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Category Archives: comparative religions

A Letter To Congregations

In this country, for the most part, pastors are not treated nor paid that well.  This should not be. We have experienced this trend as well when we pastored a church in a small town for a year. Pastors seem to get the short end of the stick, not just in this country but in the west as well.They are treated, unless they are fortunate enough to be famous or oversee a mega or large church, as an after thought, a problem or as second class people. This should not be so.

The Bible tells us to do unto others as we would like to be treated and that instruction is not restricted to pastors treating their church’s membership, nor is it limited to believers treating unbelievers. The words of Jesus also apply to believers and how they treat their pastors and other church leaders. If you do not want to be given starvation wages then make sure your pastor is paid a living wage.

If you want friends to treat you well, then learn how to be friends to your pastor and treat them better than they are. And on it goes. How a congregation treats its pastor says a lot about the congregation and when the pastor is treated poorly, the reputation of the congregation will not be that great. Biblical instruction does not exempt the pastoral staff from being treated as Christ loved us.Christ meant for church leaders to be included in that action and if you want great church leaders then treat them as Christ treated us.

 

Believers 10

What was different she (Dorothy Chappell) explained is the broader context. We teach science from within a Christian worldview starting with the assumption that all truth is God’s truth. We believe there is a biblical truth- what we call special revelation– and there is natural truth or general revelation. Generally there is no conflict between the two. We do believe that God created the universe and that Adam and Eve  were the first humans, Chappell said, but we are agnostic as to how God did it– pg. 153

We will dissect this quote using specific terms

#1. Christian World View— not sure what hat is but if it does not contain the truth then it is not Christian. A believer cannot compromise their beliefs and once a person accepts alternative information, especially from secular sources, then they no longer have a Christian world view. They have a compromised view of the world.A Christian world view has to line up with the Bible or it is not of God.

#2. All Truth— It would be nice to know how she defines that category as scientific truth may not be truth at all. The same goes for natural truth.Processes may be considered natural truth but they are not true at all. The truth is found in the Bible not in nature for the Bible explains much of hat we see in nature. For example some people call homosexuality natural because individual animals are observed engaging in homosexual behavior. Their observation is false because those acts are the result of the corruption that entered the world at Adam’s sin. Nature does not provide us with much truth, it provides us with more evidence proving the Bible true.

#3. Special Revelation— We know people like to label the Bible as special revelation but it is simply God revealing to us what was done in the past, our instructions from him how to live correctly and what God did in human history. The Bible provides us with the truth while human historical works rarely do. The latter are influenced by so many mitigating factors that one would be hard pressed to find the truth within their pages.

The same for science.If science disagrees with the Bible, it is not scientific truth or new revelation. It just means that the science is wrong and he scientists have made the error.Evolution has never existed so it cannot be part of God’s truth.

#4. Agnostic About How God Did It— No Believer should be taking this point of view. One, it demonstrates an acceptance of lies from secular science, and two, God already told us how he did it. We re not in the dark about his methodology.  Any acceptance of alternative ideas as to how God created everything means there is a compromise and people claiming to be Christian do not believe God and his words. This is not acceptable especially when you area church or Christian academic institution. Christians are to believe and proclaim what God said and what he said he did regardless of the opposition from the unchurched and unbelieving world.

Christians cannot afford to compromise for once they do they are advertising that they do not believe God anymore. You cannot have an impact on this world if you do not believe God.

 

{****This ends our Believers series}

 

Believers 9

Kurt, I would discover, tended to be the most outspoken of the group. He confided to me later that while he takes his Christian faith seriously he does not consider himself an evangelical like the rest of the men and he has trouble with organized religion in general. ‘People make up rules or interpret the Bible & say unless you abide by our rules and interpretation you’re not going to heaven. Well, I just don’t buy that,’ he explained– pg. 174

People get hung up on certain rules and decide to create their own because they do not like the ones implemented by one church group or another.  Granted there are many man-made rules found in Christianity but their existence do not mean that God does not have his own rules or that his rules should be ignored.The church is plagued by different denominations because so many people do not want the truth or God’s actual rules. They want to operate Christianity after their own ideas and forget about God’s instructions.

The task for believers is to discern which rules are of God and are to be obeyed and which are man-made and are to be ignored.People cannot put God’s rules in the latter category simply because they do not like them. They have to be honest and prepared to submit to God’s rules when they discover what they really are.God never put man in charge of his word even when he gave man dominion over the earth, man has to be humble enough to see what God wants and obey it. He does not have the right nor the authority to change what God has written.

There are rules to obey if you want to see heaven– you must be born again; you must give up the practice of sin; you cannot be a liar, thief, murderer, homosexual, transgender and so on. God does not allow sin or corruption into his paradise or home. If he did, he would not tell us to be holy.We will find the correct rules if we rad the Bible properly under the guidance of the spirit of truth. There is no other way and when we do that, we will also be able to see the difference between man-made rules and God’s rules.Or we should be able to.

We do not toss out God, the Bible or their rules simply because men have interfered with God’s running of the church

 

Believers 8

He warned (Alan Wolfe), however, that as long as evangelical scholars insist on drawing statements of faith that shut them off from genuine intellectual exchange they will find it hard to become the kind of intellectually exciting institutions they hope to be– pg. 148

This has become a problem for the church and its academic institutions. Not that they are not ‘intellectually exciting’ but that they have taken their eyes off what God has instructed and placed them on secular ideas.Evangelicals or all believers are not to be pursuing academic excellence according to the rules of secular thinking. They are to be pursuing, finding, accepting and proclaiming the truth. They can do this in a high academic way but it must be according to God’s rules not the unbelieving world’s ideas of what is intellectual, academic or even ‘exciting’.

Too often, and we have experienced believers doing this, the Christian forgets their mission from God and become enthralled with the secular way of doing things. Unfortunately for them, they do not realize that the secular way is not to find the truth, not to find the correct answers but to keep the discussion going for as long as possible. In other words, the secular way avoids the truth and any answer that will end their academic games.

Christians cannot afford to do this. They have a mission to bring the truth to the people. They do not have a mission to discuss and present differing theories on the same topics leaving people in confusion as to what is the correct answer.God is a God of truth not competing theories and we need to follow Christ’s example to bring the truth to all so that people can be set free from their sins.

The secular academic world and its methods do not accomplish this and we should not be seeking the approval of those who do not believe in God. We can present the truth in a very scholarly and intellectually exciting way but again, it must not follow the world’s idea for either category. We are not called to follow the secular world in any aspect of life including academics.

 

Believers 7

Our ad hoc caravan was on its way to Creation 2005, an outdoor rock festival that each summer draws tens of thousands of evangelical young people and their chaperones to the bucolic hills of south central Pennsylvania for what is often described as a Christian version of Woodstock– pg. 196

About a month before the Creation festival an aging and ailing rocker named Larry Norman gave what was billed as his last U.S. concert– pg. 214

Music and the church is always a controversial topic as one generation does not agree with another as to what constitute good Christian music.  God really doesn’t tell us what music we should use in our church services but he does leave at least one scripture verse to guide our decision making– love not the world nor the things in it.

The question for the music discussion is which music is of the world and which is not? Music transcends so many boundaries and influences so many different classes of people. One thought to help in this matter would be, are we using the music we like out of our selfish desire to listen and participate in that music culture or are we using it to truly worship God? Selfishness is not of God nor does it lend anything to worship.

Another thought that would help in this issue is, the above examples illustrate more the ‘ends justify the means’ mentality than anything sacred. The ends do not justify the means especially when the means disobey God and ignore his instructions.

Then there is the question, does Christian church music have to be all original? Luther used a bar room melody to write A Mighty Fortress so are we allowed to borrow the music of unbelievers to write songs to worship the most holy God?

This issue must be decided by each local congregation and while we disagree with Hillsong and other meg Church groups who use contemporary music in their services we cannot make their decisions for them on this issue. We do not think that Hillsong or other churches are using music correctly as they forget who they are worshiping and what he requires. They are more concerned with pleasing the people than God.

And That is another point to be considered in this discussion–our motivation in using music. Are we pleasing others and ourselves or are we truly trying to please God? Our purpose is to please God not entice others to enter the church because we are hip, cool or contemporary. Jesus said HE would draw all men unto him, he did not say ‘use music to draw people to me’. We need to live obediently and that includes our use of music.

One side point, while we like choruses and hymns, the former are used to often to manipulate the congregation. We do not like the repeating of the same chorus over and over, when that happens we tend to think some sort of mind control experiment is in process in the church and not true worship.The chorus may sound good and make one feel good but constant repeating it does nothing but perform worthless repetition.

Music is good in the church, The Psalmist talks about its use but we must be careful not to use scripture wrongly to support our own desires when we select what songs will fill the singing portion of the service. We follow the Bible correctly, all of the verses not just a few so we get the right picture of what God wants for worship.

 

Believers 6

But if we’re really going to maintain a moral basis in our society we need more candidates and more office holders who have biblically informed world view– pg. 230

This part of the book is talking about Christians and politics and we disagree with what is being said in that quote. A biblically informed world view is not enough. Anyone can have that even unbelievers and such a view of the world does not guarantee that the office holder or politician is going to follow Christ’s instructions. What we need are those men who use god-given wisdom, have understanding and real knowledge and know how to apply those traits correctly to any given situation.

We do not need people who separate their faith from their political activities. That is just keeping God out of the corridors of power. We need those men who will rely upon God to guide them in making the right decisions, to keep them from making stupid comments or sound bites and bring respect to their office as well as themselves by their character and integrity. We do not need more liars holding public office.

Christians are called to be different and that calling does not exclude justice, legal offices or even politics. Christians are to obey God at all times even when they are holding political office. There is no instruction by either God or Jesus telling their followers that they can ignore their words when they hold public office. Having a Christian worldview is not enough, one has to live the Bible and their lives correctly if they want to influence society towards a moral lifestyle.

 

Believers 5

The reason for the amazing growth  according to Drucker was that the mega church leaders dared to ask a basic marketing question: what does the consumer want?– page 121

This is one of the failings we see in the mega church movement. It is all about what people want, even unbelievers, and not what God wants to see in his church. We can nitpick and complain about how mega church pastors disrespect God by their very unclassy dress but then in the NT God did not specify a dress code as he did for the OT temple Priests.

How a church pastor dresses should be up to him though he should keep in mind whom he serves and what he has demanded of others before donning what many in different societies would call disrespectful.  Then he must keep in mind that he has a human audience that may feel very disrespected because the pastor doesn’t think they are worthy of his better set of clothes. This can be extrapolated to cafes in the church, and other modern conveniences that have made their way into the holy sanctuary of God.

People are so concerned about the ‘consumer’ that they forget about God and his standards

What also bothers us about that quote is that it makes the church more like a business instead of a place to receive healing, help, compassion, friendship and to worship the most holy God, creator of all things whose power is so great he only needs to speak things into existence.

Our view of God is very restricted when it comes to church and that needs to change. Who God is should guide our thoughts, our actions, our words not our disdain for hymns or offering and so on, especially when it comes to worshiping and serving him.God already designed the church and what he wanted to see take place within it. We cannot ignore his direction and while we may have some leeway, some use that little bit of freedom to design the church and its operation after their personal preferences and not God’s.

Making people ‘comfortable’ like mega churches try to do may be driving God out of the church and to some other location. being holy is one key church leaders need to follow when they design how their church works. It is not what the consumer wants but what God wants.

Jesus lost followers because he told the truth, we are not going to be able to be any different. Losing members from a church does not necessarily mean the church or the pastor has lost favor with God, sometimes it does but not always, so church leaders need to focus on obeying God and feed the flock correctly, bring in the truth and teach the people how to be real believers–

1 Samuel 15:22
Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

Jeremiah 44:23
Because you have burned sacrifices and have sinned against the Lord and not obeyed the voice of the Lord or walked in His law, His statutes or His testimonies, therefore this calamity has befallen you, as it has this day.”
Mega churches may look good but are they really obeying God? That is a question you need to answer for yourselves as you strive to correctly obey what God has taught in the Bible. We do not look for spiritual superstars to brig people into church, we just need to live the faith correctly.

 

 
 
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