12 March 2009

Firm Foundation, or No Foundation

I Corinthians 3:11

For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ.

We are currently going through I Corinthians on Sundays at CCBL so this verse is somewhat fresh to us. However, in light of some things that have been cropping up over the last few days, the Lord has blessed me with this verse as comfort.

Lately I have been discussing the state of the Church. Not just our church specifically, although that always comes up in the mix amongst fellow servants in the ministry, but the state of the church in America as a whole. A recent study shows that fewer and fewer Americans view themselves as religious, and of those who are, fewer and fewer are calling themselves Christian. When the Mel Gibson movie, The Passion of Christ was released, 86% of Americans claimed to be Christian. Today, that number is reduced to 75%. Part of that is due to some dropping from the faith, another part due to growing population in general, and in large part because this nation is seeing a massive influx of Muslin immigrants and converts.

As a pastor, of course, I want to see the church grow both our individual body and the church at large. But at the same time, I know it is more important that the people in your body, those you have been called to shepherd are growing. The personal growth of those that the Lord has sent you to feed and protect is far more important than the number of people in the seats any given Sunday or Wednesday. That is what keeps me going. But even growth itself is relative, and here is where today’s verse comes into play.

People can grow in knowledge and understanding, but if that knowledge and understanding has no foundation in truth, and if that knowledge and understanding is set in the foundation of man and his traditions, rather than in scripture as God gave it to us, and/or based on the example that we have in Christ’s life and His gospel, we have nothing.

Today’s Christian church is suffering from malnutrition. Their minds are full of all sorts of great ideas on how one must be rich in order to show the blessings of God, or that there are more than one way to get to heaven, of that the gospel is outdated for our society, or that self esteem must be mentored in order to grow spiritually, and all sorts of other garbage that has no root in scripture. They are being fed, but what they are being fed are the very things that Jesus Himself warned us about: the traditions of men. Jesus Himself blasted the Pharisees for being such people calling them ‘vipers’ and ‘wicked’. But if a true Bible believing and teaching pastor stands up and says something akin to ‘that church doctrine is a false doctrine’, or ‘that teacher is a false teacher’ he is immediately and without restraint lambasted as a hater, bigot and fool for dividing the church. Jesus did it. Are those people willing to sat the same about Him?

Another smaller Calvary Chapel that I know of had a church in their area advertise on big billboard signs all over town to get people to attend their church. On the surface this seems like a fine idea. Except that the advertisement said that you should attend church “X” because (and I quote) “Church Shouldn’t Suck”. I understand cultural relativity, but folks, we are to be representing Jesus here, not our selfish desires supported by shock value advertising. Call me old fashioned, but that’s not building a church on the foundation of Jesus in my opinion.

People want their ears tickled. They do not want to hear the truth, because they do not want to be convicted of their lifestyle of sin. Churches that teach truth are suffering because preaching God’s word does not involved coddling a lifestyle inconsistent with Christianity. Preachers, teachers and pastors that teach word by word through scripture, a practice that used to be far more common than it is today, are growing in insignificance because an Oscar winning media show, rock-band worship team, and pocket-beeper-having free baby-sitting system are not ear “tickling” enough for those who call themselves Christians, but yet want to remain on the fringe of ‘faith’ seeing how close they can get to sin without getting fully enveloped, rather than seeing how far they can get from it.

A man can consternate over this until his head explodes, but the bottom line is this: if it is not founded on Jesus, it WILL fail. I have no problem with that whatsoever. Let those who pretend fail, let those who teach falsely fail, let those who put themselves, their ‘style’ or anything before Jesus fail. But the problem with that is this: there are those under those teachers, and those churches that really do love the Lord, really are seeking to know Jesus, and are getting lost and hurt in the process. In my short time as a Sr. Pastor I have seen and dealt with more wounded Christians than solid ones. Let us all simply pray for the church and the hastening of our Savior’s return.

09 March 2009

Christmas in March?

Isaiah 9:6-7
6 For unto us a Child is born,
Unto us a Son is given;
And the government will be upon His shoulder.
And His name will be called
Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

7 Of the increase of His government and peace
There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom,
To order it and establish it with judgment and justice
From that time forward, even forever.

Oh, trust me, I know it is not Christmas. Although it is snowing right now as I write this.

Today, on my drive to work I was alerted to the news that President Obama has signed an executive order today repealing the Bush administrations policy to prevent federal funds to be used in embryonic stem cell research. Not only will he fund it with your tax dollars, he says he will “vigorously support” this murder in the name of science, mocking Christian moral values, intimating it as ‘anti-science’, as if saving the life of an unborn child is now irresponsible. While I will continue to do my duty as a disciple of Jesus to pray for our President and other governmental leaders as we have been (Romans 13). In essence, he signed the death warrant for millions more as yet to be unborn children.

I was reminded of so many verses as I was in angst and prayer over this new news. I think the writing is on the wall, regardless of whether you support or revile the actions of our current President, that he is on the path to be the most liberal President this fine nation has ever seen. If there is one thing that we can say that is a positive factor in the character of this man (and yes, I do find it difficult to find more), it is that he is a man of his word.

President Obama’s campaign promises are coming true at an alarming rate. He is not only on record for having promised, but now has acted in support of gay marriage, equal civil liberty rights based on sexual orientation, abortion, stem-cell research and more, all in opposition to God’s Word and will in our lives as His creation.

President Obama’s words will tell you that he is a Christian. But his religious associations and his actions tell you otherwise. We are exhorted not to judge people with regards to their salvation, and in this manner I will not. But we are told to judge people on their actions that scripture calls “fruit”. Inspecting the fruit of our President shows us little but more actions akin to what he has done today: A firm stand against a biblical worldview and Judeo-Christian ethical and moral standards. There is much fruit in the bowl, but so far it all seems to be rotten.

Knowing that it is not Christmas in spite of the falling snow, I look upon the verses above and read them with a refreshed desire to see them come true today! Let us pray to hasten His return to set up that Kingdom to which their will be no end, all the while working to win all we can to that same Kingdom.

PS: Someone please tell Al Gore that Global Warming has not arrived in the Great Northwest yet.