Last week Karen read me the end of an article that appeared in our daily paper. The article was about how the Crystal Cathedral in Garden Grove, California was teetering on the edge of financial ruin.  It ended with these words:  “But those who have watched the church’s fortune decline believe Schuller and later his children failed to do much to attract younger people.  Newer evangelical leaders like Rick Warren (a good Southern Baptist) and Bill Hybels (now here is where God and I are greatly disappointed) began offering hip worship services and an emphasis on social activism and the latest technology. Schuller got left behind, Thumma said.”  How blind and unspiritual these words are.  How ungodly and arrogant the nominal church in America has become. When I think of these words I see in my mind (and heart) what John was saying about the apostate church and what it will look and sound like, even in 2010.  John shares, “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: 18I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.” (Revelation 3:17-18)  They think what they are saying and doing in ministry, “rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing;” is what God is after, but in reality they “knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” I really believe the religious crowd like TBN and all of the other Christian cable programming will be the spiritual platform that the Anti-Christ will use to deceive the world having a form of Godliness, but denying the power thereof. A self-seeking and oh so self-centered, selfish giving to get message like Joel Osteen, Benny Hinn, Rod Parsley, and others (I cannot call it preaching) spew.  This week TBN had one of their three beg-a-thons (they seem to have them more often than before), I could not believe the out and out manipulation and lies, “quickly you have 3 minutes to run to your phone and call us to give us money so God will bless you.”  Are they telling us God cannot bless us unless we call TBN and give them money?  Woe unto them, shame on the owners and staff of TBN and even more shame on the people who believe these lies.  Giving to get is man’s way of doing things, God’s way is giving so that others may receive. The Bible time and time again warns us, “be not deceived,” yet it happens every day on Christian TV and around the world in fleshly driven churches.  I am convinced more and more that people in 2010 do not want to hear the truth.  Many pastors (whom I personally know) have learned if they tell the world the truth they will not have a huge following and they will do whatever they can to destroy them.  After all, Jesus told the truth and the religious folks of His day killed Him.  And is the servant greater than the Master?  Pastors have learned if they want people to like them and give them money all they have to do is tell the people what they already know and what they want to hear.  Who wants to hear death to our selfishness?  When will pastors learn if the world is running after your ministry God is not.  When will pastors get back to the tried and true teachings and practices of the Bible alone and not be dependent on the power of technology, but on the power of God? I hear many pastors today say, “we must go where the people are,” 1000 percent wrong!  No, pastors must preach the word of God as God directs them and then leave their ministry and the results to God.  The reality is those pastors who use gimmicks, tricks, special services, and etc. really do not believe God can do what He said He can do, they have sold out the truth of the power of the Gospel message.  They have called God a liar and deny His power.   Jesus asked Peter who He was, “And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. 17And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. 18And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock (revelation) I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”  (Matthew 16:16-18)  The revelation the church is to be built on is who Jesus Christ is, not on hip worship services and social activism.  What has happened to truth? Honor?  Simplicity? Integrity? A Godly ministry?  Remember what you use to win someone to Christ (if you have) is what you have won them to.  If you use a hip service or social activism you have won them to that not the Gospel. Do you see that?  Oh I hope and pray you do. Jesus never got involved with the social issues or the politics of the day.  He was always about higher things in life; like doing His Father’s will and bring men out of darkness of this world into the glorious light of God. Paul encouraged the slaves to be obedient to their masters.  How strange this must be to the society of 2010 who lives for its freedom and personal desires.  Jesus and Paul knew if the Gospel could penetrate the hearts and minds of the people they would be able to endure what life brings their way. Pastors who preach a social message, especially in some of the black churches with black liberation theology, have nothing of God within them (oh they may be popular, draw big crowds, and raise large sums of money) and try to make up from their lack of true spirituality by acting the part (hypocrites or actors) and selling the truth for worldly fame and fortune.  You know people know the truth when they hear it and they will sell all they have to get it. 

 Ministry is 2010 oversees churches (especially in America) full of people who think they are Christians, but have been lied to by being told they must repeat the sinner’s prayer which is found nowhere in the Bible.  I think one of the greatest mission fields in the world is the nominal churches in America.  Oh they have done all of the right religious activities; worked hard to further their denomination or non-denomination church (remember most non-denominational churches like Calvary Chapel with churches in most big cities and other denominations are really denominational only they are trying to hide the truth so they could throw stones at the main-stream denominations), but have failed to allow God to make them the work of God. Paul tells us, For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9Not of works, lest any man should boast. 10For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)  Do you mean I do not have to walk around abortion clinics picketing or work for some politician to be saved?  Now please do not misunderstand me here; even by man’s laws (which makes it legal) abortion is ungodly and just flat out wrong, but becoming a social activist in the campaign to put a stop to abortion will not save your soul and win you to Christ.  The same goes for feeding the poor, saving the whales, saving the earth, or any social program in the world.  Salvation is a thing of the heart and an understanding within ourselves we have sinned and come short of the glory of God.  The “good works” Paul is talking about here is not working for God, but becoming the work of God.  And those “works” Paul is talking about is allowing God to bring His dealings and judgments into our lives.  Now they will only be “good works” in our lives if we allow them to conform our character and nature into the image of Jesus Christ.  If not they will cause us great heartache and pain. Funny man thinks he is going to work his way to heaven, he has a works centered heart condition, but this can never be. Man MUST become (a process of learning and ever learning through God’s work in our lives) the work of God and they have created or “ordained that we should walk in them.”  Sadly, many people (cannot call them Christians) have given their tithes and offerings, but failed to give their heart and life in submission and obedience.  They have not allowed God to write His words on their heart.  Most pastors preach or teach a watered down sermon (not the word of God) every Sunday (most churches in 2010 have no Wednesday and Sunday night service), host Bible conference after Bible conference, but there seems to be no spiritual growth and development in their lives nor in the lives of the people.  Our lives must reflect our preaching and teaching.  At the church we attend we watch during the song service (usually three fast ones and a slow one) and have noticed the ones who sing the loudest, wave their hands the longest, and act the holiest; do not sit still for the preaching of the word of God they are always talking or playing with their cell phones, nor do they have their Bible.  Have you noticed no one really brings their Bible to Church any more?  Why should they after the song service (not praise and worship; praise is to speak of God’s goodness not to sing and worship, according to the Bible is to bow our heads to the ground) most churches throw the Scriptures  up on the big white screen no need for the Bible or no need to take notes. Sadly from the starting point of when real commitment is needed to be saved they have been lied to and what they think is heartfelt repentance instead they have been converted to a denominational religion. And later when they try to walk upright before God and man they wonder why they cannot.  They wonder what has happened?  Why have they failed? Why they have no joy or victory in their lives?  For our Christian life to be effective and fulfilling it must start with the correct foundation (built on the revelation of who Christ is) and then be bricked and mortared (supported) with Godly truths, precepts (where we get our concepts from), and principles all of our lives.  I have seen it for years.  I have written and spoke against it for years, yet this ungodly practices flourishes in main-stream denominations and even Pentecostal circles.  Salvation is found only in the name of Jesus not in reciting a prayer or doing good works.  Peter told the crowds,  “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”  (Acts 4:10-12)  John told us what we must do to receive this salvation, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9If we confess (not repeat a prayer, but speak from our heart even maybe feel bad and cry) our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.”  (1 John 1:8-10)  The word “confess” here means we agree with God what He is saying about us is true.  And what is God saying about us without Jesus Christ, “we all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”  How can we walk with God unless we agree with Him?  I know I find it almost impossible to walk with my wonderful wife Karen if we are in disagreement.  Our confession must end us in remorse and sorrow for what we have done and what sin has wrought in us and every relationship we have.  

But in 2010 according to Rick Warren and others for a church to be successful you have to offer a hip service, rally your members to be socially active in things, and use the latest social networking medians; like Facebook, MySpace or Twitter.  I cringe every time I hear a church say, “visit us on Facebook.”  Whatever happened to the members of the church beating the pavement the old fashion way; visiting people in need, the sick, and inviting them to come to church? Are we that removed from people?  Are we that busy?  What value do we place on people that are lost in their sin? Do we really think they are going to take the first step?  No of course not. We have become full and content in ourselves.  We have become so technical driven and less and less in personal relationships in our day-to-day lives we expect things of the Spirit to apply as they do in the natural.  I have said and will say again, the more we go towards technology the less of God is in our lives.  I do not care how much you spin it, you know it is true.  John tells us, “That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (John 3:6)  Things born of the world: technology gadgets, social media websites, movies, music (even most Christian music), and the like are of the flesh, but those things born of the Spirit are of the Spirit and they are Spirit and they are life. No matter how hard you try my pastor friends, you cannot use fleshly things to win people to Christ!  You can win them to your kingdom or another’s, but never to the kingdom of God.  Paul brings it down to the heart of the issue, “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”  (1 Corinthians 1:18)  The hip services and social activism of ministry in 2010 is foolishness to God and those that go after them will perish, but the preaching of the cross (no matter how old-fashioned and appearing obsolete) is the power of God and is unto salvation.   

 I really believe for ministry to be effective and powerful in 2010 we must go backwards 20, 30, even 40 years ago, we must go back in time where the Gospel was shared one-on-one with power and authority unto salvation. Now please understand I am not writing these things to run down the church with negative criticism that is destructive, that is never my intention, but I am writing these things to provide constructive criticism that always sets our thoughts towards God, honest soul searching for the truth, and an inward reflection that always leads us to a closer walk with God.  I am writing these things so that we will shake ourselves and wake up from our slumber before it is too late. When you look at things from God’s point of view maybe Robert Schuller and the folks at the Crystal Cathedral are right not to go after the worldly ways of ministry.  In the end God will bring it all down; He is the one with the final word not man.