Christ, Kanye, and Christian Music.

kanye

First, we need to respond to Kanye’s confession as we would any other person’s confession, with joy and praise to God.  Second, we must not give more honor to a public celebrity than to an unnamed convert in North Korea, or a person who has grown up in the Church, but came to faith later in life while living a publicly moral life.

If your attitude is one of, “Oh let’s watch and see!  He will fail, and then I will be vindicated in my presumptions about him.”  Well how did that work out for Jonah?  Do you want God’s rebuke as well?  I’m not saying that Kanye is, or is not a true convert.  Time will tell.  He is just a man.  No different than any man.  There are four soils that the seed of the gospel is sewn on.  I hope that Kanye is going to return a fruitful crop of works prepared for him to do before creation, for the glory of God.

Look at him.  He is just a man.  He has a life of sin that was on public display.  You probably had your sins hidden from the public eye.  Living for Christ is the best life a person can have, but it is difficult, and includes suffering.  The Christian life is hard enough without having people sit on the sidelines waiting for you to mess up.  How often in your young faith did you fall to sins that would be scandalous if found out?  Have mercy.  Demonstrate grace, not just to Kanye, but all young Christians.  Correct in love where needed.  Share the gospel.  Engage in the great commission.

Christian music is a mixed bag.  There is lots of good, bad, and in between.  If a new convert, who happens to be a world famous musician, wants to express the miraculous thing God has done to them, it should stand to reason that they would do it through music.  I read a tweet this morning from Shai Linne.  He is a theologically sound Christian, and a very kind man from what I’ve been told.  He is also a rapper.  He even raps theology.  Rap might not be your thing, but that doesn’t mean that it is bad.  If Christian men can reach lost men by expressing their new hearts in their words and music, and since the Bible doesn’t condemn it, and in some places looks like it is acceptable, I say go right ahead.  We have to understand our liberty in Christ, as well as others liberty in Christ.  Christ is our King.  He is our God.  It is His word we read to know Him by.  If a man wants to sing about that, more power to him.  I might even come along next to him and sing as well.

There are some who claim Christ, but their lyrics, and lives demonstrate worldliness, and sin.  Their music is full of carnality.  I’ve just listened to Kanye’s album.  It seems Christocentric to me.  More so than some I’ve heard from other musicians over the years.  Let’s pray for Kanye’s passion of Jesus to grow, and his life to example fruit in keeping with repentance and faith in Christ our Savior.  Let’s pray that for all the new Christians we know, and even ourselves.

Matthew 13:1-23 (NASB Strong’s) Jesus Teaches in Parables
​ That day Jesus went out of the house and was sitting by the sea. And large crowds gathered to Him, so He got into a boat and sat down, and the whole crowd was standing on the beach.
And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up. Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil. But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out. And others fell on the good soil and *yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty. He who has ears, let him hear.”
An Explanation
And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?”  Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted. For whoever has, to him more shall be given, and he will have an abundance; but whoever does not have, even what he has shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; because while seeing they do not see, and while hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,
‘ You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;
You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;
For the heart of this people has become dull,
With their ears they scarcely hear,
And they have closed their eyes,
Otherwise they would see with their eyes,
Hear with their ears,
And understand with their heart and return,
And I would heal them.’
But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.
The Sower Explained
“Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he  falls away. And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word, and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful. And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word and understands it; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.”

James 2:1-13 (NASB Strong’s) The Sin of Partiality
​  My brethren, do not hold your faith in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ with an attitude of personal favoritism. For if a man comes into your assembly with a gold ring and dressed in  fine clothes, and there also comes in a poor man in dirty clothes, and you pay special attention to the one who is wearing the fine clothes, and say, “You sit here in a good place,” and you say to the poor man, “You stand over there, or sit down by my footstool,” have you not made distinctions among yourselves, and become judges with evil motives? Listen, my beloved brethren: did not God choose the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him? But you have dishonored the poor man. Is it not the rich who oppress you and personally drag you into court?  Do they not blaspheme the fair name by which you have been called?
If, however, you are fulfilling the royal law according to the Scripture, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself,” you are doing well. But if you show partiality, you are committing sin and are convicted by the law as transgressors. For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all. For He who said, “DO not commit adultery,” also said, “DO not commit murder.” Now if you do not commit adultery, but do commit murder, you have become a transgressor of the law. So speak and so act as those who are to be judged by the law of liberty. For judgment will be merciless to one who has shown no mercy; mercy triumphs over judgment.

So join with me in rejoicing over all the people who have been saved, are being saved, and will be saved, for their good, and God’s glory!  Praise God for sinners saved, and His goodness, longsuffering, mercy, justice, and grace!

Is Kanye saved?  I don’t know.  Are you saved?  I don’t know.  Do I trust God to bring in His elect?  Most assuredly!  If you, and Kanye are saved, I praise God for both of  you in the same manner, and I pray for you all to become what God has planned for you.

The Predominate Cult Defines the Culture.

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The predominate cult determines the culture.  Until the last one and a half centuries, Christianity was the predominate, “cult” if you will, in America, and much of the civilized world.  Post-modernism, and secular humanism have had their sway for the last 50, or more years.  This has culminated in a Post-Christian, atheistic, and ever increasing antichrist cult, and resultant culture.  The views of this cult are evident in the dogmatic doctrines of the leftist, otherwise known as socialists/communists.  God is replaced by the state, because you shall have no other god than the state according to the enemy.  After all, if they knew they were outright worshiping satan, the couldn’t immediately stomach it, or convince others to do so either.  Give them the state as god, and they will rend themselves into a bloody foundation for it to set atop as a glorious, and gory crown to their sacrifice of neighbors, friends, and brothers.  Its gaping maw ever open, ever consuming the human chattel like chafe tossed into a boiler furnace to further power the all-consuming monster of human suffering. 

The god they worship has given them a sliding rule of right and wrong, that is more often than not, an inversion of God’s created order.  This blasphemy, rebellion, and idolatry is no accident.  It is engineered by the most infamous of totalitarian rulers, the devil himself.  Our enemies are not of flesh and blood, but rather are spirit.  Ephesians 6:12, “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Like unto marionettes dancing on the silken black threads of their malevolent master, they dance the dance of demoniacs immemorial.  They have taken what is good, by force, blackmail, coercion, deceit, fraud, and theft, and corrupted it.  They have convinced the world of the dead, enslaved to the satanic system that what is good, is actually evil, and that what is evil, is actually good.  Good has become such an evil it requires the ultimate humiliation and punishment.  They cry for blood, and have swift feat to carry them along to its macabre end.  It is a slight of hand that should not work, but does. 

For who can blame the deaf, blind, and dead, for not being able to discern the truth from a lie? From their state, there is no excuse.  They remain fully culpable for their estate.  God is just, and those who remain dead in their sins and trespasses will experience God’s wrath eternal.  Would you like to change the world?  Are you greatly vexed, as I am with the insanity, and immorality of the leftists?  You won’t find the solution as a politique.  Much like the politique of 16th century France, if you believe you will find the solution in human policies, and national strength, you will be disappointed.

  The solution for our current debauchery lies in the miraculous power of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God unto salvation.  It quickens the dead soul to life, true life, life eternal!  It makes the word of God come forth and dominate the darkened mind, it illuminates it, bringing light into the darkest man!  O there is nothing more grand and glorious than the power of God displayed saving a wretch from his defiled and putrefied body of death except for God Himself!  Preach the gospel to all the Earth, make disciples of all men!  By His stripes we are healed!  God commands all men everywhere to repent! Preach repentance and faith in our Lord, and Savior Jesus Christ!  For when a dead sinner becomes our true brother, he cannot help but to be changed in spirit, and soul!  He will begin to hate the sin that he reveled in, and love the glory of God above all else! [1Co 6:20 KJV] 20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.   [Psa 115:1 KJV] 1 Not unto us, O LORD, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory, for thy mercy, [and] for thy truth’s sake.

[Eph 6:10-24 KJV] 10 Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. 11 Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12 For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high [places]. 13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; 19 And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak. 21 But that ye also may know my affairs, [and] how I do, Tychicus, a beloved brother and faithful minister in the Lord, shall make known to you all things: 22 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that ye might know our affairs, and [that] he might comfort your hearts. 23 Peace [be] to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24 Grace [be] with all them that love our Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity. Amen.

[Isa 53:1-12 KJV] 1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, [there is] no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he [was] wounded for our transgressions, [he was] bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace [was] upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither [was any] deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put [him] to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see [his] seed, he shall prolong [his] days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, [and] shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him [a portion] with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

[Act 17:22-34 KJV] 22 Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said, [Ye] men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. 23 For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. 24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; 25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; 26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; 27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: 28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. 29 Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. 30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: 31 Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by [that] man whom he hath ordained; [whereof] he hath given assurance unto all [men], in that he hath raised him from the dead. 32 And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this [matter]. 33 So Paul departed from among them. 34 Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which [was] Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

[Rom 1:15-32 KJV] 15 So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you that are at Rome also. 16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek. 17 For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith. 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; 19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: 21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified [him] not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, 23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: 25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. 26 For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: 27 And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. 28 And even as they did not like to retain God in [their] knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; 29 Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, 30 Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, 31 Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: 32 Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.

Biblical Church Growth

Spurgeonevangelism
Q. What is the chief and highest end of man?
A. Man’s chief and highest end is to glorify God, and fully to enjoy him forever.

There are four means that God has ordained to grow His Church. They are, Evangelism (sharing the gospel), Discipleship (training and teaching the new believer) Service, (Helping the hurting and dying world) and persecution. People only become converted from hearing and responding to the gospel. They grow closer to God, and get to know Him by reading His word, and learning His truth. The new heart and nature of a convert is on display in the world humbly serving the lost and dying, displaying the glory of God. Persecution weeds out the false converts, and demonstrates another truth, the world hated Christ, and they will hate you also for His namesake. The exclusivity of the cross is offensive to the world. Remember persecution comes from outside the Church.

Who goes to Church, and why? This is important to figure out, if you are concerned that your congregation is dying. One category of people is false converts. Some of them know they are not Christian, some believe they are Christians. Lost people have a few reasons why they go to Church. Of those reasons, none of them are the right ones. They go to Church to get a pep talk, a self-help speech, they go for professional and social networking, they go to feel good about themselves, (self-righteousness) they go to be entertained by a slick, “praise/worship band. We can agree that these are not the right reasons to go to Church. So what are?

If you are a true convert, you know your purpose in life is to bring glory to the Lord of salvation. You’ve been brought to new life by grace, through faith. You were dead in your trespasses and sins. You know you were purchased at a price, and the Lord of Creation suffered humiliation and death on a cross, in your place because of your sins. Christ became sin for you. You come to Church because it is God’s will. From your new nature you want to do God’s will. After all, He is changing your desires and affections by the power of the Holy Spirit, and the reading of His word. Our minds are being renewed so we can prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect. You come to be with brothers and sisters in Christ, to hear the word of God expositorily preached, to sing praises to God, to worship Him in prayer, and song, to be baptized, and have communion, and to be sanctified by God in learning to live in community with other sinners, and by granting them grace, to live out the gospel for the glory of the Lord.

Who is church for, the goats or the sheep? Church is ultimately for the glory of God, and that glory is for our good. God says, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Church is for the sheep. They are the ones who really want to go for the right reasons. When God says in Matthew 16, “…I will build my Church…” we also see the means He has ordained for the growth. He is going to use us to preach the gospel to the lost and dying world, because the gospel is the power of God unto salvation.

Salvation is of the Lord. It originates with Him. It is provided by Him. Jonathan Edwards once said, “You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.” Even persecution is given for the growth of the Church. If there are false converts in the local body, when persecution comes, they will flee, and deny Christ. The truly converted will stay, and proclaim the gospel, and make disciples even during persecution.

What is the gospel? Simply put, “Repent of your sins, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” We have to unpack that for sure. It shouldn’t be a daunting task for us. It should be something that overflows from the heart of a believer, as they have experienced the love and grace of Jesus. While we were yet sinners Christ died for us. Most people don’t share it, because they are woefully ignorant of what it is.

Here is a simple analogy. Imagine you are a telling a class full of students who want to become mechanics that you are a mechanic, but you leave out the fact that you don’t understand how an engine works. Then when the students ask you how the engine works you mumble and string together things you’ve heard mechanics say. You wouldn’t feel very comfortable or sure of yourself would you?

Believers should feel confident and comfortable sharing the gospel. It is imperative that they learn how to do so, and that they do it. People are entering eternity without Christ. They will rise to eternal torment and burning, having the very wrath of God poured out on them. How can we say we have love, if we refuse to give them the gospel?

Ask some of your congregation “imagine I just was stabbed, and only have moments to live. I am afraid of dying and going to Hell, and I say, “What must I do to be saved?” You can’t tell them to be a good person, they are dying. You can’t tell them it is by baptism, they only have moments to live. What can you tell them? You can preach the gospel to them. You can say, “You are afraid of hell, and rightfully so. You are a sinner. Just like me, you have broken God’s laws, and deserve His just wrath, but being rich in mercy, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect, sinless, life that we couldn’t live. Jesus was and is righteous. He humbly offered Himself up on the cross, He submitted to death on the cross according to the will of the Father, where the wrath of God was poured out on Him in our place, so that the justice of God could be satisfied. When He was finished atoning for our sin, He said, “It is finished.” He died, was buried and resurrected on the third day. If you’ll repent, or turn from your sins, forsake them, hate them, and ask God to forgive you based on the work of Jesus, He will save you from your sins, for there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Will you confess your sins to God and trust in Jesus?”

Friendship evangelism is impractical. The Christian should have a fervent urgency to share the gospel with the lost so they can be saved. Friendship evangelism is slow, and you can only befriend so many people at a time. The need is great, and the workers are few. The command is not to preach to a few, but to all, and we need to get busy.

Remember the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. It is offensive because they are confronted with the righteousness, and exclusivity of Christ. Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. John 15:18-25 “If the world hates you, you know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. 22 If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin, but now they have no excuse for their sin. 23 He who hates Me hates My Father also. 24 If I had not done among them the works which no one else did, they would not have sin; but now they have both seen and hated Me and My Father as well. 25 But they have done this to fulfill the word that is written in their Law, ‘They hated Me without a cause.’”

Don’t compromise on the gospel. If we soften the gospel to make it more appealing to the lost, we rob it of its effectiveness. If it were readily acceptable to the reprobate sinner, it is because it doesn’t require rebirth for him to believe it. The only way to grow the true church is by the means that God has ordained evangelism, discipleship, service, and persecution.

What needs to happen so we can do this? Free up Elders who are gifted and able to preach and teach the gospel to the laymen, and to teach them how to evangelize. Organize them, to go out and evangelize. When people are converted they will look for a Church. It doesn’t matter if you put more people in the seats at your Church. We don’t do this to grow our kingdoms, but rather the kingdom of God. New converts will come in. When they do, be ready to teach them from God’s word. Don’t feed them cotton candy theology, sermonettes, or topical sermons that are more self-help than the word of God. Take your position in the pulpit seriously. Get them grounded in God’s word because when persecution comes they will need to know the hows and whys of it. Get them out there serving the lost and dying world out of the new love they have in their hearts.  Equip them to go out and share the glorious gospel of Jesus Christ.

Why do Calvinists Evangelize?

Spurgeonevangelism

  1.  God commands it in His word. Mark 16:15 (NASB) 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
  2.  He ordains the ends and the means.
  3.  At that moment in time, it is not apparent to us who is among the elect.  If we share the gospel with a person who is among the elect, but it is not their due time to be regenerated, then they will reject the gospel.  If it is their time, they will respond with repentance and faith, that are also granted by God.  If we share the gospel with a person who is not among the elect, no matter when in their life they hear it, they will never respond with true repentance and faith.  Even a person who is not among the elect could affirm the gospel intellectually, but never be truly converted.

If people would look into the history of modern evangelism, they would see that many of the memorable evangelists have been Calvinists.

Calvinist Evangelists

  1.   The Apostle Paul 🙂
  2.   George Whitefield
  3.   David Brainerd
  4.   William Carey
  5.   Charles Spurgeon
  6.   C.T. Studd
  7.   Jonathan Edwards
  8.   Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones
  9.   Francis Schaeffer
  10.   Francis Chan

Just to name a few.  Oh, and before you get all persnickety and claim that some of the people on the list were Pastors, or theologians, remember they also evangelized.  Spurgeon said, “Every Christian is either a missionary or an imposter.”  While we are at it, we all are sinners.  We have broken God’s laws and are guilty.  Repent from your sins.  Turn from them and obey God’s word.  Believe on the work of Jesus Christ on the cross, where He atoned for your sin.  Don’t put your faith in your own efforts or works to save you.  You can never satisfy the requirements of God’s righteousness, but Jesus did.  His righteousness can be credited to you if you will repent and trust in Him.

Tired of getting fake friends requests, that are obviously spam?

Tired of getting fake friends requests, that are obviously spam? I mean, seriously… Why would anyone take a half naked picture of themselves, use it as a facebook profile picture, and then ask people with no obvious connections to be their friend? Have I got a solution for you! Just copy the following gospel presentation, open your favorite word processing app, paste it, and save it. The next time you get a spammy request, just copy and paste the text into a message to that person. If genuine request, they will get the gospel. If it is a spammy request, they will get the gospel. It is a win all the way around. ***begin copying here***
You have sent me a friends request. I don’t know you. Why should I accept your request? Did you know that all people are sinners. We have all sinned against God, by breaking His laws. By nature we are His enemies. The Bible says that none are good, and we are all storing up wrath against us for the day of judgment. Do you know how to be forgiven? Do you want to be right with God so that He will know you and you will know Him? You must repent of your sins, and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the eternal Son of God. God made for Himself a body in the womb of the virgin. He came into His creation as fully God and fully Man. Jesus lived a perfectly righteous life. He went to the cross without guilt. He bore our sins on the cross. He took our punishment there. For all who would be saved, He paid their penalty, and justified them to God. He did this for the glory of God, and because He loved us. He atoned for our sins. We must repent, or turn from our sins, and trust in the righteous work of Jesus on the cross to atone for us. We must not trust in our own works. The Bible tells us that God sees our best works of righteousness as, “filthy rags.” Instead we trust in the perfect work of Jesus on the cross. When we do that, the Holy Spirit will come into us and bring us to new life spiritually. We will be born again, and He will start conforming us to the word and likeness of Jesus. Have you repented and trusted the Savior? www.needgod.com

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This Book isn’t really about, “How to Pick Up a Stripper and Other Acts of Kindness” is it?

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To answer the question, no this book isn’t really about picking up strippers.  It is about a Pastor (Todd Stevens) and his Church’s efforts to perform outreach ministry to all the people in his area no matter who they are with no strings attached.  He focuses on what we might commonly refer to as friendship evangelism or, “loving them into the kingdom.”  This focus is seemingly exclusive in regards to other forms of evangelism.

The title of the book is misleading, but you have to ask, “If you are a Christian, why are you buying a book about picking up strippers and then are disappointed when you find out it isn’t really?”  It is a title that requires a second glance when browsing Christian titles.  The book is definitely not about picking up strippers.  It is however about outreach ministry and service to even the people you might look down on.

While reading this book I noticed that the author chose to quote heavily out of the, “Voice” version of the Bible.  This is a big red flag to anyone who is a serious student of the word.  It put my guard up immediately and caused me to be even more critical than I usually am.

Throughout the book Stevens is referencing things he and his Church have done and are doing.  I know this is to encourage people to do something, but it comes across as, “Blowing his own horn.”  “Look what I/we are doing!”  I am giving Stevens the benefit of the doubt.  Perhaps it is just because he is enthusiastic about what he is doing?

One of my concerns is that it took him about to the halfway mark before he had a clear gospel statement.  I am giving him the benefit of the doubt here as well.  Perhaps he assumes that the readers already know the gospel since they are buying a book about outreach.  On the other hand, it is a book about outreach.

I’m sensitive to the seeming discouragement of other types of evangelism because I do some of the other types of evangelism.  It is like Stevens precludes the appropriateness of other types of evangelism as unkind and harmful.  He discourages it.  Instead he teaches to do many and varied services and kind acts.  He claims that it is not very likely that a person will be able to have a relationship with someone they just encountered and shared the gospel with.  He hints that our motives are not loving or effective.  The last time I checked the gospel is the power unto salvation and salvation comes by hearing.  Salvation doesn’t come by having people give you stuff or by them being really super nice to you.  It is God who does the saving.  An angry man shouting the gospel from a soapbox does not save or condemn a person.  They are already under the condemnation of sin.  God’s gospel preached to the lost is what does the saving.  This is probably my strongest criticism of the book.  I can feel deeply for the person I’ve just met on the streets, or at work.  They can tell that I care and they continue to listen.  Even if they don’t respond in the affirmative I still keep in contact with them.  When they do respond in the affirmative we develop a disciple/mentor relationship.  I appreciate the outworking of love towards people, but his version seems to be a pragmatic formula for Church growth based on doing nice things to people.

Stevens never really makes it clear if his wife was providing meals in the strip club during the operating hours.  He talks about how his wife would bring catered meals and gifts in to the club.  I would hope that his wife and the other volunteer ladies would not be in the club during business hours.  Even women can have temptations to be avoided.  Again, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they were there before and/or after business hours.

Stevens tells a story about the Roman Catholic nun, Mother Teresa.  In the story he makes it sound like she is a Christian or at least, worshipping the same God evangelicals worship.  This is a very troubling issue.  Mother Teresa was a self-admitted Universalist.  Universalism is a heresy.  These, in addition to other heresies of the Roman Catholic Church preclude them from being included as Christian.  Stevens including the story in the way that he did demonstrates an imprecise ecumenism.

There are superior books on outreach and evangelism.  This book might be helpful to the freshly born again to help them move the focus off of themselves and on to being Christ-like in their love, but it also might confuse them as well.  We don’t want people to become works based in their soteriology.  Keeping justification and sanctification clearly delineated will benefit the new believers.  Throughout the book I just got the feeling that if you don’t do it his way then you are mean and not showing the love of Jesus.  I doubt this is what Stevens intended.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers <http://booklookbloggers.com> book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 <http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara/cfr/waisidx_03/16cfr255_03.html> : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”