I have written many books in my head but at best I have written a myriad of blog posts that I could piece together and pass off as a book in your hands. I think the main difference between a book and my blog posts are that books have chapters and aren’t as lengthy as my posts!
My ultimate goal is simply God. Then my next goal is to hear “Well done, my son” one day. Between those 2 goal posts, and my many blog posts, are many other goals. The vision of the ETVFC.blog covers 2 goals —- to equip the saints and rescue the lost. I have a goal to read through the Bible twice a year. I have hundreds and hundreds of goals and thanks to my go-getting wife, I am seeing a lot of goals now come alive. In fact, one of my first goals after getting saved was to find a godly woman. I joke that I followed my cousin Dave’s advice to get busy ministering and get as close to God as you can. Then in a spiritual sense, look to your right, and marry the woman who is right there next to you. I got busy serving and met Marie, a wonderful godly woman at the Buffalo City Mission where I preached at. She loved God, she was kind and gentle….and she was 82 years old!! A few years later I met my wonderful wife Michelle. One of my earlier goals after finding the goal of meeting my wife was for her to be as impressed with me as I was impressed with me. What I found instead was marriage exposed my selfishness and how I am a dreamer and spend more time dreaming dreams than knowing where to begin to accomplish them. I am amazed the longer I am married how God is much smarter than me and found me the perfect wife I truly needed. It took awhile to appreciate her fully because I did not like the real me this goal exposed! But praise God, I faced the music and found the greatest marriage and marriage partner I could have ever asked for! The goal was accomplished and it is now more than a goal, it is a gift. So before I go any further this blog maybe took 2 hours or less to write but it took 10 years of living first. And I owe it all to Him as well but I owe a lot to her. The 2 most important people in my life are Jesus and my wife Michelle.
My goal was to married by age 30 and now at age 37 (or is it 36?) I am not only married but we have our 5th child on the way. Children are a good way to make you grow up. Maybe my next goal will be to get a book out by 40. And then my goal should be that someone actually reads it by the time I am 50!
Being a Christian makes you throw conventional wisdom out the window. So does being a father of little boys. I heard this statement and I couldn’t agree more. I saw a sign that said, “Children that go to bed early wake up early. Children that go to bed late wake up….early.” If you don’t have children you wouldn’t understand that. You can tell if you have children or not because you are laughing (or crying) after reading that statement. Everything we think we know often needs to go out the window.
That is true with Christianity today. If we have any sort of ministry, today we are very good at talking the talk. I think we have never sounded so spiritual. In general I think most of us who have had any sort of experience in church beyond the Sunday attenders (Bro Green calls them “oncers”) or have ever preached could teach a theology course that would marvel the brethren. We know the material. We know the Bible. We have verses memorized and books memorized and we can ace the next Bible trivia quiz. I think we have faith, I think we are often sincere, and I think we really desire to see people saved, surrendered, and surrounded by the church culture. Yet what has plagued me now for years is why if we are willing to look around things are not as they seem. Why did the Great Awakening impact the entire world yet today’s Christianity is only getting more and more worldly? AW Tozer said true revival impacts the morality of your community. Instead they are impacting us.
I just got a new book idea today. “Where’s the beef? A look at the Sacred cows of modern evangelism.” Another book or blog idea is a pharmacy themed one, “The Problem with Prescriptions”.
My day job (and I work overnights too!) is I am a retail pharmacist. It is my blessing and my curse. It is a curse in the sense that high salaried professionals can’t possibly be called to full time ministry. Jesus said the laborers are few so I must stay employed is the interpretation! The church says the tithers are even fewer. God can call BurgerKing cashiers and WalMart stock boys and fishermen today, but you must not hear him right if you are being called out of pharmacy. That has been my case no matter who I present it to! I am not picking on anyone as I have heard this for 11 years and have only been in “my circles” for 7. I hear it from my wife, I hear it from my own thoughts. This is a perfect example why I need to not lean on my own understanding and trust the conventional wisdom as I stated above. After 6 years of schooling, passing the boards, getting licensed and landing a job, I was saved shortly afterwards. That adds a bit of confusion to the puzzle but God knew when I would get saved! Where I most see that pharmacy is a blessing because the lessons it continues to teach me are really for the churches of America. When it comes to the job however, I am in reality very similar to a “Christian” bartender. Sadly in today’s Christianity that job title isn’t the oxymoron it should be.
I have older posts on another blog that I will be moving over here. If you don’t want to wait, you can see them in a non-category conglomerate of posts on KeepAmericaFromHell.blogspot.com. I have several posts on the Jesus is not a flu shot them and lessons from pharmacy.
If I could summarize the pharmacy related issues relative to our state of Christianity today it would be:
1. Jesus is not a flu shot. What I mean by that is today the gospel tends to emphasize the benefits of the cure and the consequences of the disease. During the great awakening the emphasis was on convincing of the disease. Jesus could be more likened to chemotherapy in the sense where it is something only someone who is convinced they have the disease will agree to the treatment. I can talk anyone into getting their flu shot if I am a good salesman and promise them how not getting the flu is the best deal in town. No matter how bad my bedside manner is or how I botch up my “therapy presentation”, someone with cancer is not going to care.
Chemotherapy is an ongoing thing even though it starts with an initial decision. Yes salvation is a moment, but sanctification is a process. If you are under going that process you prove you experienced the “one-time” salvation! Chemotherapy affects all areas of your life and chemotherapy is not a bed of roses but with the right expectations, you don’t quit treatment over the side effects. You expect side effects.
Contrast that with the flu shot salvation campaign. The flu is not life threatening and it is only something you might get. If I tell you it is free with your insurance, it is a good idea, and it only takes a couple of minutes, you might agree to it. You have a JUST IN CASE attitude with it, and your motivations are the convenience of it and that your insurance covers it. Hey, if my insurance covers it I am entitled to a flu shot! You don’t expect it to turn your world upside down, and if afterwards you get horrible side effects you will be angry and resentful at the flu shot salesmen. You expect a good nights rest on your bed of roses. Hence, I think part of the problem today is the way Jesus is presented, we often treat him like a flu shot. I have “been there, done that, and paid the copay”, and now I can go back to my life.
The problem is this leads to a lot of false converts. Specifically you see this with the sinner’s prayer, but it is confusing because those that pray the prayer seem excited. The reality is the majority are merely stony ground hearers (and that is a quote Ray Comfort made about false converts but I think he merely scratched the surface.) who respond emotionally. You can see that in every day life. A great salesman comes to the house and tells you how you about this new company he joined and you too can make $40,000 a month if you are just now willing to just go online and buy $200 of items you normally buy from Wal Mart. And get 10 friends to do the same. Wow, that seems so simple. Then you call your sister to sign her up and she says, “It is a pyramid scheme. I saw that same presentation in college. Their items are all horribly overpriced and not even one will sign up for it. Don’t ever bring it up to me again!” Now you are disillusioned and try to get a refund.
The reality is you only had an emotional commitment. The Jesus thing is the greatest thing you ever saw, and the best deal you ever could make. “Wow, a free pass to heaven if I just admit to being a sinner! I was just about to go blow myself up instead to get to heaven! I can’t pass this up!” So they pray, they get excited, and then a few weeks later they are taught that fornicators can’t enter heaven, Christians are expected to tithe, and we are to go to church every time the doors are open. Then they try to get a refund. And use it to buy more Budweiser to drink with their live-in girlfriend.
The main problem is now they are inoculated to the gospel, according to Missionary and writer David Cloud. What God showed me personally is how a vaccine works fits into what we see with the state of Christianity. A vaccine is a false version of the real thing. When you get the real thing, your vaccinated body immediately recognizes it —and fights it off because it was already exposed to a counterfeit. How many respond with “I already did that!” or “I am SAVED! Leave me alone!” when you try and witness to them?
2. I would title this that Jesus is not a 5 minute Chemo drip!
I begin that to say the Romans road is in the Bible, but the Romans Road is not Biblical! Neither are the 4 spiritual laws. Neither is Pray-and-Ask-the-Lord-to-save-you even though it uses Romans 10:13. Look at it like this. If a person has cancer and finds a legit cure, he must have it administered to him for the right duration for the cure to take affect. The right chemo cocktail needs a cumulative dose and the body needs repeated exposure for the cancer to be removed. Obviously you are not saved by over and over again coming to Jesus. When you come to him you are eternally saved.
The problem is this though. You often need to be exposed long enough to the convicting hand of God and then be around Jesus enough for saving faith and biblical repentance to take root and have the seeds produce life. There needs to be planting and plowing to go beyond the shallow ground hearer. Hard lifeless seeds need to be planted in the earth and need a lot of water and sun (or SON!) exposure and then a tiny plant starts to come through.
The Bible says the law of God is what gets to the heart. We tend to draw using the emotions today where before they appealed to the conscience. If you are familiar with Ray Comfort and Kirk Cameron’s Way of the Master they hit on some of that but I am not merely parroting their message. Where we differ I think is in duration of treatment.
The law must be used. That is very true. Way of the Master I think better uses the law to convince of the disease than 90% of Baptists. However in prayer and looking at fruit, I think they are not duplicating the prescription for the Great Awakening even though what they say is right. They use the commandments to bring knowledge of sin. However, even though their message is right, it is still microwaved for today’s fast paced world. The point is even if you have the truth, but don’t take the time to plow and water that truth, you are merely giving the cure for too short a time to do anything. I think this is producing an abundance of head knowledge, who profess they know God but in works they deny him, and are ever learning but never come to the knowledge of the truth!
Look at the Great Awakening for where we differ. During that period you had men who had a great foundation already and a natural respect for God. Thousands of lost folks and professing Christians alike would gather to hear a preacher preach for hours in the open air like thousands today gather to listen to a Lady GaGa. They didn’t spend hours watching NFL after being invited to a church service. They didn’t hear rock and roll blaring at them every where they went. They could spend hours listening to a sermon and didn’t once have to answer their cell phones. They weren’t so full of junk food and fast food that they could have an appetite for God.
They heard hours and hours of messages on the law of God and the holiness of God and the wrath of God. They heard about sin and their sin and how God hates sin. They were correctly exposed to the right cure after being rightly convinced of the disease. The cure was potent and aimed right for them. The disease was exposed. And if they were not saved they tended to go back for more to hear the next message.
The Romans Road is a 5 minute summary of truths that the lost men of old at times absorbed for weeks before salvation took hold. Salvation is a moment but we think everything else that is involved with salvation can be reduced to a 5 minute process as well. We inject hormones and antibiotics in our presentations and get a fully functional Christian in just minutes and move on to the next potential convert. To quote an earlier post I wrote, don’t count your chickens before they hatch! We don’t look at God’s examples in nature because we are blinded by decision expert Dr. So and So and too mesmerized by the quick Bible college high production hatcheries and soulwinning manuals.
Calvinists teach that no one can do anything! You can’t get saved, you can’t want to be saved, you can’t know how to be saved. They are wrong! Yet most fundamentalists seem to think that all of heaven is impressed by our modern techniques and that any lost sinner has the power to get saved any flippant way they want. I hear that we call God a liar if we think Romans 10:13 has a loophole. However our Bible theology can’t overlap contracting verses. If you literally say Romans 10:13 means “Lord Save me!” makes you saved forever, then you have to reinvent your definition of repentance for starters. God showed me that if you are slowly drowning in a cesspool and yell “Life guard, save me!” but refuse to come into the lifeboat you will still drown! I am still studying this out, but I think salvation is a 2 fold process. Jesus said look unto me and be ye saved, call unto me, and come unto me. Salvation seems to be 1) his part where we just need to believe that all our sins are paid for and just need saving faith in the cross and 2) our part where we obey his voice and repent.
Jesus said the men of Ninevah repented at the preaching of Jonas. I think that is a good place to start to look at what repentance is. Jack Hyles and other men teach that a watered down definition of repentance is going from unbelief to belief. If that was the case then Revelation 20:8 would not list specific sins but only say Unbelievers. It lists unbelievers as it’s own category!
There may be different ways to explain repentance but I think it is easier to first see what it is not. Repentance is a big deal because more churches teach no repentance, or false repentance than those that have rightly taught repentance. And in one church I find that not one person truly teaches repentance exactly the same. Jesus said Except ye repent ye shall likewise perish. I think my 2 pharmacy lessons are the reason there is such an onslaught of false repentance. The Bible teaches repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ. It seems to be as you turn to Jesus you turn from your idols at the same time. It is not a work, but there are clear fruits of repentance if there was real repentance!
False repentance is turning from all sin to be saved. Or claiming it is merely unbelief and you could be a lost fornicator and drunkard and sodomite and if you ask the Lord to save you to go to heaven, you are still saved even if afterwards you are a fornicator and drunkard and sodomite. That flies in the face of the bible. The Bible makes one a new creature. Yes the new creature may on occasion act like the old one he once was, but that is out of character for him. I tell folks if you are a Red Sox fan but have a closet full of Yankee paraphernalia, you are mistaken.
I try and see it simply. If you took Jesus the flu shot, you wouldn’t have repentance because you were given the impression you didn’t need “repentance” to get a shot. You can add a flu shot to your life without a second thought. There is no need for any turnaround, changed life, or any other demand. The reason it appealed to you was it’s ease and convenience. That could happen even if you were told about the horrible consequences of the upcoming flu.
In evangelism, heaven is the cure, hell is the consequences of the disease. Yet if you are not 100% certain you are sick and that you personally have a horrible disease the shot is not that big a deal to you. I had a flu shot and never gave it another thought again. If you get convinced of a terminal disease then there is “repentance”. You turn from your plans and ideas and do whatever is required to get cured. Radiation every Monday and Thursday. A 5 hour chemotherapy IV every other Tuesday. You know your life will change. Anti emetic drugs, steroids, pain meds, Compazine suppositories, lost hair, throwing up, feeling half dead. You embrace a cure here where in a flu shot you never think of it again.
There a lot of things I don’t know about our modern Christianity. One thing I do know is Jesus is not a flu shot! I don’t know exactly the prescription for revival but I think we need to look at our fruit and not be swayed by decisions. I think we need to find a way to bring the ingredients that worked during the great awakening to a method that is possible in today’s world. Lost people naturally don’t come to church yet our entire focus seems to be to get them into church and get decisions. Our time and energy seems to be to make the next church service as impressive as the latest Hollywood chase scene or as dramatic as the last Broadway musical to entice them to want to visit. Then sneak the gospel on them when they least expect it! I think another approach would be to go and evangelize using the law of God but not stop there. Before we bring them to Christ we need to address the weakened foundation they now bring to the table. If you show them the disease and tell them they need Christ, they likely already have a false Christ in their minds they will naturally go to. It is just like if you called Poison Control because your son swallowed a bottle of medicine. They tell you to give them 2 teaspoons of ipecac syrup and you go to the medicine cabinet and get the bottle that says ipecac. Yet years ago someone poured it out and replaced it with Aunt Jemima’s! After convincing of the disease and explaining the cure, you need to make sure the cure they are coming to wasn’t contaminated!
I really believe we need to take those who respond or are interested in salvation into an ongoing detailed bible study sanctioned by the church where we teach the true Christ and uproot the false Christs and false doctrines embraced today (and address major lies 99% of Americans accept today hook, line, and sinker), and get them around Christ first. And align their expectations comparing the Bible promise to what the latest Joel Olsteen message promised them. It might be a 2 week course for some or a 102 week course for others. They can be going to church as well, but this is not a new believers class. This is a Pre-Believers crash course that ensures a head on collision with the God of the universe! Before they make an emotional decision that they cast aside just as quickly.
Sound like a plan? Well, I have to go back to work now. There you have it. My blessing and my curse.
So my only solution that I see is for someone to make me a blessing! Until then, I am content in my “cursed” career.