Dear Churches, You’re Killing Yourselves…

As you may have noticed by now, I am not too proud to share my blog with other writers who have eloquently expressed my sentiments.  I have found another such writer in a gentleman named Matt Walsh.  I have never met Matt; as a matter of fact, I had never heard of him until I read this article.  I saw this article on my Twitter timeline and once I started reading it, I could not stop.  This is just what the “doctor” ordered.  I hope you enjoy this article as much as I have.

Matt Walsh: Dear churches, you’re killing yourselves and this is how

 
Matt Walsh: Dear churches, you’re killing yourselves and this is how

Arrangements-Photography / Getty Images

A certain sermon I heard a little while ago has stuck with me.

It began with a reference to “Toy Story.” Yes, “Toy Story.” The cartoon with talking toys.

The Pixar film, as the pastor explained, contained many examples of friendship. Friendship is important, you see. It’s good to have friends. In case anyone thought friendship was bad, he was standing up to boldly declare otherwise. Remember that Randy Newman song called “You’ve Gotta Friend In Me” from the movie? He did. He quoted it at length. Then he handed out juice boxes and graham crackers and we had nap time on the alphabet rug.

I have no problem with a sermon that draws on art or literature outside of Scripture to illustrate a theme contained in it. But of all the poems, novels, songs, films, paintings, sculptures that may reveal some divine truth, he went with “Toy Story”? Oh, but “Toy Story” is relatable, you say. Really? Relatable to whom? Kindergartners? Well, are we in a Kindergarten class or a church? It certainly is hard to tell anymore. Just add a few boxes of crayons and a couple glue sticks and some of these churches would be indistinguishable.

Of course, this dissertation on the theological significance of Buzz Lightyear was pretty standard fare. The message preached from most pulpits in America is just like this: superficial, childish, empty, and seemingly designed to insult the intelligence of anyone who hears it. Christianity is dull and lifeless in this country because that’s what the church and its leaders have done to it. They’ve made it into something so bland, generic and inoffensive that it no longer bears any resemblance to the faith of our Christian ancestors. Even the church buildings themselves reflect this trend. Most of them look like shopping malls or government buildings. Sleek, gray, ugly, secular. But inoffensive. Inoffensive in the same way that the DMV is inoffensive.

Indeed, the primary goal of the modern church is to avoid offense, at whatever cost. And this is precisely why they’re dying. The problem is not merely that they’re boring people. After all, there are those who are bored watching anything that doesn’t involve explosions and car chases. The problem more specifically is that they’re starving people. There is no substance, no meat, in the message being preached. The congregants sit there and slowly starve to death.

Your flocks are starving, churches. You are starving them.

John 21 tells us of a conversation between Our Lord and St. Peter. Three times Our Lord tells the apostle to “tend” or “feed” His sheep. You are not feeding us when you serve up a bunch cliches, platitudes, and vapid pop culture references. The sheep need something real. We need to be guided. We need to be taught. We need to be empowered. We need to be called to repentance. We need to hear about sin and redemption and Heaven and Hell. We are confused. We need explanation. We need to be told how to navigate the spiritual minefield of modern culture. We need something to hold onto. Something to think about as we return to our daily lives. Something real. Something true. Something unsettling. Something dangerous. Something incredible. Something religious.

We are getting killed out there. Don’t you understand that? We drag our sorry, beaten carcasses into church each Sunday (and fewer and fewer even bother to do that anymore) after another week languishing in Sodom, and what do you have to say? Friends are good? Really? Is that it? The Disney Channel could have told me that. What else do you have? Nothing? Could you really have nothing to say to us? Then what are you doing? Why do you exist? Tear down the buildings. Turn them into parking lots. At least they’ll serve a purpose again.

The troops are suffering massive defeats in battle, and when they consult their commanding officer, what do they hear? “Yeah, it’s rough out there, guys. So let me tell you what I learned about teamwork from watching Guardians of the Galaxy.” I spoke to someone at an event recently and he told me that a pastor at his Methodist church actually gave a sermon about lessons from Spider-Man. I guess he was trying to tap into the superhero craze, taking his preaching cues from Stan Lee instead of St. Paul. Millennials must love that! Well, this millennial didn’t. He left mid-sermon and found a new church that very day.

A woman emailed me last week to complain that her priest has given three homilies — three, in a row, Sunday after Sunday — on “inclusivity.” Yes, the brave warrior for Christ stood before his church and fearlessly waged war against the great spiritual danger of non-inclusiveness. This is the real problem we face, you see. There’s not enough including going on. It’s not that our families and marriages are falling apart. It’s not that millions of babies are being killed. It’s not that America is full of porn addicts. It’s not that our children are being sucked into a heathen culture of decadence and moral degradation. It’s the lack of inclusiveness. The road to Hell is paved with people who weren’t appropriately inclusive. That’s what this priest thinks, anyway. A priest who became a priest for reasons that are as unclear to me as they likely are to him.

Speaking of courageous sermons, there’s a non-denominational church not far from me, attended by some family members, where the congregation was treated to several weeks of sermons on the issue of racism. The white churchgoers nodded along while the pastor explained that we shouldn’t judge people based on the color of their skin. Everyone felt grateful for the opportunity to profusely agree with him.

Racism may still be a problem in America, but it’s most likely not a sin that tempts the people sitting in the pews of a church in a liberal north eastern suburb in the year 2017. It’s more likely that they struggle with lust, selfishness, materialism, and worldliness. I guarantee not a single person in the church would disagree with the notion that people of all races are equal. But they almost certainly disagree with many other fundamental Christian teachings, which is why their church ought to be focusing especially on those.

There probably weren’t any neo-Nazis or Klan members in attendance, but there were, I’m guessing, fornicators, adulterers, gossip hounds, moral cowards, gluttons, and heretics. This pastor was careful to avoid all of those areas, though, for fear that he may say something that would accidentally spur someone to repentance. But it is harder and harder to avoid talking about sins that hit close to home for the modern Christian, considering that he has such an extensive and diverse resume of them. If a pastor is going to attempt to condemn any evil at all, and he has resolved to do so without mentioning any of the evils that his own sheep may have actually committed or be tempted to commit, he has an increasingly limited supply of sins from which to choose. He’s basically left with racism and pollution. On that latter point, the Pope is all over it.

It’s not that this stuff is outright heresy (although there’s plenty of that going on as well), but that it’s nothing. It doesn’t even have enough substance to be heresy. It’s just rhetorical flatulence. Vapor in the air. A soft breeze with a slightly putrid odor. Christianity in America is so hollow because our fearless leaders have decided that it’s better to keep people in church by putting them to sleep than to draw them deeper into their faith with the full force of unvarnished truth. So, they drone on about friendship and tolerance and recycling, while Satan prowls about devouring souls. And Satan has never had such an easy time finding souls to eat — it’s a veritable soul buffet down in Hell — because most Christians never hear about Satan or Hell in the first place.

People need to be woken up. They need to be offended. Offend us, pastor. Make us uncomfortable. Make me look at my reflection and see the things I’d rather not see. Pull me out of my comfort zone. Make me angry at myself, or at you for making me angry at myself. Can you stand to have people angry at you? If not, I believe you have chosen the wrong profession — and the wrong religion.

Here is a good example of how this can work: A couple of years ago I heard a blessedly offensive sermon at a church in Pennsylvania while I was on vacation. It was about the important and neglected topic of reverence. The point was that we are often too casual in how we approach Our Lord, in or out of church. The men in the congregation were admonished because many of them couldn’t even be bothered to put on pants and a nice shirt, and some of the women came dressed like they just stumbled out of a college bar at 2 AM (my phrasing, not his). It was explained that their lackadaisical, slovenly attire is a symptom of a far greater problem. Many Christians have a lackadaisical, slovenly spiritual life. Their outfits only reflect that fact.

I say this was offensive to me because, as I listened, I looked down at myself and remembered that I was wearing a t-shirt and shorts. And flip flops, God forgive me. Oh, I had a reasonable explanation. I hadn’t remembered to pack formal attire, you see. I began to feel embarrassed and angry at him for making this sweeping statement without considering that some of us may have a good reason to be dressed like beach bums. I knew I’d have to walk down the aisle like a scolded schoolboy, wearing exactly what I’d just been told not to wear. I was offended. I had an excuse and it was outrageous that this guy hadn’t prefaced his remarks by specifically exempting me, personally, from everything he was about to say. How dare he assume that I lack reverence just because I wore pool clothes to church. I don’t lack reverence! I’m, like, so reverent! You wouldn’t believe how reverent I am!

But I couldn’t convince myself. He was right. I had no excuse. I’d been chastised and I deserved to be. As I thought about it, I understood that this isolated incident was not so isolated. I often lack the appropriate reverence and humility when approaching God in church or in prayer or in any situation. There is little of the solemn and the sacred in my faith life, I conceded. He nailed it: this wardrobe malfunction was a symptom of a deeper problem. I left that day resolved to do better, and, though I still am far from perfect in this or any other regard, I believe I have improved by the grace of God. And it all started with getting a little offended.

Sure, I could have stormed out of church, my sandals flapping furiously as I walked, and never come back. I could have whined about that mean “judgmental” man who had the audacity to criticize my behavior. I could have been so offended that I left the faith entirely and never returned. I could have spent the rest of my life telling stories, as people often do, about the self-righteous old Puritan who caused me to leave Christianity, through no fault of my own. But, had I gone that route, it would have been no great loss to the Church.

I heard a story about a priest who recently watched some of his parishioners — including choir members — leave his church in the middle of a sermon because he preached against abortion. That did not dissuade him, nor should it. Let the cowards leave. Let them run out of the church in tears. Let them have their temper tantrum. Let the weak and the selfish declare and separate themselves. If there are only two people left sitting in the pews, all the better. At least we’ll know where we stand.

Whoever does not want to be challenged, whoever insists that they are above reproach, whoever wants only sweet nothings whispered in their ear, whoever wants a comfortable Christianity, does not want Christianity at all. They are not limbs on the Body of Christ. They are malignant growths. They are toxic. Cut them out. We pray that they return to the faith, but not until it is the faith they truly desire. If they are sitting there hoping to have their ears tickled and their preconceived notions confirmed, it is the duty of any pastor or priest to disappoint them. And offend them. There is no other way to tell the truth.

 

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God’s Public Answer To Hannah’s Private Prayer

1 Samuel 1:10, 13, 17

And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.  

Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken.  

Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of Him.

The book of 1 Samuel opens with the introduction of Elkanah, and his two wives, Penninah and Hannah.  Penninah had given Elkanah children, but Hannah could not.  Elkanah made his annual trip to Shiloh to worship and make sacrifices to the LORD.  He was a faithful man of God.  He loved Hannah dearly, and his heart was near to her because she was barren.  Elkanah was a sensitive man…

Penninah was mean-spirited and proud.  She mocked Hannah for being barren.  This hurt Hannah’s feelings badly.  She cried and had no appetite.  Elkanah did all he could to make up for her barrenness.  Nothing can take the place of a child in a barren woman’s arms.

So, Hannah prayed.  She had a deep longing in her heart.  She knew that only God could fix the longing in her heart.  The Bible says “…she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the LORD, and wept sore.”  

As Hannah prayed, not with glamorous, eloquent, repetitive words, but prayed within her heart in silence, she was noticed by Eli the priest, who thought she must be drunk.  It is amazing how others are not understanding when it comes to the depths of our pain!  Eli judged her immediately and even scolded her to stop drinking.  Hannah did not let Eli’s wrong conclusion discourage her.  She explained to him that she was not drunk; she was only pouring out her heart to the LORD.  She had a deep need and only the LORD could meet that need.  Only the LORD needed to hear the cry of her heart.

Once Eli heard Hannah’s explanation, he bid her to go in peace, and assured her that the God of Israel would grant her petition.

How I relate to Hannah!  There is such a deep longing in my heart that sometimes has to go unspoken to those around me, but I cry out to the LORD in silence.  My silence in my prayer time does not mean that God does not hear; just as He heard Hannah, I know He can hear me.

This day, I cry out in silence for the LORD, the God of hosts, to come down and hear my petition, have pity on me, and meet my need…just like He did for Hannah.

 

Salvation or Social Justice: Which Do We Really Want?

I saw the link to this article on my Twitter feed.  After reading it myself, I thought about how insightful the author is in his writing, and how clearly he explained the problems that plague the so-called “Black church”.  I wanted to share this with my readers.  I hope you come away as excited about someone telling the truth as I did.

Is the Gospel No Longer Enough for Black Christians?

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Located on one of the most historic streets in the United States, particularly for black Americans, Auburn Avenue in downtown Atlanta, stands the venerable Big Bethel AME Church.

“Big Bethel”, as it is affectionately and reverently known, was founded in 1847, the same year educator and abolitionist Frederick Douglass began publishing his anti-slavery newspaper The North Star, and the slave Dred Scott filed a lawsuit in St. Louis Circuit Court claiming his temporary residence in a free territory should have made him a free man.

It didn’t.

But, I digress.

For all its notoriety as the oldest predominantly black congregation in Atlanta, Big Bethel is equally renown, if not more so, for a simple two-word message which, for nearly a century, has stood conspicuously affixed atop the church steeple against the backdrop of an ever-expanding Atlanta skyline.

It reads: Jesus Saves.

The message that “Jesus Saves” has been the clarion call of black Christians in America since their earliest exposure to Christianity in the 1600s. It is this unwavering, and perhaps unfathomable, faith in the redemptive power of the gospel that was the impetus for slave-poet Jupiter Hammon, the first black person in America to publish a work of literature (1760) and whose entire earthly existence was as a slave, to comment:

“Now I acknowledge that liberty is a great thing, and worth seeking for, if we can get it honestly, and by our good conduct, prevail on our masters to set us free; though for my own part I do not wish to be free, yet I should be glad, if others, especially the young Negroes were to be free. For many of us, who are grown up slaves, and have always had masters to take care of us, should hardly know how to take care of ourselves; and it may be more for our own comfort to remain as we are. That liberty is a great thing we may know from our own feelings, and we may likewise judge so from the conduct of the white-people, in the late war, how much money has been spent, and how many lives has been lost, to defend their liberty. I must say that I have hoped that God would open their eyes, when they were so much engaged for liberty, to think of the state of the poor blacks, and to pity us. He has done it in some measure, and has raised us up many friends, for which we have reason to be thankful, and to hope in his mercy. What may be done further, he only knows, for known unto God are all his ways from the beginning. But this my dear brethren is, by no means, the greatest thing we have to be concerned about. Getting our liberty in this world is nothing to our having the liberty of the children of God. Now the Bible tells us that we are all, by nature, sinners; that we are slaves to sin and Satan; and that unless we are converted, or born again, we must be miserable forever. Christ says, except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God, and all that do not see the kingdom of God, must be in the kingdom of darkness.” – An Address to the Negroes of the State of New York, 1787

In excogitating these words of Hammon, the question naturally becomes: what could possibly have possessed a man, whose every breath of his existence on this earth was as someone else’s property, to see beyond his station in life to something that was of infinitely greater significance to him?

I believe this question to be germane to the current milieu in America, as many black Christians have begun to advocate a purely activist theology borne of a soteriology that proffers the idea that the preeminent, if not sole, mandate of the gospel is the pursuit of “social justice”, the manifestation of which is evidenced primarily by the bringing about of such realities as socio-ethno egalitarianism and the eradication of all human suffering and oppression, particularly of those whose melanin happens to be of a black or brown hue.

There are many black Christians today who, believe it or not, would assert that, collectively, the plight of black people in 21st century America is tantamount to that of Jupiter Hammon in the 18th century. This, I believe, is because words like slavery and oppression are applied so flippantly and, dare I say, ignorantly today as to divest them of their historical significance with regard to legitimate injustices that were perpetrated against God’s black and brown-skinned image-bearers (Gen. 1:27; Acts 17:26).

But at the risk of incurring the wrath of many who will read this blog post, particularly those who self-identify as social justice warriors (SJWs) or “race workers”, not every perceived injustice involving black people can be attributed to ‘racism’ (another term which, like slavery and oppression, is losing its force due to overuse.) Nonetheless, that is secondary to the matter of how blacks who profess to be Christian are to respond when injustice – as defined objectively in Scripture – does, in fact, rear its sinful and ungodly head (Lev. 19:15; Jer. 22:13).

Since the founding in 1773 of the First African Baptist Church in Savannah, Georgia – the oldest black church in all of North America – the church has served as both the soul and heartbeat of social and political consciousness for black Christians in America. Organized both politically and spiritually, black churches were not only given to the teachings of Christianity but were faithfully relied upon by their members to, under the biblical precept of imago Dei (Gen. 1:27), address specific socio-economic issues that directly impacted them.

This infrangible and abiding bond with the church is conveyed rather soberingly by author Richard Nathaniel Wright who, in his book 12 Million Black Voices: A Folk History of the Negro in the United States, declared that: “It is only when we are within the walls of our churches that we are wholly ourselves, and that we keep alive a sense of our own personalities in relation to the total world in which we live.”

Interestingly, if not ironically, the forging of these bonds between blacks and the church was necessitated, to a great extent, by the hypocrisy of people who failed to live up to their own stated ethos concerning the equitable treatment of their fellow human beings. Case in point, on October 21, 1774, the Continental Congress, in an address to the people of Great Britain, said:

“When a nation, led to greatness by the hand of liberty, and possessed of all the glory that heroism, munificence, and humanity, can bestow, descends to the ungrateful task of forging chains for her friends and children, and, instead of giving support to freedom, turns advocate for slavery and oppression, there is reason to suspect that she has either ceased to be virtuous, or is extremely negligent in the appointment of her rulers.” 

And yet, less than 20 years after those words were spoken, the first Fugitive Slave Act was enacted that outlawed any efforts to harbor or impede the capture of slaves. It was another 70 years until slavery was officially, though not totally, abolished by president Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, only to be replaced by the equally unjust and inhumane peonage system in the post-Reconstruction South.

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But for all the influences that may or may not have been factors in black churches becoming the bastions of social and political activism they are, foundational to that existence is the proclamation of the saving gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12).

The truth is there is no gospel and, conversely, no church – regardless of ethnic composition or denominational affiliation – apart from the life-changing message that ‘Jesus Saves’. It is that message which, I fear, is being lost as increasing numbers of black Christians become convinced that their primary loyalty is to an ecclesiastical legacy rooted in a socio-ethno missiology that emphasizes societal reformation apart from spiritual transformation.

It is this concern that was the impetus for my posing the question that is the title of this blog post; a burden that is echoed in the words of esteemed theologian D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones who, in his excellent work Preaching & Preachers, remarked that:

“The people, they say…are interested in politics, they are interested in social conditions, they are interested in the various injustices from which people suffer in various parts of the world…so they argue, if you really want to influence people in the Christian direction you must not only talk politics and deal with social conditions in speech, you must take an active part in them…But I have no hesitation in asserting that what was largely responsible for emptying the churches in Great Britain was that ‘social gospel’ preaching…It was more responsible for doing so than anything else…This concern about the social and political conditions, and about the happiness of the individual and so on, has always been dealt with most effectively when you have had reformation and revival and true preaching in the Christian church… My argument is that when the Church performs her primary task these other things invariably result from it.”

At the risk of coming across as facetious, let me remind you that the words “You must be born again” are still in the Bible. Open yours to Jn. 3:7 and you will find those words there (perhaps in red letters.) I point this out because most people’s paradigm of morality is anthropological not theological, which is why we fail to see the futility of trying to fix ourselves (Jn. 3:19).

A social justice-centered gospel will take you only so far (Mk. 8:36).

How can we for whom the gospel was sufficient – and necessary – to change us, expect something other than the gospel to change someone else?

To believe that an innately sinful society inherently possesses either the capacity, or the ability, to bring about the kind of equity so zealously desired by social justice advocates is both unrealistic and naive.

As Christians, we must be about the business of changing hearts not just minds (Eze. 11:19-20).

That said, however, the question remains: Will the gospel in which you profess to believe be enough for you if and when those hearts and minds do not change? Not all of them will, you know.

What, then, will you do?

What will be your response?

Will it be that of a man like Jupiter Hammon who, though a slave his entire life, kept his “eyes on the prize”? Or will it be more in line with Malcolm X, demanding your rights “by any means necessary”?

These questions are not to suggest the “religious fatalism” that W.E.B. DuBois cautioned against in his seminal work ‘The Souls of Black Folk’ but, instead, are meant to reorient us to the fundamental truth that gave birth in the first place to such revered black houses of worship as Big Bethel Church in Atlanta, and Bethel A.M.E. Church in Indianapolis, and “Mother Bethel” A.M.E. Church in Philadelphia – the truth that Jesus Saves.

Such is the essence of the gospel and the message of the church.

Apart from that, everything else is secondary.

Everything.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Darrell

Related:
Hijacking Social Justice (Podcast) – The Mortification of Spin
Darrell Harrison on The B.A.R. Podcast with Dawain Atkinson

Heretical Teaching…

I saw the link to this article on my Twitter feed.  I wanted to share it with my readers.

Joyce Meyer Teaching the “Relationship over Religion” Heresy

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If anyone thinks he is religious and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his heart, this person’s religion is worthless. Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world. — James 1: 26-27 (ESV)

https://charismamag.com/blogs/straight-talk/33577-what-joyce-meyer-did-when-she-found-out-satan-robbed-her

She is one of the most popular “preachers” for women today. She is one of the most sought after conference speakers for the entire Purpose Driven Industrial Complex. She is Joyce Meyer and she is one of the most dangerous false teachers alive. She blends a folksy mix of prosperity gospel, word faith heresy and NAR theologies to create a hodgepodge mess that could lead most people far astray from the biblical God and Christ. She has openly taught and believed that Jesus Christ was born again, which would mean that He sinned. She openly teaches that Jesus stopped being the Son of God on the cross. She openly teaches that Jesus went to hell to pay for our sins where He was tormented and if you do not believe that then you are going to hell yourself. Meyer has taught that we are “little gods” a common word faith heresy practiced by the likes of Creflo Dollar and Kenneth Copeland. Not only is she a little god but she claims that she is not a sinner. A great deal of the teachings she provides she claims direct revelation from God to explain their extra-biblical nature. Her wealth is estimated in excess of 15 million dollars as she preaches about God wanting you rich beyond your dreams of greed. She owns a 10 million dollar private airplane. This can literally go on and on beloved. She is a wolf plain and simple and has been devouring the sheep of the Lord and those seeking God for many many years. It is always fascinating when someone so popular and false takes pen to paper to write so that we might gain a direct insight to how flawed her hermeneutics and understanding of Scripture is. The above link is to a recent article she published on Charisma Magazine’s website where she shares what she did when she realized that the devil had robbed her. Let us reason together beloved:

“I’ve been robbed! That is one of the first revelations I had after I started diligently studying the Word and realized I wasn’t living the life Jesus died to give me. At first it made me mad, but it was the truth I needed to hear to help me begin an amazing transformation to a life I can honestly say I now enjoy. For many years before this, I was a Christian but I wasn’t serious about my walk with God. As a result, I was miserable. I didn’t have any real peace or joy, and I felt guilty most of the time. Thankfully, God showed me through John 10:10 that I didn’t have to be miserable and I could have abundant life in Christ.” — Joyce Meyer

We start with such thick irony, which is often the case with false teachers who cannot properly divide the Word of truth because they do not respect it. When you approach the Bible to proof text your pre-drawn conclusions, it is of little wonder that you cannot actually hear what God is truly saying. So Meyer’s opening contention is that once she started diligently studying the Word God gave her a revelation through John 10:10, which is the premise and underpinning of this article by Meyer:

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. — John 10: 10 (ESV)

I’ve been robbed! That is the revelation Meyer claims God gave her when she read John 10:10. To this I would ask if she only read John 10:10 in a vacuum because then I might be able to understand how one might get confused. This is a perfect verse for us to learn about the importance of context beloved. For years I too thought that this verse is clearly teaching that Satan comes to steal, kill and destroy. I know I have heard it preached from pulpits by solid preachers as well. So what is the problem when you actually read the context? The thief Jesus is warning us about is not the devil.

‘”Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.” This figure of speech Jesus used with them, but they did not understand what he was saying to them. So Jesus again said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.’ — John 10: 1-11 (ESV)

The imagery is quite clear. This is the Good Shepherd teaching. The contrast Christ is drawing is between the Shepherd and the thief. The teachings of Jesus versus the false teachings that seek to steal the seed of the Gospel from your heart and thus destroy and kill your future hope. And what exactly is that future hope beloved? What is the abundant life Meyer is selling here? She is selling the abundant temporal life, which is consistent with prosperity preachers but that is not what Jesus is saying here. What did Jesus come to bring us beloved? Was it for an extra car in the driveway or a snazzy corporate jet? No! It was for eternal life and the promises found in Jesus to attain it. This is a subtle nuance to grasp but Meyer is right to list the fruit of the Spirit but she lists them as a means to have an abundant life now. Yes a yielded life to Christ will result in the fruit for this life but it is rooted in the eternal not the temporal. Peace, joy, self-control are all important for believers but that is to help us overcome this world through Christ not pitch a tent towards Sodom. The fruit is also what allows us to stand out to the lost. So that they might want what they see we have. So if the Good Shepherd comes to bring eternal life and that is only accomplished through the preached Gospel then we know the enemy is the false teachers who do not preach the Gospel, such as Joyce Meyer. Therein lies the irony. The devil did not rob you Joyce, whoever preached falsely to you did. Now you have become the thief and the sad irony is that you believe God led you to John 10:10, ignored the surrounding 15 verses, so that you could life your best life now and missed the larger point about the Gospel and eternal life. Meyer would continue:

“But I needed to change! I remember asking God to show me what I needed to do to become the person 2 Corinthians 5:17b (AMP) said I should be: “A new creature [reborn and renewed by the Holy Spirit]…” Have you ever thought, “If I’m so new, why do I act like the ‘old me’?” Well, becoming a “new creature” from the inside out is a process that takes time. When we accept Christ as our Savior and we’re born again, we receive the nature of everything God is in seed form. 1 John 3:9a (AMP) says, “God’s seed [His principle of life, the essence of His righteous character] remains [permanently] in him.” Seeds have to be watered and take root before they can produce fruit. And the fruit of having life in Christ is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). It’s the ability to deal with challenges and overcome them by God’s grace so others will see Christ in you and want what you have. The key to experiencing this life is identifying how the enemy works in our lives to steal what God has given us.” — Joyce Meyer

Onward she ploughs through faulty theology because she is still under the false impression that the enemy here is Satan and he is trying to steal her joy and peace etc. What is missing from this section however is what we are made a new creation from and the answer is sin. That is because we have a new relationship to sin and are reconciled to the Father through which now have a ministry of reconciliation. That is what the Gospel is beloved. It is a ministry that reconciles the lost people of this world to the God who created them. The section of Scripture she cites here is rich with deep and profound theology regarding the Gospel, eternal life, and the cause of Christ but she has minimized it down to not behaving better or overcoming carnal challenges in this temporal life. This is a recurring theme from false teachers. Instead focusing on the eternal they focus on this world. The blessings are for this life. The fruit of the Spirit is to leverage a better temporal life. To Joyce Meyer God has given us stuff and the devil likes to steal it but she has referenced two Scripture sets; both of which contain so much more power and life than she is able to grasp hold of.

“In John 10:10, Jesus tells us we have an enemy–the devil–who wants to keep us from God. But when you read the whole chapter, you see that Jesus is talking about the system of religion, which is perpetrated by the devil. Because the last thing the devil wants you to know is how much God loves you and how a personal relationship with Christ gives you access to everything he’s stolen from you.” — Joyce Meyer

No Joyce. That is not the enemy Jesus is referring to in that passage. He is referring to false teachers who would distort the Gospel of Jesus Christ, such as you. If this was not bad enough though Meyer now goes completely off the rails. Beloved, there is absolutely nothing in the tenth chapter of the Gospel of John that speaks against organized religion, nor speaks for this relationship theology that has infected so much of Christendom in these last days. Not even a scintilla of a whiff of what Meyer alleges. Because she never correctly handled the Word to begin with she is being led down the bunny trail in her mind about the devil trying to steal things from you. Her solution? Make everything personal and eliminate all accountability. This is a cancer within the body of Christ today. Do you want to know who instituted this horrific notion of religion? God did. Just read the key verses today! God is speaking about a religion that is pure and undefiled. Yes there can be abuses within religious systems. We see that obviously through the Pharisees in the Gospels. You do not throw the baby out with the bathwater however. It is interesting that Jesus boils down religion that is pure into two coherent thoughts. Take care of the neediest people and do not become stained by the world. What do we see today instead? A church that is wholly enamored with itself and the cult of personalities it creates that is completely in love with the filth of this world. They openly admit it! They seek relevance with the world. Andy Stanley’s church recently did 90’s boy band music for worship, including sexually charged lyrics. Perry Noble once famously did Highway to Hell. Hillsong sleazed up Silent Night and danced their way through “I like to Move It, Move It.” The sermons are no better. Instead of repent for the kingdom is at hand we hear nothing but a slop of self-help and motivational speaking designed to make THIS life better. Are we sensing the theme yet beloved?

“When I realized that God loves me unconditionally and that He has a plan for my life, it helped me understand that He wanted an intimate, personal relationship with me. I discovered that the Christian life is not about religion but relationship. Because religion is a thief that keeps us from becoming transformed into the image of Christ.” — Joyce Meyer

Now Meyer goes full Purpose Driven with the horrible teaching about a grand purpose for everyone’s life that raises unrealistic expectations about something God never said. God knows your life because He sees all time but not everyone is going to have some marvelous dream destiny thingy just because people refuse to understand the context of Jeremiah 29:11. What is telling is that she admits that when she realized something God never said, that helped her understand that He wanted an intimate relationship with her. This is the parasitic nature of false teachings and how they steal things from us beloved. God never promised a grand purpose for our lives and He never said He wanted an intimate relationship with us. Now, if you want to have an intimate relationship with God I suggest you start with His Word. Let’s go to Acts and see what the early church did. Were they all seeking some experiential personal relationship? No. They fellowshipped together. They studied together. They broke bread together. You know — religion. Perhaps one of the most blasphemous things I have read in a long time is the notion that religion, which God instituted, is a thief keeping us from being transformed into the image of Christ. Look how close she gets to the truth beloved. False teaching is the thief because it steals the keys to the kingdom and hides them from those who need the Gospel. It is false teaching that keeps you from being transformed into the image of Christ. It is Joyce Meyer.

“Now, when I say “religion,” I’m not talking about going to church; it’s important for us to go to good churches where the Word of God is taught and we can grow spiritually. I’m talking about a performance mentality that says it’s what we do that determines whether God approves of us or not. A religious attitude says, “If I just pray more or read the Bible more or do more good things or go to church on a regular basis, then God will be happy with me.” It gets us on a treadmill of feeling obligated to do certain things to please God.” — Joyce Meyer

Yes, we can’t feel obligated to the Creator of the universe — how horrible! Perhaps realizing the onslaught of criticism she was going to receive for such a heretical article, Meyer tries to have it both ways but fails miserably. You do not get to slander religion, promote this false relationship theology, and then pretend you didn’t just say what everyone can see you said. It is not a matter of God being happy with me. It is about me wanting to please God. We do not read the Bible or pray because we think it wins us points with God but because God has commanded us to and we are obedient. It is not a matter of obligation Joyce but rather of transformation. You know, the thing you claim to be chasing.

“Relationship with God is based on the truth about His love for us and tells us who we are in Christ. We learn how much God loves us and that it’s because of what Jesus did for us on the cross–through the sacrifice He made–that we have what we need to be everything God created us to be.” — Joyce Meyer

Meyer is just careening from one false theology to another as we now enter into the sloppy agape portion of the article. Note the last sentence here. That we have everything we need to be everything God created us to be. Once again the purpose driven heresy wrapped up in the prosperity gospel. Do you have your ten million dollar Learjet and your two million dollar mansion? What has the devil stolen from you that you need to fulfill this grand purpose He never actually promised you? By the way, if relationship is based on the truth, what is she inferring religion is based on? Beloved this is straight up demonic.

“It’s good for us to pray, read the Bible, go to church and do things for others to make their lives better. But it’s important for us to do these things as a response to what God has done for us, not to get Him to love us. Salvation is God’s gift to us, and we show our love for Him by the way we live for Him. That’s relationship, not religion. Having new life in Christ is so amazing because through it, we become the home of God. His Spirit comes to live in us and work with us, bringing restoration and wholeness to every area of our lives. Then, as we learn to follow the leadership of the Holy Spirit, we can receive everything God has for us and take back what belongs to us!” — Joyce Meyer

No Joyce it is not relationship. That is a made up theology originating in your wickedly deceitful heart. If we think that religion is a dirty word then we eliminate huge swaths of the New Testament. We suddenly are accountable to no one. We become our own authority. All decisions in our walk are guided by our feelings masquerading as spirituality. Then there is the relationship side of this equation. What is the nature of the relationship? There is only one that is true and that is His Lordship to our servanthood. The friend of God theology however has convinced generations of people that Jesus is their buddy. Their ever-present wingman. A cosmic busboy to clean up their mess and a cosmic ATM for their flow of blessings. If the relationship is accurate then He is our Lord and we need to do as He says. Where do find what He has said? The Bible. You know, all of those pesky things we feel “obligated” to do.

Beloved this is a perfect picture of the anatomy of a false teacher at work. We ran the gambit in this one little article of so many false teachings that Jesus taught us will steal, kill and destroy. It really is a shame because she touched on so many life giving Scriptures and then sucked the life right out of them. Neutered them to the point of spiritual impotence. This false relationship theology has been spreading for a couple decades now. There is no clearer strategy from the real enemy, Satan, than to have God’s own people denigrate the very vehicle He has chosen to deliver the Gospel — the church. Religion can be pure and undefiled if we would just insist on taking care of people and if we would simply not become sullied by this world. This entire article and the vast majority of false teachings today are overly focused on and enamored with this world. They pretend to be above the muck and are merely rolling around in the mire for Jesus but the filth and stain of this world is evident. You can see it with every secular song sung in worship. You can see it in every sermon about you and this life. You can see it in every article written by people like Joyce Meyer who ironically tries to teach from the tenth chapter of John and confuses the devil with herself.

Reverend Anthony Wade — August 15, 2017

Teaching My Children About Wisdom

Proverbs 8:11

For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it.

For the month of August, I decided to direct my attention to the book of Proverbs.  My children and I are reading a chapter per day this month, and we are discussing the necessity of wisdom in everyday life.  I must say I have been pleasantly surprised at how much my children already value common sense, but I want to dig a little bit deeper.

One of my top five favorite theologians of all time is Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  Mr. Spurgeon is called the “Prince of Preachers” among Biblical scholars and rightfully so.  He was an incredible teacher of the Word of God, very passionate about his craft.  Not only was he a preacher, but he was a husband and a father.  Mr. Spurgeon and his wife, Susannah were parents to twin boys, Charles and Thomas.  They had the pressures of not only being the pastor and pastor’s wife of one of the largest churches in London, but they were raising children, dealing with everyday life, watching society crumble around them because of its sin, and they dealt with health and mental issues within the family.  They had a lot with which to contend.

I mention Mr. and Mrs. Spurgeon because one of my favorite parenting quotes came from them.  I have tried to live out this quote, even before I knew the quote existed.  It goes like this:  “Train your child in the way in which you know you should have gone yourself.”  Is that not priceless?  I think often of how much heartache I could have avoided had I been raised with a daily dose of God’s Word.  I think of how the conviction of the Holy Spirit could have come over me before I did some of the stupid things I did if only I had known what the scripture said about those things before I did them.  I think of how I wish I had been taught to pray as a child, so that I could have asked the LORD for guidance before I made some of the stupid decisions I have made in my life.  I think of all the regret I could have avoided if only I had been trained in the way that I and my parents before me should have gone!

Before I go any further, I can imagine that you are reading my statements, thinking that I can never be sure that a different upbringing would have garnered different results.  You are right.  I cannot know what might have been.  I do know, however, that had I had the chance,  I could have leaned on God’s Word for the strength to carry me through certain situations.  Hebrews 4:12 says “For the Word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”  The power of God’s Word could have kept me, where my own strength and my own flesh failed me time after time.

God’s Word is wisdom.  It is a discerner of the intentions of every man’s heart.  By filling my children’s minds and hearts with God’s Word every day, they have no choice but to remember what God’s Word says when decisions must be made.  When I teach them that the Word says “Thou shalt not take the Name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His Name in vain…” (Exodus 20:7), then they will think twice before they use His Name as a slang word or a swear word.  The conviction that comes over them is so great that even when they hear someone else use the LORD’s Name in vain, they cringe.  When I teach them that the Word says “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor” (Exodus 20:16), they will feel guilty when they try to lie about anything.  The conviction that they feels even gives them a burden for others who feel that they have to lie to others.  The power of God’s Word is keeping them in a way that it did not keep me, because I did not have a steady diet of God’s Word as my daily routine during my developmental years.

I began this practice of teaching my children God’s Word as soon as I got them.  I remember holding my firstborn in my arms during her first week of life, reading the scripture to her as she nursed.  I remember sitting on the floor with her as a toddler, allowing her to rub her little hands over the onion-skin pages of my Bible, teaching her that the words underneath her hands were truth.  I remember taking her to church each Sunday, Bible study during the week, and having daily times of prayer and study each day.  The only times that we did not spend in the word together where times when we were physically apart.

My three youngest are in their early teens.  They have had a steady diet of God’s Word since they were babies also.  I am sometimes surprised at how much of God’s Word they can regurgitate when needed.  That is all because of the power of God’s Word in their lives.  I pray that they will always remember the times that we spent in God’s Word, and that they will spend that kind of time with their children also.  There is no other way to obtain wisdom than to be in the Word daily.

Proverbs 3:7 says “Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the Lord, and depart from evil.” Verse 13 says “Happy is the man that findeth wisdom, and the man that getteth understanding.”  Proverbs 4:5 says “Get wisdom, get understanding: forget it not…”  Verse 7 says “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding.”  Wisdom is the important thing.  Wisdom is the way I know I should have gone myself.  Are you teaching your children to obtain wisdom?

Where Are The Prayer Warriors?

Ephesians 1:15-16

Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the LORD Jesus, and love unto all the saints,  Cease not to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers…

Philippians 1:3-4

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you,  Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy…

Philippians 4:6

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.

Colossians 1:9

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you…

Colossians 4:2

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving…

1 Thessalonians 3:10

Night and day praying exceedingly…

1 Thessalonians 5:17

Pray without ceasing.

2 Thessalonians 1:11

Wherefore also we pray always for you…

1 Timothy 2:8

I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

2 Timothy 1:3

…without ceasing I have remembrance of thee in my prayers night and day…

Philemon 1:4

I thank my God, making mention of thee always in my prayers..

As I was meditating on God’s Word, my mind began to wander back to my early years.  I remember some of the miraculous things that I have seen in my lifetime.  I know that the only way these things could have possibly happened is by the hand of God.  I remember, however, that as I was growing up, I watched my grandmother spend a lot of time in prayer.  I believe the only reason she survived much of what she endured was because my grandmother was a prayer warrior.

God saw my grandmother through the death of her husband when he was only 43 years old.  She lived 54 years after his death.  She was a single mother to six children.  God did the miraculous in her life, and He provided for her beyond measure after her husband’s death.  My grandmother was a prayer warrior.

One of my grandmother’s children was afflicted with a disease that we don’t hear much about anymore:  rocky mountain spotted fever.  He was in the hospital with a temperature of 107 degrees.  His temperature was so high, she said, that it burned off some of his fingerprints and the creases in the skin on his elbows.  His throat and esophagus were affected, so much so that even today, he has to clear his throat by stretching it several times a day.  There was no technology such as we have today to treat him; my grandmother had to trust the LORD for her child’s healing.  She prayed for him because my grandmother was a prayer warrior.

The same son who survived the fever was burned by a hot radiator from his car many years later.  The radiator exploded and the hot water spilled all over his shirt, melting the shirt onto his skin.  We saw him running across the yard pulling the shirt over his head, which was a dangerous thing to do.  He was in the hospital for a while, and he had to have skin grafts to cover the places where the skin was torn off from his ripping off the shirt.  He survived…because my grandmother was praying for him.  My grandmother was a prayer warrior.

My grandmother’s youngest son was killed in the war.  She often told the story of how they sent his body back to the United States in a sealed coffin.  She told them she wanted to see his body, but her other children discouraged that, explaining to her that she did not want to see him that way.  His body had been torn apart by explosives.  All she knew was that her child was in that box, and she wanted to see his face one more time.  She said she let it go, but she was not happy about it.  I think for many years she was angry with the military for her son’s death.  It broke her heart that he was gone because he shared with her that when he came back home, he wanted to go into ministry.  I think she was proud of that.  She survived her son’s death, however, because my grandmother was a prayer warrior.

I remember the night my grandmother got the news that two of my first cousins were murdered alongside a highway near their home.  They were teenagers at the time, and the murder was brutal.  No one has ever been arrested or convicted in their murder.   My family doesn’t believe that the investigation continued long after their deaths.  My grandmother’s heart was broken.  She dealt with two of her grandsons being murdered at the same time, in what my family believes was a lynching.  She carried that heartbreak to her grave:  but she lived a productive life for many years after that, because my grandmother was a prayer warrior.

My grandmother was the granddaughter of a slave, and the daughter of a sharecropper.  She was the third of twelve children.  I remember many times how she shared with me the story of how she had to quit school in the third grade to care for the younger children so that her parents and her two older siblings could work the farm.  That was the only way that her parents could provide for their children.  My grandmother could not read; she had only a third grade education.  She did learn how to sign her name, but she could not write.  She used to make me write letters for her to her long distance relatives.  I hated it!  Now, I understand and I am ashamed of how much I hated writing those letters.  Regardless of how much I hated writing those letters, my grandmother did not let up.  She dictated what she wanted written and I wrote it.  I am glad today that she made me write those letters.  It is a blessing to me to think back about how I was a blessing to her.  She taught me to pray.  She taught me who Jesus is.  She encouraged a love for God’s Word in me because she could quote the scriptures even though she could not read a word.  I had a drug problem:  she “drug” me to church every Sunday!  We went to Sunday School, preaching service, Wednesday night prayer meetings, BTU (Baptist Training Union), CTU (Church Training Union), Saturday choir rehearsal, and Sunday evening service.  She taught me to love the LORD, the Word, and the church.  She could influence me that way because she was a prayer warrior.

Where are the prayer warriors today?  No one wants to pray.  No one wants to labor on their knees before the LORD and repent of their sin.  No one wants to bring their problems and needs and hurts and disappointments and cares and burdens to the LORD on a consistent basis without giving up.  No one prays anymore.  Where are the prayer warriors?

We don’t pray like we used to…and that’s why I listed the scriptures above to remind us that we need to pray more.  I need to pray more.  My children need to pray more.  God said in His Word in 2 Chronicles 7:14, “If MY people, which are called by MY Name, shall humble themselves and pray…”  That’s part of the problem, I think.  We really don’t want to humble ourselves.  If we want God to do something in this wicked world we live in, we better get back on our knees.  2 Chronicles 7:14 goes on to say, “…then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.”  Nothing happens without prayer.

Calling all prayer warriors!!!

Here I Go Again…

Genesis 2:24

Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Matthew 19:5-6

And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh?  Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

Mark 10:8

And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.

If you have read any of my writing on this blog, you know that I am passionate about a few things:  protection for the unborn, foster care and adoption for orphans, America’s allegiance to Israel, and God’s plan for marriage.  These are the things that matter most to me in life, as I believe these are the things that are most important to God.

I come to this blog sometimes when my heart is burdened, as is the case today.  I got news of another marriage that has been broken by sin.  It pains me so deeply when I hear of two people who made a covenant with God and each other, and take that covenant so lightly.

Over the past couple of years, I have meditated on God’s Word as it pertains to marriage in a way that I had not done before.  Genesis 2:24 is quite clear when it says that “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” When a man “leaves” his father and mother, he is still a part of his family of origin, but he is embarking on a new phase of life, and he is building a family of his own.  No longer is he under the headship of the parents who bore and raised him.  He is now becoming a man who is the head of his own home.  His family of origin now becomes his extended family, and the family that he is building is his immediate family.  They are his first priority and they get the bulk of his attention.  He is to “..cleave unto his wife…”  Marriage is a sacred bond like no other bond under heaven.  There is a closeness that is developed in marriage that affects the husband and the wife as no other relationship ever can or ever will.  The man who is married is to cling to that relationship with all of his might.  The only relationship on the earth more important to him than the one with his wife is the relationship that he has with his Savior.  “…And they shall be one flesh…” seals the deal.  When two people are married, they consummate the relationship and nothing nor anyone is to come between those two persons, because as far as God is concerned, they are one person.  When God sees one, He sees the other.

Matthew 19:6 goes on to say “What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.”  No one, including the persons who made the covenant, are to come between the vows that were made to each other and to God.  I think sometimes we as Christians forget what a covenant is.  I have covered that several times in this blog, but I will briefly say that God made a covenant to Abraham; a covenant which has never been and will never be broken.  In Genesis 12, God makes a seven-part promise to Abraham, which is still in effect, even at this very moment:  “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:  And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”  God made the covenant with Abraham probably more than 3000 years ago, and that covenant is still in effect.  I wonder was He modeling for us what He expects when we make a covenant?

To my original point, my heart is broken for the marriages that I know about that have gone through separation and/or divorce.  Sometimes I read about celebrities who separate and divorce and that hurts my heart also.  I know marriage is spiritual, and anyone who does not know the LORD Jesus Christ does not understand that, but it still pains me to think of the children that could be involved, or just the scars that will be left in the hearts of the persons who married and walked away from the marriage.  The wounds of divorce are deep and they NEVER go away.  I know from personal experience because each day when I look into the eyes of my own children, I hurt for them.

If you are married, and you think your marriage may be in trouble, seek the LORD and Godly counsel to help you work through whatever the problem may be.  God is able.  He is willing to help you if you will put your trust in Him.  God loves His children.  He wants to see the marriages within the body of Christ thrive and represent His love for His bride, the church.  If only we would seek Him…