Rick Warren – Fake Christians Should Leave!

May 31, 2010

By Lillian Kwon
Christian Post Reporter

Pastor Rick Warren has a message for the some 20,000 people who attend Saddleback Church: If you want to remain a passive Christian, find another church.

During his weekend sermon, Warren laid out a plan for Saddleback’s next “Decade of Destiny” ribs-warrenin which he’s anticipating exponential growth. And the plan has no room for fake Christians, he indicated.

“Let me just be honest with you as somebody who loves you. If you passively just want to sit around in the next 10 years and just waste your life on things that won’t last, you probably want to find another church because you’re not going to really feel comfortable here. Because if you’re in this church, I’m coming after you to be mobilized,” said the renowned southern California pastor.

Saddleback celebrated its 30th anniversary last month and in preparation for the megachurch‘s next decade, Warren took the congregation back to the first church in the New Testament for a look at what “real Christianity” is all about.

“There are a lot of things done in the name of Christianity in the church that Jesus Christ would disavow,” he lamented. “There’s fake Christianity, there’s phony Christianity, there’s pseudo-Christianity.

“I want us to look at the real deal. What does it mean to really be a follower of Jesus Christ?”

Preaching on Pentecost Sunday – the anniversary or birthday of the first church – Warren said that just as a child is born with its entire DNA, all the DNA was in the body of Christ when it was birthed more than 2,000 years ago.

Unfortunately, the churches and Christians he sees today in the 21st century are a far cry from how they were in the first century, he noted.

Aligning Saddleback with the DNA of the original church – which grew from 120 believers to dominating the Roman Empire within 300 years – Warren directed the congregation to adopt and strengthen eight characteristics of real Christianity as found in the book of Acts.

They include: supernatural power through prayer, using everybody’s language and every communication channel for mission, mobilizing everybody from kids to seniors, life-changing truth, loving support or fellowship, joyful worship, generous sacrifices and exponential growth.

“Real Christianity uses everyone’s gifts,” said Warren, author of The Purpose Driven Life, as he rejected passive and consumer Christians.

“Everybody’s a minister,” he stressed. In the original church, there were no audiences. Rather, everyone was a contributor and participator which led to the tremendous growth of Christianity.

Over the next 10 years, the megachurch will be launching Saddleback worship services in every city in Orange County and in other cities across the country and the world. The Lake Forest, Calif., church also plans to become the first church in history to send someone to every nation in the world to share the Good News.

“We’re going to sing until the whole world knows” is the theme song for the next decade, Warren said.

“If we went back to New Testament real Christianity, not the fake stuff … do you think we could reach more people for Jesus?” he posed.

“Without a doubt. We’d reach more people in the next 10 years than the 30 years combined.”

Ask Me If I Care!

May 29, 2010

by John Imler
John is an RVchurchesUSA Ambassador and author of It’s Never Too Late

We have all heard it said in a rather joking manner or seen it on T-shirts but have we ever stopped to thinkingconsider the message it conveys? Where did this attitude come from? Perhaps it is that we live in what has been called the “me” generation.

We allow ourselves to be caught up in our own world, our own jobs, our own families, and our own lives to the point that there is no time to care about others or about their trials and tribulations. Yet this is not the attitude that our Creator wants us as believers to portray. Galatians 6:2 says “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”

Our world is full of those who carry heavy burdens. No matter where we look we see sickness, loss of friends and loved ones, hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, erupting volcanoes, starvation, homelessness, and loneliness. Each of these would cry out to us “Do You Care?”

It is obvious that as individuals we cannot carry the burdens of the entire world. Just what is our Creator-given responsibility to each voice that cries out to us? In Galatians Paul is speaking to the believers and calls us to share the burden of our fellow believers. In Romans 12:13 he says “Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.”

But what is our responsibility to those who are not believers? Christ answers in Luke 6:27-31. He sums it up by saying, “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (v. 31). In Matthew 5:16 Christ further admonishes: “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” Peter restates this with the words, “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (I Peter 2:12). We cannot represent a God of love to the unbelievers around us if we have an “ask me if I care” attitude.

John welcomes your comments either below or email him directly at john@faithrescued.com

Who Is This Man Jesus?

May 27, 2010

by John Imler
John is an RVchurchesUSA Ambassador and author of It’s Never Too Late

The Bible gives several occasions where this question was asked and also several answers. The first answer is given in Luke 3:22 after Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. As Jesus was praying, God spoke from heaven: “You are my Son,whowhom I love; with you I am well pleased.” God answered the question before it was asked. In Luke 4:22 the people in the synagogue asked, “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?”

The question was asked many times during His brief ministry on earth.
– His own disciples were amazed and asked, “What kind of man is this? Even the winds and waves obey him!” (Matt. 8:27).
– The crowds in His own hometown asked the question in Matt. 13:53-56.
– The high priest asked the question in Matthew 26:63 but did not like Jesus’ answer in verse 64.
– Pilate asked the question: “Are you the king of the Jews?” (Matt. 27:11) But he refused to accept Jesus’ answer, “Yes, it is as you say,” nor did he heed the warnings of his wife in verse 19.

Many Jesus encountered during his short ministry refused to accept that He was the Son of God as was foretold by the prophets and declared by God’s voice from heaven. Nor did they accept Jesus’ own words or the demonstration of who He was by His miracles and amazing wisdom.

Jesus asked the question on at least two occasions. Once of His disciples in Matthew 16:16 and once of the Pharisees in Matt. 22:42 when He asked: “What do you think of the Christ” Whose son is he?”

The people of his day were so much like many in this 21st century. They were willing to call Him Rabbi, a Prophet, or Teacher—even a Great Teacher. However, they could not bring themselves to recognize Him for who He really was. Only Peter answering for the other disciples got it right when Jesus asked them, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” I can almost hear Peter shouting with a voice that was filled with enthusiasm: “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:15, 16).

The same question is still being asked today—asked of you and me. How will you answer the questions: Who is this man?

John welcomes your comments either below or email him directly at john@faithrescued.com

What Is Pentecost?

May 27, 2010

by Andy Rau
blogger for Cospel.com

Christian churches around the world commemorate Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit descended to empower the Pentecost-1024apostles of Jesus Christ. It was a foundational moment for the fledgling Christian church, and it still holds significance for Christians nearly 2000 years later.

If you aren’t familiar with this key event in church history, read the story of Pentecost in Chapter 2 of the book of Acts at BibleGateway.com.

“When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them….

Pentecost fulfilled Jesus’ promise to send the Holy Spirit to empower the church (Acts 1: 4-8). Jesus’ promise, and the multilingual nature of Pentecost, made it clear that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was meant to be shared with all people, regardless of language or culture. And Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2: 22-41) continues to serve as a blueprint for witnessing and evangelism to this day.

If it’s been a while since you’ve thought about the events of Pentecost, this weekend is a good opportunity to re-acquaint yourself with this miraculous event!

For further reading on the significance of Pentecost, see this essay on Pentecost at Ravi Zacharias International Ministries.

reprinted with permission

Who Is This Boy Jesus?

May 22, 2010

by John Imler
John is an RVchurchesUSA Ambassador and author of It’s Never Too Late

Even though Jesus’ birth had created quite a stir around Bethlehem, few, including His mother whoand Joseph, had any idea what the future of this boy would entail. However, they were continually reminded that this young boy Jesus was not like other boys His age.

Being devout to their Jewish faith, Joseph and Mary would educate Jesus in that faith. Luke tells of their journey to Jerusalem to “present him to the Lord” (Luke 2:22) according to the law of Moses. When Simeon and Anna spoke about the young boy, their words caused Joseph and Mary to marvel (v33).

The news of this child’s birth reached the ears of Herod through the inquiry of wise men from the east (Matt. 2:3). Herod with the blessings of Rome was the King of Jerusalem. Fear struck his heart at the thought that a possible future King of the Jews could exist. Scheming to solve this situation, he sought a traitor among the wise men. However, being warned in a dream, the wise men did not return to tell Herod where the child was.

After the wise men had worship Jesus and returned to their own country, God appeared to Joseph in a dream warning him to take the boy child and His mother and flee to Egypt, out of Herod’s reach. Herod ordered that all boys two years old and under be put to death in and around Bethlehem. After Herod’s death, God told Joseph to return to the village of Nazareth in Galilee.

Who is this boy Jesus that brought Joseph so many dreams? Surely, both he and Mary must have asked why many times. Luke 2:40 gives us a clue: “And the child grew and became strong; he was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was upon him.”

Faithful to their God, Joseph and Mary trained Jesus in the way he should go (Prov. 22:6). Luke 2:41-51 tells us more about who this boy was.

When Jesus was twelve years old, the family went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover as was their custom. As they journeyed home, Mary and Joseph could not find him with the group who had made the journey with them. They return to Jerusalem to search for him. “After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions” (v 46).

Mary both frustrated by the long search and perhaps somewhat angry asked, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Her tone of voice undoubtedly reflected a scolding tone as well as her frustration and fears.

Imagine Mary’s amazement and shock upon hearing the answer from her twelve year old son: “Why were you searching for me? Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49) Here is Jesus’ first claim about himself: “my Father’s house.” Although Gabriel’s message to Mary had perhaps grown faint over the years, the boy Jesus endeavored to remind her of who He was.

Who is this boy Jesus? By His own testimony, He is the Son of God. Who do you say He is?

John welcomes your comments either below or email him directly at john@faithrescued.com

Who Is This?

May 17, 2010

by John Imler
John is an RVchurchesUSA Ambassador and author of It’s Never Too Late

Over the next few weeks we will consider the question that was asked about Jesus Christ. It is the most important question ever asked about any individual. It is a question each of us must answer.

First let’s consider “Who Is This Baby Jesus?” Who is this Baby whose birthday has whobeen celebrated for over two thousand years? Luke 1:26-28 reveals that He was no ordinary baby like those being born to married Jewish women. Mary, the mother of this Baby, was a virgin only engaged to Joseph who was of the lineage of David.

According to Matthew chapter 1, Joseph being a righteous man was shocked with the news that Mary was soon to bear a child. His human reaction was at first to divorce her. Only after he was visited by an angel did he determine to take Mary as his wife (Matthew 1:18-21). Fear also struck the heart of Mary as she heard the voice of the angel Gabriel. His words troubled her as she pondered his message. “How will this be,” she inquired of Gabriel, “since I am a virgin” (Luke 1:34).

Just who is this Baby laid in a manger—a most unlikely bed for “the Son of the most high” (Luke 1:32). Although she did not fully understand her mission in God’s plan for man’s salvation, Mary submitted to being the Lord’s servant and doing His will (Luke 1:38).

Who is this Baby so important to the world that God chose to announce His birth to shepherds with a chorus of angels and provide specific directions to His birthplace?

In an effort to answer that question, it would seem that the most accurate information could be obtained from the mother of the Baby. When a newborn is found abandoned, every effort is made to find the mother in order to verify its heritage, ancestry, and name. Any other source of information could be erroneous, hearsay, or speculative.

Mary the mother of this Baby knew who He was. The shepherds found everything to be as the angles told them. As they told their story “all who heard it were amazed” (Luke 2:18). Mary knew. Luke 2:19 says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart” (Luke 2:19). Listen to Mary’s song of praise to God in Luke 1:46-55 as she recalled the words of Gabriel: “the holy one to be born, will be called the Son of God.”

Will you believe that God loved you so much that He sent His Son to this earth for you? He did—even if you choose not to believe it. The choice is yours!

John welcomes your comments either below or email him directly at john@faithrescued.com

What Do You Hope For?

May 11, 2010

by John Imler
John is an RVchurchesUSA Ambassador and author of It’s Never Too Late

All of us look for things or events to happen. We may even use the word hope when in actuality we are only wishing for them.

hope1

Webster’s definitions indicate a significant difference between the two words. To wish is to have a desire for. Hope is to desire with expectation of fulfillment. This desire is based upon someone or something on which hopes are centered. This seems to mean that when we have a true hope, rather than just a wish, we have some expectation of that hope being realized and a basis on which that hope is centered.

This truth is confirmed in Hebrews 11:1 with the words “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” But what is that for which we hope? On what is that hope based?

What do you hope for? Many go through life hoping only for prosperity, a better job, a good family, a good reputation, and good health. These are things of the now, things that we can enjoy and experience in this world—this lifetime. However, we are warned that all these are less important that those things which we do not see. (Matt. 16:26; 1 Timothy 6:7)

Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men” (1 Cor.15:19). The above verses indicate that the most important thing to really hope for is not something of this world or this life but is of much greater value.

Those who believe there is a hereafter hope they will go to heaven and live for eternity. No sane man has ever hoped for the alternative. Believers in Jesus Christ have been promised God’s gift of eternal life (Romans 6 23). This promise, which is our hope, is repeated in numerous verses throughout the Bible; e.g., 1 John 5:3-12 and John 3:13-18.

Webster’s definition of hope indicates that there is a reason for a genuine hope. Peter admonishes us: “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give a reason for the hope that your have” (I Peter 3:15).

Do you just wish for eternal life or do you hope of eternal life? You can have that hope and know the reason for it. God arranged for you to have that hope and Jesus Christ provided the reason for that hope. I would say with the Apostle John “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

John welcomes your comments either below or email him directly at john@faithrescued.com

National Day of Prayer Very Solemn

May 11, 2010

By Jennifer Riley – Christian Post Reporter

Both speakers and the audience seemed acutely aware of the pushback to the prayer day that was officially established in 1952. Though NDOP was created nearly 60 years ago, speakers repeatedly pointed out the long tradition of prayer in the country’s history dating back to the founding fathers.

“America was birthed in prayer and founded on the Bible,” said Shirley Dobson, chair of the National Day of Prayer Task Force, on Thursday.

In her opening remarks, Dobson, the wife of Focus on the Family founder James Dobson, spoke directly about the recent challenges to the prayer day. She noted that “a small band of self-proclaimed atheists and agnostics” had filed a lawsuit to stop the National Day of Prayer.

U.S. District Judge Barbara Crabb, who oversaw the lawsuit, decided last month that NDOP is unconstitutional because it amounts to a government call to religious action. Then later that same month, the army rescinded its invitation to the National Day of Prayer Task Force to speak at the Pentagon, essentially disinviting Franklin Graham who was scheduled to deliver the address.

“This situation that has come up in the past several weeks serves as another reminder of the relentless assault against our religious liberty and should remind all Americans to be even more diligent in defending the heritage of freedom and faith that our founding fathers fought for that have long defined our country,” Dobson said.

When Franklin Graham finally ascended the stage to speak, the crowd of several hundred people stood up and enthusiastically applauded the man at the center of the prayer day controversy.

Graham, speaking slowly and emotionally, said he came to Washington to speak as a minister of Jesus Christ. Addressing accusations that he is too religiously exclusive, he said he understands there are people of different faiths at the NDOP event. However, he asked permission to speak as a Christian minister.

“I do not want to be offensive to anyone. But I only know how to pray and only know how to preach the way that the Bible instructs me,” Graham said.

The evangelist and son of Billy Graham compared the society he grew up in to today’s increasingly secular America. He noted that religion has been taken out of schools and young people do not understand what is right and wrong. When Graham was growing up, he said as comparison, students said the Pledge of Allegiance, the Lord’s Prayer and had the Ten Commandments in schools.

He then went through the Ten Commandments and noted how American society was breaking all of them.

“There is no hope. There is no hope for this nation. There is no hope for you apart from the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ,” Graham said. “You see, we cannot be cleansed from our sins apart from Jesus.”

The preacher said he is guilty and the nation is guilty of sins but if “America would repent” and receive Christ then God would forgive the sins.

“My prayer is that America will once again worship the Lord Jesus Christ,” Graham said. “My prayer is that America will once again trust him.”

“My prayer for my nation, the country that I love,” said Graham, whose son is an Army Captain serving on his fourth tour in Afghanistan. “My prayer is Lord if you’re willing, make our nation whole again. May we turn to you, and worship you, acknowledge you, and live by your laws and standards. God bless America.”

Several military officials and chaplains spoke about the toll that the years of continuous wars have had on soldiers and their families. They noted the high suicide rates among soldiers and the high divorce rates among military families.

Americans were asked to pray for military families as they endure long periods of separation and stress.

Thursday marked the 59th annual National Day of Prayer. President Obama, despite the court ruling, issued a proclamation to recognize the prayer day.

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