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Posts Tagged ‘word of faith’

In my last post I shared a dream I had which included a symbol of black water.  I believe this video shows one of the manifestations of this.

Appearances alone are not enough to prove this is false, although this is a large part of the equation..  Most pagan religions have trance-like states where people lose control of their own bodies.  There is no Biblical way to test this, because it simply isn’t there.  Paul says… the LOVE OF CHRIST controls us.  This is not that.

The real proof to me (and the explanation of why these manifestations have come) is in the false gospels of “self” they are preaching, and the corresponding fruit – which is rampant immorality and greed, which is not hidden, but out in the open for all to see.  Yet men are not held accountable for their sin.  Jesus said, “By their fruits you will know them.”  I am not saying there are not sincere born-again Christians taken in by this for now, but those leading it are not inspired by the one true God.

I was saved in a charismatic/word-of-faith church about the time these things were beginning to spread.  I am thankful I heard enough truth that day to trust Christ; that through the proclamation of Jesus as Lord, He  revealed Himself to me.  But the church did not see the gospel of Christ as their primary message and the priority became experiencing supernatural manifestations and material blessing, which even as a new Christian, felt extremely wrong to me.

It’s hard for me to post this because some people I love think this is really from God.  While I do believe in miracles, and gifts of the Spirit to edify the Body and share the Good News, I share the desire with others to sound a warning here for discernment.  I have been involved also in the New Age, and its spirits and power are real.  Just because something is supernatural and makes you feel good does not mean it is from God.  Just because a lot of Christians believe something, does not mean it’s from God.

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I am increasingly concerned that adapting Jesus culture to business culture transforms faith into following a fad.  I am fully aware this didn’t just start yesterday, nor does it describe the whole of Christianity in America, but it’s becoming endemic.  Here are some of my personal observations, which may or may not be worth a plug nickel.

1 – Business culture seeks most of all to succeed on terms which are incompatible with  how God defines success.

Worldly success values that which has a wide appeal, fulfills a demand, generates a profit, and can be multiplied or duplicated through packaged franchise methods.  Do I need to explain how this is counterproductive to the foundational principles of faith Jesus taught?

2 – Innovation drives business and technology but destroys doctrinal foundations.

We are a culture driven to find something new and our gadgets are obsolete before we even get them home from the store.  Marketing companies are always looking for ways to reinvent the same product to appeal to the bored consumer.  The nature of the human separated from God is seeking to fill up a void with something.  Nothing but God can satisfy that longing, so the search for a new thing goes on endlessly.  This same obsession is described in Acts.

Now all the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there would spend their time in nothing except telling or hearing something new.  Act 17:21

The “old time religion” isn’t good enough for us either.  It has become archaic, boring, and too simple-minded.  We have to reinvent the gospel, deny the authority of scripture, turn Christianity into a motivational self-esteem campaign, and seek to make it compatible with other World Religions.  Many things can and should change – but never the Gospel.

3- Hero/leader worship of pop culture (a tool of business culture) lends itself to creating widely accepted icons…

…with mega churches and best-selling books.  A sign that says billions and billions served must prove the product is great!  Or does it?  The documentary “Super Size Me”  seems to indicate that the food billions have consumed is actually lethal, yet it’s the single most successful restaurant in the history of the world.  In Christianity, if these icons stray from the truth – few will dare question them because of their popularity.  Truth can never be determined by popular vote.  There are some really great pastors with huge churches, don’t get me wrong.  But often success in numbers will over-rule the need to discern.

4 – Marketing success of one product generates a merchandising frenzy of many others.

Even if the initial offering had some value, the ensuing effort to capitalize on the success wave is often banal and funnels valuable financial resources away from areas where they could have eternal impact.  You can tell this is a problem when authors drivel on about nothing to get a book-length manuscript when they could sum up their point in ten pages.  Sequel books are often as disappointing as sequels to movies.  But then so much would be missed in the way of journaling editions, study guides, simulcast events, t-shirts, bobble heads, and children’s products with the same name, etc.. etc… etc….

5 – Relying on business marketing methods (mass mailings with pithy slogans inviting people to gimmicks, limited-time promotions in shopping-mall like churches)  demotes the gospel and our Savior from Life itself to a competing product in a world of possibly equally valid ideas.

Some people justify all this based on the success alone.  They say the goal is to maximize the profit.. (er…impact, sorry) and it’s only right to seek the most effective ways to draw people through the doors of a church.  This last Easter the efforts of churches to outdo one another in my small town for the largest Easter attendance reminded me of the retailer frenzy the day after Thanksgiving.  From a 15,000 eggs at one Easter egg hunt to a free Barbecue dinner, it seemed strange to me that Jesus overcoming sin and death for us – having been raised from the dead – isn’t a big enough draw?!  Makes me wonder how much we believe it or think about it.  Instead, we have to bait people in with something more appealing.

6 – People attracted to Christianity via these methods will demand a steady supply of such to remain interested and pumped up.

This will probably not be easy for people to swallow – but I was sickened when I investigated the Women of Faith website recently.  I’ve never seen such shameless marketing, even to the point of offering a Women of Faith VISA card!  I lost interest about a nanosecond later.   Evidently this traveling mega convention isn’t enough to really satisfy because yesterday I got a flier in  the mail for a “Women of Joy” conference!  I think I’ll hold out for “Women of Peace” when it comes along.  That’s probably what I need the most.  (obviously! ha.)

Each woman spends hundreds of dollars to attend these conventions.  I’m sure they have fun.  I’m sure women are touched.  But I wonder why the demand and success of such events when we have churches on every corner?  Don’t we have enough ministry in this country to keep women encouraged?  I guess I just don’t get it, so I apologize to those who do.  I am greatly edified by the 3 women I meet with for Bible study once a week, my Godly husband, my church fellowship, the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit.  I would rather send my money to the native missionaries in India who are walking barefoot from village to village to tell people about Jesus who have never heard of Him.  K.P. Yohannan of Gospel for Asia is very vocal about how American Christianity spends 99% of its ministry income on itself rather than to reach the lost and hurting.

7 – Vendors of Commercial Christianity will be tempted to not speak the whole truth if it means they will lose fans or revenue.

Jesus said you can’t serve God and money at the same time.  The problem there is pretty obvious.  My son is disgusted with “Christian” bands who do not use their influence and platform to share the gospel.  What are their priorities? (i.e. gods?)

So how is it working?

Are the lost being saved and lives changed?  People picking up their own cross and following in the footsteps of their Savior?  Are we really expanding the Kingdom of God with all this?

In spite of generating churches with memberships equal to some city populations, rumor has it Christianity in America is not growing, but shuffling.  Church growth has been found to come from church transfers, not from evangelism of the lost.

Christian divorce rate is equal to the general population according to this study.   I have been tempted to blog on this topic all by itself.  How can we follow what Jesus said to love one another as He loved us, if we can’t even sacrificially love our spouses?  This one is HUGE to me.  I have seen so many Christian marriages dissolve just from pure worship of self.  There was no biblical right to divorce.  Before coming to Christ, I too chose divorce and the consequences of a broken family on your children have to be lived with.  My husband and I both come from divorced families.  Many of our grandparents were married multiple times.  The Word says God hates divorce, and so do I.  It has caused me so much pain, and no one is untouched by it anymore.  If the Body of Christ looks the same as the world in this area, we have a deadly problem.

Only 1 in 5 of those who say they are  Evangelical actually hold to the foundational beliefs which define Evangelical Christianity.  Truth isn’t sought after because now even Christians have adopted relativism.

The seeker friendly movement at Willow Creek which generated a revolutionary church-growth strategy admitted openly a few years ago, that according to their research, all their programs were not affecting lasting transformation in people’s lives.  They drew people but failed to make disciples.  Their solution?  Do some more research and start over with a clean piece of paper.  Hmmm..

Incredibly, the guru of church growth now tells us that people need to be reading their bibles and taking responsibility for their spiritual growth… Bob Burney … See Full Article

Mass marketing seems to generate a great income, but it looks like a steady diet of  this type of religion is leaving the church in the state of spiritual emergency, not emerging health.  It’s not that I am against great programs and ministry conventions – just people trusting in them to do the work only the Holy  Spirit can do.  The biggest problem with Laodicea is she thinks she can manage just fine on her own.

With God even a rich man can get through the eye of  a needle and a Laodicean church can repent and buy gold tried in the fire.  We won’t be changed however until we see ourselves as we are, or all our man-made devices are taken away from us in God’s mercy.  When Christ applies the eye salve (Rev. 3), we will be compelled to pray, repent, seek God and His ways instead of the world and its way, because we will finally realize there is no alternative.  Well, there is one other option actually – something about being “spewed out.”  I trust this is not God’s will for Laodicea.  He knows what it will take.   It’s not something an outward reformation in form or method can fix.  The root problem is a body severed from its Head, and a heart drawn after idols.

If you see clearly – please pray with me that others will too, and pray with each other.  We so desperately need to pray.

(Picked up a book recently by Michael Horton called “Christless Christianity – The Alternative Gospel of the American church.” I am only in Chapter 1 so far, but standing and cheering …  other people far more qualified to speak out are seeing it too!!)

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Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?

For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son of Man will be ashamed when He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy angels.

Luke 9:23-26

I spend most of my time addressing issues related to the Hebrew Roots Movement and the SDA organization, but this one has been heavy on my mind this week.  The success of the prosperity-thinking/positive-speaking gospel has taken in many more people than the law-based cults could ever dream of, although strangely enough, it has very close ties to Old Covenant thinking.  Doing something (insert any “work” or incantation exercise here)  to be blessed in health and wealth were indeed the promises of the Sinai Covenant, and the only promises I might add.  No provision for eternal life came with it, and you don’t hear much about that within prosperity circles either.

I have heard one distraught evangelist who has recently been to Nigeria.  He reports that we have exported this message via “Christian” television to the point that he couldn’t find any church there which had not been affected by this falsehood.  He said they look at the prosperity of the American preachers on television and can’t see any way that what they are teaching couldn’t be true.  This man said he spent all his time there simply reading what Jesus had to say about seeking money.  The details he related were horrifying and heart-breaking.

When Jesus’ disciples came to ask Him what the signs would be for the end of the age, the first thing Jesus warned them about was spiritual deception.  He said, “See that no one leads you astray. For many will come in my name, saying, ‘I am the Christ’, and they will lead many astray.  Matt 24:5.  I used to think this meant there would be multiple cases of antichrists running around claiming to be Jesus.  I now believe it means that many will come claiming that Jesus is the Messiah, yet deceive many.  This is so true in our time.  If you started making a list, you would run out of ink before you ran out of names.

What is the true path?

Jesus invites us to share His cross and walk a narrow road, not just camp out there.  He promised the world would hate us as it hated Him.  The abundance He offers is freedom from condemnation and victory over the chains of sin.  In Him we no longer fear death, because we have already died.  His gives peace, which is not as the world gives, and joy.  He promises to be with us and in us always through every situation.  He promises to discipline those He loves, to prune away things in our lives that derive their strength from ourselves and not Him, both “good” and bad.  He promises all this now, and your best life to come, if you do indeed belong to Him.  Romans 8:9 says, “If anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.”

The Glittering Alternate Route

Throughout scripture, we see the adversary often chooses to entice people with their best life now, as defined by that which pleases the senses and satisfies our pride.  If someone is promising you can have your best life now, by earning God’s favor in your own goodness or positive attitude, who are they following?  If someone offers the true blessings of God’s children, to all people, without respect to their relationship with Jesus Christ, who are they following?

I have seen a stadium full of people, nodding in agreement to this “gospel” without the real Jesus being presented, or any part of the Word of God  in the message.  At the very end, everyone was invited to come have Jesus, to add Him to their already great life, because the speaker had assured them they were all very good people already.  If someone had come into that stadium knowing nothing of Jesus Christ, and they had accepted the invitation, they would still at that point have had no idea who He was, what He said, why He came, or what He asks of us.   Jesus was just the icing on the cupcake… and was going to give them everything they wanted.

This makes my heart sick, not only for the people who are not seeing Jesus as THE way THE truth and THE only life, but also for the name of Christ who suffered so much agony for us – so much so that we could never begin to understand the magnitude of the sacrifice He made.  In return we don’t want to sacrifice anything at all, but instead to be blessed in the things of this world.

A pastor in communist Romania took his youth group to the zoo.  He showed them the lions and asked them if they were willing to follow Jesus.  He told them what their own futures could hold, and asked them to count the cost.  We don’t hear sermons too often on Romans 12:1,2 where Paul asks us to give what is reasonable… ourselves, as a living sacrifice.

This brand of deception never appealed to me after I came to Christ.  But as we were priding ourselves in rejecting this one, we were falling for a different one.  The enemy has a flavor designed just for you, don’t worry.   Jesus warned us all in the Matthew passage, “don’t let anyone lead you astray.” My plea is for all who are seeking God to avail themselves of the Word of God and not man.  If you follow a man, you may indeed get what he promises, not just your best life now, but possibly your only life.  Deception is a test to see if we love the truth enough to find it.  (2 Thess. 2) Jesus IS the Truth.  Find Him.

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