All posts by revzackcom

How to Start a Cult

Recently, a conference speaker said,

“If your experience is exalted above God’s Word, you are wrong.”

In my opinion, this was the most important statement that I heard at the ministers’ conference.

The conference speaker led pastors in an organized session of practicing spiritual gifts, speaking in tongues, interpretation of tongues, prophecy, visions, laying on of hands, and other experiences of inspired speech and prayer often associated with the Pentecostal baptism in the Holy Spirit. Imagine a meeting room filled with ministers praying in unknown languages and then taking turns speaking any message that God may have placed in their heart. There were all kinds of statements being made by the participating ministers. Some offered direct quotes of Scripture. Some intended to encourage and uplift the hearers. Others intended to admonish us. However, in all that diversity, I did not hear one minister make a statement contradictory to Scripture.

The Prophetic Experiences of Two Different Groups: A Comparison

 

I wish this were true of other meetings in which the participants were encouraged to speak prophetically. Awhile back, in a different setting, my wife and I were eavesdropping on a class for a few minutes. The leader asked the students to listen to the Lord and then speak out what God placed in their hearts. Almost every statement was foolish. One student spoke into the microphone that God wanted her to pray to a dead saint. The leader nodded in agreement and spoke affirmation into the mic. The leader was encouraging the students to seek an experience with God that was, in fact, a revelation of God apart from Scripture.

Was there a difference between the two different groups? What led to such different outcomes?

The first group, the ministers, were all life-long students of the Bible. They were committed to daily reading of the Word. They all had practiced memorization of Scripture with the intent that God’s Word was grafted in to their hearts. Each minister had received the baptism in the Holy Spirit as prescribed and described in Scripture.

The second group, the students, were novices without any working knowledge of God’s Word. They had not committed Scripture to memory. Their hearts were filled with silly ideas or even carnal thoughts. Some just wanted to say something to make the teacher happy. The participants had not experienced the baptism in the Holy Spirit. Some of them had never even professed salvation through Jesus Christ.

The second group was being encouraged to have an experience, a personal revelation from God. They were doing what the leader asked of them, speaking from what was in their hearts, and the contents reflected exactly what was in their hearts.

The group of ministers possessed hearts saturated daily and filled with God’s Word. They had a desire to tell forth God’s Word. (Prophecy is the forth-telling of God’s Word. We learned that back in Bible college.)

One group spoke from their Scripture-saturated hearts as the Holy Spirit led them. The other group spoke from their own unregenerate soul, human intellect and carnal imagination.

God wants to speak from hearts saturated by His Word.

I have a book written by one of those television evangelists, Charting Your Course By the Dream in Your Heart. “Inside this book is a gold mine of information that will help you develop your full potential and bring into reality your purpose in life.” Yikes. Much of the Bible is about how to stop following your own will, your own heart, because God wants us to learn how to follow His heart. (See Luke 22:42.)

In my opinion, a good way to start a cult is by teaching unfit people to act as leaders. If a person is a non-believer or a new believer (1 Timothy 5:22), don’t encourage or expect them to draw from a deep well and come up with a full bucket. Instead of encouraging them to speak out, let’s ask unfit people to listen quietly and respectfully. (Compare James 1:19 and James 1:21.)

God speaks from a heart that has been faithfully filled with His Word, from a heart that has faithfully listened to His Spirit, from a heart that is dead to sin and alive to God. (See Colossians 3:1-3.)

 

How Not to Build Your Team

Don’t be an insecure leader when building up your team.

A team is a collection of diverse individuals with shared objectives and shared resources. Each individual team member must have freedom to perform different tasks, use different methods, explore different ideas. If the team leader desires creativity, he must encourage diverse styles, diverse expression and communication, conflicting opinions, authentic individualism.

The team leader’s function is to provide this mixed group with the tools to work in harmony. The team leader must be able to know the difference between individualism and rebellion.

Squelching diversity is a bad thing. There is a vast difference between a team member who sees things differently than leadership and a team member who desires to destroy the team and depose the leader. Take the destructive team member aside quietly, give them two warnings, then move them out of the team on the third strike. On the other hand, reward the productive member that is brave enough to admit a different perspective and respectfully share it with you.

You will be stuck with your own boring ideas if you don’t bring in associates that see things differently than you do. Stop limiting yourself and your team. Stop creating an autocracy where all the minions mindlessly perform your bidding.

Your team will not grow if it consists of clones of each other. You must have diversity. Seat the I’ll-never-be-a-minion closer to you so you get all the benefit of their nonconformity.

Don’t fall into fear of conflict. Establish tools for conflict resolution, management of differences. Celebrate differences. Be grateful for those who challenge you.

Never ever have that team meeting where you pour out upon the whole team your negative assessment based upon your frustration with one individual.

Never ever give an ultimatum to your team to either squelch individuality or to leave the team.

Intimidation, no matter how polite the euphemisms in which it is published, will only result in a weaker less authentic team trying to prove to you how much suck-uppish mindless blind loyalty that they have. You will reduce them to mere employees instead of visionary partners.

Gather your diverse team. Cast the vision. Send them out on adventure to discover great things. Bring them back together to share their new revelations. Release your team to grow and be fruitful.

How to Miss the Point of Children’s Ministry

Measuring and Grading Towards a Nice Objective May Allow Us to Totally Miss the Greater Goals of Kids’ Ministry

1. Set High Attendance Goals.

In KidMin, we prefer bigger groups over little groups. It really is a nice goal.  There are some really cool ways to make your group bigger: more parties, more toys, more candy, more games, awesome videos, awesome staging, awesome costumes, awesome music, awesome dancing.  Give them what they want. And put an object lesson in it.

Some of the advantages of having big attendance numbers are:

  • Bragging rights to your peers
  • Good impression on your ministry supervisor
  • Potential for merit-based financial incentive
  • Invitations to speak at KidMin conferences
  • Ministry success book deal

Obviously, these are not Kingdom goals. And hopefully, you are not like that. You simply want to have more students because that means more kids get to hear the Gospel and experience the love of Jesus. And you know that higher attendance is not the ultimate objective.

2. Promote Team Spirit.

As you move toward ministry improvement, you cannot neglect your team. Volunteers are scarce and insecure. You need to grab them, brand them and keep them. Your team needs to know that they are the best team in the church. You want loyal workers who breathe, walk, and dream children’s church. How can this be done? By creating an environment of possessiveness, dominance, and self-admiration. While these attitudes do not belong in the Church, they are there. Examine yourself:

  • Have you ever heard yourself talking about “my workers… my ministry… my rooms… my equipment… my resources… my area” as if you owned it all?
  • Do you feel that your ministry is in competition with the “other” ministries?
  • When an “outsider” needs to use your space or equipment, which do you immediately display: the animosity of possessiveness or the bliss of openhandedness?
  • When one of your faithful workers moves on to another area of ministry, do you experience a sense of generous fulfillment or a sense of bitter resentment?

It is possible to build a team without building a personal kingdom. Encourage team members to contribute, collaborate, fellowship, and unify. Squelch any symptoms of competitiveness, isolation, self-interest, or egotism. Bring your gifts, talents and resources to serve the whole church. There is only one God, one Church, so seek that Kingdom.

3. Make kids behave.

I often say it was a good day because no one got hurt in Children’s Church. It feels good when the kids wait their turn, talk politely, behave respectfully.

However, I know in my heart that good behavior does not necessarily indicate a changed heart. I could be merely squeezing lost boys and girls into my Christian-shaped mold. And I know that it is much more important for kids’ hearts to be transformed by God than it is for kids’ hands to be folded in their lap while I am speaking.

Recently, I have been starting our “free time” with an encouragement for the students to demonstrate the Fruit of the Spirit to each other as they play together, not because I have the goal of an expected behavior but because they need to learn how to live together as Spirit-empowered people.

4. Get kids saved.

We want everyone to come to a knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. That’s a good goal. Remember that line from the Great Commission:

Go and make disciples…

We often ask students to do two things: lifting your hand and repeating a prayer. These aren’t bad things to do, but they don’t make you a disciple.

We can be so focused upon adding another kid’s name to a list that it becomes the final goal when it is really just the beginning of a new life in Christ. We need to stop treating the introduction to the Story as if it was the conclusion. There is more. Much more. Inspire your team to lead children to Christ, engage them in mentoring/discipleship, and apprentice them into service/ministry.

God’s Blessing for You

“God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.” Acts 3:26
 (God’s servant is the Christ. 5,000 Jews believed on Jesus after Peter’s message when God had healed a crippled man. The rulers in Jerusalem, the ones who killed Jesus, did not like this, so they detained Peter in hopes of stopping him from teaching in the name of Jesus. Peter answered clearly.)
 
“This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11,12
 There are two categories of people:
1. Those who reject Jesus the Christ.
2. Those who belong to Jesus.
 
Which person receives God’s blessing?
What kind of person are you?
 
Be blessed by turning away from sin and turning to God.

Jesus is Jehovah

I recently took a look at Romans 14:11.

For it is written:
“As I live, says the Lord,
Every knee shall bow to Me,
And every tongue shall confess to God.”

I saw an argument that since Paul was quoting the Old Testament, and since Isaiah used the word LORD|YHWH, therefore only Jehovah should be worshipped and not Jesus. So I decided to look into that claim.

Paul is citing a passage from Isaiah 45. It is valuable to know that many passages in the New Testament affirm what Isaiah said. Here is a comparison of some New Testament statements alongside Isaiah 45:18-23:

New Testament

Isaiah 45:18-23

Jesus Christ created us:
"and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge according to the image of Him who created him," Colossians 3:10

Jesus Christ created the worlds:
"...has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds" Hebrews 1:2

All things are through Jesus:
"For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen." Romans 11:36

The World was made through Jesus:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made... He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him." John 1:1-3,10

Jesus was named GOD the Savior:
"And she will bring forth a Son, and you shall call His name JESUS, for He will save His people from their sins.” Matthew 1:21

In the same passage, Jesus was also "God with us":
"So all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: 'Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,' which is translated, 'God with us.'” Matthew 1:22,23

Mary affirmed Jesus as God and Savior:
"And Mary said:
'My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.'" Luke 1:46,47

Jesus is exclusively the Savior
"Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." Acts 4:12

A good minister of Jesus Christ preaches that He is God and Savior:
"For to this end we both labor and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of those who believe." 1 Timothy 4:10

Paul, who was commissioned by the resurrected person of Jesus Christ, describes Jesus as God and Savior:
"but has in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior;" Titus 1:3
"...showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things." Titus 2:10
"...looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13
"But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared..." Titus 3:4

Peter affirmed Jesus is God and Savior:
"Simon Peter, a bondservant and apostle of Jesus Christ,
To those who have obtained like precious faith with us by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ" 2 Peter 1:1
For thus says the LORD,
Who created the heavens,
Who is God,
Who formed the earth and made it,
Who has established it,
Who did not create it in vain,
Who formed it to be inhabited:
“I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I have not spoken in secret,
In a dark place of the earth;
I did not say to the seed of Jacob,
‘Seek Me in vain’;
I, the LORD, speak righteousness,
I declare things that are right.

“Assemble yourselves and come;
Draw near together,
You who have escaped from the nations.
They have no knowledge,
Who carry the wood of their carved image,
And pray to a god that cannot save.
Tell and bring forth your case;
Yes, let them take counsel together.
Who has declared this from ancient time?
Who has told it from that time?
Have not I, the LORD?
And there is no other God besides Me,
A just God and a Savior;
There is none besides Me.

“Look to Me, and be saved,
All you ends of the earth!
For I am God, and there is no other.
I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.

In conclusion…

Paul gives an authoritative statement about the LORD (YHWH or Jehovah) of Isaiah 45:23. Paul wrote to the church at Philippi:

“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:9-11

That settles it for me. Jesus is Jehovah.


Don't get pedantic on pronunciation and mispronunciations of Yehoshuah/Yeshua/Jesus/Iesus or YHWH/GOD/LORD/Jehovah. I have made it clear about whom I have written.

Divisions Are Not Always Bad

by A. W. Tozer
God Tells the Man Who Cares, c 1970, Christian Publications Inc, pp 45-48

When to unite and when to divide, that is the question, and a right answer requires the wisdom of a Solomon.

Some settle the problem by rule of thumb: All union is good and all division bad. It’s that easy. But obviously this effortless way of dealing with the matter ignores the lessons of history and overlooks some of the deep spiritual laws by which men live.

If good men were all for union and bad men for division, or vice versa, that would simplify things for us. Or if it could be shown that God always unites and the devil always divides it would be easy to find our way around in this confused and confusing world. But that is not how things are.

To divide what should be divided and unite what should be united is the part of wisdom. Unions of dissimilar elements is never good even where it is possible, nor is the arbitrary division of elements that are alike; and this is as certainly true of things moral and religious as of things political or scientific.

The first divider was God who at the creation divided the light from the darkness. This division set the direction for all God’s dealings in nature and in grace. Light and darkness are incompatible; to try to have both in the same place at once is to try the impossible and end by havng neither the one nor the other, but dimness rather, and obscurity.

In the world of men there are at present scarcely any sharp outlines. The race is fallen. Sin has brought confusion. The wheat grows with the tares, the sheep and the goats coexist, the farms of the just and the unjust lie side by side in the landscape, the mission is next door to the saloon.

But things will not always be so. The hour is coming when the sheep with be divided from the goats and the tares separated from the wheat. God will again divide the light from the darkness and all things will run to their kind. Tares will go into the fire with tares and wheat into the garner with wheat. The dimness will lift like a fog and all outlines will appear. Hell will be seen to be hell all the way through, and heaven revealed as the one home of all who bear the nature of the one God.

For that time we with patience wait. In the meanwhile for each of us, and for the church wherever she appears in human society, the constantly recurring question must be: What shall we unite with and from what shall we separate? The question of coexistence does not enter here, but the question of union and fellowship does. The wheat grows in the same field with the tares, but shall the two cross-polinate? The sheep graze near the goats, but shall they seek to interbreed? The unjust and the just enjoy the same rain and sunshine, but shall they forget their deep moral differences and intermarry?

To these questions the popular answer is yes. Union for union’s sake, and men shall be brothers be for a’ that. Unity is so devoutly to be desired that no price is too high to pay for it and nothing is important enough to keep us apart. Truth is slain to provide a feast to celebrate the marriage of heaven and hell, and all to support a concept of unity which has no basis in the Word of God.

The Spirit-illuminated church will have none of this. In a fallen world like ours unity is no treasure to be purchased at the price of compromise. Loyalty to God, faithfulness and truth and the preservation of a good conscience are jewels more precious than gold of Ophir or diamonds from the mine. For these jewels men have suffered the loss of property, imprisonment and even death; for them, even in recent times, behind the various curtains, followers of Christ have paid the last full measure of devotion and quietly died, unknown to and unsung by the great world, but known to God and dear to His Father heart. In the day that shall declare the secrets of all souls these shall come forth to receive the deeds done in the body. Surely such as these are wiser philosophers than the religious camp followers of meaningless unity who have not the courage to stand against the vogues and who bleat for brotherhood only because it happens to be for the time popular.

“Divide and conquer” is the cynical slogan of Machiavellian political leaders, but Satan knows how to unite and conquer. To bring a nation to its knees the aspiring dictator must unite it. By repeated appeals to national pride or to the need to avenge some past or present wrong the demagogue succeeds in uniting the populace behind him. It is easy after that to take control of the military and to beat the legislature into submission. Then follows almost perfect unity indeed, but it is the unity of the stockyards and the concentration camp. We have seen this happen several times in this century, and the world will see it at least once more when the nations of the earth are united under Antichrist.

When confused sheep start over a cliff the individual sheep can save himself only be separating from the flock. Perfect unity at such a time can only mean total destruction for all. The wise sheep to save his own hide disaffiliates.

Power lies in the union of things similar and the division of things dissimilar. Maybe what we need in religious circles today is not more union but some wise and courageous division. Everyone desires peace but it could be that revival will follow the sword.

Aiden Wilson Tozer (April 21, 1897 – May 12, 1963) was an American Christian pastor, preacher, author, magazine editor, and spiritual mentor. During his lifetime, he was described as "a 20th century prophet." Tozer exhorted the Church to act as those who belonged to the kingdom of God. His legacy is the library of over 40 books written from his heart to the Church.

“Swearing is a sign of rhetorical strength.”

Someone recently published, “Swearing is a sign of rhetorical strength.”
The opposite is true.
 
Swearing is oratorical incontinence, a symptom of profound immaturity, and an indication of shallow, selfish thoughtlessness.
 
The simple and obvious truth is that cursing is a sign of weakness in many forms. It requires no creativity or intelligence to blurt out an obscenity. Swearing is intended to offend, insult, hurt, defame, disparage, blaspheme, bully, manipulate, dishonor and disrespect others.*
soapmouth
I have heard the excuse, “I just had to let it out,” which is actually just a confession of self-serving intemperance. I have heard the excuse, “I was only repeating what I heard,” which is a admission of unintelligible repetition of vulgarity through the deliberate neglect of critical thinking.
Swearing does not make any person cute, but it can make an attractive person ugly. It does not make a person clever, but can make a bright person sound trashy. Cursing does not improve a conversation, but it vandalizes the listener. Vulgarity is a sign of a limited vocabulary and pathetic communication skills. Whenever a professional inserts expletives into their speech, they sound mediocre or less intelligent.
Words can be powerful. Be deliberate in how you handle them. Sharpen your tools. Refine your presentation.
Rhetorical strength is displayed by graciously-seasoned speech. Swearing is an abandonment of grace. 
Ephesians 4:26,2,29

Be angry but do not sin. Do not let the sun go down on your anger. Do not give place to the devil.
…Let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth, but only that which is good for building up, that it may give grace to the listeners.

Ephesians 4:29

Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. [The Message]

Colossians 3:8

But now you yourselves are to put off all these: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language out of your mouth.

Colossians 4:6

Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you should answer everyone.

Proverbs 18:21

Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

James 3

My brothers, not many of you should become teachers, knowing that we shall receive the greater judgment. We all err in many ways. But if any man does not err in word, he is a perfect man and able also to control the whole body.
See how we put bits in the mouths of horses that they may obey us, and we control their whole bodies. And observe ships. Though they are so great and are driven by fierce winds, yet they are directed with a very small rudder wherever the captain pleases. Even so, the tongue is a little part of the body and boasts great things. See how great a forest a little fire kindles. The tongue is a fire, a world of evil. The tongue is among the parts of the body, defiling the whole body, and setting the course of nature on fire, and it is set on fire by hell.
All kinds of beasts, and birds, and serpents, and things in the sea are tamed or have been tamed by mankind. But no man can tame the tongue. It is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
With it we bless the Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who are made in the image of God. Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brothers, these things ought not to be so. Does a spring yield at the same opening sweet and bitter water? Can the fig tree, my brothers, bear olives, or a vine, figs? So no spring can yield both salt water and fresh water.
Who is wise and understanding among you? Let him show his works by his good life in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, do not boast and do not lie against the truth. This wisdom descends not from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, and devilish. For where there is envying and strife, there is confusion and every evil work.
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

Exodus 20:7
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold guiltless anyone who takes His name in vain.

*While swearing and obscenities are fine tools for bullies, this is not intended as an endorsement of censorship by governments or ecclesiastical councils. It is an appeal to each one of us to exercise personal strength in communication, making censorship unnecessary. I don’t want to take away your right to inappropriate or indecent speech. I simply hope to correct the false tenet that obscenity improves life. It simply does not. I laugh when someone implies that anyone is shocked by obscenities. The practice is just so commonplace. In fact, my proposal would bring back the shock value of expletives.

How to Euthanize Your Fervor

g95539

The nineteenth verse of First Thessalonians chapter five advises us:

Do not quench the Spirit.

I quickly thought of six ways that we can put out the flame:

  1. Lack of communication
  2. Starvation
  3. Isolation
  4. Distraction
  5. Misinformation
  6. Lack of participation

matches

Lack of Communication

When we neglect to talk with God, it is like withholding oxygen necessary for combustion. Prayer is not a dull religious duty, it is a privilege provided for those who want to talk to God. Don’t waste the privilege. Eventually, a prayer-less follower of Christ stops following Christ.

Starvation

The Word of God is like spiritual nourishment. When we eat candy bars and potato chips, we can kill our appetite for healthy food. In a similar fashion, we will do harm to our spiritual health when we neglect the Bible. Sermons are good, but not a good substitute for personal reading. Bible-reading is not a dull religious duty. God gave us His Word for our benefit. It will keep us from spiritual starvation.

Isolation

Fellowship with like-minded believers will provide opportunities for learning, sharing, praying, worshiping and much more. When we do not consistently meet together with other believers, as in a local church body, we are separating the wood in the fireplace. Eventually, the isolated sticks will flicker out and grow cold.

Distraction

Devotion can be directed to anything or anyone. When we devote our resources of time and finances to games and entertainment over opportunities to know God and His Word, we will grow cold. However, when we make a commitment to God, devote our resources to His purpose in our live, and diligently follow through, our hearts will be able to maintain their spiritual heat.

Misinformation

We need good teaching. A bible phrase for good teaching is “sound doctrine.” Do you honestly think that Christians should get their doctrine from FaceBook memes? Study to show yourself approved to God as a workman that does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth. When you don’t know what you believe, your flame can be huffed out so easily.

Lack of participation

It is easier to be a spectator rather than a participant, but it is not as exciting. We are members of the body of Christ, not observers. We must be doers of the Word, not hearers only. We need to walk worthy of our calling, not sit and watch the world go by. Action-less faith is not living faith. Get involved. Be active. Participate.

 

How to Preach Foolishness

Preaching is rightly dividing the Word of God with a view to persuasion – a balance of all things that make a preacher one who is persuasive.

In 1941, J. Harwood Patterson defined preaching:

Preaching is the spoken communication of divine truth with a view to persuasion.

Patterson explained his definition had three aspects:

  • THE MATTER: divine truth | what to preach
  • THE MANNER: spoken | how to preach
  • THE PURPOSE: persuasion |why we preach

Patterson modeled after Guthrie’s Three P’s:

  • Proving
  • Painting
  • Persuading

Preaching must be more than a lecture or a talk. A sermon must tell us how to live and convince us to act appropriately. Daniel Webster said,

I do not go to church to learn history, but to be reminded of duty.

Preaching must be greater than philosophical pondering out loud. The preacher is a messenger who delivers the Word of God to his flock, not intellectual doubt, not speculation, not negativity, but a confident statement of God’s expectations.

Longfellow said,

To me, a sermon is no sermon in which I cannot hear the heart beat.

Luther said,

It is no light thing to speak before men in the place of God.

 

…just because the ocean is so vast and his vessel so small, no sailor should attempt to compass his tack in one voyage.

 

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With God

The preacher, as a man of God, must thoughtfully embrace the meaning of salvation, must know what is involved, what a personal relationship with Christ is.

The preacher must be in a place with God where he has sensed the Holy Spirit bearing witness with his spirit so he knows he has His touch on his own life. The preacher must experience what he is saying.

The preacher must have had that message touch his own life –  the message has been practical to him. The minister must have a high degree of honesty in applying the Truth that God gives to his own life and family.

The Preacher’s Vital Relationship With the Human Race

The preacher, as a man of his times, to be effective, must always be a learner. Read, watch, see. Know the news. Don’t bottle yourself up in as study. Know your community and your congregation.

The preacher must know the times, the issues, and the people in order to learn fresh themes, discern proper doctrinal emphasis, apply proper illustrations and pertinent applications.

The preacher should be the most knowledgeable person in the community. Read a reputable news source. Invest 30 minutes each evening listening to the local news. Spend 2-3 days a week rubbing shoulders with people in the marketplace.

 

How to Be an Imaginary Christian

PART ONE

A Christian is a person who has chosen to believe in the Jesus Christ. If you think you are a Christian, but you don’t have faith in the Savior, Jesus Christ, then you are an imaginary Christian.

A Christian believes in the authentic Jesus, the Jesus of the Gospels. If you claim to be a Christian, but you believe in an amended version of the person of Jesus, such as the “good-teacher-but-not-divine Jesus”, then you are an imaginary Christian.

A Christian follows the teachings of Jesus Christ. If you don’t know what Jesus taught, if you haven’t read and studied His words, then you are an imaginary Christian.

If you call yourself a Christian, but behave disobediently to His teachings (love your enemies, be faithful to your wife, speak the truth, stop stealing, etc.), then you merely imagine that you are a Christian.

PART TWO

A Christian does not hate sinners. A Christian is a sinner.

Christians do not hate those who commit sexual sins or any other sins.

Christians do not want God to kill other people. Christians do not want to kill sinners.

A Christian is a sinner who has acknowledged their sinful behavior and nature… and turned to God to receive mercy and grace.

When the enemies of Christ argue that Christians are all “homophobic, misogynistic, racists,” then the enemies of Christ have created an imaginary Christian.

They do this, not because it is true, but because it serves their agenda better. They do this because fighting a straw man is so much easier than actually investigating the truth about Christ and His followers.