Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Ignorance Unleashed

 

I have never practiced any kind of medicine and I am not a medical doctor. So, it would be foolish of me to debate or try to tell others anything about the practice of medical care. This can apply to any profession or philosophy which I am not qualified to dispense any wisdom of. So, why do people insist on doing this very thing every day. I simply refer to it as ignorance unleashed. I'm not talking about what my doctor told me or what the auto mechanic said he had to do to fix my vehicle or even attempting to repeat anything in general concerning a topic in which I am not a professional in.

Allow me to zero in on Christianity and God. I have read many comments on Christianity and God by people who are not Christians. They have never entered into a relationship with Jesus or have never been blessed by the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives. Yet, they insist on commenting on something they are totally ignorant of. First, they refer to Christianity as religion. This could not be farther from the truth. Christianity is a relationship we enter into with Jesus Christ when we ask Him to forgive us for our sin and He grants us salvation from that sin and the wrath of God which is to come.

But the one which really bugs me is the mistake they make when they accuse God of creating evil. They insist that evil is all God's fault and want to know why He created it if He is such an all-loving God. Here's where their ignorance of who God really is and where evil really comes from or what it is a result of. Simply put, evil is nothing more than an absence of good. When we read Genesis chapter one, we see that when God created, it was always good. Everything God created was good. Then sin entered the world when Adam and Eve disobeyed God's command. God's not a dictator, He doesn't have or use evil as a weapon, but evil is the result of sin which is also an absence of good. God's creation was perfect and without sin until this first couple disobeyed Him and opened the door for sin to come in.

They had the entire garden to eat from but were told there was one tree they couldn't eat from. So, God wasn't depriving them of food; He was protecting them from what would result from them eating of the forbidden tree. So, sin entered in and changed the game. 

Consider why people accuse God of creating evil or permitting evil. First, they judge God according to their own idea of what is good or what is fair. But they don't understand that God is not on the same plane as us when it comes to what is right or wrong. God makes this known to us in Isaiah 55:8.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the Lord.
    “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.   NLT

Skeptics and nonbelievers constantly accuse God of not seeing things their way. But if they would know and understand what this verse says and means, then maybe they would know why evil exists when there is an absence of goodness. I could ask why it is so cold in the middle of winter and get all kinds of answers. But the truth is cold is the result of the absence of heat. Heat exists but cold doesn't until there is no heat. Also, why is there darkness? Darkness is the result of the absence of light. Darkness doesn't exist but is merely the absence of light. I could go on, but I want to stay on track.

 I like to read comments following posts and articles. It doesn't matter what the subject or topic is. But when I read an article concerning God or Christianity on a secular media site, I make sure to read the comments which follow. This informs me about how the skeptics, God haters and general nonbelievers feel about God. It never fails that at least one will want to know why or how God could allow such evil to persist while supposedly being a God of love.  Well, if they would allow God into their lives, the answers would easily come to them, and they would understand what I have previously explained in this post. But others simply deny the existence of God and describe Him by many different colorful names and descriptions. In general, they simply mock God and His existence. What an abrupt wake up to reality they face if they fail to repent. Some will but many won't and for those who won't, they will face the reality that God does exist.

 The problem of evil exists only because there is an absence of goodness. God created and saw that it was good. Not just some of it but everything He created was good. But where there is an absence of goodness, as a result of sin, there will be evil. Does anyone believe there was any goodness in the hearts of those who flew airplanes into the Towers? I don't think so and I could write another post or even a book on why that happened. But for now, we have to know the evil of the act was due to an absence of good.

One final thing I need to say about all of this. God is a sovereign God. His providence is carried out as a result of His sovereignty. His sovereignty basically means He is God and there is no higher authority. He is God and is ruled over by nothing and He is superior to every living thing. Remember, His ways are not our ways, and His thoughts are not our thoughts. So, when skeptics and nonbelievers ask why God doesn't do things their way, that is the answer. He is the creator, and we are the created. How can we question Him?

Sinful, unsaved people will always be critical of God and/or deny His existence. It's the sin nature we were born with that denies God and keeps us from seeking Him. But it is Jesus and the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes and allows us to acknowledge His existence and allow Him into our lives. His Holy Spirit comes in and gives life to our spirit and opens our spiritual eyes to everything we need to know about God. It's a simple process. Just accept Jesus as the one who sacrificed His life on a cross as the substitute for you as the perfect, sinless sacrifice. He took your place and your sin and paid the price for your salvation. Confess your sin to Him and ask for His forgiveness and He will save you. And remember this verse from Galatians 6:7,

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.   NKJV

Thursday, July 28, 2022

Quoting Scripture


 I often am amazed when people who are not Christians attempt to quote scripture from the Bible. Politicians are always attempting to quote a verse from the Bible to emphasize their point or push their agenda. Recently, and there have been many, one stood on the floor of congress and made a statement similar to this, "I want to tell you what Jesus had to say about Gays." He then stood in silence for a brief period of time and then walked away. Of course, the period of silence was to say Jesus had nothing to say about the Gay lifestyle.

But this only proves that this politician actually knows nothing about the Bible, or he would have never pulled this stunt. Allow me to present this scripture from the Bible.

All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.      2 Tim 3:16-17 

In John chapter one, verse one, we read that Jesus is God and He is the word of God. The above verses tell us God has inspired every word in the Bible. In other words, He inspired every writer to write every word which is included in every book of the Bible. So, when this politician stood and carried out what he thought was very clever, he actually did nothing but show his ignorance of Jesus and His word, the Bible. 

Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people—none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.     1 Corinthians 6:9-10

Since Jesus, the man, is recorded in the New Testament, I chose to quote these verses which were penned by the Apostle Paul while inspired by Jesus Himself. It clearly states that homosexuals will not inherit the kingdom of heaven. Now, if a homosexual repents, then naturally, he/she will be saved and live for eternity in heaven with Jesus. Allow me to quote one more.

 That is why God abandoned them to their shameful desires. Even the women turned against the natural way to have sex and instead indulged in sex with each other. And the men, instead of having normal sexual relations with women, burned with lust for each other. Men did shameful things with other men, and as a result of this sin, they suffered within themselves the penalty they deserved.  Rom 1:26-27

These people turned their backs on God and God abandoned them as is stated in verses 24-25 in this chapter. Now, no place in this chapter does God, or the writer Paul, say they should be killed. But, once again, a politician has declared that God says in this chapter that all Gays should be killed. The politician who made this statement is exercising his own form of eisegesis or reading into the chapter something which is not there.  When we add into God's word something we think needs to be there to make our point, we are extremely wrong, and it is not pleasing to God. Proverbs 30:6 says this, 

Do not add to his words, or he may rebuke you and expose you as a liar.

But so many ignore this warning and not just people who are not Christians. Christians do this every day whether it is in a formal setting or a social media post. Those who teach a false doctrine are guilty of it every time they speak. They take the truth of God's word and twist it to meet their false doctrine. Just recently my wife was in an emergency room and a volunteer offered to pray for her and with us. We never refuse the offer of prayer by someone but as soon as this person started, I knew his doctrine and belief of Jesus was skewed. He told my wife that she must receive the healing. 'Jesus can't heal if we don't receive it.' That is not true. In other words, God cannot heal or do anything for us unless we help Him by accepting it or receiving it. 

This is not the Jesus we (my wife and I) know. I know Jesus can do anything and He needs no help or approval from us to do it. This is definitely a wrong interpretation of God's word. I recently saw a video of a man on the street type situation where the man on the street stuck a microphone in the face of a prolife man and asked, "Is the Bible prolife?" Instead of stopping and thinking the question through, the man answered, yes. Of course, the man on the street immediately asked about all the people who died as a result of the flood. Now the prolife gentleman was at a loss for words. 

He should have thought before speaking. He should have asked the question, "In what context are you referring to? Are you speaking of abortion and if God approves/disapproves according to the Bible or are simply referring to the Bible in general?" Now, the man asking the original question has to clarify exactly what he is referring to. The man could have simply answered no and then gone on to explain why. It was simply a trick question and an attempt to make the prolife supporter look stupid. Just one more reason why Christians need to read and know the Bible. Skeptics and those who reject God will always attempt to ask the trick questions and respond by using scripture out of context.

One of my favorite verses in the Bible is when the Sadducees attempted to trick Jesus by asking about the resurrection and marriage in heaven. He responded by telling them, 

Jesus replied, “Your mistake is that you don’t know the Scriptures, and you don’t know the power of God.   MT 22:29

You see, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and they were attempting to trip Jesus up with a little story they fed Him. Imagine that; they were trying to trick the Lord, the all-knowing God of this universe. His simple reply was great; you don't know the scriptures. And that is the case with many people who attempt to quote the Bible to make a point and support their own agenda. It simply makes them look foolish.

So, read, study and know your Bible. You never know when a skeptic or maybe even a politician will attempt to trick you by misquoting scripture. Always be ready to answer a misquoted scripture and correct it. Don't be fooled or stumped by someone quoting the Bible out of context who doesn't even know the Bible. They cherry pick certain verses and use them to trick immature Christians and try to make them look stupid. Don't get caught in that trap. Know your Bible and be ready to correct the misuse of the Bible. You never know when one of these people will pay attention and want to know more. The word of God is a very powerful tool. Know how to properly use it. 

 


 

 

Saturday, June 11, 2022

Stand Up and Tell Others


Steve was tired; he had experienced one of those days. It had been physically and mentally tiring. After finishing his evening meal, he decided to turn on the TV and watch the news. Steve, a Christian for over twenty years, sat and watched the news as he had occasionally done for years but this night was different. His attention was focused on a story concerning what he might consider child abuse and perversion. Children in local schools were being taught they could change they gender identities if they were uncomfortable with the one they were assigned at birth. Another story followed concerning children being read to by a drag queen in a public library. Steve asked himself out loud, “Why haven’t I heard about this before?” His wife came into the room and asked what he had said, thinking he was talking to her. He repeated the question to his wife. “Why haven’t we heard about this stuff at our church or by other Christians?” She asked him, “What stuff?” Steve explained to her what he had seen and heard. Then he said, "We need to stand up and tell others about this."

Steve and his wife are not the only people, or Christians, who were not familiar with these issues. Of course, at this time, most people in this country are aware of these issues. The problem lies with the fact that far too many local churches and individual Christians just turn their backs on them. They prefer not to make waves or be labeled a trouble maker, bigot or one of many other names and labels being attached to people who oppose this movement. Pastors don’t want to address it for fear of being fired or worse, publicly attacked. Maybe they are more concerned with keeping people coming back or not offending visitors. After all, success for a pastor is a bigger church with a bigger gathering, right? Well, some believe that but I don’t.

It's amazing how such a small percentage of the population can have so much influence on everyone else. Well, it’s actually more than those who have taken part in this sin. The secular news media, the internet and social media are all behind these people and if you oppose them, you are labeled a bigot and canceled. How do you cancel Jesus? How do you stand in the way off God? I don’t think you can and I don’t want to find out. Also, the leaders in this country are onboard with this sinful cultural move. The leaders of this nation have turned their heads to abortion, Gay lifestyles and now a movement which tells little boys and girls they can choose to have their bodies butchered in order to switch gender identities. Does the word butcher sound a little cruel? If you think so, then Google a man by the name of Scott Newgent and learn what he went through when he transgendered from a woman to a man.

Government leaders and church leaders are all guilty of either turning their heads to this or simply ignoring it or worse yet, supporting it. Pastors and elders as well as general church leadership who are ignoring this situation should go back and bone up on the corrupt nation of Israel in the Old Testament. It’s just my opinion but that nation, at that time, has nothing on this country. The national sin of this country outweighs their shortfalls. And they were God’s chosen nation to tell the world about Him.

In Ezekiel chapter eight, God takes Ezekiel to the Temple in Jerusalem from his home in exile and shows him the sins being committed by the leaders of Israel. They were all worshipping idols and false Gods. They had turned their backs on God and were worshipping these false gods and committing terrible sins. God made this statement to Ezekiel.

 “Have you seen this, son of man?” he asked. “Is it nothing to the people of Judah that they commit these detestable sins, leading the whole nation into violence, thumbing their noses at me, and provoking my anger? Therefore, I will respond in fury. I will neither pity nor spare them. And though they cry for mercy, I will not listen.”                Ezk 8:17-18

For those people who still believe the US is a Christian nation, you need to take a good look at what’s going on. The phrases in the above verses, ‘leading the whole nation into violence’ and ‘thumbing their noses at me’ describes what’s going on here. One of our purposes as Christians is to tell the world about Jesus; who He is and what He has done for us. We need to pray about these issues and this sin. If anyone of us has ignored these sinful issues or has just hoped it would go away, repent and ask God to forgive you and give you the boldness to stand up and oppose these evil practices. Also, it might be mentioned in a church Bible study or service but if it stays inside that building, it does nothing. We all (Christians) need to be ready to defend the faith and explain why we believe what we believe about Jesus and His provided salvation.

And yes, you will be mocked and scoffed but you can’t allow that to stop you. Remember that He who is you is greater than he who is in the world. (1 JN 4:4) So, don’t be afraid to speak up and speak out for the Lord. The Holy Spirit is with us all the time and He will give us the words to say if we only trust in Him. This world is an evil place filled with evil people but our God is a mighty God who is still in control and knows the beginning from the end. He has saved us from our sin and will empower us to stand up for Him. These people who are caught up with these evil, sinful practices will either realize their sin and turn to the Lord or they will die and suffer for eternity. That is why we talk to them but if they insist on living in this sin and reject God, well Jude has a message for them.

 But these people scoff at things they do not understand. Like unthinking animals, they do whatever their instincts tell them, and so they bring about their own destruction.  What sorrow awaits them! For they follow in the footsteps of Cain, who killed his brother. Like Balaam, they deceive people for money. And like Korah, they perish in their rebellion.   Jude 10-11

The following Sunday morning, Steve approached his pastor and asked why the church had heard nothing about these issues.

 

Bill Petite

Thursday, June 2, 2022

Holier Than Thou?


 


For many, many years, some Christians have been labeled by the unsaved world as holier than thou. The meaning here is intended to insinuate that the Christian thought of himself/herself as being a better person than the unsaved individual. In a lot of cases, these unsaved individuals may be right. In today's society and culture, there is a sharp divide between Christians and non-Christians and many times, it is the fault of the Christian individual.

Far too often, there is an 'us versus them' mentality by Christians and the world. Now, I'm not anti-Christian; I am a Christian myself. But what is so visible in the Church today is the fact that not only is the culture rushing into the Church, but the Church is also bleeding into the culture. Allow me to explain what I mean. As the Church in this country bleeds into the culture, it acts and responds the way the world does. If the world is going to call me a name, I'm going to call the world names. That's a simple example. As the culture invades the Church and its influence is prevalent, the Church begins to act and respond in the same way as the secular culture. 

A lot of this comes from too much media viewing such as 24 hour cable news channels. Generally, the world loves the liberal outlets while the Church loves the conservative outlets. Depending on how many hours a day is viewed, each side will take the main talking points from these outlets and use them in their rallying cries and demand, because of them, they are right. (And regardless of which one is viewed, they all love to incite) Now, I'm sure we can all understand why the world would act this way (sin nature) but why do Christians act in the same manner? Because, they have allowed themselves to be influenced by the world's behavior. Social media is just as dangerous. It's so easy to sit at a keyboard and post nasty comments; and many times to people they don't even know! Any Christian suffering from these types of media influence needs to establish some rules and boundaries for themselves and that would include more prayer in their lives.

How can this be? How has the Church allowed this to happen? Why would Christians allow this influence in their lives? First, not every Christian or every local church is guilty of these practices but far too many are. For years, the Church has borrowed secular practices and schemes for church planting and growth. These churches have used secular marketing practices to plant and/or grow their church attendance. They use a variety of attractions to get people in and then water down the message to keep them coming in.

As the gospel message is softened so as not to offend anyone, salvation becomes harder to understand or obtain. The Bible, in general terms, is not the document used to teach or preach from. Again, they don't want to offend anyone. Christians are not hearing the word of God preached or taught and they are not encouraged to read and study the Bible on their own. Also, they might not even come to church with a Bible or have a Bible app on their phone since it is never taught from. 

So, you have a part of the Church which is not being fed spiritually but are being fed a feel good about yourself message. They are being fed a social gospel/justice message. How can these people be expected to tell anyone about Jesus when they barely know Him themselves? But some of these people think they are the core of Christianity and will be quick to remind others who they are and attempt to put nonbelievers in their place.

No Christian should ever take that position with any nonbeliever. Even those who attend a solid, sound Biblical church and read and study the Bible on their own. We should never attempt to correct a nonbeliever and put them in their place. (And where is their place?) We are never commanded to go out and win the argument. We are told to go out and tell the unsaved world about Jesus and that doesn't mean we force feed them either (MT 28:19-20). If the Lord opens a door to tell someone about Him, take that opportunity and tell them in the way the Holy Spirit would lead. But if that person tells you they have heard enough or they don't want to hear anymore, then stop. Don't insist on making them listen because you will just turn them away. Remember, we tell them about Jesus and plant the seeds but it is God who does the work in their hearts. It is God who brings them in, not us.

Jesus tells us in MT chapter seven not to judge people,

“Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others. The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged. “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?  Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.  MT 7:1-5

Here's our problem; we all have a log in our eye and we need to remember that when we have an urge to tell someone about the speck in his/her eye.  Don't play the holier than thou card even with other Christians. Before you go to another Christian, go to God first and ask Him to get the log or logs out of your eye/s. The Bible does tell us we are to rebuke and correct Christians who are in sin but it also tells us how to do it. We don't do it with pride or a 'Hey look at my spiritual life' type of attitude. We do it with love and compassion and with a degree of awareness.

Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.   Gal 6:1

And, of course, MT 18:15-17 tells us how to handle a person who sins against you. Jesus goes through the steps of this process and nowhere does He tell us to remind this person how much better a person we are in comparison to him/her.

We live in a time which is vile and corrupt. Churches and some Christians have fallen into the ways of the secular culture while still thinking they are better than others. The old holier than thou phrase does still apply today for some but it should be taken as a wake-up call. If I was to be labeled with that, I would hope I would hear it as a need to change my Christian lifestyle and start praying and asking Jesus to forgive me. Remember, we are to be witnesses for Jesus according to His word and not the world.

 -Bill Petite

Tuesday, May 24, 2022

The Entertaining Church

 


As the music worship team finished the last song, the guest speaker for this Sunday morning walked onto the platform. He laid his Bible on the pulpit and began with this statement. "Good morning. Your pastor has asked me to come and keep you entertained this morning." His remark was intentional since he knew the pastor very well and they had been friends for years. The guest speaker knew this church was based on sound Biblical doctrine and never considered any of their services entertainment. He was looking for an opening reaction from them in order to set the tone for his message. He was preparing to deliver a message concerning a serious issue in many local churches around the country. The theme of this message is that the church has become a place for entertainment instead of spiritual feeding.

Paul, while giving Timothy instruction on pastoring and leading the church, gave him this instruction,

  Work hard so you can present yourself to God and receive his approval. Be a good worker, one who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly explains the word of truth.       2 Tim 2:15-16   NLT

 Paul is telling Timothy to do God's work in a way in which God would approve of him and to correctly explain the truth of God's word. This sounds like simple and easy instruction to follow. But in today's church, in many churches, that instruction has been cast aside. The influence of the world has crept into the church or in many cases, it has stampeded into the church. The goal of success is in the numbers of people who attend. It's the size of the building and as much glamor and attractive decor as possible outside and inside the building. You have to have worldly type marketing schemes in place to attract the people and get them inside the building.

Once they are inside, there must be an agenda which is pleasing to the people for at least an hour. You can't afford to lose their attention; so, you must be able to keep them entertained. There must be an attraction or attractions. Hillsong Church was excellent at this agenda. Their music has been very popular among Christians and of course, they always had a very cool guy as a pastor. The church in New York City was a prime example of this type of agenda. Great music which attracted many young people and a really cool guy for a pastor. Well know celebrities attended and there was a special VIP seating section specifically for them down front.

The money was pouring in, and people kept coming back. It was the Sunday morning place to be. It was like a Sunday morning concert followed by this cool guy prancing around the platform saying what they all wanted to hear. It was great Sunday morning entertainment until the cool guy ruined everything and decided to have an affair with another woman. Mr. Cool Guy fell from worldly grace and the agenda came crashing down.

This is not a critique of Hillsong, but they are the perfect example of what the problem is in the church today concerning entertainment verses Biblical teaching. The thinking is that they cannot bore people by teaching the truth of the Bible. No, people won't come back for that, so we have to have a way to keep them coming back. So, we'll entertain them. There have been other ways of entertaining people on a Sunday morning or Wednesday evening. 

 Pastors and elders have created many different stunts in an effort to attract and keep people in the seats and money in the coffers. And that's what it's all about; if you keep them coming back, you will keep the money pouring in. One pastor and his wife spent all day Saturday on the roof of the church on a bed to introduce the beginning of a series on marriage the next morning. Another jumped out of an airplane and sky dived into the church parking lot on a Sunday morning to introduce a sermon series on the return of Jesus. Does Jesus really need that kind of stunt to teach people about His return?

So, whatever happened to, "Good morning. This morning we are going to be continuing our study through the book of....." Whatever happened to telling the people about Jesus? Whatever happened to yielding to the Holy Spirit to guide and direct the morning or evening service. Whatever happened to trusting in God to provide for the ministry? I remember the TV preachers years ago before there was Twitter, Facebook or Tic Toc and You Tube. At the end of every show, they would beg for money to keep their ministry available to the audience. My thought was always, "If God wants you on TV, He will provide the funds for that."

Churches today have become big business and operate like competing corporations. They have given in to the way of the world and its schemes to draw people in. As I said, the priorities have become the amount of money they can get from the people they are deceiving. These people are attending the biggest, the most popular and the most wrong church in town. But they are there and they are seen and that's most important to many of them. The dues here are cheaper than the country club and they get the same personal satisfaction. But they are hearing nothing about Jesus and that will cost them their eternal life. They have been fooled into believing they are checking off all the right boxes to get into heaven. But they have never been told how to be saved or why they need salvation. But their social card is full and being fulfilled.

Now, not every local church is like this. But there are just too many that are. Not every local church depends on worldly schemes and worldly agendas to attract people. Not all mega churches operate this way. There are numerous mega churches who teach God's word and are filled with people who want to hear about Jesus and His word and how it applies to their lives. This is what keeps them coming back; the large church has a pastor who teaches the truth of God's word. He doesn't sugar coat it or water it down. And this is what is needed to bring people in and for them to hear the gospel and get saved and begin to grow in Jesus. The entertainment is learning more about God. It's getting to know Him more and hearing His word taught correctly.

It doesn't have to be a mega church. The size of the church body or building has nothing to do with how God can use a church, a ministry or a person. There are numerous churches around this country who have an attendance of one to two hundred people and are thriving spiritually and do not struggle to pay their bills or the pastor's salary. They are teaching and preaching God's word and the people keep coming back. That reminds me of the church invite. There are many Christians who will invite unsaved friends to church and the friend never accepts the invitation. The Christian can't seem to understand why his/her friend won't come to church. The answer is church is the last place an unsaved person wants to be. It means nothing to them and will be totally uncomfortable through the whole service. They have no interest in church and no reason to be there. They need to be told about Jesus. They need to know what Jesus has done in your personal life. Give the unsaved friend the opportunity to know Jesus and give them a reason to want to come to church.
 
It's the same thing that applies to the local church. Don't entertain them with gimmicks and music and cool guy stories and antics. Tell them about Jesus and why people need Him in their lives. Jesus and the salvation He provides is the most important thing anyone can tell anyone who doesn't know. Being entertained and making people feel good on a Sunday morning will never allow them to know Jesus and His salvation. Entertaining the crowd on Sunday morning in a building called a church is nothing more than a waste of God's time. 

 Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.   Rom 12:2


---Bill Petite 


Monday, May 16, 2022

Once Upon a Time in a Church

 


Once upon a time, there was a church, and this was a happy church. But as the years went by, this church was overwhelmed by the way the pastor treated those who attended. Now, this is a fairy tale based on fact but does not have a happy ending. This church grew into existence from a small Bible study group. In the early years, the small group never realized that one day God's plan would be for them to be the ground floor of a local church.

As the Bible study group grew in size, God began to steer it in the direction of a church start up and the excitement began to grow. It would become an affiliate of a large church movement which had been trying for years to start a church in the small town where the group met. The Bible study leader and teacher was leading this group in the study of God's word and what the group needed to know concerning a church startup or as some refer to as a church plant.

The Lord was leading the way and there was support from a parent type church. Leaders and pastors from this parent church supported this group with counseling and advice and materials in the effort to get off the ground and open the doors for the first time for this church. As the day approached and everything seemed to be in place for the first Sunday morning service, everyone was involved in the preparation. You could feel the excitement in the air as the last minute preparations were completed that Saturday before the first Sunday service. 

When the dust had settled on that Saturday, there were three leaders, or elders, in place. The senior pastor was Doug and the other two elders were Ron and Liam. All three were sincerely committed to do the work which God had prepared them for. There was a music worship team in place, teachers for all the children's Sunday School classes and a format which the elders had all agreed on.

The first month was a true blessing; people were being saved following every Sunday morning message. It was so obvious that the Lord was directly in the center of this ministry. The elders got to the point they were expecting people to get saved following every service forever. But the numbers began to fall off and that was to be expected. The church was vibrant and spiritually healthy. This church continued to maintain its spiritual growth and growth in numbers. But after a period of about two years, red flags began to pop up.

The church had obtained a property which was more than adequate in size for their use. The first red flag appeared on a Sunday evening when Liam arrived for evening service and was told that Ron and his wife had left the church. There had been a dispute over something but no one except Doug and his wife knew what it was. The church had a policy which did not allow any new comer to be involved in ministry until they had attended at least six months and then were interviewed by an elder.  But Doug repeatedly broke this policy and his poor judge of character resulted in damage of some sort. There was a keyboard player who walked across the street from his house to the church and announced he could play the keyboard and wanted to know if he could play with the band. Doug was thrilled to have a key board player and without knowing the man for more than a few minutes, invited him to join in. Two weeks later the man was nowhere to be seen and when Liam asked about him, one of the members of the worship team told him the man was in jail for his second DUI.

Many years later, another major mistake in character judgement would cause the loss of a long time church leader who was always committed to God's work in the church. Doug, once again, allowed a couple, who was unknown to anyone in the small church, to come in and begin to take over leadership of ministries within the church. They began accusing a church leader/elder of terrible things which led to him having to leave the church. When he was approached by Doug and his wife, he denied the accusations. Doug's wife immediately placed a binder on the table in which she had recorded every false accusation against the elder. Doug even accused the elder of trying to steal his church away from him which was another false accusation. It was later discovered the couple had been doing this in many churches in the area and it had all been lies.

But this is getting far ahead of the story. Following seven years as an elder and Bible teacher as well as one who maintained the property and did so many other things and ministries, Liam terminated his position as elder. It was like God told him one Sunday morning when he got up to write a letter of resignation and he did. He handed it to Doug following Sunday morning service. Two years later he was gone from the church and starting his own ministry plans as directed by the Lord.

As the years went on, there would be many others ran off and mistreated by Doug and his wife. People were scolded and yelled at in front of others in the church. It was always over something silly and not even worthy of mention. Members of the music worship team were read the riot act over silly things like where they stood on the platform or they were simply standing where Doug wanted to stand (actually, he had no business being a part of the worship team).Some of these people left the church right then during practice. Doug would even berate people from the pulpit during his teachings. He would yell and scream at them like a madman. 

It soon became evident that Doug had to be involved in many of the ministries within the church. He even insisted on being a teacher at the Women's Retreats. This is not wrong if it is a one time thing and he is asked to do that but his wife was the women's leader and together they insisted on being the ruling factor in this once vibrant and healthy church. Doug's wife was also a major distraction in any service. Many times she would stand at the rear of the sanctuary and as Doug was preparing to start his teaching, she would interrupt just to say something which had no importance at all. When they were approached by an elder concerning these disruptions and her heavy influence in the pulpit ministry, they denied there was any problem with this.   

Many times, people worked hard at establishing ministries in this church only to have them taken away and given to one of Doug's family members. Of course, this was done after the ministry was in place and the work was finished. People were accused of doing things which they never had done; youth were accused of things such as doing drugs on the property or causing trouble in classes which they were not guilty of. Parents were beside themselves over these false accusations. Young women and even those who were mothers were read the riot act over the way they were dressed on a Sunday morning. There was never anything wrong with the way they were dressed unless the dress code said they had to dress like the Amish. And, there was no dress code, at least not a written one.

Early on, Doug insisted he would not marry a couple until they had successfully completed a very long counseling agenda set by him and his wife. One young couple endured the entire counseling agenda and when they were finished, Doug refused to marry them. But in recent years, he has married couples who had been living together and with barely no counseling at all. He also married an 18 year old women to an 81 year old man. Without saying, there is something extremely wrong there!

As I said earlier, there is no happy ending to this very dismal fairy tale. This once vibrant and spiritual healthy church had an attendance on Sunday mornings of about 150 people. Recently it was reported the attendance now is approximately 25 people. The truth is Doug ran off more people than the sanctuary can hold. In other words, if you counted all the people he has ran off over the years this church has existed, the sanctuary would not be able to hold them all. Doug is now in his advanced senior years and probably should not be in any pulpit or be serving in any type of Christian ministry. And actually, he probably should have never been a pastor. He has never shown any Christ like compassion to most he has pastored but his biggest problem has always been his huge ego and his temper.

Now, I'm sure you know by now this is not really a fairy tale; it is a horror story and especially for those who had to live through it. For those who were smart enough to know this is not the way to pastor or conduct God's ministry work and left, they saved themselves a lot of misery and heartache. For those who believed God had them there for a reason and stayed as long as they could, have learned some very important lessons. Why would God allow this to go on for so many years? The answer is unknown to us at this time. But early on, there were people brought to Jesus by this ministry and we have to remember that. But we must also remember that the egos of men and their self centeredness, will always tear down the good work which the Lord has put in place.

There are so many other things which should never be done in ministry concerning this church but it would consume volumes. And the question still remains, "Why would the Lord allow this to go on for so many years and why do good Christians tolerate it?" Maybe these people have never received proper Biblical teaching and simply don't know any better. The answer to these questions remain unanswered. But prayer is a mighty tool and this church needs a ton of it.

So, the fairy tale over time became a horror story for many and the good work of God was destroyed by a man who placed himself on the throne and placed God at his side as a relic. 

--Bill Petite

Saturday, April 30, 2022

How Did We Get Here?

 

---Bill Petite

 


If I were an English Language professor and on day one, I asked students to write 500 words about themselves, I would expect a lot of pronouns such as I, me, myself and so forth. But if I received a paper with a student describing themselves (my pronoun use) with pronouns such as them or they instead of me or I, the paper would receive a failing grade for the misuse of proper pronouns. Here’s an example of what I’m saying: “Them (I am) is attending this class in pursuit of them (my) degree in Journalism.” What has happened to the English language? When a young person, or even an older person for that matter, refers to themselves with these improper pronouns, it simply abuses the English language. But according to them, they don’t really care because they have decided to become either gender neutral or a member of the opposite sexual orientation.

Now, before anyone thinks I am attacking these people for their desire to be of a gender of their choice, allow me to say this. These are people, human beings, created by God in the same way as anyone else in this world. And, Jesus died for them as He did for anyone else around here. They need to hear about Jesus in a way they can understand and I’m not referring to some Tic Tok heretical preacher quoting from the gospel of Thomas (there is no such gospel writing included in the canon of scripture). What I’m referring to is the way they butcher the English language with their use of pronouns. I have read articles defending these people and I had to concentrate a little harder to make sense of what the writer was saying in reference to them (no pronoun pun intended).

I know what someone is thinking right now, “Well, many people in this country butcher the English language like those in the southern states with their long southern drawl.” That’s right, they do. I stopped at a place in Tennessee while traveling a few years ago. I could only understand about half of what a woman was saying to me. And some of them sound like they are just running all their words together and it’s up to you to figure out the word scramble. But even when you do understand them, they are using proper pronouns and putting sentences together that make sense.

Some professors have lost their jobs over refusing to use the pronoun the student demands they use. There are some places in this country where it is considered hate speech if a person refuses to use the desired pronoun when speaking to one of these people. Can you imagine that where you live? You refer to a female who desires to be a male and wants to be called by a male pronoun and you are charged with a hate crime. Or, you refuse to call a person them, they or some other requested pronoun because you speak the language correctly and you are charged with a hate crime.

Recently, a college professor was fired for not using the pronoun requested by the student. He was a Christian and told the school it violated his Christian ethics, not to mention the proper use of the language. He sued the school for wrongful termination and won. The school was ordered to pay him a large sum of money for their extremely woke act and give him his job back. I don’t know if he returned to the school or not.

Where has all this nonsense come from? How did we get here in this crazy time of gender transition and claiming one of many, many so called gender identities? Hey, I’m older but it hasn’t been that long ago since I was in school. There were two gender identities, male and female. I was raised by Christian parents who taught me not to be a racist, not to talk to elders with disrespect and not to be a troublemaker anywhere. At school, we had a dress code and to be honest, no, we didn’t like the dress code. Nobody brought their guns to school to shoot up the place. So, what happened? Some say it is because prayer was removed from school but I think it is something else. I just briefly explained how I was raised; both of my parents worked but still raised us to be good citizens of this country and model students in school. Did we act up and carry on with our friends? Of course, we did and I was in my share of trouble but I knew who and what I was and never claimed to be a girl or some other gender.

 So, I believe everything starts in the home and is the responsibility of the parents/parent. I was a child of the counter revolution of the 1960s. Hippies, pot, LSD and Woodstock. It is my opinion that it was in this era of time in which that generation changed and every following generation continued to change and move away from center. With center being the normal happy family and no radical activities, wide use of drugs and youth being led to believe their parents were bad for them. They needed to break away and run off to San Francisco with some flowers in their hair. I had some friends who did that and some others who found their way to Woodstock.

By the time I was 18, both of my parents were deceased and I didn’t have many choices in life to choose from. I decided I was draft bait and enlisted in the Marines. It was only two years and then I could get on with my life. But while I was serving in Vietnam, some of my friends from school were either running to Canada or to Woodstock. I was the freak with the super short hair and clean cut look. I quickly discovered who my real friends were. I noticed that many of the people I went to school with were wasting away in drugs, booze and other immoral lifestyles. I wasn’t a Christian back then but I was raised to stay away from that type of living and on top of that, the Marines had instilled in me the proper way to conduct myself as a person.

So, I believe it was that era of time which began to change the culture in this country. It has been a slow and steady process over time but here we are where people want to be called them and they and when they write it out, it destroys the English language.

In San Francisco in the late 1960s, Haight and Ashbury Streets became the center of that radical generational shift in our culture. It was flower power and free love. And, free love has led to an extreme counter sexual preference in this country. All that free love and anything goes sexually has led to San Francisco being one of the most Gay populated cities in the country. But our God doesn’t miss anything. Right in the middle of the Haight/Ashbury counterculture movement, He started a revival which would spread down the west coast, across the country, into Central America and Canada as well as England and parts of Europe. It lasted from the late 60s and all through the 70s and even into the early 80s in some places. It was originally fueled by some of the same Hippies which had been to Haight/Ashbury and other Hippies swarmed to hotspots and turned Christianity on its head in this country. God used parts of this counterculture movement to drive His revival. Was it openly accepted by all churches? No. Some, if not most local churches rejected these people and this Christian movement because they couldn’t see past their man made rules and doctrines. Can God do this again? Sure, if its His will. Is the condition of this country ripe for another revival like that? It certainly is and we should be praying for it every day.

As Christians, we shouldn’t be hating people who are confused or lost in this culture today. Just because they want to be recognized as a member of the opposite sex doesn’t mean they are a lost cause. They need to be told about Jesus. It doesn’t matter if they are Gay, Transgender or any other type of person who doesn’t know Jesus. They need to know; consider some of the people Jesus ate with and spent time with and the way He was treated for that. It was the religious leaders of His time who were critical of Him. He was criticized for eating with tax collectors and prostitutes. But as He said, He was here to heal the sick and not those who thought they were healthy (paraphrase).

The Apostle Paul started a Christian church in Corinth. It was considered one of the most immoral cities in the geographical area. Temple prostitutes, homosexual activity and sexual worship in their temple. There were other sinful practices but did that stop Paul from telling them about Jesus? No. He spent 18 months there teaching them about Jesus. It was an extremely vile place but he preached to them every day. The point I am making is in our current world and culture, there are many extremely immoral people but that should never stop us from telling them about Jesus. Who He is, what he has done for us and He is waiting with arms wide open to forgive them and accept them. So, the next time you see one of these people, don’t judge them but instead realize they are lost and need to know the truth. And, if God opens a door to talk to them, tell them about Jesus but don’t beat them up verbally or judge them for their sin, judging is Jesus’ job.