Posts Tagged ‘Life style’


The author     : Father Zakaria Boutros

The publisher: www.fatherzakaria.com

We have published before several books in this series, of them; God is one in holy trinity, the incarnation of Al-mighty God in the immaculate body of the Christ, the issue of crucifixion of the Christ, the issue of the veracity of the holy bible and its non falsification, in this book we will discuss with the grace of God the issue of: Is Barnabas’ Bible the true bible?  

Actually some Muslims are sticking to a book named Barnabas’ Bible, and saying that it is the true bible that was not forged, claiming that the holy bible, we the Christians are using now is a forged bible

This book in your hand we had published to rebut such accusations, strengthened by the definite proofs for its nullification

Asking God to use it for the benefit of many and to enlighten the mind of those who are reading it, Amen

To Read the Document Pl Click the following Link



Read Full Post »

by William MacDonald
What do you think of the person who says, “My parents were members of this denomination. I was born in it. And I’ll die in it.
“Oh,” you say, “I think he’s wrong to talk like that:” “Yes, but why is he wrong?”
“I suppose because he assumes his denomination is right and will always be right.”
“Well, then, to what denomination or group should he be loyal?”
“I guess he shouldn’t be loyal to any denomination, because no denomination is perfect.”
“One final question. If he shouldn’t be loyal to any denomination or group of Christians, to what should he be loyal?”
“He ought to be loyal to the Lord and to the principles of His Word.”
Yes, of course! That is the only correct answer. It is a mistake to develop an undying loyalty to any Christian fellowship, no matter how scriptural it may be at the time.
Even suppose that you reject the whole idea of denominations. Suppose you meet with Christians who refuse any sectarian name. Suppose, for instance, that they speak of themselves by the innocuous name of “the assemblies.” They seek to adhere to the teaching of the Word. Shouldn’t you throw in your lot with them permanently and be loyal to them alone?
If you do, you will find yourself in a difficult position.
You are committed to a group that will almost inevitably change over the years. This has been the history of almost every Christian fellowship. Liberal tendencies creep in. Zeal and freshness give way to formalism. A denominational hierarchy develops. Soon you can write Ichabod over the whole thing-the glory has departed.
Then again, if you are loyal to a group of assemblies, the question always arises, “With which particular ones do you agree?” There are wide differences among any group of local churches, just as there are wide differences among individuals. Some are open, some are exclusive. Some are conservative, some are liberal. Some have a pastor who presides over the congregation, others repudiate a one-man ministry. No two assemblies are exactly alike.
So there is a real problem. To which assemblies are we to be loyal? Are we to blindly subscribe to all the assemblies that might be listed in a semi-official address book? It seems obvious that we cannot consistently do this. We must judge each individual assembly by the Word of God, as far as our own personal affiliation is concerned.
Here is another problem. If my loyalty is to a particular group of local churches, what is to be my attitude toward other Christian groups that might in some ways be closer to the New Testament pattern than mine is? How do I evaluate them? Do I simply wave them off by saying, “They are not among ‘our’ assemblies.” Do I accept or reject them by whether their activities are reported in one of “our” magazines?
Then there is the matter of individual Christian workers “outside our circle.” How do we evaluate them? Do we ask, “Has he been commended by one of ‘the assemblies?” “Is he with us?” Or do we inquire if he is serving the Lord in accordance with the principles of the New Testament?
Certainly the easiest policy is to judge individuals or groups by whether or not they are “with us.” This does not require spiritual exercise or discernment. But it is a false and dangerous basis of judgment. It supplants the Word of God as our final authority. It assumes a priori that “we” are correct in our position and that everyone else should conform to us. It leads to inconsistency, embarrassment and confusion.
Christians must be taught to test everything by the Scriptures. This is our only authority. The question is not, “How do we do it in ‘our assemblies’?” but “What does the Bible teach about it?”
Our loyalty must be first, last and always to the Lord and to the principles of His Word. And we should never blindly assume that any group of believers has a monopoly on the truth, is adhering to the New Testament in its entirety, or is immune from drift and departure.
Every generation must guard against the danger of slipping into denominational, sectarian ways of thinking. Down through the centuries, there have been great movements of the Holy Spirit in which certain truths have been recovered out of the rubble of tradition, formalism and ritualism. The first generation, that is, those living at the time of these movements have been intelligent concerning the scriptural principles involved. But then the second and third generations have tended to follow the system routinely because their parents were in it, and because they themselves were brought up in it. There has been a decline of true conviction and an increasing ignorance of the biblical basis of the pattern followed.
Thus the history of most spiritual movements has been aptly described in the word series: man … movement … machine . . . monument. At the outset there is a man, anointed in a special way by the Holy Spirit. As others are led into the truth, a movement develops. But by the second or third generation, people are following a system with sectarian, machine-like precision. Eventually nothing is left but a lifeless, denominational monument.
If you were to ask a sampling of Christians, “Why do you meet in church fellowship where you do?” how many do you think could give a clear, scriptural answer? Not many! There is widespread ignorance as to the truth of the New Testament church, and therefore a general lack of conviction on the subject. How can we have strong convictions about something we do not know or understand?
In a healthy New Testament assembly, those who are in fellowship know why they are there. They are not sermon-tasters or followers of men, but Christians who are well grounded in the truth of the gospel and of the Church. They are prepared to judge everything by the Word. They are not unalterably committed to any particular group of assemblies. If trends develop which are unbiblical and dishonoring to the Lord, they will seek the leading of the Holy Spirit to the company of those who do meet in obedience to the Bible.
Let us examine some of the great truths concerning the assembly which are found in the New Testament and to which we should be loyal.    
One of the most obvious truths is the unity of the body of Christ. There is only one body, one church, one assembly (Eph. 4:4).
Because this is true, all believers are responsible to bear witness to it. As we gather together, we should give practical expression to it. Nothing that we do or say should deny it.
Many Christians see quite clearly that sects and denominations are a denial of the truth of the one body (I Cor. 1: 10-13; 3:3). Sects create the impression that Christ is divided, and thus misrepresent the truth of God’s Word. Many of us see this quite clearly and refuse such names as Baptist, Lutheran, Methodist or Episcopalian.
But we do not always see that any name that separates us from other members of the body is divisive and unscriptural. Even if we take a biblical name like brethren, for example, the minute we qualify it or capitalize it, we transgress. It is as wrong for some believers to identify themselves as Plymouth Brethren, United Brethren, Christian Brethren, Evangelical Brethren, Open Brethren or Exclusive Brethren as it is for others to call themselves Presbyterians or Pentecostals.
Brethren with a capital B implies that there are some believers who are not brethren, or that some are brethren in a distinctive way. We hear people ask, “Is he in the Brethren?” or they report sadly, “He left the Brethren.”
The truth is, of course, that if he’s saved, he’s in the brethren, and he can’t leave the brethren since the believer is eternally secure.
It is certainly right that we should gather to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone, but the minute we speak of ourselves as “Christians gathered to the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ alone,” meaning that we do and others don’t, we have become a sect.
To speak of any particular group of Christians exclusively as “the Lord’s people” betrays a sectarian attitude. It puts us in the same class as those in Corinth who said, “I am of Christ”-meaning that they were of Christ to the exclusion of all others (I Cor. 1: 12 ).
Another way in which inconsistency appears is the habit of calling a particular gathering of Christians in a town “the assembly” in that town. Or speaking of states and cities where there are “no assemblies.” Actually this is not accurate language. The assembly in any given town is made up of all true believers there. Within that town there may be several gatherings of Christians. In addition there may be some true Christians who are not associated with a local fellowship for one reason or another; they may be under discipline, for instance. All go to make up the assembly in the town, though all may not meet together in one place.
Someone will say, “Well, how can I distinguish my assembly from the other evangelical churches in Hometown?” The answer is, “Instead of calling it ‘the assembly’ in Hometown, refer to it as the assembly that meets in the Bible Chapel at 5th and Pine.” Then you have not denied the unity of the body.
We must never forget that we are Christians, believers, brethren, disciples and saints-and so are all who have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ. To deny this by any form of sectarianism, denominationalism or exclusivism is to deny the truth of the Bible and to be guilty of carnality and pride.
A second great truth for which we should stand is that all true believers are members of the body of Christ and therefore members of one another (I Cor. 12:12-26). This being so, it is necessary for us to recognize all Christians as our brothers and sisters.
It is not always easy to do this. Men have erected fences. People are more loyal to their own denomination than they are to the body of Christ. They do not recognize the unity of the Spirit.
But the trouble is not all with other people. Even in our own hearts, there is often the desire to be distinctive, to think of ourselves as having a cover on church truth or some other truth. We often find it difficult to befriend those who do not see exactly as we do. Instead of rejoicing when others are led into a certain measure of divine truth, we are apt to magnify the ways in which they are still different from us. And too frequently we quarrel most bitterly with those whose church order is strikingly similar to our own.
How then can we give practical expression to the truth that all genuine believers are members of the body of Christ?
First of all, we should love them because they belong to Christ (I John 4:11). The fact that they may differ with us in various areas of doctrine or practice should not prevent our loving them.
We should pray for them (I Sam. 12:23). This is a debt we owe to all men, especially those who are of the household of faith.
Third, we should seek to share with them the precious truths which God has shown us from the Word (II Tim. 2:2).
This does not mean that we should adopt a deliberate policy of sheep-stealing, that is, moving into other evangelical groups with the specific purpose of leading people out to “our own fellowship.” Nowhere in the Bible are we called to this divisive ministry. Rather, in our individual contact with others and as led by the Holy Spirit, we should minister Christ to them as the gathering Center of His people. We should “”teach everyone we can, all that we know about Him, so that, if possible, we may bring every man up to his full maturity in Christ” (Col. 1:28, Phillips).
Not only should we love other believers, and pray for them, and seek to edify them, but we should also learn from them (I Cor. 12:21). It is a mistake to think that we have all the truth and that we cannot benefit spiritually from those outside “our own fellowship.” Every member has something to contribute to the rest of the body. Any man-made barriers that hinder believers from helping other believers are contrary to the will of God.
Also we should refrain from criticism, jealousy, gossiping, backbiting or judging (Luke 6:37). Each believer is a steward of the Lord. We are distinctly forbidden to judge others before the time, that is, before the Lord comes (I Cor. 4:5). Paul asks, ‘Who art thou that judgest another man’s servant? To his own Master he standeth or falleth” (Rom. 14:4). And when Peter became concerned about John’s service for the Lord, Jesus said, “What is that to thee? Follow thou me” (John 21:22).
We should rejoice whenever Christ is preached, whether or not we agree with the methods and motives. Paul wrote to the Philippians: “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will; the one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds; but the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel. What then? Notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice’ (Phil. 1: 15-18).
The fact that we thus recognize all true believers as members of the body does NOT mean that we will adopt their policies and practices. We are responsible to obey the Word of God as He has revealed it to us. We can love people without loving the system in which they are found and without becoming a part of it. As far as our own pathway is concerned, we must be uncompromisingly obedient to the Bible. As far as other believers are concerned, we should be patient and tolerant.
A third important truth for which we must stand is that Christ is the Head of the Church (Eph. 5:23; Col. 1: 18). This means that we must look to Him for direction and guidance in the affairs of the local assembly.
We all realize that the truth of Christ’s headship is denied when a pope, for instance, claims to be head of the church on earth. But we must guard against the more subtle error of thinking that any of us has any right to manage the affairs of the assembly. It is so easy to give lip service to the Headship of Christ, and yet to maneuver, lobby and connive in a carnal way in order to get one’s own way. Instead of waiting upon Him in fasting and prayer, we apply successful business methods and the wisdom of this world. All this is a practical denial of the Headship of Christ. If Christ is Head, then everything must be done under His guidance and control.
Then there is a fourth truth-the truth that all true believers are priests. In I Peter 2:5-9, we learn that we are holy priests and royal priests.
As holy priests we offer up spiritual sacrifices to God by Jesus Christ (v. 5). These sacrifices include:
§ the sacrifice of our bodies (Rom. 12:1, 2).
§ the sacrifice of our praise (Heb. 13:15).
§ the sacrifice of our possessions (Heb. 13:16).
As royal priests we show forth the excellencies of Him Who has called us out of darkness into His marvelous light (I Peter 2:9). This means that every believer is expected to witness for Christ, both by life and by the spoken word.
As holy priests we go into the sanctuary to worship. As royal priests we go out- into the world to testify.
The idea that worship and service are the functions of a special group known as priests or clergymen is foreign to the New Testament. All believers are priests and should be free to exercise their priestly functions.
There are some local churches that repudiate the clerical system, refusing to have what might be called a one-man ministry. And yet if you were to ask many of the Christians in those churches for a scriptural defense of their position, they would be hard put to give an answer. Why is it wrong to have a one-man ministry in the local assembly?
The first reason is because it is not found in the New Testament. The assemblies in apostolic times consisted of saints, bishops and deacons (Phil. 1:1). The bishops, or elders, are always spoken of in the plural. Not one elder over a church, but several elders in each church. Bible historians agree that the clerical system arose in the second century; it was not found in the churches of the New Testament.
Secondly, the clerical system generally ignores the purpose for which the gifts of evangelist, pastor and teacher were given to the church. The function of these gifts is to build up the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Eph. 4:12). In other words, Christian service is not the function of any one class but the responsibility of all believers. It is only as each one fulfills his function that the body will develop and mature. The function of the gifts listed in Eph. 4:11 is to build up the saints to the point where they are mature, functioning members of the body. Thus, these particular gifts are temporary aids, not permanent fixtures.
When one man is responsible for all the teaching and preaching in a local church, there is always the danger that people will gather to him, not to the Lord. If a man is especially gifted, people are drawn to his preaching. They attend because he is there. If he leaves for any reason, then they are apt to follow him, or if this is not possible, they often drift elsewhere, looking for another gifted man.
Christ should be the gathering Center of His people (Matt. 18:20). We should be drawn by His presence, not by a man. When believers see this and act upon it, the local assembly need not be shaken by the departure of any man. An assembly where Christians gather to Christ has strength, stability and solidarity.
And, of course, there are potential dangers when all or most of the teaching in a local church is done by one man. People tend to accept his word as authoritative. If they are not studying the Scriptures for themselves, they are not in a good position to discern error.
In addition, no one man is able to provide the diversity of ministry that is possible when the Holy Spirit has liberty to speak through several men. We must be concerned not only with ministry that is doctrinally accurate, but also with ministry that provides a balanced diet for the people of God. The scriptural injunction is, “Let the prophets speak two or three and let the others judge” (I Cor. 14:29).
A one-man ministry too often stifles the development of gift in a local church. There is not the same opportunity for others to participate. Some ministers insist on confining most of the work to themselves; they resent anyone else’s intruding into their office. But even where this is not the case even where ministers would like to see others participating-the very nature of the clerical system discourages the so-called layman from developing his God-given gifts.
When one man is salaried by the local congregation as preacher, there is often a subtle temptation to water down the message. It should not be so, but the fact is that by controlling a minister’s salary, the congregation often cuts itself off from receiving the full counsel of God.
Now we recognize that there are many great men of God in the clerical system who preach the gospel faithfully, teach the Word, and seek to shepherd the sheep of Christ. And God is using them.
We also recognize that there are many “one-man ministers” who do not have the clerical spirit. They have a sincere desire to help the saints in every possible way, to lead by example, and not to lord it over God’s heritage.
And we also realize that it is possible for someone who is not a clergyman to have the clerical spirit. In III John 9-11, for example, we read of Diotrephes who acted as a tyrant in a local assembly.
But the fact remains that the clerical system is basically wrong and unscriptural. The world will never be evangelized in the way that God intended, and the church will never be built up according to the divine plan as long as the distinction between clergy and laity is maintained.
Another vital truth which each local assembly is obligated to maintain and practice is the presidency of the Holy Spirit (John 14:16, 26). This means that the Holy Spirit is the Representative of Christ in the church on earth. He is the One Who should be allowed to lead the people of God in prayer, praise and worship. He should have liberty to speak through servants of His own choosing according to the spiritual needs of God’s people.
In I Cor. 14:26, we have a picture of a meeting of the early church in which there was this freedom of the Spirit. “How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.”
When the Spirit is thus free to lead, there will be spontaneity in teaching, preaching, worship and intercession.
Most of us realize that the ministry of the Holy Spirit has been greatly quenched by the introduction of ritual and liturgy. The use of printed prayers, of stereotyped messages for certain days of the “church calendar,” of a prescribed order of service that must be followed without deviation-these things fetter the Holy Spirit in the meetings of the local church.
But we must guard against more subtle ways of quenching Him. For instance, we must guard against manmade rules in our worship meetings. In some places, there is an unwritten law that there must be no ministry before the breaking of bread. Or that the meeting must not go beyond a certain time. Or that in worshipping we must not dwell on our own sins or unworthiness. Or that we must sit or stand when praying or singing. All such rules quench the spirit of spontaneous worship and lead to formalism.
We often make a man an offender for a word. Perhaps a young believer will express thanks to God for dying for him. Must he be rebuked for this? We all know that God, the Father did not die. And doubtless the young believer knows it too. But in the self-consciousness of taking part publicly, he is apt to express himself poorly. Should he be made ashamed of his first, faltering act of public worship? Is it not better to hear his sincere though faulty adoration than not to hear it at all?
Generally speaking we believe that the Holy Spirit will guide the worship of His people along a certain theme. But suppose a brother gives out a hymn that seems to be quite unrelated to this theme. Must he be embarrassed for this? Is it not better to sing the hymn and pray that as he matures sufficiently to discern the theme in the meeting, he will do so without losing any of his warmth and affection for the Lord?
Which reminds us of a certain preacher who was asked, “What would you do if some brother gave out a hymn that was obviously not in the Spirit?” He replied, “I’d sing it in the Spirit.”
As we seek to give the Holy Spirit His proper place in the assembly, let us beware of rules that quench Him and that kill spontaneity and unaffected worship.
There is another principle in the Word of God that should guide us in connection with the assembly, namely that each assembly is independent and responsible only to Christ. There is no such thing in the New Testament as a denomination, a federation of churches, or a circle of fellowship. There is no headquarters on earth, exercising authority of any kind over local assemblies.
The headquarters of the church is where the Head is -in heaven.
Every local church should carefully avoid anything that might lead to centralized control on earth.
This centralization is the evil that has hastened the spread of modernism. The liberals have seized control of the denominational headquarters and of the seminaries. They knew that if they could control the headquarters, then eventually they could control all the churches.
The formation of a central group often comes from government pressure or from a desire to obtain certain benefits from the government. But then centralization makes it easy for totalitarian governments to suppress the church. If they capture a few denominational leaders, they can control the activities of the entire denomination.
God’s will is that each assembly should be an independent unit, responsible directly to the Lord Jesus. This hinders the spread of error, and enables the church to go underground more easily in times of persecution.
We have already touched briefly on the role of gifts in the Church. Actually every believer has some gift, some special function in the body of Christ. In addition there are the special service gifts of evangelist, pastor and teacher (Eph. 4: 11). The latter gifts were given to help all the saints find their gift and to exercise it. They were given to build up the saints for the work of the ministry, and thus for the building up of the body of Christ. From this it is clear that:
The work of the ministry is not for a special class of Christians but for all the people of God.
The work of the special gifts of Ephesians 4 is to build up Christians to the point where they can carry on by themselves, then to move on. In other words, the saints should not become perpetually dependent on such gifts. On the contrary these gifts should work themselves out of a job in the shortest possible time, then move on to new areas of opportunity. Just as parents begin right away to teach children to take care of themselves, so should these gifts teach the babes in Christ.
Now this raises a question: “How long should such a gift remain in a local assembly?” There is only one Possible answer to the question-as long as it takes to mature the saints to serve. Paul only stayed in Thessalonica “for three sabbath days” (Acts 17:2), yet left behind an indigenous assembly-self-supporting, self-governing and self-propagating. As far as the record is concerned, the longest that he stayed in any one place was the three years that he spent in Ephesus (Acts 20:31). It is not exactly a question of how long a man stays in one place, but rather what his purpose is. What is he trying to do? Is he trying to equip the saints to carry on by themselves?
In this regard, these gifts must guard against the natural tendency to nestle, to think of themselves as having a lifetime appointment in any one place. (This is as true of foreign missionaries as of workers in the homeland.) They must keep themselves mobile. And they must also guard against another subtle danger, that is the feeling that the saints couldn’t get along without them. When they are absent, the attendance drops; this makes them think that they must not leave. They are afraid that the whole assembly would go to pieces. It caters to pride to think that we are indispensable. And sometimes it wounds our pride to think that we are no longer needed in a particular place. Actually we should rejoice when that time arrives.
While speaking of gifts, there is something else that should be mentioned. In the New Testament, these gifts were charismatic, not professional. By this we mean that these gifts were men who were sovereignly endowed by the Holy Spirit without regard to training or occupation. For instance, the Spirit would reach down and equip a fisherman to be an evangelist. Or He might take a shepherd to teach His Word. Or He might fit a carpenter to exercise a pastoral ministry among the saints.
There is no suggestion in the New Testament that professional training can make a man a gift to the church. The idea that only men who have had formal schooling in the Word are qualified to minister is disgusting. Training can be helpful to a believer in getting a grasp of the Scriptures, but no amount of training can make a man an evangelist, a teacher or a pastor. And there is always the danger of professionalism. If the Scriptures are approached from a philosophical basis, then training can be a very deadening and dangerous thing.
When is a local church a true New Testament Church? When most of the members are true believers? Even if only a minority are true believers? Wherever Christians are gathered in the Lord’s Name? What qualifies a group to be considered a local assembly?
Actually the New Testament does not lay down hard and fast rules as to what an assembly is. It does state that where two or three are gathered in Christ’s Name, He is in the midst (Matt. 18:20). And the Scriptures assume that those who compose the assembly are Christians, although it is also recognized that unbelievers are sometimes taken into the number unawares (Acts 20:29, 30). Also the New Testament seems to assume the presence of elders and deacons in the normal assembly (Phil. 1:1). But beyond that there is no final way for us to say that certain Christian groups are New Testament churches and that others are not. We can be grateful that we are not the judges in these cases.
If a group professes to be a Christian assembly, then it should manifest the truth of the church universal. it should be a miniature, a replica of the body of Christ. It should present a living portrayal of the church of the living God.
Now the situation among local churches in the world today is this. Some local assemblies depict the universal church very badly. Some do it more accurately. None does it perfectly. What you have is a wide range of churches with all different degrees of likeness to the universal church.
Some churches obviously have no right to be thought of as Christian assemblies. I am thinking of those liberal churches, for instance, that deny all the fundamental doctrines of the faith.
But then we have a wide variety of other churches that do acknowledge Jesus Christ as only Lord and Savior. Some are more evangelical than others. Who can say where the line is that divides those that are N. T. churches from those that are not? We have to leave them with the Lord. Our responsibility is to build according to the pattern, that is, to give a true likeness of the church in our own local assembly.
Certainly no assembly has any reason for pride. If we could see ourselves as the Lord sees us, we would probably shrivel up and die. Spiritual pride is itself a denial of the truth that we are seeking to uphold.
To what should we be loyal? Once again we emphasize that we should be loyal to the Scriptures, not to any church system or circle of fellowship. In a day of drift, we must constantly test everything by the Bible and act accordingly.
And there will be a price to pay. It costs something to follow New Testament principles. There will be reproach from the world and opposition from other Christians. But our responsibility is clear. We must obey God and leave the consequences with Him.
Please Post your questions or Comments.

Read Full Post »


By John MacArthur

February 11th, 2008
If we judged success by worldly standards, some might be inclined to assess Paul’s leadership career as an abject failure and a bitter disappointment.
In the closing days of his life, when Paul wrote 2 Timothy, Luke was virtually his only contact with the outside world (4:11). Paul was confined in a Roman dungeon, dreading the savage cold of coming winter (vv. 13, 21), and without any hope of deliverance from the death sentence that had been imposed on him. He suffered because of the sadistic contempt of his enemies. He was even abandoned or disavowed by some of his closest friends. He wrote, “This you know, that all those in Asia have turned away from me” (2 Timothy 1:15). “Asia” refers to Asia Minor, where Paul had focused his missionary work. Ephesus, where Timothy pastored, was the capital of that region. So Paul wasn’t telling Timothy anything Timothy didn’t already know firsthand. In that time of fierce persecution, association with Paul had become so costly that all but a few of the apostle’s own spiritual children had in effect disowned and abandoned him.
That’s why people who see things superficially might think the end of Paul’s life was tragic. At first glance, it might even seem as if his enemies had finally defeated him.
A failure? Actually, the apostle Paul was not a failure as a leader by any measure. His influence continues worldwide even today. By contrast, Nero, the corrupt but powerful Roman emperor who ordered Paul’s death, is one of history’s most despised figures. This is yet another reminder that influence is the true test of a person’s leadership, not power or position per se. In fact, a careful look at how Paul’s life and ministry came to an end can teach us a lot about how to gauge the success or failure of a leader.
Paul’s first long imprisonment and trial before Nero apparently ended in the apostle’s release sometime before AD 64, because he wrote the epistles of 1 Timothy and Titus as a free man (1 Timothy 3:14-15; 4:13; Titus 3:12). But that liberty was short-lived. In July of the year 64, seven of Rome’s fourteen districts burned. When the original fire was nearly extinguished, another fire, fanned by fierce winds, broke out in another district. Rumors circulated that Nero himself had ordered the burning of the city to make room for some ambitious building projects, including a golden palace for himself.
Trying desperately to deflect suspicion, Nero blamed Christians for starting the fires. That began the first of several major, aggressive campaigns by the Roman government to destroy the church. Christians in Rome were rounded up and executed in unspeakably cruel ways. Some were sewn into animal skins and ripped to death by dogs. Others were impaled on stakes, covered with pitch, and burned as human torches to light Nero’s garden parties. Many were beheaded, fed to lions, or otherwise disposed of at Nero’s command in equally ruthless ways.
During that persecution, Paul was again taken prisoner by the Roman authorities, brought to Rome, subjected to persecution and torment (2 Timothy 4:17), and finally executed as a traitor because of his relentless devotion to the lordship of Christ.
Throughout his first imprisonment at Rome, Paul had been kept under house arrest (Acts 28:16, 30). He was allowed freedom to preach and teach those who visited him (v. 23). He was under the constant guard of a Roman soldier but was treated with respect. The influence of his ministry had therefore reached right into the household of Caesar (Philippians 4:22).
Paul’s second imprisonment, however, was markedly different. He was virtually cut off from all outside contact and kept chained in a dungeon (2 Timothy 1:16). He was probably held underground in the Mamertine Prison, adjacent to the Roman forum, in a small, dark, bare stone dungeon whose only entrance was a hole in the ceiling scarcely large enough for one person to pass through. The dungeon itself is not large; about half the size of a small one-car garage. Yet it was sometimes used to hold as many as forty prisoners. The discomfort, the dark, the stench, and the misery were almost unbearable.
That dungeon still exists, and I have been in it. The stifling, claustrophobic confines of that dark hole are eerie and depressing even today. It was there (or in a dungeon just like it) that Paul spent the final days of his life.
There is no reliable record of Paul’s execution, but he obviously knew the end of his life was imminent when he wrote his second epistle to Timothy. Evidently he had already been tried, convicted, and condemned for preaching Christ, and perhaps the day of his execution was already scheduled. He wrote to Timothy, “I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand” (2 Timothy 4:6).
Naturally, there are notes of profound sadness in Paul’s final epistle. But its dominant theme is triumph, not defeat. Paul wrote that last letter to Timothy to encourage the young pastor to be bold and courageous and to continue following the example he had learned from his apostolic mentor. Far from writing a concession of failure, Paul sounds a clarion note of victory: “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
Facing his own imminent martyrdom, Paul had no fear, no despondency, and no desire to stay in this world. He longed to be with Christ and eagerly anticipated the reward He would receive in the next world. Therefore, as he reviewed the course of his life, he expressed no regret, no sense of unfulfillment, and no feeling of incompleteness. There was not the smallest duty left undone. He had finished the work the Lord gave him to do, just as in Acts 20:24 he had hoped and prayed he would do: “so that I may finish my race with joy.”
Paul measured his own success as a leader, as an apostle, and as a Christian by a single criterion: He had “kept the faith”—meaning both that he had remained faithful to Christ and that he had kept the message of Christ’s gospel intact, just as he had received it. He had proclaimed the Word of God faithfully and fearlessly. And now he was passing the baton to Timothy and to others, who would be “able to teach others also” (2 Timothy 2:2).
Therefore, Paul faced his own death with a triumphant spirit and with a deep sense of joy. He had seen the grace of God accomplish all that God designed in him and through him, and now he was ready to meet Christ face-to-face

Read Full Post »

This is the story of the blacksmith who gave his heart to Jesus:

Though living a more godly life, still he was not prospering materially. In fact, it seems that from the time of his conversion more trouble, affliction and loss were sustained than ever before. Everything seemed to be going wrong. One day a friend who was not a Christian stopped by to talk to him awhile. Sympathizing with him in some of his trials, the friend said, “It seems strange to me that so much affliction should pass over you just at the time when you have become an earnest Christian. Of course, I don’t want to weaken your faith in God or anything like that. But here you are, with God’s help and guidance, and yet things seem to be getting steadily worse, I can’t help wondering why that is.”
The blacksmith did not answer immediately, and it was evident that he had thought the same question before. But finally, he said, “You see here the raw iron  which I have to make into horse’s shoes. You know what I do with it? I take a piece and heat it in the fire until it is red, almost white with the heat. Then I hammer it unmercifully to shape it as I know it should be shaped. Then I plunge it into a pail of cold water to temper it. Then I heat it again and hammer it some more. And this I do until it is finished.” “But sometimes I find a piece of iron that won’t stand up under this treatment. The heat and the hammering and the cold water are too much for it. I don’t know why it fails in the process, but I know it will never make a good horse’s shoe.”
He pointed to a heap of scrap iron that was near the door of his shop. “When I get a piece that cannot take the shape and temper, I throw it out on the scrap heap. It will never be good for anything.” He went on, “I know that God has been holding me in the fires of affliction and I have felt His hammer upon me. But I don’t mind, if only He can bring me to what I should be. And so, in all these hard things my prayer is simply this: “Try me in any way you wish, Lord, only don’t throw me on the scrap heap.”

Author unknown, vita Bernie Koerselmon
Pulpit Helps
Published by AMG Publishers
Chattanooga, TN 37421

Read Full Post »


by Roger Oakland

Since Rick Warren’s best selling Purpose Driven book and other related products were pulled from Calvary Distribution, [1] a number of people have contacted me asking for an explanation. My answer has been quite simple – contact someone at Calvary Distribution and ask them for the answer.
While I do speak at many different Calvary Chapels throughout the USA and around the world, I am not involved in the decisions that the leaders of Calvary Chapel make. Basically, I am a missionary to the world, based in southern California, affiliated with the Calvary Chapel movement. The ministry of Understand The Times is a discernment ministry, and I am dedicated to warning people about current trends within Christianity which lead believers and non believers away from the truth of God’s Word. Other than warning people, there is not much else I can do.

My Background
I consider Pastor Chuck Smith to be my own pastor, and I attend Calvary Costa Mesa when I am in southern California. I have been familiar with the Calvary Chapel movement since June of 1981 when I was first invited as a guest speaker at Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa. Since 1988 the ministry of Understand The Times has been affiliated with Calvary Chapel movement and I have spoken at hundreds of churches and conferences by invitation of Calvary Chapel pastors worldwide
Therefore, my 25 years of experience within the Calvary Chapel movement has provided the opportunity for me to be able to make observations about the Calvary Chapel movement. While this movement is made up of individuals who have various ideas (some are even supportive of Purpose Driven), the leader, Pastor Chuck Smith has made it clear on several occasions that he does not agree with the direction the Purpose Driven movement is headed.
Over the past year or so, it should have been obvious to anyone listening to messages by Pastor Chuck Smith, Sr. that he has expressed serious concerns about the Purpose Driven church growth movement. On numerous occasions he made the point that the Calvary way, was not the Purpose Driven way. He made it clear that healthy church growth should be centered on the teaching of the Word of God and not on methods derived by human effort. From the beginning of the Calvary Chapel movement, Chuck has emphasized being “spirit led” rather than being motivated by a humanistic agenda put in place by church growth experts.
Further, pastors who attended the nation-wide Calvary Chapel Pastor’s Conferences held at Murrieta, California in either 2005 or 2006 would have heard Pastor Chuck explain in detail that Calvary Chapel pastors are not to be “Purpose Driven”. While there were some in attendance who were leaning towards Purpose Driven methods, Pastor Chuck emphasized Calvary Chapel was not going in that direction.
Distribution of “Purpose Driven” at Calvary Distribution
Based on what I have just stated, it was surprising to me that Calvary Distribution ever distributed Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” books and associated products in the first place. The fact that a decision was made to remove these materials from Calvary Distribution seemed logical based on my knowledge of what Calvary Chapel stands for and what Rick Warren’s “Purpose Driven” church growth philosophy represents.
As I stated in the introduction of this commentary, although I have no authority to make comments on behalf of Chuck Smith, Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, or Calvary Distribution, I am willing to go on record and make comments regarding my perspective on why I believe Calvary Distribution pulled the Rick Warren materials. Following are four of my reasons:

1. Eschatology
The Calvary Chapel view of the future compared to the “Purpose Driven” view of the future is as different as day and night. One of the distinctives of the Calvary movement is a focus on the imminent return of Jesus Christ. Pastor Chuck has always been known for an emphasis on warning Christians to be alert and ready for the return of Jesus. He teaches that the Kingdom of God will be established only when Jesus Christ returns to this planet. He also emphasizes that the time period before the return of Jesus here on earth will be “as it was in the days of Noah.”
[2] From this perspective, the world actually gets worse and worse, not better and better.
Rick Warren’s view of the present and the future is different from Chuck Smith’s. Warren encourages his followers to ignore Bible prophecy and spend their time and energy on the here and now, in order to establish a man made social plan (P.E.A.C.E. Plan) that will make planet earth a better place for everyone. With regards to the importance of Bible prophecy, Rick Warren has stated:
When the disciples wanted to talk about prophecy, Jesus quickly switched the conversation to evangelism. He wanted them to concentrate on their mission to the world. He said in essence, “The details of my return are none of your business. What is your business is the mission I have given you. Focus on that!”
Speculating on the exact timing of Christ’s return is futile, because Jesus said, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” Since Jesus said he didn’t know the day or hour, why should you try to figure it out” What we do know for sure is this: Jesus will not return until everyone God wants to hear the Good News has heard it. Jesus said, “The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.” If you want Jesus to come back sooner, focus on fulfilling your mission, not figuring out prophecy. [3]
Further, Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven P.E.A.C.E. Plan is part of a plan that is intended to establish the Kingdom of God here on earth before Jesus returns. This Kingdom depends on human effort. He is willing to work with governments (Rwanda [4]), political leaders (King of Jordan [5]), the United Nations (Inter-religious gatherings [6]) and even the Roman Catholic Church [7].
In April of 2005, Rick Warren, speaking to 25,000 in attendance at Anaheim Stadium, encouraged his Purpose Driven supporters to partner with him to usher in the Kingdom of God on planet earth, right now. Quoting from his speech:
I stand before you confidently right now and say to you that God is going to use you to change the world. Some will say, “That’s impossible,” but I heard that line 25 years ago, and God took seven people and started Saddleback Church. Now we have a new vision and a whole lot more people to start with. The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, “The world has yet to see what God can do with a man fully consecrated to him.” I’m looking at a stadium full of people who are telling God they will do whatever it takes to establish God’s Kingdom ‘on earth as it is in heaven.
It is important to understand that this type of teaching that Rick Warren heavily promotes is very similar to New Age teachings that say the endtimes, according to the book of Revelation, does not have to happen if enough people come together, realize their unity with each other and with God, and strive towards global peace.

2. The Emerging Church
Pastor Chuck has been very outspoken regarding his concerns about the Emerging Church. In fact in May of 2006, he sent out a letter to all Calvary Chapel pastors stating that no Calvary Chapel pastor heading down the Emerging Church road movement would be permitted to use the name of Calvary Chapel.
[9] In this statement he wrote:
We have great problems with the use of icons to give them (Emerging Church) a sense of God or the presence of God. If they want to have a tie with the historicity of the church, why not go back to the church in Acts, which seems to devoid of incense, candles, robes etc., but was filled with the Spirit.
The letter was not only sent out to Calvary pastors to clarify the Calvary Chapel position, it was also followed up by action. Several Calvary Chapels that were once on the list of Calvary Chapel Fellowships have been removed from the list.
On the other hand, it can be documented that Rick Warren’s view of the Emergent Church is different than Chuck Smith’s view. Warren has endorsed the Emerging Church movement. He wrote a foreword for a book written by Dan Kimball titled The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for New Generations (Kimball is a leader in the movement). Warren stated:
This book is a wonderful, detailed example of what a purpose-driven church can look like in a postmodern world. My friend Dan Kimball writes passionately, with a deep desire to reach the emerging generation and culture. While my book The Purpose-Driven Church explained what the church is called to do, Dan’s book explains how to do it with the cultural creatives who think and feel in postmodern terms. You need to pay attention to him because times are changing.
Warren’s comments are self-explanatory. For an overview of the ideas promoted by Dan Kimball that characterize the Emerging Church (also known as “Vintage Christianity”) it would be helpful to read a previous commentary I have written posted at http://www.understandthetimes.org/commentary/c29.shtml .

3. Contemplative Prayer and Christian Mysticism
The primary distinctive of the Calvary Chapel movement has always been based on the systematic teaching of the Word of God. This is clearly what Pastor Chuck has emphasized and continues to emphasize. While there have been those in the movement in the past who have moved away from the Word of God towards the promotion of experiences in God’s name, Pastor Chuck has made it clear, this will not be tolerated.
For example, the Calvary Chapel-Vineyard split occurred over this very issue in 1982. At this time Pastor Chuck warned of moving towards an experienced-based Christianity that leads followers into dangerous spiritual territory.
Further, Pastor Chuck in his Parson to Parson letter
[12] to pastors mentioned his concern with contemplative practices and Eastern mysticism that is an earmark of the Emerging Church. In his statement he asked the question:
Should we look to Eastern religions with their practices or meditation through Yoga and special breathing techniques or repeating a mantra to hear God speak to us? If this is needed to enhance our communication with God, why do you suppose that God did not give us implicit instructions in the Scriptures to give us methods to hear His voice?
Rick Warren has clearly indicated that he is willing to investigate the ideas and methods being promoted for spiritual reformation and transformation that have eastern religious roots. These include the beliefs promoted by the proponents of contemplative prayer and other mystical techniques that are supposed to get the participant “closer to God.”
Ray Yungen, in his book A Time of Departing documents Warren’s views in detail. I would suggest that readers of this commentary read a chapter from A Time of Departing titled “America’s Pastor”
[14] in order to see the connection between the Purpose Driven world-view and the contemplative prayer agenda.
One of the major leaders of contemplative prayer is Richard Foster, the founder of Renovare. Rick Warren spoke very clearly of his admiration for Richard Foster’s spirituality in his first book, Purpose Driven Church when he stated that the “spiritual formation movement” (of which he named Foster as a key player) was needed and vital to the church. Lighthouse Trails Publishing has documented many instances where Saddleback pastors and staff have shown their strong support for the practice of contemplative prayer.
It would seem to me that “Purpose Driven” mixed together with a touch of mysticism could be considered a recipe for spiritual disaster. That is especially true in these days when so many Christians are willing to embrace eastern mystical practices like “yoga” and other methods to pursue a state of silence or quietness in order to get into an altered state of consciousness. This is not the message that Pastor Chuck Smith or Calvary Distribution would want to promote.

4. Church Growth Philosophy
The Calvary Chapel movement has been under the scrutiny of church growth experts from the beginning. Some have suggested it was the music that caused Calvary Chapel to grow. Others said it was the way Pastor Chuck dressed. Some claimed the movement grew because of the Word For Today radio programs. One church growth expert claimed the reason Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel movement was so successful was because of his “good radio voice.”
Pastor Chuck, when asked why the movement has grown always has given the credit to the Holy Spirit. He has stated on numerous occasions that it is not by human effort or cleverly designed plans dependent of church growth experts.
On the other hand, Rick Warren’s church growth plan has been carefully designed and orchestrated. Purpose Driven is part of a much bigger church growth plan, one that can be traced back to Peter Drucker.

Further, it is no secret that Purpose Driven is a cousin of Robert Schuller’s “possibility thinking” and Bill Hybel’s “seeker-friendly” approach. [17] Warren did not stumble on his success plan for growth by chance. He has a number of advisors besides Drucker who also have a plan to “win the world” by “whatever means it takes.” We will discuss this in a future article.

Why did Calvary Distribution remove Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven books and related materials from their distribution? I believe these four reasons I have discussed are reasonable and a valid answer to that question:
Differences in Eschatology
Differences with regard to the Emerging Church
Differences with regard to contemplative prayer and mysticism
Differences with regard to church growth principles and beliefs
Christianity has always been made up of strong leaders who take different positions. In this case we see two well-known contemporary leaders going in two different directions.
I also know that many Calvary Chapel pastors approved the decision and applauded Calvary Distribution when the Rick Warren materials were no longer being distributed.
Because there are some Calvary pastors who strongly disagree with this decision, it is very possible that in the future there will be a split of the Calvary Chapel movement. The pressures on young pastors today to conform to the current trends for the sake of having a successful big church are ever increasing.
In my view, the stand Pastor Chuck Smith made to stay with the Word of God and warn the flock about the imminent return of Jesus was biblical and the correct decision. I personally believe that those who go down the road of Purpose Driven will become less and less discerning regarding the end times scenario that is currently unfolding, which clearly reveals that Jesus may be soon returning.
I also believe that it won’t be very long before Rick Warren and his Purpose Driven theology will join hands with Roman Catholicism so that together they may work toward their common goal of ushering in the “Kingdom of God.”
As long as God gives me breath, I will keep you informed.
Roger Oakland

[1] http://www.calvaryd.org/assets/uploads/RecallonStorms.pdf
[2] Matthew 24:37
[3] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life, pg 286, 286 emphasis mine
[4] http://www.christianitytoday.com/ctmag/special/rickwarren.html
[5] http://washingtontimes.com/national/20060202-111835-3132r.htm
[6] http://www.christianpost.com/article/society/section/rick.warren.speaks.about.purpose.at.united.nations/1.htm
[7] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/pewreligion.htm
[8] http://www.biblicalrecorder.org/content/news/2005/4_19_2005/ne190405rick.shtml emphasis added
[9] http://www3.calvarychapel.com/ccof2/parsontoparson.pdf
[10] Ibid.
[11] Dan Kimball, The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for the New Generation, Zondervan, 2003, page 7 emphasis mine
[12] http://www3.calvarychapel.com/ccof2/parsontoparson.pdf
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ray Yungen, Time of Departing:How Ancient Mystical Practices are Uniting Christians with the World’s Religions, 2nd Edition, 2006, Lighthouse Trails Publishing, Silverton, OR, pages 142-170
[15] http://www.lighthousetrailsresearch.com/rw226article.htm
[16] http://www.newswithviews.com/Ohara/debbie13.htm
[17] Ibid.

Read Full Post »


By SWR Ministries.

How Can You Tell?
In the past ten years a large percentage of churches in America, and in other countries,have changed from a traditional New Testament church model to a contemporary Purpose Driven model, many with sorrowful results. Contrary to Purpose Driven Church proponents, millions have been leaving their churches after the change occurred. It is important that every church member know if their church is targeted for a Purpose Driven Church takeover.
Initially, a small clique of church staff, possibly including the pastor or a new pastor,
plans the change without telling the rest of the church membership. Church Transitions, an associate of Saddleback Church in California, trains the clique initiating the change in eight published steps. The church membership is not to be informed of the transition until
the fourth step. After the sixth step in the process of change, if there are some in the church who voice concerns, the following is suggested:
1. Identify those who are resisting the changes;
2. Assess the effectiveness of their opposition;
3. Befriend those who are undecided about the changes;
4. Marginalize more persistent resisters;
5. Vilify those who stay and fight;
6. Establish new rules that will silence all resistance.

This means the church membership is not told until it is too late to make a difference.
In other words the members either accept the changes, or leave the church, which
they may have served and given to build. Dr. Rick Warren, author of The Purpose
Driven Church and The Purpose Driven Life has stated: “When you reveal the vision to the church, the old pillars are going to leave. But let them leave . . . they only hold things up.”Dr. Warren is right in one way. It is the senior members of the church who do indeed hold a church up and keep it from falling into apostasy. While some PDC initiators may not implement the full PDC format, generally these are the signs indicating that your church may be targeted for a Purpose Driven Church format:

1. Change in music to a contemporary rock style.
2. Removal of hymn books; eliminating the choir.
3. Replacement of organ and piano with heavy metal instruments.
4. Repetitive singing of praise lyrics.
5. Dressing down to casual attire.
6. Eliminating of business meetings, church committees, council of elders, board of deacons, etc.
7. The pastor, or a new leader with a few assistants, usually four, takes charge
of all church business.
8. A repetitive 40–day Purpose Driven Church study program stressing psychological
relationships with each other, the community, or the world, begins.
9. Funded budgeted programs are abandoned, or ignored, with ambiguous financial
reports made.
10. Sunday morning, evening, and/ or Wednesday prayer meetings are changed to other times; some may even be eliminated.
11. Sunday School teachers are moved to different classes, or replaced by new
teachers more sympathetic with the changes being implemented.
12. The name “Sunday school” is dropped and classes are given new names.
13. Crosses and other traditional Christian symbols may be moved from both the inside and outside of the church building. The pulpit may also be removed.
14. In accordance with Dr. Warren’s instructions, new version Bibles are used; or only verses flashed on a screen are referenced during regular services.
15. Purpose Driven Church films, purchased from Saddleback, precede or
are used during regular services.
16. The décor, including the carpets, may be changed to eliminate any resemblance
to the former church.
17. The word “church” is often taken from the name of the church, and the church may be called a “campus.” Denominational names may also be removed.
18. An emphasis on more fun and party sessions for the youth.
19. Elimination of altar calls or salvation invitations at the close of the services.
20. The elimination of such words as “unsaved,” “lost,” “sin,” “Hell,” “Heaven,”
and other gospel verities from the pastor’s messages.

21. The reclassification of the saved and lost to the “churched” and “unchurched.”
22. The marginalizing, or ostracizing, of all who are not avid promoters of the
new Purpose Driven program.
23. Closed meetings between the pastor or chosen staff members without any
reports made to the general membership.
24. Open hostility to members who do not openly embrace the new program, or who may have left for another church.

What You Can Do
If your church is in the initial stages of change (music or the first 40–day program), your church could be saved by talking to other church members, and with activist intervention by 10–20 percent of the membership. If nothing is done at this early stage, then by the time the program advances to step four, there is little that can be done except look for another church. Your church has become a Purpose Driven entity in association with Saddleback Church of Orange County or Willow Creek of Chicago. You must educate yourself, and others, so that you can mobilize the membership to effectively resist.
“For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Tim. 1:7).

Dr. Warren in his world peace plan has stated intentions of sending one billion
Christians into the world to eliminate human problems. The number one characteristic of a cult is a messianic, charismatic Leader.
Purpose Driven Church books are published by Zondervan, one of Rupert Murdoch’s many properties, including 175 newspapers and international television and satellite communications, including in China. Various reports indicate he is building his third wife, Windi Deng, a 22,000–foot mansion in the Forbidden City in Beijing.
Dr. Warren stated on May 23, 2005, at the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life: “The word ‘fundamentalist’ actually comes from a document in the 1920s called the Five Fundamentals of the Faith. And it is a very legalistic, narrow view of Christianity.”
The five fundamentals of the faith to which Dr. Warren objected are:
1. The inerrancy and full authority of the
2. The virgin birth and full Deity of Jesus
3. The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ
from the dead
4. Christ’s atoning, vicarious death for the sins of the world
5. The literal second coming of Jesus Christ

Are we to believe that Christians who hold to these basic foundational doctrines
of the Christian faith are narrow and legalistic? According to the New
Testament definition, those who believe otherwise are not Christians.
To start a Purpose Driven Church or change to one with the full knowledge and consent of the membership is one thing, but to practically steal a church from Christians who have given and served to build it without their knowledge or consent is quite another.
Don’t be fooled by the Saddleback website.
You don’t catch many fish unless you have a look-alike bait!
Additional copies may be obtained from:
Southwest Radio Ministries,
Box 100, Bethany, OK 73008
25 for $10 – 100 for $20
For more in-depth information:
The Dark Side
of the Purpose Driven
by N. W. Hutchings
1 copy for your gift of $15

Read Full Post »

by John Edmund Haggai
One winter morning in 1931, I came down to breakfast – and found the table empty. It was cold outside. The worst blizzard on record had paralysed the city. No cars were out. The snow had drifted up two stories high against our house, blackening the windows. “Daddy, what’s happening?” I asked. I was six years old. Gently Dad told me our fuel and food supplies were exhausted. He’s just put the last piece of coal on the fire. Mother had eight ounces of milk left for my baby brother Tom. After that – nothing. “So what are we going to eat?” I asked. “We’ll have our devotions first, John Edmund,” he said, in a voice that told me I should not ask questions. My father was a pastor. That morning, Dad read the scriptures as usual, and afterwards we knelt for prayer. He prayed something like this: “Lord, Thou knowest we have no more coal to burn. If it can please Thee, send us some fuel. If not, Thy will be done – we thank Thee for warm clothes and bed covers, which will keep us comfortable, even without the fire. Also, Thou knowest we have no food except milk for Baby Thomas. If it can please Thee…” For someone facing bitter cold and hunger, he was remarkably calm. Nothing deflected him from completing the family devotions – not even the clamour we now heard beyond the muffling wall of snow. Finally someone pounded on the door. The visitor had cleared the snow off the windowpane, and we saw his face peering in. “Your door’s iced up,” he yelled. “I can’t open it.” The devotions over, Dad jumped up. He pulled; the man pushed. When the door suddenly gave, an avalanche of snow fell into the entrance hall. I didn’t recognize the man, and I don’t think Dad did either because he said politely, “Can I help you?” The man explained he was a farmer who’d heard Dad preach in Allegan three years earlier. “I awakened at four o’clock this morning,” he said, “and I couldn’t get you out of my mind. The truck was stuck in the garage, so I harnessed the horses to the sleigh and came over.” “Well, please come in,” my father said. On any other occasion, he’d have added, “And have some breakfast with us.” But, of course, today there was no breakfast. The man thanked him. And then – to our astonishment – he plucked a large box off the sleigh. More than sixty years later, I can see that box as clear as yesterday. It contained milk, eggs, butter, pork chops, grain, homemade bread and a host of other things. When the farmer had delivered the box, he went back out and got a cord of wood. Finally, after a very hearty breakfast, he insisted Dad take a ten-dollar bill. Almost every day Dad reminded us that “God is the Provider.” And my experience throughout adult life has confirmed it. The Bible said it. But Dad and Mom showed me it was true.
Bible readings: Matew 6:25-34
25 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? 27 “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? 28 “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, 29 yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. 30 “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! 31 “Do not worry then, saying, `What will we eat?’ or `What will we drink?’ or `What will we wear for clothing?’ 32 “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »