“Is the church wrong and judgmental for claiming that abortion and homosexuality are sins and contending against them? Pastor Richard Mark Lee of the Family Church in Sugar Hill, Georgia thinks so. What did he do about it? He apologized to the unchurched for being judgmental during a highly publicized church service.
We think that Pastor Richard should also apologize on behalf of God for destroying the earth by flood because of men’s wickedness, destroying Sodom and Gomorah, plaguing the Egyptians and killing their first born, destroying Korah and those who followed him, killing everyone in Jericho, and killing the prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel for their false religion.”
Ladies and gentlemen, indeed too long has the Church been judgmental towards other Christians and non-Christians. Judgmental in the sense of hypocritical self-righteous judgment that dishonors God and impedes the flow of the Gospel. Like what Jesus warned about in Matthew 7.
But it all comes down to your definition of the word “judge”, doesn’t it? True Christians know that when the true Gospel is preached, God’s law is taught, and sin is exposed out loud that the typical reaction from non-Christians and baby Christians is: “You’re judging me. The bible says you shouldn’t judge someone. So don’t judge me.” The only problem with that is their understanding of what “judging” truly is. Jesus was not saying “don’t judge another person because that is evil”. He said “don’t judge or you’ll be judged, because the way you judge you will be judged back in the same manner to the same degree” (Matthew 7:1-2).
When people say “Judge not” what they really mean is “You have no right to tell me what I’m doing is right or wrong. Who are you to tell me? You have your definition of right and I have my own. You are supposed to accept me for who I am”. Its the new church campaign of “Tolerance: Anything Goes”! Its crazy. And it seems to be still seeping into some churches, like the one above.
But if the Church is using righteous judgment that honors God, judgment that is fair, humble, Christ-centered and others-exalting, then the Church has no reason at all to apologize. The Church is called to preach the Gospel and live the Gospel. That will inevitably and necessarily involve clearly, boldly, humbly, and lovingly speaking out against what the Bible and God speak out against: SIN. And that sin includes: homosexuality, lust (which is adultery), hate (which is murder), selfishness, pride, anger, unbelief, lying, boasting, disobedience to parents, insubordination to authority, stealing, fornication, etc. All of these are SIN. In fact the Bible also says that even everything that does not come from faith is SIN (Romans 14:23).
So let’s not apologize for judging when we are not judging. Yes some churches do indeed judge falsely in a way that dishonors God. That judging is SIN. But some churches judge rightly in a way that honors God. For that we cannot apologize for. We must stand up boldly and humbly against that which God hates: SIN! We should be rather apologizing for our sinful attitudes and treatment towards the way we live to the world. But not if the what we do, what we say, or how we do it is in line with God’s Word.
The world may get our motives and message mixed up. But let them never mix up our passion and desire: Jesus Christ is supreme over everything and is worthy of all glory and praise and honor and demands you worship Him and warns you of His judgment if you don’t!
This excellent article hails from Josh Harris’ site. Great not only for preachers and pastors, but also for any Christian who wishes to read/preach the Word to himself accurately and honorably. Enjoy!
Preparing a Sermon
1. Choose your text and meditate on it. • Read the text, re-read it, re-read it and read it again. • Probe it, chew on it, bore into it, soak in it. • You are not called to preach yourself or your ideas, but charged to “preach the word” (2 Tim. 4:1-2). Clarence Edward McCartney: “Put all the Bible you can into it.”
2. Ask questions of the text.
• What does it mean? Or better yet, what did it mean when first spoken or written?
• What did the author intend to affirm or condemn or promise or command?
• What does it say? What is its contemporary message? How does it speak to us today?
• Remember: Keep these questions distinct but together–the text’s meaning is of purely academic interest unless you go on to discern its message for today, it’s significance. But you cannot discover it’s contemporary message without first wrestling with its original meaning.
3.Combine diligent study with fervent prayer.
• All the time you study cry humbly to God for illumination by the Spirit of truth. Like Moses, “I pray you, show me your glory” (Exod 33:18), and Samuel, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (1 Sam 3:9).
• Stott: “I have always found it helpful to do as much of my sermon preparation as possible on my knees, with the Bible open before me, in prayerful study.
• R.W. Dale: “Work without prayer is atheism; and prayer without work is presumption.”
4. Isolate the Dominant Thought of the Text.
• Every text has a main theme, an overriding thrust.
• A sermon is not a lecture, it aims to convey only one major message
• The congregation will forget details of the message, but they should remember the dominant thought, because all the sermon’s details should be marshaled to help them grasp its message and feel its power.
• Once the text’s principle meaning has been determined, express it in a ‘categorical proposition.’
• J.H. Jowett: “I have a conviction that no sermon is ready for preaching…until we can express its theme in a short, pregnant sentence as clear as a crystal. I find the getting of that sentence is the hardest, the most exacting and the most fruitful labor in my study…I do not think any sermon ought to be preached, or even written, until that sentence has emerged, clear and lucid as a cloudless moon.”
• Ian Pitt-Watson: “Every sermon should be ruthlessly unitary in its theme.”
• Don’t by-pass the discipline of waiting patiently for the dominant thought to disclose itself. You have to be ready to pray and think yourself deep into the text, even under it, until we give up all pretensions of being its master or manipulator, and become instead its humble and obedient servant.
5. Arrange Your Material to Serve the Dominant Thought
• The goal is not a literary masterpiece, but organization that enables the text’s main thrust to make its maximum impact.
– Ruthlessly discard irrelevant material
– Subordinate material to theme so that it illumines and supports it.
• Golden Rule for Sermon Outlines: Let each text supply its own structure. Let it open itself up like a rose to the morning sun.
• Be precise with your words. It is impossible to convey a precise message without choosing precise words.
• Words to use:
– Simple and Clear words. Ryle: “Preach as if you had asthma.”
– Vivid words. They should conjur up images in the mind.
– Honest words. Beware of exaggerations and be sparing in use of superlatives.
– C.S. Lewis: don’t just tell people how to feel, describe in such a way that people feel it themselves.
– Don’t use words too big for the subject.
6. Remember the Power of Imagination–Illustrate!
• Imagination: the power of the mind by which it conceives of invisible things, and is able to present them as though they were visible to others. (Beecher)
• Remember that humans have trouble grasping abstract concepts–we need them converted into pictures and examples.
• Exert your greatest effort for illustrations that reinforce and serve the dominant thought.
• Think of illustrations as windows that let in light on our subject and help people to more clearly see and appreciate it.
• Beware of illustrations that draw too much attention (to themselves instead of the subject) or which actually take people away from the main point.
7. Add Your Introduction
• It’s better to start with the body so that we don’t twist our text to fit our introduction.
• Stott: A good introduction serves two purposes. First, it arouses interest, stimulates curiosity, and whets the appetite for more. Secondly, it genuinely introduces the theme by leading the hearers into it.
• Don’t make the intro too long or too short. “Men have a natural aversion to abruptness, and delight in a somewhat gradual approach. A building is rarely pleasing in appearance without a porch or some sort of inviting entrance.”
8. Add Your Conclusion
• Conclusions are more difficult. Avoid endlessly circling and never landing. Avoid ending too abruptly.
• A true conclusion goes beyond recapitulation to personal application. (Not that all application should wait till the end–the text needs to be applied as we go along.)
• Nevertheless, it is a mistake to disclose too soon the conclusion to which we are going to come. If we do, we lose people’s sense of expectation. It is better to keep something up our sleeve. Then we can leave to the end that persuading which, by the Holy Spirit’s power, will prevail on people to take action.
• Call the congregation to act! Our expectation as the sermon comes to an end, is not merely that people will understand or remember or enjoy our teaching, but that they will do something about it. If there is no summons, there is no sermon!
• The precise application of your sermon depends on the character of the text. The dominant thought points us to how people should act in response. Does the text call to repentance or stimulate faith? Does it evoke worship, demand obedience, summon to witness, or challenge to service? The text itself determines the particular response we desire.
• Consider the composition of your congregation. It is good to let your mind wander over the church family and ask prayerfully what message God might have for each from your text. Consider their unique circumstances, weaknesses, strengths and temptations.
9. Write Down Your Sermon
• Don’t take too long to get to this stage! Get something on paper, don’t endlessly noodle on vague notes (this is my temptation).
• Writing obliges you to think straight.
10. Edit it Again
• View hitting your time goal (40-45 minutes) as just as essential to its overall effectiveness as anything else you do. People will take more away if you say less.
• Ruthlessly cut the unneeded and extra. Look for places where you can be more concise.
• Err on the side of cutting things–especially long quotes.
11. Pray over Your Message
• Use the 30 minutes before you leave for church to pray over your message.
• Stott: “We need to pray until our text comes freshly alive to us, the glory shines forth from it, the fire burns in our heart, and we begin to experience the explosive power of God’s Word within us.”
If I told you that what the current teenage generation, commonly referred to as Generation Y, needed was not a revolution but a “rebelution”, what would you say? What is a rebelution? A Rebelution!?! What does that mean? Well, it is a new term of the 21st century. But unlike “off the chain”, “that’s tight”, or “that’s wassup”, it has a very deep and significant meaning. In fact, if you go to Wikipedia and look it up you’ll find it defined solely as:
“a Christian ministry organization directed at youth, defined as “a teenage rebellion against low expectations.” It was founded in August 2005 by 19-year-old twin brothers Alex and Brett Harris, younger brothers of best-selling author and pastor, Joshua Harris. Originally just a blog, the Rebelution movement has since grown to include a full website and international speaking tour.”
That’s what it is: “a teenage rebellion against low expectations”. Too often teenagers of the 00’s have such low grade, low level, base philosophies on life, meaning, purpose, happiness, and success. Instead of teenagers living for huge things, taking risks for eternal causes, begging for responsibility, and boldly standing for truth they are obsessed with video games, movies, a convenience low-risk life with easy-to-retreat circumstances, shirk back from responsibility, and afraid to stand for anything period. Now I realize that in the last 10 years or less, spiritual awakenings and revivals have broken out among many generational groups. Especially that of the group of people ranging from 20’s to 40’s. So its hard to generalize and stereotype every American teenager as being lazy, worthless, pointless, and irresponsible. However, I think we all can agree in the obvious problem that lies in nearly every American household today: God is not at the center and the Gospel has no place!
So in the same fashion of their older brother and pastor Joshua Harris, their ex-pastor C.J. Mahaney, and probable mentor John Piper, Alex and Brett Harris are embarking on a powerful and noble adventure to reach this teenage generation: specifically those from 13-19 years of age. But the buck doesn’t stop there because many parents have been greatly effected by their ministry, The Rebelution, too. So their purpose is to destroy the thinking and doing of most teenagers today by attacking and rebelling against low expectations and start raising the bar in every facet and avenue of life for Jesus Christ!
If you have some up & coming teenagers, out & going teenagers, or current teenagers, then get involved in this ministry. Go to the site. Pre-order their new book. Go to one of the conference dates. Get involved in raising your child/children to live BIG, HARD, and STRONG for God through Jesus Christ.
So I highly recommend engaging yourself in the following resources from their ministry:
I stumbled upon this video at Youtube and was a bit baffled. First of all the title “A Christian OWNS 2 Jehovah’s Witnesses in a Burger King parking lot” interested me. (They are actually 2 Mormons). Although it did seem a bit prideful. Of course the people in the video might’ve had nothing to do with the title. Although as you watch this video (6 minutes) you’ll be able to tell that the title and the word “OWNS” may be accurate. Accurate in the sense of the prideful attitude of the Christian, not that he destroys their argument.
In this video, 2 white Mormons on bikes approach a seemingly innocent black gentlemen in a Burger King parking lot. To their surprise though they end up approaching a passionate and somewhat embittered believer in the Bible. And he seems to have some knowledge of the Mormon faith and of the Word too. The black guy does make some valid points and a good case as to his own faith. He even makes a good case about the typical approach and conversation style of Mormons. Although at one point, the Mormon on the right does seem to press hard on his agenda (that of come and teach and talk instead of listen and dialogue). To this the black man responds with some hostility and passion. And his words end up slapping him back in the face toward the end as he totally disses both of the Mormons and leaves a final commentary of the conversation at the end of the video that sounds very prideful, arrogant, and mean.
Both parties hearts are in the right place but overall it seems like a failed witnessing encounter. It could result in some fruit definitely. But the way the black gentleman ended it seems to show a poor Gospel attitude and lack of humility and love for the Mormon. Despite the Mormons’ approach, he could have still labored with them. However he may have felt no need to continue. Which sometimes is very wise. Oh well, watch and see for yourself and see what you get out of it. Is the black guy too harsh? Do the white guys press too much or not listen well? How’s the black man’s attitude toward the end? Do you detect any pride in him or the Mormons? We all could us a humble orthodoxy in our walk and talk with Christ.
Check out a more extensive review on this video and its related topic at Emissary7!
Of course the Wall Street Journal heralds the seemingly “negative” aspects of church discipline rather than the need for it and its often positive result. As seen in this sad portrayal here. Here is what it said about Noblit:
“First Baptist Church of Muscle Shoals, Ala., a 1,000-member congregation, expels five to seven members a year for “blatant, undeniable patterns of willful sin,” which have included adultery, drunkenness and refusal to honor church elders. About 400 people have left the church over the years for what they view as an overly harsh persecution of sinners, Pastor Jeff Noblit says.”
Also don’t forget to check out how you can attend the next True Church Conference at First Baptist Church Muscle Shoals by clicking the following image below, which just happens to be on “Church Discipline: The Missing Key to True Church Growth”:
32 weeks is 8 months. 8 months! Can you believe that? It has gone by so fast now. God has given us a quiet, calm, healthy and safe ride so far and we’re praying for the same when Gracie actually gets here. Here is another cool pic for you to see kind of what she might look like. At this point she is approximately 4 pounds and 16 inches long. Her movements now are less like kicks and more like jabs because of the lack of space and the amount of her weight gain. Her skin is no longer opaque looking but now more like normal human skin color. And her digestive system is pretty much prepared now to receive her mommy’s milk. So all things seem to be “clear for launch” so far.
As far as our home being prepared: Allie and I painted Gracie’s room (victorian amethyst; soft medium-light purple), some furniture, and rearranged some things over the last two weekends. We hope to have our car packed with bags and more to be ready at water’s edge (if you know what I mean; wink wink). At this point she could come anytime. We’re hoping for an ontime delivery though: March 10th, 2008.
Okay, sorry for the long title but I couldn’t resist. Let me explain the title first off:
Why Worldly? – Dan Kimball bases the success/failure of The Church’s evangelism efforts solely on the World and its reactions to them.
Why Overreactionary? – Dan Kimball builds a philosophy in reaction to the mistakes of a certain group of Christians in their method and practice of Church and evangelism. Yet Kimball overreacts and overcompensates.
Why Fundamental? – I am not referring to the actual meaning of fundamental but of what Fundamental/ist/ism typically has become: those who hold mostly to original fundamentalist doctrines of God, sin, man, and salvation but have embraced a more hyper-conservative, legalistic, Pharisaical philosophy which has led to a more man-centered view of God, sin, man, and salvation. Kimball is reacting to the failures of this movement. And rightly so.
Why Arrogant? – Because typically, not always the people but the doctrine and practice of these Fundamentalists is fueled by arrogance, pride, stubbornness, and a refusal to consider anything outside of itself.
Why Sectarian? – Because this Fundamental movement has a distance-righteousness view of holiness. The more distance from culture, the more holy one becomes, the more pleasing one is to God, and the more effective one is in their witness for Christ. Its a proximity-sanctification which ends up turning almost into a works-based sanctification. The closer to culture, the more compromised and disobedient a Christian becomes. The farther from culture, the more holy and righteous a believer becomes. So righteousness becomes about location rather than about the unchanging, immutable, perfect obedience and righteousness of Christ.
“Dan Kimballis a pastor, author and known to be part of the Emerging Church movement. Kimball uses the phrases “Vintage Faith” and “Vintage Christianity” for how he expresses his perspective of going back to “vintage” values of the original Christian church and teachings of Jesus – yet at the same time moving forward to what it means to be church in a very different culture today”(wikipedia).
My goal, as always, is not to slander, judge, attack or nitpick Dan Kimball. I don’t know the guy and I haven’t read his book or blog. So all I can do is base my case off of this video. He seems to genuinely care for people and for the work and image of the Church. And has a desire to return to the vintage teachings of Jesus. Although I wonder if his love for people and desires to redeem some bad views of the Church are bigger than his love for God and desire to see people born again! I watched this video and for me, it was enough to understand his basic philosophy on the Church and evangelism.
As you watch this video (also viewable above), you’ll hopefully notice several things. If not, then I’d like to at least share some things that instilled serious concerns. My goal is to analyze and hopefully redeem some wrong thinking about Jesus, the Church, and Christianity.
ASSESSMENT OF VIDEO
Dan Kimball, “Jesus is becoming pretty popular out there in our culture and world, kind of as an ICON today”.
Not to sound sarcastic, but really? Because if Jesus is becoming “pretty popular” anywhere and at anytime, it makes me think of one question: Jesus who? I mean if “Jesus” is becoming huge and famous and starting to be an “icon”, then I think the Real Jesus of the Bible has been somehow replaced, don’t you? Especially when you are using the Jesus bobble-head figurine as proof of His so called “new found fame”.
“I believe in Jesus and I think his teachings were very inspirational”.
You hear this a lot. Now I don’t know anything about this person or the status of their heart toward God. But typically when you hear this phrase, people are speaking of how Jesus had some generally influential and motivational teachings. As if He was a great motivational speaker and teacher, but not the Savior of the World or God in the flesh.
Dan Kimball, “The problem is they like Jesus but they don’t like the Church”.
It’s not totally about how the world perceives us. We can’t build our theology and methodology on the world’s perception of us. If we do, than any changes we see that need to be made to better their perception of us so we appear more acceptable to them will be man-centered and catered to them. We are not called to love others so that they will feel comfortable around us and about us. We are called to love them in a way that causes them to glorify our Father in heaven. But that doesn’t include compromising our theology to one that embraces them as they are, especially embracing their sin, specifically their unrepentant sin. But includes one that loves them because we are commanded to and we genuinely care for their soul. We can /should love them as they are but not for what they do. True we can learn something from the world about how well we love them, but that lesson is to be a possible litmus test not a permanent foundation to build our love and its effectiveness on. Because then we judge ourselves according to them and their assessment of us rather than to God and His standard of love.
“Bible-thumper, that’s the first thing I think of. Pseudo-Christian people trying to tell you what they believe and then what you should believe”.
This girl is in line with many bystanders of Christianity. Unfortunately we have been given these titles because we show the world we care more about ourselves and our beliefs then them. The world would rather have us love and tolerate them then hold on to our beliefs. Yet there is a razor’s edge medium to walk on: love them, hate their sin, love truth, don’t compromise the truth. That edge can be walked on if we love God FIRST and love our neighbor as ourself SECOND. Unfortunately this girl is probably more right then she knows when she says “Pseudo-Christian people” because many people among our Church and in our Church buildings are in fact fake Christians. We should never stop verbalizing or communicating our beliefs or persuading others to believe the same. But it must be done lovingly.
“When I think of Christians, I think of dogmatic, close-minded individuals”.
Oops on our part again. Or oops on their part? You see there’s a mixture of oops going on here. First you have the world telling us that we have been close-minded and arrogant. And indeed we have. But sometimes what they consider close-minded and arrogant is actually us being confident and unapologetic in the truth we believe. For example, when the world says “you’re so intolerant”, what they mean is “you need to accept me and my beliefs as truth too”. But often when the Christian is being “intolerant”, they are really refusing to compromise and expressing belief in absolute truth. Worldly labels aren’t always accurate.
Secondly, the oops on our part is the fact that often we have been close-minded and arrogant. I’m speaking of the times when the world is actually correct in their assessment. If we could pray for God to give us a Humble Orthodoxy and a good mixture of love for doctrine & love for people, those labels would slowly fade. Not entirely, but slowly. We are called to believe and know the truth, to let it humble us, and then spread it. Our problem is we find the truth, boast in the gift and the gift-getter rather than the Gift-Giver, spread the “truth” that others need to live like us instead of like Jesus, and end up pushing people farther away from the cross. We must be bold, confident, and humble. Close-minded in doctrine, but open-minded in methods and love.
“I think of this thing that Ghandi said, ‘I would’ve become a Christian except I’ve never met one’. I mean I haven’t met very many true Christians in my life.”
I’m not sure what Ghandi meant by that. Either he was saying he’s never met a true Christian and doesn’t know who/what they are; Or he knows what/who a true Christian is and because of that knowledge, knows that he’s never met anyone meeting those qualifications. This statement is pretty accurate as well. Again, true born-again believers are often hard to find. Most people in this country that call themselves Christian have not met personally with God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ. They’ve had a religious experience involving superficial superstitious requirements. In fact, the world doesn’t know what true Christians are either. They only have their own idea and perception of what true Christians are to look like: tolerant, lovey-dovey (meaning tolerant), kind, compassionate, concerned mostly for the physical needs of others like homeless, the hungry, the widow, etc. But there’s never any room for holy, righteous, selfless, lovers of God and truth in the world’s definition of a Christian.
“For the most part I think people should be taken out back and shot because they don’t apply the ‘love is everything’ message of Jesus”.
Either this guy has obviously had some bad run-ins with some “Christians”, met some true Christians who treated him wrong, or he got upset at some true Christians for telling him the truth. Either way, his angry reaction does make a point: some way or somewhere somebody left an impression on him. Be it good or bad. But chances are his “love is everything message of Jesus” doesn’t include absolute beliefs like God is holy, angry at sinners, full of wrath, intolerant of sin, sending sinners to Hell and Judgment, and loves Himself and His glory more than anything.
Saints, love is being honest with someone about reality. And then sharing that truth with them in a loving way. Love=truth with love!
Stay tuned for Parts 2 & 3 where I’ll examine the 6 Key Issues Kimball addresses with the problem of “loving Jesus but not the Church”.
With today’s post, I have no intentions of blasting or slandering Pastor Joel Osteen. But when I watch a video interview like these (scroll down) with Chris Wallace from Fox News Sunday, I can’t help but share it with others. And its healthy for us Christians to practice discernment because 1) Jesus told us to, 2) Jesus warned about false teachers and prophets, and 3) its necessary so we can catch error when we find it in order to continue to believe and exalt truth! The hard part is learning to lovingly and kindly disagree with those who are in error. So my prayer is that I’ll be able to do that here.
After watching this video, I believe that Joel Osteen indeed preaches another Gospel. Sure he tells people about “sin” and gives them a chance to change their lives for the better in Christ at the end of each service. But that involves only a simple repeated prayer and some superstitious robotic terminology. Joel says himself that he desires to build people up, preach positive messages, inspire people to live each day, give them something to use the next day at work or home, and help increase personal growth.
He doesn’t like to talk about sin, negativity, or tear people down. I agree, don’t tear people down Joel. Just tell them the truth about God’s wrath, judgment, and their utter depravity and wicked heart. Christians don’t have to tear down and condemn, God’s Holy Spirit and Law will tear down and condemn. Then God will lift them up by His grace through the preaching of the true Gospel. Then they’ll understand their sins and come to Jesus because their eyes will have been illumined with truth and they’ll behold Him and willingly embrace Him.
Sinners need the truth more than anything. Often times that truth will offend and bother them. In fact it should, does, and will do just that. But that truth will also lead them into eternal life and to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. Give them truth Joel, please!
Part 1 – Chris Wallace interview with Joel Osteen on FoxNews Sunday
Part 2 – Chris Wallace interview with Joel Osteen on FoxNews Sunday
Next time, I’ll look more closely at each Part of these interviews to examine exactly what concerns me about Joel Osteen. Osteen is indeed sincere and one of the nicest preachers I’ve seen in a long time. But I can’t say he is caring. Because, “the one who tells you the most truth is your best friend” (unknown). When you truly care for people, you care more for them hearing and embracing the truth then you do their feelings, reputation, self-esteem, or financial status. That’s one reason why Jesus was the most caring person ever to live. Because He not only told us the whole truth, especially when others didn’t expect it or desire it, but He embodied truth and therefore had to speak truthfully of Himself, God, man’s state, and how to obtain eternal life.