Lies the Church Believes Part 2: God Would Never Ask Me to Do Anything “Irresponsible”

I don’t think I can say it any better than David Platt does, so I’m just going to use his metaphor: If we’re going to call Jesus “Lord,” He demands that we give Him a “blank check” of our lives.

This means that in all things, Jesus decides. Jesus, not we, decides where we live, what job we have, what car we drive (if any), what kind of house we live in, how much money we make, what level of insurance we can afford, how much (if any) money goes into our child’s college fund, retirement fund, etc.

But this is a very difficult truth to follow. What we often do is plan our lives ourselves and then try to fit Jesus in it somewhere. Perhaps we fit Him in by “tithing,” where we are responsible and even happy to give our 10%, but give no thought to God intruding on the other 90%. Or maybe we have a good job, so we relegate our purpose to being a good example on the job. It is quite plausible that we can justify virtually any investment decision (insurance, stocks, trust funds, college funds, etc.) by calling it good stewardship. After all, “A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children…” (Proverbs 13:22).

Please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that Christians should have no savings accounts, college funds, insurance, nice cars, houses etc. and that we are all required to sell all those things. All of these things are legitimate, but not if you have gained them by ignoring God’s calling for you. The American dream is not God’s plan for the Christian.

God’s plan for the Christian is for the Christian to fully depend on Him.

For this to happen, we must have a real relationship with Christ. Sadly, I believe many Christians, including me, are too preoccupied with self to have any clue what Christ is asking us to do. But when we learn to fully depend on Him, I can guarantee you He is going to ask more of us than we ever imagined.

Have you ever wondered why Jesus didn’t ask everyone to sell all they had, just that rich young guy? Zacchaeus got to keep some.

Or why did Jesus tell one man to let “the dead bury their own dead” and forsake his father’s burial, but then legitimize mourning by going and weeping at the grave of Lazarus?

I think it is because Jesus was hitting at the major idols in each individual’s life. He was smashing the thing they cared about most and telling them to leave it behind.

Have you ever felt the Holy Spirit convict you to give up something — money, time, emotion, career, etc. — but then resisted with excuses that sound something like: “If I start giving this much, I won’t have enough for ____, and that would be irresponsible.” Or, “If I help this person, I might miss _____ event that my child is involved in, and God would never ask me to do that.” Or, “If I change careers, I’ll lose my insurance/pension/standard of living, and I have a family to consider.”

Many pastors, perhaps in different ways, have labored long to make this point. I am just one of the thousands chiming in, but it is such a vital truth. Much more could be said, but this question basically sums up the problem: “Do you trust God?”

Jesus said that not even a sparrow falls from a nest without the Father knowing and caring. Jesus said that He came that we may have life more abundantly. Jesus also said that whoever finds his life shall lose it and whoever loses his life shall find it. Jesus said that whoever doesn’t hate his own father, mother, brother, sister and children is not worthy to be called His disciple. Jesus promised that the Father will take care of all our needs.

Do you believe all of that? Do you believe that God will take care of you even if your retirement fund is virtually non-existent. Do you believe He loves you if your car has two salvage titles and has to be bump-started? Do you believe you can be a responsible father if your house doesn’t have at least four bedrooms?

Tell me, what room is there to exercise faith in a life that “has it all figured out”?

As I said before, it might be that God does provide all these things and more. But material possessions are not the goal. Total obedience and dependence on God, is. And when you completely surrender to Him, you start experiencing real life that might exist in a tiny apartment or a mansion or in a tiny apartment that you chose instead of a mansion. Whose kingdom are you building, anyway?

Ultimately, like all aspects of the Christian life, the point is that Jesus is everything and all other things are rubbish compared to His will. Is He convicting you? Do you know Him well enough to even know what experiencing His guidance is like?

If so, and if you are resisting, please, just give in. The Christian life ought to look crazy to outsiders, and even if your fellow church members tell you it’s irresponsible, give in to Jesus’s calling for your life and learn what true riches really are.

Lies the Church has Adopted Part 1: Sex and Marriage are the Real Sources of Fulfillment

American culture is sex-obsessed, and so are a lot of churches. We just manifest this obsession in a different way. I am convinced that the vast, vast majority of American church-goers have unknowingly adopted the mainstream view that sexual gratification is necessary to live a fulfilled, happy life. We just add the caveat that you need to be married first. If we don’t want to talk so openly about sex being ultimate, we certainly don’t have any qualms about placing marriage at idol status.

“But, Klint, aren’t sex and marriage good things?” Yes, of course they are. But I am convinced that, from a young age, believers are conditioned to think that sex marriage is the point at which life really begins. This idea is neither true nor biblical, and its effects are damaging your congregation and, really, American culture at-large.

I recently watched a video Bible Study lesson that featured a man who started a home for kids who basically had terrible home lives. It was awesome to see God use this man to rescue kids from poverty, drug-addict parents, homelessness etc. But then I saw something that bothered me very much.

The man talked about his relationship with the girls he works with. It seemed like was completely fixated on teaching them “what kind of man they ought to marry someday. From the time the girls were preteens, he would pray for with the girls, specifically mentioning, “Lord I pray for the men these girls will someday marry.” When the girls became high-schoolers, he would take them on a “date” in order to show them how they ought to be treated and that if a boy treats them in a less-than-respectful way, then they need to dump him.

Now, you might not see a problem here. And, for the majority of the girls, this is great because most of them will get married someday. The problem is that marriage was simply a forgone conclusion. No question about it. God has somebody for everybody. There was absolutely no talk about the possibility of singleness well into adulthood or perhaps for a lifetime.

This message is being preached in our churches — usually by omission. Messages about having a good marriage abound, but there is little said about singleness unless it is in the form of “you single people will get married someday, so this is for you too.” To that I say, “maybe, but maybe not.”

The truth is that God calls different people to different things. John the Baptist, Jesus and Paul were all single until death. (It is likely that Paul had a wife at some point, but for whatever reason was single throughout his ministry and did not seek one.) And Paul clearly teaches in I Corinthians 7 that those who have the ability to remain single without burning sexual desire, have a gift! A gift! A gift! How many of our single brothers and sisters believe they are under a curse?! The idea that something is wrong if one does not have a hearty sexual appetite is the world’s idea, you won’t find it in Scripture. But we’ve adopted it, and what’s worse is that the truth is that for lack of sex and other reasons, we pity the single as if they are in a really sad state. This has got to change.

Think of how this affects young men as well. In general, males do have strong sexual desires. But gratification of those desires, even in the context of marriage will not make a man whole. Young Christian men all over have idolized sex, with the help of church-culture, to the point that they really don’t think their lives could possibly be whole without getting married. Although, statistics show that most will have sex before that point, anyway.

There is much more to say, but I’ll try to wrap this up.

We have to stop thinking of sex as something better than Jesus. It isn’t. Think of the damage being caused to singles who think they are missing out on the best part of life. Think about the damage caused when someone who struggles with homosexuality is told that if they just believe in Jesus, He will make them sexually attracted to the opposite sex and then they’ll get married and live happily ever after.

We have to stop presuming we know what God is going to do with someone. He promises to save and set apart for His purposes, not ours.

A great number of men and women who were celibate for life had huge, huge impacts on the world for Christ. Our fulfillment in life comes from following His will. Even if it’s not what we desire, He gives us the power to live it out.

Pastors, your pews are filled with single young adults, divorcees, single mothers, widows, widowers etc. who need to learn that God is not holding out on them. If sex and marriage were the be-all-end-all of life, why aren’t we going to have either in eternity?

You would be hard-pressed to find a pastor or church member who would say that anything other than “Jesus” is our ultimate source of fulfillment. Unfortunately, that message is being clouded by our adoption of a sex-obsessed mentality.

Many Church Goers Do Not Worship God

For many months now, God has been stirring my heart, revealing Himself and asking me to truly worship Him — at church.  What a concept.

The truth is, I’ve been a worshiper for years.  Being a worshiper simply means you recognize who God is.  You meditate on His attributes; His great holiness, faithfulness and love (to name my top three) and as you do, you begin to see yourself appropriately by comparison.  Worship is extremely humbling and extremely satisfying.  When you find yourself lost in pure worship to God, all else, including thoughts of self, melts away and He is all there is.  Fulfillment comes because you were created for this very thing.

The other truth is, for years I mostly worshiped outside of my church gatherings.  (EEHEM)  Alone in my car, praise in the shower, at Christian concerts or conferences, FREEDOM to worship seemed much easier to find.  But, put me in a Sunday service at church and forget about it.  Too distracted and too well trained.

God has clearly shown me how messed up my worship was and has also opened my eyes to the reality that I’m far from alone.

There are countless articles and opinions out there on “what’s wrong with the church.”  Well, I’ll throw my hat in the ring with this statement: Churches are busy dragging people into serving a God they do not worship. 

Church leaders across the land beg for people to help.  Please volunteer.  Sign-up to serve.  Please GIVE.  “The fields are white for harvest, but the laborers are few!”  Why?  It’s exhausting and difficult to serve and give to a God you don’t worship.  You may serve others and you may serve your church, but your service won’t last because people disappoint and “burn out” kicks in.  And thus, the cycle of dragging people in and out of service in the church continues.

Every time I find examples of service and giving in scripture it comes after an encounter with God where He has been magnified and He has been worshiped.  I believe if a church is not bearing fruit that looks a lot like people wanting to serve and people freely giving, the issue is worship.  Always worship.

I realize my claim that most church goers are not worshiping God is a rather judgmental statement.  How can I know whether or not someone is worshiping God?  Well, I can’t.  However, I think I can know when someone is not.  You’re not worshiping God when you are focused on self.  You’re not worshiping God when you are distracted by what other people think of you.  You’re not worshiping God when you are angry and harboring bitterness against someone else.  You’re not worshiping God when you have that sour, mean look on your face.  Sorry, but you’re not.

It’s easy to recognize fake worship because I’ve been guilty of it myself.

Week after week thousands of Christians enter church buildings and attend WORSHIP services where worship never happens.  Sure, there is music and prayer and even preaching, but the majority of attendees half-heartedly sing — if they sing at all — give little to no thought to the words and worse, little to no thought to God.  They won’t pick up a Bible and look at the preaching text.  And they whine about the sermon.  Why are we going to church?!

When I wrote the Bible study, King Hezekiah, I was awestruck by the scene found in 2 Chronicles chapter 29 — a picture of worship.  The people had been restored to a right relationship with God, their hearts were turned toward Him and they worshiped.  There were instruments (plural), singers (thousands) and LOUD music for DAYS.  They fell on their faces in humility before God and truly worshiped Him.  There was no discussion about who was leading, what style would please the most ears, what the song list was or how many songs should be played.  Those things don’t matter when the throne of God Almighty is the focus.  It was a scene of uninhibited joy and praise before the Lord.  Their focus was on a powerful and holy God who had rescued them from their sin when He could have crushed them. They were full of gratitude for His mercy and grace.  After they worshiped, they brought in an abundance of gifts to the Lord, so much so that King Hezekiah had to have more storehouses built to hold what the people gave.  They gave sacrificially.  They wanted to.  Out of hearts of worship came hearts of service and giving.  It was the same in the New Testament churches.

So, what’s our problem?  Here are three points to consider:

  • 1. We don’t worship because we don’t understand who God is. The church needs to be discipled.  We need to learn the scriptures and we need to learn them alongside our brothers and sisters in Christ.  God has revealed Himself to us through His word and through His creation.
  • 2. We don’t worship because we don’t accept that we were made for worship. Hello?  Nothing else on this planet satisfies and fulfills the human soul but worship to the creator God. However, we spend the majority of our time believing we were made for something or someone else.
  • 3. And the most frustrating of all — is that often we (church attendees) don’t worship because we don’t think we are supposed to.  It’s not appropriate in our churches to be filled with the Spirit, to weep, to raise our hands, to shout, to speak praise or to sing at the top of our lungs.  (Perhaps even more so if you are female.)  We are far too dignified.  Do we see our leaders (pastors and deacons and elders and teachers) worshiping God with uninhibited praise and joy before the Lord?  Um, no.  We see them stuck in tradition or so afraid to let go and be free themselves, we don’t know what to do.  We are afraid to embrace worship.  We quench the Spirit for the sake of everyone else’s comfort and we keep worship locked down inside us where we’ve been trained to believe it belongs.  Ask around.  You’ll learn this is true.

King Hezekiah lead his people in worship.  He was an example to his people.  He wasn’t worried about what people thought about the music or the timing.  He cared for his people, but mostly He was busy passionately loving His God.  And the king’s worship was contagious.

I love my church.  I love the church.  It’s just time to let go.  It’s time to find freedom in Christ. It’s time to get serious about being a disciples who make disciples and about doing the one thing we were created for!

I’m asking God to begin with me.

But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father is seeking such people to worship him.       John 4:23

 

With all Your Mind?

In my opinion, loving the Lord with all your mind is the most widely neglected principle in the church today.

It is often referred to as “the greatest commandment” — “… You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matt. 22:37 ESV). (Other reports of this command include “and with all your strength.”)

Unfortunately, most Christians have a hard time obeying this rule in all three key areas. And when we start to slip in one, the others suffer along with it. I understand there are many ways one could expound on this verse, but hopefully you’ll learn something from this perspective.

As I — and I am going to reemphasize, I — understand it after studying, the heart refers to your will and your drive. The soul is your essential person and the part of you that is spiritual and communes with God. Your mind is your intellect; your place of reason and understanding truth.

When the intellectual pursuit of God is neglected, our foolish hearts and soul start to forget what an amazing God we have to serve and worship. If God asks us to love Him with all our minds, then we must encourage one another to engage and challenge our own thoughts toward Him and His Word. He always has more for us to learn.

While I completely affirm the Doctrinal Statement of the BMAA, it is not an exhaustive work that completely explains the great mysteries of God — nor is any doctrinal statement for that matter. However, I am afraid that many evangelicals feel that they must assume that every word that comes from the mouth of their preacher is 100% correct or else they are a “doubter.” Every believer has room for correction in their understanding of God and the Scriptures. We should never become lax in our diligence to seek the Lord in all honesty, lest our hearts and souls be discouraged.

When it comes to engaging with the world, neglecting the mind is especially dangerous for the student, challenged at every turn, who might have rested on assumption without truly digging in and understanding why they believe the Bible is true. The greatest reason young people leave the faith is not the fleshly temptation of the world. It is because the Christian faith can be made to look very foolish indeed if one doesn’t know why they ought to believe it and the evidence for it.

But the danger is not limited to the academic world. When we neglect the mind, we as individuals can become like Israelites soon after they were liberated from Egypt. God had performed undeniable miracles on their behalf, yet time and time again we see them complaining that God had simply brought them out to die. The Israelites must have either had very short memories or they weren’t thinking logically. It made no rational sense to lose faith in their God after all the things he had done to provide for them. Because of this, we saw them lose heart to the tune of “Let us go back to Egypt.” They even made a false idol and began to worship it, corrupting their spiritual natures.

Do we not do the same? If you think about the course of your entire life, you should find it obvious that God has been faithful even if you didn’t recognize it at the time. But do you still find yourself doubting that He knows best? Maybe God is calling you to do something hard. (If He never has, you’re probably not listening.) Are you resisting? If so, does that really seem like a smart thing to do?

Church member, what do you lack? Do you need to take action and serve? Do you need to learn to truly worship? Pastor, are you studying with all your heart to make sure you do your best to explain a passage properly and in its context?

It’s easy to say “I love God.” But are you truly loving God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind?

Klinton is an adjunct professor of journalism at Central Baptist College and is available for apologetics training and preaching. He may be reached at lifeinprogressministries@ gmail.com.