Last week, I was sitting in a bright yellow waiting room, waiting for my Ford Taurus to get an oil change. While I was there, a minister that had fallen into sin a few years ago was on television. I couldn’t help but watch, interested to hear his heart. This was the second time I had seen him on TV since his moral failure and every time I have seen him, he states that he has gone through extensive therapy, heavy counseling and has finished the restoration process.
He is still married to his wife and finds himself struggling with thoughts of homosexuality to this day. Concerning his failure he states the classic line, “No one is perfect and everyone makes mistakes.” Homosexuality is not a mistake. A mistake is when you forget to close the refrigerator door or forget to take out the trash. This was a gradual hardening of the heart that led to such a moral decline. A heart that has no conviction for lusting for a passing stranger is in a bad state, but a heart that enters a continual affair, with a man is a heart that is need of a deeper work of the Spirit, especially because he was a minister of the gospel (James 3.1). The red flag for me was that I never heard him mention the word repentance or the power of God in his life to overcome, or most importantly the blood of Jesus. Nor did he mention taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ or anything about putting off the old man and putting on the new (2 Cor. 10.5;Romans 13.14). Is this horrible mindset alive in other Christians living in America? Is there forgiveness without repentance? Read these words from William Booth’s prophecy one hundred years ago.
“The chief danger of the 20th century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, “salvation” without regeneration, politics without God and heaven without hell.”
Notice in the middle, General Booth speaks of, “forgiveness without repentance.” I believe in forgiveness and reconciliation to all no matter what social class or level of wickedness they come from. But there is a difference between what we have seen in this pastor and the repentance seen in the parable of the prodigal son (Luke chapter 15).
For those of us who are not familiar with the parable, there are two sons. The younger of the two said to his father, father, “give me my portion of goods; my inheritance, I am entitled to the money that is to come to me” (paraphrased).
The word of God states that not many days after that, the younger son gathered all his things together, took his journey into a far country and wasted his substance with riotous living. And when he had spent all of his substance, there arose a mighty famine in the land and he began to be in want. His situation got so bad that he went and joined himself to a citizen or joined himself to a total stranger of that country; and he was sent into the citizen’s fields to feed pigs.
Here is a young man who was once rich and now is in poverty. On top of that, there rose a mighty famine. Things have gotten so bad that he had to join himself to a citizen of that land. The word, “join“ here means, “to cleave to or to be glued together.” It has the same meaning as when a man joins himself to a woman in marriage.
At this point the young man hits rock bottom longing to fill his stomach with the food that the pigs were eating. In the proceeding verse, it states that the young man starts to come to his senses and he begins to remember his Father and his Father’s house. He asks himself, “Why am I here starving to death?”
I believe a lot of individuals, especially the young, are starving to death, maybe not from a physical hunger but for the Word of the Lord. They are wondering, “Are there any absolutes in life?” There are absolutes in life. It is the word of God.
In the book of Amos, it describes that there will come a day when there will be will be a famine not of food or of thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the Word of the Lord. America is at this point.
This young man heard the words of his Father and he didn’t cry out, “Father I have made a mistake” or “nobody is perfect.” He cried out, “I have sinned” and “I have sinned against God.” Not the church. Not his family. But, “I have sinned against heaven and against God.”
Notice the same response from David in Psalm 51, “against You and You only have I sinned.”
At this very point the restoration process began and the young man was restored to his Father’s house and he was clothed in his right mind.
Now, back to the anonymous preacher, not once during the interview did this pastor state that he sinned against God or against heaven. He did not, at all, seem to be concerned about his relationship with Jesus. How do I know that? Well, he didn’t mention Him once. He spoke like a man who was only sorry because he got caught. I know this because; his sorrow didn’t cast him upon the blood of Jesus, but on a “restoration” process. My friend, this is worldly sorrow, which leads to death.
To the individual that is reading this, ask yourself, with a sincere heart, “Have I truly repented of my sins and turned to God?” Do I really know Jesus? Do I really have a relationship with Jesus, not just with a church or a religion? Jesus states that He is the way, and the truth and the life. No one comes to the father except through Him (John 14.6). Jesus is the door. Now I charge you, to walk through Him, but before you do, make sure you COMPLETELY close the door to your past.
“Repentance must be a change of mind that produces a change of conduct and ends in salvation. Have you forsaken your sins? Or are you still practicing them? If so, you are still a sinner. You may have changed your mind, but if you have not changed your conduct, it is not Godly repentance…False repentance is the sorrow of the world; sorrow for sin arising from worldly considerations and motives connected with the present life.” (Charles Finney, “You Can Be Holy”)
“Jesus doesn’t save you in your sins but from your sins.” (Dr. Michael L. Brown, “How Saved Are We?”)
“You say, “When so and so preached, I got saved.” Well, what are you saved from? Are you saved from lying? Are you saved from cheating? Are you saved from lust? Are you saved from rebellion against your parents? Come on! What are you saved from?” (Leonard Ravenhill, Audio Messages)
A group of Christians praying for random people to experience the supernatural presence of the living God on network television? That seems to be the goal of a group affiliated with Randy Clark’s Global Awakening Ministry. They explain their idea for the potential show entitled “The God Squad Show” below:
…through relationship with God being able to see future events in peoples lives… being able to paint and show future events or unlock mysteries and draw the viewer into a greater understanding of life…with the laying on of hands restoring life to the recently deceased…
Sounds like a great conference! It’s not. It’s descriptions from some of the 6 Primetime dramas on the 3 Major Networks! We can’t get enough of the supernatural… because innately we know, there has to be more…
It’s time for us to give the viewing public more. It’s time for a reality show that doesn’t highlight our greed, fickle hearts or ability to withstand pain and hardship, but a reality show that shows His ability to provide, restore and heal our pains and hardships.
God Squad is a half hour reality show that takes us to city streets all over America and allows us a front row seat to individuals experiencing encounters with the supernatural in a way that has never been seen on secular television. We follow our cast members as they encounter random individuals in daily life and bring them into a supernatural experience.
In our travels we will see sight restored, aches and pain relieved, people healed by art drawn for them, about them before we even met them… broken lives restored to peace and love… watch people feel the supernatural Presence on their bodies in a physical and undeniable way.
In each episode we will visit several cities and go from story to story of supernatural encounters taking place in peoples daily lives right in front of us… in real time.
Reality is often just a lie agreed upon, its time to bring the truth to reality and to confirm what we know in our hearts… that just like we imagine in our weekly fictional dramas on TV, the truth is… there is more.
Below is a clip of someone from the group praying for a woman with no cartilage in her knee. While we cannot verify the long term results of the prayer on the woman’s knee, she does say to the crew that though she is not a “religious person,” she found that as she was being prayed for, her knee felt progressively better, and she felt a strange feeling rush through her body (I found one of the comments on the youtube page for the video amusing: “r there more video’s like this?? and how the **** is it so possible…. i dont ****** get it “): [Link to Video]
People were made to experience the supernatural. Let’s hope that this and similar projects succeed in displaying the power of God to the world.
The Angel in Acts 11 told Cornelius to send for Peter “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved.”There is an incredible power in words.James says that “Life and death are in the power of the tongue…” and in no context is this more explicit then in the preaching of the Gospel. On Peter’s words hung the eternal destinies of Cornelius and his entire family.What a solemn and most severe responsibility we have to communicate the Gospel with clarity and irresistible persuasion.
In Matthew 13:19, Jesus is telling the parable of the sower.He says, “When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.This is the one on whom the seed was sown by the way side.”This is what I call, “Way-Side Evangelism”.Some preachers preach to hear themselves talk.Paul said that the time would come when people would want their ears tickled, but I think some preachers only care about tickling their own ears.These “Way-Side” preachers are infatuated with their own brilliance and charmed by their own eloquence.They love to impress people with their deep insight and advanced theological understanding.Meanwhile those listening to their message are as confused as a rabbit at an Easter egg hunt.What good is a message like that!?Preacher – save your cacophony of hermeneutical mendacity for the elephant-waxing tournament!We want to understand The Message!
Jesus said that when a person hears our message, but cannot understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart.The Gospel is salvation articulated.If the world could only understand it, I am sure that they would find it utterly irresistible.But if we don’t make it plain someone listening to our message might walk right past the narrow gate to eternal life and never know that they missed it!It happens everyday…what a crime. We must not give the Devil an opportunity to snatch the seed away by preaching a Gospel that is confusing or hard to understand.When we preach with clarity, with poignancy and with precision, we stomp on the Devil’s grubby, pilfering fingers, the sown Word takes root and produces fruit that will remain in the lives of those to whom we minister.
Arriving on the Battlefield
I would be remiss, if I failed to address the other, equally significant side of this coin.It is not only the message that is important, but also the medium.For much of the world’s history the major medium for communicating thoughts and ideas was verbal transmission; anecdotes and parables passed down from one generation to another.This began to change however around time of the Protestant Reformation.Neil Postman points out that, 1“Beginning In the sixteenth century, a great epistemological shift had taken place in which knowledge of every kind was transferred to, and made manifest through the printed page.‘More than any other device,’ Lewis Mumford wrote of this shift, ‘the printed book released people from the domination of the immediate and the local;…print made a greater impression than actual events…To exist was to exist in print…’ 2” The Church was on the cutting edge of this shift with the very first printed book being the Gutenberg Bible.The following generations would see the Bible translated into more than 1,000 different languages and become the best selling book of all time.
In our generation there is another shift occurring.Today, electronic forms of communication are the dominant voice in the world.In the U.S. nearly 100% of households have a television and on average each dwelling has more than 2.More than a trillion Internet URLs are in indexed with Google alone, which performs over 2 billion searches daily.Consider that if Facebook were a nation, it would be the 8th largest in the world with over 150 million members.Everyday over 100 million videos are viewed on You Tube and the list goes on.In America we have seen a striking example of the power of electronic media in our recent presidential election.It has been said that President Obama won the election, 3“because he understood new media.”
A couple of years ago the Lord spoke to me and said, “Every generation has a battlefield.If the Church fails to arrive on that battlefield, she will loose that generation.Your generation’s battlefield is the world of media.”President Obama showed up in that battlefield and won because his opponent didn’t even know what the battlefield was. Francis Schaeffer said, “Each generation of the church in each setting has the responsibility of communicating the gospel in understandable terms, considering the language and thought-forms of that setting.”Our responsibility of making the Gospel understandable goes beyond simply saying the right words…it demands that we show up in the right forum.As a street preacher I used to look for the most populated place in town to go preach…a park or a street corner, anywhere the people were.I would have been an idiot to set my soap-box up in an deserted parking lot.
Not only must we communicate in a way that the people can understand. We must also take the Gospel to where the people are!Can I tell you where they are?They are in front of the Television and the radio and the computer. But for too long we have downplayed and even demonized these electronic communication mediums.And even those who have taken advantage of them, for the most part, have done so poorly (don’t get me started on Christian television).How can we win the battle, if we are not on the battlefield?How can we reap a harvest if we are not on the harvest field? Reinhard Bonnke says, “If you want to catch fish, don’t throw your net into the bathtub.” The seed of the Gospel is too consequential to be cast by the way side.
In the days of oral tradition, many generations faithfully communicated, with solemn commitment, the scriptures that we still cherish today.In fact it is evident that Biblical oral tradition has been among the most enduring in history. In the sixteenth century, the new world of printed literature was dominated by Christians who seized this medium for God’s glory.Now it’s our turn and I fear that we are not doing as well as our predecessors.We must trouble ourselves to communicate the Gospel with clarity to our generation where they are that we “…may by all means win some.”
1 Postman, Neil.Amusing Ourselves to Death.New York: Penguin Group 1986
2 Mumford, Lewis.Technics and Civilization.New York: Harcourt, Brace and World 1934
3 Lewin, James. http://www.podcastingnews.com/2009/04/16/
Smithsonian Magazine’s Brian Switek had the following to say with regard to the Ida fossil being described as “the missing link” by many:
Is Darwinius important to understanding primate evolution? Of course! It is an exceptionally preserved specimen that could do much to aid our understanding of adapid evolution and paleobiology. The grand claims about it being our ancestor, though, can not be upheld as true. The researchers simply did not do the work to support their case, and even if their language was more reserved in the technical paper they have gone hand-in-hand with the History Channel to create an aura of sensationalism around the fossil. I hardly think this is a responsible way to conduct or communicate science, flooding the media with poorly supported claims, but as reported in the New York Times some of this paper’s authors care more about marketing than about good science;
“Any pop band is doing the same thing,” said Jorn H. Hurum, a scientist at the University of Oslo who acquired the fossil and assembled the team of scientists that studied it. “Any athlete is doing the same thing. We have to start thinking the same way in science.”
This is a shame. I would have hoped that this fossil would receive the care and attention it deserves, but for now it looks like a cash cow for the History Channel. Indeed, this association may not have only presented overblown claims to the public, but hindered good science, as well. As Karen James has suggested, the overall poor quality of the paper and the disproportionate hyping of the find make me wonder if this research was rushed into publication so that the media splash would occur on time. The paper tried to cover so much, so quickly, and contained so many shortfalls that I honestly have to wonder why it was allowed to be published in such a state. Perhaps we will never know, but I am sickened by the way in which a cable network has bastardized a legitimately fascinating scientific discovery, with the scientists themselves going along with it every step of the way. I can only hope that Darwinius will eventually receive the careful analysis it deserves.
We are clearly blessed to have such a well-preserved fossil to aid in our understanding of biology and human origins, but let’s be patient in our search for truth. When someone like Switek, who it should be noted makes evolution a focus in his writings for the Smithsonian, argues that “the grand claims about [Ida] being our ancestor […] can not be upheld as true,” and “the researchers simply did not do the work to support their case,” we should be careful not to extrapolate scientific truth from the fossil prematurely, particularly as it relates to any sort of “final verdict” on human origins.
A TV program about censoring Christians has been, of all things, censored. According to an email from the AFA:
Two TV stations, WOOD-TV in Grand Rapids, MI and WSYX-TV in Columbus, OH, have banned a television special showing how the media is silencing Christians. The stations bowed down to the demands of a handful of homosexual activists and banned the showing of our TV special “Speechless…Silencing the Christians.” The one-hour TV special was scheduled to be shown on the stations, but the stations yanked the program after agreeing to run it. AFA was paying for the time.
Oddly enough, the TV special shows how the media censors Christians, which is exactly what these two stations did!
They said the program was “controversial.” The stations do not consider showing two lesbians or two homosexuals kissing or getting into bed with each other controversial. The stations do not consider all the profanity they air controversial. They regularly show network programs advocating the homosexual agenda, but those programs are not considered controversial. However, a special showing of Christians being silenced is controversial!
The manager of the Columbus station told AFA the station would not air the program because telling the truth about homosexuality did not represent “positive Christianity.” Are we moving to a time in the near future when local pastors whose services are broadcast will be banned because their sermons call the practice of homosexuality a sin?