Is God schizophrenic….

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Following on from watching a TV programme “Tsunami- Where was God?” some time ago, I got to thinking about how the presenter had talked to those in other faiths (primarily Hinduism, Islam & Buddhism) using the generic term “God” in his conversations with them, asking questions about whether they felt angry with “God”.   The glaring obvious error he was making was in assuming that they worshipped the same God he himself supposedly did in being a somewhat lapsed Catholic.

This is a fundamental error too many make in the world today whether through ignorance or design.   Whether the world likes to know it or hear it, there is only ONE God – and His name is Jehovah.   And the reason I can stand on that statement is not through arrogance but rather revelation.   There is only one God who has not only created everything and told us about it in extensive terms (both physical e.g. creation & written i.e. the Bible), there is only one God who has revealed Himself to the world in human form i.e. Jesus, and there is only one God Who has provided a reason for and an answer to the age old problem of man’s sin/evil, through Jesus’ redemptive work on the cross, and there is only one God who has provided the surety of heaven for those who are willing to accept their sinfulness, repent, and submit to Him and His Will for their lives.

The gods of other religions are false and glaringly so much of the time.   The god of Islam is a god of war not peace and promotes fear, deception, and angst amongst most of his followers who have no peace of anything much nor any surety of what will happen to them when they die.   Their religion of “peace” is a facade, a veneer which got overlaid on the faith after 9/11 in a means to appease the West temporarily and to promote the idea that muslims weren’t seeking trouble.   However, the years since have shown that while there may indeed be many peaceful muslims their religion is certainly not one promoting peace with a plethora of verses that provoke followers to kill Jews & Christians wherever they may find them.   Deception and fear are twin cohorts in this faith that uses them when it suits to force people to submit.   And if they don’t – well the edge of the sword will maybe help them but if not, they can be swiftly despatched without concern.  Again, I say – this is NOT the God of the Bible Who is being followed in any sense of the word.   Indeed the glaring obvious difference is that the God of the Bible has a Son – Jesus – who is the Saviour of the World, and I contend that that fact stands whether both Jews & Muslims deny its truth.

“Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth! For I am God, and there is no other.  By myself I have sworn; from my mouth has gone out in righteousness a word that shall not return: ‘To me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear allegiance.’  Isa 45:22-23 

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What’s in a name?

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Well perhaps more than a name – a term perhaps – this time, it’s the ubiquitous handle of calling oneself a “Christ follower”!  While, for me, it just sounds particularly New Agey, it appears to have been taken on more fully by what’s termed the “Emergent” church and is, at the very least, providing confusion.   For a Christian to take on such a title means little because Mormons and JW’s would consider themselves to be equally a “Christ” follower, but with Mormons in particular, you need to be hugely careful as the words will hold totally different meanings.   They follow a very false Jesus who rather than being the Incarnate Son of God is instead the created brother of Lucifer yet Mormons all consider and describe themselves as being Christians.   So just coming up with a new title of sorts isn’t solving anything and is just going to confuse the masses yet further perhaps.   However, it’s important that those who are true born-again believers in the true Jesus don’t fall into the trap of thinking that labels aren’t important and steer well clear of those like this one which are only designed to cause chaos.

Following is a superb article by Chris Rosebrough of Fighting For The Faith about this very point.

The Problems With The Purpose-Driven Definition of a Christ Follower

Sometimes it is important to step back and review, reflect and summarize your work and look for valuable lessons learned.

I’ve spent some time this weekend doing just that. I’ve been hosting my radio program for almost 2 years. One of the daily features of my program are the sermon reviews. Each week I review 3 to 4 sermons from seeker-driven / purpose-driven churches. I review them in their entirety and am generally mortified and disappointed at the shallow self-help / felt-needs seminars that have replaced true in depth Biblical preaching in so many of these church’s pulpits. After reflecting on the sermons I’ve reviewed from such churches as Saddleback, Willowcreek, Granger, NewSpring, Elevation, Fellowship Church, LCBC, South Hills, Fellowship of the Woodlands, Mosaic, The Orchard, and National Community, I set out to find one question that could tie all these sermons together so that I could identify the common theme in all of them. Here’s the question I came up with:

If I were an unbeliever and I attended these churches and listened to all their sermons week after week, how would I define the term “Christ Follower”?

Here’s the answer I came up with after reviewing the sermons preached at these seeker-driven / purpose-driven churches over the last 24 months:

Christ Follower: Someone who has made the decision to be an emotionally well adjusted self-actualized risk taking leader who knows his purpose, lives a ‘no regrets’ life of significance, has overcome his fears, enjoys a healthy marriage with better than average sex, is an attentive parent, is celebrating recovery from all his hurts, habits and hang ups, practices Biblical stress relief techniques, is financially free from consumer debt, fosters emotionally healthy relationships with his peers, attends a weekly life group, volunteers regularly at church, tithes off the gross and has taken at least one humanitarian aid trip to a third world nation.

Based upon this summarized definition, I’ve come to the conclusion that the world is full of people who can fit this definition but who’ve never repented of their sins and trusted in Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins. This definition could easily apply to Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses. In fact, it could apply to Emergent Heretics, Unitarians, Muslims and practicing Jews. The reason why this definition of a Christ Follower could be applied to those outside of Christianity is because this is a definition based upon deeds NOT creeds. (Which is precisely what Rick Warren’s so-called “second reformation” is all about.) Even worse, Rick Warren frequently admonishes the pastors that he trains to measure a person’s spiritual growth by their obedience. If obedience were the true measure of one’s spiritual growth then Jesus would have held the Pharisees up as an example of the most spiritually mature Christ Followers on the planet. Instead, Jesus called down woes on the Pharisees because they were outwardly obedient to the demands of God’s law but inwardly their hearts were far from Christ. Plain and simple, the Pharisees despite their obedience didn’t have FAITH. (Matt. 23:25-28, John 5:39-40).

It is frightening but absolutely true that ANYBODY can modify their actions, just like the Pharisees, so that their behaviors conform with this purpose-driven definition of what it means to be a Christ Follower without ever believing the creeds of the Historic Christian faith and without ever trusting in Jesus Christ alone for the forgiveness of their sins.

Tradgically, the “Jesus” that is presented in the sermons that promote this definition of being a Christ Follower isn’t the savior of the world who died on the cross for the sins of the world and calls all nations to repentance of their sins and the forgiveness of sins won by Christ on the Cross. Instead, the “Jesus” that is presented in these sermons is a “life coach”, a training buddy and the supreme example of an emotionally well adjusted risk taking leader who lived the ultimate life of significance and purpose. This purpose-driven “Jesus” is there to help you achieve what he achieved and invites you to follow his examples and methods so that you can be Christlike too.

This seeker-driven / purpose-driven definition of what it means to be a Christ Follower is fatally flawed and I fear that there will be many people who appear before the judgement seat of Christ saying, “Lord, Lord, we were emotionally well adjusted self-actualized leaders who lived a life of significance and purpose, took risks, enjoyed healthy sex lives in our marriages, celebrated recovery, tithed, volunteered at church and helped dig fresh water wells in Africa” and Jesus will say to them “Depart from me, I never knew you!” (Matt. 7:21-23)

A benevolent God??….

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Ch. 4 Tsunami programmeI’m only now getting to watch a programme that was on TV recently on the topic of “Tsunami: Where was God?”  (You might be able to view it HERE but only if you live in the UK)   The premise of the programme centered around how the presenter (who stated he was a Catholic) found the idea that a “benevolent” God would allow such a dreadful disaster to occur.   He raised questions about how if God was good and if, as many of faith contend, such disasters are as a result of the fall, and if God knew that His creation would have to undergo such horrendous misery then why did He ever bother creating us in the first place??   While he, no doubt, speaks for a large volume of people, particularly those without a faith, I feel he shows that while he may have been raised a Catholic, he was never taught or never heard the proper teaching of scriptural Law and Gospel as they apply to mankind.

I’ve equally often asked myself why God bothered creating man, but not because he was doomed to misery and destruction, but more because we were always going to be so bent towards sin and rebellion against Him!!  He has granted us the most incredible intelligence, knowledge, wisdom, and a constant thirst for information, yet with all of that, rather than acknowledge Him as our Creator and Provider, we’d rather turn on Him, deny Him, and ultimately try to tell Him we know better than He does!   Much of this errant attitude about God is because we have long moved away from any true reverence of Him.   Our Jewish ancestors and even many of those in Israel today have a much better attitude and. while it doesn’t prevent their nation from equally sliding into a humanistic secularistic abyss of their own making, it nonetheless shows us how we should view God.

David spoke often about his views of God in the Psalms and constantly recognised his miniscule position before an awesome and magnificent God:

Psa 8:3-4 When I look at Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars which You have established; what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man, that You visit him?

We have turned things around completely – rather than the creation serving the Creator, we instead consider that the Creator should serve us and do so, whether we acknowledge Him as such or wish to seek out the true purpose for our lives.   The Westminster Catechism answers the question of why we were created very appropriately:

“Question. 1. What is the chief end of man?

Answer. Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever.”

When we only view God as some sort of benevolent grandfather figure in the sky – only ever seeking our “best life now” and just waiting for us to ask him for whatever our “felt needs” may be so that he can jump to attention and provide them, we are as guilty of idolatry and blasphemy as many of those in the Old Testament were and who died for their sin in being so.    God’s Love stems from his other major attributes – His Holiness and His Righteousness – sadly attributes we, as imperfect human beings, rarely seem to grasp or appreciate.   However, not being able to figure what they mean doesn’t take away from how they impact everything God is and does.   It’s precisely because He does love mankind that He has done everything to ensure we have every opportunity to overcome the damage sin does in our lives, and grants us the ability to be restored into the relationship with Him that He intended us to have.    His Holiness cannot look on sin and His Righteousness demands a price to be paid for it, so Jesus agreed to pay that price before the very foundation of the world was laid:

Eph 1:4 …. according as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love….

Truly what an Awesome God we have – yes, He is a loving God, but He knows that love alone isn’t all we require to enable us to live as we should, and thus as our Heavenly Father, he equally demonstrates that love through justice and discipline, always aiming to take our focus off ourselves and put it where it should be – on HIM!!

Pastor Matt Chandler clip..

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I’ve just recently discovered this guy (bit slow huh?) who’s sadly currently undergoing a tough trial in dealing with malignant brain cancer.   But his style of preaching has really captivated me in many ways and this clip in particular really stands out in revealing it to a small degree.

He’s a really solid Christ-centred individual who preaches truth from scripture rather than the ineffectual personal rantings you get from so many others.

Indeed if you belong to a postmodern, progressive, liberal, or emergent-style church, you really should pay attention to this clip.  If you do like it – I can highly recommend you head over to The Village Church and either listen to more from there, or sign up to their podcasts.

Where would you be if….

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Before you start to read this, be warned – it’s a rare “rant” for me as I don’t often give in to the extent of my feelings on some issues in the way I have done with this one, but some things just get me plain mad, and this is one of them!!

I’ve been listening a lot lately to talks and discussions about abortion issues in particular, especially where they concern Barack Obama’s excessively liberal stance on this topic.   I was utterly shocked beyond anything I’ve ever felt before, to hear that he not only condones abortion, but also that he voted in favour of partial birth abortions to the point where he would support a doctor actively killing a BABY if it dared to exit the womb of its own accord before the doc got his hands on it during a planned abortion procedure.   I find it incredibly fascinating how so many women in particular seem to be able to ignore the utterly obvious in all of this.   While they lie there 7 months+ pregnant desiring to be rid of the “thing” inside of them, they don’t want to contend with how that is done, or the end result etc.   To them the “thing” inside them is a nonentity of no value – it must be, or else they would not only deliver the baby but be willing to put it up for adoption instead.   I seriously want to know why that is such a huge undesirable thought for them.   What really leaves me confused is how in an “unwanted” pregnancy the baby is only ever referred to as “product of conception” or other medical terminology e.g. foetus, embryo, etc,  but yet, if say x years down the line the woman’s circumstances change and she then is married and gets pregnant, from the outset the “thing” is incredibly now called a BABY!!!   Does anyone else see the irrationality in that??   Or can someone explain it to me, as I’m seriously lost on how you can switch your entire pysche to think one thing to suit one set of circumstances and an entirely different to suit another, when it pertains to the same “thing” – a BABY!!   I’m also utterly galled by the fact that partial birth “abortion” is nothing short of infanticide but because the woman’s rights trump the baby’s it’s overlooked and everything is done to prevent it gaining any notoriety.    I have to ask again – what the heck is the problem about giving birth and handing the child over to someone else to love it and bring it up – and I can only surmise that it’s a desire to have NO responsibility in any shape or form for the child that God has graciously granted the mother to have – perhaps even for the sole purpose of providing the child for another infertile couple – who knows?!

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Are you a “New Age” Christian??

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Once again, I feel I need to revisit this topic as lately it appears that the depth of deception showering the world currently is growing rapidly. I last wrote about this last year, and since then, things seem to be just getting worse.  It would appears 2/3 of the world considers itself to be “Christian” – primarily because the real term “pagan” is so politically incorrect as to be unusable, and yet about 70% of those who hold that title (of Christian) would really fall into the latter camp of paganism, as they have no concept of what the term Christian truly means – as far as they’re concerned – it is a title given to anyone who is generally “good” or hasn’t murdered anyone. Indeed murder seems to be about the only “sin” that most would say removes that title from someone and place I spoke to recently stated that she felt it was the only title she could have because while she wasn’t a practicing Catholic, she equally wasn’t Jewish or a Muslim so there was nothing left to call herself but Christian, and therein lies the biggest problem of all.

So, my question today, is to those of you in that camp – you’ve always considered yourself to be a Christian but never given much thought to why or what it might mean.  Perhaps if I point out what it isn’t it may help you better decide.   It is NOT a title by default i.e. the one to take purely because you don’t consider yourself a Jew or a Muslim so therefore by default, you must be a Christian.    Nor is it a title you can have just because you don’t break all of the Commandments in one go (but do so regardless).   And neither is it a title you can have because your parents are Christian and/or you regularly attend a particular church (without much care to what’s said within it) or you’ve read the Bible from cover to cover. There are so many confused people out there who hold the title but deny everything the title demands.

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Are you a fan of the “patchwork” Gospel??

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I have a friend who is.   Not hard to spot these days as she’s in good company with many of those who are supposed to be pastors who are too.   If you don’t consider scripture to be the inerrant Word of God (and thus above the words of anyone on this earth including the Pope!), anpatchwork quiltd you feel that it’s been changed over the years by the multiple translations and rewritings etc, so you figure you can’t accept it as it’s provided, but would still call yourself a Christian, then you are also a fan of the “patchwork” Gospel, whether you realise it or not.   Because if you feel that way, the only way you can thus read scripture is to figure that you’ll take whatever bits out of it seem to make sense to you, or which don’t offend your senses too much and leave the rest out comfortable in considering it to be errant or not how God intended it to be written – after all, Jesus “couldn’t possibly be the only way to God” and He really didn’t say “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life” but just intimated that His way was “a better way of many” (anyone recognise those statements of late from one of the most famous female icons of this decade?).  Sadly she too is a fan of the “patchwork” Gospel.  

page with holeMy point primarily is this – IF you are that type of person who doesn’t consider scripture to be accurate in any part of it, then on what do you base your statement that you are a Christian??   You can’t say it’s because you believe in Jesus – how can you, if you can’t be sure that the portions of scripture that speak about Him are accurate.   How can you trust that He is Who He said He is?   And if He isn’t, then why would you want to be considered a follower?   What portions of scripture do you consider are accurate – just those bits that are warm and fuzzy and talk about love??   All very well and good, but it ain’t going to get you into heaven, which is where I’m presuming you want to go?   How can you trust “your” God, if you figure the half of what He tells you is wrong or do you have some other means of discerning His Will that the rest of us are missing out on perhaps?   How do you decide which bits to believe and which to ignore??   How can you have any hope in the future, if you can’t trust what’s happened in the past?  How big is YOUR God??   And I bet (like my friend) you then try to fill in the gaps with bits and pieces of other religions (hence the term “Patchwork” Gospel) that equally sound nice and comforting and tickle your ears and feed your need to not have to deal with anything awful like the word “sin” in your life.   You know it’s there but if you can ignore it in the bible, and don’t find it mentioned in other religions then it’s easy to just pretend it’s not something you need to concern yourself with.   But hey if you don’t believe in the concept of sin – then you certainly don’t need a Saviour do you??   So either stop calling yourself a Christian and instead use the proper term of “New Ager” or stop to recognise the SIN you are committing by not giving God His due and recognising His Power to ensure His Word is what He means it to be.   You are in danger of blaspheming the One you may state you serve – Jesus – John stated that He IS the Word and Jesus Himself stated that His Words would be eternal which is proving true thus far – no other writings have survived as long as scripture, in the way it continues to impact the world.   And the biggest difference about the Gospel message is how it  challenges and changes lives in the most incredible way.  

Of course, I’m SO silly for believing that God is big enough to be able bible graphicto ensure His Word says what He wants it to unto every generation, and that He can ensure its accuracy throughout.  That’s not to say that there aren’t some rather nonsensical versions floating around on the scene these days, but I suspect even those, He will use to His Glory to ensure that those who are willing to search will see them for the erroneous versions they are.   Ultimately we are beholden to seek Him (and not man’s version of Him) and if we truly do He will be true to HIS Word and meet us in our need and reveal Himself to us.   May He open your heart to accept His Truth for what it is!

NB:  Another site of interest on this topic is Truth or Fables

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