Headlines – Despite Scandal, Haggard Still Draws a Crowd

Coming home last Sunday from a service some 265 Km from home I was listening to Fox News on satalite radio and heard Ted Haggard and his wife being interviewed on Huckabee (a weekend talk and variety show on Fox Cable News network). This reminded me of an article I had read in our local newspaper just before Christmas … the article is below:

Headlines: Leader-Post Saturday the 12th of December, 2009, page G5 Sub-heading “Second Time Around”.

Ted Haggard – once the pastor of a thriving church in Colorado Springs, Co. in the U.S.A. has now moved back to this area, purchased a farm and has opened up a Bible study in his home that has now grown and moved into the barn as a local church with 100+ people attending. This because as one parishioner states: “he was born to preach” and not to sell life insurance.”

I understand the desire to preach and I firmly believe a man can repent and be restored after falling into sin. However, like many today who were in high profile ministries (should we mention Canadian Todd Bentley) and fell into error he has stepped back into ministry without completing a biblically-based restoration process under the leadership and guidance of both the Holy Spirit and some spiritual leaders (of his choice).

The article goes on to state: According to leaders from his previous church – New Life in Colorado Springs – and leaders at such prominent ministries as Focus On the Family (one of whom was on the original restoration team) also located in this city … Ted Haggard “did not complete a church-mandated ‘restoration process’.” and are critical of his decision to start a new church in this season of his life when healing and counseling are still very much needed and to start a new church so close to New Life which is still, as a local assembly, still recovering from the ordeal itself.

These are always difficult situations and one wishes the person well. But at the same time those of us who have been ministering for years have seen many people wounded and hurt due to the character issues of leaders. This is not to mention all those destroyed in their faith by herecies and false doctrines being taught as truth and this one happens more often than we can to admit and these leaders have some of the largest churches in the world.

Is it time for the Church to examine itself and take a hard look at what we are building. And, in the process, look at how we are building it? I think so. And, we need to take a hard look at who is building it – Jesus or a charismatic leader. If it is a charismatic leader then we need to look – not at charisma, giftings and calling – but at character (family, friends, finances, fruit…) and judge the minister by the fruits of the Spirit and their lifestyle not by their success in drawing numbers and becoming well-known through quality use of the media.

A former mentor of mine who just recently died and went to be with the Lord once said: “It is easy to draw a crowd and have a circus, but it is hard to build a real church.” Time to examine what we are building!

Fishing for People

Jesus offered us the analogy of “fishing for men.” Now, I am not much of a fisherman but when I have gone fishing I usually go alone or with one other person and we take along our fishing rods and hooks and some bait and put our single lines into the water looking to catch supper.

So, when we think of fishing for men (evangelizing) we can picture ourselves casting with a rod and reel, bringing people in one by one. But the kind of fishing that Jesus’ disciples would have been familiar with was nothing like that. They worked together and used nets. Often if the catch was substantial then they would call for other boats (from other family businesses) to join with them to bring in the catch.

Jesus is telling us that we need to be thinking of fishing for men in slightly different terms than we sometimes do today. This is not to say that we should stop witnessing because we must never do that. 1 Peter 2:9 states that we are God’s instruments, chosen by Him to tell others the night-and-day difference that He has made (and is making) in our lives. So, personal evangelism – sharing our testimony and taking every opportunity offered to mention the Name of Jesus and what Jesus is offering – is something we do every day as we leave home and enter into the mission field. It should be, for Spirit-filled believers – as natural as breathing – because this was the reason for being baptized in the Holy Spirit. Jesus said (Acts 1:8) “…and you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you will be My witnesses…”.

However, as local churches and trans-local ministries (such as Ralph Howe Ministries) we need to be thinking more than a pole and a single line in the water. We need to first of all evangelize in every worship service that is held. Do not assume that those sitting in the assembly are all saved or born again. Most likely they are not. There are many who think they are because they said a sinner’s prayer but they are false converts as there was no true repentance with godly sorrow and the Bible states that without this there is no salvation. Others think they are believers because they have grown up in a church-going home and have always gone to church. Some made a commitment to the Lord when young but now, having reached the age of accountability, need to reconsider the faith of their father and determine if it is what they personally believe and then make a fresh decision to personally follow the Lord. Never assume that everyone has a dynamic relationship to the Lord. This is not true. So, fish with a net every time you are in an assembly of worship or a Bible study.

As well, I believe we need to be designing evangelistic events where a number of like-minded churches can cooperate together and, using a guest speaker who is well known, attact a crowd of non-believers (harvesting the result of individuals building relationships) where the gospel can be presented – with miracles, signs and wonders following. True signs and wonders that are verifiable – healings that are valid and doctor verified. None of the nonsense that goes on now that attracts believers and becomes a large production for one man’s ministry and is mostly ‘staged’ – with little proof that people were actually healed and born again, little to no follow-up to see if they stayed healed, and next to no benefit reaped by the local churches – no catch.

This is what I see Paul the apostle doing in the book of Acts. Yes, he was constantly sharing the Gospel with anyone who would listen. But, he was also heading out to the market places, the hill where philosophers sat and argued, local places where people gathered together and cast his net every time. Paul would then back up what his words were declaring by releasing supernatural power to verify that his message about Jesus raised from the dead was true. Listen to his words…

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.

Romans 15:18-19 I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me in leading the Gentiles to obey God by what I have said and done — by the power of signs and miracles, through the power of the Spirit. So from Jerusalem all the way around to Illyricum, I have fully proclaimed the gospel of Christ.

It is time to go back to the basics and do things biblically and supernaturally.

Pictured above – my Eastern European Administrator for Ralph Howe Ministries is sharing the Gospel with a congregation gathered to hear the preaching of the Word and to be part of the prophetic ministry that was about to be begin. Miroslav is casting a net with the help of other team members who are waiting to come up and minister beside him as he pulls the net in.

A Needed Change and a New Life-style – Part Two

I teach prophetic evangelism everywhere I go in Canada, the United States and Eastern Europe. I am completely convinced that the Church needs to reclaim its supernatural nature, that the baptism in the Holy Spirit is to empower us supernaturally so we can be a witness for the resurrected and alive Jesus Christ, that the Gospel is the power (emphasis on that word) of God unto salvation, and that the gifts of the Holy Spirit flow through those upon whom the Holy Spirit has come in power. This moving f the Spirit supernaturally is the “proof” that the Gospel is true and Jesus really has been raised from the dead. And, it is a fact that people are interested in the spiritual and the supernatural – but that they don’t think of looking to the Church in their search for either. That is about to change if apostles and prophets have anything to do with it.

In the last year – on at least two occasions – our team has been blessed by a young man (a high school student) named Artem (pictured above at a late night fellowship time after a day of ministering with our team of young people). He was recently with us during our last ministry trip to Ukraine. He is learning that God can use him supernautrally to touch other people with the Gospel and the love of God as found only in Jesus Christ. On this trip he had several major “aha experiences” where truths he had heard and even knew in his head sunk deep into his heart and changed him in major ways. He wrote me about an incident that happened to him on his way home on the train from our last city where the team ministered with us. (Remember, this is a translation from Russian to English and so does not always flow smoothly or follow proper gramatical rules)…

Hello Ralph. Thank you that you were teaching me and that you had me as a team member during the conference. That week was such a blessing for me. When I departed from my home to be at the conference, God told me that He would set me on fire and told me about my calling. And it has happened in this way. I have got a new vision and I have understood many things. Praise God! I want to discipline myself and go deeper in this word.

On my way home there was a man on a train sitting next to me. He was disappointed. I asked God to reveal me what was wrong with the man. I’ve heard that he took his son with him, that he was divorced or in fight with his wife and still loved her. When I got this it was difficult for me to tell him as I was afraid that it might have been wrong, I was not a hundred percent sure about the words. But I had to tell him everything from the very beginning. As we began to talk and were in the middle of our conversation he told me that he has took his son with him, I continued his words and all the received words were true. If only I had told everything what God has revealed to me from the very beginning, the result would have been different, I think. Then I gave him my testimony and said the words what I had. I have realized that I should not drag out what I receive. I have realized that this gift is very serious and it is a great responsibility – to know such personal information. And still I want to keep ministering with this gift, in real it is supernatural.

Thank you, Ralph for everything!!! Thank you! Bless you.

This is exciting and he is not alone – there are many young men and women learning that God can use them supernaturally to touch lives and let others know that God loves them and cares about what they are going through. Here is a teenager who believed what the Bible states and acted upon it with some boldness and saw supernatural things happen as a result. Exciting. Can happen for you too if you will believe what God states in His Word and will receive a little training in how all of this actually works in and through a follower of the Lord who takes the command to “go into all the world and be a witness…” seriously. (Will be doing just such training in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan on April 30 (evening) and May 1st (all day) and you can contact Ralph Howe Ministries and speak to Elizabeth if you would like more information (306) 536-9741.

A Needed Change and a New Life-style

All over the world where I minister I have been observing that our evangelism efforts are almost non-existent and, where they exist, they are being done as a program or by a format someone has learned. That means they are “preaching the gospel” or “telling others their testimony” using man’s wisdom and a natural approach to what should be a supernatural event. In other words, we are using persuasive words of man’s wisdom trying to accomplish what should be a supernatural event.

Paul states it this way: 1 Corinthians 2:4-5 And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God.

We are still, generally, using man’s natural wisdom and man’s natural ways to try to do a supernatural job. And, we have not integrated evangelism or telling other the night and day difference Jesus has made (1 Peter 2:9 The Message) into our daily lives so that it simply flows in each and every “life situation” we find ourselves in every day. We make it a special “project” that is done at a special time each week or month or year or never…. So, we are facing two major issues in the Church today but not two separate issues as I believe they are definitely connected.

I was talking about this the other day (Sunday) while standing in the lobby of a hotel in a city north of where I live. Sunday service had ended and this man I knew and had taught in Bible school many years ago showed up (he came to pick up another former student who had walked miles to come to the service). So, I found myself talking to two men who are hungry for more of God and less of man-made religion. My hosts and even some of my family members who were in the city visiting and had attended the morning service were waiting in the restaurant for me to reappear before ordering – but in the lobby we were talking about evangelism done supernaturally … and so lunch could wait. The hunger is there in people’s hearts and lives – in every city and every nation in which I minister. It is a definite God-thing.

I believe we are about to enter a time when God will have His people intergrate evangelism into their daily life activities and a time when this sharing of God’s goodness will be done supernaturally with such gifts as a Word of Wisdom, a Word of Knowledge, healing and prophecy. I sense it coming and I will welcome it with open arms and an open heart as I have longed for that day a long, long time.

I believe and I teach (and I actually do it) that evangelism must be done supernaturally. And, as I teach it to whoever will listen you can see the Holy Spirit working in their hearts and lives and the dissatisfaction they have been feeling in their walk with the Lord now has a name to it – supernatural evangelism. You can literally see the hunger for this change developing within them as I teach and share. And afterwards, many come up asking when this training is going to happen …

In response to that question – being asked mostly by young people – we have begun to develop some material that will teach them (by word and by deed, by the power of the Spirit – Romans 15:18-19) to supernaturally share the good news of Jesus’ death and resurrection and the Kingdom. We are working on plans to hold a young people’s training week in Ukraine where we will teach the leaders ahead of time so that they will both know and have experienced doing what we teach and then, the following week, we will teach a building full of young people (a fall camp meeting) how to do it and have leaders who can take them out on the streets and into the coffee shops, restaurants and bars to actually witness with supernatural gifts and power.

Pictured above – two young men wanting more than they currently see in the Church and knowing that they are called to walk in God’s love and supernaturally minister to non-believers so that they come to know Jesus Christ personally. Daniel and Elvin joined Oleg, Miroslav and myself for a discussion of just this and then an actual demonstration of the supernatural as we ministered through prophecy to Denis. Just the normal things we do as supernatural believers – not a program but a way of life.

But generally in most places the prophetic and evangelism is still something that we do – a program … it needs to become who we are and we are supernatural beings, a new creation, God’s ambassadors, a holy nation, a royal priesthood… and I am hoping that as this hunger and revelation spreads across the planet that many will come to be trained in what will be truely an effective method of spreading the good news around the world to every people group. No longer a program but a life-style and no longer done in the natural but now accomplished supernaturally.

Big Difference in a Few Lives

Mentoring young apostlesBlogs can have a major impact on the world today – and an impact for Jesus.

One pastor in Washington, D.C. had more thn 10 million hits on his blog by October of 2009 (he is reporting in an articles I just read). And this is great as he is making a quantitative difference – hopefully, through his daily writing, having an impact on those who are dropping by to read what he has written.

However, he is also looking to make a qualitative difference and he recognizes that this can best happen by meeting one-on-one with men whom he is discipling and mentoring, equipping and training.

Jesus would preach to the multitudes – but He would also spend a great deal of time working with His chosen 12 … discipling, training, equipping and mentoring them. The quantitative is good – but we must also recognize the need for the qualitative as well.

As a leader I can tend to focus on the quantitative dimension. But it is the qualitative dimension that leaves a lasting legacy. There is nothing wrong with making a little difference in a lot of lives. But the ultimate impact is making a big difference in a few lives! Pictured above is one of my new disciples – an apostle-in-training – who lives and worships in Kirovograd, Ukraine. One of three new ones the Lord added to our team from the same local church during our recent visit.

When I work overseas the services where I minister can number anywhere from 20 to 400 depending on the size of the local church we are working with and the purpose of the visit. This last trip into Ukraine we held a conference or seminar in the first church and it was open to anyone who wanted to attend. Daytime attendance ran 150, evenings ran 250. In the last of three places I ministered it was in-house and only for the members of the local church. We met with groups as small as two and as large as 30. We were there to focus on and help the local church and its leaders so the focus was much narrower and the audience more selective.

However, throughout the two week trip I was also working constantly with a team of ten men and women – apostles and prophets in training – who gathered from the four corners of the nation (and one from another nation) to help us in the ministry and to continue learning how to use their gifts and move in their calling. I worked one-on-one with these young people, teaching, training, touching their hearts and bringing major changes and new revelations into their spirits. I encouraged, imparted, taught, and literally poured myself into these young people. I invested in them at every opportunity there was – during services, between services, late at night, while travelling by bus or van … thus making a qualatative difference while still ministering to the larger quantity of people at the two or three main services each day. This is what apostles are called to do – father the younger leaders, disciple, train, equip and eventually release them into their full-time calling.

So, numbers matter but they cannot be our only focus. Everyone loves to be in a large service with hundreds of other believers as there is a natural or supernatural electricity or momentum to a large service; a dynamic that is not there in a small group. But, I believe some of the most important work is accomplished after the doors are closed and just a few remain behind and we get to sit and talk, share and pray together as a small team of committed young people who have willingly given themselves to the plans and purpose of God for their lives.

I am very thankful for my team of young men and women – apostles and prophets in training – who are in four nations of the former Soviet Union – Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Belarus – and I am believing God for many more from many other nations in Eastern Europe and around the world.

Put It In D.R.I.V.E.

If you want to move ahead in your spiritual walk and even gain some momentum then you need to pay attention to five basic disciplines of life as a believer. These can be made into an acrostic using the word DRIVE.

D – Devotion to God
R – Readiness for lifelong learning
I – Investing in key relationships
V – Visioning for the future
E – Eating and exercising for life

Devotion to God is not a matter of priorities. As Paul states “In Him we live, and move and have our being”. So, He is the center of everything we do and not just one small piece of each day or “a priority” – even through it is good to have a time with the Lord and your Bible every day. Thus, for me, devotion to God means He is central to everything I am doing every day everywhere, He is always on my mind and I am looking for all the opportunities He is giving me daily to tell others about Him. I am looking for all the “divine coincidents” that happen daily that allow me to see God’s hand at work in my life and the life of others. So, my whole life is a serious devotion to God – or, at least, is suppose to be.

Readiness for life-long learning ….I am always amazed at the number of believers and even the number of Christian leaders who seldom read a book. Yes, it is good to have the Bible as number one book you are reading but there are many other good books on the market – new and classics – that would help us to be better Christians and better leaders should we invest some time in reading and learning from them.

A mentor taught me many years ago that “leaders are readers” and that if we “stop learning we stop leading“. I have observed this to be very true. Many who call themselves leaders are really not as they are not moving forward or going anywhere and no one is really following them.

So, Christians should have a reading plan – and a budget to buy good quality books across many gendres – classics, Christian literature, leadership books, books on topics where you are weak and need to improve … and we need to be intentional about this and design a reading plan – a book a week, a chapter a day, a half day a week to snuggle up in a chair and read… And we need to find ways to collect and use what we are discovering so that our information and knowledge base continues to grow.

Investing in key relationships … this is another area where I am seriously amazed; amazed at how few men and women take the time to intentionally build relationships with others who know more, are more anointed, are experts in some area of ministry or spiritual life…. and thus are not benefiting from the experience of others and often are reinventing the wheel needlessly.

I have always taken the opportunity (and sometimes made the opportunity) to build relationships with others who can be my mentors and help me to grow and learn and develop new skills. I recently just lost a mentor who has walked with me for 30 years and who recently died and went to be with the Lord. I have other mentors and they are a great encouragement to me and a tremendous help in my growth and learning curve.

In my life today there are many young men and women who are connected to me and learning from me – information, life-skills, ministry skills, sharing life experiences – but the majority of them are in Eastern Europe. Here in North America this does not seem to be something people want. Even after prophetic words link them to me directly they never contact me and do not pursue what their prophetic words state they should do. A sad state of affairs but one that I can do nothing about and so I have stopped chasing them and must leave the fulfillment of their prophetic words in their hands – it was their word and thus their responsibility.

Visioning for the future – again many believers have not thought about the future – what they hope to accomplish, where they want to be in 10 years, what they would like to accomplish, the legacy they might be leaving behind upon their death. Most believers live day-to-day without any plans for what they are want to accomplish or even what the Lord’s plans and purpose is for their life. Some have even been told prophetically what it is the Lord wants them to do – and somehow it seems that they are expecting God to do it all without their involvement because they are not taking steps of faith and thus moving towards their divine destiny in the Lord.

This is not designing a five year plan or a ten year plan. This is simply envisioning your divine destiny and the things God has called you to be and then to do and taking steps towards seeing this come to pass. Sadly lacking in the life of most Christians and a lot of Christian leaders’ lives and ministry.

Eating and exercising for life… I need to be careful what I say here as many – too many – Christians and Christian leaders are seriously overweight and even obese. This, of course, is never a good witness as it shows a lack of respect for your own body, that you are not a good steward of the gift that God has given to you (your body and finances), that you are living in some “never-never” land thinking that this situation will not lead to future complications – heart conditions, strokes, diabeties – and an early death. And, of course, it is simply a seriously poor witness to the non-believing world who, at this point, are in better shape than most believers and take greater care of themselves than most followers of the Lord.

Time to take a gym membership out and get there 3 to 5 times a week. No more excuses – cut back on the calories and all that junk food, lose the pounds, tone up and tighten that body and exercise for life -your life. You are not too busy and it is not too late. I am in my mid-sixties and busier than I have ever been in my life and I go to the gym daily when in the city and book hotels with exercise rooms where you will find me after or before a busy day of meetings and ministry … where there is a will there is always a way. For fun, take a reading of your BMI and see if you are in trouble or not.
Body Mass Index … Multiply your weight, in pounds, by 703; divide the results by your height in inches; divide the results by your height in inches, again, to find your BMI number.
Under 18.5 = underweight
18.5 to 24.9 = healthy
25 to 29.9 = overweight
30 to 39.9 = obese
Over 40 = morbidly obese
My BMI is 19.1 and I feel great! Join me in this needed change in lifestyle and stop making excuses.

D.R.I.V.E. …. where are you heading in your life and walk with the Lord? Only you can change things and only you are to blame if you don’t. This is totally your responibility and believers need to stop justifying a life-style that lacks passion and is passive and apathetic and going no where. It is time to step up to the plate and take action – take control of your God-given life and do something. Start your DRIVE….

Church Enemy #3 – A Matter of the Heart

If enemy #1 is COMPROMISE and enemy #2 is CARNALITY then enemy #3 is CHARACTER. If you missed one and two refer back to blogs posted yesterday and the day before.

Character is the foundation of the truly successful spiritual leader as the root of all success, from God’s vantage point, is the heart. In rejecting Saul and choosing David as king, God made it clear that the person He uses must have the right heart. These two men had both sinned against God in significant ways, but Saul followed his own heart; David followed God’s.

Every believer needs to ask themselves: “What is my first love?” If it is anything but God – His plans and His purpose – then you have a character issue – a matter of the heart. Love leading? Love learning? Love seeing lives changes by the power of the Gospel? None of this matters if your love for God is not greater than any one or all of these “other loves”. We must love the God we work for more than the godly work that we do for Him. If this is not the case then no matter how successful your ministry or your spiritual life looks to others – in God’s eyes it is a complete failure.

Proverbs 4:23 “Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life.”

Christian – maybe it is time to take a good look at yourself. We don’t like doing this because of what we may potentially find. But, it is really healthy to put life on pause once in a while and to spend some time taking a “spiritual invetory” allowing the Holy Spirit to scan your heart and show you anything that may be out of order and about to encroach upon your love for God which must be the primary motivating force in your life. You are looking for any spiritual virus that may shut down your central hard drive (heart). You must “love the Lord your God with all your heart…” and “all” means “all”.

So, take some time to get off the merry-go-round of ministry and life and allow the Spirit of the living God to examine your heart and reveal any areas that need some work or places where you need to be making adjustments to better enable your love relationship to mature more and grow to even greater depths and lengths. This is very important and sadly missing in the lives of most Christians, Christian leaders and churches. And, it is the third enemy of a dynamic and vibrant spiritual life and church.

Major Changes in the Direction and Make-up of My Church Worldwide

I hear the Lord speaking to His Church about a number of issues. Therefore, instead of saying, ‘The Lord would say…’ I am simply going to list what I believe the Lord is speaking to His Church today.

1> That the Spirit-filled church needs to guard herself when it comes to her focus in outreach. That much is being spoken of in the born again Church of reaching out relationally and into neighborhoods through building ‘table groups’ and sharing meals and gatherings (ball games, community events) with the unsaved. This is good in and of itself but I have called you to walk supernaturally and to minister in the gifts of My Spirit to impact lives and then share the Gospel of My Kingdom with them. So, My people, be supernatural and do as My Son did.

Read more

Church Enemy #2 – Carnal Thinking

The second enemy we need to be careful about in the Church is CARNALITY. Like enemy #1 – Compromise – (see yesterday’s blog) this too is subtle and can creep in very slowly and thus unnoticed.

One of the main reasons many believers are not reaching people for Christ and winning the lost is carnality. Instead of reflecting Christ’s nature, many believers and church leaders continue to reflect the world’s spirit of selfishness, rejection, and mutual condemnation. We are living in the world and acting like the world and non-believers are finding it hard to see the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. They see little benefit or even need to consider the message of Jesus Christ because they don’t see any difference between themselves and those who say they are embracing the gospel. It seems to have made little difference in the way they live and conduct themselves.

This deals with more than the way we entertain ourselves, how we dress or talk, what we do with our spare time, or what we are involved in in the local community in which we live. It has to do with attitude and our thought lives. The way we are critical, judmental, negative, complaining, tearing down government or neighbors, writing off people we don’t like or don’t want to relate to. People notice these behaviors and also note that you are just like them. They don’t see the value of your Christian beliefs because your behavior and attitude are just like their’s.

Once again, Peter’s admonition comes to mind. We need to stay alert and guard ourselves against actions and especially attitudes that undermine our gospel message and belief in the resurrected Jesus Christ and the new way of life that He offers people.

This is especially true when we see the way churches criticize each other and how churches compare themselves to each other – numbers, worship style, facilities, leadership style, ministry philosophy, focus…

Again, Senior Pastor of NorthRidge Church in Plymouth, Michagin states it well.”God doesn’t love the megachurch, small church, traditional church or emerging church more or less than He loves the others. God loves the church that faithfully keeps its doors open to Him and those He loves (Revelation 3:20, Luke 15:7). And we would do well to love what God loves.”

God loves sinners and desires that they repent and come to a saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ. Everything we do – the way we live – should give a good testimony to the difference that Jesus can and does make in a person’s life. This is true as well of the way we speak and especially true of how we see people and treat people. The root of this is what we think about and how we think because the book of Proverbs states that “as a person thinks, so they become“. So, we need to guard our thinking and be sure that daily we are feeding on spiritual bread and thus renewing our minds so that we have the mind of Christ in all situations and circumstances.

Otherwise we are simply CARNAL or worldly / fleshly and appear no different than those who do not know Jesus Christ as personal Lord and Savior. Carnality is public enemy #2 in the Church today. Guard against it!

Church Enemy #1 – “Tweak the Truth”

We must be very careful as there are a number of very subtle deceptions that can and will signifigantly hurt your church should you not be aware of them and protect yourself from them.

The first enemy of today’s Church is “COMPROMISE”. This is something both leaders and followers need to become very aware of and guard against. In our attempt to reach out to the lost and to be relevant to the world in which we find ourselves we are often tempted to adjust the truth somewhat – Oh, just a little bit here and a slight bit there. We “tweak the truth”. There are three specific areas we are tempted to tweak the truth – sex, salvation and Scripture.

Sex: God clearly defines sex as being for one man and one woman committed to oneness through marriage. This, of course, is under direct attack in our world today. 9 out of 10 couples coming to be married are living together and often have already brought one or two children into the world. Often this is not the first person that they have lived with and had sex with. And, these young couples see nothing wrong with what they have done and are doing – living together and having sex outside of marriage is not wrong in their minds. Of course, we also face the redefinition of marriage thus allowing for the legalizing of same-sex marriages and the Church is being asked to bless the same and to even officiate at these same-sex weddings. Clearly – this is a deep area of concern for the born again Church today and one we must not compromise on. The Bible is very clear and uncompromising in its stand and understanding about sex.

Salvation: The Bible clearly states that there is no other name under Heaven whereby a person must be saved – Jesus is the only way to the Father and only through a relationship with Him will a person find entrance into Heaven upon their death. We can know this for sure – have an assurance of eternal life according to 1 John 5:13 and John 17:3. We must be careful not to water this down and accept the popular but very wrong teaching that there are many ways to enter Heaven and that all religions lead to the same place. If you don’t buy into that – be careful that the compromise does not come in the form of deciding that a loving God cannot and could not comdemn anyone to Hell and so everyone goes to Heaven automatically when they die (Universalism). Again, a compromise we must guard again even if popular and more acceptable to others in our part of the world.

Scripture: The Bible is our only source for faith and practice. The Bible contains absolute truth and we must not reject this teaching and compromise just to be more open and more accepting of others. In our attempt to reach out to others and be culturally relevant we must not water this belief down and compromise even if it turns some people away.

Brad Powell states: “The lesson here is that even when we’re committed to speaking the truth, compromise becomes a very real possibility when we put too much value on being relevant. We need to stay faithful to the truth as we adapt how we communicate it.”

Two other enemies … Carnality and Character (bad). More on these tomorrow…