Why People are Being so Mean to Victoria Osteen

Reagan Rose Blog

joel1The following clip of Victoria Osteen, wife and co-pastor to Joel Osteen, has been making the rounds on my Facebook feed. In the clip Mrs. Osteen encourages the 40,000 some odd congregants of Lakewood church to “do good for your own self”. But, she adds, to do good not just for God’s sake, but “do good because God wants you to be happy.” The clip finishes with a shot of Bill Cosby saying, “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard in my life!” from the Cosby Show.

It struck me that some people who watch, listen, or read Joel & Victoria Osteen, and find their messages encouraging, might be confused by this. Perhaps you’ve heard others say critical things about the Osteens. Why are people saying this is a stupid statement? Who would want to knock down the Osteens when they inspire so many? Doesn’t God want us to be happy? Why are people so against of these…

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Go To Church.

It is important for you to be an active, attending member of a local church. There is no getting around it. Christians should desire to be a part of a church, and in order to be a part of a church, you’ll want to plug in and serve with that church. It becomes difficult to do that when we have 10 other priorities demanding more of our lives. Inviting people to church and telling others about Bethel (or your church) is great! But first, we need you as well. Here’s some reasons why:

1. It is part of what we do, and why we do it – Hebrews 10:24-25 – “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.”

How many ways can you interpret that verse that don’t involve consistency and commitment to attending a church?

2. You set a model for new members and new Christians. Our fledgling Christians are looking at you, older and wiser Christians, and are imitating your commitment and consistency in attending church and serving Christ. If you’re here only when circumstances are convenient, rest assured that your example is noticed and imitated.

3. You are more fruitful when you are faithful. “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works…”

4. God can do more for you with your commitment than you can do for yourself by committing to other things. Yes, I’m talking about jobs and employment here. Sometimes we have to work on Sundays, I get that. But at the end of our lives, some of us will regret working for this world and for self more than working for Him.

5. The first church believers were faithful. Acts 2:42 – “And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.”

6. There are places in this world, right now, where believers attend church faithfully despite putting their lives and the lives of their family on the line every time they attend. And we stay home for rains and games.

7. The Word of God and the Truth of the Gospel is taught at church. Sure, you (should) learn these things at home as well, but the church makes for a fantastic spiritual meal!

8. Jesus observed the Sabbath. Luke 4:16 – “And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. And as was his custom, he went to the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and he stood up to read.”

9. Imagine if God’s faithfulness to us was proportional to our faithfulness to His bride, the church? Ouch.

10. The church, her ministries, and her members combined are the primary means and method that God uses to reach your community, and they also will reach your state, nation, and world. Why wouldn’t anyone want to be a consistent, faithful part of the most important activity humanity can participate in on this planet? (That’d be the Great Commission)

What are you putting in front of church?
Your church needs you. Sure, you can tell people about church. But first and foremost, we need you. When we neglect church, we are neglecting far more than your church.

Be faithful. Don’t let your faithfulness to God depend upon humans. Let your faithfulness among humanity be dependent upon God.

 

*If there is an ad here, it is not placed nor is it approved by this writer. It’s a wordpress thing.*

Fear God

At a previous church, I recall a sweet and precious widow with whom I had the opportunity to be a blessing and a minister to. But this particular widow paid much attention – perhaps too much attention to the newspaper, and to the news talk shows, and to certain news personalities.

Now I happen to like keeping up with the news. I actually will read both sides of the news too. I do get irritated that both the liberal and the conservative agendas in this nation have fringe elements, and it seems that those fringe elements just contrive and manipulate the news to their agenda. But, as irritated and frustrated as I am with many parts of our media, I do enjoy keeping up with the world, with the states, and with events everywhere from my county to the Middle East.

This particular widow came to see me in the office during a certain political election within the last 20 years, and was very distressed. She was having a hard time dealing with the possibility that the more liberal, less Christian candidate had a good chance in winning the election (I won’t say which, because some of you will figure out which church I was at if I mention which election it was). She was…the word, “distressed” comes to mind. I’ve seen people as distressed as this lady was distressed over not being able to make ends meet, or having an estranged loved one – as this lady was over the possibility that the conservative candidate would not win.

And come to think of it, pretty much during at least the last 5 or 6 elections, it has come to that. “Us versus them.” If they win, it’ll be the end of America as we know it. The liberals will end the Christians’ way of life. People will line up to shoot each other. Cats will marry dogs. Christians will be arrested. We’ll all be forced to convert.

Yes, I know I’m exaggerating. But to watch this lady’s “distress” (and the political/cultural distress of some today), all of those things might’ve been the case. She was in tears and was having a near panic attack, and it obviously made a strong impression on me at the time, to remember it years later.

We still have a tendency to do this. To put our trust in the outcome of the world, and to fear the world when it does not go this way. There’s an important reminder made frequently in the word of God, and yet forgotten by us just as frequently.
You see, the more we put our trust in this world, the less we tend to trust God. And, the more we fear this world, the less we tend to fear God.

Matthew 6:24 tells us, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

The same goes for worshiping, and honoring, and fearing. We can’t serve God and another master (in the cast of Matthew 6:24, money). We can’t honor God and live for man. We can’t fear God and fear what the world fears at the same time. It just doesn’t work that way. Generally speaking, to serve, honor, or fear one is to remove the desire and need to serve, honor, or fear the other (God and World).

There are even those who claim to worship/fear/trust God with words and yet they worship/fear/trust the world with their actions. The brand of hypocrisy they have perpetuated has been contagious in influencing many with weaker faith.
Honor God. Fear God. Trust in God. None of those elements should be placed in our world, our country, our leaders, or our society, as worthy as we might believe them to be of being honored, feared, or trusted.

Isaiah 8:11-13 – “For the LORD spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.”

Should we throw out the baby with the bath water?

I get distressed when I see or hear of Christians I know, like, and admire, who also listen to and follow those who teach false doctrine.

For the purpose of this short article, we therefore need a criteria, a set of parameters that we can use to distinguish good and sound teaching from self-centered and erroneous teaching. I suggest the Bible as that criteria.

For those who would reject the Bible as that criteria, a different conversation would be in order. I’d be glad to talk to you more if you’d like.

My encouragement to the body is this: If someone distorts, misrepresents, or blatantly teaches against the Bible as part of their teaching, then all of their teaching must be suspect and therefore disregarded as spiritual nourishment. A religious speaker can’t be “mostly right” anymore than the Bible can be “mostly accurate” or God can be “mostly divine.”

This occurs everywhere from well-known national television evangelists to local teachers and preachers. Those who teach and preach must teach/preach the “whole counsel of God.”

Acts 20:26-27 – Therefore I testify to you this day that I am innocent of the blood of all of you, for I did not shrink from declaring to you the whole counsel of God.

 

Have you heard of Jeff Foxworthy’s “You Might be a Redneck if…?”

Well, here is Pastor Harvey’s “They might not be worth listening to if…” in no particular order. If your admired Christian speaker is/does the following, it might be worth praying about whether to continue to follow his/her teaching or not.

 

1. They spend more time worrying about receiving your money than communicating that God provides all needs. Philippians 4:19 – “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

 

2. They spend more time bashing the church or her leaders than lifting up her head. (I’ve seen too much of this one on facebook lately) – Colossians 1:18 – “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” Beware of anyone who claims to serve the Bridegroom (Jesus Christ) but slanders the Bride (the church). See Ephesians 5:25-27.

 

3. They spend time condemning those who believe in minor doctrinal issues that do not pertain to nor disqualify people from salvation, and ignore the biggest ones of all. For one of many examples, if a person is more concerned about the version of the Bible being read than the receptiveness of the person reading it, they’ve missed the forest for the trees. Hebrews 4:12 – “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”

 

4. They recite and propagate the world’s wisdom, even though it completely contradicts the wisdom of the Bible. Proverbs 9:10 – “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.”

 

5. They neglect the great Commission in favor of their own personal ideas for what is best. Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

 

6. They only preach that we are meant to be successful, that we have a great destiny, that God wants us to prosper, etc. For example, James 4:10 says “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” If a speaker teaches that the best way God can lift you up and exalt you is in a material manner, beware. God has much better ways of sustaining and providing for His children than the satisfaction of man’s wants. God DOES want the best for you. And that best is to completely and wholeheartedly abandon self by pouring your life into worshiping Him and serving others. It isn’t about receiving, nor is it about self.

 

7. Their riches are extravagant. Simply put, spend the money on what matters, if you have that much money. For example, James 1:27 – “Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.” The world has stained too many of our more prominent ministries.

 

8. Their version of the gospel is inoffensive to the lost and comfortable to the saved. If they preach a gospel that does not bring a sense of conviction, then it isn’t a complete gospel. 1 Corinthians 1:18 – “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it isthe power of God.”

 

9. Their version of the gospel is hopeless to the lost and offensive to the saved. Some ministries present a God that is only a vengeful judge. As I preached the other morning – to some God will be a terrifying judge one day, but to others, He is our loving Redeemer. John 3:16-17 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

 

10. Comfort is their unspoken theme. The problem with being a casual, comfortable Christian is this: Serving God is not comfortable. Obeying God is not easy. You can’t say “yes” to God half-heartedly. Following God requires more than good intentions. Worship is not passionless. Christ requires all. You can’t obey Him mostly. You can’t obey Him 99 %. Multiple verses to support – which one to cite? Colossians 3:17 – “And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”

 

And a BONUS one – this one is free!

11. They don’t love children. I love the church I pastor (Bethel), and one of her shining bright positive areas is that she loves children. You want to get on God’s bad side? Mistreat a child. I shudder to think of all the self-identifying Christians in my own life who I’ve seen mistreat children, or who mistreated me when I was a child. I’ve actually been in church services where the speaker was harsh about children disrupting and treated them and/or their family with obvious contempt. Don’t do that. You better be nice to the children, even the squirrely ones! 

 

Be blessed and follow God, not man!

 

A relevant sermon

My father sent me this copy of a sermon preached by David Wilkerson to the Assemblies of God General Council meeting in Springfeld, MO, date unknown. It’s very good and worth reading!

 

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“People don’t like to hear this, but we’re headed for perilous times—just a few years away from a collapse like the world has never known. When that happens, all who preached prosperity are going to disappear because the people will say, “Your gospel has failed me.” When that time comes, I want to grasp onto Jesus, and I want everyone I’ve preached to to have faith in the keeping power of Jesus Christ. I want them to know Him in His fullness. I want to know that I’ve done it in love, in grace, that they would know the difference between the holy and the profane.”

 

The Dangers of The Gospel of Accomodation

A sermon given by David Wilkerson at an Assemblies of God headquarters chapel service.

By David Wilkerson

I am not coming to you as a pastor but with a prophetic word. God so shook me recently with this message that I should bring it somewhere, sometime in Springfield. This morning the Lord, by His Spirit, spoke to my heart that this is the time. He has called me to be one of His watchmen, and I have wept over this and prayed that He will help me deliver the message in a spirit of love. This is not a chastisement but a warning for the Assemblies of God.

A New Gospel

 

Accommodate means to adapt, to make suitable and acceptable, to make convenient. A gospel of accommodation is creeping into the United States. It’s an American cultural invention to appease the lifestyle of luxury and pleasure. Primarily a Caucasian, suburban gospel, it’s also in our major cities and is sweeping the nation, influencing ministers of every denomination, and giving birth to megachurches with thousands who come to hear a nonconfronting message. It’s an adaptable gospel that is spoon-fed through humorous skits, drama, and short, nonabrasive sermonettes on how to cope—called a seeker-friendly or sinner-friendly gospel.

To begin with, those terms are unscriptural. The gospel of Jesus Christ has always been confronting—there is no such thing as a friendly gospel but a friendly grace.

This new gospel is being propagated by bright, young, talented ministers. They have come upon a formula which states you can go into any town or city; and if you have the right formula, within a short time you can raise a megachurch.

If you are a young man and have certain skills, you find those skills and a part of the city that would best suit you. You move into that area, poll it, and find out what the nonchurchgoers want:

“You don’t like choirs. Well, would you go to a church that didn’t have a choir?” Yes.

“You don’t like to wear suits. Would you go where it’s informal?” Yes.

Then you go to your computer and design a gospel that will not confront but will shoot out the desires and the needs of the people. After you have gathered a handful of people, you keep interviewing them to find out what they want; then you design your message to help people cope with their needs. The program you design is intended to make the church comfortable and friendly for all sinners who wish to attend.

This gospel is fast becoming the most prosperous and flourishing of all religious movements. Thousands attend these churches. The pastor is the CEO, and it becomes a business. They make no bones about it: They are following Madison Avenue tactics and can make a success of it. Their formula for quick church growth is cleverly packaged and is being sold especially to young ministers—those who want to be a part of the big boys and what’s happening on a fast track. They want it to happen quickly.

Paul’s Warning

Paul warned of the coming of another gospel and another Jesus (2 Corinthians 11:4). He warned the church that it’s really not another gospel but a perversion of the true gospel of Jesus Christ. If you hear any other gospel, he said, let that preacher be accursed. In other words, no matter how pleasant, how pious, or how sincere, if the message is not the death of sin through the cross of Jesus Christ, let it be accursed.

I tremble when I read in the Scriptures that in the last days Satan is going to come right into the church posing as an angel of light. He’s going to take ministers who, at one time, had the touch of God, and he’s going to transform them into angels of light to become his tool of deception. That’s frightening. It causes me to fall on my face before God for such false, deceitful workers transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. No marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore, it’s no great thing if ministers also are transformed as the ministers of righteousness whose end shall be according to their works.

Paul said they are going to glory in the flesh, in their bigness, their numbers, their influence, and their contemporariness. They will boast they are contemporary, that there is a gospel that is out of style that doesn’t reach human need anymore. They will glory in the world’s acceptance. Jesus warned, “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15). The context of that warning was: “Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth to life, and few there be that find it” (verse 14).

His warning was to beware of the wolves who are going to say it’s really not that narrow and straight—they are going to come posing as submissive sheep. Jesus put His finger on the cause: ambition—ambitious ravening wolves. In the Greek it means “starved for recognition and quick gratification, quick growth.”

Jesus left no doubt about His meaning. For example, He was addressing a struggling pastor who has worked for years and hasn’t seen the kind of growth he wants to see. A young man with an accommodating gospel moves into town and and within a very short time has a megachurch. People are flocking there because there is entertainment; it’s a gospel of fun. I’ve been in some of them. It’s the gospel of entertainment that has no conviction whatsoever. There is very little in their gospel that speaks to sinners of repentance, brokenness, and cross-bearing. A Christ is preached, Jesus’ name is mentioned, but Paul said their’s is another gospel, another Jesus.

Paul warned that if you are caught in this trap, if you want that hook of entertainment, that hook of sudden growth, this is the hook: The enemy will put in your path a teaching.

I have two preacher sons. One of them confessed to me, “Dad, I was that close to being sucked in because I fasted and prayed and didn’t see the growth I wanted to see, and I saw these others grow. That hook was there, and I almost bought it.”

That is something this Movement and every movement is going to have to look at and deal with: It is possible, through unholy ambition, to be transformed from a man of God, who has been seeking God and getting a word from heaven, to an unholy ambition and a tool of Satan. Let every pastor heed this warning: The moment you begin to consider the “competition,” seeds of accommodation will be planted in your heart. Suddenly, Satan will put in your path a wolf in sheep’s clothing—a man who will try to seduce you into ungodly ambition and achieving church growth at any cost. Yet the truth is, it could cost you your soul.

The Right Formula

If you find the right formula, according to the accommodation gospel, you can succeed in any field of endeavor.

An editorial in the New York Times (March 1, 1998) was entitled, How To Manufacture a Best-Seller. It told the story of John Baldwin, a 53-year-old carpenter and a would-be writer, who had struggled for years to make a living from writing. He determined to become famous and rich overnight by writing a best-selling medical thriller. He studied five or six best thrillers. After 7 years’ research he found 10 steps to producing a best-selling medical novel. He honed it with some Hollywood writers and agents, and here is the 10-step formula he used:

  1. The hero is an expert.
  2. The villain is an expert.
  3. You must watch all the villain’s activities over his shoulder.
  4. The hero has a team of experts behind him, working in various fields.
  5. Two or more on the team must fall in love.
  6. Two or more on the team must die.
  7. The villain must turn his attention from his initial goal to the team.
  8. The villain and the hero must live to do battle again in the sequel.
  9. All deaths must proceed from the individual to the group.
  10. If the story bogs down, just kill somebody.

John Baldwin had the formula but no story, so he read of research by John Marr who was studying the epidemiological causes of the 10 plagues, hoping to explain their causes scientifically. The two men formed a partnership, and using Baldwin’s 10–step formula, together wrote a 640 page manuscript called The Eleventh Plague. Harper Collins bought it for almost $2 million.

Baldwin, who has no passion for writing, said, “If I get the formula, I’m going to be a multimillionaire and famous.” Well, he’s going to make another $3 million on the movie rights, and he’s laughing all the way to the bank. His philosophy: “If you have the right formula, you can be a success at anything.”

You see, this is the gospel of accommodation—the formula. You get the formula, you get what people want, and you can be a success. I am here to tell you that a formula-based, accommodating gospel is contrary to everything in the Scriptures.

God’s Method

Certain men of God met at Antioch to send out men to preach the gospel and establish churches (Acts 13). Here is God’s method:

1. They ministered to the Lord and fasted. This was their planning session—worshiping, fasting, waiting on the Lord, and calling for direction from the Holy Ghost. They did not move until the Holy Ghost spoke. There were no formulas, no surveys, no door-to-door asking people what they wanted and then serving it to them.

2. They prayed—no strategizing, no network, and not one step until the Holy Ghost spoke His mind. Then and only then did they lay hands upon them, anoint them, and send them out in the power and demonstration of the Holy Ghost.

Paul lived his whole religious life on religious formulas, and he said they didn’t work. He gave up on formulas and said, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2). Paul boasted unashamedly, “We preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness” (1 Corinthians 1:23). He was saying, “Gentlemen (he was talking to his peers), they want us to accommodate. The Jews are looking for signs in our gospel. The Greeks want the wisdom. They want to know how to cope, but I’m not compromising. There’s only one message. Our gospel has been and will be the Cross and its demands as well as its victories. As for me, I’m determined to preach nothing among you but Christ and Him crucified.”

What the Gospel of Accommodation Does (1)

I see three things in the gospel of accommodation:

1. It is the accommodation of man’s love for pleasure.

“This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come. For men shall be lovers…of pleasures more than lovers of God” (2 Timothy 3:1–4). The Greek forpleasure is “sensuous, lustful, voluptuous, exciting, gratifying, sensual pleasure.” If you move toward this gospel of accommodation, you are going to have to accommodate the people’s lust because they are not going to give up their love for excitement. They’ve made gods of sports, pleasure, and lust. Unless that is confronted by the gospel of Jesus Christ, unless there is a truth that comes forth, you have to accommodate this lust that is in the American lifestyle.

I was shocked by an article in the New York Times.1 Philip Wogaman, President Clinton’s pastor, said, “Sexual misconduct does not automatically render a leader immoral. Morality should also be judged by indicators like courage, concern for the poor, fostering world peace, running the economy responsibly, and furthering racial equality. Heterosexuality and homosexuality are merely cultural expressions.” In other words, Mr. Clinton has been told that he has enough good indicators to overrule another that would be immoral in his life.

God said that men who preach doctrines like these resist the truth; they are men of corrupt minds counterfeiting the faith.

In disbelief I watched a televised Sunday night service of a seeker-friendly church—seeker-friendly by its own admission. To a packed church where thousands attend, the pastor said, “This is fun night, a David Letterman night.” The youth pastor came out and did his monologue as David Letterman. Then they showed 10 of the most boring things teenagers do during preaching. Three of the 10 were throwing spitballs, yawning, and picking their noses. The crowd went crazy. After the service, the pastor brazenly announced, “We’re not here to offend people, but to make church comfortable for everyone.” I wept.

I ask you, how long do you think that audience would stay in church if the pastor was gripped by the Holy Ghost, convicted for “entertaining” people toward hell, and suddenly preached a message entitled, “Be sure your sins will find you out”? How long would people keep coming back if a gospel of holy living and separation from the world was preached? Two things would happen: (1) Those who are misguided, hungry, and didn’t know any better would weep and run to the altar. (2) Those who are judiciously blinded by their pleasures in madness would flee from the church and never come again. The church doors would close.

I keep this foremost in my mind and before my eyes, because every minister of the gospel one day has to face it when he stands before the Lord. He will say, “Son of man, I made thee a watchman. You were to hear the words of My mouth and give them warnings from Me. You were to tell the wicked, ‘Thou shalt surely die.’ And you gave them no warning nor spoke to warn the wicked to turn from their wicked ways to save their lives. These same wicked men died in their sins, but their blood I’ll require at your hands.”

What the Gospel of Accommodation Does (2)

2. This gospel of accommodation accommodates all man’s aversion to self-denial.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is one of self-denial. Jesus said, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Self-denial is not something you give. It’s someone you give up—the giving up of yourself, giving up everything you are. It’s a living sacrifice to the Lord Jesus Christ to present your body a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. God has every right to say to His church, “If you expect to give Me your body, your resurrected body, all through eternity, I have every right—it’s only reasonable of Me and your reasonable service—to ask your body why you’re here on earth. I want every part of you. I want you to be spiritually minded. I want to possess you.”

The gospel we preach must bring people under the total possession of the Lord Jesus Christ. Otherwise, it’s a gospel of accommodation.

The seeker-friendly gospel accommodates the body. The human body belongs to Him. What we see in America is a neognosticism where you take your physical body on one side and do as you please as long as your spirit is right with God. This is coming even out of the White House, this dividing of personality. No, we are one personality, and it all belongs to Jesus Christ. This neognosticism is destroying the faith of many throughout the nation.

What the Gospel of Accommodation Does (3)

3. There is an accommodation of man’s offense to the gospel.

The Scriptures state, “Behold, I lay in Zion a stumblingstone and rock of offense.” Paul spoke of the offense of the Cross. This is the heart of God’s anger. We’re not called to the Cross but to go through the Cross—to experience the same thing Jesus did, not only coming to the Cross but dying and going into the grave with Jesus Christ and then being raised from the dead to a newness of life.

It’s cruel, pastor, to lead sinners to the Cross, tell them they are forgiven by faith, and then allow them to go back to their habits and lusts of the flesh, unchanged and still in the devil’s shackles. If the preaching of grace doesn’t have as its goal the producing of a walk of righteousness, then it’s another gospel, another Jesus.

I listened in horror to a man, who attended one of the largest seeker-friendly churches, being interviewed by CBS. He said, “I come to this church because I’m comfortable. I’m never made to feel uneasy. I bring my Jewish friends and my business friends, and I know nothing will ever be said that will offend them. The best part of it is, the whole thing only lasts an hour.”

Take it from me: You can get your big church and be one of the big boys, but it’s going to cost you your soul if you preach with a focus only on earthly things, rather than on the things of God.

I’ve lived in New York City 35 years. We have 103 nationalities from all walks of life—from the poorest to the richest. Probably 300 or more from the United Nations live there. But I look over a congregation (so does my dear friend, Jim Cymbala, in Brooklyn) and see men who have just walked in from the porno shops and are wild animals. I see a businessman friend who was CEO of a multimillion–dollar company, but he started snorting coke, lost everything, and is now a bum on the street. He sits in the congregation. A little 14-year-old girl with AIDS is up on 8th Avenue performing lewd acts before dirty old men. She comes to church and keeps saying, “Pastor Dave, I’ve got to get out. I’ve got to get help.”

I’m not about to put up a silly skit and preach a 15-minute message on how to cope to a multitude of people who are dying and going to hell. I tremble at the thought.

People don’t like to hear this, but we’re headed for perilous times—just a few years away from a collapse like the world has never known. When that happens, all who preached prosperity are going to disappear because the people will say, “Your gospel has failed me.” When that time comes, I want to grasp onto Jesus, and I want everyone I’ve preached to to have faith in the keeping power of Jesus Christ. I want them to know Him in His fullness. I want to know that I’ve done it in love, in grace, that they would know the difference between the holy and the profane.

May God, in Jesus’ name, spare the Assemblies of God forever. If I have ever given a prophetic message in my lifetime that God intended for a purpose, it is now.

Many are being deceived. If they are not awakened, what I warn you about will happen.

I pray that God will keep the Assemblies of God in its original purposes. In New York City, He has proved that the people come to hear a straight gospel, and thousands will come where the Word of God is being preached without compromise and yet with grace. May the young men who are discouraged in the Movement not try for a shortcut but be broken and on their faces before the Lord.

May we get our eyes off growth and onto a new revelation of who Jesus is.

Pastor Harvey VS the Porcelain Throne

I love my wife. I really do. She’s pretty swell. And, she puts up with me. Odds were that I wouldn’t be able to find 1 person in the 6 or 7 billion people on the planet that would love me, put up with me, and make me a better person, but I did. She’s pretty awesome.

Normally, I put something that I think is worthy of reflection, or thought on here. But if you’ve heard any of my sermons, you may know that I like to laugh, make others laugh, and attempt to work in jokes now and then.

Of course, last week, my jokes went over like a lead balloon. Kiera still doesn’t get the one I told on Sunday. But that’s another story. Breaking from my normal routine, I would like to provide you all with a written account of my morning.

I’m doing the music at a revival in Bay Minette this week. We’re having a wonderful time. Combined with that, and our men’s Bible study that began yesterday morning at 6:30am, and some extra time I put in over the last few days, I took a few hours off from the normal routine this morning to engage in anything but normal activities.

You see, Sarah bought the kids some of those “swishie cups” as they like to call them:

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Yeah, those. And on day #1, you guessed it.

Ben runs in saying – “Mommy, the toilet won’t flush!”

Can you guess why? Yup! He had decided that flushing his used cup down the toilet was the proper way of disposing of those cups.

Combine this with some visiting family this week, and we had a fair urgency to get the toilet flushing again. Except for one problem – I’m too cheap to pay someone else to fix it, too proud to beg someone to help for free, and too incapable of repairing it myself.

So this morning, I woke up with a superhero shirt on and decided that I would be my wife’s hero. I would fix the toilet!

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Now mind you, I can barely gas up a car. If I repair anything, it is only because God Himself imparted to me the wisdom and grace needed – because when it comes to being a handy man, I am not.

Top things my wife does:

1. Kills spiders.

2. Repairs things

3. Finds my wallet for me

4. Finds my keys for me

5. Finds other things for me

6. Finds me a shirt when I complain that I no longer own any

7. Occasionally, keeps a chocolate stash that I know nothing about, so that when I become a desperate raving lunatic, she reveals the chocolate stash, thus saving the day and becoming my own little heroine.

So, in this twisted household of role reversal, I decide that this toilet is no match for me. I’ve preached to hundreds and have played piano to thousands. I’ve been to 8 or 10 countries! I know at least 30 words in spanish! I have several expensive pieces of paper on my office wall saying that education institutions believe I was smart enough and paid them enough that I could have their endorsement for several activities.

This toilet doesn’t stand a chance!

So, I get out my phone and pull up a “how to change the wax seal” on the bottom of a toilet. My rationale is – that cup is in there somewhere, and I have to break the seal, so that’s how I’m going to go about it.”

Step 1 – remove all of the water – easy.

Step 2 – remove the screws – somewhat less easy, but I manage using a tool that I still don’t know what it is named. It looks like this:

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So I get that out. Not too much water gushes out – see step 1.

Step 3 – disconnect water. I managed.

Step 4 – Wiggle the toilet back and forth til the seal breaks, and lift it up.

Do you remember that scene in the Lord of the Rings in which Sam and Frodo are walking out of the Shire, and Sam tells Frodo, “This is as far as I’ve gone?”

Well, in the world of plumbing, I’ve already crossed that point. And for me to get a toilet off of the ground will, potentially, reveal a world of treasure and intrigue, the likes of which I’ve never experienced.

So, I manage.

Now, from here, I improvise. Because now I’m looking at a hole in the bathroom floor for the first time in my life, and there is no cup. Hmm.

So I need to look into the bottom of the toilet. But it is big, and heavy. So I improvise by taking the tank off of the bottom part. And so now, I have just the bottom part. I place it oh so precariously on the edge of the tub and look into the bottom of the toilet and – Bingo! A cup! And not just one, 2!

Now, The cup was facing up (though with the toilet tilted, it wasn’t) – and even applying a reasonable degree of mathematical equations and engineering principles would’ve arrived at the conclusion that the cups were liable to contain…foreign objects. But I’m just so excited that I haven’t broken anything yet, and so I stick my hand up in there to try to pry the cups out. And they wouldn’t budge.

So I grab the nearest screwdriver and started prying, and twisting, and poking, and—success!

My sister-in-law is staying with us for a few days and is sleeping in the next room. And this is the part where she heard me. Up until now, I’ve done my best to be quiet, as to not wake her up. But what happened next….the cups come out, and along with that, what they are holding drips from my hands, all the way down my arms, and I begin gagging, attempting not to throw up all over the bathroom, and thus making a horrible situation much, much worse.

Also, I have a toilet precariously balanced over the side of a tub.

Quickly I let the toilet down, because there’s a cup of poo in my free hand, and there is also a stream of poo coming from the toilet onto the bathroom floor now.

*CRACK*

Surely, she heard me again. Because now, I have a poo-filled arm, a poo-filled cup, a slowly-poo-filling bathroom floor, some poo in the tub, and a cracked toilet base.

Folks, I don’t do well with poo. I can’t clean up messes very well. I have a pretty bad gag reflex. And at this moment in life, about 4 hours ago at the time of writing this, I arrived at a God-given conclusion:

I could never be a plumber.

This has already been a long story, but to summarize the rest of it – I managed to put a new seal on the toilet and get it back on the floor. Turns out that the crack isn’t a deal-breaker – it didn’t go into the “main part” (forgive my highly educated technical jargon). Nothing that duct tape couldn’t fix!

My own life resembles this sometimes. It is a broken comedy of errors at times. To fix one thing is to send 3 or 4 other things to pieces. It is hard to be a good husband AND father AND pastor AND friend AND writer AND musician AND video-game-playing-extraordinaire. I just can’t do it. I can barely keep those things prioritized correctly, much less in working order at any given time.

Our natural inclination is to “work on things.” To fix it. To get out our toolbox and try to be a better person. And all the time, we are attempting to repair a problem that is not within our ability to repair.

The speaker at the revival put it well – we work so much on ourselves, worry about ourselves so much – we are so busy trying to make ourselves moral sinners – because that’s all we can do. We can address our own moral principles, but we cannot address our sin problem on our own. And even the most moral sinner out there falls miserably short of being in “original working order.”

Living in a relationship with God doesn’t start with having it all together. Rather, it starts in a resignation and a surrender. “God, I can’t fix this mess. I’m tired of trying. I surrender. My life is yours.”

And at that moment and onward, we cease being the construction foreman of our own lives, and fall into His perfect will, and find ourselves attended to by promises and the presence of God that far exceeds our own ability to build ourselves into good people.

2 Corinthians 12:9

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Being a Spiritual Door Greeter

Short Analogy #1

Last week, I had the opportunity to go out of town to visit a few very near and dear friends. I had a wonderful time. But the issue was this: I take blood pressure medicine. And without getting too graphic, it dehydrates me in the morning. It is a diuretic. So not only do I drink a lot liquid in the morning, I also get rid of a lot!

Pastor Harvey, why in the world are you letting us know this?

You see, about 90 minutes into the journey, I just couldn’t take it anymore. I just HAD to stop. So I pulled into a Winn Dixie and was met by a nice fellow who greeted me as soon as I walked into the door. I said, “Sir, where is your bathroom?” And he directed me.

On the way out a short time later, the same gentleman was at the door. And I said, “I’ll buy something next time.” He said, “That’s ok. Have a nice day!”

 

Short Analogy #2

Before we had children, I was a different person. I like to think that I have calmed down and am in much more control of myself than I was 10 years ago. I really had an anger issue at times. Sometimes I directed it at those I loved; at other times it was directed in their defense.

Sarah came home from a trip with a sister-in-law very late and very bothered. I knew something was up. After prodding the information out of her, I arrived at the fact that she had been mistreated by an employee of a local club-warehouse-sales place. Even though we had an account that was current, the employee’s computer wasn’t showing it, so she heavily insinuated that Sarah was a liar, cheater, etc.

So I did what any reasonable person would do. I chopped up my membership card into 4 equal pieces. I mailed the 4 pieces to the local store, the regional office, the national office, and the better business bureau, explaining precisely what I thought of their company and why I would never set foot there again.

A reasonable reaction, yes?

 

 

What do these 2 analogies have in common?

We all represent something. The guy in Winn Dixie made me want to go back to Winn Dixie. The girl at that big store caused me to not step foot in there for many years (and I still only rarely frequent the place).

When we go into a store, a minimum wage employee often has the same power as the international president of that company. They represent that store. They are wearing the uniform and a nametag. They have been trained and authorized to represent that store or that company to us. And we as consumers often form a more positive or negative perception of that store based on even the part-time, minimum wage employee.

That employee could think, “I only work here 20 hours a week and barely make minimum wage. I could care less what this company looks like 10 years from now.”

Regardless, as you saw examples of in my analogies, the employees of corporations have that representative power to their consumers. Whether the employees think it is fair or not. Whether the consumer is fair in arriving at that opinion or not. You, Mr. Retired-senior-standing-at-the-front-door-greeter, have a huge amount of influence on whether I continue returning to your store, or stop doing so.

Did you know that it is the same way in our spiritual walk? People know if we are Christian or not. They usually know if we go to church or not. Hopefully, they can put 2 and 2 together by looking at our conduct, speech, and priorities.

And whether we like it or not, we are representing our entire company – that is the church, as well as our CEO – that is, Jesus Christ! We may think we are the lowliest of the low – just a minimum wage door greeter, but our influence over this world and their receptiveness of Christians is huge! And therefore, “poor customer service” simply isn’t an option.

We have to represent Jesus Christ accurately and continually. Because if we don’t, then the reputation of our Christian brothers and sisters, the church, and our Savior is harmed in the eyes of those who need us the most!

Maybe it’d be nice to live in a little box, unnoticed and unobserved by the world. The introvert side of me would enjoy that at times. But today, I will be on display. It is as if I will have a balloon I am carrying around with me that says, “Christian Husband, Father, and Pastor.” People know who I am. They will watch me to see if what I do and say matches up.

They will watch you too. That’s why it IS important what you do. How you do it. What your attitude is. What your speech is. How you present yourself to others. How you act in traffic. In a line at the grocery store. At family reunions. With people who have disappointed you. In every single situation that you’ll face today, you face as much more than an employee – if you’re a believer, you face as one who represents your Savior.

I’ve had people try to convince me otherwise. That it doesn’t matter what they say or do. I’ve heard pastors who can swear with the best of them. I’ve seen people proclaim Christ, but live completely opposite of His teachings.

Don’t take who you are lightly. Seek to provide fantastic customer service today! Remember your actions affect how others see your Christian brothers and sisters, your church, and your God. If people know a Christian is supposed to be one thing, but see us being entirely the opposite, they will have reason to call us hypocritical. Give people a reason to want to know God, not a reason to reject Him more.

2 Corinthians 5:20-21

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

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