Tag Archives: gospel

Victoria, PLEASE, Don’t Be For Him!

VictoriaThere are some people who, no matter what they say, even if it is truth, you simply don’t want to speak on your behalf. This is the way God sees false teachers.

The Apostle Paul taught us that false teachers can damage a message even by telling the truth. In Acts 16, a woman is following Paul around, proclaiming, “These men are bond-servants of the Most High God, who are proclaiming to you the way of salvation.” She spoke the truth. And you might think that Paul should be ecstatic to find such a good supporter. After all, it is better than the stoning and beatings he received elsewhere, right?

Wrong. Paul would rather take a beating for doing right than the praise of a false teacher (1 Peter 2:20). Paul didn’t want a fortune-teller speaking on his behalf. She was a false teacher and she used her gift to gain wealth for masters who sold idols. So Paul turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her!” And even though he suffered for making that call, it was the right one to make.

By now, I imagine you have probably heard about Victoria Osteen’s message that landed her in hot water with the Christian community. What many are calling “cheap Christianity” is really nothing more than the ultimate conclusion of the health and wealth gospel…YOU. YOU are the most important thing in the world. God wants YOU to be happy; worship is there to benefit YOU; YOU deserve – everything.

Despite responses by Albert Mohler and others who have written about the foolishness of Victoria’s statements, and despite her defense of her statements, I wonder if the bigger picture isn’t being missed here. After all, when false teachers preach a false message, it is pretty easy to call them out. But the bigger surprise is that so many people think that there is ANYTHING that the Osteens could preach that would be pleasing to God.

Think about it this way: Is there anyone you wouldn’t want to compliment you? For example, if Hitler stood up and told everyone what a nice guy you were…while it might be true…you might say, “PLEASE, don’t be for me!” The problem is that the person might do more damage than good because of what they believe and practice.

Please understand, I am not denouncing imperfect people who preach the true gospel. If that were the case, none of us could preach anything! Rather, we denounce any teacher who knowingly teaches a gospel other than the one preached in the New Testament. Paul said, if anyone preaches another gospel, “let them be accursed” (Galatians 1:9)!

God really, really wants His message preached. Period. So, we don’t applaud when a false teacher happens to stumble on the truth. We don’t congratulate when a false teacher preaches the truth 95% of the time, peppered with a false message occasionally. We don’t call good that which God calls evil (Isaiah 5:20). Unless major repentance, change of heart, and change of doctrine takes place, there is nothing the Osteens could ever teach that wouldn’t hurt the church more than help. We should collectively cry, “PLEASE, stopping speaking for Him!”

2.5 million people follow Victoria on Twitter and thousands flock to hear her false message of cheap grace, empty Christianity, and self-worship. Meanwhile, many people continue to think that all churches are basically the same. Listening to one is as good as another. Give it some thought. If God denounces false teachers in His Holy Word and won’t even let them speak for Him, how should we react today?

Perhaps, rather than sifting through false messages searching for nuggets of truth, we should be directing people to the source. There is one true gospel, and if someone preaches any other message, God will say, in the final judgment, “you shouldn’t have presumed to speak for me” (James 3:1).

Friend, I urge you to find a Bible-based, true-gospel-preaching, congregation in your area. If there is a local church of Christ, I encourage you to check them out first. Then, just as those Bereans did, test every Word you hear, and every aspect of worship they practice, against scripture (Acts 17:11).

Don’t Call Me…I’m on the List!

man-phone-angry

After a long day, you finally get to sit down to eat a meal with your family, and RING! Someone wants to sell you something you neither need nor want. Why doesn’t somebody come up with a way to stop those calls??? Well they did…sort of.

Somewhere, out there, there is a list called the “Do Not Call” registry. And on that list are names of people who have said that they don’t want any more telemarketing calls. If your name is on that list, you are supposed to be left alone. But recently, people on the “Do Not Call” list have been getting calls…and they are annoyed!

Turns out, not everyone plays by the rules. And when telemarketing firms don’t respect the registry, they face fines. For example, Sprint, who has been warned in the past about violations, received the uncomplimentary award of being fined the “largest fine in ‘Do No Call’ history,” $7.5 million dollars.

Now, to Sprint, that is a slap on the hand at best. They had $8.9 billion in sales in the first 3 months of this year. And, there can be little doubt, that some of that was due to their aggressive sales tactics. So, they will pay the fine and move on.

But even if $7.5 million isn’t much of a hit to Sprint’s bottom line, the hefty price tag does show that people are getting serious about being left alone. Last week I wrote about the “right to be forgotten” ruling against Google. Now we are seeing the FCC lash out against registry violations.

As I think about these rulings, I can’t help but think of how they will impact the way the church shares its message in the future. After all, I think saving someone’s soul is important enough to knock on a door, call someone, or send them literature. But many in this world find evangelism annoying! They don’t want to receive the call. So what’s a Christian to do?

As hard as it is, we must learn to respect God’s example: He wants all to hear the call, but He allows them to be on the “Don’t Call” list if they choose. “I spoke to you again and again, but you did not listen; I called you, but you did not answer” (Jeremiah 7:13). Jesus longed for people to hear and receive His message, but they would not (John 1:10-13; Luke 13:34-35). Many have been invited, but few will come (Matthew 22:2-6).

What does that mean in practical terms? It means that I want to tell you about the love of God; I want to tell you about the saving blood of Jesus; and I want to tell you about the joys of eternity in heaven. But it also means that when you say, “I don’t want to hear that anymore,” I will respect your right to choose a “no call” status.

I won’t like it. It will be a very sad day for me. And while it might bring you temporary joy that you have gotten rid of that nagging Christian, it may be the worst decision you ever make. But until you say “Don’t Call,” I will gently, with love and grace, try to share the good news of Jesus with you in every way I know how.

I’ll Take “A Better Way” for $1,000, Alex!

arthur-chu-jeopardy-facebook[1]Americans love to see an underdog win. We love to see a “Rocky Balboa” fighting and clawing his way to victory. But every now and then someone finds a way to win that seems too easy. Some people react with an “aha” moment: “it is so simple…now I see! Why weren’t we doing that all along?” But many people react by crying out, “no fair” and “cheat.” Turns out, most audiences don’t like to see someone change the way to win! It is the old fraternity idea…I was hazed so I’m going to haze the next guy.

 Arthur Chu has learned this sad fact the hard way. Chu, who recently won his 3rd straight victory on Jeopardy, is making national news because Jeopardy audiences have grown increasingly hostile toward him (some even boo when he wins).  Why? Chu doesn’t play right! He doesn’t grind out question after question from easier to harder in the traditional way. He tries to find daily doubles, answers more valuable questions, and wins based on strategy rather than most correct answers.

 And they hate him for it. Audiences are calling for Chu to be taken off the show! Why? Because things that are “too simple” are usually equated with cheating.

People didn’t know how to take Jesus’ strategy either. It just didn’t seem right. He said, the last would be first. He said if you want to lead, serve others. He said if you want to be righteous, follow Him, not the traditions of the Pharisees. But people had been working really hard at doing things the Pharisee way for a long time! It was hard, very hard…too hard. People suffered while trying to follow all the rules the Pharisees had put on them.

 Jesus showed them an easier burden, a lighter yoke. Of course, that message seems too simple to many people today, as it did in Jesus’ day. And they crucified Him for it. It seems like cheating. If someone can turn away from their old lifestyle (no matter how bad), confess Jesus as the Son of God, and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins, they can get into heaven???

 Of course, that is often easier said than done. It takes a change of heart, a change of mind, and a willingness to submit to something larger than ourselves. It isn’t easy, but it is simple. Jesus gave us an easier pattern – true worship, in His name and according to His authority. It is a winning pattern; won’t you give it a try?

Mahomies?

Do you want to be famous? Wealthy? Known and adored by millions? What would you do to achieve your goals? Oscar Wilde once said, “To get back my youth I would do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be respectable.” Whether we like to admit it or not, most of us “resemble that remark.” The problem with achieving goals is rarely that we need more information. Rather, achieving goals takes discipline and years of work. OR DOES IT? Maybe it just takes millions of “mahomies.”

Austin Mahone is the teen pop sensation who went from obscurity to stardom because of the internet. Even though most of us are aware that the internet is incredibly powerful, stories such as Mahone’s still stagger the imagination. Mahone began posting videos of himself singing in mid-2010. He developed a huge following online (dominated by teenage females, called “mahomies”). He has over 2.7 million fans on Facebook, 2.7 million followers on Twitter, 1.5 million followers on Instagram, and his YouTube channel has exceeded over 90 million views and consists of approximately 500,000 subscribers. Now he has officially signed a deal with Chase/Universal Republic Records.

How do you go from obscurity to millions of fans, a record deal, and the ability to set up Skype calls at $50 for 10 minutes? It is a bit of a mystery, isn’t it? Of course, clever marketing plays a part, but lots of people are spending lots of energy trying to become stars with no success. To say the least, Mahone’s story is not the one we grew up with where the country music singer sells everything, hitches a ride to Nashville, and waits tables while looking for that one big chance.

In Luke 16, Jesus said that “the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light” (16:8). Is it possible that we desire to share Jesus with others but that our methods are outdated, our efforts are lackadaisical, and His “fan base” isn’t energized. “Mahomies” boosted an unknown teenager to stardom in a matter of days. What can motivated Christians do to help people learn about the Son of God? Have you posted about Christ today? Have you shared your love of Jesus today? Have you told someone that they can have eternal salvation through His blood? I just did…your turn.