Most churchgoers don’t read bible daily

 

“Bible engagement has an impact in just about every area of spiritual growth,” said Ed Stetzer, president of LifeWay Research. “You can follow Christ and see Christianity as your source of truth, but if that truth does not permeate your thoughts, aspirations and actions, you are not fully engaging the truth.
“God’s Word is truth, so it should come as no surprise that reading and studying the Bible are still the activities that have the most impact on growth in this attribute of spiritual maturity,” Stetzer said. “As basic as that is, there are still numerous churchgoers who are not reading the Bible regularly. You simply won’t grow if you don’t know God and spend time in God’s Word.”

Where do I begin?

Maybe grief would be the best place to start.  Excuse me while I put on my sackcloth and ashes and cry before God concerning the state of His church. If these kind of statistics don’t break your heart I fear you may be in the 80% who say with their mouth that they want to honor Jesus but really don’t care enough to read what He wrote.

If we divide the survey into two groups – those that read more than once a week and those who read less – it’s roughly 45% vs. 46% (40% of whom read it less than once a month or never) – we can see that our churches may be the biggest mission field for discipleship.  I would even question whether someone who reads the bible less than once a month is even truly born again but that may be for another blog post.

Why?

The Scriptures are more available in more ways today than ever before in history. Our forefathers in the faith – Tyndale, Luther, Wycliffe – wrestled with empires and kings to bring us the bible in the language of the common man. Today most people with smartphones carry enough computing power to run study bible apps with commentaries, dictionaries and graphs that would fill a small library.

The recent trend in bible translations has been the dumbing down of the readership.  No longer are people expected to read a good translation such as the ESV, NKJV or NASB, instead we have bibles in story format, movie script format and even one that promises to only take one minute of your day (The One Minute Bible).  Yet no matter how childish and watered down they make it – people still refuse to read it! Can you imagine a professional musician who only practiced one minute per day? Or a professional football player who said “Ok coach, I’m here at practice but only for one minute.”

What can we conclude?

If it were up to me, I’d round up the 55% who aren’t reading the bible at least several times per week and start preaching salvation to them.  I honestly don’t think you can be truly born again and not love the Scriptures.

Next, I would start emphasizing the bible as the basis for everything.  Every political view, every sociological view, every business practice, every interpersonal dynamic should be held up to the bible as the standard by which we live.  Every time an opinion is expressed – we should be asking “what chapter and verse do you have for that?”

If we profess to be Christians, reading the bible is step one.  Until we accomplish that, there is no need for a second step.

The Human One?

The Christian Post reports that the new version of the Common English Bible (CEB) will change the phrase ‘Son of Man’ to ‘the Human One.’

The publisher of the new version is hoping it will make the Bible understandable and attractive to as many people as possible. To that end, the new edition of the CEB has made several “bold” translation choices, including changing Jesus’ “Son of Man” title to “the Human One.”

In keeping with postmodern apostasy and the latest Emergent heresy – I hereby offer some more “updates” to the bible to make it more “culturally relevant.”

  • Change ‘holy’ to ‘relevant’ as in be hip and cool just as your Pa in heaven is hip and cool.
  • Born again becomes ‘spiritual renaissance’
  • The Ten Commandments would become the Ten Conversation Starters.
  • A ‘New Creation’ becomes a spark of the divine within you.
  • Hell becomes ‘the dark night of the soul.’

Feel free to modify and change the bible to your liking!! Just make it say what you want – right?

Note: for those lacking a sense of humor or who just can’t comprehend irony – the above is said in jest to make a point.

Dear Rob Bell: Have you read the bible?

By now, everyone has heard of the controversy surrounding Rob Bell’s latest book Love Wins.  Since I haven’t read the book, I can’t do a book review.  What I can rightly judge is the promotional video here:

Rob Bell promotional for Love Wins

Rob objects to someone putting a note on an art piece by Gandhi saying “Reality check.  He’s in hell.”  Just so we’re clear, Rob did not address the propriety of using an art show to make a theological point, nor the abruptness of the message as being unloving – rather he took offense at the notion of Gandhi being in hell.

Since my current bible reading is taking me through the book of Romans, I find myself almost every day crying out “Rob, have you read the bible?”  The answers to your questions are right there in black and white.  Paul addressed all your concerns about the righteousness of God and the “rightness” of His judgments.

Romans 2:2-8 ESV

2 We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. 3 Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? 5 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.
6 He will render to each one according to his works
: 7 to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; 8 but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury.

Please Rob, please read the first three chapters of Romans carefully.  Paul answers your questions in depth and with amazing clarity.  God is love – yes – but He is also a righteous judge that will not be ignored or discussed into oblivion.  His love is revealed in the redemption He provided for us through His Son Jesus.

We love because he first loved us. ~ 1 John 4:19

Where are the Jeremiahs?

Many others have written of the New Age, mysticism health fest at Rick Warren’s church Jan 15th.  Lighthouse Trails did a great job of covering the event and exposing the apostasy that is running rampant.  I could blog the same thing and warn of the growing apostasy in the church but if you won’t be moved by the other discernment blogs out there why be moved by mine?

What concerns me is the lack of response from those who call themselves “Bereans” or bible believing fundamentalists.  What does John Piper have to say now about Rick Warren’s theology?  What about Chuck Swindoll or Charles Stanley?  Has John MacArthur made a statement on this yet?  Where are the men of God with a backbone like the prophet Jeremiah who will stand up and denounce this blatant perverseness for what it is?

And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.  1 Kings 18:21 KJV

It’s time the shepherds of God’s flock quit halting between two opinions – either you are for or against New Age mysticism and apostasy.  Be a man of God and tell us where you stand.

True Revival Brings Reform

My daily reading today was 1 Kings 23-25 which tells of King Josiah’s reforms following his personal revival upon hearing the word of God read aloud.

2Ki 23:2-3 ESV
(2)  And the king went up to the house of the LORD, and with him all the men of Judah and all the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the prophets, all the people, both small and great. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the LORD.
(3)  And the king stood by the pillar and made a covenant before the LORD, to walk after the LORD and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of this covenant that were written in this book. And all the people joined in the covenant.

What follows in chapter 23 is a description of all the various idols and abominations found in Judah and the southern parts of Israel.  Asherah, which were wooden poles with the image of Asheroth a female goddess of the Phoenicians, Baal, Molech (the god of the Ammonites who demanded child sacrifices) and Chemosh the god of the Moabites.

Also found were horse stables near the Temple for use in sun worship as well as booths or tents for prostitution in the courtyard of the Temple!  The curse of this idolatry was so bad that even with the reforms of Josiah, within a few short years God let the Babylonians ransack Jerusalem in His wrath.

While all the above is a great lesson in bible history, its application for today is on target.  Many are crying out today for revival or even claiming that revival has come yet no reforms have been made concerning the idolatry within the camp.

Those who are truly revived by the word of God should rise up and destroy the false worship and idolatry within the Church today.  The New Age teaching of portals, orbs, false angels, feathers and gold dust must go.  Mysticism as practiced by the catholic church has no place in God’s house.  The world’s philosophy known as postmodernism and its adherents known as the Emerging Church need to be rooted out and their dust sprinkled on the unclean cemeteries.

It is no longer enough to agree that such things are an abomination to God – we must be like King Josiah and destroy the false worship that is prevalent in our evangelical midst.  God hates evil and so must we.

God sperm? How perverse can they get?

Brandon Barthrop of Red Letter Ministries tells us how far the perversion and shame of those in the “toke baby Jesus” crowd can go.  He starts off by claiming the wrath of God (winepress) to be manifest.  It will be, Brandon, especially for those like you who mock God!

Around 2:05 of the video he says “the consummated bridal company filled with the God sperm.”  This my friends, is where the ungodly teaching about bridal paradigms takes you.

Note the unfocused staring of his eyes.  By his own testimony he was demon possessed and a hard core drug user before being “born in heaven” – whatever that means.

He also says “we will overcome by our bellies…” when Paul clearly said Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) Phil 3:19

Next his girlfriend, who lives with him although they are not married, demonstrates what a “laid down lover” really is.  In the following video she is laying on the floor under a quilt, moaning and writhing and telling us about the “pleasures that her lover is giving her.”

If my great grandmother had seen such nonsense, she would have tanned that young lady’s legs from the barn to the house with a freshly cut peach switch.  “Trance evangelist”?  “Pleasureland”?  There are better words for such actions but being Christian, I won’t use them.

You may well say, what has this to do with me?  Our church doesn’t do this!  It doesn’t?  Look at the following list of people that Brandon and girlfriend regularly minister with:

  • David and Stephanie Herzog
  • Ben and Stephanie Dunn
  • Bobby Conner
  • Bob Jones
  • Jill Austin (now deceased)
  • Dave and Donna Vaughan
  • Georgian and Winnie Banov
  • Graham Cooke
  • John Paul Jackson
  • John Crowder
  • John and Carol Arnott
  • Paul Keith Davis
  • Jeff Jansen
  • Joshua & Janet Mills
  • Patricia King
  • Rick Joyner
  • Rolland and Heidi Baker
  • Randy Clark

Still think this is outside of the mainstream?  Think again!  You who follow these ministries now have no excuse for saying you didn’t know.

The Todd Bentley Affair

I’m sure you’ve all heard the latest – Todd has remarried while the ink was still drying on his divorce papers.  Miriam has a write up on her blog and Lee Grady of Charisma mentioned it in his weekly column here

My thoughts are these:

  • Todd does need restored – but by a reputable Christian leader and a team of therapists. Rick Joyner does not qualify.
  • Todd needs to repent publically.  His revival was broadcast to millions on God TV – he needs to repent publically on God TV.  The repentance should include: false doctrine, lying about miracles and resurrections, selling the gospel for money, false prophecies and full disclosure about his drinking and adultery.  No excuses – just say “I was wrong.”
  • Every last one of the ministers on stage with Todd on June 23, 2008 should publically repent for being false prophets.  They publically endorsed a man who was excessively drinking and having an affair.
  • There needs to be a radical cleanup of the charismatic movement from the top down. False doctrine, false prophecies, false prophets, selling the gospel for money, lack of integrity in the Christian lifestyle of so many ministers are but a few of the things that need straightened out.

It’s time for the truth to be told. No more covering up the sins of the leaders and hiding behind “touch not my anointed.” No more million dollar homes while begging for donations on Christian TV. We, the people, need to enforce this with our wallets. Refuse to support any ministry that does not hold to biblical standards in doctrine and financial integrity.

It’s time to clean house!!

Jesus is NOT your boyfriend!

William Fawcett at Beyond Grace Blog wrote an interesting piece on the profanity surrounding the current teaching that is circulating throughout the church today called “the bridal paradigm.”  In this teaching the metaphor of the Church being the bride of Christ is stretched to include a personal, physical relationship with Jesus for individuals.

Fawcett quotes Gibson in the following:

The second issue is that, while it is true that the metaphor of the Bride is used for the church as a whole, this same metaphor is never used for the individual believer. This may seem minor at first but it is actually very significant. It is the entire church that is the Bride of Christ. Each believer is a part but is not the Bride. It would appear that many of the prophetic teachers either misunderstand this or choose to ignore it. Due to this confusion, many of the statements of the prophetic teachers cause Jesus to sound like our personal boyfriend instead of our Lord. I have shared before of the man who claimed that he held Jesus for the first 30 minutes of his quiet time and then had Jesus hold him for the last 30 minutes. Jesus is not your boyfriend or lover. It is inappropriate to consider Him in this way.

This heresy is primarily being promoted out of IHOP’s ministry and Mike Bickle. 

In 2002 CBN news reported “Some 20,000 mostly young people packed the Kansas City Convention Center on New Year’s Eve for a wedding ceremony unlike any other… as each person who came embarked on a marriage covenant with the Bridegroom of Heaven… From noon until midnight they danced and sang, fasted and prayed, and got ready to get married to Jesus. One by one, thousands of men and women, young and old, made their vows and walked under the prayer shawl symbolizing their commitment to Jesus.”

It is also taught at Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship:

Sensuality, common in society, has indeed invaded the church. As noted previously, Teresa of Avila experienced “spiritual ecstasy” which was defined as “divine intimacy.” Many in the charismatic church, in a practice known as “soaking prayer” where one is directed to empty ones mind completely and trance-like states are not uncommon, have reported such experiences. According to Paul Gowdy, Carol Arnott, a leader at the Toronto Airport Christian Fellowship, reports that “she had her bride experience where she was taken into the very presence of Jesus and said that the love that she experienced was even better than sex”. Gowdy, an acquaintance of mine, was formerly pastor of a Vineyard church in Toronto which was a sister church to TACF, then known as the Toronto Vineyard.
Others involved in this practice have equated the experience to orgasm. My wife has heard women in mainstream Charismatic churches talk about these experiences in these terms. An anecdotal story, posted in response to the aforementioned CBN report, states : “A woman whom I see to be very Spirit filled, was talking to us at the dinner table about being taken into the “upper chambers” where Jesus laid her down on a bed of roses (because He is the Rose of Sharon He can do that, she said), and that He made love to her. She described to me this whole scene as if it were out of a romance novel. The thought of Jesus actually making love to me made me sick… I was actually disheartened, grieved and shocked that she was talking about this. What gets me is that her friends who were with her all agreed as if this was sound biblical doctrine.”
I’ve heard reports from Kansas City of men being speaking of being “ravished in their hinder parts” by Jesus. While this may not be the viewpoint of leadership there, it reflects the sordid depravity behind the doctrine, and the logical end of such thinking.
Lee Grady, in a recent Charisma Magazine article, writes of the charismatic craze of Spiritual Ecstasy which often involves drug imagery such as “tokin’ the Holy Ghost”. He states “it won’t be long before we see some Christians having sexual experiences at the altar. “It’s already happening,” my friend said. He described a recent “worship concert” in which one of the musicians simulated sex while stroking a microphone and whispering sensual phrases to Jesus. What is next-orgasmic worship? God help us.”

This teaching is heresy – plain and simple and should be labeled as such.  Jesus is NOT your boyfriend!  He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords and these poor, deluded souls would do well to fall on their face and repent of such vulgarity.

What is the Church coming to?

Miriam over at Endtimes Prophetic Words flagged up this post on Godfrey Birtill and what goes on in “worship” services.

Are there actually people who find this acceptable behavior in a church? Was there no one there with an ounce of common sense who should have put a stop to this?

I have sometimes wondered why God was so harsh with Judah – allowing them to be carried off to Babylon – until I read that they were sacrificing their children to Molech not even a quarter of a mile from the Temple.  God has limits to His patience and when judgment comes – and it will – it will be severe for those who participate in these pagan practices.

The charismatic world needs to do some housecleaning and repenting while grace is still available.  May God have mercy on these fools.

Why is Deception Flourishing?

Before this summer and the Lakeland fiasco, I never paid much attention to “heresy hunters.”  I had been active in a charismatic church up until 2000 and had seen some of the “fruit” of the Toronto Blessing and wasn’t much impressed by it.  The “holy laughter” was anything but holy – it was shrill, out of order and irritating.

Since 2000, I have visited churches, watched Christian TV and been to conferences but had never really perceived the deception that is running rampant throughout Christianity.  Oh yes, I had seen hype and exaggeration – but I just chalked that up to overzealousness and wanting the anointing so bad you faked it until it really showed up.

I admit to watching Lakeland for three months.  I wanted it be real – I prayed that it would be real.  Night after night, I asked God “why don’t You show up?  These people are so hungry for You!”  Yet God never showed up.  I lived through the charismatic outpouring of the late 60’s and 70’s and I remember the hunger that people had for God.  I have waited throughout the spiritual drought hoping for a revival again.

The answer to the original question “why is deception flourishing?” is easily answered – lack of solid bible teaching.  Why though, are men of God not preaching the bible? Why are Christians not studying it?  Why is there this vacuum in the Christian world of biblical doctrine?

I thought about the time factor – people seem so much busier now than they used to but that is just a cop out.  You will make time for whatever you want to make time for – plain and simple.  In the “old days” people had to work hard just to get their house heated.  A warm house in winter meant chopping logs and hauling coal and fixing the fire in the potbelly stove every few hours.  Today we adjust the thermostat.  In the old days, cooking a meal meant standing over a stove for hours – making your own bread,  gathering your own eggs and milking the cow.  Today we zap a microwave dinner for six minutes and sit down and eat.  We should have plenty of time to do what we want to.

What about passivity? Reading used to be a pleasure and entertainment was often with friends and family over a board game or a good conversation down at the local store.  Today people watch TV – has that changed us into mindless robots who can’t be bothered to read or hold a conversation anymore?

Maybe it’s the lack of a moral standard in our lives.  People used to respect the bible.  It was held up as a moral compass in the lives of people – even those who weren’t practicing Christians at least had respect for morality.  Today – no one wants to offend anyone, so we’ve ended up not standing for anything and being politically correct. 

I’m not sure of the exact reason why we’re seeing this apostasy but I can say that in the last ten years it has gotten exponentially worse.  Paul said:

3 Let no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction,

2 Thessalonians 2:3 (ESV)

Perhaps that day is here?