False teachers…

It’s easy for crunchy Reformed Presbyterians to be at peace with evangelical super-pastors in their areas. We are happy for the local mega-church to do the initial evangelistic heavy-lifting, using those muscles we have let weaken with little use. Every unchurched person, we tacitly assume, needs an entry-level church in which to meet Jesus. That’s been the utility of Bill Hybel’s and Perry Noble’s and Stephen Furtick’s ministries—they did the evangelism that Reformed churches were not capable of and got many saved. Now that the evangelism is done, we can draw those young believers away by telling them they need something more than milk. On a grand scale, the body and it’s many parts are working wonderfully well together, right? Perry planted, R.C. watered, and God gave the growth…

Such a process would be possible if at the initial stage those who were practicing “evangelism” were actually practicing evangelism, rather than peddling false assurance to those who aren’t saved. Decisional regeneration is the name of the game, and it is wicked.

For someone who has sucked from the breast of the modern evangelical mega-church, there must be a wholesale repudiation of their first church before they are likely find a home in a healthy, God-fearing church.

Luther got it… Continue reading

NewSpring at the Movies (our "local" #giftedcommunicator)…

Here’s the next “sermon” series at our “local” mega(lomaniacal) church (viewer discretion is advised):

https://newspring.cc/sermons/at-the-movies

Meanwhile, up the road a piece at Trinity Presbyterian Church, we’ll be opening our Bibles—God’s Word—to Luke 7. #novideos #noproductionvalue #uncool #1Cor2:1-5 #churchforthosewholovechurch #willheeverfinishluke

Our "local" #giftedcommunicator will not do hospital visits or funerals…

Perry Noble, self-proclaimed #giftedcommunicator, will not do hospital visits or funerals for his church members owners. You may think it is because he is too busy researching pop-culture references for his sermons or because his congregation is too large being spread across all of South Carolina…but it is more of a historical and theological decision for Noble. He accuses those who would ask him to conduct a funeral of being rapers of the Bride of Christ. Interpreting such a request as proof that someone hasn’t come to Christ, he insists that they either “get saved or get out.” See it for yourself…

There is much that could be said about each and every sentence of Perry Noble’s godless rant…but here’s one… Any pastor who has done more than five minutes of ministry understands that hospital visits and funerals are the best times for fruitful ministry. As men and women contemplate their mortality—whether they are suffering in their own body in the hospital or putting a loved one in the ground to await the resurrection—they are often sufficiently humble for the first time in their lives: “So teach us to number our days, that we may present to You a heart of wisdom” (Psalm 90:12). Hospital visits and funerals require pastoral sensitivity and wisdom…real world, hand-holding, grieving with those who grieve sensitivity…not made for TV, safe, distant, cool t-shirt, you are on my turf, hireling sensitivity.

The end justifies the means (our "local" #giftedcommunicator, part 2)…

NewSpringBuildingThe numbers-obsessed evangelical church will do anything to produce results—and those results are understood to be only and always the blessing of God. Stephen Furtick, pastor of Charlotte’s Elevation Church, revealed the magic behind the massive number of “spontaneous” baptisms at his church: put 15 planted people in the audience who quickly rise up just after he gives a call for people to come forward during the service. Here’s the plan of attack, outlined in “Spontaneous Baptisms How-To Guide“:

Screen Shot 2014-09-03 at 8.56.36 AMWhen this came to light was Furtick ashamed or repentant? Of course not. Out came the explanations (denials and indignation)…

When they started talking this week on the news about our baptisms, I got hot. Yes, sir. I got hot. They were saying that we manipulate our baptisms, that we have people planted in the audience who pretend to go get baptized. For the record, we have never planted anybody in our church to pretend to be baptized. I am too scared of God to do something like that. Please. Please. … And to take the fact that we have volunteers who get up and lead the way so that people know where to go and to act as if they were pretending to be baptized and to negate the sincere faith decision of precious people who had one of the most meaningful experiences of their life, that’s just sick.

Essentially what he is saying is that none of the 15 plants were actually baptized. They certainly did make people think they were going forward to get baptized. It’s manipulation and Elevation Church continues to practice and promote it. It results in people having “one of the most meaningful experiences of their life” and so a little dishonesty is not so bad. The end justifies the means.

Then there is this which is worse… Continue reading

Our "local" #giftedcommunicator…

A few months ago, a new advertisement for NewSpring Spartanburg went up. It’s a very simple sign—the name of the church, the address of their website, and the minimalistic logo are accompanied by an arrow pointing toward their new building…

NewSpringSignPrior to a few months ago, it was easy for me to ignore #NewSpring even though she is the “local” evangelical mega-church in town. Now, with their recently opened building near ours, most people arriving at Trinity pass by this sign. If you drive a few yards past the sign, take a right turn (instead of the left the sign is suggesting), you end up at my church. For several months, I’ve mused about placing a sign for Trinity under the NewSpring sign. It would have a similar font, similar layout, similar colors (just enough to distinguish it), an arrow pointing the opposite direction, and a few added hashtags: #nofreecups; #uncool; #notslick; #doctrine; #fleshandbloodpastor; #wcf; #membersnotowners; #webelieveinchurchdiscipline; #webelieveinsanctification; #family; #foolsforchrist; #etc…

At #NewSpring Spartanburg, an image of Perry Noble preaches each week. His image is broadcast from the main “campus” in Anderson, SC, where his body is. #NewSpring’s goal is to have 100,000 members owners in the state of SC at various campuses (already they have set-up shop in Andreson, Boiling Springs, Charleston, Clemson, Columbia, Florence, Greenville, Greenwood, Lexington, Myrtle Beach, and Spartanburg). They’re currently up to 32% of their goal. At each of their campuses they do have a flesh and blood, resident pastor, but, due to the fact that Perry Noble is a #giftedcommunicatorandteacher, they don’t get to preach on Sundays.

So, what is Perry Noble’s preaching like? I watched the first ten or so minutes of Noble’s most recent sermon (“The Best Weekend Ever“) and was thrilled to see that some first-time visitors got fed…by the package of Oreo™ cookies and the box of Krispy Kreme™ donuts that Noble awarded them at the beginning of his sermon.

The first Scripture came along at about the 8-minute mark. Romans 6:23 was printed on the flat-screen TV next to Noble: “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (NIV). A wonderful verse, no? A sobering opportunity to talk about the ravages of sin and the incredible grace of God, no? Well, here’s how Noble got into his exegesis of this passage: Continue reading

Dr. Brantly, Ann Coulter, and Christian narcissism…

“Give, and it will be given to you. They will pour into your lap a good measure — pressed down, shaken together, and running over… (Luke 6:38)

1378US-A008.web_Last week, Dr. Kent Brantly—the medical missionary who contracted Ebola virus in Liberia—was released from an Atlanta hospital with a clean bill of health. Here is a portion of his remarks at the press conference held just before his departure from the hospital:

I am forever thankful to God for sparing my life and am glad for any attention my sickness has attracted for the plight of West Africa in the midst of this epidemic. Please continue to pray for Liberia and the people of West Africa, and encourage those in positions of leadership and influence to do everything possible to bring this Ebola outbreak to an end.

A famous conservative pundit, Ann Coulter, called Dr. Brantly a Christian narcissist for going to Africa to serve in medical missions when there is so much work to be done at home here in America:

If Dr. Brantly had practiced at Cedars-Sinai hospital in Los Angeles and turned one single Hollywood power-broker to Christ, he would have done more good for the entire world than anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia. Ebola kills only the body; the virus of spiritual bankruptcy and moral decadence spread by so many Hollywood movies infects the world.

First of all, I’m somewhat sympathetic to Coulter’s argument. There is a romanticism in missions that causes many people to be vigilant about the plight of African children in orphanages even while they remain willfully ignorant of the millions of children being slaughtered in America through abortion. And, also, there certainly is an increasing need for domestic courage in our missionary work as the nation declines into further God-hating secularism.

But, it is ridiculous to heap scorn on a man who risked his own life for the sake of the gospel… Continue reading

It's very difficult to say no to magazine editors…

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Each edition of the Christ-centered byFaith Magazine features some interview of or article by a PCA superstar. Accompanying the Christ-centered article are numerous pictures of the star, posed—furrowed brow; thoughtful stare, eyelids slightly narrowed; calming smile; head-tilted back, laughing. I know the editor merely desires to convince us of the interviewee’s trustworthiness and winsome personality. And all of that to convince us of the trustworthiness and winsome perspectives outlined in his Christ-centered book. And all of that to convince us of the trustworthiness and winsome, Christ-centered content of the book of Daniel. It’s breathtaking in it’s Christ-centeredness! Thanks, byFaith!

Politics, Fatherhood, Education, Money, Church Leadership, Evangelism, Missions…

My friends at Clearnote Church in Bloomington recorded the following videos last week. I don’t know Pastor Walker, but I was deeply encouraged and challenged by his faith. Set aside an hour and watch the two videos below…

Matthew Walker Part 1 from Clearnote Church.

Matthew Walker Part 2 from Clearnote Church.

It is fashionable to be a heretic…

Read this from the first pages of G. K. Chesterton’s Heretics and think about how true this is over 100 years after it was written…

Nothing more strangely indicates an enormous and silent evil of modern society than the extraordinary use which is made nowadays of the word “orthodox.” In former days the heretic was proud of not being a heretic. It was the kingdoms of the world and the police and the judges who were heretics. He was orthodox. He had no pride in having rebelled against them; they had rebelled against him. The armies with their cruel security, the kings with their cold faces, the decorous processes of State, the reasonable processes of law–all these like sheep had gone astray. The man was proud of being orthodox, was proud of being right. If he stood alone in a howling wilderness he was more than a man; he was a church. He was the centre of the universe; it was round him that the stars swung. All the tortures torn out of forgotten hells could not make him admit that he was heretical. But a few modern phrases have made him boast of it. He says, with a conscious laugh, “I suppose I am very heretical,” and looks round for applause. The word “heresy” not only means no longer being wrong; it practically means being clear-headed and courageous. The word “orthodoxy” not only no longer means being right; it practically means being wrong. All this can mean one thing, and one thing only. It means that people care less whether they are philosophically right. For obviously a man ought to confess himself crazy before he confesses himself heretical. The Bohemian, with a red tie, ought to pique himself on his orthodoxy. The dynamiter, laying a bomb, ought to feel that, whatever else he is, at least he is orthodox.

Empower your church with our yard signs and t-shirts…

As I was traveling back to the church office after meeting with a pastor friend I noticed two churches, from different denominations, excitedly promoting National Back to Church Sunday. Apparently the third Sunday of September is NBTCS. Did you know!?! My first thought was that this event was a gentle (passive) way for the shepherds of those churches to encourage all those wayward sheep that had departed from the flock over the past year or so to return. Sort of an ecclesiastical “get out of jail free” card. A visit to their website passionately informed me that that was not the case. NBTCS is an exciting nationwide initiative to make it comfortable, easy…perhaps even cool…for you to invite your neighbors, friends, and co-workers to your church. You can purchase 2-minute videos ($20), and t-shirts ($6.99!), and invitation cards ($14.99), and door hangers ($14.99), and posters ($24.95), and postcards ($14.99), and roll-up banners ($149.99), and yard signs ($200, “…empower your members to promote your church on their lawns or at their personal businesses [check local zoning laws first!]”), and welcome flags ($129), and more. The t-shirts are powerful (“…themed T-shirts can be used…to start conversations with friends and people in your community. No matter how you feel about church, you are sure to notice this shirt!”).

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You can send an invitation to your friends via email, too. Your pastor doesn’t even have to write his sermon for this Sunday…they supply those for free. I suggest you pop your pastor a FB message and suggest which one of those sermons will “touch the hearts” of your friends. If you act quickly and pay the nominal fee, you can get the Gospel Blimp to blanket your neighborhood with a thick coat of snazzy promotional materials (jk!). The videos are so slick, the fonts are so modern, the haircuts are so fashionable, the pamphlets are so glossy, there is no need to mention the work of the Holy Spirit on the website. Said one participant in last year’s NBTCS, “To have one Saturday evening in 52 when I can invite my fraternity brothers or my mom to church is wonderful. And the most wonderful part of it…my t-shirt ministered to my homies with such power! Amazing grace!”