Wednesday, February 27, 2008

If I had it to do all over again...

If you had it to do all over again, what would that be?

As pastor for 24 years in really great/wonderful churches, I would teach/equip parents to disciple their own children instead of trying to do it all for them.

If you had it to do all over again, what would that be?

Please post...

Jesus convicts while Satan accuses/condemns

The other day my friend and coach/mentor Clyde and I were talking. Clyde is my coach and accountability partner. Every week we spend an hour or so together. He is honest with me, he prays with me, he corrects me, and he loves me enough to stay with me week after week after week. I am blessed.

In our conversation together we always look into the Word for more truth (logos) and Holy Spirit revelations (rhemas). Every week I learn something new about myself, so I am growing and sometimes it has been very painful.

Clyde and I were discussing prayer and the fact that Jesus is interceding for us. I always knew that I could pray and then that Jesus would take those petitions before the Father. Then Clyde said, when Jesus intercedes, He is also standing between us and our accusers. Satan is the accuser of the brethren. Satan uses people (us) to accuse the brethren. As pastor for over 24 years I have had many of those. As a human being we all have had plenty of them. I have been used by satan to make condemning statements or accusations. Then I was reminded by Clyde that when we accuse or condemn others we are standing against Jesus who stands against those who accuse/condemn. How staggering to learn that I (we) have condemned or accused others while Jesus stood between us and the person we are throwing darts of condemnation at.

Wow does this change how I speak and think. I was convicted and I have repented.

My prayer: "May God help me to never again be used by Satan to accuse or bring condemnation on others. Thank you God for helping me to realize that when I accuse or condemn others I am actually standing against you. Thank you God for standing between me and my accusers, for interceding on my behalf even when I am not praying."

To all of who gather for worship...

Is this true or false?

Our theology says that the Holy Spirit is leader..
Our actions speak otherwise!

If the Holy Spirit did not show up - we would sing the same songs, pray the same prayers, and preach the same message.

Our theology is right on..
Our practice is way off!

Friday, February 22, 2008

Pagan Christianity rebuttal - #3, Sunday School

Some of you may wonder if I like anything in this book by Viola and Barna in "Pagan Christianity".

Here's one where they hit it and then miss telling us why Sunday school is not effective.

On page 213, "As a whole, we don't view the contemporary Sunday school as an effective institution. According to some studies, Sunday school attendance has been on the decline over the last two decades.

Describing the way of the early church, one scholar says, 'There is no evidence to suggest that teachers divided groups on the basis of age and sex. The responsibility of the child's early education and in particular, religious education lay with the parents...No special arrangements seem to have been made for children by the early church. The Christian school was a long way off (around AD 372) the Sunday school even more so.'"

THEPLANTER speaks, The point I wish to agree with is that the Sunday school is not an effective institution. I also strongly agree that the responsibility of discipleship and spiritual authority lies with the parents.

I take issue with the fact that they use numbers to discredit the Sunday school when it is a much deeper issue. Far too many parents give it all up (spiritual authority) without knowing it when they take their kids to Sunday school. In the eyes of their children doing this causes them to look at their teacher as the one of spiritual authority. When this happens a good thing for children becomes a huge detriment for them spiritually. When children shift spiritual authority from their parents to their teachers parents lose a God given tool they rarely if ever get back.

How sad to assume that the Sunday school teacher is even doing a good job as many teachers are there because no one else will take the job or fill the empty seat. What really goes on in the classroom anyway? Is the focus in the classroom teaching children to live like Jesus or is it to have a good time or remember a bible verse or story?

I have now come to believe that the very act of placing children in Sunday school classes has a negative chain reaction. Hitler went to Sunday school. He knew the scriptures extremely well and used his biblical knowledge to deceive many Germans.

In the child's mind the teacher becomes the spiritual authority because the teacher is the one who tells them about Jesus and other truths. They go to a place, a Sunday school class, a place of spiritual things. And parents are deceived by not knowing this shift has taken place in the mind(s) of their children. The danger is that when parents need to be the spiritual authority they are not seen as that.

Why are so many children growing up to leave the church? How sad when children grow to become youth and through these growing years have never experience what it means to worship as families with other families. I know children and youth who have never partaken of communion when they graduate from high school. I know parents who blame youth pastors for their wayward son or daughter. I have parents say, "My teen is drifting from Jesus, we better get a new youth pastor". Youth pastors are given a burden they don't deserve. Parents are deceived into believing they have the right to blame others for something they have failed to do themselves.

While many will argue with me, what if I am right in these matters? Are you willing to risk it? What we have thought to be a good thing has been proven to be deception.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Pagan Christianity - Rebuttal #2

Viola and Barna mess up while speaking truth and then clouding over the practice in full obedience. For Him community is what matters most, at least it seems that way.

Is it training to fulfill the mission of Christ to reach the world?
Or is it training for community alone?

In the section that talks about education/training on page 218 we have some observations.

"The way Jesus Christ trained Christian workers was to live with them for a period of years. It was 'on the job' training. He mentored His disciples at close range. They also lived in community together. Jesus did the work, they watched, and then they went on a trial mission which He critiqued. Eventually, He sent them out, and they carried on the work themselves."

My comments:
1. This is how Jesus taught. He taught His purpose. He spent a great deal of time with his disciples because they were the foundation of a redemptive movement and that foundation needed to be strong enough to hold a movement of exponential disciple making growth until the end has come. Viola wants us to focus on how Jesus taught instead of focusing on what Jesus taught. The what drives the how.

2. As Jesus made disciples, those disciples were being taught how to do the same. Viola has it backwards and never addresses the Great Commission mandate "to teach them to obey all things I have commanded you." Jesus identified the WHAT we should obey and then commanded us to teach them to obey it (the HOW).

3. Viola shows us how Jesus taught, but in all the descriptions of his house church movement he never speaks of training them to go out. He always speaks of "GOING TO GATHER" and never GATHERING TO GO." He loves the Holy Huddle and it appears this may be his main thing. Instead of going to a church building they go to homes. It's like putting the Body of Christ into a different container, while continuing to do church as he has always done it.

4. Viola is biased in that He expects the Christian life to be lived only in Christian community. He says, "In community is where we learn Christ. In community we learn Him together, hear Him together, and follow Him together." On page 256-257 Viola says, "The Christian life was never meant to be lived outside of Christian community." Pardon me but Jesus didn't say that or do that.

Viola does a great job speaking truth in some places and then contradicting himself in his faith and practice. When Viola speaks biblical truth in correct context, often his application is glassed over not fully reflective of the truth mentioned.

Viola further fuels, the American disconnect between knowing the truth and then doing it. In America we know the truth and it often stops their. Why do we often find ourselves full of truth and calling that good without actually living it? Why the disconnect? Viola speaks to this head knowledge problem, but again loses it in his own faith and practice. Truth without obedience is disobedience.

Viola has a problem with his theology of God's redemptive plan to reach and disciple the lost so that they can do the same. I'd like to know how the world will be reached if they are going to live in the holy huddle of me, myself and I.

While community is for those who know Christ -our Christian lives were never meant to be lived out there.

For those who long for true Christian community with growing believers striving for holiness here this. One will never have authentic community without unconditional obedience to the "All Jesus has commanded us." Obedience to all the commands of Christ is what breeds authentic community. Counterfeit community driven by man will never take the place of authentic community given by God the result of our total obedience.

David got me the last post.

The Great Commission was given to the Apostles at a special time because He/God wanted to make the point as a reminder and with all authority as God as a supreme mandate for the Apostles to speak this truth with authority into the lives of Christ followers.

It's like Jesus wanted to summarize His ministry and reason for coming to earth to redeem the world and restore them from their separation from Him and then to show us how to continue His work. It is through the apostolic line that this message of truth is carried from generation to generation so it is not lost through disobedience.

It was given to the Apostles because it was their job to carry this message to all Christ followers. That Apostolic line continues and it is through those who have apostolic gifting who must carry this message of making disciples to the Church-the Body of Christ. Sadly, those with apostolic gifting have been stifled in the American Church. Most pastors don't even know who they are. Now in my lifetime I am seeing God raise them up and release them to spread this command for all to make disciples who make disciples who...

At the moment this truth is given to Christ followers, it is in that moment that we will be judged by that that truth. Will we obey? Or will we wiggle ourselves through the maze of compromise? Do that with the word of God and see what happens. And what will happen is not a pretty site. It's like walking on thin ice with a ball and chain around our neck.

Those with apostolic gifting's are being released from a life of being suppressed and are either being released or leaving in order to pick up their God-given authority to spread the Great Commission mandate for all believers to personally engage/obey.

As one with apostolic gifting I proclaim that if you are not making disciples who make disciples are not obeying all that Christ commands. I'm not judging anyone, I'm just sharing the truth with authority.

Having said that, in America with stifled apostolic leaders we have been wrongly taught that the Great Commission is somehow a corporate job. It's hard to break with something we have been wrongly taught our entire lives. Any argument against our personal responsibility to fulfill the Great Commission is nothing more than our own self justification for our personal disobedience.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Why do we....?

Why do we obey the Scriptures up to the point of the Great Commission and then stop?

We are commanded to personally engage the Great Commission and yet many argue the point. Let me ask, why do we argue with making disciples personally when that is the reason Jesus came to live, die and rise from the dead?

The answer to my first question is one that can be answered with one word --that word is "disobedience" to all Jesus commands of us.

Not knowing how to do it is not an excuse. We can show you how!

Sittin in a pew is nothing compared to making disciples who make disciples who...

We will stand before God someday, and for those of you who read here, you are now held accountable to obey the ALL and that all is summarized in Matthew 28.

I'm happy for you and as you obey the all to make disciples who make disciples who...and as you go, the joy of the Lord will never be greater and the Glory of the Lord will never shine brighter. Souls in heaven as God works through you -- is one blessing beyond the description of human words.

You are blessed! Engage the mission and watch God work through you.

Home but, Rejoicing!

I just got back home from a wonderful trip into the Northwest (Washington and Oregon) and I am here to proclaim God's glory.

The training in Washington, in the Puget Sound area was one of miracles, transformation and Holy Spirit empowerment to engage the mission of Jesus to make disciples who make disciples who...

We met with godly people who were on a mission to obey God in all of His commands. In that, they learned how to engage a movement of disciple making. Before the training was done, a new disciple was birthed. A reminder to us that a new disciple driven church movement has been birthed.

Praise God!

We are seeing the fulfillment of our prayers to trust God for what only God can do. When that happens by faith, God works in His glory. PTL

Pagan Christianity -rebuttal #1

In "Pagan Christianity" there are severe flaws that need to be addressed. I'll just take them one or two at a time in numerous blog posts.

1. The book, written by Viola/Barna, I noted early on an obvious bias for the house church movement. I love to read the work of those who lay out the facts, but I do not appreciate the bias and misrepresentations of New Testament House Churches.

In the defining descriptions of the New Testament Church Viola seems to identify his house church experience with that of the New Testament Church. But there remains an obvious and clear difference between the two. The New Testament Church gathered in obedience to the Great Commission and Christian community grew out of that. The early church GATHERED TO GO into the world and advanced/engaged the mission of Jesus left behind for them to fulfill. In Viola's description of and perceptions of the early church and his house church involvement the priority is community much like what I see all over America in many forms/models. While many house churches GO TO GATHER as the main thing, a shift is needed and THEY MUST GATHER TO GO so that they engage mission Jesus gave them/us with all power and authority as the risen Christ.

New Testament House Churches were "obedient first" to fulfill the commands of Christ to Go and and make disciples and when they did they experienced true Christian community of the likes few of us have ever experienced...the heart of God.

In Viola's description we see obedience in community but not obedience to all the commands of Christ, namely the Great Commission, which is something He downplays and discredits as something that is not for all believers. MORE on that later. This will be a steamy post - LATER!

While I am for House Churches and see their wonderful value in reaching the lost and beginning disciple driven movements, they fall far short if they do not Gather to Go. If the GO TO GATHER they are just mere imitations of that which they have left behind in their past expressions of going to Church. If they GO TO GATHER (community)as their priority they are no different and not more effective than what they left. If they GATHER TO GO OUT in Great Commission obedience they become a New Testament movement that will lead to exponential disciple making movements rising out from among them. Only then will we see New Testament resemblance and the true community they long for.

Viola/Barna keep missing the most important result of living in obedience to all the commands of Christ. All Christ followers are responsible to make disciples who make disciples who...

Of course I am guilty of writing with a bias in this rebuttal. That bias is a just engagement of the Scriptural mandate for all Christ followers to reproduce disciples themselves. Viola discredits this command in my context here, and that makes his house church movement nothing more than a copy of the Church where in many places disciples do not/are not making disciples who... A copy is a copy and can be a copy in different expressions.

I love the House Church movement - those who are part of the Body of Christ. I am disappointed that they often fail to realize how beautifully they are poised to engage disciple driven movements as their purpose of making disciples at all costs. When this happens true community like that of which many have never experienced will be enjoyed.

I often wonder why those who claim to obey refuse to really obey. In the Great Commission Jesus said, "and teach them to obey all that I have commanded you." And He said that after the greatest CO-Mission command ever given from His lips. This command covers the whole of His life and desire for us to "be fruitful and multiply."

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Pagan Christianity --UGHHH! or ????

A Disciple Driven Church movement, that of which we are seeing God birth across America -- Is NOT a house Church. But we can meet in homes and do.

Disciple Driven Church is a movement of disciple making life transformation. It is a work of the Holy Spirit. It is Holy Spirit empowered disciples totally committed to making disciples who in turn also make disciples. It is total reliance on God. While men and woman participate it is a total God work and not something we humans can pull off without the Holy Spirit.

"Pagan Christianity" by Viola and Barna is a seriously flawed work. After reading through it, what FLAWS do you see?

There must be more to living for Jesus than this? Isn't there more?

What are your observations of this work. You know me, when I have serious concerns I must speak out. But, in this case I must wait until you have the chance to weigh in.

Let's think our way through this. While I agree with Viola on some points, I must disagree with some major flaws that are fatal for the Church -the Body of Christ.

Let's get on top of this together.

Monday, February 04, 2008

My birthday blessing

Turning 50 was no big deal, except for the fact that it was my best birthday ever. Michelle got me some really cool balloons and also saw to it that I had a birthday cake with a total of 50 candles on it. The cake barely held 50 candles and then when I blew them out they made so much smoke I jump up and opened the door. My thought, "Oh no there's smoke in our house again."

The Lord knows how much I love snow. Those of you who know me well know how excited I get when it snows. I am always reminded, "Jesus washes away our sin as white as snow." We got around (I'm guessing) maybe 7 inches or so. The next day I saw two more blessings as I was snow blowing a few driveways. C.J. and his snowman & Samantha and her snow dog. God is helping me to notice the simple blessings of life.

Then on Saturday, our church family gathered together as the Church (we didn't go to church we gathered together as the Church. Amy made me two birthday cakes for our church family to share together and everyone sang happy birthday to me. It was fun as I looked around at all the children who were singing with such joy as youth and adults followed. Having the children present and worshiping with us is one of the greatest joys of my entire ministry. These children are learning the meaning for our gathering to worship God and they participate in it. Little 6 year old Levi asked if he could pray and he did a great job.

My birthday goal is to lose 30 pounds and keep it off before 51 rolls around. This is a great prayer need. What? No more sugar?

Friday, February 01, 2008

Only for the strong...

Viola and Barna's new work, "Pagan Christianity" is a book that will bring mixed emotions. I am almost halfway through the book and find it to be filled with excellent research. You will even see some of the themes discussed on this blog. I guess I'm not nuts after all. At least not totally.

This book not the faint of heart nor is it for those who cannot read without an open mind. If you want an honest open review of how the church in America is where it is and how we got here, you must order the book. Remember: I warned you!


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