Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Formula to Success?

In the era of “formula to success” ministries, I do not find it odd that I recently heard the statement: “If a church loved like Jesus they would have to bar the doors shut, because people would be flooding in.” I find this statement biblically unsatisfying. And within this essay I will submit 5 reasons why I do not believe this argument is biblical, nor truthful. And lest one accuse me of being anti-megachurch, anti-movement, iconoclastic, or unevangelistic, let me state here, in the beginning of this essay, that I have no issues against big churches, big movements, nor traditions that many hold as dear. As to evangelism I shall simply quote and affirm the great Baptist pastor Charles Spurgeon: “Any Christian has a right to disseminate the gospel...he not only has the right, but it is his duty so to do as long as he lives.” My concern is simply with the truthfulness of this statement, and the subsequent effect it could have on churches and ministers. Now to the task at hand…

First, it seems to me that the very people Christ healed, ministered to, preached to, and beckoned to come were the ones who were yelling “Crucify Him!” on the day of crucifixion. As a matter of fact, that is exactly how Mark presents the crucifixion scene. Not only were they not lifting Christ on their shoulders, as the Savior and King He was, but the crowd was the instigating force which pressured Pilate to order His crucifixion.

Second, lest one object that these were the religious people and not the common folks Jesus normally ministered to, note John 6:66. Jesus just finished telling His disciples that they must “eat His flesh, and drink His blood” when John records that most of Jesus’ disciples deserted Him. The disciples—the very men whom Jesus ministered to and worked miracles among—abandoned Him. Plus, note Jesus’ rebuke to the people of Chorazin and Bethsaida (Matthew 11:21). He does not rebuke the Pharisees or the Sadducees by name; no, He rebukes the people of the town. What was the reason for the rebuke? Jesus had worked miracles among the people, and yet they rejected Him.

Third, Peter denied Christ three times during Jesus’ interrogation. Peter was certainly a benefactor of Christ love—his mother-in-law was healed by Jesus (Matthew 8:14 & 15). If there was anyone that had seen the magnificent works of Jesus, it would have been Peter. If there was anyone that had seen and received the love of Christ, it would have been Peter. Yet, Peter certainly did not reciprocate that love during the crucifix experience.

Four, the above noted statement ignores the depth of man’s depravity. Scripture portrays mankind as deceitful (Jer. 17:9), sinful (Romans 3:23), selfish and self-centered (Isaiah 53:6 & Romans 3:9-12), untrustworthy (John 2:24), incapable of turning from sin apart from the grace of God (Eph. 2:1-10), and unthankful toward the graciousness of God (Matthew 11:21). When I consider the state of mankind, I find it hard to believe that a lost individual would naturally run to a church just because the love of Christ was displayed. Granted, every believer should live an incarnate lifestyle, but to state that the love of Christ will bring in the lost doesn’t seem to be biblical. For example, note the way Paul was beaten for proclaiming the Gospel of Christ. Surely Paul loved as Christ did, yet he writes in 2 Timothy 3:12: “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…” So, Paul certainly did not espouse a belief that the masses will flood the church if only the love of Christ be shown.

Fifth, and last, the world has a distorted view of what true love is. More directly, giving the extent of mankind’s depravity one can easily infer that a lost world would never realize the true love of Christ apart from the grace of God. Furthermore, I would submit to you that the greatest act of love Christ displayed was His substitutionary death for the sins of those who believe. Yet, there have been countless millions, unfortunately, that have rejected that love even when it was communicated effectively and clearly. I submit that the world’s idea of love is self-seeking and me-centered, not Christ-honoring and biblically accurate.

Let me conclude this short essay by noting that the danger in a statement like the one above is that it propagates a false understanding of what successful ministry is and a false accusation of ineptitude toward thousands of ministers. Ministers who show the true love of Christ daily, yet see little in way of positive response. Plus, for any sheep who might hear such an unfortunate statement, they may accuse their pastor of laziness or unChrist-like love simply because they are not seeing the “guaranteed” results.

So, to the brothers who would make such a statement, I plead—preach the Word, and remember Christ grows His church!

Monday, August 3, 2009


What a beautiful storm! The cloud formations were awe-inspiring (though such a cliche phrase does not do them justice). The sound of the tree falling and the crash it made into the house sent my family and I into surreal mode. My family--safe! My house (rented)--in need of repair. My kids now call it the "broken house." we stay with mom until the big move.
I had a friend look at the tree a day later. He instantly noticed the reason of the fall--rottenness. To me the tree looked fine, but there was mold growing in the tree. A sure sign of rottenness. So, when the beautiful storm came through the rottenness was exposed. Once my friend pointed it out I easily could see what he was talking about, but before I really never cared.
You probably think I am going to draw an analogy of sin and trials. If we don't deal with the sin in our lives when trials come...crash. No...I'm thinking the storm was good. The tree is now where it needs to be. The only way to deal with rottenness...crashing to our face. Realizing that we are all rotten to the core. Realizing we are all incapable of saving ourselves. Realizing we can do nothing about the state in which we are in. The human condition is rotten! I pray the Wind come and...crash! "Blessed are those who are poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." I never noticed the rottenness. It took a strong wind. I never cared.

"Holy Spirit come and cleanse me from my rottenness. Grace me to be holy, as you are holy!"

Granted, the analogy falls short at a point. Granted, the tree is dead. Granted, it will never be again. Yet, when the Wind knocks me to my face, my rottenness is removed.

Soli Deo Gloria,

Wednesday, July 1, 2009


What is it that the world needs today? Do an experiment: take a look (just a look, don't dig too deep) at your church or a church you are interested in, your favorite institution, or organization. What are they advertising? What are they doing? Are these things that the world needs? Are they important?

I'm just curious.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Yahweh demands our complete and total allegiance. Yahweh—the same God that created everything out-of-nothing, who gives life and death, who sent His Son for the sheep, who ordained His Son to die and raise again, who promised to return, who is in control of all history, who sustains the universe, who destines all for His glory, this Yahweh, seeks our total devotion. Anything less is idolatry! To follow Jesus one must deny himself/herself. To follow Jesus one must despise earthly glory. To follow Jesus one must be the bearer of grace.
How unlike us to want Jesus! I naturally, in and of myself, want nothing but vain satisfaction and earthly treasure. If not for God’s grace I would forever seek sin. If not for God’s grace I would forever long for death. I never sought God, rather He sought me and called me to be His own. I was dead! Dead men do not talk. Dead men do not seek! Dead is dead! Until that glorious day when God said, “Lazarus, come out!” Until that day I never wanted, nor sought, anything but worthless rags. I did not, and do not, merit this gift.
“Father, forgive me for thinking I had anything to do with my salvation. You demand an allegiance only you can provide. Thank you for grace!”

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Proclaim the Word

"'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, and your ways are not My ways.' This is the LORD's declaration. 'For as heaven is higher than earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts. For just as rain and snow fall from heaven, and do not return there without saturating the earth, and making it germinate and sprout, and providing seed to sow and food to eat, so My word that comes from My mouth will not return to Me empty, but it will accomplish what I please, and will prosper in what I send it to do.'"--Isaiah 55:8-11

I'm not quite sure why some avoid teaching the Word to young people. I understand many have cute sayings with biblical allusions, but why do we ignore diving into the Word? Are we afraid they will be bored? Are we concerned that we are not educated enough? Are we simply ignorant of the Word ourselves? If God's Word will accomplish what it was created to do (Isaiah 55:8-11) why would we not proclaim it?


Thursday, March 6, 2008

Immersion into the Divine

Why is it that we would rather rule than serve? Why is it we look down upon others rather than lift them up? Why is it we belittle others rather than seeing them as better than ourselves? Are we incapable of meekness within American Christianity? Why do we seek personal promotion more than we seek to connect to God? I am not being judgmental, I am one of you.
Reaching out to immerse ourselves in the Divine is not a common thought within the modern church. We want the abundance that Christ offers, but few receive it. We will never receive the abundant life that Jesus promises without the obedience He commands. Many, unfortunately, miss this truth, and cheapen grace. We would rather boast in our sin and relish in defeat, thinking all the while we are victors in life.
"Father, rise us out of the sand that swallows us alive. Pour grace on your church, so she may be a pure pride the is fruitful and productive. Allow us to connect to the fire of life, so we may burn as an anthem to You. Awaken us from the sleep of night, though it may be dark outside. Hear our hearts weep. Free us from our desires. We pray--break."

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

It has been awhile, but I have been thinking.

I am comfortable right now. I feel safe. I feel secure. I have a full stomach and warm clothes on. Should I feel ashamed?

Right now it is reported the approx. 16,000 children die every day of starvation. I know we Americans don't like to hear this because we believe that everyone makes their own destiny. Those poor starving children are starving because they are lazy, or so we think.

I am full. I have a stomach full of coffee and I had a cinnamon roll this morning. I am comfortable.

Granted there are many who are hungry right now because they are lazy, but 16,000 children die every day. That is around 667 an hour. But we don't listen. Forget the fact that the one encouragement the disciples gave Paul when they met in Jerusalem Council was not to forget the poor. Forget the fact that these are children. What does this say about Western Christians? What does this say about me? Imagine being a parent and watching your child starve to death right before your eyes, and you can do nothing about it. Sound harsh? Did I just go too far?

I am comfortable right now. My children are safe and in good health. Does anything else matter?

But a worm,