Our brothers in Christ


This past week I attended the Perry Stone conference in Huntington, WV hosted by Christ Temple Church.

The greeters, ushers and staff of Christ Temple were warm and hospitable.  The facilities were clean and comfortable.

The music was wonderful.  Christ Temple choir led worship during the night services with special music by Larry and Gina Bean.  Larry and Gina led us in the morning services. The music was upbeat, loud and energizing.

The reason I like Perry Stone is because he is charismatic yet doesn’t let services get confusing or out of order.  Worship lasted for 20-25 min. followed by 10-15 of announcements and offering.  He preached for about 70-80 min. and people were free to leave during the ministry time with no brow-beating from the front.

After having been away from the charismatics for about three years I found myself checking out everything and watching everything for signs of heresy.  Surprisingly, I didn’t find any.

Yes there were differences of style from where I attend now (a SBC Baptist church) but there was nothing said or done that could be considered heretical.  No one rolled on the floor laughing hysterically or barking like a dog.

Several of Perry’s sermons were on current event topics and what a proper biblical worldview on those topics would look like. He wasn’t afraid to call sin – sin but was also quick to extend Christian love and restoration for those caught in sin.

Several of the sermons could be considered pastoral in nature.  One was on the sin of adultery, how one gets lead into it and why it is so destructive.  Another was on the iniquity of homosexuality and focused on getting people set free from the bondage of it.

My thoughts on leaving the conference were that too many times we lump all charismatics together and call all of them heretics because of what happened in Toronto.  Not every charismatic falls into that mold.  I found people at the conference had a solid biblical worldview, loved with the genuine warmth of Christ and responded to the gospel message enthusiastically.

They are our brothers in Christ.


Reaching the Unchurched…

Thom Rainer in a guest article for the Christian Post writes about our failure to reach the “unchurched.”

For now, let us focus on what is wrong. Let us look with stark honesty and candor at the ineffectiveness of most American believers when it comes to sharing their faith. And let us look at reversing the trend through God’s power.

1. Spiritual Lethargy – One of the main reasons many Christians do not share their faith is simply explained by the word disobedience. Spiritual lethargy takes place when we fail to obey Him. The problem for many Christians is that they are not growing spiritually, and lack of spiritual growth inevitably leads to a diminished desire to share Christ with others.

2. Growing Inclusivism – One of the faster-growing belief systems today is pluralism (all religions lead to God). A variation of pluralism called inclusivism is a dangerous doctrine that is gaining momentum in many American seminaries, Christian colleges, and churches. This view affirms that Jesus is the only way of salvation, but he can be found in other “good” religions. There is a subtle but growing belief among many Christians that somehow “good” followers will make it to heaven outside of a true Christian conversion. Our message will fall on deaf ears if this belief persists and grows.

3. Growing Disbelief in Hell – At one time, this was a view held almost entirely by unbelievers. However recent books by those claiming to be evangelicals have brought this discussion front and center. Those who truly have a desire to reach the unchurched have a burden to see people in the eternity of heaven, but they also desire to see them escape the wrath of an eternal hell. Denying the existence of hell undermines the urgency of placing one’s faith in Christ.

4. Busyness – Perhaps one of Satan’s most effective strategies is to get us so busy that we fail to do that which is such a high biblical priority. We can be deluded into complacency about the lostness of humanity around us. The unchurched are waiting for you to tell them about Jesus. They need to be on your to-do list. What priority do you give to reaching the lost?

5. Fear of Rejection – In research on this subject, I found that only one in four unchurched persons we be resistant to faith discussions. But nearly four out of ten of the unchurched will be receptive to your concern for their eternity, and more than one out three will simply be neutral to your attempts. Simply stated, fear of rejection is unfounded. The few with an antagonistic attitude are not rejecting your personally; their anger is merely a reflection of something in their past. Fear of rejection is an often-used excuse by Christians for their failure to witness. And it is just that: an excuse.

6. A Desire to Be Tolerant – The message of the gospel, in some senses, is intolerant. The one true God insists there can be no other gods. He is a jealous God and leaves no room for other gods. In the post-modern culture of 21st century America, Christians should know the criticisms of intolerance will come. The great concern is that many Christians are unwilling to take a narrow view because they do not want to be labeled as intolerant. But Jesus never waivered in His insistence that He is the only way to the one and only true God.

7. Losing the Habit of Witnessing – Some Christians have been very active in sharing their faith with the lost and the unchurched. But, for a myriad of reasons, they get out of the habit, and it no longer becomes a priority. Witnessing, like prayer and Bible study, is a discipine. It is a habit to learn, to retain, and, if lost, to regain.

8. Lack of Accountability – Programmatic evangelism in local churches is sometimes denigrated because it is seen as a “canned” approach to witnessing. But one of the strengths of many of these programs is that some inherent system of accoutnability is built into the program itself. Accountability is likely to engender more witnessing attempts to the unchurched. Attempting more evangelistic encounters creates a habit of witnessing that then increases our zeal for evangelism.

9. Failure to Invite – When is the last time you invited an unchurched person to church? When is the last time you offered to take a person to church, or, at the very least, meet him or her at church? It’s a simple gesture, yet so few Christians do it.

10. We Go to Churches That Do Not Reach the Unchurched – We only reach one person for Christ each year for every 85 church members in the United States. That is a frightening and terrible ratio. One of the key reasons we do not reach the unchurched is that most Christians in America are members of churches that do not reach the unchurched.

I think he pretty much nails it on items 2,3 and 6.  The main problem as I see it is:

  1. Failure to preach the gospel – we have taken the gospel out of our pulpits (where did the pulpit go? it’s just an empty stage now) and replaced it with devotional homilies that help us get along better.
  2. Too many false converts – a true Christian will share his faith and knows what he was saved from and saved to – the false converts fill the pews (or stadium seating) and go live like the world the other six days of the week.
  3. The concept of sin is missing – pastors don’t preach on sin because it might offend a visitor.  In fact, everything about the church has been tailored to visitors or “unchurched” and thus the sheep haven’t been fed in so long they can barely stand any more.
  4. The gospel is assumed but never taught – many invitations assume that people know what to do to get right with the Lord but it is never clearly presented in the sermon or the invitation.
  5. You can’t share what you don’t know – those who are unfortunate enough to have been saved only in the last twenty years have probably never heard a rousing sermon on salvation that included the fall of man, his sinfulness, his need of a Savior and exactly what steps are needed to be saved.

Romans 10:13-14 ESV
(13)  For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
(14)  How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching?

If the pastors won’t preach the gospel, don’t blame the church members for not sharing it.

The TBN War

From the Christian Post:

By Audrey Barrick, Christian Post Reporter

July 1, 2012|4:53 pm

Trinity Christian Center of Santa Ana (which conducts business as TBN) is petitioning the court against former employees Michael and Brittany Koper for failing to settle their dispute outside of court.

The Kopers, according to the court filing by TBN attorney Douglas L. Mahaffey, have failed to file any timely response to their demand for arbitration. TBN claims that the Kopers are refusing to arbitrate because they believe “their hush money agenda was advanced by the public forums.”

“The reasons for the Kopers not participating have been strategic,” according to the petition. “Since their termination, the Kopers have pursued ‘hush money’ by a media campaign to undermine the mission and reputation of TCCSA by making baseless allegations against TCCSA’s principals.

“Taking advantage of their access to financial and employment files, the Kopers absconded with large quantities of TCCSA corporate records, and now are systematically disclosing to the news media and other information-based organizations confidential information and trade secrets.”

Brittany Koper is the granddaughter of TBN founders Paul and Jan Crouch. She previously served as the chief financial officer, director of finance, corporate treasurer and director of human resources while Michael Koper worked with TCCSA’s general counsel.

The former CFO filed a lawsuit earlier this year, claiming that the board of directors at the Christian company illegally took advantage of more than $50 million in “charitable assets” for their own good. The lawsuit wasn’t against TBN, however. It was against attorneys of Davert & Loe who do some work for TBN. Koper claimed that the attorneys advised her to falsify public financial disclosures and government records after she discovered illegal financial practices taking place

The Orange County, Calif.-based TBN has made its own allegations against the Kopers. The broadcasting company, which has over 5,000 television stations, alleges that the couple made “illegal use of the corporation credit card of the president of TCCSA,” embezzled funds, and stole and converted to their own use property and assets of TCCSA.

In the latest court filing, TBN argues that the Kopers had entered into a written comprehensive arbitration agreement during their employment and have breached the terms of the agreement.

All disputes were to be settled outside of court.

“All efforts by TCCSA to move forward with arbitration and terminate the disclosure of internal records have been stonewalled by the Kopers who refuse to move toward a resolution of the disputes between the parties,”the court document states.

TBN is seeking a court order stating that the Kopers are in default, and enjoining any filings by the couple of counterclaims.

Here’s how to read this news story between the lines.  TBN hires all family for key positions to keep a centralized power base thinking family will be loyal and keep secrets. 

The gospel that TBN claims to preach actually reached out and transformed one family member making her an ethical and responsible Christian.

This lone Christian tries to do the right thing and get the books legal.  Grandma Jan pitches a fit.  Uncle Matt was caught with his hands in the cookie jar.  Granddaughter must be fired!

Now the TBN lawyers want to keep granddaughter from disclosing any more wrongdoings at the old TBN corral so they are filing motions to keep their “trade secrets.”

If I were on the jury, I would want to know just exactly what kind of “trade secrets” does a Christian organization have?  This is way better than a soap opera don’t you think?

Same soup, different bowl

The Christian Post carries this news item:

purpose-drivenPastor Rick Warren has teamed up with his book publisher and a crowd-sourced graphic design company to create a new cover for his bestseller The Purpose Driven Life. The 10th anniversary edition will also have a rearranged title in hopes of attracting readers from the millennial generation, says the book publishing company Zondervan.

The cover for What on Earth Am I Here For? The Purpose Driven Life features a tree, but unlike the original life-like, two-toned design, it has brightly colored leaves on a white background.

    “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness. So you also outwardly appear righteous to others, but within you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness.
(Matthew 23:27-28 ESV)

You can change the cover of the book but the inside is still the same.

The Fall of TBN

Many of you have been keeping up with the OC Register’s breaking news story about Brittany Koper, the granddaughter of Paul and Jan Crouch, and the continuing saga of their implosion.

Koper, who worked for Trinity from 2007 to 2011, has accused the mighty Christian broadcaster of playing fast and loose with the ministry’s millions, and provided internal documents to back up her claims. She says itunlawfully distributed charitable assets worth more than $50 million to the company’s directors (her family members); bought a$50 million jet through “a sham loan to an alter ego corporation” for the personal use of the Crouches, as well as a $100,000 motor home that’s used as a mobile residence for her grandmother’s dogs; falsely reported “multiple residential estates” as guest homes or church parsonages to avoid income disclosures;  doled out meal expenses of up to a half-million dollars per company director; paid personal chauffeurs with Trinity funds disguised as medical payments; and engaged in “multiple cover-ups of sexual and criminal scandals.”

She has provided documentation to law enforcement and the Internal Revenue Service, and said she is cooperating with their inquiries (though neither the IRS nor the Orange County District Attorney’s office will comment).

I remember moving to Tulsa in 2007 just as the Richard Roberts/ORU scandal was beginning to unfold.  A lot of people didn’t want to believe it at first, including myself, but too many of the accusations had a ring of truth to them.  Eventually the whole story came out and Richard Roberts resigned in disgrace.

This situation has a similar feel.  What is ironic is that teaching young people about Jesus can have some remarkable consequences – like when they grow up, get an MBA and come to work on your finances when you aren’t being above board with them.

Something good has already come out of this mess – Brittany Koper.  She learned enough about the truth to stand for it even when it cost her family relationships.  Now we can pray that Paul and Jan will also learn the meaning of the real gospel, repent of their ways and be restored.

Mohler vs. Warren

To those of you not in the know, here is a brief synopsis of this week’s events:

Item 1: Andy Stanley, Pastor of North Point Community Church in Alpharetta, GA, recently preached his sermon “When Gracie Met Truthy,” in which he strongly left the impression that he does not consider homosexual practice to be a sin on the level with adultery (which he also, apparently, construes somewhat more narrowly than Jesus did). Stanley’s message unmistakably suggests that open homosexuality is compatible with both membership and leadership at North Point. Note: There is no way to link directly to this sermon, but “When Gracie Met Truthy” is sermon number 5 in the series “Christian” and is merely one click away from the first message in the series, which is available here. Hat-tip to Peter Lumpkins, whose blog was the first I saw bringing this to the world’s attention.

Item 2: In response to Stanley, Dr. Albert Mohler posted on his blog yesterday an article (rightfully) criticizing Stanley’s message. Mohler gave his essay the provocative title, “Is the Megachurch the New Liberalism?” Mohler’s is a solid and helpful treatment of the issues raised by Stanley’s sermon.

Item 3: In response to Mohler’s response, Rick Warren challenged Mohler, not to much to defend Stanley as to reject the analysis that Stanley’s waywardness is about megachurches rather than being about something else. Warren was incensed that thousands of other megachurches are implicated by Mohler’s essay.

Does anyone besides me find it hilariously funny that none other than Rick Warren should be the one to find offense at a doctrinal rebuke of megachurches?  Wasn’t it Rick Warren who last year had three non-believers teach his congregation shamanistic and occultic techniques to help them lose weight?

Wycliffe to submit new translation for review

From the Washington Post:

One of the largest Bible translators in the world is undergoing an independent review after critics claimed language in some of their translations intended for Muslim countries misses the essential Christian idea of Trinity: the father, son and the holy spirit or ghost.

Critics argue that using words like “Messiah” instead of “Son” and “Lord” instead of “Father” badly distorts the doctrine, in which God is said to be one being in three persons.

“If you remove ‘son,’ you have to remove ‘father,’ and if you remove those, the whole thread of the scriptures from Genesis to Revelation is unraveled,” said the Rev. Georges Houssney, the president of Horizons International, a Christian organization that works extensively with Muslims and himself a translator of the Bible into Arabic.

Orlando, Fla.-based Wycliffe Bible Translators argues the translations have never been about avoiding controversy, but choosing words that most accurately reflect the Gospels: Some concepts relating God to family members don’t make sense in some cultures, so the language needs to reflect that.

There is a word for what Wycliffe has done and that is appeasement. As has been often quoted:
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last. ~ Sir Winston Churchill
Because Islamists are so violent and bloodthirsty and prone to outrage over the least little offense, Western civilization has taken the stance of appeasement – hoping if they don’t offend the Muslims, then they will get beheaded last.  To wit, Rick Warren and his efforts to find common ground with a religion that is diametrically opposed to everything Christianity stands for.

Wycliffe, Tyndale, Luther and other Church fathers died or were martyred defending the faith that today’s milquetoast Christians are so willing to compromise.  If there was any doubt that The Apostasy is now here – let it be banished.

2 Thess 2:3 NASB 3 Let no one in any way deceive you, for it will not come unless the apostasy comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

Bible gets endorsement from Rick Warren

In an article from the Christian Post

A growing disconnect between Bible ownership and Bible reading in America has made many Christian leaders throughout the nation worried.
Although approximately 88 percent of Americans reportedly own a Bible, less than half of those people read the Bible more than once a month, a previous study found.
Looking for a way to resolve the problem, several concerned leaders within Christian Bible agencies, denominations and ministries, gathered together this week in Orlando, Fla., for the Forum of Bible Agencies North America Summit.
Realizing that change began with their own selves first, more than 300 Christian leaders signed the Uncover the Word Commitment pledging to practice daily Bible engagement in their own lives as well as encourage it within their spheres of influence.
Mega church pastor Rick Warren and the president of National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference Samuel Rodriguez joined the call to action as well, challenging their fellow leaders to rebuild Bible engagement in North America.

I am greatly encouraged that Rick Warren has taken a pledge to start reading his bible.  Perhaps he will learn how to disciple his flock without inviting apostates to lecture from his pulpit.  Perhaps he will develop a biblical worldview instead of Fabian Socialism and communitarianism.

I will also pray that he reads from something other than The Message. There is hope even for someone like him!

Understanding The Times 2011

This past weekend I drove up to Minneapolis, MN to attend the conference hosted by Jan Markell’s ministry Olive Tree Views.  Grace Church in Eden Prairie was the host and was a wonderful facility.

Mark Hitchcock kicked off the conference by talking about 2012 and the doomsday prophecies about the world ending because of the Mayan Calendar. Joel Rosenberg followed and talked about the Day of the Lord (Joel 3), the implications of dividing the land and the recent move by the Palestinian Authority in trying to unilaterally declare a state.  On Saturday morning, Joel finished by discussing replacement theology and how we can best help those in the Middle East.

WITG_LGCaryl Matriciana introduced her new video Wide is the Gate (Vol. II) and showed a 15 min clip from the movie.  I had the privilege of meeting Caryl in the lobby afterward and was blessed by her genuine warmth and graciousness.  During the movie clip several well known ministries were shown as examples of the current apostasy in the church.  More on this in a moment.

Brannon Howse then presented a subsection of his teaching on the Trojan Horse focusing on Fabian Socialism and the push for a world wide universal church.  He too mentioned several well known ministries that fall under the apostasy label.  His message though was hard hitting, accurate and biblical.  Meeting Brannon and Caryl at the conference were highlights for me.

After lunch, Bill Koenig talked to us about the role of think tanks in Washington D.C. and how the game is played inside the beltway.  Eric Barger finished up the day with a presentation on Chrislam.  Eric’s presentation was well documented and nailed the blatant hypocrisy of churches hosting Chrislam events but not one mosque doing so.

Before the last session, Jan mentioned that several people had expressed some displeasure over the hard hitting expose of apostasy in the morning sessions. Perhaps these people had never heard Jan’s radio program before where she tackles these issues or perhaps their toes were still smarting from being stepped on – in any event, Jan handled the situation with grace but stood firm on the truth.

I recommend that if you aren’t familiar with Caryl Matriciana or Brannon Howse that you look them up and avail yourself of some of their materials.  Thank you to Jan Markell and Olive Tree Views Ministry for hosting the event.