When the Church Isn’t the Church

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churchWhy is America falling apart when we have a church on almost every street corner?  America has the most churches per capita of any nation in the world. The Gallup organization tells us that over 70% of Americans identify themselves as Christians.  And yet, our nation is morally and spiritually crumbling before our eyes and most people see it. What happened? How do you explain this shocking reality going on today?

The Bible is quite clear that just before the Lord Jesus’ return the professing Church will have a “form of godliness without any power” (II Timothy 3:5). It will be a time of apostasy or a turning away from the historic faith into a counterfeit one that people will accept as the real one.  In other words, the Church will be a place where people have a religious belief, form, and practice, but it will be empty from the Lord’s perspective.

Baltimore Burning

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baltimoreMost of us have heard about the riots in Baltimore by now. Our news will be filled with the story for a while. The trigger for the riots appears to be the unjust death of a man in police custody. Some of the media will be talking about police injustices, while others will mention a lack of jobs, the decay of our inner cities, and families under poor social policy from Washington. However, the real story is much, much deeper and way beyond what any of the media will cover. As usual, everyone will be trying to blame someone. Few if any will take any responsibility for things and another Baltimore will most likely develop in the near future.

Saving the Earth?

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earthdayDid you miss it? Wednesday, April 22, marked the now annual celebration of “Earth Day.”   People around the world gave some speeches and reflected on the need to take care of the planet in better ways. Even President Obama managed to use the day to speak about the need to stop global climate change, which he said presented “no greater threat to our planet.” Few seem to agree whether man-made climate change is really even happening, but we are being told by our President and others that it is a “threat” to all of us and needs to be fixed. Of course how you “fix” the planet’s climate is not easily spelled out, but like many government ideas you have to pass legislation BEFORE you find out what it is all about.

Whatever your view of some of these environmental issues, the real story is not being reported at all. The real story about Earth Day is what it represents on a spiritual level. Earth Day is really a worldview, a belief system... a religion, if you will. People may not think of this environmental movement to “save the planet” from human sin as a religion, but it drives many these days much more than going to church on Sunday and thinking about saving souls. Whereas the Bible is clearly more concerned about saving people, these folks just want to save the planet.

From Tolerance to Takeover

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stonewallI have been a Christian pastor for over 30 years now and I have never met a “homophobic pastor” in my life. I have met a lot of pastors that think homosexual behavior is not the Lord’s plan and not in the best interest of those involved. But I have never personally talked with or met a single pastor who used hateful language or talked about violence against anyone in the gay community for their beliefs and political activism. I am sure those pastors are out there, but I just haven’t met them. This fact may come as a shock to some folks who are coming to believe that traditional Christians are a group of intolerant, hate-filled folks trying to hurt a minority of people with their distorted and mean spirited Biblical beliefs.

If you go back into the history of the struggles of the gay community in this country, a lot of things started to change on the morning of June 28, 1969, at the Stonewall Inn, located in Greenwich Village, a neighborhood of Manhattan in New York City. This date marked the beginning of the Gay Rights Movement in the world, after the New York Police unfairly treated the patrons of this now famous nightclub and bar.

Lex Rex

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lexrexHave you ever heard the phrase “Lex Rex”? It comes from two Latin words that mean, “The Law is King.” The phrase became a well-known book written by a Presbyterian minister named Samuel Rutherford in 1644. Its thesis was simple, namely that no one is above the law... the law is king. Human beings have to be accountable to some standard, some law, or they become as god. The reason this work was and is important to us today is because it had a great influence on the Founding Fathers of this country as they set up our constitutional government. They realized you needed a system of checks and balances against human power and ambition using the law, or you would end up with human tyranny and despotism.

In recent years, we have been watching the foundations of our Constitution begin to crack.   For some people today, the law doesn’t really matter that much anymore. The law just gets in the way of what they want to do, so they are more than glad to vote for politicians who will change and/or eliminate some laws in clever ways that only a lawyer really understands. This pattern of increasing lawlessness is growing rapidly right now across the world, not just in the United States. People seem to be falling in love with charismatic leaders who promise them a life of freedom to do whatever they want to do, no matter what the laws of God or Man have to say.

What about the Media?

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tvWhen I was kid growing up in the 1960s, we had a TV and a radio and that was it. We waited all year to watch the “The Wizard of Oz” on network TV and got to skip dinner to see it. We normally spent time eating family dinners, doing chores and homework, and living life with family and friends. I miss those days. Since that time the media has become so pervasive in our lives that people literally cannot go to the bathroom without someone trying to tell them what to think or what to believe through their smart phone or some other electronic toy. This loss of personal boundaries and freedom is shocking, but we seem to be adjusting...I guess. The greatest casualties of this media world are the children because this is all they know and it seems “normal” to them.

Bowing Down to the Image

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2016If you’re like me, you may already be weary of another round of the race for the presidency. Every week now, new potential contenders are announcing their campaign for the White House in 2016. And yet, it seems harder and harder each political cycle to get excited about anyone because we end up so disappointed with the results of these leaders once they are elected. We want things to change, but we seem to keep making the same mistakes over and over. It seems we have truly found the definition of political insanity and it is taking a heavy toll on our lives.

Jesus and Einstein

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einstienOn this Resurrection Weekend, Christians all over the world will be celebrating the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ from the grave. The Christian Faith rises and falls on an Empty Tomb as the Apostle Paul reminds us in I Corinthians 15:14. However, the Resurrection of Christ is much more than just an article of faith, it is good science.

For many people the Resurrection rests on nothing more than the Gospel narratives that the Tomb was empty and the faith of the apostles. This seeming lack of objective, empirical evidence has led to a huge amount of doubt, skepticism and outright unbelief. For many people the Resurrection doesn’t make sense and violates the laws of nature and science itself. I have read numerous articles, books and heard from many people who simply didn’t really believe in the Resurrection for a variety of logical reasons born from our modern, scientific age.

Who Can You Really Trust?

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truthMuch of the world today is watching the drama surrounding an attempt by the USA to broker an agreement or treaty with Iran regarding her right to enrich uranium. This attempt has seemingly turned desperate on the part of the USA and the Obama Administration. Many commentators and leaders wonder why this effort seems to continue since Iran has a history of broken agreements with just about everyone and continues its irrational threats of “Death to America” and “Death to Israel.” How do you make meaningful agreements with a nation like Iran that is seen by most intelligence experts to be the chief sponsor of terrorism in the Middle East? Good question.

Back to Basics

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Bible And Sword"For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified". I Corinthians 2:2

What is the Gospel? Who is Jesus? What is the Christian Faith all about? What is God trying to say to us? What should we be doing in the Church? These are but a few of the questions that every Christian should be asking themselves from time to time. If we cannot answer these basic questions, we are not going anywhere in the Christian life and we may lead others astray.

Over the years, I have come to see that there are many answers being given to the above questions. I never cease to be amazed by some of the answers people give when asked to define the Christian Faith. Some people believe Christianity is largely about living some sort of better moral life where we try to become better human beings. For others, the Christian Faith is a cause that helps us transform the injustices of life. A growing number of people see Christianity as a great tool to make them more prosperous, blessed and successful in life. If you really stop and think about it, there are almost as many ideas about the Christian Faith as there are people. Every person tends to shape the Faith and our Lord into their own image on some level.

Reaching the Nations

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The-Christ-on-a-background-of-Earth"And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Matthew 24:14

If there is one thing we all should know about the Lord, it is that the Lord really loves this world and its people. When you study the history of missions you see that truth in all its glory. The history of the world is really the history of missions. The Lord has planned out a wonderful plan to share His love with this world that will continue right to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is drawing near.

The Lord Jesus in His "Olivet Discourse" in Matthew 24:14 tells the disciples that He would not return until the whole world had heard the gospel message. Isn't that an amazing truth? In other words, the Lord is carefully waiting to close this present age out until the gospel has been shared with everyone. That is the single reason why our Lord has not come back yet. People need to be saved, redeemed, and restored.

The Foundation of the Gospel and our Faith

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Heart-Monitor-With-Cross"Peter, however, got up and ran to the tomb. Bending over, he saw the strips of linen lying by themselves, and he went away, wondering to himself what had happened."
Luke 24:12

The Bible is very clear that Jesus rose from the dead. This is the foundation of the Gospel and our faith according to I Corinthians 15. Christ is risen, He is risen indeed!!! I wanted to take the time to discuss a few thoughts about the Resurrection that may stir your heart toward seeing the greatness of our Lord in this central event of our faith. I hope this brief discussion is a blessing to you and that it will stretch your mind a bit about the greatness of our Lord.

Only One Gospel

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Bible study sessionWe live in a time of tremendous political, economic, and cultural change all around us. Everywhere we turn, the foundations of our lives and society are being challenged like never before. This is especially true in the Church today, with a hundred new varieties of the Christian Faith popping up every week. While fresh expressions of the Faith can be good, it is also possible for some groups to so fundamentally change the Faith that it is no longer The Faith. Hence, the danger that faces the modern Church is the real possibility of creating a church that is fresh and relevant to people in changing times, but not relevant to God.