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Thursday, December 27, 2012

Shouldn’t Ministers Study Their BIBLE?

As we end 2012, I am reminded of the scripture study to show thyself approved unto to God a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (I Timothy 2:15).

One man said “not only will studying your bible keep pressure off you now, it’ll keep the heat (hell) off you later”.  

No one expects pastors and church leaders to know everything, but at the very least, everyone expects them to know and practice their bible.  I know from personal experience that often ministers fail to give careful prayer or thought to what they are teaching or what they do in their churches.   It’s sometimes no more than what my 14 year old says when he doesn’t want to bother to think about something-- “sounds legit” he says, and moves on.  But when the subject involves people’s spiritual welfare, that’s sad.

In the coming year, I am hoping in this blog to tackle basic doctrinal issues that people take for granted, like the basic qualification of a pastor, deacon or minister.  I think this particular subject is enormously important because the American religious trend is toward more independent, non denominational churches.*  This means as people are joining less mainstream religious groups, there’s less oversight over church leadership and more vigilance is needed by the people and fellow ministers and Pastors.

Too many of America’s pulpits have been taken over by preachers that look at their calling as a really cushy part time job.  Not to say that there aren’t many great Pastors out there.  There are, I have one, but one bad Pastor can blight the whole profession.   Once they get their church up and running, it’s often anybody’s guess where they’re getting their doctrines from.    I was given permission to post a letter a Pastor wrote to other pastors about the mistakes he made as a preacher in misinterpreting scripture and the bad culture it created in his congregation.  Regrettably, not many pastors have the courage and humility of this man. (See “A Pastor’s Letter”).

When we go to a doctor, we expect help with our body. We rely on their advice.  We may even make life changing decisions based on what we perceive to be their expertise.  If my doctor tells me “Don’t worry about that pain in your side, its normal”, and I die, my family can sue for this serious misdiagnosis.   In which case, the trial lawyer will ask himself, “did the doctor go through the proper steps in making this conclusion”?  If the doctor went off on some half baked scheme of his own, he’ll be paying a heavy price.  Why?  All doctors must follow standard procedures for their profession.  Just like all Christian ministers must follow their bible.

In our society, those who work with people’s lives are not allowed to do their own thing without serious consequences.  Someone may be severely damaged.

Pastors are the spiritual life blood of a congregation.  If they go bad, a whole system can be created that is unhealthy and spiritually toxic.   Hey folks, the bible’s open for all of us to read and has been since Wycliffe in the 1300s.

The Pope hated Wycliffe’s translation so much that he ordered his bones to be dug up, crushed and scattered. Now, that’s the type of hatred that’s generated when a whole system is being challenged.  Silencing the person is usually the remedy for perpetuating that religious organization.

Many churches had developed a system, sometimes an unsaid system, where people are not free to discuss any wrongs, grievances, or concerns. They are labeled as troublemakers, divisive, and gossips.  When ministers study their bible, they will see how unbiblical and unhealthy this is.

This is kind of like Dorothy going to the wizard and as she questions him, he yells”silence!” As they get closer, they find out that he’s just a man behind a curtain.

One of the worst things a person can experience is to trust someone to help them spiritually and be bamboozled with scriptures and fear.  Many have put their whole lives, their money, and their eternal destination in the hands of people who do not care about their welfare.  Betrayal like this, causes people to leave the Christian faith altogether.  I applaud those that have hung on, and have not let misguided people cause them to lose their faith in Christ.  It’s quite a struggle but it’s a winnable one.

My friends at BGBC Survivors  experienced this type of silent system first hand.  The Pastor tried to sue the blog writer to the tune of $500k because she named the church and told of her bad experiences there.  The court threw the case out and the blog continues.  Why?  People can talk about what REALLY happened to them, and they don’t’ have to be silent to make the other person feel better about themselves. 

If these types of preachers are so sensitive, why are they Pastors at all?  A Pastor (and we will discuss qualifications in a later blog) should be able to take criticism, threats, and disagreements with the love and grace of God.  Right?  Which of the New Testament church leaders do we find whining about how someone “talked about me?” It may not feel good, but criticism comes with the territory. Retaliating is not handling things with grace.  Apparently, that is what this Pastor did.   

Recently, someone made me aware that a Pastor had actually threatened a congregation with legal actions if they told any more information about what was going on in their congregation.  Now, after you stop laughing, realize that lawsuits about defamation have one factor that has to exist for the suit to have any merit.  The disseminated information HAS TO BE FALSE! So before any person walks into a lawyer’s office and demands a suit is filed on his or her behalf because someone has stated bad things about them (queue the violins), they need to make sure someone has at least said something that is actually false.  If it’s true, they’re going to have a hard time. 

Frankly, many Pastors who threaten to hang people at high noon and make their lives miserable in retaliation of whatever, need to realize that they will be blessed if that person stays with the Lord and doesn’t sue them.   If you cause a person undue emotional distress and it is proven to be intentional, they have more of a legal foundation than you, to bring a case to court.  Some people have never heard of “intentional infliction of emotional distress”, but  guess what, that’s a real civil action.  How many Americans I wonder could file this suit after having to see therapists, to get their life back together after being duped by a dysfunctional religious system?  Actually, the best option, is to move on and enjoy life, and not let it take up anymore of your time.

Anyway, having done some study on cults, and having experienced unhealthy church situations myself, the first sign of any unhealthy church is Silence.   I had a minister I was working with one time, threaten that if I talked any more about how he handled things, he was going to make sure I went down with him.  Mind you I hadn’t done anything, but he was going to make sure I looked just as guilty as him.   Another preacher made sure the chapel was empty before he flew into a rage and then railed on me about not agreeing with his charges against me.  When I asked him exactly what I had done, he couldn’t give me a straight answer and used I Corinthians 5:3 to say that he could “discern” like Paul that I was out of order and didn’t need any proof, and that I had been making faces at him (that’s right –faces) and demanded that I appear before a body of ministers to answer his charges against me.  Something I had actually already done and there was nothing new to discuss.

When people are afraid to talk, that’s not loyalty, that’s bullying.  No system, whether it’s a formal mainstream denomination, a standalone non-denominational church, or just a bible study, has a right to forbid its members to discuss their legitimate biblical grievances.   A healthy church will actually invite discussion if its actions are founded in the Word of God.  Wouldn’t treating people right and being fair with them, solve a lot of the problems of a bad rep, anyway?

Ye are witnesses and God also, how holily and justly and unblameably we behaved ourselves among you that believe:

 (I Thess 2:10).

Jim Jones’ ministry was hailed by community leaders and other churches as a wonderful place, but it became toxic to the point of that fateful day in Guyana.  He started to become paranoid, and many of the survivors testify that Silence (shh!) became the cardinal rule.  In reality, silence often becomes a way to hold in information that church leadership knows would be damaging to their survival and control. 

Unity becomes defined as keeping all negative information a secret and not discussing the problems at all. Everyone who agrees to do that, is loyal and good, and those that do not agree, are bad.

But if someone is my spiritual leader and I am not happy with something I feel is biblically wrong.  Am I not due an audience, since this affects my soul and spiritual welfare? Do I have to suffer in silence to appease everyone’s comfort?   Hey, I’m starving over here because I’m stumbling at something, and it’s not because of my disobedience, but what I perceive as yours. So can we talk about that?   Is that allowable?  In most bad church systems it's not. 

Loyalty to dysfunctional systems is dangerous and it’s no secret that they can harbor pulpit criminals.  Need I mention various cases of catholic priest pedophiles and recently Eddie “Boys Town” Long?  Pictures? Really? And he’s still “da man o’ God” to many.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Change Management in the Church ©

 Change:  to alter modify transform, convert or make over.
Being a minister for 20 years I’ve seen many pastors and church leaders attempt to change organizations or churches.  Most have been successful in making changes to their congregation on the surface, but unsuccessful on a spiritual level.  They have tried to implement their vision and paint their masterpieces only to find that legacy is a thing that is earned by winning hearts and not just minds. 
Good and useful changes have failed to be effected in churches because the leaders are at a loss how to smoothly create a change that will last.  Often change has been either forced or lopsided because of poor leadership.  Jesus would be very sad to see how change management is run in churches today.  He taught the church better.    
In business, when new management comes into the picture, the biggest question in the minds of the movers and shakers in the corporation is how to achieve change.  Consulting groups have made big and often well earned money showing corporations how to smoothly effect new changes. Employees remain who have helped build the company and cries of, “that’s not the way we did it before,” resound around the water cooler and in the corners of the company cafeteria.
A few months ago, I attended a business seminar and the speaker told of a company he was called in to help with change management. The company saw that it needed major overhaul to survive and wanted to implement new policies.  But how to do it—was the question.  So they brought in the speaker along with a new management team that did not always take his advice.  One manager that was in charge of payroll, decided that he would change time and attendance.  This was done to make the workers more accountable.  His philosophy was: “I’m in charge, so they will just have to like it or lump it. 
So, he calls all the workers together and tells them how things are going to run from here on in.  Not very smart.  You see, change that is only based on a person’s authority is nearly impossible to have it run smoothly.  The man had not done his research on the people at all.  He had a union to contend with for one thing and banked on his authority, ignoring the influence of the long standing, respected managers and workers and their opinions and buy in on the matter. 
I remember this story because this is what I have seen in churches. Authority--with no plan how to implement that authority.  Power and leverage from certain groups in an organization is not enough to result in lasting and peaceful change.  He had the backing of the corporate heads in his plan, of course, but not the people.  The consultant sat back and watched him saying, “He’ll be gone before the year is out.”  “It was one of  the dumbest things I had ever seen.”    That’s exactly what happened!
As often happens when authority is forced, people go underground.  At the very first meeting, the workers were making plans how to get rid of him and within a year’s time and they succeeded. The people that had been there longer and had more influence, went to the union, put all kinds of roadblocks in his way and he couldn’t get anything effective off the ground.  
One worker filed a lawsuit and then another and another and soon he was so overrun with problems and legal troubles that were plaguing his division that the corporation fired him.  Actually, the people fired him.  As is often said in the business world, people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.
He was going to take the “domineering” or “mandated” approach. He was going to tell them the new rules.  “We are doing it like this now.”  This rarely works and is usually not recommended. He told them new rules they did not like, did not allow any feedback, period, or commentaries and started putting things in place to implement the change.
The people did what he said on the surface but underneath, they were working against him.  It was his fault.  He did not get the ‘buy in’ from the people that he would need to carry this change long after he had gone.  His approach was so heavy handed, he got rebellion.  Not open rebellion but by default, an underground one. 
No matter how sincere they are, people are apprehensive about change.  They first have to accept the person before they accept the ideas, plans, and changes. 
When I was a new convert, our church was so strict that we did not go to Six Flags Great America Amusement Park because the older people in the congregation considered it a worldly entertainment.  When one of the younger Elders who was well respected and established, talked to the older ministers and showed them how there was nothing wrong with this place, that it was family oriented and harmless spiritually, the older ministers prayed about it and accepted it. 
What brought the change was not the place, but the person who was suggesting the change, and their respect for this person.  Leadership has to be character based.  No leader is successful simply because they have a title.  People have to respect character and integrity. Then, they will accept where they are being led.  Any Leadership 101 class will teach you, people follow the person more than the ideas.
Often this happens in churches, who try to change over from old ways to new.   Often people of the old guard have trained themselves a certain way and feel sacrilegious doing anything different.  Years ago, my husband and a friend were at an elderly pastor’s house playing checkers.  The pastor came by and looked at them and said ‘I’ll have to pray about this” and walked away.  So they came back and were playing checkers another time and the pastor said “Saints, I’m looking at how freely you are playing that and I’m not condemning you, but I would ask that you not play that in my house.”  Wow! Checkers?! 
Well, many years ago before you and I were born, people that professed holiness, did not play what was then, a gambling game.  That would have been the right call for that day and time, because Checkers was associated with gambling and it was understandable to want to stay away from something that would mar their Christian testimony.  He still felt a certain condemnation because he had trained himself to stay away from certain “amusements.”  He never condemned them as being wrong but said “It’s my personal conviction, I can’t do that.”  He later explained to my husband that he saw how freely the younger saints played this and had enough respect for their Christian experience and the Holy Ghost to say “Maybe I had better go pray”.
Often, people get stuck.  We have to do the same things we’ve always done or we are backslidden.  The main feature in change management is prayer.  We could ask this question:  “Is this a change that God would have us make”?  That is the relevant question for any Christian group, denomination, sect, or individual congregation of any age or era.  Even with changes that we’re sure are okay with God, as leaders, we still have to know how to implement that change.
Jesus understood clearly about managing change.  In Luke 5:33-39, this conversation takes place as a party held by Levi to celebrate his new Master and the change in his life.  He seemingly invites all his publican friends and maybe the whole neighborhood because the Pharisees and scribes of the temple remark that Jesus has not separated himself like most prophets, but was eating with “publicans and sinners.” Jesus explained that he came not to call the righteous, such as themselves, but his focus was that sinners be led to repentance. 
They further continue make a comparison with his disciples/followers and those of John the Baptist and the Pharisees, who apparently made a big show out of their fasting and suffering and separateness.  Now, here Jesus is, at a party of feasting, looking very ‘unholy’ to them, and they are not really understanding what holiness is. 
They question him about how this looks and his lack of outward piety.  Jesus picks the perfect analogy.  He calls to their attention wedding festivities—he’s at a party after all--and explains that there will come a time for fasting, but the bridegroom is here (meaning himself) and this is a time to rejoice.
Now, we get the meat of change management.  Let’s take this in parts:
The new garment on the old garment:
No one tears a piece of cloth from a new garment and puts it on an old garment; otherwise he will both tear the new, and the piece from the new will not match the old.         Luke 5:36
Jesus was starting his ministry and was about to make a great change in how religion and religious practice was conducted.  The Pharisaical system was going to be challenged and people who followed him would not be bound by the rules and regulations of the system.  He had two factions there to address, the new people who had found Jesus and would be his disciples and the old guard who had followed the Law of Moses and added to more to it-- creating a dead religious system. 
Notice that Jesus did not criticize the Pharisees or their disciples nor did he pass judgment on the practices of John the Baptist’s disciples.   He recognized that he had not yet begun to teach the new, and so throughout his ministry he sought where possible to respect the old, while teaching his disciples by example the new teaching he was bringing.  There would be liberty in Christ and salvation would not hinge on a box of rules, regulations, and outward shows of piety, but in Christ himself.  Jesus told the Pharisees, that he did not come to destroy the law (the old) but to fulfill it. 
As people are inclined to do, they began at this party of Matthew to chastise him for not being like his predecessors.  Jesus handled them well, not with disdain and not making them enemies. Jesus understood their questions and where they came from and respected their questions.  Throughout the New Testament, we see disapproval of his level of respect for the Sabbath day, eating with unwashed hands, and other items of censure.  Jesus realized the old was the foundation. 
        Often, inexperienced pastors and preachers will try to destroy a foundation in order to get the results they want; but notice the example Jesus gives makes.  No one tries to “tear” a piece of cloth from a new garment and put on an old one.  In other words, no one is silly enough to try to force a blend of old and new, it would not even look right, it wouldn’t match.
The Greek word used here is  eƍpiba/llw ( transliterated as Epiballo) is a very strong action verb (the KJV uses the English “putteth” and “tear” is a more accurate, current English conveyance of the thought).  We should never just grab something new, whatever it is, and then try to fit it into the church.  Ministers who do this often do not have a good respect for the old.  They don’t understand it, why it was there, or the people who are connected with the old.  Often ministers run and grab the next new thing because they want to attract new people or they are influenced by pressure from their younger members.  Jesus had a plan to bring in the new, but he had enough sense not to do this before his first miracle.  He had just started his ministry.
Many young Pastors and preachers need to learn from this.  Don’t make drastic changes when you first come through the door of a congregation.  Find out about the influences there.  Find out why prior things were done.  Pray.  There’s always that person that says, “Thank God you’re here.  Now we can….”  However, that may not be the direction God would have you go, and although you may be flattered, you may have to disappoint that person, so that the old and the new can both grow together and co-exist peacefully.
The old and the new Wine
And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; otherwise the new wine will burst the skins and it will be spilled out, and the skins will be ruined.  "But new wine must be put into fresh wineskins.  "And no one, after drinking old wine wishes for new; for he says, ‘The old is good enough’.       Luke 5:37                                                    
This last line, the KJV says “the old is better.”  One truth Jesus is teaching here is that people always say “the old is better” or “good enough.”  It brought us this far, let’s not change anything.  No one, after drinking old wine, wishes for new.  It just simply tastes better.  People don’t like change.  They are suspicious of change, fearful of change, uncertain of change and a good leader realizes all of this and will not push people too far, too fast. 
Jesus recognized that he was bringing a revolutionary, radical new teaching.  He wanted to put the new wine in the new vessels so that they could grow in the new teaching.  He did not try to put new wine in old vessels.  It would not hold it.  As the gas from the new wine expanded it would burst the old bottles.  All listening to him were very familiar with the fermentation process. Jesus had many influences that needed to be removed from Jewish society; systems that had long been in place many of which were displeasing to God. 
A few years ago I read an article by a minister that tried to use a popular religious writer’s method of changing churches.  He said that he had difficulty using this and practicing the love of God in this method, because many of the older members were distressed at the changes and felt they would be failing God to move on with new things.  He did not want to damage their faith.  So what he did, instead of making the older people and their ways his enemy, he told an influential member of the congregation that they could either work together or tear things apart. 
The man thought that the pastor was going to toss him out because of his strong objections to his policies, but the pastor had greater vision and said “Let’s work together.”  The man worked well with him and they supported each other until the pastor moved on to another church, the old and new worked together to effect necessary changes—changes needed for the survival and future development of the local congregation.  When people’s welfare comes first, the discerning minister will always come out on top.
Often preachers can be their own worst enemy.  Respect for traditions, respect for the Christ in each saint, and a healthy dose of prayer are a good recipe for success.  I’ll leave of with the words of the commentary writer, Adam Clarke:
There is as much to be observed in the manner of speaking the truth, as in the truth itself, in order to make it effectual to the salvation of them who hear it. A harsh, unfeeling method of preaching the promises of the Gospel, and a smiling manner of producing the terrors of the Lord, are equally reprehensible. Some preachers are always severe and magisterial: others are always mild and insinuating: neither of these can do God's work.
*  *  *  *  *
© 2012   Renee Milton




Tuesday, September 25, 2012

The Problem with Influence ©

 Freedom from Wrong Influence in Religion
 This is very serious subject. Influence is defined as a power to affect persons or events, especially power based on prestige; causing something without any direct or apparent effort. In any community of people harmful influences are something one has to watch for. Influence, is by definition, indirect.
 Proximity and the authority of the individual involved make all the difference in how wrong ideas are spread. Harmful teachings and beliefs can be passed easily from one Christian to another like a virus. The carbon is always darker than the original. This is exponentially true in religion. I have seen this exponential effect many times in my ministry. The person who has the real influence sits in the background and infects others who speak for them and are more zealous than the original carrier.
 No wonder Paul had to say, “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.” (Gal.1:8). Paul had to think of the highest being that could bring a teaching other than Christ himself to wake up the Galatians that they were falling away from the teachings of Christ.
The problem with influence, wrong influence, is that one can become caught in a death struggle between pleasing men and being true to God and your conscience. Healthy religious systems will not put a person in that position. There should never be a conflict between obedience to God and obedience to men.
 Years ago, when I was about to marry, God let me know that I was under someone else’s influence. I cared too much about what they thought and felt about my life, and who they approved of.
  Two things indicate wrong influence:
1. I was more worried about how they saw me than what God was telling me. What they would think about this or that always loomed in the background, and
 2. I felt I had to do the same things at the same level they were doing it or my service was not acceptable to God.
        What I am pinpointing that gets many Christians in spiritual trouble is the phantom of men’s approval dangling over their heads and realizing that seeking for that approval can affect your actions. The Bible admonishes us not to quench the Spirit. How many have unwittingly done this in order to please men? How can one spiritually grow when they are being perfected in people’s opinions or the movement of a group and not in the leading of the Holy Ghost?
People often stay in places that are not healthy spiritually because they are afraid of what their friends or relatives will say, even though they are not happy. A young woman got saved through a message I preached one Sunday, and I went to visit her personally that week to see how she was doing. Now our church was down the street from her home, but she was too frightened of displeasing her family by attending a church other than one their ‘family’ church would approve of, which was in a far suburb.
 Religious family members demanded that she attend their church. As a result, she did not attend anywhere often, and started to drift away from the Lord. More important than distance, she did not obey the Spirit of the Lord about where she should get her spiritual food to stay healthy. This person lost their relationship with God because they could not follow the voice of the Lord over their family.
I have done a lot of reading and studying on dysfunctional religious systems and have even encountered dysfunctional religious practices in my lifetime in personal experience and one thing continues to emerge. People can become trained to be loyal to a person, philosophy, or group rather than have allegiance to the truths of the Bible. The opinion of the group becomes a phantom of oppression and something to be feared.
If anyone veers from the group's opinion, it becomes wrong, even if they have no scripture or biblical principle for it. Oppression of opinion replaces the liberty of the Spirit of God. You may wonder how, in cults, people can stand by and watch stealing, pedophilia, and abuses? Because they have come under the influence of men and men's opinions about right and wrong, this becomes the focus--not God.

If you remember the peer pressure of high school, you will have an idea of the wrong type of conformity than can rear its ugly head and create an atmosphere of being bullied into believing. Systems such as the People’s Temple, Jehovah’s Witness groups where “shunning” is practiced, certain Latter Day Saints groups and even mainstream churches can fall prey to becoming oppressive systems. 2 Corinthians notes “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.”[1] Every saved person should be free to obey God as long as it does not cause those around him to stumble[2].
Gal 5:13 --For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty…
          What can we learn from this? First, serving God is an individual matter.  Romans 14:4  teaches us not to judge another man’s servant. To his own master, he stands or falls.  Often in conservative religious groups the need for everyone to do the same thing circles around the fear of being labeled backslidden. This hinders those that may do something slightly different but nevertheless are approved by God in their walk with Him.  Second, never allow a person to take the place of God in your life.  Their wants, wishes, convictions, may not be what God is calling you to do.  Third and finally, the problem with influence is that it is subtle and indirect.  A person may not even realize they are under wrong influences or that they are being influenced to do the wrong things. Usually, the person will think they’re right. Just remember, that doesn’t mean they are.  What is that inner alarm and small voice telling you? God always is faithful.

Renee Milton©2012


[1] 2 Corinthians 3:17

[2] I Corinthians

Thursday, August 9, 2012

"Where is God?"

The Barber Shop.

 A man went to a barbershop to have his hair cut and his beard trimmed. As the barber began to work, they began to have a good conversation and talked about so many things and various subjects. When they eventually touched on the subject of God, the barber said: "I don't believe that God exists."
"Why do you say that?" asked the customer.

 "Well, you just have to go out in the street to realize that God doesn't exist. Tell me, if God exists, would there be so many sick people? Would there be abandoned children? If God existed, there would be neither suffering nor pain. I can't imagine a loving God who would allow all of these things."  

The customer thought for a moment, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start an argument. The barber finished his job and the customer left the shop. Just after he left the barbershop, he saw a man in the street with long, stringy, dirty hair and an untrimmed beard. He looked dirty and unkempt. The customer turned back and entered the barber shop again and he said to the barber: "You know what? Barbers do not exist."  "How can you say that?" asked the surprised barber. "I am here, and I am a barber. And I just worked on you!" "No!" the customer exclaimed. "Barbers don't exist because if they did, there would be no people with dirty long hair and untrimmed beards, like that man outside. "Ah, but barbers DO exist! That's what happens when people do not come to me." "Exactly!" affirmed the customer. "That's the point! God, too, DOES exist! Because people do not look to God for help is why there's so much pain and suffering in the world.
-author Unknown

Sometime we feel God is nowhere around; but the proof that He lives is all around us, we just have to call on Him with a sincere heart to find out how real He is ...the great I AM.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Today, God's people are going through so much, I am dedicating this next post to those going through trials and in need of encouragement.

Be Encouraged…

Sometimes in this life we are faced with despair,
And it seems sometimes that there’s just no one there.
Cast burdens upon him his Word has proved,
That the righteous shall never be moved.

Sometimes in our trials it just seems too much,
But we must remember that Jesus is touched
When it seems like it’s just too much for you to face,
Go boldly to the throne of grace.

Even though we are still here in this world of strife,
Still God’s loving kindness is better that life
Even though we’re not able to see our way through
Remember God is always true.

So be encouraged in spite of your test my dear friend,
Living for God is much better than living in sin.
If we just keep His Word hid our heart,
We will never, no never depart.

Be encouraged in spite of your tests,
Stay true and you will be blessed.
Staying honest is a very important thing,
and in glory his praises we’ll sing.

                                           Lyrics by Gino Milton ©1986

My husband wrote this when he was out of job and the Lord gave him this song to encourage his heart.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

The Dangers of False Doctrine

In the book of Titus 2:1 The bible speaks of sound doctrine and of course we’re aware that sound doctrine is doctrine that can be supported by scripture and has a solid foundation throughout the bible as established teaching.  And course, if it were that simple we could all go home.  Unfortunately, that’s not all there is to it, because men can twist scriptures to support their own teachings ideas and opinions all the while using the bible to do it.
I heard a preacher say one time that some people put their ideas above the WORD.  The WORD says this but I don’t agree with that, thus making themselves God.  Some put their ideas on the same level as the WORD, my thoughts are just as good as God’s; and some do what they should do, which is keep their opinions under subjection to the WORD.  

 So where does that leave us?  Has God left benchmarks in the scripture to show what is sound and what is not?  In a later post, I will go over the details of some false teachings but just to start us out,  below are some basics.

Over the years of teaching and preaching and seeing pulpit disasters,  I have come to several conclusions that I am going to share with you. First, it is a fearful thing to mishandle the Word of God or slant it or misuse it to my own benefit.  We can be sincerely wrong, but God is faithful and won't let us stay wrong for long.  

So, in order for a teaching to be an established teaching of the church of God, three things must be examined before we run around thumping our bibles:

1.   It has to be in its proper context to be taught as a doctrine of the church.   So many preachers and teachers take advantage of their position by not being careful in this one area. Whole denominations and groups and religious practices have been established from misrepresented scriptures.  Preachers who are not careful in this area may satisfy themselves, but not God, and do irreparable harm to people’s souls practicing things that are taken out of context.   Something being passed down to me from a “good brother” is not enough.  Is it properly administered?
Read the scriptures above and below---sounds simple but many will not do this.   Study the context of what is being said, and why it was being said, and pray. You will emerge from your quiet place with proper principle that cannot be slanted too far one way or the other.
(of recent years, some have taken Acts 2 regarding the disciples being labeled as drunk by the onlookers on the day of Pentecost and have started a whole holy laughter/unspeakable joy movement from it where people sit in services and laugh uncontrollably or act drunk

2.   No one scripture can make a doctrine or a practice.   There has to be a witness to this teaching or practice in other places in the bible: (does this teaching fit the character of God as displayed in the rest of the bible.  God is not going to contradict himself, or place a heavy burden that His Word has not established in a solid way).  Deut 17:6, Deut 19:15-18.
(I have heard people use the scripture in I Corinthians 11 to say that a woman cannot even cut split ends on her hair, when this one passage is no way teaches this at all. Many have ruined their beautiful hair trying to practice this).

And finally…
3.    Look at the Fruit of the teaching.  If the fruit is not holy and righteous, more than likely, the root is not holy.  Can that precept be applied in every age, every situation, and still end up with a holy conclusion?  We are talking proper bible principle.  Matt 12:33  James 1:12-13; Romans 11:16 (the source, the seed of the thing)  You can tell the seed by the fruit it yields.  What are the results of this belief, are the results confusion—God says he is not the author of that-- people stumbling over my testimony—does it lead to disobedience to other parts of the bible and the Holy Ghost  trying to hold this teaching—some type of false balance in my life.
(for example, I  diligent working with the church, but ignore my family , my job or my health all of which God gave me as well and teaches just as soundly in scripture the importance of maintaining.)
I heard a minister at meeting relay how a particular church group told a man that was a backslider that whoever he had married before he was saved,  was still his wife, according to the scripture.  Sounds good because anyone could point to certain scriptures where Jesus seemingly is teaching that if you marry someone, in the eyes of God that is your spouse forever and you should never remarry under any circumstances.   So the man went to rekindle his relationship with his ex-wife who was in another state (they had legally divorced).  She was remarried by this time to another man (not sure whether there were children in the picture).  She was not happy with her marriage at the time, one thing led to another and they had sex.    He went back to the good brethren and told them what he had done  but argued with them that he had not done any sin, because in God’s eyes, that was his wife! So in essence he broke up another home to “obey God” based on the wrong principle.  Was that right, of course not.  They apparently didn’t know what to say to this. 

2 Timothy 2:  16 But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. 17 And their word will eat as doth a canker: [2] of whom is Hymenaeus and Philetus; 18 Who concerning the truth have erred, saying that the resurrection is past already; and overthrow the faith of some.