Sunday, January 30, 2011

January 28th Show: Family Ties


 A recent blog article caught my attention the other day. It is called "The Monarchy of the Church" by an unknown author at The writer took issue at the abuse of nepotism in the church. He wrote in part:

"In a church that was built by the financial support of its members, a disturbing development of leadership or dictatorship has risen and taken over like that of an old Egyptian Pharaoh who has the power to pass on the throne to his heirs....In a church organization which promotes high standards of ethics and morality, is the practice of nepotism beneficial or used as means of protecting ones legacy.  Nepotism is not new in the church, in fact it gained its name in the Middle Ages when some Catholic Popes and Bishops who had taken vows of chastity and therefore usually had no children of their own would give their nephews positions of preference, as a father would a son...

The issue of passing on the Throne / Pastoral Leadership to a son of a pastor rather than considering more qualified associate pastors has been a practice that has gone unchallenged in congregations across this country.  The main question that has arisen is simply this; just because he is your son does that mean that God called him to pastor this congregation?

We have witnessed the passing of a church to “ Junior” on several other occasions and some have gone off without a hitch. Others have proven disastrous as the son has tried to continue the legacy of the father, but lacked the anointing that was vital to building that congregation. Such was the case with Pastor Robert H. Schuller.

Pastor Schuller attempted to pass on the Crystal Cathedral to his son Schuller Jr. and it sparked the beginning of a series of issues that has landed the church into bankruptcy. Despite the families attempt to downplay the decline of the ministry during the reign of Pastor Schuller’s son, it has become very apparent that the drop in membership and donations was accelerated once the torch was passed to Schuller Jr."

 For pastors to place their sons in the pulpit when God has called another member of the leadership into that position is arrogant and speaks volumes against the senior pastor. It is a sign of possible ego problem. it is symptomatic of a wrong view of church in the modern world, A pastorship is a calling and a trust. A pastor should be accountable to his congregation. When any pastor is replaced in a church without the approval of the members and board of elders, it has lost its way.

That doesn’t mean that the son of a pastor is disqualified just because he is related to the pastor either. There needs to be balance. For instance, Donnie Swaggart has proven to be a powerful preacher. Much as I do not care for Joel Osteen, since he took over after the death of his dad John Osteen, his church has exploded with goats - not sure what sort of professing Christians his father attracted.

God has no grandchildren. And it is wrong to look at an Old Testament patriarchal model of leadership for a pattern. Some point to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to say nepotism is biblical - but that was for the generational promises - not the priesthood. If you want to go back to the OT to justify nepotism, a better example would be Moses and Joshua. The choosing was up to God who did choose Moses’ brother Aaron for priestly duties - but that was God’s choice.

One messianic church in Philadelphia had a practice of only allowing those with Jewish blood to be in positions of leadership. If a gentile believer showed God’s call he was not acceptable, Certainly this does not please God.

What about in the case of para-church ministry? Christian television networks have become dynasties that are family owned and operated even though they have a Christian public trust since it was the millions donated by believers that paid for them. TBN and CBN are both family owned and operated. Time will tell if they survive after the demise of their founders when the sons take over the dynasty.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

January 21st Show: Prayers to John Paul II for miracles

The late Pope John Paul II is on the fast-track to sainthood. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI has authenticated a miracle, one of two required in order to complete the canonization process. JP will be beatified on May 1st. That ceremony will confer upon him the title, “Blessed.”

The testimony of a miracle came from a nun, Sister Marie Simon-Pierre who suffered from Parkinson’s disease, an ailment that JP also suffered from. Two months after his death, she and her friends began praying to the dead pope for a miracle and then he appeared to her in a dream and a voice in her head told her to grab a pen and write. She woke up without having the usual shaking.

ABC News reported the story. “Sister Marie prayed that Pope John Paul intercede in her life,” said ABC reporter Miguel Marquez . “The Church now believes he did, proving both God’s existence and that John Paul is in heaven.”

This brings up the question: if it is valid to pray to a saint one knows made it to heaven, how can the Catholic Church instruct Catholics to pray to someone whose final destination is uncertain? What if no miracles ensued, does that mean they were praying to someone in hell? You see it is Roman Catholic teaching that no one can be assured of making it into heaven; for that is the sin of presumption. Catholics cannot sing the old Fanny Crosby hymn, Blessed Assurance.

Now Catholics everywhere are encouraged to direct their petitions to JP so that the other needed miracle can be achieved. The ABC News report said that the pope’s body will be exhumed when he is beatified in May and moved into the chapel of St. Sebastian in the Vatican. What they failed to mention is that exhumation of the targets for canonization is standard procedure to determine if the body or any body parts have remained intact. If so, that in and of itself would be the second miracle they’re seeking -- what they call “incorrupt bodies” that miraculously failed to decay.

Cathedrals in Europe are filled with these so-called incorrupt body parts of the saints for the veneration of “the faithful.” They are considered relics and are placed into bejeweled reliquaries behind glass where they are venerated and become the focal point of prayers to the saints - a ghoulish idea to the modern un-Catholic mind.

And if that isn’t morbid enough, the late pope’s blood specimen taken in a hospital before he died is about to be placed in a Catholic church in Poland, JP’s homeland, after the beatification. Published reports say “the vial would be encased in crystal and built into the altar of a church in the southern city of Krakow that is opening in May.”

The spokesman for the John Paul II Centre, Piotr Sionko, said this was the idea of Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, the Archbishop of Krakow, an old friend of JP’s.

“'It was the cardinal's proposal,'' Mr Sionko said. ''He is of the opinion that this is the most precious relic of John Paul II and should be the focal point of the church.''

If the blood specimen is to be the focal point of the church, it will have a lot of competition with the statues in the alcoves, the crucifix over the altar, and the host within the tabernacle. All these church-approved items of veneration and worship must make it a difficult choice for the miracle-seeker to focus upon.

The Catholic Church has totally twisted the biblical teaching on prayer. Every time we pray, do we ask for a miracle? Where is that in the model prayer known as the Lord’s Prayer? Prayer is a devotion to God that includes petition, but also praise and confession and seeking of His will. To try and take that spiritual practice and direct it to a dead person, even one who made it into heaven, is nothing short of blasphemy and idolatry.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

January 14th Show: Atheism: “The Fastest Growing Religion”

One of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes starred the late character actor Burgess Meredith. No, I’m not referring to the one where he survived the atom bomb and broke his glasses before he could sit down to read his piles of books from the devastated library. I’m talking about the 1961 episode called “The Obsolete Man” in which he stands trial for his life as a librarian since the totalitarian State considers it a useless occupation. He is sentenced to death for being “obsolete” because he loves books, owns a Bible, and believes in God Whom the State has declared does not exist. [See Wikipedia synopsis: ]

Back in the early ‘60s, it was unthinkable that a government could declare that there is no God. We thought only a communist country like Russia or China could dare to outlaw religion and persecute believers. After all, the United States has “In God we trust” on their dollar bills.

Sadly, it looks like forces of God-haters are rising up in power in our country to lobby for their collective belief in atheism. They have a public relations campaign to win others to their views and even have celebrity endorsements to spread their message of the supremacy of man in the universe. Now they have a well-attended annual convention (next one in April in Des Moines, Iowa) to help them galvanize the godless masses into a powerful special interest group who can campaign for change in Washington. [ ] They want to remove “one nation under God” from our Pledge of Allegiance and ban prayer in any public place. Instead of trusting God, they only have themselves to trust in. What a miserable position to take.

These atheists have the zeal of evangelists in spreading their message that God is a bad invention of man and responsible for all the wars and hardships throughout history. They have especially targeted the Evangelical Church as public enemy number one.

Since atheism is indeed a negative and hopeless ideology, their PR machine is putting a positive spin on their message. Comedian/magician Penn Jillette, for example, has been interviewed all over television testifying that his acceptance of atheism has brought joy and hope to his world.

Other celebrities that inspired him to come out of the atheist closet were Martin Mull, Randy Newman, and Frank Zappa. Jillette says they are just behind the Gay Lobby in coming into prominence and influence. The YouTube clip of his testimony can be seen here: []  At the end of his tape, Jillette rejoices in the fact that if atheism were a religion, he is part of the fastest growing religion in America.

Former Saturday Day Night Live not-ready-for-prime-time-player, Julia Sweeney, has taken her atheist one-woman-show on the road to packed audiences. Her “Letting God of God” routine is now on film and is also popular on YouTube. One clip shows the audience response and the people sound as if they’re talking about an inspirational gospel message in how much it meant to them. [see: ]

Could the atheist lobby be a portent of things to come and a rise in persecution of Christians in America? Certainly this movement is not surprising when we consider it as just another sign of the times. The Bible tells us that before Jesus returns iniquity would abound. So this should not surprise us. However, it does sadden us to see how the Creator of all is being lampooned by His creatures. One day these very people may be the ones of whom it is written prophetically that will shake their fists at God when judgment falls.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

January 7th Show: Pat Robertson does not hear from God & other false prophets

Every January prognosticators and forecasters in the world, the church, and the occult publish their predictions for the coming year. When we look back at their track record, we're not very impressed. Some are hit & miss; others are downright off target; none are 100% accurate.

Recently the economic experts have most people's attention. They base their predictions on their understanding of the financial market. Meteorologists forecast weather patterns to expect in the coming year. Astrologers supposedly see into the future via the study of the constellations and superstitious beliefs in their influences. And self-appointed prophets in the visible church prophesy according to a supposed dream, vision, or audible voice from God.

All these voices have a common appeal: worldliness. They attract people who are afraid of the future and want to know that their comfort in this life is secure for another year. Yet that focus is contrary to the Bible. Jesus told us not to concern ourselves with those needs but to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and leave the rest to Him. 

"I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? ...Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble." - Matt. 6:24b-25;34

Yet every year we are bombarded with so-called prophecies of how we need to do certain things in order to prosper and get through the year. CBN founder/president Pat Robertson hears from God, he says, every year. God just happens to keep the same calendar as the former presidential candidate. But his record for accuracy is abysmal. 
Back in 1999, for instance, he said that God told him that those who do not double their giving that year would not survive the year 2000. Benny Hinn quoted him on TBN's Praise-a-Thon in order to twist people's arms to give more than they could afford. When 2000 came and went, there was no apology from the 700 Club or TBN.

According to the Bible, that makes Pat Robertson a false prophet. And we certainly should not listen to him. 

"When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him."  - Deut 18:22

This year, according to Robertson, God is again worried about His people's bank accounts. Pat prefaced his prophecy he gave to the 700 Club audience with a warning: "this is what I'm writing and what I'm saying this is what the Lord said." Then he pontificated about his favorite subject: the economy.

"Your country is in grave peril. The leaders have hearkened to the demands of interest groups and have led your nation into bankruptcy. In two years will come a time of reckoning - it's not now, but it's gonna be two years from now. Your creditors will demand payment and there will not be enough to satisfy their claims. Your currency will shrink in value, your bonds will lose value, people on fixed incomes will suffer, unemployment will escalate, and there will be turmoil." 

The economic forecasters could have said as much and they didn't require some audible voice from God. Since Robertson has already demonstrated his propensity to say "thus saith the Lord" when the Lord hasn't spoken to him, why should we listen to him now? And besides, he didn't say anything important at all anyway.

Elijah List, the umbrella group of false prophets, published a transcript of Pat Robertson's latest prophecy for 2011 and put in a ridiculous disclaimer to protect Pat and other false prophets for being labeled for what they are. The publisher Steve Shultz wrote:

"Some are confused because there are so many differing pieces of the puzzle as we have posted words for 2011. That is because there would not be a need for thousands of prophets unless this was a large puzzle...Keep in mind that prayer can change any negative prophecy."

 Yet Pat Robertson did not deliver his word from God with any conditions. Shultz got this unbiblical idea from the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders [ACPE], headed up by C. Peter Wagner and Cindy Jacobs. They put together a collective prophecy from all their false prophet underlings every year and because of their horrible record they had to change the Bible's requirement for 100% accuracy. 

Last year the ACPE prefaced their prophecies with this disclaimer:

"This is the word given through a compilation of the prophetic releases and consensus of the Apostolic Council of Prophetic Elders.  There are differing variables that can affect the timing and/or coming to pass of theses words:
  • All prophecy not contained in scripture is conditional.
  • The timing of when the prophecy comes to pass may occur over a longer period of time than one calendar year.  Some take many years to fulfill.
  • It is possible that prophetic warnings will cause either the person or nation to repent and so turn away the judgment prophesied.  Biblically, this happened when Jonah prophesied to Nineveh and the city repented, causing God to relent."
This gives a whole new definition of a prophet. There hasn't been a single failed prophecy given by any of the Elijah List or ACPE "prophets" that could be interpreted to have failed due to repentance as in Nineveh. And when they specify a time-frame to their prophecy and it does not come to pass, they have no right to say it can happen later. To say that all prophecy is conditional when no conditions were put on them is an insult to everyone's intelligence.

The true prophet Jeremiah told us what our attitude toward false prophets should be and we need to apply that to these "thousands of prophets" that have crept into our churches:

"Thus says the LORD of hosts: 'Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you. They make you worthless; They speak a vision of their own heart, Not from the mouth of the LORD.'" -Jer. 23:16

Saturday, January 1, 2011

December 31st Show: Witnessing with Bible Prophecy

Witnessing with Bible Prophecy

The natural outcome of recognizing the signs of the times for the Christian should be the urgency to share the gospel with others. It is inconceivable to think about the looming wrath of God being poured out upon those we love who will be left behind if they do not receive the free gift of salvation before the rapture.

It has truthfully been said that “apologetics is the handmaiden of evangelism.” You cannot proclaim the truth without being prepared to defend it. The defense of the faith and the proclamation of it are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other.

When witnessing to others it is so important to find common ground upon which to begin the conversation. There are no formulas to follow; we must be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit because we cannot argue anyone into the Kingdom. It is a work of God upon the heart and all we can be are vessels God uses to speak on His behalf. Those who have ears to hear will listen, and those who have been given over to their own devices will respond accordingly.

A good conversation starter in this day and age is the condition of the world. Even the world in its fallen state recognizes that civilization is on a path toward the final event. The media in all forms - television, film, print, internet, video games - are filled with references to Armageddon, Apocalypse, and Antichrist. The understanding that we’re on the brink of judgment seems to be in the very DNA of all peoples.

When witnessing to unbelievers we can make a connection by giving them the hope of the Gospel of the Kingdom and the soon return of the King of kings as a lifeline to escape the wrath to come. We can show them how Bible prophecy is history written in advance and that the world is not spinning out of control into chaos, but that all is happening according to God’s plan. God is in control.

We can show them fulfilled prophecy regarding the first coming of Christ and how all things happened as it was written in advance, and that we can trust the Word of God to be what it is: the Word of God to fallen man. From there we can share the Gospel of salvation and the call for repentance for the forgiveness of sins that Jesus Christ purchased for us on the cross of Calvary.

As the world seems to recognize the approach of Armageddon, the visible church is now overrun with scoffers who say, “where is the promise of His coming? All things remain the same.” For such Christians, there is no urgency to go out into the highways and byways to gather the wheat.

There are two influences that people are listening to both within and without the church: the voice of Christ and the voice of antichrist. The Bridegroom is telling His bride to be ready for His soon appearing when He will take her to the place that He has prepared for her. He is warning the churches not to get caught up in the cares of this world, recalling Lot’s wife who looked back and turned into a pillar of salt.

The spirit of antichrist however speaks as one who only has this world to offer. He is anxious to start his earthly reign over the kings of the earth and so he deceives many with the allure of global peace and security. As the devil unsuccessfully did to Jesus in the wilderness, he tempts others to sell their souls by bowing down to him. In exchange he offers them riches, power, and influence.

An example of the spirit of antichrist’s efforts to win over the masses can be seen in a trailer for an upcoming film called “The Shift.” [] Today’s heroes are featured trying to sell everyone on the idea that if we all join together, lay down our differences, and become a Collective we can achieve the transformation of humanity into divinity. The cast of leaders include Desmond Tutu, Deepak Chopra, Al Gore and Oprah Winfrey’s spiritual advisor, Marianne Williamson.

This latest New Age effort at accomplishing this paradigm shift has now caught on with society as a whole. Back in 1982 the effort failed big time. Remember when all those full-page ads appeared in major newspapers around the world announcing that “The Christ is Now Here”? The ad said that “soon the Christ will acknowledge his identity and within the next two months will speak to humanity through a worldwide television and radio broadcast. His message will be heard inwardly, telepathically, by all people in their own language. From that time, with his help, we will build a new world.”

Well, he never showed up and his handler, Benjamin Creme, is a laughing stock, still claiming this guy is going to come to the forefront very soon.

It appears that those who are against the true Christ are indeed hearing the voice of the antichrist inwardly. And those whose hearts are open to the true Christ hear His voice as He promised that His sheep would. It is reminiscent of the Stephen King thriller, The Stand. In that book/film, 99% of the population was wiped out by a government experiment in germ warfare gone wrong. All the bad guys dreamed of being drawn to go to Las Vegas, while the nice survivors saw a sweet grandma in their dreams beckoning them to Boulder, Colorado. The final stand between good and evil ensued, and of course the good guys won.

Today we must warn nonbelievers that if they are hearing the voice of the true Christ not to harden their hearts. The voice of the antichrist is being heard and accepted even within the walls of the church. Conferences have sprung up looking for this “Shift” and bringing in the same global unity agenda as the New Age Shift.

The angel told Daniel that the prophecies of the time of trouble would be closed up and sealed until the time of the end. Only the wise would understand, while the wicked would not. [Daniel 12] And those who turn many to righteousness would shine like the stars forever and ever. As in The Stand, it is time to choose sides and tune in to the voice of the Master.