Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Time for a sippy cup

We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God's word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves
to distinguish good from evil.
Hebrews 5:11-14

Here is my part two to my post on Oprah yesterday.

What troubles me when I watch this video I posted yesterday is that Oprah has said many times that she was raised in church. Yet when the women - of whom I am so impressed, because taking on Oprah on her own turf would require some major Holy Spirit power - claim that Jesus is the only way to Heaven, Oprah seems flat out shocked that they could believe this. It seems as though she had never heard it before, or else she had never heard it from anyone whose intelligence she respected.

This makes me wonder, just what Oprah was taught all those Sundays in that church she attended all her life? Maybe she got great biblical teaching, and her heart was hardened and the birds flew away with the seeds. Maybe.

Or maybe, like so many churches during the era when Oprah was raised (and still today), the Social Gospel was preached so much louder and longer than true gospel, so Oprah never really heard the Truth.

Or maybe the Gospel was preached but so insipidly, by those who did not love the Lord with all their minds, that when a very intelligent little girl asked good questions, no one gave her any good answers. So she later turned to Deprak Chopra and the like, because at least they had answers. Answers that only satisfied for a few months, but answers none the less.

My fear when I see Oprah going off on another tangent is not that America will adhere to her beliefs. Those who will, were already lost.

No, my fear is for the ones who already appear to be found.

My fear is that so many churches in this country today are little more than a Sunday morning live Oprah show.

My fear is that many churches may have decided that the gospel itself is too boring. And instead of realizing that the World is something that we strive daily to be in but not of, many churches have decided that they need to become more worldly, and their Sunday morning "worship" services resemble a Broadway musical, relying more on sound and light than the glory that comes from the Good News. I worry that they a reverent time of worship and preaching of Christ crucified and resurrected is usurped by a circus designed to entertain and pump up membership rolls.

I worry that so many sermons sound like the latest Dr. Phil or Oprah lineup, complete with Five Steps to Being a Better Dad or The Ten Commandments to Financial Success.

I worry that at this time of year, the pulpit is used to influence us to follow a Democrat or Republican rather than to follow the Savior of the world. Or that more energy is expended on organizing the annual egg hunt than on telling the world that Christ is Risen, and why that even matters.

I worry that many church's landscaping budget surpasses their missions budget.

I worry when that the best selling "preacher" of today, Joel Osteen, shares a theology almost identical to Oprah's, and speaks "sermons" to thousands each week at a place he calls a church.

I weep when I hear that my mother-in-law went to Iowa last year when her best friend was dying of cancer, and at the mainline church service they attended, that even though the pastor knew that one of his lambs had a golf ball size tumor in her brain, he determined that the need for a new roof was a more important sermon topic than perhaps encouraging Aunt Charley with promise of Paradise that awaited her. And she and her family needed that encouragement so desperately.

I cringe when I realize that, even though I was in church every Sunday for the majority of my life, I never knew I was going to heaven until a friend told me when I was about twenty five years old. I had been in church approximately 1300 Sundays. I had heard many excellent sermons. But I had never heard the gospel - and it was not until I heard it, that my life began to change.

I weep that some churches emphasize sin so much that their sheep never hear the beauty of God's grace for those who repent and follow him.

I weep that some churches emphasize grace so much that sin is never spoken of, because it is such a downer. Problem is, one cannot appreciate being saved if one doesn't think one needs saving.

I grieve that even in the church where we worship, the sacrament of Communion, which Christ commanded us to do as often as we can, is practiced once a month - maybe. I miss communing with my Lord in the sacrament. I miss it so much.

I mourn that when a poll was taken Shane Rosenthal at a Christian booksellers convention, asking 60 attendees to list the Ten Commandants, only 5% of them could do it.

And that none of them could define Justification. Justification is not a lofty theological ideal, y'all. It is the milk that Paul referred to in Hebrews 5. It's basic stuff. It's kindergarten Christianity. Your interpretation of it determines whether you are a Protestant or a Catholic. Many, many were burned at the stake or died other horrible deaths based on which interpretation they believed. But I never even heard the word in 1300 Sundays. Which explains why I didn't know I was going to Heaven - I didn't know that I had been justified. And maybe you don't either. I'm gonna be bossy now - find out what it means.

No, Oprah doesn't scare me. She is a powerful woman, but she is just a TV show. "All men are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field; the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the word of the Lord stands forever." (I Peter 1:23-25)

The fact so many are sitting in pews every Sunday and not hearing the Word of the Lord that stands forever is what breaks my heart. They might as well stay home and watch Oprah. And they are missing out on the joy and life everlasting that is promised to us through Christ Jesus.

It's no secret, but it is a new earth. But if we don't know it, we are so susceptible to the Word of Oprah, unable to discern sheep in lamb's clothing.

This is what grieves my soul, and scares me to death.

Part 1 here

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