What’s Missing From Today’s Message

While contemporary preachers speak on anything from Harry Potter to marital intimacy, very rarely will they address an important topic that is all too neglected today: what it may cost you to be a Christian. If there was ever a message that is lacking it is that Christianity is hard.

Almost never do people hear Jesus’ warning to count the cost – to think about what Jesus asks for and consider if following Him is worth what you must give up. No one is told that while grace is free, it will likely cost you everything. Instead, they’re urged, without much thought, to recite a simple incantation we call the “Sinner’s Prayer”. We pat ourselves on the back and boast of how many people raised their hands or walked to the altar – a hundred last week, eighty-five this Sunday. As long as they’re sincere, God will usher them into the Kingdom.

But what happens when the promised persecution, temptation, and tribulation come the professor’s way? Having heard nothing of these troubles, they’ll think to themselves they were mislead, shortchanged, or the victim of a spiritual bait-and-switch. The evangelist who had them sign a card neglected to mention these inevitable hardships. Christianity was supposed to make their lives better and easier, not the opposite. Jesus was going to bring them happiness, fulfillment, and maybe even a bigger house. When harsh reality kicks through the door, these professors are left wanting, and some even left without faith. Those turning away from the Gospel are now forever hardened to it, inoculated against all things Jesus Christ.

Only the solid preaching of the whole counsel of the Law to bring about the conviction of sin can remedy this. People also must hear about the high cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ: total and complete death to self. This means utter devotion to Christ – no more partying, pornography, or endless hours playing World of Warcraft.

When God truly saves an individual and causes them to be born-again, nothing sent their way can make them lose their faith, for who else carries the words of eternal life?

Tony Miano: Marks of a False Convert

HT: ChristianResearchNet

The Gift of Tongues

I haven’t mentioned this before, but I attend a Pentecostal-leaning church. Although I do not consider myself to be a Pentecostal, the church is solid doctrinally and is committed to reaching out to the lost.

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Pentecostals is the belief that people are able to speak in tongues today. I’ve even seen this during some of the church services I’ve attended. Godly believers exist on both sides of the issue, which is why I have included a resource for each position below. Both speakers bring up good points and make a solid argument.

Dr. John Piper’s dissenting opinion can be read here.

Now Taking Your Calls

In today’s rushed world, God no longer has time to answer prayers directly. He no doubt has more important things to occupy his time with, like buying crafts on eBay. Fortunately for us, Reuters reports that God has decided to go modern and set up his own voicemail.  No news if God accepts text messages or emails yet.

Going to church to look for work?

From CNN:

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) — In today’s tough economy, many people are praying for a job offer. When Michel Butler headed to church, he ended up with multiple offers.

One year ago, Butler, 42, was a consultant in the home-building industry in Texas with aspirations of building his own spec homes in the Dallas/Fort Worth area. But six months later, he was an unemployed husband and father of three with no job prospects to speak of.

“The market here really hit the skids in late June, early July, and I knew it was time to consider something outside the industry,” Butler said.

First, Butler joined a free career workshop at a local church, which was open to the public. They met every Saturday evening and covered everything from networking to resume writing and interview skills.

No word on whether he walked away with the Gospel.

Pitfalls of Prosperity

Christians in America have seen an unparalleled amount of material prosperity. No other brother or sister in Christ has ever experienced the ease of life that we do here. Many of us come from respectable communities, own large homes, and drive high-priced sport-utility vehicles. Undoubtedly, God has seen fit to bless many Christians living here with a great degree of material wealth.

While nothing is wrong with financial prosperity in and of itself, the amassing of wealth can breed dangers for the believer. In these ways, wealth becomes a detriment rather than a boon, a spiritual hinderance instead of a blessing.

Pitfall 1: Trusting in Money Rather than God for Provision.

Throughout Scripture, God shows His people that He unfailingly provides for their needs. 

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. (Matthew 6:25-26, ESV)

The tendency that many people have is to forget about God’s provision in times of plenty and to instead trust in their own bank accounts. No longer does God provide food, the paycheck does. Overtime at the office fills the gas tank. The promises of God are forgotten and His sovereingty in all things financial overlooked. Such a mistrust is an insult to God’s character, and in essense tells God that He is not capable of providing what is needed.

Pitfall 2: Loving Money Rather than God

Jesus told his disciples in Luke 16:13 that we cannot devote ourselves to both God and money. Always, we will end up loving one and hating the other. Not surprisingly, many try to straddle this straightforward dichotomy. It doesn’t work. You’re either a lover of money, or a lover of God – never both.

Pitfall 3: Greed’s Connection to Other, More Grevious Sins

The root of greed is idolatry, more specifically a sinful devotion to material assets. And at the core of idolatry is a love for one’s self. Paramount is the need to satisfy one’s fleshly lusts. 

Because of this, those who are enamored with money may also find themselves dabbling in other sins. If the flesh yearns for one appetite and is gratified, it will only hunger for another one. No amount of anything will ever satisfy it; such is the nature of the various lusts. Gratifying the flesh’s love for money will lead to spiritual ruin unless it is immediately remedied.

Only through the Grace provided by Jesus Christ can believers avoid these dangers.

Paul Washer: Jesus is Not Some Yuppie Accessory

In the video below, Paul Washer poignantly points out that unless you have Jesus, your life is wholly without merit. It doesn’t matter how many cars you have, how big your house is, or how thin your blonde wife is. Without a heart regenerated by Jesus Christ, everything you have is worthless. What does it matter if you gain the whole world but lose your soul?

As such, Jesus is not some accessory you carry in your pocket. When He indwells you, He is everything.