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Assembly of God Crack Up: Church Under Siege

From the Author (4/22/09):  The allegations against the Assemblies of God in this article have been retracted.  While my stances put forth in concerning the Seeker Sensitive movement I still believe are true, I was contacted by the Assemblies of God directly and informed that my sources’ allegations were unfounded and untrue.  Please read with this mind.

–Thanks, Casey

In a surprising bit of news, I’m actually bringing you some breaking coverage of a doctrinal change being introduced to the Assemblies of God at the next General Council.  A very reliable source has told me that last year, a motion to remove any reference to “Speaking in Tongues” from the A/G doctrine was narrowly defeated, and is expected to pass this year.  This will effectly De-Pentecostalize America’s largest Pentecostal denomination.  Also up for a vote: A position statement on casual drinking: it’s okay now.

With this latest development, I’m frightened to believe that our enemy’s plan has been exposed . . . perhaps too late.  A little like when the Jedi finally caught on to the Sith’s plans in Episodes 1-3.  The demonic “Seeker Sensitive” doctrine espoused by Joel Osteen, Rick Warren, Mark Driscoll, and many more has been infiltrating our churches for years.  Telling us that we need to make people feel comfortable with “Hippy Jesus” who just really loves you, man.  Black and white, right and wrong – that was soooo 50 years ago.  These days preachers are telling people that most things are okay, and God just wants to love you, and make you healthy and rich.  That’s about it.  You see . . . talking about sin, and Hell, and Satan – that makes people uncomfortable.  And that may make people not want to come back to church – and then we’ll lose tithe money.

I believe what is happening word-wide through the Purpose Driven and Seeker Sensitive movements is this: Any radical, Bible-reading, Holy-living Christian, who isn’t afraid to call out sin, and to teach true repentance and holiness, is being marginalized to the point where they have no voice in the world systems anymore.  The Southern Baptist Convention trotted happily along the 40 days of purpose years ago, and with the Assemblies of God now handing in their papers to embrace the New-Age Hippy Spirituality preached by Osteen and Driscoll, those of us who still believe that Hell is real, and that we are called to turn away from sin, and repent, and be saved by JESUS (yes, I’m still proud to identify with him, even if Osteen is not) are losing our denominations and organizations, one by one, that give us the money and collective voice to help guide our nation.

Dear readers, what you are seeing is the rug being yanked, and the slippery slope towards real religious persecution in the United States of America starting.  Of course it doesn’t look that way now, but when sin runs rampant in the church, God will begin his judgment of America starting in his house first.  We can see the end effect in many churches: Joel Osteen’s included (I don’t mean to just pick on him, but everyone has heard of him) people don’t speak about right and wrong.  And God clearly does, throughout the Bible, speak about right and wrong.  Today the A/G is considering removing Speaking in Tongues, because (According to another source) around 70% of their pastor’s don’t speak in tongues regularly, and because they think it makes people feel “uncomfortable.”  Next, talking about sin makes people feel uncomfortable.  Calling homosexuality wrong makes gay people unhappy, and calling abortion murder makes would-be moms feel guilty.  So let’s do away with all that.  Why not just remove the word “Church” from the sign?  Call it a “Family Life Center?”  Whoops!  Already done that.

Seeing yourself as a sinner is uncomfortable.  Jesus himself said that following him would turn fathers against sons, and brothers against brothers.  This is not a leisurely road we walk, and to preach that it is is against the Bible.  “Narrow is the way, and few there be that find it,” but “broad is the path that leads to destruction.”  What the world needs is an encounter with the real Jesus, not a watered down message that at some point sounds like the Gospel…but not enough to offend a Muslim.  Unfortunately, it seems that to have that experience, we’ll be meeting in homes and private residences sooner, rather than later.

Whether you are A/G or not, and I assume many of you are not, I encourage you to pray for their leaders to make the right decision.  I’m not A/G myself, but I was raised in their churches, and personally believe in each of their 16 Fundamental Truths of their doctrines.  Whether you are Baptist, or Church of God in Christ, or Nazarene, or none of the above, today’s frontline in the war for our churches in happening in Springfield, Missouri at the A/G headquarters.  And the remnant in that denomination need our support, and perhaps our meeting halls, soon enough.

christianity

A Relevant Gospel for a Web 2.0 World

I’ve been working on some new features for the main site, and haven’t really had much time to sit down and collect my thoughts recently.  If you’ve followed me for long, you know how fervently I strive to be a “witness,” whatever that may entail.  And as a self-professed geek, I feel that these internets can and should be used as a tool for evangelization.  The question is: “How?”

I teach the Teens’ Sunday School class at my church, and have a mission for it that I believe is somewhat unique to a class of that age-range: to teach them how to read and understand the Bible for themselves.  Somewhere along in my life, I got a pretty decent understanding of the Bible, how to study it, etc. . . and that was before my brief and disappointing stay at a Bible college.  So, we go through a book of the Bible, taking our time, reading, and learning how to take the story, and apply it to our lives, how to read it in context so we don’t get wacky with things, how to study a topic throughout the Bible as a applicable one arises through our reading.  Most of the kids didn’t even realize there was a concordance in the back of their Bible before it started, and they’ve really learned how to dig in and find answers to tough questions in the Bible.

We recently began studying the book of Acts, and while we’ve only talked about 2 verses in it in depth, so far, it’s really started changing the way I view my witnessing activities.  In Acts 1:8, we see a mandate that represents an almost insurmountable slew of cultural barriers.  Not only should the disciples witness to their own kind, but to the Samaritans (gasp!) and eventually even the Gentiles!  We’re studying the book in this light: as a manual for reaching across barriers and winning the lost.

In my class, I used  the example of me and a redneck.  I am, at my heart, a city boy.  I don’t hunt.  I don’t fish.  I don’t really even like to be outside, except for perfect, cool days, with no bugs.  I like the hustle and bustle of a city.  I don’t particularly care for country-style fried foods (they do fry everything…ever had a fried twinkie?  I have).  I don’t like football.  Basically, it’s nearly impossible for me to connect with the traditional southerners of small-town Arkansas.  However, I have the mandate to do just that, to spread the Gospel.  And to be effective, I feel, I must do it in a way that is relevant to the person receiving it.  I think, here, is where we lose a lot of effectiveness has Christians today.

Paul famously (infamously?) said when he was in Rome, he did as the Romans.  That he becomes all things to all people, in order the spread the Gospel.  I think I can surmise, that this means if I’m going to witness to rednecks (and I don’t use that term derogatorily) then I have to “become one” . . . so to speak.  I have to be willing to show them I care about them, and that usually means showing that I care about the things they care about.  That I “get” them.  I mean . . . seriously . . . what country fellow, who hunts and fishes, and loves the outdoors and all the stuff in it, is going to take a look at a pale, pasty, computer nerd, who is never parted with his iPhone and think, “This guy really gets where I’m coming from . . . and I should listen to what he has to say.”  I’m not saying be fake . . . I’d be ridiculed pretty fast if I went around with boots talking about shooting animals in the woods.  But I can engage Mr. Redneck in areas where we can connect.  I can show I care by saying, “Hey . . . you been fishing lately?  Catch anything?”  I think the working premise here, is that I care enough about him to engage him in his culture, if I can’t engage him as part of his culture.  Maybe even go fishing with him.  Believe me, he’d only invite me once. 😉

We’ve become so accustomed to “church-centered” evangelization, that we miss out on the true secret of church growth in Acts: personal evangelism.  They were at each other’s houses, breaking bread, and believers were added to the church daily.  That means that on a daily basis, regular believing Jews would have to go out of their way to befriend Gentiles and Samaritans.  To love them.  Care for them.  Looking at churches today, we’ve evolved into our own brand of Judaism.  We don’t reach to the world, we look down on them.  We don’t go to the lost, and pull them up to where we are, we look down on them and expect them to come to us.  I believe that the relevance of evangelistic crusades for this generation just isn’t there.  Basically, we’ve gotten a little too self-righteous.

So, for today’s generation, the internet is obviously a relevant way to engage them, but I haven’t seen it used effectively (yet) to reach anyone.  I have an idea, but I’m interested in hearing your opinions.  Leave some ideas in the comments, or share a new way to engage anyone in a way that is relevant to who they are.  One way I think the internet can excel, for us, is to provide a place for us to encourage each other to go out and win the lost.  To share ideas, stories, and testimonies of how to be an effective witness.  That’s why I started TheLimitless.com, and that’s especially why I opened it up to a community of bloggers to host their own blogging site on, or share their current blog with a new audience.  Hopefully, we can all help each other become real and true witnesses.

christianity

Where have all the posts gone?

It’s been quite an ordeal, lately. I say “it,” as if I’m referring to a single issue, but that’s quite the over-simplification. My posts from the last few months have disappeared, due in large part to my failure to back things up, and in small part to a rough and bumpy ride taken by my web server. This has also encouraged yet another look on this page…which is not yet complete, and a reinvention of TheLimitless.com . . . again. I’ve learned an awful lot about web servers, and php, and the dreaded CSS, and how not to cook microwavable pizzas lately, so it wasn’t an incredibly taxing endeavour, except that the front page of TheLimitless.com lots all its modifications, such as they were, and is now a relatively blank slate, waiting for my clammy and cludgy fingers to manipulate it into a somewhat presentable affair.

Now, I know that the few people who still visit my blog (very few, after over 2 weeks with no site up at all) don’t come here to hear me prattle on about web servers, and CSS, and all that crap. Oh no, you come here to watch me get all red faced and rant about politicians, or to see me be a bit too honest, and make a fool out of myself, in the attempt to share a little truth about life and Godliness.

So, I must be honest, I don’t really keep up with political news anymore. Tabitha, or Pinky, as I call her behind her back, and the slightly unwelcome tweets of the #TCOTers are about all the news I force myself to consider, and I typically read the headline and never click through on the link. So guess what that leaves us with? 😀

I recently lost a mentor. Not only a role model, but possibly the single most influential person in my spiritual life. And I was okay with it, as she was a woman of God, and a person who lived the fullness of the Gospel in every area of her life. She has a great reward in Heaven that I’m sure she’s enjoying right now. However, a few days after the funeral, I found myself perusing job sites, and I thought to myself, “Uh-oh…I don’t have anyone to ask if this is right or not…I better pray and know the will of God before I go off on a job hunt.”

A sound idea, at any time. But I realized what an unGodly burden I placed on this person, to be my conduit to God, my oracle. And how spiritually lazy I had been to think like that. Wow.

But don’t wag your finger, my friend, because I’m not the first person to think like that. The only difference is that I’m portraying as an unrighteous behavior. This type of spiritually damaging dependency is not only tolerated, but encouraged in many churches. Either because the pastor is controlling and self-aggrandizing, and wants to be able to take credit for every victory in his member’s lives, or because the pastor is a poor and lazy shepherd, and allows his people to use him up, abuse him, and leave him out to dry, instead of teaching them how to be profitable Christians.

In saying that, I obviously can’t blame pastors only, or even mostly. We Christians are a lazy, self-absorbed lot. Instead of reaching out to help others, with an honest eye turned toward ourselves enough to realize we’re no better than anyone else, we choose to spend our time self-analyzing, and fault-finding, and asking for help and prayer over the little things we go through. I’m not suggesting that what you’re going through isn’t important, but there’s one important difference between you and sinner in the same situation. You have hope. Act like it.

It’s been a dangerous and selfish practice of Charismatic/Pentecostal circles over the last century to experience “More of Your Glory, More of Your Power, More of Your Spirit in me,” simply for the sake of experiencing it, and impressing other Christians with how spiritual we are, and sharing our deep revelations with other Christians so they can marvel at our wisdom, while the world goes to hell. There are great deep things of God, and they need to be searched out, but there is always a purpose to it: souls.

And yet, we’re still babies needing to be weaned off the pastoral nipple. Something is dreadfully and horribly wrong. In being forced to “grow up” through my loss, I’ve had my eyes open to what a pitiful little infant I was. And I’m concerned that as much as I thought I was spiritually mature, there many more out there who believe the same, in the same situation, who may never see the truth, because they believe it’s the right way to be.

I think that God is shaking things up in the church worldwide, to allow us to see this, and take on our mantle of servanthood and ministry. And I’ll talk more about that soon. Welcome back readers. I hope to see you all a lot more soon.

christianity, Online Living

Christian Carnival CCXLV

Welcome to the Christian Carnival, CCXLV, which a handy Roman numeral converter tells me means 245!  Wow, I should learn Roman some day.

Before I get right to the posts, I want to thank you all for the honor of hosting the Christian Carnival here at my little site.  I’ve participated, off and on (mostly off), in the Carnival since 2004, but this is my first time hosting.  So, today I’m very pleased to present the following submissions, in no particular order:

And that wraps it up for this week!  Some great reads.  Unfortunately, a crazy week at work prevented me from submitting my own post this week, and also weighed in on the time it would take to properly categorize the postings.  Thanks for stopping by, and enjoy your Christian Carnival!

christianity, Christians Gone Wild!

You can be a Christian for only $12.99!

Ever since W.W.J.D. bracelets, it seems that enterprising people have sought to capitalize on naivete of Christendom.  What would Jesus do?  Probably he wouldn’t wear a bracelet that cost $5 and tauntingly remind people to consider what Jesus would do in any situation.

I recently stumbled across this lovely site on the internets that portrays just how far that rabbit hole goes.  Seriously?  Is there no limit to what people will make?  I suppose though, they wouldn’t make it, if crazy Christians wouldn’t wear it!  Since I was…oh…16 or so, I have eschewed all forms of Christian apparel.  It’s typically tacky, and mostly self-righteous and condescending.  When it’s not those, and strives to just be humorous, it mixes in a good bit of heresy as well.  In the case of the image to the right, it also infringes on a trademark.

A few more examples of some of the worst Christian paraphernalia the net has to offer:

Again…copyright infringement seems to be a meaningless phrase to Christians.  I wonder how many Christian musicians are pirated on the net.  Once I heard a waiter say you can always tell the Christians groups at the restaurant, because they only want to know what they can get for free.  Shameful.

A spoof on (RED) the charity that fights against AIDS?!  Seriously?  Who would wear that?  Do they have no shame?  I don’t even know what else to say about this disgusting and flagrant self-righteous piece.

I’ve noticed for years and years a disturbing trend in churches to copy and imitate the world in order to feel “relevant.”  Did God not give us imaginations?  Even if you’re not original enough to come up with something on your own, why must you copy the worldliest things out there?  It happens in Christian music all the time, and along the same lines…in Christian retail, it seems they also make tackier and stupid imitations of other worldly things.  Worse, here is another example of just stupid theology.  “Satan got Punk’d”  What does that even mean?  He’s still controlling and influencing the world…so it would seem that if anyone got Punk’d, we did.

One of the weirdest and scariest examples of this is the new world of Christian emo.  Seriously?  How can a Christian be depressed, hate the world, and dress like a tranny?  W.W.J.D.?  He would not wear black fingernail polish.

In a strange example of Christian greed, www.wearyourfaith.com wouldn’t allow me to use some of their images claiming “Copyright.”  Not only do they not own the art on the shirts (they’re available in many other places) some of their art itself is copyrighted.

This is just the tip of the iceberg, and is only indicative of the larger problem of Christianity attempting to become more “worldly” in order to feel like people can relate, when the truth is…”why become a Christian if my life is no different afterward?”  Christian skater tv shows (Thank you Alec Baldwin), Christian punk rock, and pastors riding motorcycles around their sanctuary.  There is no holiness and sanctification in the body of Christ today.  That will draw people.  Lifting up Jesus instead of skating or other worldly influences will draw people to God.  We have that in writing:  “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” John 12:32.

christianity, Church, witnessing

Unprofitable Blogging

Last week I posed the challenge to witness to one person for every blog post.  I happen to know that at least 10 Christian bloggers visited my site, and chose not to respond to that challenge, choosing instead to mindlessly prattle on with their unprofitable theologies and divisive doctrinal debates.

Perhaps some non-evangelicals would dismiss it as the church leader told William Carey: “Young man, when God wants to save the heathen, He will do it without your help or mine.”

Listen… you may not like that Jesus commissioned us to go out and preach to all the world, God knows there are lots of things in the Bible I wish I could just rip right off the page and pretend like it didn’t exist (love your enemies?!), but you can’t ignore it.  Sitting at home, feeling so spiritual because the other unprofitable “servants” of God think you’re very intelligent is self-delusional.   I present you with a video, and a testimony.  God help me be as profitable in life as this man:

christianity, Online Living

Blogging for Jesus Me

My wife nonchalantly posed a serious question to me recently, as she looked at some notes for future blog posts, “You have so many good things to say…why do you sit in front of a computer and blog them, instead of going out and sharing them with people who need Jesus?”

I’m always up for some harsh self-examination, so I really pondered how I could answer this, and justify my relatively reclusive lifestyle.  I’m not reclusive because I blog, let me get that straight.  I don’t sit at home wishing I was elsewhere, but I just have to get this post written.  I blog because I find it enjoyable, and I like the web development aspect of it (I’m a geek, what can I say?).  And I just happen to be rather introverted.  But this got me thinking on how blogging fits in with God’s great commission to go out and win the world.

I believe if harnessed properly, the internet could be a tremendous tool in reaching the world with the Gospel.  I have yet to see anyone actually accomplish this, however.  Surely our blogs, much of which debate the finer points of religious doctrine, are not effective conduits for the Gospel of Salvation to reach a lost person.  On the contrary, I would submit that should a spiritually-curious non-Christian stumble into our blogosphere, they may find so many contradicting statements, arguments, and debates, that they would be turned off to the Gospel.  I’m not criticizing any one person here, as I’ve engaged in a few debates myself on the internet, for better or worse.  But do these benefit the Kingdom of God?  I don’t believe so.  At best, it seems like the proverbial “peeing contest,” and at worse is actually a divisive force in the church.

Those criticisms out of the way, I will also admit that there have been several times that I have read a blog and felt personally challenged to better my walk with God.  I have been convicted, encouraged, and enlightened on many different kinds of topics in regards to my faith, and living it out in this world.  More than once, I can probably even say that my prayer and bible study times have profited from some things I’ve read.  And many of us just write to share our thoughts, and experiences, in our Christian walk.  If we find something interesting while studying the Bible, we share it with other Christians through our blog . . . and I would even say that is very Biblical.  It’s the 21st century version of Acts 2:46.

For some people, I imagine, this online community is the only place they feel like that have that fellowship.  But is this a healthy situation for the Christian and the Kingdom of God?  I think not.  Our highest calling is to fulfill our Great Commission, to go out and win the world.  While theoretically possible, I find it highly doubtful that blogging will do that.  A Christian, full of love, caring and helping someone in need, and sharing the Gospel with them, will do that, though.  I’m not saying don’t blog, but I encourage you to keep it in its place.  Instead of debating, let’s all encourage each other to go out and win souls for Jesus!  Let’s keep sharing our experiences, encouraging each other, and growing together, but let the fruit of that be evident in our profitability for the Kingdom of God.

I’m very interested to hear your thoughts on this, as I don’t believe myself to be the authority on the effectiveness of blogging as a witnessing tool.  But I also want to issue a challenge to every blogger reading this post, which I intend to participiate in with you:  Witness to, or share the gospel with 1 person for each blog post you write this week.

I, personally, get very excited when I think about the great things that we can all accomplish together for the Kingdom of God.  Let’s make the Christian blogging movement responsible for souls being brought into the Kingdom of God, and not just a lot of interesting articles for other Christians.

If you’re taking the challenge, leave a comment, or trackback here with a story of how it went!

christianity

Prosperity and Christianity

I’ve attempted posts on this topic occasionally, generally trying to point out that while many criticisms of the prosperity movement are valid, the teachings are sound.

Cerulean Sanctum has an excellent post up on just that topic.

To sum it up from my point of view, God can and does bless those who follow after him.  The problem with many followers of the prosperity message is, they’re following after the not-so-almighty dollar. . . not God.  Having been through quite a few hardships (including financial) in my life, I can say beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’ve seen God prosper me, and work financial miracles for me (which I will detail soon) that were beyond the scope of natural occurence, or me getting a just reward for hard work.  As Dan eloquently points out…that’s scriptural.  However, those victories came after I submitted myself to serving God in the midst of terribly trying times, and I was joyful, no matter my situation.  Once I had stopped begging God for more money, and quit trying to make things happen for myself, like stressing out all day trying to find a better job, and more ways to provide for my family, and I started submitting my life to prayer, witnessing, and living to serve God, his purposes, and his kingdom, I saw an equally dramatic shift in my financial situation.

Am I rich?  Far from it…but my situation today is drastically different than it was even 1 year ago.  And as I learn to submit to God in other areas of my life . . . I see God continuing to bless me financially.  Perhaps, as I’ve heard a preacher put it, God is seeing that he can “trust” me with his money.  Meaning that I don’t hold any back from Him during offerings, or from people in need.  Why wouldn’t God prosper you if you were sharing that prosperity with the rest of his people?