Future Church

Over 26 years of ministry, I’ve worked with great hope; a hope that others would experience the revolution of Christ as I have. This is met with the current political/philosophical movement overtaking our country.  With what I’m looking at it doesn’t look good, so I am asking myself “What next?” What is next for the Church in America and how do we operate with in the new reality? As a result I have made some prognostications. These will be helpful in moving forward answering the question “What next?”future-church

I would like to give you some personal background. I am a Constitutionalist, I mean, we need to play by the founding rules of the country which were wisely established by our countries founders. The Constitution has afforded us security: Domestic and National. It has also provided freedom of religion and an opportunity to excel.

Also, I am a conservative theologian, student of revivals, student of missionary movements. Also, I love  history and I am a rabid current affairs wolf.

I have worked in foreign and domestic missions for all these years, helping found a church which is thinly spread between Northern Washington to Northern California. I have served the “poor” for most of this time. Living amongst them, I have served them in my home for their development. I hope this may give some substance to my conclusions.

In order to get to the question “What next?” I think it helps to know where we are and what the trends are in our culture. I have concluded that the visible church will become extinct and religious liberties will be unrecognizable in the future. Sharia will be established over parts of the US and Christians will be persecuted without protection.

Socialism

For years, our educational system has been dominated by a socialistic philosophy. This has primed those indoctrinated to misunderstand and not appreciate our culture and Constitution. This pernicious idea has brought about devaluation of religious liberty and the traditions they were built on. It has left the indoctrinated without the background necessary to understand their value.

The Liberal has the mission to advance their utopic vision, even if a few eggs need to be broken (freedoms removed, especially religious.) This is a small expense for the great vision of a perfected world without God.

Poor

It may be strange for you to hear that the poor are few in this country. Let me parse this for you. “Poor” as Jesus spoke of will always be with us of course. However, the poor in this country are often paid to be that way. When given a choice between free money or hard work, too many make the choice of poverty at the hand of the State. This ruins lives. The unexpected effect it that it requires immigration for lower level jobs because we have paid our poor not to work. Do you see how this plays in the struggle for power?

These poor are practically un-helpable, due to the dependence and mentality created. They feel it is their right to be helped. Therefore, they can’t be grateful for a hand up because of the expectation that has been engendered. This permanently handicaps them.

You see, whichever philosophy, generated behavior is rewarded that will be the path too often taken. For example, if a family worked hard, was modest, sober, honest and carful, they would naturally prosper in this country thus exemplifying the path to success. On the other hand, if a family were to be lazy, immoral, spend wildly, intoxicate and not care for their children, the result would be a visible cataclysm and others would steer away from such behavior. These models would thus reinforce a Biblically established scheme of success. As it is now we reward the lazy, an imprudent and punish the industrious, sober minded. You can live in a way that causes destruction but still survive. You can see where that takes us a as a nation?

Traditionally, the Church has sought out those in need in order to preach the Gospel. They have been receptive because they have suffered and are looking for answers. They are looking for a better way. In this country, it is more difficult to preach the Gospel because of the way to success, which the  Bible outlines is countered by subsidized laziness and debauchery. They have a “god”, and it is the State. Their plan of life, while not very appealing to most, is sufficient and fairly comfortable. The Gospel of Christ is thus hidden for lack of desire to pursue a better way. The Gospel we preach is a now and then Gospel, “What God does for you now and eternity.”

Politics

Unfortunately, with the current elections at hand, we are painfuly aware of a huge dilemma. We have a choice between acceleration toward a hard core socialistic future or simple immoral prosperity without social change that can use wealth wisely. Neither of these takes us in the right direction and each has a devastating terminus.

The socialistic agenda is obviously negative, as I suspect the reader understands. But, simple prosperity has its downside, as Biblical readers, are acutely conscious. This drink historically proven to come with a hangover. Ancient societies have, as Israel in the Old Testament, come to ruin. Without the cultural moral boundaries once firmly established combined with more money and time on our hands, we will devour ourselves in licentiousness.

Thus, the Lord has given us over to our carnality and is humiliating the United States, first, in Obama, and then in our current non-choice between Hillary or Trump. Obama has made “fundamental Change”, Hillary will continue the “progress” and Trump at best will increase our prosperity with no cultural, moral progress. This will make our situation worse. It is a downward slide at the hands of the peoples vote and carnality leading to a free fall . I think it is obvious that the only road ahead is more dissipation.

Islam

In my research of Islam and the Middle East after Islam’s advent, I have concluded that as Assyria was to Israel and Babylon was to Juda, so is Islam to Christianity. Islam is a judgement upon the Church.

Institutionally, the Church was a mess in the Middle East at the time of Mohamed. The Church at that time used legal institutions to oppress other less powerful Christian sects. This was only 600 years after the resurrection of Christ.

Similarly, the church is in disarray today. With a weak gospel message and with the believer’s heart in lustful pursuit of worldly gain, we are in an unenviable state.

Islamic immigration to the United States is continuing to increase. Muslim audacity is rising in our free environment. They use our democratic system and social resources allowing them to grow safely and prolifically, with their hope of Sharia in the USA. This will affect our communities profoundly in the future and the Sharia institution will appear. By force they will bring us into submission. This has been their approach historically since Islam began.

As in many places in the world, the fidelity of culture has been adversely affected by immigration not properly controlled. Here we have a Southern immigration that strengthens the Socialist movement and an army from the East to destroy the Church. This two prong attack is the dark cloud on the horizon readying for a deluge upon the church.

Visible Church

I believe the Visible Church will cease to exist. The Visible Church is the store front church, the ones you attend on Saturday or Sunday; those that preach the Word. The Visible Church will die due to taxation and regulation, supported by public opinion.

The Anti-Christ Church will always exist. By “Anti-Christ” I mean, those churches that have wondered from the faith and ran to secular philosophies intertwined with various Biblical texts. The Bible is used only to give an appearance of orthodoxy and a pseudo-psychological placebo for the here and now ailment. Secular ideas are used by these to avoid persecution and gain general cultural acceptance.

If you are on the internet, you will see the church characterized as bigoted and war mongering. You have also seen the prejudice and marginalization of the church in the media as a type of cartoon. They have even termed us as dangerous like Islamic terrorists. You also have noted the trend to tax the church, which means our property and donations.

As a result most churches that are struggling financially will sell or lose their property to the government for failure to pay their taxes.

The government will require tax on property that the church owns. It will no longer be treated as a charitable organization but as a business.

Along with this, the exemption that is given for charitable giving on an individual’s tax return will be taken away and if that weren’t enough the exemptions given to pastors will be abolished, thus decreasing financial resources. Pastors will take other jobs to survive.

It is also so common knowledge that there is an “anti-discrimination” movement spreading through the country that is targeting the church. This affects who the church hires and how we speak of behaviors not sanctioned by the Bible. Not hiring gay and transgender individuals will make us guilty of discrimination followed by laws suits. This further impacts out activities and finances. Furthermore, pastors speaking against these behaviors will be guilty of using “hate speech” punishable by jail.

The law will change to demand that the church no longer use ”discriminatory” hiring practices as it relates to gays and transgender people. This affects church’s educational institutions, charitable organizations, missions, and hospitals. The church will be forced to risk existence over orthodoxy.

This trend is made possible by the daily, philosophical indoctrination of media and education. These orthodox, secular humanists are ready to give over the Church for “doing what is right.”

As a result of socialism, the educational system, the media, Islam, taxation and legislation, the Visible Church has hard days ahead and it will cease to exist. The Church’s Divine Calling of living righteously and affecting change in the hearts of people will be more difficult. The Islamic movement will push us out of some places and pressure us with Sharia in others.

The good news is that the Church won’t cease to exist. It will still be present but invisible. The buildings will be gone but the Church will move on. It will be an unseen Church: small; in garages, playrooms, living rooms and shops. These churches will be many.

In these close quarters we will be refined and redefined. This closeness will have a winnowing effect because, proximity breeds conflict. People will have more conflict and reveal Judas but those who remain will become better at resolving it: learning love at a deeper level.  With our backs against the wall and a harder core of individuals remaining, we will be required to step up and take responsibilities that we once hadn’t realized. Gifts will be discovered, previously obscured. Innovation in the Spirit will open opportunities through efforts never attempted by our generation, and with much persecution.

As the economy declines and social programs fade, the need for help and answers will come. Socialism will be seen by those blinded as bankrupt. People will turn to God, then we will have a fresh awakening; a great harvest.

So this requires great patience in the Saints. We will wait on God. In the interim, we shall plant and water. We will ready ourselves for the new harvest and wait for the answer to “What next?”

God be with you in Christ.

Identity Crisis

I recently discussed salvation and the Identity Concept (IC) as they relate. This discussion brought about important issues of distinction. IC is the teaching about who you are now as a Christian. The idea of IC as many ideas if improperly used, prop up a bad ideas. It will become the reason for supporting a bad idea as if proving IC legitimizes, as in this case, a bad gospel. This is the case with the IC concept when placed with the popular gospel of Cheap Grace (CG) or easy believe-ism. Cheap grace is the salvation that requires no repentance for salvation because it erroneously states simply that by “faith” in Christ you are saved. It requires nothinwhog else. You will change naturally.

I use and want to grow in my identity in Christ and I hope to encourage others to do the same. IC is encouraged after becoming a Christian. A Christian is one who trusts Christ, thus having a new King, Kingdom and Kingdom purpose. You are now a resident of the Kingdom and a royal subject of the King. You are His representative and emissary. You are now empowered by this knowledge for Kingdom living and service.

IC is improperly applied in CG and give an unfortunate support for CG. IC’s role in the context of CG is as follows. One believes in Jesus expressed in the prayer of salvation. Then one needs to be taught about their identity. It is believed that the new Christian will “naturally” grow to maturity once they have been taught their identity. I believe, that for some, it works just that way and they become wonderful and fruitful Christians. However this is the anomaly…I believe that fruitful Christians work hard for their new life. For the majority, when told they are saved through their “faith” and are Heaven bound, IC becomes irrelevant. They naturally conclude it isn’t important for salvation, so why bother. It is like a contractor being paid before the job is completed. He lacks motivation to do the job timely, if at all.

Experience shows that many of us really struggle in our evolution: sanctification. It can be very hard to change habits and take on the character of Christ. Many superficial changes are quite easy but others are demoralizing. It isn’t all that natural to change but it is inevitable to change as you “work out your faith with fear and trembling.”

From this stand point, when IC does not achieve it purported goals, it isn’t concluded that the faith was spurious but that IC hasn’t been properly grasped. They believe the individual is saved through their ”faith” so the salvation of the individual isn’t to be questioned. Is proclaiming faith in Christ enough?

IC properly placed in the acceptance of Christ is highly valuable. The foundation that IC rests is the Gospel that which teaches to submit to Jesus the King and make a commitment to adhering to the Kingdom lifestyle. As anything new, it comes through difficulty and failure.

Faith in Christ is as simple as hearing his message and as a result following his word and lifestyle. Faith is like flicking a switch and the result is the illuminance of the light. Yet, it isn’t natural to luminate as bright as Jesus but through sanctification we become brighter. IC may play an important role. The faithful will bear fruit; the fruit described in Galatians, the fruit of the Spirit. This fruit affect the lives of outsiders.

IC can play an important role for those of faith. Assuming one comes to faith, as Christ would define, it is the next necessary to teach them to obey Jesus (Matt 28:18-20.) Since, in this transaction, Christ is recognized as Lord, non-spurious faith will continue in its ups and downs through the end of life. In this, IC is very important. These ones will become bright lights.

IC provides, upon the foundation of Christ and the Gospel, an understanding of who we are in relationship to God. It says we are loved children and co-heirs with Christ. With the assurance of God’s power, love, and fidelity we are empowered to live as Jesus. Knowing we are on his team to be equipped and used for his eternal purpose, we are fruitful. It is like taking the jersey and given a position to play on your favorite sports team. It is incredible to be included as a full member of the family of God through Jesus Christ.

Physically Fit with a Box of Doughnuts

body modelBeing fit is hard work. It requires discipline in exercise, sleep, and diet. If you have ventured any distance into the realm of fitness this is what you will discover. Six days a week in the gym, a balanced diet with lots of protein and good sleep habits. The body you are looking for is on the other side. It is for anyone who wants it.

However, because we all want a short cut to a great body, businesses are grown and money. They know we would all like to be fit and amazing looking without the gym and of course lots of goodies! We do not want to diet but only want a pill. If you look into magazine from “Men’s Health” to “Body and Fitness” you will find beautiful people posing by a supplement bottle or a weight loss concoction. This is to sell you fitness in a bottle.

Ones see a beautiful person next to a miracle formula, guaranteed to burn fat and give you a six pack. What you do not know is that the body model in the add works hard in the gym and does all that I previously mentioned. Right before the photo-shoot they cut weight. This is why they look so great. Who knows whether they took the supplement or medicine? Through this they can sell you a miracle elixir; fitness in a bottle. They know what you want and make a lot of money.

It is bought even though it sounds too good to be true. You can’t take a pill, eat a dozen doughnuts, watch Duck Dynasty endlessly and have a lean, cut physique.

Being a Christian is the same. We want spirituality without the corresponding discipline required to get it. We want to be like Apostle Paul but we do not want to do what he did. Through asking Jesus into our heart, baptism, convenient theologies, church service, and other mixtures we hope that we will be that spiritual man or women we read about in biographies.

It doesn’t come. It won’t; it can’t! What will come, are disappointment and lethargy; spiritually fat and flabby. You may just conclude that God doesn’t have some great task for you or that he doesn’t want to use you in a spiritual way for his Kingdom. This causes you to do less. One simply leans back and expects nothing, doing only some minor exterior Christian religious acts…or go to another conference!

One wants to be like these spiritual greats, like Jesus, as cheaply as one can. This is a problem and a danger. It is a problem because this isn’t how it works. One can get a lot of knowledge in the process of being a “Christian” and feel they are mature in the faith. This is a well-supported delusion. However it is only pride in a disguise.

One can be part of a church and even be elevated to higher position and responsibility, but still be spiritually dwarfed. Others of lower rank in the Church look to that person as a spiritual giant and emulate them. The result is reproduction in kind: spiritually immature, biblically knowledgeable people with tenure.

There is a danger also. The threat is that one may find themselves, just close enough to the spiritual realm, that when Satan discovers a right time, he will destroy them. Even with all the assets just mentioned, one cannot stand against the enemy. These will be vanquished. One may respond “But, isn’t Jesus protecting me?” “I’ve read that somewhere in the Bible.” The answer is “Yes!” he is, however he protects one through a spiritual connection which once initiated is maintained.

There is only one way to get to spiritual fitness and continuous growth. This comes in a co-laboring process with the Holy Spirit. It is outlined in the scripture and it goes like this. Faith is initiated. One reads the Word, gets counsel from the more mature, and takes each thought captive to Christ. This is a good start. They use meditation and prayer to remain in a state of spiritual awareness. This is “Walking in the Spirit.” One must meet with other believers regularly to encourage each other in the faith. While meeting one must provoke and be guided to love and good deeds. Finally, one must carry out the will of God generated from love.

One must be aware that there is an Adversary and he works in the mind to destroy trust in Jesus. This must be kept in mind always. The spiritual in Christ must put themselves in a place to walk with the Spirit as I previously described. This is how he protects and guides the Christian.

In this process there are many spiritual trials that Christ uses to harden faith and develop higher levels of protection. The result is greater faith and intimacy with Jesus. From here spiritual maturity is gained. Acts of spiritual valor in Jesus name are displayed and spiritual power is exhibited.

There is no pill. No elixir will do it. The special conference won’t change you. Only the diligent application of the spiritual tools he has provided will cut the spiritual fat and give that nice cut look of the beautiful Spirit of Jesus. Through away the pills. Just say no to the box of doughnuts and sweat a little.

Deafened by My Paradigm

The House

A paradigm is a point of view that serves as a pattern or model.  The following is a description of paradigms from Wikipedia: For well-integrated members of a particular discipline, its paradigm is so convincing that it normally renders even the possibility of alternatives unconvincing and counter-intuitive. Such a paradigm is opaque, appearing to be a direct view of the bedrock of reality itself, and obscuring the possibility that there might be other, alternative imageries hidden behind it. The conviction that the current paradigm is reality tends to disqualify evidence that might undermine the paradigm itself; this in turn leads to a build-up of unreconciled anomalies. It is the latter that is responsible for the eventual revolutionary overthrow of the incumbent paradigm, and its replacement by a new one.

One paradigm we Protestants may be familiar is the Catholic paratheological perspective that Martin Luther challenged. In short it was…

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How to go to Church

How to go to Church

We need to relearn how to do church. You might think “Why? What could be more simple? And this is it. If a person even goes to church, it is usually just to attend and leave. We may say “Hi” to a few acquaintances and shake a few hands. But we then we go home or to some planned activity, unassociated with the Body or even Christ. This doesn’t seem like a ”encourage problem to many of us. However, compared to God’s purpose for the church, it is weak. It is impotent! It doesn’t meet his purpose and his expectations.

It hardly seems necessary to teach how to go to church, does it? We know how it is. It is simple. Do what others do! Just watch closely. We will learn from the body, right? You know, grab the kids show up on time, sit, stand, bow your head, listen and leave. We sing some songs and listen to a message. We have done our job. We have fulfilled our duty. What more is there?

However this isn’t it.

In this, we are going to talk about how to make church service more fulfilling, purposeful, and effective. We need to reestablish its purpose and importance in our lives. It is imperative!

Why do we go to church? What does the Bible teach?

The Bible says to encourage one another. Yes, you receive teaching and worship. Yet, it doesn’t stop there. We are to encourage each other to faith and good deeds. This is what the Bible describes as gathering together. states “…and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds…” This is very purposeful. However, you get used to doing nothing. Moreover you do not even act on the word given from the pulpit. It is just another nice Sunday.

In this, God’s service, you will do church differently. You will take personal responsibility. You are responsible to encourage others in faith, love and good deeds. You will endeavor and not be satisfied with a Sunday without it.

But, how can you change church. Can you run it or admonish the pastor for change? Unlikely, yes! But you might be surprised that he wants you to go to work in the congregation. He can’t do it all. So, yes, you can’t change the service but you can change you. You can approach the service differently. You can change how you see it and how you use it. This will take some planning and new activities.

This is how; Go with expectancy to encourage and be encouraged. This will take some planning and prayer before church. Start thinking in terms of giving and not receiving. This happens before you get in the door. Sit in your car and get your head together. Set your plan and then go to work. You’ll see your experience and joy for church grow.

Show up to church a little early and stay a little late. Meet people and invite them into friendship and conversation. Look especially for new people and those not connected. Sit by them in church and engage in sharing lives.

Ask questions. Find out their concerns and prayer needs. Tell what you have been thinking about or doing. Oh course do it in brevity, do not bore them with your issues but listen mostly. Pray right then and there. Ask them to pray for you during the week as you will pray for them. Exchange phone numbers and call each other during the week as you pray for one another. Share thoughts and progress.

Plan your day around church. Invite others over to your house after church. Do this right there in church. Do this each Sunday. Plan events for your family and invite others along. Picnics, lunch, golf, or the lake, these are simple ideas to be expanded upon.

Now, how do you approach the service differently and how do you use it well? The old approach is worship and listen. Say amen, and you’re all done for the week. It gets real old, kind of pointless, and not productive. Doesn’t it? It can even seem a burden. But this is a perspective problem. You have no plan or purpose. And strangely as a result, you start to wonder “Why go?” Maybe you have even quit or go infrequently?

During the service engage with God. Give to him in worship. Engage your imagination. Take your experiences and life with you and use the songs to inspire real thanks. Lift your hands, close your eyes, speak praises, sing and expect to be touched. When you take what is going on in your life to worship, it is very real. Sometimes joy, sometimes tears all because you are engaging your heart with God.

During the message, ask God to teach you by his Spirit. Take notes. Write down the things that really relate to you. Not tid-bits of information, but things you need to employ and change.

Review your notes Sunday evening. Take time to make a plan of action for the week. This is to impress upon your spirit what the Lord spoke to you in the service. This is better than forgetting like usual, right?

Church is a participant, not a spectator sport. You are part of a team with a purpose and a plan. You go to the church service to encourage others and worship God. You enact a plan of action for the week.

Prepare before church. Go early and stay late. Engage others. Invite others for Sunday activities. Make a plan of action for the week. Pray for others and invite them to pray for you.

As a result your faith will grow, you will love church more and look forward to it with excitement. The engagement with Christ and with those around you will grow. You will fulfill the command to love your neighbor as yourself. Isn’t that what it is all about?

Now act!

Here is an summary:

1) Pray before church

2) Show up early

3) Meet people, especial new on or unconnected people

4) Ask for prayer request

5) Plan to talk and prayer for one another during the week

6) Worship in your life in mind

7) Take notes

8) Stay late after church

9) Invite others over

10) Review notes at night and make plan for the week

11) Act out plan, call prayer partner and visit and pray for them

12) Repeat next week

*** Please give feedback in the form of comments.***

Church Growth: Rearranging the Furniture

The House

ImageI think it is always helpful to the atmosphere of a facility to rearrange furniture. My mom used to do this and I made fun of it then but really it does help. My wife used to do this also until I ruined her life by following Jesus. To the horror of many we live in a travel trailer. Not much of a life for a wife.

Churches are always trouble shooting the effectiveness of the church. They want to reach the community and grow their influence.  There are many books on this issue along with conferences and books on counseling, small groups, men, women, kids, youth groups, worship styles and the list go on.

It feels good to change things. It brings a feeling of life and excitement. Building projects, interior design, high tech presentations and sound systems; It is forward leaning, a lot of activity.

We can do…

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Cheap Grace: Only for the Indoctrinated

The House

and simple Dietrich Bonhoeffer describes Cheap grace in his book “Call to Discipleship.” “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Cheap grace or the half-gospel is the primary message given at the pulpit. It has been there for many years. It is vigorously held by most in the Protestant Church. The carnally hearted defend their dogma forcefully. Blinded by desire, they hate the cross but love its benefits.
Interestingly this half–gospel message is rejected by the Elect, Mormons, Catholics, Secularists and others but not the indoctrinated of the protestant church. It is rejected because it is non-sense. It is not ignored because the hardening by sin necessarily. They can accept the gospel of the…

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