, etc., search the exact same things on their respective computers.  You will be amazed at the huge difference in the same search on Google by two different people. Filter bubbles.

What does my theology have to do with filter bubbles?  It means that the world can track my interests. It means that my Christianity is visible to the world. To me, it means I need to approach the internet with intention toward Christ.  But, this intention is not limited to the internet. Aren't we supposed to approach all life with intent toward Christ?  Filter bubbles might just make that more doable for most of us as we struggle with the pull this world lures us into.

Filter bubbles might make it harder to look at and understand and know about things that make us uncomfortable, but we are not to fear the uncomfortable; we are to embrace it knowing that Christ is the answer.

My theology makes me want to be aware of filter bubbles, keep them in mind and intentionally go out of my comfort zone to look at people dying in Africa, at people starving in Indonesia, at girls being killed in India, at all human suffering with an eye toward Christ, knowing He is the only Answer that will help them.

But, sin?  Indulging in sin on the internet?  It may tempt, but, Christian, keep in mind, the world is watching.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Beware Your Liberty...

I've heard people say, "Well, we don't have to go to church," or "We don't have to go" to this or that meeting at church just because it's scheduled when it is.  We don't have to go.........we don't have to give..........we don't have to work with difficult people...........we don't have to!

Beware this trend in your heart.  If, in the process of "practicing your liberty" in Christ, you find yourself using this liberty as an excuse for what you have grown weary of in your church, or in your life, you'd better wake up and check your salvation pulse. You might be dead.  No, it would not mean you have lost your salvation, but it might mean you were never a child of God's to begin with.

Our Christian liberty is not given to us to be exercised in freedom from service to Him; it is given to us so that we are free to serve Him.

The writer of Hebrews brings this home in a very real way.  In chapter 10, he admonishes us as follows:
23 Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.
This does not mean  "Let us" as in a command.  It means "Let us" in that we are no longer hindered from doing what he has said.  It means to no longer be hindered. The tense of the verb is present - we ARE no longer hindered to consider one another.  
Our liberty in Christ is not a ticket to do what we want, or not do what we don't want to do; it's a ticket to serving Him unhindered.  
Praise be.