New Book by Todd Friel

I highly recommend Todd Friel’s new book “Judge Not” which deals with discernment and a ton of topics. He covers NAR, Youth Ministry, Jesus Culture, Short-Term Missions, and many other things. It is hard to put down, informative and thought-provoking.

Amazon link    There are print & Kindle versions.

Wretched Radio link    There are print and e-book versions.

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Back in the States

For the last few years I felt alone in our association of churches as I stood against the false teaching that was creeping in. I strongly hold to the inerrancy and the sufficiency of Scripture. No doubt, the greatest danger is from within “the church” and not from without.

Who is more dangerous to the children of God? The Dalai Lama or Rick Warren? Rosie O’Donnell or Joel Osteen? Bernie Sanders or Bethel Redding?

I was deeply troubled after hearing from those who stood in the same pulpit I did that it didn’t matter if Jonah was a true historical account and that Adam and Eve may not have been real historical figures, that females could occupy the role of an elder, that Paul’s pastoral letters are not for all churches, etc.

Instead of joining another church and taking another ministry position in Southeast Asia, we moved back to America for numerous reasons. We’re now in a Bible-teaching Confessional church and I can say with so many others that it is one of the greatest blessings to be in a room with people on the Lord’s Day who believe the same way you do. One church member drives 90 miles to attend and they come to the prayer meetings on Wednesday as well. They too say it is SO worth it. If I were to die suddenly, these are the people I’d want to surround my family.

God has given me a job in which I may put in lots of hours and I’m so thankful for that. I am no longer dependent on support so I have taken down the “GIVE” link. There are pastors who need the money more than I.

We’re thankful for the years in Asia and the growth that took place during that time. We’re looking forward to sharing His Truth with many in this new area we’ve chosen to move to.

 

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Missionaries Should be “Immersed” in Church

“All missionaries should be sons from the womb of the church sent as messengers of the church to establish and strengthen the church.  Evangelism of an individual has not been effectively completed until he is integrated into the life of the church.  Missionaries then must be familiar with and appreciative of the worship of the church, the fellowship of the church, the doctrine of the church, and the government of the church.

Too many individuals and activists have had a “better idea” than the church.  With disparaging remarks about the weaknesses, failures, and inefficiencies of the church, movements are begun “beside” the church.  Claims are made that such persons or agencies are working “alongside” the church, stressing that their efforts are “parallel” to and “supportive” of the church.  However, that which is “alongside” is still “outside” the church.  How zealous and self-promoting are such “para”-church organizations.  Para-church works can only justify their existence by criticism of the church.  How different this is from our Lord’s concept of missions and evangelism which builds up the church.

It is a strange phenomenon that para-church organizations, whose reason for existence is the failure of the church and their superior ability to carry out the tasks Christ gave to the church, cannot continue in existence without taking men and money from the church.  Those who are saying, “We can do what you cannot,” are constantly appealing to the church to give them their best men and support them with gifts.  In this way, those who criticize the church further sap her strength.  Even so, para-church groups find the “weak” church’s resources sufficient to keep them from demise.

Our Savior’s concept was one of church-centered ministry and missions.”

-Walter J. Chantry        full article here

See also: Love The Church, A Biblical Case for Church Membership & The Blessing of Church Membership

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Western Imperialism & Foreign Missions

A mindset that is all too-common regarding foreign missions is, “We’re going to do this our way, regardless of what the locals want or need.”

This mindset is evidenced in many ways. Sometimes a youth group will want to build a fence when the locals don’t need a fence. The locals may even tear it down after the Americans leave! Sometimes the Americans will bring in Bibles when the same amount of Bibles may be printed locally for the cost of a single plane ticket or cheaper! (there are some places that are in need of Bibles but it is best to ask the locals what is the most efficient way of supplying them with God’s Word)

Another thing that comes up with this way of doing missions is that it often stirs up discontent among the locals. Those who know “the Americans” often get wealthy and the Christian message is lost immediately. The gospel is switched out for a health & wealth false gospel.

Let’s say you have someone that hosts western teams and tells them what they want to hear. The Westerners think they’re doing great work by “supporting” this particular ministry. They give gifts to the ministry (but those gifts are given to family members and not used for ministry at all). The locals see the accumulation of wealth and ask how this ministry leader  has acquired such wealth. The answer given to them (yes, this really happens) is “God blessed my faithfulness by giving me these things.” The church members wonder why God hasn’t blessed their faithfulness with material blessings. They obviously are not doing enough. The church member is asked, “Did you pray? God answered my prayer.” And so the church member is left questioning their obedience to God and also thinking that more time in prayer will equal more material possessions. All the while the gospel is lost and the Americans think they’re supporting a move of God.

There are many ways the scenario above may be avoided. I only wish it wasn’t so common.

The best scenario is that the minister who functions in a way described above is reading someone else’s mail. That is to say that they are taking Old Covenant promises and applying them to the New Covenant community, among other obvious problems. Notice how the name-it-and-claim-it (positive confession) health & wealth preachers cherry pick their verses in the OT. Such teaching cannot be substantiated using the NT.

The worst scenario is that what I’ve just described is a 2 Timothy 3:1-9 & 2 Peter 2:1-3 situation. See also the book of Jude.

Another thing that could be mentioned is the change in the locals when they see that the more a Christian works with foreigners, the wealthier they become. The locals are tempted to do “ministry” as a job, instead of a service, so that their family may be taken care of. It has to be much easier than farming, right? Why go through such hard labor and barely make it when you can entertain foreigners and live large? Just stand up, make a lot of people laugh, and tell stories with a verse thrown in here and there. Anyone can do THAT.

I believe that biblically functioning pastors (those who rightly handle the Word of God and teach and preach it) should be supported and supported well. What I don’t believe is that the income of the pastor should be far far higher than those who he ministers to.

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Self-Righteous Buddhists & Do-Good Christianity

“Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead and now lives with God in heaven. They believe that if they lead good lives, they too will go to heaven when they die.”

-from one of my daughter’s homeschool books which was describing world religions

No, the message of Christianity is the opposite. There is none who does good (Rom. 3:10-18). There is no God seeker. The effect of the Fall is upon all men (Rom. 1:21). That includes their will, mind, and the decisions they make. Man’s heart is not and cannot be right before God by anything we may do (Jer. 13:23, 17:9). Without God we’re dead in our sin, not just in a bad way, but dead (Eph. 2:1; Col. 2:13). No one can do what is pleasing to God (John 6:43-44, 65; Rom. 8:8). This means that any kind of works-based salvation like the quote describes above is impossible (Rom. 3:27,28; 4:1-8).* We’re entirely dependent upon God’s saving grace.

The message of Christianity is that Christ the Righteous One died for the unrighteous (2 Cor. 5:21)! We’re saved by His good works, not by living “good lives”. The work of God is that we believe in Jesus (John 6:29).

Out of every worldview I’ve interacted with, I have by far found Buddhists to be the most self-righteous individuals I’ve ever come across. I’m not speaking about the monk down the street who plays shooter games in the internet cafe nor the monks who yell at the people at the market. I’m talking about Buddhists that I’ve had real meaningful conversations with about their faith.

One Buddhist man told me if I was sick and poor that he’d say I didn’t give enough at the temple. I asked a Buddhist last week, “What is the message of Buddhism?” and he replied, “I do what I want and it makes me feel good.” We had just spoken about ISIS and what had taken place in France. Doesn’t that make ISIS feel good? On what grounds can he say what they did was wrong if there is no God to define what is good?

Buddhism is standing firm in mid-air. It is “operating without all its buttons” as my friend would say.

I asked the man, “What about origins? Do you have a creation story or do you believe we descended from highly evolved African primates?” He replied, “I don’t care about those things.” So that’s Buddhism for you. Basic worldview questions are avoided. This has been a common trend among most Buddhists I’ve spoken to.

I asked what he thought about Christianity and he said, “I don’t really care for it.” He then explained how offensive the message is that Jesus is the only way. I followed up with asking what he believes the message of Christianity is. He said, “The message of Christianity is the same as all the other religions – do good.” His understanding of the message of Christianity was the same as the misinformed homeschool book quoted above. At this point I could have responded by showing how much knowledge he lacked of all the world religions because they do not teach this. I could have pointed out that he had no objective standard by which to say something is good and something is bad. But I chose instead to take what he said head-on. I asked, “Would it be OK with you if I tell you what the message of Christianity is?” He said, “Yes” and then I explained that the message of Christianity is the exact opposite of “Do good” and provided much of the information listed above about our state before God and why we need a Savior. I explained that we are saved FOR good works and not BY good works (Eph. 2:8-10). It is so different.

Unless the sinner is shown the sinfulness of sin, he’ll never see his need nor appreciate the Savior. But when he sees his sinful state for what it is, he’ll treasure the Savior and the name of Jesus will be precious to him!

In works-righteousness religions it is “do and do and do”. Christianity is “receive and do IN LIGHT OF what you’ve received”.

For those hanging on to works-righteousness – check out Gal. 5:4 and Gal.1:8-9

Buddhists need to be shown that they have greatly broken the law of God and that there is only one way to be right before Him. That is through the work which He has done – not by our works, but His! Believe on the One who was sent! Cling to Him and His righteousness – alone! Someone said before, “Christ’s righteousness is not all we need. It’s all we have!”

I say this all the time…it is one thing to reject the Christian message, it is another thing to never hear it. Let’s be sure people are understanding the message of the grace of God that is found in Christ Jesus.

I am astonished at God’s grace this morning as I’m typing this. Aren’t you?

* This paragraph comes from the Doctrine of Salvation class by Alpha & Omega Ministries

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Preachers or Witch Doctors?

I have heard multiple people describe the landscape of Christianity in Africa. Each time I hear it described, I think of Southeast Asia.

 

The following message comes from Pastor Conrad Mbewe. He lives in Lusaka, Zambia. His blog can be found here. Notable posts found here and here.

While Charismatic teaching may in many cases open the door (or function as a gateway drug) to the Word of Faith heresy (consisting of positive confession, a different definition of the atonement, little gods doctrine, and more) we must be careful to distinguish between the two. Wayne Grudem and Robert Tilton are worlds apart.

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Kong Hee

There has been big news coming out of Singapore.

Fox News – “Kong Hee, the founder and senior pastor of City Harvest Church, was found guilty Wednesday with five other church leaders of stealing 24 million Singapore dollars ($17 million) designated for building and investment-related purposes through sham bond investments. The State Court also found that they used another 25 million dollars ($18 million) to hide the first embezzlement from auditors.” Full article HERE.

More information here & here.

Kong Hee, who preaches that Jesus was rich and we should be also, has funneled $35 million of designated funds into his wife’s music career and has been found guilty of seeking to cover up his actions.

I’m so thankful he was found guilty. The more these kind of things happen, the harder it is to share the gospel with people because they’ll use them as excuses for their unbelief.

Christians in Singapore are reacting. Some are saddened. But others are thankful because now the gospel can shine brighter than before. I just heard this sermon from a pastor in Singapore pointing the people of God to the gospel after the Kong Hee trial. Have a listen. It is so pastoral and edifying.

From Gospel Light Christian Church, Dr. Paul Choo: The Prosperity Gospel

“He is a God who cares for me from head to toe….I can lose my wallet. I cannot lose Him.”

-Dr. Paul Choo

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Prosperity Gospel

I heard Dr. Bill Webster interviewed by Chris Arnzen. He said something like the following:

“The reformation was all about bringing people back to the authority of the Word of God. That’s what we need today. The evangelical church needs that desperately today – a second reformation. We need the gospel to be clearly proclaimed and the authority of the Word of God to be asserted in the churches across the world. There needs to be a coming back to a full understanding of the gospel message that is clearly revealed in the NT with both the teaching of Jesus found in the gospels and the teaching found in the epistles. Justification by faith alone by grace alone by Christ alone is reformational teaching. It is a particular application of the gospel. It is not the totality of the gospel. Justification is one aspect of the work of Christ to save men from the guilt of sin and the consequences of sin. We absolutely must have a work done by Christ that fulfills the law of God. Justification is a forensic work…”

I appreciated the two different things he pointed out.

  1. the gospel must be preached in our churches
  2. the authority of God’s Word is to be asserted in our churches

Satan will continue to attack God’s Word and His gospel and we must stand. Earlier this year I spoke to a pastor who wanted to convince me that Jesus was rich. I thought about typing out a few of the arguments he used but they were the exact same arguments used by Kong Hee in his sermon “9 Reasons Jesus Wasn’t Poor”. Chris Rosebrough did an excellent job reviewing that sermon here. Skip to the 1:13:40 mark. 

This blog is a resource site for friends and family. It isn’t about me and so I don’t feel I need to replicate the things that Chris said in that sermon review above – he nailed it.

My family is surrounded by poor people. My closest neighbors literally live in a shack on the side of the hill with several kids. Preventable deaths occur here often. Sanitation is nearly absent. The gospel is for all people, including poor farmers. God does not promise them material blessings in this lifetime. There is continuity but also significant differences between the Old Covenant and the New.

prosperitygospel

Um….No. Jesus died to deal with our sin (1 Corinthians 15:3) so that we may receive spiritual blessings (Romans 15:27). * Galatians 1:8-9 is no joke.

The guys at Presbyterian Memes had the best response to Creflo. judas agrees

 

Justin Peters brings up a great point in his seminar “Clouds Without Water”. The Prosperity Gospel folks are always appealing to men’s fallen desires. The desire to be healthy and wealthy is only there because of the Fall. Instead of appealing to men’s fallen desires, we should be speaking about righteousness.

Article: What Does The Bible Say About The Prosperity Gospel?

 

* churchwatchcentral.com was the first place I saw Creflo’s tweet. Creflo has since removed it. The response from many people to it may still be seen on the twitter website.

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Chrislam

Q: What do you get when you mix Christianity and Islam?

A: The Insider Movement.

Only once on the foreign mission field have I actually come across missionaries that advocate for Chrislam but I’ve heard a good deal about it on different podcasts. I think it was Backpack Radio (now Urban Theologian) who had a good show in the past on this subject. Rick Warren may be the biggest name in this area. A documentary I have posted previously dealt a little bit with his association with Chrislam.

The Insider Movement “missionaries” basically go into Muslim areas and teach the “converts” to continue going to the Mosque and to pray to Yahweh IN SECRET THERE, among other things. No commentary needed…right?

The Mortification of Spin: The Inside Out of the Insider Movement  – Excellent!

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The 7 Mountains

The 7 Mountains and NAR go hand in hand. Test all things. 1 Thessalonians 5:21

The 7 Mountains  – Hour 1 is the roots and teaching of NAR (William Branham, Loren Cunningham, Bill Bright, Peter Wagner), Hour 2 is a sermon review

The 7 Mountains by Kong Hee  – skip to 1:26

C. Peter Wagner’s Dominionism

Summary: “An alternate gospel, an alternate approach to Scripture and a totally different great commission”

Article: The Roots and Fruits of the New Apostolic Reformation

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Prepping

Prepping is defined as “the practice of making active preparations for a possible catastrophic disaster or emergency, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies”

Prepping is a common practice in the southern states and preppers can be found across the world. It is wise to prepare for that which may (LIKELY) come. No one would want to be found in a situation and be unprepared. A prepper would say, “It is better to have something and not need it than to need it and not have it.”

But what about Judgment Day?

“Truly, I say to you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah than for that town.” Matthew 10:15

“But I tell you, it will be more bearable on the day of judgment for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” Matthew 11:22

“But I tell you that it will be more tolerable on the day of judgment for the land of Sodom than for you.” Matthew 11:24

“I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak…” Matthew 12:36

“The times of ignorance God overlooked, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will judge the world in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed; and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.” Acts 17:30-31

“But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” Romans 2:5

“then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment…” 2 Peter 2:9

“But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.” 2 Peter 3:7

“By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world.” 1 John 4:17

“And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day-” Jude 1:6

 

Let’s be prepared for that which is CERTAIN to come.

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Honest Evangelism

I’ve spoken a lot about how we need to be honest in our evangelism and avoid sneakiness and all the bait-and-switch approaches. I don’t feel that honors people as image-bearers of God. There is a respectful, loving way of reaching out. It was refreshing to hear the following interview on a book (which I haven’t read yet) titled Honest Evangelism. This comes from the White Horse Inn podcast.

 

If you like the interview above, then you may want to listen to this Walter Chantry interview on his book Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? which touches on similar topics. Whereas the interview above speaks about the delivery and the content of our message, the interview below speaks only about the content and not the delivery part. This comes from the Iron Sharpens Iron podcast.

 

 

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Should Christians Support Short-term Mission Trips?

I feel the answer to this question is a resounding “Yes!” but I think this answer needs to be clarified in some ways as well.

Consider two things when supporting a short-term missionary: 1) What is the mission? and 2) Is the individual equipped to fulfill the mission?

What is the mission? Some people do spiritual-sightseeing. Some people build houses and fences. Some people do street-evangelism. Others do seminars and seek to equip the locals. It is your money. Spend it where you may. But be sure to know what is being accomplished and if the goal of the mission lines up with your interests.

Is the individual equipped to fulfill the mission? This is a big one. In the event of supporting a short-term missionary a lot of money is going to be needed for a short period of time. That money could be spent supporting someone who is there full-time so I think we need to have a good reason for a short-term trip. If someone is going on an outreach to share the gospel but they do not do it where they live nor are they able to present the gospel clearly, then I would have major reservations about that person joining that kind of a trip. But if that someone is a teenager close to you who and they’re looking to experience another culture and see an expression of Christianity on the other side of the world, then there are trips catered to that kind of individual. The main thing is this: Do you know the individual? Or do you at least know what they are all about?

My wife and I are products of short-term mission teams. I have close friends whose lives have been forever changed by what they have experienced while on a short term trip. I’ve also seen the opposite and witnessed individuals placed into situations into which they were not trained for and that money could have been spent wisely elsewhere.

The solution I would like to point to is the goal of the mission. Make sure those you support are equipped for the task. There are so many different kinds of mission trips. There is sure to be a good (and wise fit) somewhere.

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Sharing the Gospel

On the first leg of our family trip to America I ended up sitting next to a lady (Mrs. Pat) who spoke fluent English. She had spent a long time in higher schooling and had just recently retired. She was a lecturer on communication and marketing and had worked in several countries lecturing at different universities. By any standard, she was well-schooled.

Our conversation went as follows:

Me: “Do you have a Christian background of any kind?”

Pat: “No, not really.”

Me: “Have you heard of the gospel before? Has anyone shared with you about the gospel?”

Pat: “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What does gospel mean?”

Me: (I shared the gospel with her)

Pat, who had worked in several countries lecturing at universities, had no clue what the gospel is about. She had no idea about the cross, sin, salvation, what was accomplished by God through the person of Christ – the entire Christian message was totally unknown by this person who was highly schooled.

Pat has stayed on my mind for several days. How could she have gone so long without even hearing the gospel? Much of Asia (included the schooled) is without a gospel witness of any kind. There is so much work to do.

To reject the gospel is one thing. To face a Holy God without the Advocate and to never hear the gospel message once in your entire life…that’s another thing. Please get involved in bringing the gospel to those who have never heard. The impact will last forever. It is the greatest return.

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