Tuesday, September 30, 2014

"The Ordinary Church" Very Refreshing Message!

Tired of the need for hyped-up, multimedia, louder, faster and cooler church services? Exhausted by the failed promises of "the next big thing?" Listen to (or read) this sermon:

The Ordinary Church

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

What a deal-Bill Johnson's $400 thumb drive!!

Yeah, this is just the kind of thing the (real, Biblical) Apostles would've done-sell their sermons for outrageous profit:
2 Corinthians 2:17 "Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, as those sent from God."
2 Peter 2:3 "and in their greed they will exploit you with false words; their judgment from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep."

Monday, September 22, 2014

Amazing Video about the Dangerous Book: "Jesus Calling!"

Warren Smith speaking at a recent conference:

Remember boys and girls, don't blindly trust all the "Christian" books being sold at "Christian" bookstores! (And shame on you, Thomas Nelson Publishing!)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Did God Promise Health and Wealth?

This is a GREAT sermon-especially about the Biblical demand for discernment and how to recognize false teachers in the church!! You can listen to it or read it:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Friday, September 5, 2014

"The Great Set-Up" Steve's Full Article

                                                                   "The Great Set-Up"
These ideas and concepts have infiltrated the church and have replaced a careful adherence to the Christianity of the Bible. With these beliefs undergirding and infiltrating the thought patterns of most Christians today, false teachings are slipping into the Church from many different angles. Yes, there might be some truth in some of these ideas, but taken as a whole, they have replaced orthodox Bible teaching and are allowing "Another Gospel" to be taught. Understand that many  false teachings are being taught in the worst possible way: by people who don’t even realize what they’re doing; so their sincerity makes critical analysis and discernment unlikely.

1. "God Offends the Mind to Reveal the Heart" This catch phrase isn't in the Bible, and it makes Biblical confusion highly probable; it can be a foundation for manipulation through false doctrine. If anybody promotes discernment (which involves using the mind) they can be dismissed when this catch phrase is used against them. God didn't give us a mind and then expect us to stop using it. Ironically, when a false teacher says things like this, he is using a type of thinking to convince others to think a certain way.

2. "Don't Have a Religious Spirit" This is a vague concept that can allow deceit to stay in place. Want to refute someone who demands doctrinal integrity? Accuse them of having a religious spirit. It's much easier than searching the scriptures and seeking the truth.  After all, "God doesn't care about our doctrine, He cares about our heart." That sounds really good, but it's not in the Bible-it’s just another catch phrase. Doctrine is important! Doctrine tells us who God really is, and who we really are.

3. "Don't Touch God's Anointed!" When false teachers can't defend their beliefs in the clear teachings of the Bible, they use this partial verse as a rebuke. It's taken completely out of context from the Old Testament; and it refers to physically harming the Israelite king or prophet. This has nothing to do with questioning bad leadership or wrong teachings.  It’s interesting to note that cult leaders usually use some type of threat; it's the lowest form of leadership.

4. "Get ready for a new and different thing-it won't be like the old things!" "This is probably gonna make you uncomfortable!" "Don't put God in a box-as soon as you think you've got Him figured out He will do something unexpected!" This can be a way of spiritualizing false teaching, demonizing discernment, and getting people off their guard. The Bible makes it very clear that we are too hold fast to correct (and "old") doctrine. But in the effort to gain followers, a false teacher can always tickle the ears of those who get excited about being part of "something new;" after all, most people don't want to be part of something old.  Instead of new versus old, we should be teaching what is true versus what is false. Is it really true that God is always changing His methods and His ways so He can keep surprising us? Yes, there will always be mystery involved in our understanding of exactly who God is (on this side of heaven), but God isn't like a magician or a leprechaun who constantly throws us for a loop to keep us guessing; the Bible describes Him as wanting to be known and understood (and obeyed). Being uncomfortable about a teaching doesn't indicate anything for sure, it's just a feeling that is being caused by something; it might be something good or it might be something bad.

5. "We only teach the Bible!" This is, perhaps, the easiest way to teach a false doctrine. For most Christians, they will shut off all discernment once they hear that sentence as a prelude to false doctrine. Plus, a false teacher can just throw in some Bible verses wherever he wants-whether they apply or not-and continue to promote all kinds of weird teaching. If a pastor actually explains that we "should never proof text!" he might be actually making it easier to continue proof texting; the key is to keep his congregation comfortable and trusting.

 6. "But he's really famous (he/she has written books, has a huge church, has a TV show, etc.), he must know what he's talking about." This exposes the painfully common belief that "CONSENSUS EQUALS TRUTH." Few people would ever admit to this ridiculous belief, but their behavior (and thinking) says otherwise. Christians say that they believe the Bible, but what they really believe is whatever their "guy" (local pastor, TV preacher, popular author, etc.) says about the Bible. On top of that, many Christians don't even believe what their local pastor teaches because he is constantly being over-ridden by the surrounding culture. So we have millions of Christians watching 10, 20 or even 30 hours of television per week, yet they just don't have time to read and study the Bible. But when the latest Christian guru comes along with a new method of "hearing from God" they drop everything to "learn the secret;" all the while they've neglected God's Word-the actual words from God. The situation should be seen as utterly absurd, yet since almost everyone behaves and believes this way, it’s been normalized. As a result, false teachers have free reign and an almost limitless customer base to promote heresy and to enrich themselves.

7. "We should never live out of fear-fear only comes from the Devil!" “He’s got a lot of anger-you can tell he’s not of God!” Of course it's true that we are not supposed to live in fear and anger; but when a discerning Christian tries to warn the church about a dangerous deception, a false teacher can easily shut him down by saying something like: "he's promoting fear-don't listen to him!" If a sheep discovers that his shepherd is actually a wolf, a (temporary) sense of fear and/or anger would be an appropriate response in order for him to leave and warn others. In actuality, it is the cult member that goes through life like a zombie, constantly thinking "positive thoughts" and refusing to wake up to the deception that surrounds him. Warning a fellow Christian about false teaching is not promoting fear-but, ironically, a false teacher has no problem scaring his followers into compliance and threatening them if they question his authority.

8. "Judge not, lest you be judged..." Whenever a false teacher/prophet is exposed (because of heretical teaching, blatant sin, corruption, prophesies that prove to be utterly false, etc.) they can usual get their "ministry" up and running again with the misapplication of this verse. Christians have been systematically programmed to ignore all scripture about the accountability of leaders... because their leaders said so. So the false teacher ends up judging his theological critic who is supposedly guilty of judging.

9. Infrequent and obscure passages of scripture take precedence over the clear and frequent passages.  Spiritualized and overly allegorized Old Testament passages are emphasized, while the clearly applicable teachings of the New Testament are ignored. Examples: “The Latter Rain,” “The Elijah Generation,” “The Bridal Paradigm,” “The Anointed Manifestation of the Tabernacle of David with the Oil of Joel’s Army Beneath the Eagles Wings of the Coming Presence…” This is a topic for another paper…

10. Man's thoughts, ideas and visions (“revelations”) are equated with scripture. This is the Charismatic church’s gigantic and obvious problem; the over-emphasis of new revelations. "God's Word is really good, but we need to add something new to make it even better!"-Really? Again, this is a topic for a whole other paper…

11. "We only want to be positive!" The stereotypical Bible-thumping, angry fundamentalist is the one thing nobody wants to be. In response, the average Christian will go along with anything as long as it's seen as "positive." However, in the Bible, we see "negative" things all over the place: it is not always a "positive" book because it contains the truth that we need-not just "feel good" sayings to placate our sin. We humans are often like disobedient children who need correction from our Heavenly Father, who loves us enough to tell us the truth.

12. "We're getting lots of resistance-we must be doing something right! Satan wants to stop us, that's why people are so critical..." This line of thinking is, at best, a 50/50 proposition; maybe it's true, but it's just as possible that you're getting resistance because you're wrong and some people are trying to correct you and stop the false teaching.

13. "Well, he just read some negative stuff on the Internet-they can say anything on the Internet!" Like the previous point, this is, at best, a 50/50 proposition. It could just as easily be said, “he just read that stuff in a book-they can say anything in a book.” Do so few people realize that there are no rules for what can be published in a book? Also, there’s a lot of information that is only available online; that's the nature of the world we live in. This goes back to #6, too, because what people are really saying is: "it might be proven by lots of information online (blogs, interviews with actual witnesses, doctrinal papers, personal testimony, etc.) but it's not the consensus view (isn't supported by large book publishers, Christian media companies, mega-churches, etc.), so I don't believe it." We should be testing everything against the Word of God-no matter what anyone else says (or doesn't say). It is also very important to understand that giant "Christian" media companies are mostly owned by even larger non-Christian media companies that only care about making lots of money. It is very foolish to think that those companies are carefully checking the content of what they sell.

14. “Look at all the fruit on his/her tree-they must be blessed by God!” “With all the new people going to that church, you just know it’s of God!” Fruit on the tree does not mean “people coming to church.” Here’s the only thing that can be said for sure about a church with thousands of people showing up on Sunday morning: the pastor is being paid a large salary. Seriously, that’s it. Oh, and they also have a good “worship team” (soft rock band). When Jesus told us to look at the fruit of a teacher, He’s saying: compare the teaching and life of the teacher to Jesus-it should “look” the same. Any pastor teaching things that are contrary to Jesus is a false teacher-no matter how many followers he has.

15. “But he does everything in the name of Jesus-he must be okay!” Think about it; if Satan wanted to operate in the church, would he do it in his own name? Does Satan show up at church in his bright red jumpsuit and give himself away? Does any deception announce itself ahead of time?  Matthew 7:22 says: “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And I will declare to them; I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’” It should be assumed that a false teacher will use the name of Jesus. “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” is what Jesus says in Matthew 7:15.

16. "It can't be true, because I would've know about it already" (or "somebody would have said something by now")-a knee jerk reaction when first hearing about false doctrine. This is really saying "I already know everything that needs to be known; if I get new and different information that doesn't correspond to my currently held beliefs, than it must be wrong. I refuse look into anything that threatens my views." Jesus said to "watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing"-He didn't say "Don't watch out for wolves in sheep's clothing, because someone's already doing that for you, besides, you don't want to be too critical..."

17. "He's making the Bible his idol!" I suppose it's possible that someone could do that, but that would certainly be the exception. There are no warnings in scripture about “getting into God’s Word too much.” The Bible points us to Jesus, so we shouldn't fear becoming a "Bible nut." Luke 24: 47 "then He said to them, 'these are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.' And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them,'Thus it is written, and this it is necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem."

18. Lastly, I want to point out the importance of correctly thinking for yourself. Start with a question (or “hypothesis”), then diligently search the scriptures, get the facts of the matter, and then reach a conclusion. Most people start with their conclusion, sift the facts around, take a few Bible verses out-of-context and arrive exactly where they started. This is the recipe for ignorance disguised as wisdom. There is freedom in letting God’s Word teach you and guide you! When Jesus addressed the large crowd and said “watch out for wolves in sheep’s clothing,” He was giving every person permission to check any teaching against the Word of God. On the contrary, if we blindly follow after the teachings of man (no matter how nice and sincere they might be) we are getting set up for deception.  

"A Tale of Two Mars Hills"

Excellent blog post about the dangers of celebrity pastors, contrasted against "normal" pastors.
 "Watch your life and doctrine closely" indeed!

A Tale of Two Mars Hills

Thursday, September 4, 2014

"Casting a vision or commandeering control?" Shocking radio interview!

This is a great interview with Chris Rosebrough about "vision-casting" in the church. PLEASE listen!! It is fascinating, revealing and quite shocking:

Casting a vision or commandeering control?

Acts 20:29-31 says: "Savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw disciples after them. So be on your guard!"