Wednesday, March 24, 2010


We are fools for Christ's sake ....(1 Corinthians 4:10)

I love folks who are so consumed by the love of Christ that their pride and self-consciousness is buried and buried deep.

Earlier I wrote about that "crazy Christian" Robert Park who barged into North Korea with the stated intention of taking the Gospel to the leadership there. He's back in the U.S. and silent....I have no idea what happened to him or what his heart is.....but his actions were crazy! In the eyes of the world "crazy" that is.....

David Brainerd was crazy like that. He devoted the last 4 years of his short life to preaching the Gospel to Native Americans in New England, living among them and suffering with them. This was a guy who could have had a cushy life, going to Yale (from which he was expelled) and living in "civilized" America, but he chose to act like a crazy man.

Next century we find a guy like C. T. Studd.....heir to a fortune, sports hero of the British Empire.....gave it all up and spent the rest of his life on the mission fields in China, India and Africa, eventually dying in the Congo. They all told him he was crazy! I suspect he told them a thing or two since he was notable for very "plain talk" (a man after my own

E. P. Scott was a missionary to India. Despite warnings to avoid the area, he was traveling inland to evangelize a warrior tribe when he found himself surrounded by spear-toting, aggressive men. He figured he was a goner, armed only with his violin......he closed his eyes, tucked the fiddle under his chin and began to play and sing "All Hail the Power of Jesus' Name" Those warriors were captivated....rather than kill him, they took him to their village where he lived and preached to them for a couple years, seeing souls saved. The man was "crazy"!

We have some crazy missionaries on the fields today, too. Sadly, not enough of them. I am blessed to know one personally who is really "crazy"--he is in the Middle East, preaching the Gospel of Christ in the streets of places where Christianity is "outlawed"--Christians are under death threats and certainly subject to physical abuse, imprisonment and other persecution. He is undeterred, by the grace of God.

Too often missionary work is presented as a "tour of duty" like doing 3 years in the Army or something. Some churches promote these so-called "mission trips" which are nothing more than exotic vacations for folks who want to say they were on a mission field. They'd be better off taking the two or three or five thousand dollars they spend on these shallow endeavors and supporting a real missionary. I know indigenous pastors in Cuba who could live for a year or two on the amount of money some fat-cat American Christian spends on his glorified, "sanctified" mission trip to Costa Rica.

Real missionaries go where God sends them and they stay there til God calls them out (or Home). They do not go to take American culture to the "natives"--they go to carry the Gospel to the lost. They live with the "natives"--they live like the natives. It's incredible to see that there are still so-called missionaries in primitive cultures who insist upon having western-style housing, conveniences, and benefits, living far above the people to whom they supposedly care so much for.

In my wildest dreams, to show how "crazy" I am, too, there should be a way for missionaries on my field to "go native" There should be a way for prison missionaries to go into prisons and as an inmate, live in a cell like any other inmate, eat with them, work with them, be one of them. He should stay there til his work is done. He should be subject to all the restrictions, rules and regulations, deprivations and degradations as his people. I speak from experience when I say it's easy to go into a prison and preach to men about the great blessings of Christ when I know in an hour I can just walk out the gate and return to the comforts of my home, family, plentiful, tasty food, and the freedom to do what I want.

Can you imagine how few candidates the NAMB would have for such a field? Naturally, this is for single men. No married man could abandon his family for this field where it would be impossible for them to accompany him. It costs about $30,000. annually for a state to maintain a prisoner. So, the NAMB could offer to pay the state that cost each year its missionary was in the prison. Of course, there would be a million waivers of liability involved should the missionary be hurt or killed or suffer from the lame medical care which most inmates get. But the IMB sends dozens of missionaries into dangerous places every year without a second thought.....why not into the danger zones of the U.S.?

I know there are a lot of practical complications of monumental proportions in this "modest proposal".....probably never happen, but it should happen--somehow. What passes for "prison ministry" is in many ways lame: give it a lick and a promise, make the gesture. We are weakened by chaplains who are drawing a check, mere bureaucrats with no heart for the inmates; we are weakened by Big Show performances by traveling circuses who think mission work is putting on an afternoon's entertainment for the inmates--a motorcycle jump and a couple songs.....we are weakened because the lack of sincerity on the part of some is discerned by the inmates who are then suspicious of all ministries.

How few Christians are willing to even look foolish for Christ! We have our pride--indeed we do. Just the idea of being rebuffed in efforts to make a Gospel witness at work or at the grocery store is intimidating most people into silence. How few there are who will really risk anything, let alone everything--or more than "risk" it, to forsake it! How we struggle to dilute this passage of scripture in order to continue in our self-justified inaction--

And he said to all, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it.
(Luke 9:23-24)

Friday, March 19, 2010


The connection........

I've posted a number of photos of church signs with those incredibly vacuous, insipid, Gospel-less slogans -- ostensibly a way for that church to "reach" passers-by. Reach them with what is not quite clear....

A friend commented recently "wonder what goes on inside a church which puts that on the outside?" I told her the same type stuff was being proclaimed from the pulpit as from the sign. How could we think otherwise?.......surely no doctrinally sound pastor would allow such drivel as their public witness.

So, this is the "connection" I refer to. There is a dismaying amount of drivel falling from the lips of preachers, even some from whom we might expect better. Just recently, I've been exposed to a flood of sloganeering by supposedly sound preachers. These guys are masters of the quip and the quote. They can wow you with blurbs from all the Big Names.....MacArthur, Tozer, Spurgeon, Piper, et al.

This is a variant of the "spring board sermon" where the preacher starts with his idea, his theme, his point.......then he searches the Bible to find a verse (note: a verse) which he feels supports this idea. Building his structure upon one verse, he springs into action, lambasting the hearers with his own pet ideas whilst claiming Biblical support from the out of context verse.

Now we can get instead of a verse, a one-liner from Spurgeon or one of the other icons. From then on, the preacher goes where his own imagination takes him, having justified his thoughts by appealing to one of the Masters.

Another variant is the "borrowed sermon" These guys read Piper, MacArthur, Spurgeon (less so) and next thing you know, they have a sermon! Nice little 3-pointer, sometimes complete will illustrations. This, of course, has been going on for centuries. Some of the most popular books I sell are collections of sermons by Clovis Chappell, Clarence Macartney, and F W. Boreham. Those sermons have been preached and re-preached for nearly 100 years.

The question is: Why do they do this?
The answer is: They don't have nothin' else.

Some birds (pigeons and doves, maybe some others) feed their babies by going out, finding a nice meal and eating it.....back in the nest, they regurgitate that meal in a form palatable to the babies. This is called "pigeon milk"

Lots of congregations of hungry Christians are being fed on regurgitated theology. Those preachers read a clever bit on Piper's website or a MacArthur book, or had a good time on Phil Johnson's Spurgeon site.....and they carry this bit into the pulpit with them Sunday morning and spit it out for the starving sheep.

Baby pigeons thrive on that stuff. Baby Christians will starve.

Much as I like all the Greats I have mentioned here, their writings are inadequate food. Where have we read that:

Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word which comes from the mouth of Spurgeon (Piper, etc)? No, that's not it. These guys who are imitating some other preacher, "borrowing" his sermons, quoting him endlessly, in fact, worshiping some man.....are on dangerous ground. They are in danger and their congregations are starving.

I have lots of books; I have lots of commentaries (though I will say I don't use them much these days except for a word study perhaps)...but what I need is a Word from God, not from Spurgeon. Some preachers think a dream come true would be them locked away in a luxury hotel room, with tons of food, hundreds of books to read and "study" and at the end of that stay, they'd be a more powerful preacher. I'm going to tell you that the ideal would be locked up in a bare room with some water and saltines, a pencil and paper, and the Word of God.....after a couple weeks, a changed man would emerge.

All this man-made stuff lacks nutrition. Preachers need a Word from God. They will not get it from reading second-hand stuff, even if it's written by Godly men. Cut out the middle man! Go to the Source! Lock up all those commentaries and sermons books and get into the Word! Your congregation is hungry, some of them are starving,

Feed my sheep!