26 June 2005

At the Wrong Time

Be ready to spread the word whether or not the time is right. Point out errors, warn people, and encourage them. Be very patient when you teach.
2 Timothy 4:2 God's Word Version

When is it ever a wrong time to spread the Word of God? There have been times when I was 'cornered' into teaching the Word of God when the time seemed wrong or inappropriate. These were times at the dinner table, when you are a guest in someone's home, and so on. It was a time when I just felt uncomfortable. It just didn't feel right to get serious about the Word of God and to deal with hard doctrines such as communion fellowship or that Jesus is the only way to heaven. Such scriptural teachings are important, but need to be carefully taught. But they were times when the Scriptures actually reached into hearts and lives.

The Christian is called to be ready to speak the Word of God whenever possible. But notice the third sentence in the Scripture above, "be very patient when you teach." Patience is a gift of God and is needed today as we teach the Word of God.

But the spiritual nature produces love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.
Galatians 5:22, 23 God's Word Version
We need patience as we try to teach the Word of God to people who know little about Jesus or even have trouble with the very idea that there is such a thing as right and wrong. Patience is needed as we gently explain the Word of God to people. It used to be acceptable to be harsh when teaching the Bible, to be insistent about what had to be done. Not so today, because people expect gentleness whenever it comess to such topics as faith and the Bible.

This means the Christian must be ready at all times to share the Word of God. It is important to take time to learn the Bible, to listen carefully to the questions being asked, to be open to other ideas, even those contrary to the Word of God, so that the seeker is treated with respect. It is the Bible we are to share, not our own opinions or biases. It is the Word of God, the reliable, errorless, and holy Word, given to us for the sake of Christ and His cross.
Doc Steve

11 June 2005

Growing Churches and False Religious Leaders

The media loves churches, but only certain churches. They love churches who are make pronoucements. The media loves churches make statements and who lead causes. But only certain causes and only certain statements. They better not be conservative statements and causes. If a conservative makes a statement then the conservative is trying to impose their point of view on others, which is something the much loved liberal churches never do -- and then they don't tell us the truth.

Liberal mainline churches are losing members in droves and yet the media doesn't tell you the truth about them. To be blunt, the mainstream media is lying to you about the leaders of these churches. They call them "religious leaders," but they are leaders whose members are leaving them in droves. To be honest about it all, I have to call them false religious leaders. They are false because they do not teach the Word of God. They are false because they want to adapt the Word of God to what some power groups ask for. (Did you hear about the falsified "New" Testament where Jesus is made into a woman? ) This is media dishonesty because the same types that hold out these "religious leaders" don't tell you that their members are leaving in droves. Could you imagine what the media would say about Jerry Falwell or James Kennedy if their ministries were losing members by the thousands. But that is what has happened to the self-appointed "religious leaders."

David Shiflett quotes a Glenmary Research Center study from 2000, the Presbyterian Church USA lost nearly 12% of its members over a decade, the United Church of Christ lost 14% of its members over the same period of time. Some conservative churches such as the Christian and Missionary Alliance grew by 21% and the Presbyterian Church in America grew 42%. This is not to mention the conservative non-denominational churches such as Saddleback. This is not to mention the movement of many conservatives from non-denominational churches to Eastern Orthodoxy, a faith which has sought to proclaim a eternal message for the last 2000 years. This is a trend that has been going on since the 1970s.

The so-called religious leaders of the media represent no one but themselves. They don't even represent their own members. Their churches are stagnating and dying. But their own members reject their leadership by leaving the denominations they lead. Why are people leaving? It is because these "religious leaders" do not give anything but a Christ-less left wing morality.

Yes, my own beloved Lutheran Church -- Missouri Synod has stagnated over this same period of time. There are various reasons, some are demographic and some are cultural. But the media doesn't like us anyway. The "religious leaders" seem to make themselves the moral and ethical masters of the elite.

David Schiflett makes the point in a new book that conservative churches are giving people what they want and what they need. He says that people are rejecting the left leaning morality and people want Jesus Christ. And that is what we have to give people: teach people what the Word of God says about morality, about the family. Give people the truth about the human condition and who we are. Our task is to make others know about Jesus Christ and what He did for us. Our task is to teach God's Word.

And so we must give that same message. But not for the reasons you might think. It is vital that we proclaim this message, not because it's what the crowd wants, but because we are called to share the one message that our God has give us. It is His message that we are to make known. We can not alter His message, we can not adapt His message to what the crowd wants, we can not change the Word of God. And that message we must take into our hearts every day. The Word of God is God's message to us, a message to be believed, loved and taken seriously.

As defined by the "religious leaders," I am a fundamentalist. That title does not scare me because anyone who believes the Bible to be the errorless Word of God is called a fundamentalist by them.

Take time to get to know the religious situation in North America because it effects every Christian and every congregation. Understand that the elite is pushing legislation that could make it illegal to teach what the Bible teaches about sexual morality and family life. Get to know the situation that Canadian churches had to be told by their former Prime Minister that they would not be required to do same-sex marriages. Some Canadian churches wondered that if they did not do same-sex marriages that they would be charged under "hate crime" laws.

Yes, share God's Word with everyone around you. Reject the opinions of false "religious leaders" you hear about in the media and listen to Christian Pastors who teach the Word of God. Judge the "religious leaders" and even your Pastor on the basis of the Word of God and not on what the elite tells you that should believe and do.

Dave Schiflett's book, which is I encourage everyone to read, is entitled Exodus: Why Americans are Fleeing Liberal Churches for Conservative Christianity.

Doc Steve

02 June 2005

Rejoice with Me!

If you had read the post which was drafted a week ago, you would have been reading a very different post. Somewhat down, pretty resigned to death.
Today we saw Dr. Shields, my oncologist. Good news! The last CAT scan shows that the tumor has stabilized and the blood tests show the cancer agents in the blood are decreasing. This means that there may be other reasons for my fatigue. We are looking at non-cancer causes for the fatigue. That means there may be easy ways to get the fatigue under control.

Rejoice with me!
Philippians 2:17-18 GW My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service I offer to God for your faith. Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you. (18) For this same reason you also should be filled with joy and share that joy with me.

Give thanks to the Lord for all His blessings. What does all of this mean for my future? In the short term it means that we will keep on the same treatment plan, but it also means that I will try to do more. See if I can get the energy levels back up. It might even mean that I could be getting closer to being back in the ministry on a full time basis.

Rejoice with me!
Philippians 2:17-18 GW My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service I offer to God for your faith. Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you. (18) For this same reason you also should be filled with joy and share that joy with me..

Recently, I have worked my way through Leviticus. Hard book, isn't it? Lots of stuff that seems difficult to get through. One thing I did notice is that the Lord wants His priests to be holy. Remember, we New Testament Christians know that all baptized believers are
"a royal priesthood." (1 Peter 2:9) He has called His priests to be holy, that is, dedicated to Him.

Leviticus 21:6-8 GW "Be God's holy men, and don't dishonor the name of your God. Be holy because you bring sacrifices by fire to the LORD. It is the food of your God. (7) You should never marry prostitutes, those who have lost their virginity, or divorced women because a priest is God's holy man. (8) Be holy because you offer the food of your God. Be holy because I, the LORD, am holy. I set you apart as holy. .

We are set apart for the Lord. The way the Old Testament priests showed their "set apartness" was very specific and does not apply today. But they are reminders to us that we are set apart for the Lord today and this includes such things as our choice of spouses. Are we looking at a possible future spouse with God's eyes or just our own. 1 Corinthians 7 and Ephesians 5 both have some important things to say about marriage. I know that I am blessed with Sandie, my wonderful wife of 26 years. I give thanks to God everyday for the my wife. She is a fine Christian woman, dedicated to her Lord.

What does this have to do with me today? Easy, the Lord is not going to let me go. He will find ways to use the gifts which He has given me to use them in His service.

Rejoice with me!
Philippians 2:17-18 GW My life is being poured out as a part of the sacrifice and service I offer to God for your faith. Yet, I am filled with joy, and I share that joy with all of you. (18) For this same reason you also should be filled with joy and share that joy with me.

Even if I am going home sooner than I might want, the Lord will continue to use me here. And He will use you too. Each of us are blessed with the gifts He has given us to use in His service. Each of us are set apart as priests of God. And so rejoice with me! Now I see that there may be opportunities for service in His kingdom. Now all I have to do is to find them.
Doc Steve