Crossroads Fellowship

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Is God still at work?

This seems like a rather odd question to be asking on a church's blog doesn't it? Yet I am not sure that it is not a question that we should be asking. How many of us are blindly walking through life saying that we are trusting God to do amazing things in our lives yet never seeing it happen? I think if we get honest with ourselves and with each other we would have to admit that far to many of us "believe" that God can, but never see God do! However I would like to pose another question - is it a problem with God not doing, or is it a problem with our vision? I think the latter is the case, God is working still actively in the world, we are just having problems seeing it because we are looking in the wrong places, or we are looking through the wrong eyes. Let's talk about this for a minute shall we?

I have several Pastor friends of mine who I hear occasionally make the comment that they "used to see" God working all the time, yet the miracles are not happening today like they have in days gone by. My reply to that is, "Really?" When asked about it they talk about how God used to heal people instantly, how he used to transform lives, how he used to miraculously provide for people and for the church. How people used to be hungry for the Word, and how things used to be different. The implication is almost that God is different now than He used to be. However we know that scripture affirms in several places that God is the unchanging one. If God is the unchanging one and God is still in the miracle business then why do we not see the miracles? (Mal 3:6, Heb 13:8)

These same friends and many well meaning Christians would assert that we don't see the miracles because of the fact that we are doing something wrong. My reply, "Is that scriptural?" I mean does God's miraculous powers and God glorifying himself rely upon me and my ability? Or is God going to glorify himself apart from me? I think the answer is that God is going to glorify himself no matter what, apart from me, or within me, and I get to chose if I want to be a part of that. (Isa 42:8) So if indeed we are doing something wrong, it is not that we are blocking God from working, but it is that we are looking in the wrong place. God is still working today, he is still bringing glory to himself, he is still performing miracles. Let me share just a few examples, and you be the judge.

At Crossroads Fellowship we have already seen two people become Christians this year. Two young people, Jesse and TJ, were miraculously born again into the Kingdom of heaven. That is two teenagers repented and believed! What a miracle in a world that teaches us to do our own thing that these two would lay down their lives to follow the Lord. Several other young people were greatly impacted for global missions just a couple weekends ago as they attended a youth retreat where missions was the theme. Our church here and Crossroads is growing, even to the point that at the Sunday night service, that a lot of churches are abandoning, we have usually at least 50 people and sometimes closer to 100. I was talking to a Pastor friend of mine that had four get saved in their church last week, one on Sunday morning and three through a community outreach. Is God still working. Absolutely! What greater miracle is there than people entering the Kingdom of heaven.

God is still at work and people are still hungry for God's Word! I preach verse by verse through the Bible and people are loving it and coming back for more. So for all of you Pastors, Missionaries, and leaders out there keep walking with the Lord and staying humble before God and you will see the Lord's hand at work in your midst.

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Peter Was Not Training To Be A Rabbi

As many may well know I have been doing some teaching here at Crossroads on false teachings and heresy. In the process of that teaching I wrote a blog article entitled Trees. The article was about the Nooma video of the same name and the false teachings and heresy it contains. In the process of all of that I somehow managed to attract the attention of a group of people who go to Rob Bell's, the man who makes the videos, church. As they were defending him and his teaching one of the ladies made a comment about Peter being in training to be a rabbi before becoming a disciple of Jesus. Here is a verbatim quote of what she wrote:

"Check out Matthew 5:16. Tell me what you think after you read it. The bible talks about how the disciples studied under Jesus. Peter was studying to be a Rabbi and learned the entire OT most likely and than became a disciple of Jesus. Paul studied under some name I can not pronounce!lol I think the entire bible talks about the importance of reproducing yourselves in other people lives!"

After this a rather lengthy conversation begins on Peter being a rabbi, Jesus being trained to be a rabbi, and some even suggested that Jesus was studying to become a Pharisee before he started his earthly ministry, albeit a "good" Pharisee not a bad one. Here is what Chris Lyons wrote:

"Jesus' theology most resembled the theology of the "seventh" (good) type of pharisee (for more discussion on this, see Brad Young's "Jesus the Jewish Theologian" and "Meet the Rabbis"), and it should be noted that Hillel and others of this "Seventh type" said MUCH worse things about the pharisees, in general, than Jesus did, with 'hypocrites!' being the standard hue and cry against them.

So, with a few key differences (based on WHO Jesus was and his interpretation of 'kingdom'), his theology was very similar to the ideal "seventh" type of pharisee, but not the political designation of "pharisee"."

We never see a differentiation in scripture between "good" pharisees and bad ones. We see Jesus calling them out on their sin and merely using the word Pharisee. Paul was a Pharisee, and while being known as such was guilty of murdering and persecuting Christians. Certainly not a "good" Pharisee. Paul actually tells us himself that he was the chief of all sinners.

But back to what spawned the whole Rabbi discussion. Peter was training to be a rabbi according to some of the folks who were posting. I was even given a link to this site so that I could learn about him and Jesus being in training to be rabbis the way all Jewish boys were. However this whole discussion smacked of something not being right with it. I couldn't discount what they were saying outright as I had no proof, yet there was a check in my Spirit. So I just went on trusting the Lord to reveal the truth.

Before we go on I want to ask a quick question. Do you know how people who identify counterfeit money are trained? They study the real thing, and in studying the real thing they are able to instantly pick out the false. Well this morning as I was studying and spending time in daily devotions I ran across this verse in the process of doing the "Experiencing God" bible study written by Henry Blackaby.

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition.
Acts 4:13-14

Was Peter in training to be a Rabbi? Was Peter a Rabbi? Clearly the Word of God says no. As I study the real I will be able to see the false with clarity. This is why we believe at Crossroads and in the C&MA that God's Word - the Bible - is the only authoritative source of sound faith and practice. It is when we go to these extra-biblical sources, and believe them over the bible, that we run into problems. May God get all the glory, and may His Word be food for our souls!


Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Is A Movie Outreach?

I think the question about if showing a movie at church is outreach is a good question that needs an answer. It will probably be a mixed bag response from all of those reading this if as to whether or not showing a movie would be considered outreach. But I want to hear your thoughts on it. My thoughts are that showing a movie at church, or having a "movie night", always without exception is an outreach event. Even if the movie is a comedy, a cartoon, a religious theme, or even (dare I say it) a non-religious theme such as Underdog, or The Game Plan. However as church leaders from all over the country read this blog I want to hear your input after I give you my thoughts.

You see for several months now we have been having movie night at church. Well it is a little more than movie night, it is actually dinner and a movie. This past Sunday night we showed the movie Underdog and we served deluxe nachos with beef, cheese, olives, sour cream, jalapenos, tomatoes, onions, drinks, and dessert. When we first started we had around 30 folks show up. After the fifth time, which was this past Sunday, we had over 80 people there. We burned through 3 industrial size cans of cheese sauce, tons of chips, oodles of toppings, and 13lbs of ground beef. Why are these people coming? What keeps them coming back and inviting their friends? And are they hearing the gospel? Let me answer these three questions in order?

1. Why are these people coming?
I believe folks are coming because the are interested in the church, and for them coming to a dinner and movie night is a non-threatening way for them to check us out. We cancel our regular Sunday night service, start an hour and one half earlier, and all of it costs the people who come absolutely nothing. the church pays all the costs out of what is received in the offering during the Sunday morning services, and all told to feed 80 people dinner it costs us less than $150. So they come out for a FREE non=threatening check out of the church because their friends invite them.

2. What keeps them coming back and inviting their friends?
We do not show exclusively religious movies. We do show family entertainment that is appropriate viewing (I know someone is going to say Underdog is not appropriate but oh well), and we make it fun. When the people come in they see that our church isn't all stuffy and religious, but rather that we are authentic real people who love God and love each other. They feel welcomed and they feel like they can be themselves. Plus the fact that we do it for FREE says that it is not about money it is about loving people!

3. Do they hear the Gospel?
Not that night, and we don't intend to start! However later we do share it.

I believe in evangelism, I believe that we need to preach the gospel to all people everywhere. However this movie night is a non-threatening way where we cultivate the relationship with the people in order to share the gospel with them. They eventually hear the gospel at other parts of our churches outreach ministry. But we do not push the gospel that night. There is a class by Sonlife called Eternal CPR. It is about cultivating, planting, and reaping. We cultivate the relationship at events designed to soften the heart of the hearer towards the gospel. At other events we purposely plant the seeds of the gospel spelling out how a person becomes a Christian. If you are curious what we say go to and check out our Witness Resources page to find out. And sometimes we are there to reap a harvest.

If we keep in mind that sometimes we need to cultivate relationships with people then we can see how a non-religious movie without a presentation of the gospel can be outreach. Is this working?


Our church is growing, last year we saw about 50 people saved through our outreaches. We are averaging over 100 in attendance this new year (albeit only two weeks into the year) and if we count all of the soldiers who are part of our church but are deployed to Iraq right now we have a church of around 140. That is pretty dog gone good considering we started the church not even five years ago with 11 people in a different city. So is a movie outreach? Let's hear your thoughts.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008


This past Sunday evening we did our third installment of exposing false teachings, a.k.a. heresy, at Crossroads Fellowship. That evenings message has me greatly concerned about the future of the C&MA and the church in America in general. Right now I am exposing heresy in videos that are called Noomas that are published by Zondervan and star Rob Bell. This past Sunday we looked at video number three which is called Trees. I would like to talk about that a little bit here.

What is it that is so dangerous about the teaching on the video Trees? The thing that I see as being so dangerous is that Mr. Bell is about 95% right on what he says. Basically the point of the video is that we need to be doing something as Christians. This is a great point, we do need to be doing something. He also says we need to be spending our lives in service, also a great point. However it goes astray about the middle of the video when Mr. Bell states that we are pretty much doing nothing if what we are doing is spending our time trying to get people to believe the way we do. Here is what I heard with his comments, as did the others at church without my prompting. They heard Rob Bell say that evangelism is a waste of time. Rather than evangelize Rob would assert that we need to spend our time bringing heaven on earth and partnering with God to restore this fallen creation and transform the world into the kind of creation God intended it to be. He states at one point in the video that an ancient Jewish saying says that our good works are the seeds that are planting the trees in Eden. He then pronounces a benediction at the end that encourages us to plant the trees of paradise with our good works.

Another disturbing thing is that Mr. Bell goes so far as to say that Jesus condemned the practice of teaching others to believe as we believe. My response is, "He did?" Is the Great Commission (Matthew 28:16-20) a condemnation of us teaching people to believe what we believe, or is it a command to do exactly that? Rob says a lot of Christians sit around waiting on a future hope, waiting for creation to be redeemed by Jesus. He says that he believes that Jesus is going to redeem creation as well, but he believes he will do it through us. However scripture says something totally different. Let's look at what scripture says here.

For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works. Declare these things; exhort and rebuke with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
Titus 2:11-15

And he who was seated on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true."
Revelation 21:5

While it is plain to see that we are supposed to do good works as Mr. Bell asserts, we see that waiting for the appearing of Christ is in fact a Biblical mandate. Our reason for living holy, and being good, is because God is holy and good and is coming back for us, not so that we can restore the fallen world, because God is going to recreate this fallen world. Rob condemns this future hope we wait for as being a false motivation in the Christian walk. Scripture however declares it to be so (in far more places than that just Titus and Revelation). I am concerned for the church as a whole because this is a false gospel. Mr. Bell's church at one point during a phone conversation told me personally that the Gospel we believe in was not the Gospel. Granted the person I was speaking with was an Associate Pastor and not Rob himself, but none the less Mars Hill Bible Church said they didn't believe that what I was getting at was the gospel. So in this phone conversation what was I getting at. Here is what I said.

I am laying on the street dying from being run over by a car. I look you in the face and tell you that I am scared and that I don't want to die and go to hell. What would you say to me. The Pastor told me that they (Mars Hill) did not believe that was the Gospel. He then proceeded to tell me that the Gospel was learning to live in communion with God here and now and help restore fallen creation. Which is the exact message of the Nooma video called Trees. What does scripture say about that?

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel-- not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Galatians 1:6-9

So Mr. Bell teaches a different Gospel. What should our response be? This is why I am concerned for the church as a whole. But why specifically am I concerned about the C&MA. Well the easy answer is to point out that there are churches inside the C&MA that are extensively using Mr. Bell's teachings as sound, solid, biblical stuff. I would assert that this should not be so. That not only should this not be so, but his teachings should be forbidden from being used in any other manner other than for exposing heresy. But let's just go out on a limb and say that Mr. Bell's gospel is the same. What about his renouncing us waiting on a future hope? Well that teaching IS Biblical and the C&MA has long recognized that it is. Not only do we feel that it is Biblical we feel so strongly about it that we feel it is a VITAL truth. I present point 11 from our statement of faith for your consideration.

11. The Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ is imminent and will be personal, visible, and pre-millennial. This is the believer's blessed hope and is a vital truth, which is an incentive to holy living and faithful service (Hebrews 10:37, Luke 21:27, Titus 2:11-14).

Will we as a church, a denomination, and as individual believers stand up for the truth? Or will we continue to allow false teachings, heresy, to be taught in our churches? I know that I may get a great deal of response about this post. I will be more than happy to chat, and even happier to sit down and watch Trees with you. And this is only the tip of the iceberg. Mr. Bell has many other videos distorting the truth. Included is one named Bullhorn where Rob aggressively attacks evangelism, specifically aiming at stranger evangelism and street evangelism. A.W. Tozer became a Christian because of a street preacher preaching on the street. William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army, was a street preacher. Glenn Tingley (hope I spelled that right) was a street preacher and great Christian leader inside the C&MA. And our own founder, Dr. A.B. Simpson, founded the C&MA on street preaching to immigrant dock workers. Rather than attack evangelism methods used by these great men to produce lasting Kingdom results, we ought to be out using those methods which God says is calculated to bring about revival. No one is going to get saved from me doing good works, which are important, but they will be saved by the preaching of the Gospel.

For "everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!" But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, "Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?" So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Romans 10:13-17