Saturday, July 30, 2011

When the Church's Enemy is the Church

E. Glenn Wagner (FutureLead)

Ever feel like spiritual terrorists are ambushing your church? Jesus told us that the work of authentic ministry would be resisted. He said "I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it" (Matthew 16:18). The implication is that, although the gates of Hades will not ultimately prevail, they will always be trying to overcome Christ's church.

But the longer I'm in ministry, the more I'm beginning to think that "the gates of Hades" aren't our biggest problem. After all, Jesus said they would fail. To be honest, I see more kingdom resistance coming from within the church than from without. This wouldn't be the first time God's people resisted him. Stephen made it clear that Israel, God's Old Testament people, "always resisted the Holy Spirit" (Acts 7:50). God's chosen people we're actually obstacles to him. They were the gates against whom God had to prevail. The church can be the same thing, if we're not careful.

I'm beginning to think that if Jesus was teaching today, he might say something like, "I will build my church, and the gates of the church will not prevail against." Or, "I will build my church, and the gates of the pastors will not prevail against it." Or, "I will build my church, and the gates of the Elders and deacons will not prevail against it."

Maybe we've been giving Satan and hell too much credit for resisting the work of the church. Maybe, just maybe, the gates that are currently prevailing are us! Through our refusal to change, adapt, live by faith, listen to and follow the voice of God, and risk all for the sake of Christ we could be God's greatest obstacles in building his church. Leaders, we need to be sure that we're not resisting the move of God in our midst. We need to be certain that we've not allowed Satan and hell to go on vacation by doing their job of resisting God for them.

We need to look at every area of our churches to be sure they're designed to welcome God not resist him. Think of your leadership, worship, small groups, spiritual development, evangelism, and structure and ask yourself, "In this area of our church, are we in any way resisting God and doing Satan's work for him?"

We need to return again and again to the pattern laid out in James 4:7. We're to "Submit to God," and "resist the devil." Let's be sure we're not submitting to the devil and resisting God.

By the way, I realize that when Stephen told Israel they were resisting God, they became, "furious and gnashed their teeth" (Acts 7:54). Then they proceeded to stone him. If I've evoked the same feeling in you, please send your stones to the editor, he'll add them to his growing collection.

E. Glenn Wagner is the founder and president of FutureLead (, an organization committed to equipping people to live and lead with purpose, passion and power. He's the author of numerous books including, God: An Honest Conversation for the Undecided (Waterbrook Press) and his latest book, Fire In Your Bones (Life Bridge). To schedule Glenn to speak or for more information, please contact

Stemming the Tide of Deception

by Greg Laurie (A New Beginning)

Jesus said that one of the signs of the last days would be an explosion of religious deception, culminating in the arrival of the ultimate deceiver, the Antichrist. He warned, "For many will come in my name, claiming, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many" (Matthew 24:5 NIV). One of the signs of the end times will be cults springing up everywhere.

In addition to established cults, we have in recent history seen groups spring up such as the followers of Jim Jones who committed mass suicide in Guyana in 1978. Then there was David Koresh and the Branch Davidians in Texas in 1993. There also was Heaven's Gate, the group in Southern California who committed mass suicide in 1997. Add to this the influx of new-age mysticism and spirituality, and we have to conclude that we are seeing these words of Jesus being fulfilled before our very eyes. It seems at every turn, someone else has come up with a so-called "new" revelation: This is the new prophet. ... This is the new guru. ... This is the new truth. ... This is what you need to read. ... This is what you need to believe.

So what defines a cult? One mark of a cult is that it denies the deity of Jesus Christ. Another is that they have other writings or books that are of equal or greater value than the Bible.

I once received a rather lengthy e-mail criticizing the fact that I had identified a specific group as a cult in one of my messages. The e-mail's author claimed that I was "unloving," because she had a friend who was a member of the particular cult I had mentioned, and if her friend had heard me say this, it would have turned her off.

But does my responsibility as a Christian to be loving mean that I can never identify something that is false? Absolutely not. As a pastor, part of my job is not only to teach and equip people, but to also warn them of potential danger. The apostle Paul told the elders at Ephesus - Keep watch over yourselves and all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers. Be shepherds of the church of God, which he bought with his own blood. I know that after I leave, savage wolves will come in among you and will not spare the flock. Even from your own number men will arise and distort the truth in order to draw away disciples after them. So be on your guard! (Acts 20:28–31 NIV)

How will we know who the wolves are if we don't periodically identify them? The apostle Paul wrote the words of 1 Corinthians 13, the often-quoted, great treatise on love. But what does it mean to love? Love not only nurtures and embraces, but it also warns when necessary. Proverbs 27:6 says, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (NIV).

Many of Paul's epistles refuted popular false teachings of the day. Galatians was largely written to refute the teaching of a group called the Judaizers, who basically were trying to bring non-Jews under the bondage of the Mosaic Law. Paul was correcting that. Paul would, on occasion, take it a step further and name specific people who were false teachers or who were leading others astray. He wrote to Timothy, "But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some" (2 Timothy 2:16–18 NKJV). And in Romans 16:17, he said, "Now I urge you, brethren, note those who cause divisions and offenses, contrary to the doctrine which you learned, and avoid them" (NKJV).

There is a place for equipping ourselves. But at the same time, I don't apologize for identifying false teaching. My primary objective is not to refute everything that is being said. My primary objective is to teach the Bible and let people learn for themselves the whole counsel of God. In the process of doing that, when they encounter a teaching that is aberrant, false, or doesn't jive with Scripture, they can identify it and know what the Bible says about it. This is something that has to be done — especially in the days in which we are living.

When the Watchmen Are Silenced

 by Jan Markell (Understanding the Times)
There is now a war on words in America. The battle to further censor words, transform words, twist words, and silence words is raging. The Left in leadership is determined to rob Americans of one freedom after another but the greatest loss would be our free speech. As stated in the July 26 issue of The American Thinker, "It's a frightening thought: Government takeover of the media. But having tightened their grip on health care, financial services, and energy, it's only logical that the Democrats should turn their attention to the media.

"Discussions underway at the Federal Trade Commission and the Federal Communications Commission point toward a dangerous new effort to regulate what Americans read and hear. The takeover under discussion would apply across the board to print media, radio and television, and the Internet. The result of proposed regulations would be nothing less than an end to free speech in America."

As Jack Kinsella states in his recent commentary, "In April, a three-judge panel in Washington threw out the FCC's attempt to impose 'net neutrality' regulations on the Internet, ruling the FCC does not have the power to do so. The FCC responded in a statement saying the decision did not 'close the door to other methods for achieving this important end.'" In other words, the battle has begun and if plan "A" doesn't work, they will opt for plan "B" or "C" to get America to resemble Venezuela when it comes to freedom of the press, Internet, radio, etc.

Kinsella continues, "America's mainstream news organizations are already consolidated in the hands of just five mega-corporations. We warned back in 2003 of the dangers associated with putting too much power into the hands of so few." Kinsella also states that "One of the very first targets of the Obama administration's 'fundamental transformation' was -- and still is -- what Obama's FCC calls, "the reinvention of journalism." (Note: We highly recommend Kinsella's daily Omega Letter Intelligence Digest. Learn more here.)
Forces of darkness are wheeling and dealing, planning and scheming, to keep you from knowing the truth. And while some proponents of evil are principalities and powers of the air, many more are politicians dressed in expensive suits and very polished foreign-made shoes that match their gigantic self image as power-brokers. To carry out their schemes, they must silence opponents and truth-tellers. They must shut down all conservative and Christian voices. Make no mistake that they will try, whether it be through the unfair "Fairness Doctrine" or something akin to it but renamed. They may face battles in the courts but nothing will deter the present powers that be from controlling what you and I hear and read.
The Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission are the major players in this effort.

How would this work? Under the proposed changes, government would have the right to impose taxes on selected media (including Internet service providers and Internet sites) and redistribute funds to traditional liberal news media. Government could impose a fairness doctrine on the internet as well as on radio -- thus forcing conservative media to "balance" their programming by including liberal commentary. Government would also be granted a wide range of options for subsidizing liberal media, including perpetual grants of taxpayer money to left-leaning publications like The New York Times and to increase funding for "progressive" media such as National PublicRadio and The Public Broadcasting System. These are the antics of any totalitarian dictatorship be they in a sophisticated nation or a banana republic. And such rules may be coming to a town near you.
You may not willingly want go back with me to the era of the Third Reich but you must. We have to learn from it. As Irwin Lutzer writes in his new book, When a Nation Forgets God: 7 Lessons We Must Learn from Nazi Germany, "Hitler believed that spoken words could convert anybody to a radical agenda. But Hitler didn't have the powers of today's media. Think of what Hitler could have done if he could have used today's TV, radio, Internet, etc." Perhaps he really could have taken over the world in a later era. (May I add parenthetically that this book is must reading.)
Those who are concerned about a government takeover of the media need only recall the name of Joseph Goebbels. It was Goebbels manipulation of the media that brought Hitler to power and secured his control over Germany right up to the end of the regime. It was Goebbels who organized the candlelight processions, mass meetings, national radio broadcasts (over the objection of independent station owners,) and the eventual seizure of all print and electronic media.

Isn't it interesting that according to the Bible, in the last days the antichrist will control everything people see, hear and read? The power of the Satanic trinity will enter into every home. It says in Revelation 13:7 that "Power was given him over all kindred, tongues, and nations." This future fuehrer will have the task of propagandizing the world through a controlled media. This antichrist will be a passionate leader with an appealing message and the power of oratory that will be out of this world because his power comes from another world. He will be a master of doublespeak. But he must silence his opponents.
Am I saying that Obama and his cohorts will play a role in the the antichrist administration? Perhaps play a role in antichrist's administration, but Barack Obama is only the forerunner of this evil man. We saw this in the campaign of 2008 as Obama's world tour provided a foretaste of the reception the antichrist can expect to receive. The antichrist will stand in some capitals, addressing the people of the world and telling them that he is the one they have been waiting for. He will even reveal how he will solve the world's debt problem. He will be received like a rock star and get the same kind of greeting Obama got in Berlin.

Everything is shaping up for him to make his appearance. The clock is ticking. "When you see these things begin to happen, look up and know your Redeemer draws nigh" (Luke 21:28). It won't be long. One can almost hear the hoof beats of the four horsemen of the apocalypse off in the distance. Keep looking up even if you develop a stiff neck.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Don’t Settle for a Fake Anointing

Gideon is one of my favorite Bible he ground and called him to deliver Israel. Gideon’s classic “Who, me?” response reminds me of conversations I’ve had with the Lord. None of us feels qualified to do God’s work, but we know from Gideon’s example that reluctant wimps can be transformed into valiant warriors.

I’ve heard people criticize Gideon because he laid out a fleece of wool on the ground and asked the Lord—not once but twice—to confirm His promise (see Judges 6:36-40). But the Bible doesn’t say God was mad at Gideon for wanting assurance. In fact, God answered Gideon both times with moisture from heaven. The dew was a sign of God’s favor and blessing.

“I love it when the Holy Spirit does miracles. But when people fake the supernatural in order to get an audience response (or a big offering), I run for the door.”

You know how the story ends. Gideon’s impressive army of 22,000 is downsized to a ragtag band of 300, and they carry only trumpets, clay pots and torches into battle. Through their supernatural victory over Midian, God made it clear that His anointing has nothing to do with human ability.

How many of us have learned Gideon’s lesson? Do you trust the Holy Spirit to work in you, or do you lean on the flesh? Do you have the precious dew of His miraculous anointing on your life, or have you manufactured a cheap form of human moisture to do the job?

Many Christians today can’t distinguish between the sweat of the flesh and the dew of heaven, but there is a big difference. As I have prayed for more anointing in my life, I’ve realized that we often mistake fake anointing for the real thing. Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

The anointing isn’t in numbers. We place so much importance on church size today, yet God doesn’t seem impressed by crowds. I have nothing against megachurches as long as they preach the gospel—and many of them do a better job of it than small churches. But we’re headed for disaster if we think seating capacity alone reflects God’s approval.

The anointing isn’t in eloquence. Some people have an uncanny way with words (including non-Christian motivational speakers), but persuasive skill isn’t the same as spiritual anointing. The dew of heaven is holy. It brings conviction and repentance—not self-awareness and an ego boost. And true preaching does not exalt the preacher—it crucifies him and focuses all attention on the Son of God.

The anointing isn’t in looks. In today’s cool evangelical scene, rock star pastors are expected to be sexy, and everyone in the praise team needs trendy clothes. There’s nothing wrong with dressing to reach your audience, but I hope we don’t think the Holy Spirit is impressed with hipness. The dowdy grandmother wearing orthopedic shoes might have a word from the Lord for the congregation—but will we allow her on the stage?

The anointing isn’t in technology. I love to use digital graphics when preaching. But some of the most anointed meetings I’ve been in were in Third World countries where we didn’t even have reliable electricity, much less computers and projectors. When genuine anointing falls on a preacher, he or she can talk for two hours without having to entertain.

The anointing isn’t in emotionalism. In many churches today, lack of anointing creates a vacuum that is filled by screaming, swooning and other forms of religious theater. It doesn’t matter what is preached—it is “anointed” as long as the preacher punctuates it with enough volume and the people shout back. (One preacher I know had everyone holl\ering while she quoted lines from a BeyoncĂ© song!) Remember: Backslidden Israel shouted so loud that the earth quaked, but by the end of the day the Philistines had plundered them (see 1 Sam. 4:5-11).

The anointing isn’t in contrived manifestations. I love it when the Holy Spirit does miracles. But when people fake the supernatural in order to get an audience response (or a big offering), I run for the door. If we had the fear of God we would never pretend to have the anointing by jerking, slurring words, stretching the facts in a testimony or sprinkling glitter on ourselves.

Charles Spurgeon referred to the Holy Spirit’s anointing as “unction,” and he said of it: “Unction is a thing which you cannot manufacture, and its counterfeits are worse than worthless.” Let’s turn away from every false anointing and ask the God who answered Gideon to soak us with His heavenly power.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

Monday, July 25, 2011

Eight Signs You Are Walking In Integrity

Joseph Mattera

Leadership 101 - Integrity

With the start of the New Year many people are evaluating their lives, including many ministers and leaders who are making vows and resolutions to the Lord. In light of all the scandals in the church and the intense scrutiny all leaders in society are presently under, my proposal is that one of the primary vows leaders make should be to walk in integrity.

What is integrity? Integrity is basically wholeness or perfect condition; one root word of “integrity” means “soundness, wholeness;” also the root word “integer” means “whole,” that is to say, it has to do with a person living a simple life in which their public and private lives are the same, because their public persona lines up with their interior life and motivation.

Too often people live divided lives in which they do not practice what they preach because, as Jesus said, they are whitewashed on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean (read Matthew 23:27-28). This is a season when God is dealing severely with leaders and ministers of all walks of life which should lead all of us to contemplate who and what we really are.

The following are symptomatic of ministers who walk in integrity:

I. You pursue personal, informal, mentoring relationships with people

1. One of the qualifications for serving as an elder in the New Testament church was to be hospitable (1 Timothy 3). Leaders who avoid allowing people entry into their private homes may have something to hide regarding the way they live and act, and in regards to the condition of their family life.

One of the greatest blessings leaders can have is to allow people to spend time with them in their homes to pour Christ’s life and wisdom into them. Letting folks live with you under certain circumstances (under the leading of the Lord) is perhaps the greatest way to impact younger people who need the security and model of a leadership home to frame their view of life and family.

2. Having young leaders travel with me has been one of the great thrills in my life! I love spending time pouring into emerging leaders by taking them with me to preach or on longer trips so that we can get to know each other. A leader impacts people more with their life than with their words. Truly, our life is the real message people follow and emulate!

II. You value your name more than making money or ministry success

1. Proverbs 22:1 teaches us that our motivation for living should be based on having and emanating a godly influence more than having a desire for possessions and monetary wealth. Unfortunately, with some people, their payoff in ministry is more in dollars and cents than in spreading the gospel and changing people’s lives. There are many ministers who won’t even consider preaching in a church unless they receive a huge honorarium along with numerous bells and whistles. The first question we need to ask before we take an invitation to minister somewhere should be “Is the Lord sending me?” If the Lord is sending you, then He will cause the proper provision to come your way. (This is opposed to the posture of making sure the financial obligations are met first and then asking God to bless your ministry!)

III. Your standard for devotion and commitment to God in your private life is no different from what you portray in your public ministry

1. Our lives should be very simple. Complicated interior lives with various allegiances and distractions replete with ungodly habit/patterns will eventually cause ministry burnout, severe family issues, or a moral collapse. Our motto as ministers should always be to people “what you see is what you get”! We can be real with our congregations without acting ungodly and without coming off as super religious or perfect! People can usually tell when someone is being authentic; authenticity is a carrier of the true anointing and authority of God!

IV. Your spouse and children will say you are a person of integrity who keeps their word and loves God at home
1. I always say, if you want to find out if a person has integrity, you need to ask their spouse and children. The pressures of life and family are too great for anyone to hide from those closest to them. If family members call a person godly then it is safe to say they are living a life of integrity.

V. You prioritize character development more than the development of your gifts and talents

1. The books of Proverbs, Kings and Chronicles show that leaders who want to have an enduring, lasting effect in regards to their lives and legacy need to be people who build the foundation of their lives on strong godly character. These scriptures teach that those with enduring success were those who walked in integrity and feared the Lord. Those who build their lives only on the charismatic gifts of the Spirit, talents, and abilities will eventually fail in every aspect of their lives. Many are the young ministers whose anointing has taken them to places and given them platforms their character was unable to sustain. Remember: the height of a tree is always determined by the depth of its roots.

VI. You value and respect each individual as a child of God irrespective of whether or not they can benefit you or your ministry

1. In thirty years of ministry I have seen other leaders gravitate toward me if they thought I could do something for them or their ministry. But these are the same people who will avoid or sidestep me if they think someone else is available that can bring them further. Jesus valued the lepers, the lame, the sinners, and harlots. He took time for the down and out, not just those called to be apostles. Those who have an understanding of the significance of the act of God when He made people in His own image have no problem addressing even the vagabonds in the street as “sir.” People of integrity understand that the ground is level at the cross and that we are not to love a person for their title but because of who they are as an image-bearer of God.

VII. You are more passionate about knowing and seeking God than making Him known

1. Because of the sinfulness of humanity we need to constantly seek God and expose our true sinful hearts to the blazing fires of holiness. When we live a life in which we value activity for God more than being with and receiving from God, then we are already on the wrong track. The first call of the apostles, before they were to preach or heal the sick, was to be with Jesus (read Mark 3:14). The greatest and highest calling any of us have in our lives is to be lovers of God. This is the first and greatest commandment. The second is like it or is a derivative of it. When we have these two commandments reversed, and love our neighbor more than we love God, we fall into humanism, lose our effectiveness, and our interior lives begins to fall into shambles (read Matthew 22:36-40). We need to seek God to know Him and know Him so we can seek Him, and continue this exciting cycle on and on for eternity!

VIII. You surround yourself with other leaders who hold you accountable

1. You can tell how far a person will go in life by the closest friends they have. If you surround yourself with shady people who are only out for themselves, then that is a picture of who you really are.

2. Those with integrity surround themselves with people not afraid to speak the truth to them.

3. Those with integrity want open, transparent relationships with key people as a protection because they know and understand their own sinful hearts and the potential they have to fall into sin.

4. Pastors needs a pastor or pastors over them to hold them accountable in regards to their ministries and personal lives. Also, they need trustees and/or elders serving alongside them to help them hear from God and handle the finances of the ministry.

5. The more influence a person gets, the stronger their base of accountability needs to be in legalities, in finances, in their personal life, in ministry, etc. Those who have ministry without accountability beyond their family members or small circle of blood-sucking leeches will have a difficult time experiencing personal and ministerial longevity with integrity and are in danger of destroying their legacy.

Why Goals Can Be Harmful

Dr. Joseph Mattera

Ambitious Goals Father God Never Gave Them To Begin With!

The older and more mature in the Lord I become, the more I have learned to simplify my life and personal goals. Years ago my personal mission statement, vision statement, and goals were about two pages long. Now they are all one short sentence: “Love God and love people.”

In my opinion, many of the popular self-help teachings in books today are for people that don’t know themselves or God very well. The more you mature in the Lord the less you rely on these “training wheels.” Many self-help teachers and motivational speakers get into things that are very practical, but without the leading of the Lord it is often akin to humanism.

How did I arrive at my present opinion? Based on scriptures like Ephesians 2:10 which teaches us that God foreordained us to walk in a certain calling of “good works,” and Romans 8:29-30 that teaches we were predestined to be conformed to the image of Christ. I believe that all of our inherent giftings based on our calling, personality, ability, physical limitations, intellect, geographic region, family location, and hereditary and genetic proclivities all add up to the truth that God has already providentially mapped out our lives (Proverbs 3:5-7). Thus, if we would live a life devoted to knowing and loving Christ then our fellowship with our Creator would activate whatever is inside of us, and we would automatically begin to walk in our unique vocations as we are led by His Spirit.

(Reading books on personality types, temperaments, giftings, abilities, and purpose are good primers to understanding ourselves and to identify how and what God wants to activate inside of us.)

But, many are so caught up in these kinds of methods that it takes our focus off the most important thing that catalyzes our purpose and gives us significance.

Jesus told all of us what our mission statement as individuals should be, when He said that the whole law of God is summarized in loving God with all the heart, mind, soul and strength, and to love our neighbor even as we love ourselves (Matthew 22:37-40). He said all the teaching of Scripture depends on these two laws!

Paul the apostle continued this tradition of single-minded simplicity of focus when he said in Philippians 3: “One thing I do: I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way.”

In context, the upward call of God in Christ Jesus was to “count everything loss for the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord….That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection” (Philippians 3:8, 10).

Paul’s mission statement was simple: to know God and to follow His high calling in Christ Jesus. It wasn’t some corporate graph replete with mission, vision, personal short and long term goals, etc.

Jesus also made it simple in Matthew 6:33 when He said “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all other things would be added unto you.” True, God’s kingdom, like all other kingdoms, involves more than prayer. It involves economics, politics, education, family, etc. But, if you or I want to influence a nation, the fastest way is to get to know the president or king of that nation so that we could affect the way their decisions are made. It’s the same in God’s kingdom: if you want to influence His kingdom, get to know the King and have transformational conversations with Him through prayer.

Anything I have ever done of value for God has come out of my communion with God in which God laid something on my heart to do while I was worshipping Him and enjoying His presence. Some other times this occurred while I was interceding. (Most of the time it has been while I was relaxing and in silence before the Lord after a season of prayer and intercession.) I didn’t try to make it happen with goals and vision; it came to me automatically as I connected my heart to His heart and mind! And because He told me to do it, it was greatly blessed!

I have seen many pastors burn out or put undue pressure on themselves because of some books they have read, such as one book in which a successful leader says that he had a goal of reaching ten thousand leaders in three years before he would consider himself successful. Other books by self-help authors tell their readers to create their own reality by making the things they visualize happen through having practical goals. Although there is much truth in this methodology, oftentimes pastors and Christians fail when they attempt to employ these teachings because God never gave them the goals they are pursuing. Their goals are merely projections emanating out of their “dark side” (selfish ambition, pride, insecurity, proving their value by performance, etc.) Thus, they are bankrupting their churches or sacrificing their families for ambitious goals Father God never gave them to begin with!

I have no problem with strategic planning and mapping out short and long term goals. We all have to do this to be successful in what we attempt individually and corporately. But, my main caveat is that these goals better be given to you by the Father while in communion with Him. Jesus said that He only does what His Father tells Him to do (John 5:19). Unfortunately, many of us are busy doing things to prove our worth to our earthly fathers, peers, and to aid our own self-esteem.

Value The Approval Of God More Than The Approval Of Men

by Zac Poonen

Bro. Zac Poonen was formerly an Indian Naval Officer who has been serving the Lord in India for the past 40 years as a Bible-teacher and elder having responsibility for a number of churches. He has written a number of books and articles in English which have been translated in other Indian languages as well. His messages given in India and abroad are available on audio and video cassettes and CD's. (See the Books, Audio and Video section) Like the other elders in CFC, Zac Poonen also supports himself and his family through "tent-making" and does not receive any salary for his services. He does not receive any royalty for any of his books, audio tapes, video tapes or CDs, published by Christian Fellowship Centre. To know more about him, you could visit his family website at:

We read in Job 1:7 the Lord said to Satan, "From where do you come?". Then Satan told God that he had been "roaming about on the earth and walking around on it". Satan is a world-traveller. Don't imagine that it is a great thing to be a world-traveller. If God calls you to do that for His glory, that is fine. But remember that in Jesus' entire earthly life, He travelled only within a circle that was less than 100 miles radius from his hometown of Nazareth – because that was the will of God for Him. So don't ever imagine that those who travel around the world are the luckiest of all people. There is a difference between the way God works and the way Satan works. Satan is always restless - roaming to and fro. There is a haste about all his works. God however works slowly and patiently. Satan travels around the world, watching believers especially. He moves about like a roaring lion, seeking whom to devour (1 Pet.5:8).

When God asked Satan, "Have you considered My servant Job?" Satan replied, "Yes, I know all about him." Satan knows the true spiritual state of every person. His demons also move around everywhere, examining people's lives and reporting back to him. So Satan knows everything about everybody in the world. The Lord told Satan what was outstanding about Job: "There is no-one like him on the earth - a blameless and upright man, fearing God and turning away from evil?" (Job 1:8). The fear of God – or reverence for God - is something that is mentioned much in this first book of inspired Scripture. Here we see that God compared Job with other people on the earth. God does that today too.

In Revelation 12:10 we read that Satan is the accuser of God's children. When he accuses believers to God, he speaks the truth. For example, he could say to God: "See that man there who calls himself Your son. He loses his temper. He yells at his wife at home. He is unrighteous with money. He says he is serving God, but he is only interested in making money for himself through his ministry", etc., etc., God being a righteous God, will have to admit that what Satan is saying is true. But in the midst of millions of carnal believers who bring dishonour on the Name of Christ, how delighted God is when He finds one man who is upright. God is not looking for such people, whom Satan cannot accuse in any way. Will you be one such person?

Jesus said, "The prince of the world comes and he finds nothing in Me" (Jn.14:30). That was why the Father could say, "This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased." The Father was so delighted because there was one Person on earth at that time whom He could point out to Satan and say, "See how He is walking." 1Jn.2:6 says, "He who says he abides in Christ must walk as Jesus walked." It doesn't matter one bit what our fellow believers think about us. It matters everything what God thinks about us. It matters a lot whether God can point us to Satan and say in the midst of multitudes of compromising, carnal Christians, "Satan, I know that many who call themselves My children are compromisers and carnal. But have you seen this man who lives on that street in that town? He is different. He is upright and sinc`1`ere. Have you seen that woman who lives on that street in that town? She is different. She is godly" And Satan's mouth is shut – because he knows that what God is saying is true. Are you one of those who can shut Satan's mouth, because God can point you out to Satan? Whether you are wealthy or poor makes no difference. And lest you think you have to be poor in order to be spiritual, remember that the very first godly person in Scripture mentioned in the very first book of the Bible was also a very rich man.

In fact, that was what provoked the jealousy of other people around Job. They couldn't bear to see somebody who was both rich and spiritual. They would have been happy if he had been poor and spiritual. Some people have the idea that one has to be poor in order to be spiritual. The amount of money we have is totally immaterial. It is our attitude to the money we have that matters. Paul and Peter were very poor. So was Jesus. But Job and Abraham were very rich. God decides such matters. It is like the colour of our skin or our intelligence level. God determines those things too – and they don't matter. Spirituality has to do with our character and not with the size of our bank account. It is not surprising that Satan made Job his target, for Satan hates upright people. He hated Job in those days - and he hates such people even today. That is why he does everything in his power to prevent us from being godly. Satan troubled Job through his wife and through carnal preachers. But none of this made any difference to Job's devotion to his God.

What a man Job was! What a challenge he is to us! We can be like him too.

Let us seek for the approval of God and not that of men. Personally, it will not disturb me one bit, even if all 6 billion people in the world accuse me falsely of being a heretic, a false prophet, a deceiver, a gluttonous man, a drunkard, a winebibber, an adulterer, a thief or any other evil name they can think of - if only God can point me out to Satan and say, "Have you seen Zac Poonen, an upright man who fears Me and turns away from all evil." That commendation from God would mean more to me than anything else on earth. I hope you feel that way too. Even Satan's recognition of us is more important than man's recognition of us. Satan recognized that Paul belonged to a different class from the sons of Sceva (Acts 19:15).

In the final analysis, when we stand before the Lord, the opinions of all the billions of people in the world will count for nothing. Only God's opinion will matter in that day. Even the praises of your fellow-believers are fit only to be thrown in the garbage bin. It's only what God thinks about you that matters. People may praise you to the skies, while God thinks nothing of you. On the other hand, people may tear you to pieces and God may consider you to be the greatest man in your generation. Few have the spiritual discernment to recognise a man's worth in his lifetime. So don't get discouraged if you find people don't understand the way you are going. If God sees that you are humble, He will give you grace and you will overcome sin and the world.

Hell's Best Kept Secret

Evangelist Ray Comfort

Hell's Best Kept Secret:
Why do 80-90% of those making a decision for Christ fall away from the faith? What is the principle that Spurgeon, Wesley, Whitefield, etc., used to reach the lost? Why has the Church neglected it? Don't let anything stop you from listening to this incredible teaching. KIRK CAMERON: "Powerful. Life-changing. Prepare to be shocked." BRYAN TURNER: "I can't… but preach anything else" RON DICIANNI: "Ray Comfort forever changed my approach to sharing the gospel." TOM GRINNER, Gateway Broadcasting: "This is the hottest message on the planet!" PASTOR REB BRADLEY: "It will revolutionize the Church." PASTOR WAYNE WELBORN: "The best thing I have ever heard!" PASTOR KEN ARMSTRONG: "I began to weep as I saw the importance of this message." PASTOR JEROD MCPHERSON: "'Hell's Best Kept Secret' has completely destroyed my theology. What was first anger toward you caused me to search the Scripture, and has now turned to a sincere thank-you." PASTOR CHRIS STOCKWELL: "I listened to [the audio of] 'Hell's Best Kept Secret' 250 times!" TOM ELLIFF, Past-president of the Southern Baptist Convention: "'Hell's Best Kept Secret' is a message every congregation needs to hear."

The Use of the Law

God be thanked when the Law so works as to take off the sinner from all confidence in himself! To make the leper confess that he is incurable is going a great way toward compelling him to go to that divine Savior, who alone is able to heal him. This is the whole end of the Law toward men whom God will save - Charles Spurgeon

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Church: Different From the World

A W Tozer

Therefore "Come out from among them and be separate," says the Lord. "Do not touch what is unclean, and I will receive you."  - 2 Corinthians 6:17

The church's mightiest influence is felt when she is different from the world in which she lives. Her power lies in her being different, rises with the degree in which she differs and sinks as the difference diminishes.

This is so fully and clearly taught in the Scriptures and so well illustrated in Church history that it is hard to see how we can miss it. But miss it we do, for we hear constantly that the Church must try to be as much like the world as possible, excepting, of course,  where the world is too, too sinful....

Let us plant ourselves on the hill of Zion and invite the world to come over to us, but never under any circumstances will we go over to them. The cross is the symbol of Christianity, and the cross speaks of death and separation, never of compromise. No one ever compromised with a cross. The cross separated between the dead and the living. The timid and the fearful will cry "Extreme!" and they will be right. The cross is the essence of all that is extreme and final. The message of Christ is a call across a gulf from death to life, from sin to righteousness and from Satan to God.  The Set of the Sail, 35,36.

"Lord, help me to be willing to be different. Forgive me for the sin of blending in. I pray that our neighbors would see something different in our church and our people and be drawn to the Savior. Amen." 

Today's "Insight for Leaders" is taken by permission from the book, Tozer on Christian Leadership, published by WingSpread Publishers

Friday, July 22, 2011

Is the Local Church Becoming Obsolete in the Present Kingdom Movement?

by Joseph Mattera

To Be Truly Kingdom-Centered One Must Start With Being Local Church-Centered

Can you imagine a time when key apostolic leaders—both in the church and marketplace—would come together to exert strong influence over cities, communities and nations, with or without the cooperation or partnership of local church pastors and congregations? A time when the local church would almost be irrelevant when it comes to societal transformation because leaders would form their own ecclesia that would be mobile and not nuclear in nature? A time in which the local church would be relegated merely to shepherding our families, pastoral counseling, and Sunday school for our children?

There is a growing tendency in the Body of Christ among practitioners in kingdom societal transformation to bypass the local church in order for the reformation of society to take place. This is due to the frustration of many marketplace leaders with the slow pace, bureaucracy, myopic local view, and lack of high-level leadership found in many of this nation’s congregations. As more of us receive greater light regarding the kingdom, and we rightly go from a church mindset to a kingdom mindset, I am afraid some will have a tendency to go too far and jettison the local church altogether!

Further exacerbating this challenge is that many who are on the leading edge of cultural change are institutional (para-church) or marketplace leaders who by nature are entrepreneurial, independent, high-performance leaders who have not always had a strong anchor in a local church even before they came into the kingdom message. This independent spirit and impatience for change will influence their kingdom theology to the point of finding prooftexts or doctrines that justify the bypassing of local churches.

It is my position that jettisoning the local church, or relegating it merely to the purpose of shepherding our families, would be a huge mistake! Whether we like it or not, God has chosen the local church to be the beachhead that facilitates social and religious change in the nations. We need to reform the church not jettison it! We need to help transition the local church to becoming kingdom-centered; being kingdom-centered and local church-centered need not be mutually exclusive. To be truly kingdom-centered one must start with being local church-centered.

In addition, each local church needs to view itself as one congregation among many in a particular region that, combined, comprise the city church. (The New Testament epistles such as Philippians, Romans, Colossians, etc. all assume one church per city or region.) Hence, this view necessitates cooperation and collaboration with other congregations as a biblical responsibility.

Likewise, pastors are never solely called to shepherd only their individual flocks but are to be shepherds or chaplains to whole communities.

Let us now go back and attempt to understand the local church paradigm and pattern.

First, when God desired to reconcile world systems and redeem individual sinners He sent His Son—who didn’t come as a political or business leader couched as a religious rabbi. Jesus began as an itinerant teacher of the Word of God (Luke 4:18). Those with him in synagogue were His platform for inauguration as the King of Kings as Lord of Lords (John 18:37).

With Jesus and His people there is no separation of the offices of king and priest. Jesus was a combination of priest (His body was the sacrifice given once for all; Hebrews 10:10, 14), prophet (Deuteronomy 18:18-19) and king (Rev. 1:5, 19:16). All three offices are completely summarized and unified in Hebrews 1:1-3.

The model of Jesus for reformation shows the most powerful and effective starting point and matrix to initially operate for reformation is the (so-called) religious sphere of society.

There has been a popular teaching during the last ten years in which people are categorized as either functioning as priests or kings in the kingdom. However, marketplace leaders miss the mark when they say preachers of the gospel merely function as priests—whose primary role concerns the priestly duties related to “spiritual” things—while Christian political and business leaders function as kings who take the cultural lead in His kingdom.

It is clear Romans 5:17 was written for all believers. This passage shows that all saints reign as kings in this world. Ephesians 2:4-6 teaches that all saints are presently reigning with Christ in heavenly places.

In the book of Leviticus the priests not only administered animal sacrifices but were also the ultimate authority interpreting the Law of Moses to judges and kings (Deuteronomy 17:18). The 613 laws involved civic as well as sacrificial rules and regulations. Individually these priests even administered in the areas of health by regulating the Jewish diet (Leviticus 11), examining homes for harmful mold and mildew, and even examining individuals to determine if they were physically clean or unclean (Leviticus 13-14). Thus, these priests functioned in both the context of the temple and the community without a dichotomy between sacred and secular, or as we now term it, priest and king.

The later divisions between the priesthood, the prophetic, and the kings of Israel seem to separate these offices (read 1 Samuel 13:8-13 and 1 Kings 12:32-13:6 when the kings were judged for offering priestly sacrifices). However, King David, who was a prophetic foretaste of the Messiah, had a New Testament kingdom dispensation as he was able to approach God’s presence and offer sacrifices (1 Chronicles 16:1-2), eat the showbread (1 Samuel 21:6; Mark 2:25-26), prophesy (Psalms 22 and 110) and rule the kingdom (2 Samuel 5:1-3). Thus, all three functions were integrated in him.

Jesus said that even the least in the Kingdom of Heaven are greater than John the Baptist and all of the Old Covenant prophets and leaders (Matthew 11:11). This implies the prophetic, kingly, and priestly functions are all combined in God’s people in the kingdom age. Even so, with the advent of the kings of Israel the priests still had to regulate societal functions for the community as written in the Pentateuch. Nowadays these functions would be classified by some marketplace leaders as kingly functions.

Furthermore, what category would we place Joseph and Daniel? They both functioned as political leaders but would also neatly fit in the category of priest because of their spiritual bent and prophetic lifestyle. Also, who would ever say that the prophets Elijah and Elisha were merely functioning in a priestly role? Both of them gave commands to political leaders (for example, the kings of Israel as in 1 Kings 18:18-19) and framed major policy initiatives for societal reformation. Elisha even gave military advice to Israel when the nation was at war with Syria (2 Kings 6:8-23).

I have never accepted the assumption that I, as a bishop, should function merely in the priestly realm and concentrate primarily on spiritual things while Christians I work with in business or politics function as the kings in the kingdom who are responsible for governing and practical application of kingdom concepts in the natural realm. I have always functioned in both roles, and feel just as comfortable with both pastors and marketplace leaders. Furthermore, as a leader in my city I have always been involved in community, business, and political processes and decisions that help frame public policy. I personally believe that my priestly roles of intercession, prayer, and meditating on the Word of God empower me to act as a king by influencing my community and city in matters related to both the church and society.

Furthermore, the original apostles, who were given the command to disciple nations (Matthew 28:19) actually were commanded to leave their marketplace vocations and serve full-time in the religious sphere. In Acts 6:2, 4 Peter said they weren’t even allowed to wait on tables so they could give themselves fully to the ministry of the word and prayer. It was out of this powerful context of being in the presence of God, studying and preaching the word, and planting local churches in key cities that the first century apostles were able to “turn the world upside down” (Acts 17:5-7). Thus, reformation of society will not come outside of the local church or from a separation of kings and priests in the kingdom, or to the neglect of the local church authority in the kingdom, but out of the local church context.

We see this further unpacked in Ephesians 4:10-12. The primary call of church apostles and five-fold ministers is to prepare God’s people for the work of the ministry which, as described in Ephesians 4:10, has as its goal to fill up all things. Thus, the center of power—equipping and releasing for cultural leadership—should emanate out of the local church context that houses the five-fold ministers.

First Corinthians 12 teaches that true local churches are first started by those gifted as apostles then prophets. This has more to do with establishing cultural beachheads for kingdom purposes than just exercising spiritual gifts in a church building.

When we attempt to reform society outside of the context of the local church (which Paul calls “the ground and pillar of truth” in 1 Timothy 3) we are attempting to have a missiology without a clear ecclesiology. This results in having unaccountable marketplace leaders who are not groomed and discipled in regards to their character development, family lives, and personal emotional health—and possibly are in a place of power merely because of their giftings! (Although to be fair, the same can be said of pastors and church ministers who are not in accountable relationships with their peers and overseers.)

God is called our Father. The church is supposed to function as a family of families so that we can restructure, reform, and serve humanity, and build a healthy civilization that stands upon strong marriages and families. God told Abraham that in him all the “families” of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3). This is how biblical dominion and transformation will take place.

Separating the ecclesia from the local church will not accomplish this task because mobile churches in the context of a business or political system do not engender strong family structures, nor are they equipped or called to!

In the local church, older men and women are to be treated as fathers and mothers. Younger men and women are to be treated as our brothers and sisters, or sons and daughters (1 Timothy 5:1-2). This produces the greatest learning environment in which to teach discipleship because the Kingdom of God is based on relationships. This is also potentially the greatest equipping center to bring healing to individuals and enact policy change for cities and nations.

Separating business and marketplace leaders from the local church has historically been a disaster. It is also one of the primary reasons we have lost the culture in the United States. Mark Noll (read his great book The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind) and others have done a great job documenting the fact that Ivy League universities abandoned the Christian worldview when pastors and clergy were replaced as the college presidents by business and community leaders during the 18th and 19th centuries.

Recently I spoke to one major Southern Baptist leader and asked why so many Christian colleges eventually lose their Christian identity and become bastions for liberalism. He told me the colleges that stay connected to a local church or keep their school under the auspices of the church usually stay biblically focused but those schools that separate from the local church historically become liberal, lose their Christian voice, and compromise biblical values within a few decades. Consequently, if Harvard, Yale, Princeton and the other Ivy League schools stayed under the guidance of local church leadership they would still be churning out future presidents of nations and Fortune 500 CEO’s for the kingdom and glory of God!

When it gets down to it, perhaps the real challenge we have is our lack of apostolic local churches led by apostolic leaders with a leadership lid capable of leading high-impact marketplace leaders called apostolically to culture. The answer isn’t to jettison the church (which would be against the biblical pattern laid out in the New Testament) but to reform the church so that apostolic strategies and leadership become the norm, not the exception.

If you are a marketplace leader who is frustrated because your local church doesn’t have apostolic vision then ask the Lord what to do. Perhaps He will lead you to another church that is more regional and kingdom in its scope. But whatever you do, don’t use your situation to change your theology in an attempt to justify your independence from the local church.

Source here.

An Awakening: Youth Revive Japan's Dying Church

by Lucille Talusan
CBN News Asia Correspondent

TOKYO -- Whether they're in church or standing on a street corner, the members of Grace Tokyo Church loudly sing their songs of praise.

The congregation's young people are part of a new youth movement that many Japanese Christians hope will revive Japan's churches.

Philippines native Glen Nabarrete, who serves as the head pastor at Grace Tokyo, was born and raised in Hawaii. He and his family answered God's call to Japan in 1992.

A Dying Church?

The church in Japan is getting smaller every day. The average Japanese church has 30 people and many have less than 10 members.

Church historian Masakazu Suzuki says traditional churches are dying out.

"After the war, a lot of American GI's who came to Japan are Christians and later came back to Japan as missionaries. So, after the war, the Japanese churches grew a lot," Suzuki told CBN News.

"Now after 50, 60 years, a lot of pastors are getting older, facing retirement," he said. "Also many members are getting older too."

Like most Christians, Suzuki believes God is using the recent disasters to open the hearts of the Japanese people.

"In Christian evacuation centers, some of the aged people, five or six died. Six to seven old people died. But through their love and unity, some family members who visit them become Christian. More than 15 of them got baptized last month," Suzuki said.

Spiritual Awakening

There have been more than 1,200 aftershocks since the March 11 earthquake and there could be more, but Christians here are praying for another kind of aftershock and that is the spiritual awakening of the Japanese people.

Businessman Yuto Matsumoto saw how the power of God restored his marriage after a divorce.

"I worked too hard, not too much attention for my family," Matsumoto said.

His Christian daughter visited him in New York where he moved, and took him to watch the film "Passion of the Christ" on Easter.

Later, back in Japan, she brought him to the church their family has been attending since converting to Christianity.

"During the preaching, I couldn't stop crying. I don't know why," Matsumoto recalled. "Right after the service, I went to Pastor Scott and asked him how I can become a Christian. That was April 2004. I accepted Jesus as Lord. It was the beginning of my new life."

Two years ago, Matsumoto re-married Takako, his ex-wife. Today, they have a harmonious relationship with Christ at the center of their marriage.

He also shares his faith with his colleagues at work.

"It's very tough especially for the businessman because Japanese businessmen were taught to believe in his power, or on himself," he said.

Nevertheless, Matsumoto invites his co-worker to visit grace Tokyo church where he serves as an interpreter.

The Joy of God

Pastor Nabarrete and his family answered God's call to Japan in 1992.

"I believe in this church," Nabarrete said about Grace Tokyo.

"One of the things we have that a lot of Japanese churches don't have is a lot of joy and a lot of laughter," he told CBN News. "I think that's one quality that God wants to bring to this nation. There is the reality of joy in serving God."

"And we also cater to young people," he added. "We let the young people step up, do preaching. Young people love it they want to participate for the growth of the church."

The youth go out of their way to spread God's love, singing gospel songs on the street, even when reprimanded by the police.

"The idea is just praise and worship on the street and let God move and touch people's lives. Someone stands near; we talk to them and invite them to church," Grace Tokyo youth leader Gerwin Echegoyen said.

"When I first moved in 1992, church growth was very small," Nabarrete said. "Our church at Yokohama Grace Bible Church was about 30 people in 10 years. So for us Tokyo Bible, two years with 60 people is phenomenal. God has been gracious to us here."

The young Christians hope that through their involvement, Japan's older churches can be made young again -- and other dying churches can be reborn.

Campus Crusade Drops 'Christ' in New Name after 6 Decades

Campus Crusade for Christ International is planning to change the name of its U.S. ministry, including nixing the use of "Christ" in its title.

Starting early next year, Campus Crusade for Christ's work in the United States will be done under the name "Cru." The new name doesn't apply internationally. "In the U.S., 20 percent of the people willing to consider the gospel are less interested in talking with us after they hear the name. We are changing the name for the sake of more effective ministry," the group explained on its website.

CCC leaders said the word "campus" in the group name doesn't "adequately represent" all of its ministries in the U.S., and is even confusing to potential partners. They added that "crusade" is also offensive to some Christians and now carries "negative associations." "There's only one reason we'd change. We want to do a better job of connecting people to God's love and forgiveness," they said. "It's all about helping people experience the good news that Jesus offers."

The ministry insists "Cru" is not to eliminate "Christ" from its name.

"Our mission has not changed. Cru enables us to have discussions about Christ with people who might initially be turned off by a more overtly Christian name," the group added. Leaders say "Cru" was already a popular shorthand for the ministry. Many campuses have already dropped the "crusade" language from their chapters.

"The chief danger of the church/ministry today is that it is trying to get on the same side as the world, instead of turning the world upside down. Our Master expects us to accomplish results, even if they bring opposition and conflict. Anything is better than compromise, apathy, and paralysis. God give to us an intense cry for the old-time power of the Gospel of the Holy Ghost!" - A.B Simpson

Pastoral Accountability: How to Face Church Scandals

by Efrem Graham
News Anchor and Reporter of

When an elected official breaks the public trust, people can take steps to vote him out of office. But what if it's your pastor or another religious leader?

That question has helped launch a movement to answer a need for accountability.

Eddie Long Scandal

Increasingly, church leaders are joining the ranks of celebrities and politicians as the subjects of scandalous headlines.

Megachurch Pastor Bishop Eddie Long is among the latest, recently settling a sexual misconduct lawsuit filed by four young men.

Long's confidential settlement has sparked loud calls for answers. Columnist and talk show host Roland Martin is among the most outspoken.

Roland has attended services at Long's New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in the Atlanta area. He has shared the stage with Long at public events and read some of Long's books.

Public Outcry

Martin sat down with CBN News, prior to a recent recording of "Washington Watch," his Sunday morning talk show on the TV One cable network.

"If I can sit here and be critical of the Catholic Church as a former Catholic, as it relates to the widespread sexual abuse in the Catholic church, I should be able to speak out in this issue dealing with Bishop Eddie L. Long," Martin said. "To me, it makes no sense when you have folks who believe in silence."

"The moment you go outside of your church doors, and the moment you extend that ministry beyond New Birth, beyond the doors to the rest of the world, then you have invited folks in," he continued. "Don't invite the praise in, do not invite the worship in, don't invite the tithes and the offerings in, but when it is time to catch hell, you don't want the criticism to come in."

CBN reached out to New Birth for this story but did not get any response from Bishop Long.

"Thanks for your interest. I will let you know if we can accommodate your request in the future. Currently Bishop Long is not available for interviews," Church publicist Art Franklin said.

Facing the Congregation

Bishop Long is certainly not the first popular pastor to find himself caught in the middle of a scandal and a struggle to decide what to say to the media.

But there is one audience no pastor can avoid: the congregation.

Helping pastors and congregations walk and talk through those tough times is part of the mission of the International Communion of Evangelical Churches, a newly-formed union of leaders from more than a thousand churches.

"Our level of integrity has to be uppermost. We must live what we preach," Apostle Kyle Searcy, one of the leading members of ICE., told CBN News.

"We can't stand as a prophetic voice of righteousness if we live unrighteous lives," he said.

The international accountability group plans to routinely interview families of its key leaders, visit their churches, and hold retreats that encourage pastors to be accountable to God and each other.

Rev. Harry Jackson, who serves as the bishop of ICE, spoke with CBN News while presiding over the organization's launch.

"Most leaders don't disclose their struggles because the way many of our communions and organizations are structured, you would be fired because you have a struggle," he shared.

"We are saying, let's talk, let's be open. Let's recognize people need safe places to go," he continued. "And we believe all of that will be preventative from someone rising up really high and then fall really low."

Restoring Fallen Pastors

For preachers who do fall, fellow ministers stand ready to help restore the the fallen. And they are armed with scripture.

"Jesus said, 'Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation,'" Searcy told CBN News. "So, I don't care if you are bishop, a pope, or whatever the title is or how large you get, we need each other to help walk right and do what God has called us to do."

"So our commitment is to that level of humility, so that we can help each other stand strong," he said.

"The body of Christ is too important and too fragile to lose any soldiers," Bishop Eugene Reeves added. "I don't believe any of God's people should be thrown away, especially the leaders. We need to restore them."

"They need to go through restoration, but there is a process," he continued. "Sometimes it's a year. Sometimes it's two years. But whatever it takes to get them restored, that is what we must do."

Healing Church Hurt

As fallen pastors are healed and restored to the pulpit, it is important not to forget those sitting in the pew -- church members who may have been hurt in the crisis.

Angela Corprew-Boyd is a minister who has traveled in the United States and abroad teaching, comforting, and counseling people who have been hurt in the church.

"It happens every day in every church," Corprew-Boyd said regarding the frequency of people being hurt in houses of God.

"That is how common it is and I think sometimes people don't want to discuss it because church is not the place where you are supposed to be hurt. It is the place you go for refuge to be healed," she said.

Corprew-Boyd has also been the victim of church hurt. She turned her pain into a book to help others, Church Hurt: The Wounded Trying to Heal.

"People want to know the truth. And when people know the truth they can deal with it in their own way, but also allow the word of God to address them, right where they are," she said.

"They respect you more when you tell the truth. They respect you more when you are transparent," she continued. "I am a human being, flesh like your flesh. We are all dealing with struggles and issues that we have to allow the word of God to address."

And as the hundreds of church leaders participating in ICE would agree, God's word is the Truth that makes all men free.

The Church: Higher Expectations

A W Tozer
July: The Church
The business of the Church is God. She is purest when most engaged with God and she is astray just so far as she follows other interests, no matter how "religious" or humanitarian they may be.
The Set of the Sail, 80.

Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I  also labor, striving according to His working which works in me  mightily.  --Colossians 1:28,29

The treacherous enemy facing the church of Jesus Christ today is the  dictatorship of the routine, when the routine becomes "lord" in the  life of the church. Programs are organized and the prevailing  conditions are accepted as normal. Anyone can predict next Sunday's  service and what will happen. This seems to be the most deadly threat  in the church today. When we come to the place where everything can be  predicted and nobody expects anything unusual from God, we are in a  rut. The routine dictates, and we can tell not only what will happen  next Sunday, but what will occur next month and, if things do not  improve, what will take place next year. Then we have reached the place  where what has been determines what is, and what is determines what  will be.

That would be perfectly all right and proper for a cemetery. Nobody  expects a cemetery to do anything but conform....Everyone and  everything in a cemetery has accepted the routine. Nobody expects  anything out of those buried in the cemetery. But the church is not a  cemetery and we should expect much from it, because what has been  should not be lord to tell us what is, and what is should not be ruler  to tell us what will be. God's people are supposed to grow.  Rut, Rot  or Revival: The Condition of the Church, 5,6.

"Lord, use me today to help some people to really grow in You. Send me  at least one person to whom I can significantly minister spiritual  encouragement. Amen." 

Today's "Insight for Leaders" is taken by permission from the book, Tozer on Christian Leadership, published by WingSpread Publishers

Youth Ministry: Dumb or Deep?

by Walt Mueller (

The state-of-the-art classroom was filled with all the latest technology: computers, quality sound and video, wireless access, you name it. I was sitting in the back of the room as the students engaged with a guest teacher who was Skyped in from three time zones away.

Each student sat in front of a laptop. Next to every laptop sat some type of mobile device, mostly iPhones. From my seat in the back of the room, I could tell the students weren't giving their undivided attention to their Skype guest. Instead, they updated Facebook pages on their laptops or texted with their handhelds.

By the way, this wasn't a middle school or high school classroom. These were graduate students. When I shared my observation with the professor, he was quick to say he wasn't at all surprised. "Over the course of the last few years, I've noticed a marked decline in my student's attention span, ability to think and ability to write. At times, it's almost pathetic. The quality of students and their work hasn't gotten better as you might think. It's gotten worse."

 I've heard the same from teachers at every level of education. Sadly, I've even seen it happening with many of the students I teach.

'The Dumbest Generation'?

Mark Bauerlein, professor of English at Emory University, tackled this issue a couple of years ago in his best-selling book, The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future…or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30.

The book argues that as young people have used technology to connect with each other, they've become isolated from knowledge of the larger world. They don't think, relate, work, study, read or write in ways that make them better. Their cognitive abilities have declined.

 Bauerlein says, "an anti-intellectual outlook prevails in their leisure lives, squashing the lessons of school; instead of producing a knowledgeable and querulous young mind, the youth culture of American society yields an adolescent consumer enmeshed in juvenile matters and secluded from adult realities." Not good.

Bauerlein goes on say the generation we minister to "wears anti-intellectualism on its sleeve, pronouncing book-reading an old-fashioned custom, and it snaps at people who rebuke them for it."
I hate to say it, but during the past few years, I've seen the same anti-intellectualism loose in the world of youth ministry that's shaped and driven by us. Depth, thoughtfulness and even the gnawing desire to go deep seems to be waning.

Think about how we spend our time. Many of us are consumed by building and maintaining our personal brand through a never-ending stream of tweets, texts, blogs and status updates. With only 24 hours in a day, something's got to give. When developing our tech-driven self-portrait and staying connected consumes so much time, I wonder if it's our spiritual and intellectual depth that suffers.

If youth ministry is increasingly marked by dumb rather than deep, we shouldn't be surprised. We live in the same technological world as Bauerlein's Dumbest Generation. We swim in the same soup of cultural values that elevates image and social connections above all else. Without knowing it, we are shaped by it all. If that's who we're becoming, chances are that what we've become is what we will begat as we shape the lives of the kids God's entrusted to our spiritual care. We can't take them any deeper than we're rooted or seeking to go ourselves.

 In a recent conversation with the lead pastor of a megachurch, I asked him about what he's been reading. "I don't read books," he said. "I'm too busy." That attitude contradicts the wisdom of a respected friend who once told me "readers are leaders."

Say No to Dumbing Down

We need to do two things to prevent our being swept away by the anti-intellectual cultural tide of our times.

 On one-hand, we consciously need to limit and manage our use of technology, especially because it's only developing at a rate that's going to consume more and more of our time and attention. No, there's nothing wrong with technology. We just need to be good stewards of time and attention.

On the other hand, we need to carve out time to engage in the discipline of reading and to read widely. I am convinced that reading is one of the most direct routes to a life and ministry marked by depth that we could choose to travel.

The apostle Paul charged young Timothy to go deep when he wrote, "Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15).

Reading takes us deep, sharpens our cognitive abilities, develops our minds, shapes our hearts, gives us the ability to discern and hones our intuition. It makes us better youth workers.

I try to make time for reading every day, and I have also developed a reading plan that helps me read widely in the following categories:

Scripture: God's special revelation is the everyday foundational must-read that offers the lens through which I view and evaluate all of life, including everything else I read!

Biblical Studies: I try to work through at least one book in this category at all times. It could be a commentary or a series of written sermons. Recent favorites in this category include books by Timothy Keller.

Theology: Shoot for a mix of classical (old school!) and contemporary theologians. My theology reading includes things such as the creeds and catechisms (repeatedly), systematic theology texts (check out Wayne Grudem's Systematic Theology), and books by my favorite contemporary theologian John Stott (The Contemporary Christian and The Cross of Christ are two good starters). Also, Francis Schaeffer never gets old.

History: Francis Bacon once said, "histories make men wise." Anything that opens up the past falls into this category. If you're interested in a certain period of history or event, read about it. Because I'm German, I spend a portion of my history-time reading about mid-20th century Germany and the rise of Nazism. What drives me is a desire to learn from the mistakes of those who allowed Hitler to rise to power.

Memoir/Biography: I read about figures from history, interesting pop culture personalities, athletes, musicians, politicians, etc. These books tend to offer great insight into the human condition.

Novels: Stories are powerful. A good novel or work of fiction not only offers a nice escape for me, but also prompts thinking about things in life that really matter.

Personal Interest Books: This is my category; it's the stuff I like to read about the stuff I like. For me, it's books about baseball.

Theme of the Year: Each year, I choose a topic I want to know more about. This year, I'm focusing on reading books about matters of justice.

Social Sciences and Current Events: This is a category that helps me stay in touch with the world. I've found that knowing the world gives me the opportunity to see how God would have me apply the Word to the realities of the contemporary world.

Newspaper: I start my day with the paper each morning. I make sure I scan every page—not just the sports section!

Magazines: Because most of them are online, bookmark a few and check them out each month. I not only read those magazines that interest me, but I read those that interest the students I know. Magazine editors know kids. Reading the magazines they read offers a window into the world of their cares, concerns and problems, which in turn shapes the way I do ministry. Don't forget: The ads offer great insights, as well.

 Deep youth workers do deep youth ministry, which yields deep kids. Without a commitment to depth, I'm afraid Mark Bauerlein might someday write about youth workers and our kids. I fear he would call it Dumb and Dumber. That's one book we don't want to read!

See the YWJ interview with Mark Bauerlein here.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Don’t Join the Cult of the Backslider

by J. Lee Grady

Many young adults today are abandoning biblical faith or mixing it with other religions. How should we respond?

Since the Wild Goose Festival was held in North Carolina’s mountains, you might be tempted to think it was a typical bluegrass festival. Think again. The organizers of this event, which attracted 1,500 people in late June, say their quasi-Christian conference “is going to grow into the largest, best run, most dynamic religious happening in the U.S.”

If a slick-haired TV evangelist had made such a pompous statement we would have rolled our eyes and laughed the guy off the stage. But the founder of Wild Goose, a peace activist from Northern Ireland named Gareth Higgins, is convinced his movement will capture the hearts of young Americans who are questioning their evangelical faith and exploring other options.

“Heretical teaching rarely comes from the outside. Instead, it enters the church in ways we would never expect: through a best-selling Christian author, a wildly popular celebrity or right over the airwaves through a Christian TV program. It might even walk down the church aisle and stand in the pulpit!"

To help them discover this new spiritual path, Higgins brought in an assortment of authors, artists, musicians and activists, all from the far left side of the Christian spectrum, to speak or perform June 23-26 at Wild Goose. They included Jay Bakker, son of TV evangelist Jim and Tammy Faye Bakker; Frank Schaeffer, son of evangelical authors Francis and Edith Schaeffer; and San Francisco pastor Paul Fromberg, who described his 2005 marriage to another man and told the crowd: “God is changing the church through the bodies of gay men.”

The appeal of Wild Goose is tragic. Many young adults today are leaving the faith altogether or abandoning its core tenets. They were raised by Christian parents, but they feel boxed in by denominations or doctrines; others are turned off by right-wing politics; others are rethinking abortion, homosexuality or even the need for marriage. They want a kinder, gentler, softer Christianity that is acceptable to secular culture rather than one that confronts and contradicts it.

The organizers of the Wild Goose Festival, along with a host of similar voices, are ready to lure an entire generation down a different path—one that mixes Christianity with other religions, throws out biblical morality and celebrates spiritual rebellion. I call it the Cult of the Backslider, and I believe it is one of the greatest challenges we face today.

We are deaf if we don’t hear the alarm bells ringing. The Wild Goose phenomenon is only one indicator of that America’s faith is waning and that dark spiritual forces are at work behind the scenes. As we respond to the crisis we must understand the biblical definition of heresy. Here are five clear characteristics of heretics, according to New Testament writers:

They deny the lordship of Christ. The apostle John wrote: “Every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist” (1 John 4:3, NASB). Any teaching that minimizes the supremacy of Christ, or that elevates other gods or religions, will lead to deception. (Many “post-Christians” today encourage a blending of world religions; some might chant to Hare Krishna while others mix Islam and Christianity.)

They are motivated by greed. Peter warned that heretics have hearts “trained in greed” (2 Pet. 2:14) and that they operate like the false prophet Balaam, who performed his sorcery in order to get rich. We’ve had our share of false prophets in the charismatic/Pentecostal movement, and we’re only now beginning to reap the consequences as megachurches built on greedy preachers begin to crumble.

They lead people into sexual immorality. The epistle of Jude (the only book of the Bible dedicated exclusively to the topic of false prophets) warns of heretics who “turn the grace of God into licentiousness” (v. 4) and “defile the flesh” (v. 8) through immorality. Heresy almost always gives people permission to engage in sexual sin. That’s why backsliders are eager to believe it.

They encourage experimentation with paganism. Paul warned Timothy that in the latter days Christians would fall away from the faith because of teachers promoting “deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons” (see 1 Tim. 4:1). Heretical teachings often lure people to engage in occultic practices.

They “sneak in” to the church without being noticed. Another common trait of heresy is its ability to mask itself. Peter warned that false prophets “will secretly introduce destructive heresies” (2 Pet. 2:1). Heretical teaching rarely comes from the outside. Instead, it enters the church in ways we would never expect: through a best-selling Christian author, a wildly popular celebrity or right over the airwaves through a Christian TV program. It might even walk down the church aisle and stand in the pulpit!

May God protect us from the Cult of the Backslider. I’m praying that He will raise up young leaders who are filled with compassion, empowered by the Holy Ghost and brave enough to point their generation back to biblical truth.

J. Lee Grady is contributing editor of Charisma. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His most recent book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Fukushima: Radiation Cover-up

45% of kids from Fukushima survey had thyroid exposure to radiation

Pt.1 of 2 - George Monbiot vs. Dr. Helen Caldicott, Nuclear Energy Debate (30.03.11)


Related: Guardian: Leaked Emails Reveal Government Conspiracy To Downplay Fukushima Nuclear Disaster

Public Not Told for a Month and a Half

Fukushima disaster, cover-up and fears of nuclear explosion