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Mar
11

Accomodation or Confrontation?

Accomodation or Confrontation? I recently watched, once again, a video presentation of Dr. Francis Schaeffer‘s last public meeting before he died in 1984. I was stunned, again, by the precision of his insights into his era, and ours. Dr. Schaeffer’s last two books, The Great Evangelical Disaster and A Christian Manifesto, were nothing short of prophetic. As he approached his death, after fifty years of his ministry, he observed that Evangelicalism over that time could be summarized primarily by one term: Accommodation. There is a syncretism, a relativism within the Western church that accepts and capitulates to the trends of the secular society around it. Dr. Schaeffer had pointed out in his previous book, The God Who Is There, that the true, confessing Church is the last holdout against despair in any given culture. The gospel has a restraining influence on a culture, like a dam holding back the flood of secularism. When worldliness and accommodation have infiltrated the church, a culture has gone as low as it can go morally. Dr. Schaeffer summarized the evangelical situation in 1984 by saying, “The grossest form of worldliness is conforming to the form of worldliness that exists in it’s own generation. If that is true, then we must say that Evangelicalism is as worldly as it can possibly be!” What Should We Then Do? The solution given at that time was that young evangelicals (and old ones) should rise up and confront the worldly church with the truth of God’s Word. (John 17:3, 2 Thess. 3:14-15) More than trying to change the culture, Dr. Schaeffer said the more immediate task at hand was to seek reformation within the church. After Schaeffer’s death, there was an increase in young Christian leaders who really understood the importance of, as Schaeffer would say, “The lordship of Jesus Christ over the totality of life.” Many, if not most, of the ministries that are really making an impact in our world today were inspired, to a great extent, by the message of Francis Schaeffer. In our day, we see passing on of many of the older leaders in the Christian world. In recent memory we’ve seen the home-goings of leaders like Adrian Rogers, Charles Colson, Jerry Falwell, Elisabeth Elliot, D. James Kennedy, and others. Who will take the baton in the next generation and carry the truth of the gospel without compromise? Truth is, by definition, exclusive. To claim that something is true, the antithesis of it must be, according to the Law of...
Jun
10

What’s Wrong With the Church?

What’s Wrong With the Church? Recently I asked my Facebook friends what they thought were some of the greatest threats facing the American church. Predictably the feedback swung from the polar ends of the theological spectrum. Some thought the Church was too worldly and some too legalistic. Some felt the church is too focused on outreach and not on discipleship. Others believe the Church isn’t culturally relevant enough and wasn’t committed to evangelism. Some think the church is too Calvinistic, and others too Arminian. Some said bad Eschatology was too blame for the Church’s woes. Some blamed the youth pastors for undermining the parents, others blamed the worship pastors for dumbing down the songs and making church services seem like rock concerts. Some were for institutional or traditional models, and others preferred an Organic or house church approach. Many were concerned about bad theology, false doctrine, Postmodernism and Humanism, heresy, Universalism, feel-good-cheap-grace messages, lack of holiness, prosperity gospel, lack of accountability of and hypocrisy among leaders, lack of church discipline, Biblical illiteracy, bad Bible translations, low of view of the inerrancy of Scripture, too much political involvement, not enough political involvement, lack of the fear of the Lord and much more. However, there was one problem that was stated overwhelmingly above all the rest. The most common answer was Apathy. Lukewarmness and a lack of real zeal and fervor for the things of the Lord was what most of my friends said is wrong with the Church today. Isn’t that surprising? The greatest (at least perceived) threat isn’t something “out there somewhere,” but rather something that encroaches upon every human heart. To the church in Laodicea, Jesus said: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens...
Apr
21

Important Mini-Movements in the Christian World

In his book, Revolution, which focuses on the life of the American church, researcher and cultural analyst George Barna uses the term “mini-movements” to describe a number of forces that are shaping the landscape of modern Christendom. According to Barna, research is showing that the most dramatic life-changing catalysts at work among believers today are mini-movements that are not connected with any particular national denomination or specific local church effort. What are some of these movements that are challenging people to become more serious in their faith and to embrace a comprehensive lifestyle of following Jesus in every area of their lives? The following are some of the movements that I think are the most significant in our day and age. They are not given in any particular order of chronology nor importance. They each have their place and are likely indispensable in the overall big-picture of God’s plan for our day and age. Homeschooling I have to start with this one because it is the one to which I’m most intimately connected. The modern Christian homeschooling movement has been nothing short of a move of God on our land. It reflects the heart of Malachi 4:6, where God promises to turn the hearts of fathers back to their children, and children to their fathers. Christian parents must take responsibility for the spiritual upbringing of their own children if they want to see Christianity survive the forces of postmodernism and Islamo-fascism rampant in our world today. Creationism Beginning in the 1960s with John Whitcomb and Henry Morris, the return to a Biblical view of origins and the emergence of a new breed of Bible-believing scientists, has revolutionized the Christian world. I believe that the Creationist movement in many ways helped to inspire a new interest in Christian education, encouraging the expansion of Christian schools and later homeschooling in America. This was in many ways a movement of reformation, calling Christians back to believing in the inspiration and authority of the holy Scriptures. Christian Financial Management When the late Larry Burkett first emerged on the scene in the late 1970s, talking about financial stewardship, he stuck out like a sore thumb. Today, there are hundreds of Christian financial coaches, and a number of national ministries dedicated to helping believers to become good stewards and managers of God’s resources. There is much work yet ahead, but the groundwork has been amply laid for this important movement to stir hundreds of thousands...
Apr
13

“Your Own Personal Jesus?”

“Your Own Personal Jesus?” Originally recorded by Depeche Mode and later by Johnny Cash and the anti-Christian icon, Marilyn Manson (among others), the song “Your Own Personal Jesus” has been ranked #368 in Rolling Stone‘s list of “The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time”, and was voted as one of the “100 Greatest Songs Ever” in Q magazine. I am posting the Johnny Cash version of the song, because I find the other video versions offensive. Lyrics for Personal Jesus Your own personal Jesus Someone to hear your prayers Someone who cares Your own personal Jesus Someone to hear your prayers Someone who’s there Feeling unknown And you’re all alone Flesh and bone By the telephone Lift up the receiver I’ll make you a believer Take second best Put me to the test Things on your chest You need to confess I will deliver You know I’m a forgiver Reach out and touch faith Reach out and touch faith Your own personal Jesus…  Each version of the song was recorded with a different intent depending on the artist. Depeche Mode intended it as a statement of how people are so co-dependent in their human relationships that they idolize each other to the point of worship and express undue adulation. Their version also is heavily laced with sexual innuendo.  Marilyn Manson intended it as an irreverent mockery of Christians and their “need” for faith. Johnny Cash meant it sincerely, demonstrating the genuine need of every person to find forgiveness through Christ. The song has been going through my head the past couple of days as I have been thinking about the state of the American evangelical church world. I think this song could very well be the theme song of contemporary Western Christianity. I’ve heard a zillion sermons that sound like they could have been lifted from this very rock tune. “The Gospel” is presented in most preaching today as being all about the individual and their needs. You need a “personal savior” to help you to “Become A Better You” so that you can have “Your Best Life Now.” They say, “God loves you and has a wonderful plan for you life, so why don’t you take five minutes and ask Jesus to come into your heart and be your own personal savior? That’s all there is to it! Just believe (doesn’t matter much WHAT) and you will be saved.” Despite the fact that the Bible never uses this terminology or methodology, it...
Apr
11

Four Ways Our Culture is Brainwashing Us, by J. Lee Grady

Forces in our culture want to rip the foundations of Christian faith right out from under America. Here are four lies we must challenge. This past week I spent four days preaching at Emmanuel College, a Christian liberal arts school in northeast Georgia. I love speaking to college students because they are spiritually hungry, they love passionate worship and I don’t have to wear a tie. On the third night (after a young man got saved and delivered of drug addiction—yeah God!) I told the kids I needed to get brutally honest. They gave me permission to shoot straight. Because I genuinely care about them—and because they will be spiritual leaders before too long—I warned them about four lies they must confront. Every Christian in this country must learn to dissect these lies using the Word of God. The devil is working overtime today to gain control of our nation’s soul. We are in a life-and-death struggle. This is not a time for Christians to be squishy in their faith or spineless in their convictions. We must plant our feet on the bedrock principles of the Bible and oppose each of these lies: “We must start preaching about hell again instead of worrying about who might leave our church or how it might affect our TV ratings.” 1. Hell does not exist. Jesus preached about hell more than anyone in the Bible. His words dripped with love, but He didn’t soft-pedal when addressing the eternal consequences of sin. When He began His ministry, he read from the book of Isaiah, announcing that He had come not only to “proclaim the favorable year of the Lord” but also “the day of vengeance of our God” (Is. 61:2, NASB). The real gospel is a double-edged sword that offers both the “kindness and severity of God” (Rom. 11:22, emphasis added). That’s why hell is one four-letter word we should use more often—not to condemn people in mean-spirited judgment but to warn them that mercy has a time limit. The world rejects the concept of hell because it’s too exclusive. Our Oprah-ized culture insists that everyone deserves a warm and fuzzy life free of consequences. “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” people ask. If we truly love them we will explain that hell is not a metaphor—it is a real place of dreadful separation from God that sinners choose when they reject Him. We must start preaching about hell again...

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© Israel Wayne.