Posts Tagged ‘Bill Hybels’

It’s no secret that folk get uncomfortable when a pastor preaches for the altar call.

I mean, people get all squirmy thinking about the night before at the club and conviction besets paranoia with thoughts like, “I just know Pastor saw me there last night” and “God probably told him I was there.”

Whatever the cause, the effect is people flocking to the stage to get their lives right with Christ. Good times, right?

Funny. I don't see many 'happy' satanists or atheists. Hrm.

Funny. I don't many happy satanists or atheists. Hrm.

Well, not so much according to a recent Pew poll that folk just don’t believe in hell like they used to do.

Only 59% of Americans believe in hell, compared with 74% who believe in heaven, according to the recent surveys from the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

That makes sense. Believing in heaven despite a relationship with Christ means you may still get to hang out by the Pearly Gates. No sweat, so back to the crack house you go. However, people don’t want to believe in hell because what if… you know, we’re right and they’re not. Whoops.

So, why aren’t more pastors preaching those cherished brimstone messages of yesteryear? It’s just not “in”?

The Rev. Fred Johns, pastor of Brookview Wesleyan Church in Irondale, Ala., said after a workshop discussion of hell that pastors do shy away from the topic of everlasting damnation. “It’s out of fear we’ll not appear relevant,” he said. “It’s pressure from the culture to not speak anything negative. I think we’ve begun to deny hell. There’s an assumption that everybody’s going to make it to heaven somehow.”

Somewhere, Carlton Pearson is giggling like a schoolgirl who got checked “Yes” in study hall for the quiz, “Do you like me?”

MEMO to pastors: You aren’t denying hell. You are avoiding it. And, inadvertently, leading others to it.

You know dang skippy no one changed the scriptures while you slept through seminary. Heaven is still coming with Jesus, and hell is still a place to get the worst sunburn in history.

This isn’t fashion that is “in” one day and “out” the next. It’s never Labor Day with Jesus and you can wear your whites all year long, brother. So, why?

A-ha! G’head. Admit it, you Caspar Milquetoast clock-punchers. It’s the economy, right?

The more you preach folk at the crossroads of heaven or hell, you are at another crux in the road of getting their tithe or watching that check walk out the door.

Call it what you want, emergent pastorer, psychopablum pulpiteersuh, you know who you are (and we do too).

Exit this post and turn left...

Exit this post and turn left...

From Sheol to Hades, Gehenna to Tartarus. Even “the pit” if that knocks your socks off and gives you reprieve from your pastoral obligations.

Whatever you call it, just beware:

But we are all like an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are like filthy rags; We all fade as a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away (Isaiah 64:6 NKJV).

I hope that sticks because no matter how good you look on TV, you are only as pretty as the last sinner you yanked out of the muck and the mire.

That’s the evidence of your global ministry – the people.

Maybe that’s why your righteousness should be like “filthy rags.” If you are doing God’s work, you are busy polishing off all the dirt on folks’ lives. Just a thought.

Oh, and if you don’t know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, call on him.

He loves you. He died for you. He lives for you now. Forget what you don’t hear in church. Just hear the knock on your heart… and let him in. Peace.

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Yeah. It's been awhile since they walked with God.

Yeah. It's been awhile since they walked with God.

Recently, WOW News’ The Pew Forum released a gripping study entitled “Faith in Flux” that is certain to make you scratch your head and wonder just what people have been doing while “walking with God.”

And don’t worry, this is equal-opportunity sequestering. So, first, I would like to get all those who consider themselves “Catholic” to huddle up close to the warmth of your monitor as you see what has been uncovered of your ilk.

Of those surveyed raised Catholic and are now unaffiliated, why?

  • 71% just “gradually drifted away”. Hrm. If only all that Latin and liturgy was more entertaining. It’s not a movie people, it’s God!
  • 56% were not happy with the church’s abortion teachings. Liberalism in the church? Anyone? So the news and Hollywood has more sway than God. Nice.
  • 43% said their spiritual needs were not met. Yeah, that happens when the youth group goes suddenly vacant. (Giggle).
  • 27% advised it was the clergy sexual abuse scandal. And who could blame them?!

What about those Catholics who decided to flip and go Protestant?

  • 70% found a “religion” they liked more. Well, unless they went to Buddha or Mohammed, they didn’t find a religion people. It was more like a denomination shift change during study hall. Oy! Oh, there’s another one!
  • 32% were dissatisfied with the atmosphere at worship services. Um, were you expecting the Pope to break out with the “Top 10 Feng Shui tips to attract more parishioners”?
  • 21% were unhappy with the rule that priests couldn’t marry. Yeah, 100 percent of those results were from priests.

Protestants. Yeah, I’m talking to you, heathens. So, why are you now unaffiliated with the Church?

  • 71% just drifted away from religion. Anyone seeing a trend here? More on that in a minute.
  • 50% stopped believing in the religion’s teachings. And I’ll bet 100% of my rent that it was because of WHO was doing the teaching.
  • 25% were dissatisfied with the clergy over the congregation. So, I guess the other half were asked the question within hearing range of their former pastor. Just a thought.

What about the reasons you joined another faith within the Protestant Reformation… er, another church?

  • 85% enjoy the newer services and style of worship. Anyone still going to argue with Joel, Bill, Ed and the boys? Bueller?
  • 50% were called by God. Hrm. Wonder what happened with the other 50% who didn’t answer the phone?
  • 36% were attracted by a particular minister. See above at 85%.

Now time for the rant:

1. What is with all this “just drifting away”? Do you mean to tell me Jesus went to the cross for people to wake up one day and tell the Lord, “We can just be friends”?! Um, not so much. Regardless if I am one of those once-saved, always-saved folk (and I am… NOTE: John 3:15-18, John 10:28-30 and Jude 24), but I question whether those drifters were ever serious about their relationship with God in the first place.

Scrub your heavenly flubs. Amen.

Scrub your heavenly flubs. Amen.

If you personally discover what it means to be saved, to be redeemed, why on earth would you try something else? Are chill bumps that addictive? Does God really bless you in the club? Wherever they find themselves, the most miserable person in the world is a truly backslidden Christian.

Drifted. That’s a load. The only thing these wayfaring, lukewarm toadstools drifted from is the regimen of being a Christian. Yes, Jesus welcomes you just as you are. But it’s his house now.

Brother… Sister… you gonna’ take a bath to wash off that muck and mire before you step foot in his crib. (NOTE: The slick advertisement in the picture). Think you won’t? Well, um, there’s another place that is a bit more balmy where you can get your ashy feet anywhere you want. But don’t say you weren’t warned.

2. Who are we walking with anyway? Last I checked the noted poem in small churches across the country, “Footprints in the Sand,” the only time we aren’t walking with God is when he is carrying us! Jesus isn’t that interested in people who can’t commit. With all that “spew you out of my mouth” stuff, I figure massaging his tonsils is not where I would be crazy about hanging. Perhaps these knobby-kneed folk didn’t get that far in their personal journey through the Bible?

Whatever the case, if you want to follow in Jesus’ footsteps, look up… not down. Keep your eyes on the ground and you could bump into something that will slam your face hard. You know, like an Episcopal church that says it embraces everyone, only to discover that embrace is a skosh more intense among same-sex groups. Now, now, Jesus loves all people. And there is nothing wrong with a person who says he or she is swinging that way… except for the way you are heading if no one has the temerity to tell you what is really up.

Aside from the analogy, if you are walking with the King of Kings, ask a brother for his sandals. If your feet are hurting that bad and you don’t feel like walking any more, maybe you just need to walk a mile in his shoes.

3. There’s something afoot among Protestants. Now, this is purely subjective because I am one, but what up with those statistics. It’s almost trendy to shop for churches like clothes. “Well, that preacher just doesn’t fit what I need.” Or, “The youth group wasn’t as exciting as an arcade. Let’s go to Dave N’ Busters.” How about, “How come everyone is in these fancy suits? I like my jeans. I’m out.” And then there’s, “Gurl. Look at that heifer in the choir. You know they just keep her in the middle to make the choir look bigger.”

Where are the people? The A/C was too cold.

Where are the people? The A/C was too cold.

Whatever the case, people are transient with their theology more and more every day. Whatever happened with all the biblical analogies comparing us as trees?! If you are going to make a difference in any church, you must set your roots deep. Because lets be honest, churches would be perfect if it weren’t for all those people who walk in there and set down their blessed assurance wherever they feel.

Stay awhile. You will get offended. And if you do… so what? Who are you there to worship? God Almighty or some huckster in a fancy suit?

Listen, here’s where all this walking leads us:

God doesn’t tempt us to sin (James 1:13). He doesn’t even lead us into temptation (Matthew 6:9-13). He leads us through love and grace. If you end up somewhere you shouldn’t be, guess whose brillance you have to blame?

Your apathy brought you there. Your discontent kept you there. Your billigerence prevents you from being welcomed anywhere else.

All that is outside of God. Remember him? Your walking buddy?

Deuteronomy 8:6 tells us to “observe the commands of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and revering him.”

People can observe. You know, if it’s from the cheap seats. They can even walk, providing they are permitting potty breaks every 10 minutes. But the “reverence” thing. Tsk. Folk have issues with that. Why? We let them.

So I’ll end not with a verse but with a maxim:

Walking with a friend in the dark is far better than walking alone in the light. ~Helen Keller

I… well… you know, I got nothing. That says it all. Happy walking, Church.

Evangelical [ee-van-jel-i-kuhl]

  1. adj. Pertaining to certain movements in the Protestant churches in the 18th and 19th centuries that stressed the importance of personal experience of guilt for sin, and of reconciliation to God through Christ.
  2. n. an adherent of evangelical doctrines marked by ardent or zealous enthusiasm for a cause

Amazing how a very popular word, that can be used in two different ways, can mean totally different things.

As an adjective, calling an action evangelical expresses fervor, passion and a firm commitment. However, as a noun, it denotes lukewarm people, phlegmatic expressions and tepid pablum.

You know, “I respect the person but that ‘Aw shucks’ attitude about Jesus is completely annoying.” And then, anyone in the Church rattles off the names ad nauseum: Rick Warren, Ted Haggard, Bill Hybels and Joel Osteen completing the “Non-Prophet Organization” (Imagine my cheesy grin now).

They sell books. They pack stadiums. They get invited to the big boys table at the White House. And they are living large! So, it’s all good, right?

evangelicalbookAccording to Warren Cole Smith evangelical journalist and editor of the Charlotte World (and this article in the Charlotte Observer): “Wrong!”

In his new book, an insider critique called “A Lover’s Quarrel with the Evangelical Church” (Authentic Books, $16.99), Smith argues that many, if not most, evangelical churches have lost their way. Instead of sticking with core biblical principles, rich traditions and church-as-community, he says, they promote feel-goodism, technological fads and church-as-entertainment.

Look out. Warren Cole Smith getting nice with “feel-goodism.” I know I didn’t study that theorem in Seminary, but I’m feelin’ it.

And, along with that new theological bent comes the technology to promote it: Twitter (I think I just threw up a little on my PC thinking of this trend for churches).

I mean, we should all have an elevator speech to witness – keep it simple, keep it sanctified. But, to ONLY do it in 140 characters or less?! That’s not outreach. That’s just plain lazy and saying you witness just for the sake of saying you do. But, that seems to be the trend these days.

Revelation 3:15-16 (NASB) tells us, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot… So then because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

While you kids are gallivanting around in your Learjets teaching the common man to “become a better you”, “being a contagious Christian”, “having a purpose-driven life” or just doing blow with a gay prostitute while fronting biblical organizations, there is all pomp… no circumstance.

Matthew 28:19 (NKJV) commands us to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations…”

joel-osteen-smileAre you doing that, or just pitching a tent for a day, promoting a cause, pushing an ATM and leaving town to cut bait?

Now, before you consider me to be some reject ne’er-do-well, consider Smith who is about to punk the guy pushing folk to get “their best life now”:

Joel Osteen has a view of the world that you can have your best life now,” Smith said. “If I were going to rewrite Genesis and put (modern) words into the mouth of Satan … I’d put Joel Osteen’s words there: ‘You’re not so bad. You’re so close to being God now. Just a little tweak, a little tune-up, a little bit better. Just follow these 7 rules.’

Since I found this article, I have read this book… twice!

If you believe there is no issues with today’s Church and how they have become the Freudian couch of tomorrow, think again. If you consider how we are supposed to reach the lost, and aren’t, this book makes you think twice and reinvent the way you live a Jesus life out loud. If you think nothing is wrong, then … uh, I don’t know… read the Bible:

“Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” (2 Timothy 3:5 ESV).

NOW… go read the book. This is unsolicited but it got my goat. What can I say? Oh wait, scroll up… no “feel-goodism” there. Let’s hope it sticks.

For years, certain megachurch pastors – event planners of the lukewarm pablum, if you will – have monochromatically aligned their proselytizing with about as much fervor as choosing the right socks to wear with an Italian suit.

You know, no passion but concerned with the aesthetics of it all.

PD*28795882Anywhoo, a big huzzah to the seeker-sensitive pastors of the world because all the cheerleading you do for a “good life” and a “better you” and the “best energy” God can muster has finally paid off.

Jesus caved in, left the right hand of his father, dawned some Levis and has become your official mascot thanks to bronze statue outside an East Sussex church in England and this story from The Telegraph (UK).

Here hangs our Lord, ravishing with some designer beach-bummin’ threads, hair flailing in the wind and rocking a major three-o-clock shadow.

Looking hot, J.C. Now, that’s my kind of Savior.

[Snap. Snap. Go in a circle. Snap.]

Father [David, of the Our Lady Immaculate and St. Philip Neri Catholic Church in Uckfield] Buckley said: “You are always looking for new ways to enrich people in the experience of Christianity and it is good people can be open-minded to appreciate it.

Sounds like a life preserver of spin control out of a reputation downfall to me.

Contemporary clothing. fresh locks, no grooming issues. Ah, there’s the rub.

People are in such a frentic rush to ensure Jesus can relate to modern-day issues that we push the envelope of sacrilege to present a Jesus is feeling a 21st century vibe.

NOW LOOK AT HIM?! Is that how he looked like carrying his hoist beam on the Via Dolorosa? Probably not, but I’m sure folk were complimenting his stylish Birkenstocks along those cobblestone streets.

No, that’s not in the Bible, but then again, neither is most of the drivel the aforementioned Kumbaya Klan shells out on Sundays. I’m just sayin’.

If there is one thing that chaps my hide more, it’s folk who dub themselves “Christian” yet use Jesus Christ’s name as an expletive.

Many people around the world call themselves Christian, but only act like it one day a week – if that often.

“God” is such a ubiquitous term these days, you know:

  • “I believe in God… she is great for my life.”
  • “I believe in God… praise be to Allah.”
  • “I believe in God… but there is no need to get involved in organized religion.”

toleranceBlah, blah, blah. Whatever the excuse, when it comes to faith, God’s name is passed around like a cheap coaster on some old woman’s antique coffee table.

So, imagine my surprise when I read this USA Today article and discovered 11 percent less folk even bother calling themselves a Christian.

The faithful have scattered out of their traditional bases: The Bible Belt is less Baptist. The Rust Belt is less Catholic. And everywhere, more people are exploring spiritual frontiers — or falling off the faith map completely.

The perfunctory question is Why?! How was that found in this American Religious Identification Survey (ARIS) referred in the article? Easy… no one cares.

  • So many Americans claim no religion at all (15%, up from 8% in 1990), that this category now outranks every other major U.S. religious group except Catholics and Baptists. Is that really a group, or just a collection of dimwits who have been scorned by the aforementioned groups?!
  • Catholic strongholds in New England and the Midwest have faded as immigrants, retirees and young job-seekers have moved to the Sun Belt. It’s coooooooooooold up there. The chill gets to those osteoporosis bones. Besides, there are more Ruby Tuesday’s and Furrs down there.
  • Baptists, 15.8% of those surveyed, are down from 19.3% in 1990. That’s easy. They’re dead… all the young people want to wear jeans, so they rock the “Community Church,” which is Baptist-lite.
  • The percentage of Methodists, for example, dropped from 8% to 5%. COUGH… gay marriage… COUGH… lesbians in the pulpit… GAG, COUGH!
  • Jewish numbers showed a steady decline, from 1.8% in 1990 to 1.2% today. Again, simple. It’s the economy. Well, it is, right?

Sure, there’s more. But why go into it? The math is there. The results are staggering. And the reasons are obvious.

There’s no privilege to being a Christian in the public eye. And in this world of “WIIFM” (marketing lingo: “What’s in it for me?”), churches are stooping to any level to put butts in seats.

They take steroids and HGH to grow, talk about sex… a lot, cuss in the pulpit… also, a lot and when things are particularly carefree, these megachurches (Catholic, Baptist, Pentecostal or indifferent) are considering cutting on the advertising budget, and having the show in-house?!

Once we get back to realizing the splendor and majesty of God, we will get this Church back on track. Once folk stop realizing that Church is not supposed to be dog & pony show, but rather about a man who rode in on a donkey, we can get back to evangelism, reaching the lost and being the living epistles we’re supposed to be.

Ah, conviction, hellfire and brimstone. Those were the days, no?