Posts Tagged ‘pastors’

Commentary: Race for Africa

Written by the late evangelist to Africa, Loren Davis
Reprint from 2005

In 1988, my wife and I went to Africa and have been working there ever since. When we first arrived there, we had little money and lived meagerly in harsh, brutal conditions our first ten years. From August 2000 to November 2005, through our generous partners, God has enabled us to build 132 churches in unreached villages deep in the interior of Africa, evangelizing them and providing them with competent Bible-believing pastors. We have also preached 36 major crusades in Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Tanzania, and Kenya where hundreds of thousands have attended and have come to Christ.

 

Photo credit: bigstockphoto.com – women walking in Tanzania, Africa

By living so close to the people for so long, we have learned to love and appreciate them. Some of the most intelligent people I have ever met are African. Even the primitive people in the bush are very smart. I would say they are bush smart. Outsiders could never endure and survive in similar conditions. We have seen their sufferings first hand and have heard them tell the stories about their lives. Most of their lives are hard, but they desire to succeed and to make something better for their families and themselves.

 

Their great faith and yearning to succeed has made them vulnerable though to every shrewd scheme brought in to exploit them. Not only have we lived among the different tribes for many years, we have read much of the history of Africa, from slavery to colonial times, to now. We are now seeing a bigger outside threat coming to Africa, perhaps greater than has ever even happened in the past. No doubt about it, there is a race for Africa. Click here to read this entire article.

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The Job Description of a Good Shepherd

By Roger Oakland

Bigstock; used with permission

Both the Old and New Testaments consist of numerous references that provide the guidelines required for a leader to be classified as a good shepherd. It makes sense that we would look to the Scriptures for guidance because the Bible is the inspired Word of God (2 Timothy 3:16) and should be our ultimate authority when it comes to discussing this topic.

First, the Psalmist describes the Good Shepherd as the one who goes ahead of the flock to lead the sheep. He is a true leader always on the lookout for their safety.

Thou leddest thy people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron. (Psalms 77:20)

But made his own people to go forth like sheep, and guided them in the wilderness like a flock. And he led them on safely, so that they feared not: but the sea overwhelmed their enemies. (Psalms 78:52-53)

Give ear, O Shepherd of Israel, thou that leadest Joseph like a flock; thou that dwellest between the cherubims, shine forth. Before Ephraim and Benjamin and Manasseh stir up thy strength, and come and save us. (Psalms 80:1-2)

Second, a good shepherd is constantly aware of where his sheep are in relationship to himself and concerned about their well-being. He is always searching them out when they are lost or remaining behind and does all he can to bring them back to the flock.

For thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out. As a shepherd seeketh out his flock in the day that he is among his sheep that are scattered; so will I seek out my sheep, and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark day. (Ezekiel 34:11-12)

What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. (Luke 15: 4-6)

Third, a good shepherd shows tenderness for the weak, the ewes, and the young lambs. He attends those who are sick and in need of special care.

I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind up that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick. (Ezekiel 34:16)

And he said unto him, My lord knoweth that the children are tender, and the flocks and herds with young are with me: and if men should overdrive them one day, all the flock will die. Let my lord, I pray thee, pass over before his servant: and I will lead on softly, according as the cattle that goeth before me and the children be able to endure, until I come unto my lord unto Seir. (Genesis 33: 13-14)

So he [David] fed them according to the integrity of his heart; and guided them by the skilfulness of his hands. (Psalms 78:72)

While many other characteristics of a good shepherd are found in the Bible, there is one more in particular I want to include. A good shepherd watches out for and protects his sheep from wild beasts or predators such as wolves that feed upon the sheep. The good shepherd will lay down his life to protect them with a strong dedication and commitment as we see here:

And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father’s sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock . . .Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. (1 Samuel 17:34, 36)

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. But he that is an hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, seeth the wolf coming, and leaveth the sheep, and fleeth: and the wolf catcheth them, and scattereth the sheep. The hireling fleeth, because he is an hireling, and careth not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. (John 10:11-15)

There is a connection between the term good shepherd and the well-known term pastor. While Christians have made this connection and given this title to leaders who stand behind pulpits, oftentimes these leaders are not being true to the biblical qualifications. Walking in the flesh (human nature) rather than the Spirit, these men are driven by man’s fallen nature which seeks power and attention thereby corrupting what it means to be a pastor. This, of course, has impacted Christianity throughout the ages, but over the past several decades the problem has accelerated to the point where we are now witnessing this present apostasy ravaging churches throughout the nations.

Addressing this topic is not easy nor will it be welcomed by many. Efforts to be helpful will be met by an avalanche of opposition. So many of today’s Christian leaders believe they are above reproach and should not be challenged. In fact, they find biblical correction useless and unnecessary, especially when headed down Apostasy Road. However, the Bible is clear that God has serious concerns about those who pervert the Word of God and lead the sheep astray. For such, serious consequences lie ahead.

Jeremiah’s warning to the spiritual leaders of his day is a good reminder for us today. Consider the similarities to what is happening at present:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the LORD. They say still unto them that despise me, The LORD hath said, Ye shall have peace; and they say unto every one that walketh after the imagination of his own heart, No evil shall come upon you. (Jeremiah 23: 16-17)

As in Jeremiah’s day, our modern-day prophets speak of peace and prosperity. But if they were truly speaking for the Lord, they would be preaching of repentance from sin and faith toward God as becomes apparent below:

For who hath stood in the counsel of the LORD, and hath perceived and heard his word? who hath marked his word, and heard it? Behold, a whirlwind of the LORD is gone forth in fury, even a grievous whirlwind: it shall fall grievously upon the head of the wicked. The anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have executed, and till he have performed the thoughts of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it perfectly. I have not sent these prophets, yet they ran: I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied. But if they had stood in my counsel, and had caused my people to hear my words, then they should have turned them from their evil way, and from the evil of their doings. Am I a God at hand, saith the LORD, and not a God afar off? Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the LORD. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the LORD. I have heard what the prophets said, that prophesy lies in my name, saying, I have dreamed, I have dreamed. . . . Which think to cause my people to forget my name by their dreams which they tell every man to his neighbour, as their fathers have forgotten my name for Baal. (Jeremiah 23:18-25, 27)

The prophet Jeremiah concludes this passage with an urgent appeal to the shepherds of the land not to speak falsely but to proclaim the Word of the Lord. We have a powerful Gospel that needs to be proclaimed to an increasingly godless world, but the words of peace and prosperity we hear are only vanity, while God’s Word shall never return void:

The prophet that hath a dream, let him tell a dream; and he that hath my word, let him speak my word faithfully. What is the chaff to the wheat? saith the LORD. Is not my word like as a fire? saith the LORD; and like a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces? Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, saith the LORD, that steal my words every one from his neighbour. (Jeremiah 23: 28-30)

While we have the Good Shepherd to follow—a Shepherd who is faithful and true—our own earthly shepherds and leaders should remember with soberness that leaders will be judged more strictly than others (James 3:1). It is a calling that should never be taken lightly.

(This is an excerpt from Roger Oakland’s new book, The Good Shepherd Calls)

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Review of The Good Shepherd Calls by a Calvary Chapel Pastor

The Good Shepherd Calls: An Urgent Message for the Last-Days Church – Lighthouse Trails

I am blessed to have read this book, it’s refreshing. It is so good to hear the truth being told. This man, Roger Oakland, is the watchmen on the wall, and he is crying out, “WAKE UP AMERICA, BEFORE ITS TO LATE.” It is rare that I can read a book and say that I agree 100% with everything that has been said here, but that is precisely the case. I told my congregation that if I could write a book, this is the book I would write. So praise the Lord for the truth. Absolutely a necessity for the discerning Christian. Pastor John Sutherland Calvary Chapel Spring Creek.

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Certain Men Crept In

LTRP Note: Please pray for Roger this week. This week he entered India where he will be speaking to pastors and also deciding if the Bryce Home project will open up in India. Pray for his safety and health and also that the pastors he is speaking to will receive the messages he brings to them. You can listen to his first India report here, which was recorded a few hours before he entered India. It is interesting that just shortly after his long-time friend and co-laborer Caryl Matrisciana passes away, Roger is in the land where she was raised.

“Certain Men Crept In”

By Roger Oakland
(From his latest release, The Good Shepherd Calls: An Urgent Message to the Last-Days Church)

Jude was called by God to send a message to the church. It is clear he was warning the church because the simple Gospel of Jesus Christ was being compromised. Apparently “certain men had crept in” and were the cause of great concern. He began by making an emphatic statement:

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. (Jude 1:3; emphasis added)

Why earnestly? He explains:

For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ. (Jude 1: 4)

The word earnest means “Ardent in the pursuit of an object; eager to obtain; having a longing desire; warmly engaged or incited.”1 We must ask ourselves, are we eager to obtain, and do we have a longing desire to contend for the faith?

Now, imagine if you were a member of a church that had received a letter from Jude. He was the half-brother of Jesus Christ. His message certainly must have carried some weight. His letter opened by stating that although he had intended to write and share about the wonderful salvation accomplished through the finished work of the Cross, his mind was somehow changed. Instead, he felt it imperative to deal with a major problem that had developed.

Apparently “certain men” had “crept in unawares” and had become enemies of the simple Gospel. Rather than being messengers of the Gospel, these impostors had become stealth deceivers who needed to be exposed before more innocent followers of Jesus were led astray. What had happened was the very thing Paul had previously warned the church at Corinth about when he had written to them and stated his concern for them in receiving “another Jesus,” “another spirit,” and “another gospel” (2 Corinthians 11:3-4).

Paul had already warned the church at Corinth about one of Satan’s most effective plans to deceive the brethren. Further, in the Book of Acts, Paul prophetically warned what would occur after his departure from the scene. He wrote:

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-30)

Paul saw Satan’s plan clearly and warned what was coming. Jude saw it happening in his day. Further, these warnings which are included in the inspired Word of God are timeless and are for the church right now.

What would Paul and Jude write to the church if they were here today? Would their message have changed in any way? Based on current trends that dilute the Gospel of Jesus and make it into a social-humanistic-psychological-what’s-in-it-for-me gospel, definitely not!

Let these same warnings be a wake-up call for us today!

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The Meltdown of Christianity

By Roger Oakland
Understand the Times, International

bigstockphoto.com

bigstockphoto.com

Since the turn of the millennium, the world has witnessed a virtual meltdown of biblical Christianity. While many are saying Christianity is experiencing a great revival and even a “new reformation,” this commentary will document the demise of Christianity by showing we are experiencing the greatest apostasy in modern-day history.

In one word, Christianity is being redefined. Scores of pastors have chosen to abandon the Bible in favor of postmodernism (that is, what they view as progressive and culturally relevant). There is no other way to describe what has happened. Those who love God and believe the Bible is His Word cannot believe what has happened. Light has turned into darkness. What was once believed to be true is now proclaimed to be a lie. Those who once claimed to be followers of Jesus and the Bible are now following men and their philosophies.

Rather than reaching out to the world with the gospel of Jesus Christ, pastors and Bible teachers are abandoning the Bible in order to embrace the world. They look for ways to market what they call Christianity by incorporating sensual gimmicks that are supposed to attract the masses. Hymn books are tossed out of churches from the pews. Pews have been replaced by soft theater seats with credit card terminals. Being comfortable while attending church is the standard. Don’t mention sin or that Jesus shed His blood on the Cross because that would be offensive.

Then we could ask: What happened to the God of the Bible who created all things according to the book of Genesis. When did creation become a religious Babylonian myth and the theory of evolution become the science that proves that an explosion plus time and chance is the formula for the origin of all life?

Or what about the infiltration of the New Age movement into evangelical churches? Have we been Hinduized and now think that Yoga is a Christian exercise? Or what about getting closer to Jesus by humming mantras, “getting centered,” or practicing eastern mystical contemplative prayers that will send you off to Nirvana? Have Christians lost their minds and been seduced by demons?

How about the invasion of extra-biblical experiences? For example, what about getting drunk in the “Spirit” or barking like a dog because of the “transferrable anointing”? Where is that kind of behavior found in Scriptures? Are Christians being prepared for a great revival, or are they being seduced by another spirit? Click here to continue reading.

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NEW BOOKLET: How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire

NEW BOOKLET: How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire by Chris Lawson is our newest Lighthouse Trails Booklet Tract.  The Booklet is 14 pages long and sells for $1.95 for single copies. Quantity discounts are as much as 50% off retail. Our Booklets are designed to give away to others or for your own personal use. Below is a portion of the content of the booklet. The full booklet has 101 questions. To order copies of How to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire, click here. 

bkt-cl-sa-sHow to Know if You Are Being Spiritually Abused or Deceived—A Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire

By Chris Lawson

Do you know a loved one, a neighbor, or a co-worker who is in a cult or an abusive church or group? Or perhaps you yourself are in such a situation. The Spiritual-Abuse Questionnaire in this booklet will help shed light on this issue.

Spiritual abuse occurs when a leader, a church, or a belief system, whether well intentioned or not, dominates, manipulates, or castigates individuals and even entire families through fear tactics, mind control, or some other psychological or emotional abuse.

Sadly, the mask of spiritual abuse deception can be worn by anyone. The following two Scriptures are reflective of what happens when the position of authority is abused within a spiritual/church setting (e.g., self-exaltation, heavy-handed leadership, etc).

The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means [by their own authority]; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof? (Jeremiah 5:31)

I wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the church. (3 John 9-10)

It is my hope that this booklet will help people who have been through or are experiencing things similar (or worse) to what my family and I personally experienced years ago.

If you have been spiritually abused, take heart; the true Jesus desires to help and heal you as He has helped countless others.

Spiritual Abuse Questionnaire

This questionnaire is designed to help the reader think through a number of areas he or she may have never seriously considered before. As you read each question, circle either YES or NO. When you reach the end, go back through the list and prayerfully consider the questions you have answered YES to.

Answering YES to any of the following questions may be an indication of an unhealthy problem in your group or with your leaders. Answering YES to more than just a few questions is a definite cause for concern.

If this is the case, it is recommended that you take a much closer look into your group or organization’s history, purpose, and goals. Observe closely the methods, activities, and lives of the leaders. Are they using abusive and manipulative tactics on people?

The basic Yes or No questions of this questionnaire enable the reader to think critically on his or her own—something generally not allowed in abusive systems.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Please note also that while this booklet can be a useful tool in helping to bring clarity to difficulties in a church or ministry, the questions offered here should also be tempered with careful thought and godly counsel. Answering yes to just a few questions does not automatically mean you are in a cult or abusive situation. One thing for certain is that every church or group is composed of fallible people who are not always as loving as they should be. Nor should we expect to be in a place where there is no authority over us. Be reflective, therefore, to your answers to the following questions with the goal of being fair to both your church or group and to yourself.

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR CHURCH OR GROUP’S LEADERS

  1. Are you in any way fearful of your leader(s)? YES / NO
  2. Does your church or group revolve around one main charismatic personality who is the final arbiter of “truth”? YES / NO
  3. Do your leaders make claims of being “Anointed,” having “Elijah’s Mantle,” having “Apostolic Authority,” etc.? YES / NO
  4. Does the main leader or the leaders in your church or group always insist that they are right? YES / NO
  5. Does your group, church, or movement employ a corrupted modern-day version of the Moses/Aaron style of leadership where the pastor/leaders allegedly—by themselves—hear directly from God, like Moses? (This form of leadership is unlike the balanced plurality of elders found in the New Testament.) YES / NO
  6. Does the pastor/leader of your group, church, or movement surround himself with “people-pleasers” rather than with qualified men whose personal and public lives maintain the biblical leadership characteristics as found in I, II Timothy and Titus? YES / NO
  7. Is you group, church, or movement set up like a pyramid, with a hierarchy—with one single man at the top? YES / NO
  8. Are you discouraged or prohibited from freely asking questions about the background of your leader(s) and your group? YES / NO
  9. If so, are you looked down upon and considered to be divisive? YES / NO
  10. Would you be rebuked or chastised/punished by your leader(s) if you researched the background and history of the group and its leader(s)? For instance, would doing a background check on your leader be considered “disloyal” or “sinful”? YES / NO
  11. Are you discouraged or prohibited from freely discussing teachings, “prophecies,” or so-called new revelations that your group leader(s) has/have stated in the past or present? YES / NO
  12. Are you allowed to ask your leader(s) questions regarding their background in ministry, education, teaching, policies, etc.? If not, why? YES / NO
  13. Do you view those who are assisting your group or church pastor/leader as ones who simply “do what they are told” rather than people who can rationally think for themselves and if need be would not be afraid to confront the main leader(s) if questionable practices/teachings arise? YES / NO
  14. Are the leaders of your group, church, or organization above reproach (without blame) in morals, ethics, teaching, and the handling of your groups finances? How do you know? YES / NO
  15. Do any of your leaders have a criminal record? YES / NO
  16. Would your leader(s) allow you to freely ask questions or research their background in order to find out if they have a criminal record? If not, why? YES / NO
  17. Has anyone in your group ever tried to persuade you to NOT research the personal background of the leaders? YES / NO
  18. When issues are brought up about abusive situations, do your leaders say, “You just need to have more faith!” or, “You are being disloyal to leadership!”? YES / NO

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP AND ITS TEACHINGS

  1. Do you feel your group twists or takes Scripture out of its historical context and consistently or often misapplies Bible verses? YES / NO
  2. Does your group or church “allegorize” and “spiritualize” Scripture instead of utilizing a literal, grammatical, historical approach to interpreting documents, like you would in any legitimate Bible college or court of law? YES / NO
  3. Are you told what you will believe; and is questioning authority and doing further research on your own, aside from the group, discouraged or frowned upon? YES / NO
  4. Are you guided through the Bible by your leaders but at the same time not allowed to study the Scriptures on your own, apart from the group or organization’s own published materials? YES / NO
  5. Do your leaders claim to receive “new revelations,” a special “anointing,” and so-called “words” or messages from God? YES / NO
  6. Do your leaders withhold or avoid providing you and your group with a written “Statement of Beliefs” or “Statement of Faith”? YES / NO
  7. If you attend a group that is a recognized charity organization, have the leaders illegally withheld from you the organizations written bylaws when you have asked for a copy? YES / NO
  8. Is it difficult to get a straight answer from the group leader(s) on the group’s teachings? YES / NO
  9. Is your group secretive about any of its teachings, practices or meetings? YES / NO
  10. Does your group take “oaths” or have you commit to unrealistic expectations? YES / NO
  11. Are your leaders ever “harsh” in tone with you, or do you ever feel like an animal that is “driven hard”? YES / NO
  12. Have you been taught, told, or commanded not to share any of the teachings, doctrines, or practices that your group is involved in? YES / NO
  13. At any time of involvement with your group, have you ever been instructed to cut all ties with the past, with relatives (spouse, children, in-laws, etc.), or with friends? YES / NO
  14. Do your leaders favorably quote and endorse known false teachers and false teachings in their own sermons/teachings, messages, and materials? YES / NO

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP OR CHURCH’S POLICIES

  1. Does your group have any written or unwritten policies that allows leaders to use threats, pressures to conform, bribes, intimidation, verbal abuse, out-loud shaming, physical abuse, sexual abuse, or substance abuse, etc.? YES / NO
  2. Is foul language (cussing) or public humiliation used in any way as part of the public or private teaching within your group? YES / NO
  3. Would you say that your church or group has an extreme policy or guidelines for “disciplinary actions”? YES / NO
  4. Is, or could, your group’s policy on “discipline” be dangerous, illegal, or abusive in any way? YES / NO
  5. Do you think law enforcement officials would have a problem with the disciplinary guidelines and/or practices of your church, group, or organization? YES / NO
  6. Does your group restrict you from “visiting” other churches? YES / NO

QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR GROUP’S LITERATURE AND MULTIMEDIA

  1. Do you rely completely, without question, upon the literature and information that your church/group gives you—for your own spiritual growth? YES / NO
  2. Will you be disciplined if you ever, at any time, listen to, read, or view literature and multi-media materials that are not from your group, church, or organization? Materials could include such things as books, journals, tracts, magazines, newsletters, CDs, DVDs, audio cassettes, videos, websites, etc. YES / NO
  3. Are you only allowed to use study aids, books, etc. that are from your group or organization? YES / NO
  4. Have your leaders ever told you that all Bible study materials outside of your group are considered worldly, bad, apostate, “of the devil,” or evil? YES / NO

QUESTIONS ABOUT MORALS AND ETHICS, HEALTH, AND CONSCIENCE

  1. Are you emotionally dependent on or require the “approval” of your leaders for what you do—what you eat, what you wear, where you go, what you say, who you spend time with, who you marry, the music you listen to, etc.? YES / NO
  2. Do you feel as though your life (or ministry) is being “micromanaged” by others? YES / NO
  3. Are your leaders cruel, vindictive, intimidating, or overbearing? YES / NO
  4. Do any of your leaders justify sexual immorality by telling you or anyone else things like “God told me it is okay for us to do this,” or “The Lord revealed this to me,” or “No one will ever know”? YES / NO
  5. Have you ever been instructed, led, forced, or coerced into any type of sexual activity with any of your group’s leaders—or anyone else in the church, group, or organization? YES / NO
  6. Are you or have you ever been commanded, forced, coerced, extorted, or manipulated into financial giving, tithing, “sowing your seed-faith offering,” etc.? YES / NO

QUESTIONS ABOUT MAKING PERSONAL CHOICES

  1. Do you feel you are manipulated when making personal choices about diet, clothing, time commitments, church/group service, tithing, friendships, dating, spouses, purchases, etc.? YES / NO
  2. Are choices ever made by any of your leaders that go against your own conscience? YES / NO
  3. Do authority figures within your group ever demand answers from you or use threats to get their way? YES / NO
  4. Do your leaders or the group-dynamics implemented in your group make you feel as though you cannot come and go as you please; meaning, you feel as though you’re expected to be at all or most of the meetings, and if you are not, you are in trouble? YES / NO
  5. If you are experiencing abuse in any way, very likely you are fearful or nervous about leaving your group, church, or organization. Are you fearful in any way that if you left, you would be hounded and harassed? YES / NO
  6. Do your leaders, or the group itself by consensus, make choices to involve you in things that you don’t like or would prefer not to be a part of? YES / NO
  7. Are you pressured, manipulated, or coerced into making decisions—any decisions at all—regarding anything with the group and its leaders, members, and activities? YES / NO
  8. Do you feel guilty or “dirty” after making decisions because . . . “that is just what our group does”? Or, is the proverbial “red flag of conscience” waving inside of your heart and mind saying, “This is just not right at all,” or, “This is weird” or, “We should not be doing or allowing this!”? YES / NO
  9. Is pressure put upon you in any way to avoid “outside information” about your group—like online reviews, assessments, and critical essays that contain quotes from your leaders and/or your organization’s published resources? YES / NO
  10. Are you fearful that if you make an accidental “wrong choice” your leaders will punish you or purposefully humiliate you in front of your peers, family, or the group/church congregation? YES / NO
  11. Have you ever been punished or abused in any of the following ways: Physically abused, out-loud verbal shaming in front of others, given the non-verbal “silent treatment,” given coded non-verbal abuse such as “the look,” financially mistreated or extorted and as a result suffered financial repercussions, sexually abused in any way, emotionally manipulated, purposefully betrayed, been the victim of sexual innuendos, spousal divisiveness, etc.? YES / NO
  12. Are spoken or unspoken must-obey “dress code rules” implemented in your group, and, if broken, will this lead to “disciplinary action”? (This is beyond simple personal modesty in dress in social, cultural, and cross-cultural settings.) YES / NO
  13. If you are a woman, are you taught or commanded that you absolutely must wear long skirts, have long hair, avoid all make-up, and wear a head covering in order to please God? Will you be chastised or considered “carnal” if you do not comply with these rules? YES / NO
  14. If you are a woman, do your group leaders tell you that you are to submit to your husband no matter what he does to you or tells you to do even if it is illegal or physically, sexually, or emotionally abusive to you or your children? YES / NO
  15. If you are a husband and father, are your church leaders overly involved in telling you what to do with your wife and children (beyond the normal parameters of biblical counseling and advice)?

This has been a portion of this booklet. In the full booklet, there are 101 questions. You may purchase a copy of the booklet in its entirety by clicking here. The cost for one booklet is $1.95 (quantity discounts for 6 or more copies)

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The Lack of Expository Preaching and Consequences of Sin

bigstock-Open-Bible-with-textured-gran-29638121By Mike Oppenheimer
Let Us Reason Ministries

Many stand behind the pulpit who should not be there. So many teach extra-biblical or non-biblical nonsense, stories that are not the focus of the Bible or the Gospel. Often these teachings are laden with the pastor’s experiences. Either these teachers were not called, or if they were called to ministry, they did not allow the time for training and education and have found themselves neglecting the call.

Jesus picked regular men who had enough Bible knowledge of Judaism, and he personally trained them for three years. They were not Pharisees who memorized all these extra laws invented by man so they were eager to learn the truth. Later when they were given the Holy Spirit to empower them for the mission, Jesus sent them out – to preach, evangelize and disciple.

Preach the Word Paul told Timothy. Yet today we hear people at the pulpit often give a Scripture or two and then launch into various stories that may or may not have anything to do with the Scripture or biblical truth. Going through the Bible systematically teaches us the character of God. It helps understand completely what the writer meant in his book. It uses the Bible as the authority – which takes the emphasis off man. The Scripture has less of a tendency to be manipulated when the basis of our preaching is founded in the Scripture, book by book.

Hearing the word preached preserves us from sin’s influence; it changes our affections from being attracted to sin to obeying God. When the Gospel in the church is not accurately taught or explained, people end up not understanding the message of sin, repentance, and their response—saving faith. This affects their daily walk with the Lord. So the answer is to get back to the basics and really know them as a foundation to build upon.

Once a church gets a certain size and becomes popular, the danger is things become automatic, and they become very busy just to keep the machine they’ve created going.

Samson got a haircut and did not notice the Spirit of the Lord had departed. He looked basically the same, but he found out what was missing when he needed his strength. The sheer size of a church has a great influence over others who desire growth. But we forget that God works with us as individuals, and there is no other methodology but that which is given in Scripture—“they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine, in fellowship, breaking of bread and in prayers” (Acts 2:42). They practiced the Christian life separately and together. Those who believed the Gospel were brought into the church, and “all that believed were together, and had all things common . . . continuing daily with one accord in the temple . . . And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (vs. 42-47).  Notice doctrine comes first. Paul instructed the young pastor Timothy to “give attendance to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine” (1 Timothy 4:13). “Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16). In 2 Timothy, he is told to hold to sound doctrine (1:13), teach sound doctrine (2:2), continue in sound doctrine (3:14), and preach sound doctrine (4:1-2). Doctrine forms the framework of our Christian walk and faith; from this knowledge comes good works. From the apostles teaching, their instructions kept the church in spiritual unity to meet the needs of others, fulfilling the law of Christ. One of the reasons the early Church had power was that they followed what was instructed. Jesus prayed, “Sanctify them in the truth, Thy Word is truth.” And so they were one.

But we are constantly pressured to abandon biblical instruction and do things another way (a “new” way), man’s way. As we read the Bible or hear sermons that are biblically based, we learn to live the Christian life, grow in our relationship with God, and are equipped to do good works. Deuteronomy 8:3 exhorts “that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live”

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