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Archive for February, 2016

BEDTIME CHRISTIANS

STORY TELLING ONLY MAKES BEDTIME CHRISTIANS: One of my fondest memories of being a dad was telling my sons made up stories at bedtime. Of course we would also tell them some of the old time favorites, as well as about the great events documented in the Bible. However, while they were very young sometimes I would just make up stories out of thin air. I did this by first allowing them to create their own “characters,” and once they described them I would incorporate them into extemporaneous stories. It was always a lot of fun. However, my sons are in college now; consequently, they don’t ask me to tell them bedtime stories anymore. They are mature young men now, so thank heaven for miracles. However, recently I saw an article about the importance of preaching from a Christian narrative in order reach a “post-literature” generation. In other words if we want to effectively reach “the next generation” we have to do so through “stories” rather than declaration statements found in the Scriptures. There are several problems with this assertion. However, the greatest is that it ignores the reality that Holy Spirit supernaturally honors God’s word whenever it is publically proclaimed. It is through God’s proclaimed word (i.e., preaching) that he affects change in the hearts and minds of those listening—both sinners and saints; consequently, the scriptures are what the Holy Spirit primarily uses to reach people with the gospel.

The reality is, however, that there is nothing new about this assertion. I heard this same old line 2 decades ago while I was involved in college ministry. The problem with relying upon “stories” to reach people with the gospel is that it tends to produce what I refer to as “bedtime Christians.” What are bedtime Christians you ask? Well, they’re kind of an oxymoron; more specifically, they refer to themselves in one manner, but the way they live and what they believe actually contracts their professions about themselves. In other words, they call themselves Christians, but the fact is that they don’t follow the Lord Jesus Christ at all. Below are some telltale characteristics of bedtime Christians.

• Bedtime Christians have Bibles but never read them or take them to church in order to learn what the Spirit of God is trying to say to them through the scriptures.

• Bedtime Christians think the Bible is full of myths and stories that didn’t really happen.

• Bedtime Christians think that the Bible has been translated to many times for it to be an accurate record of what was originally written.

• Bedtime Christians think the Bible is full of ancient stories and events; consequently it’s not really relevant to the modern world.

• Bedtime Christians never effectively learn how too use the scriptures while communicating the gospel.

• Bedtime Christians aren’t interested in Sunday school, home Bible study groups, or discipleship training.

• Bedtime Christians think the Bible is basically an old book suggesting some good basic moral values.
Nevertheless, Paul encouraged Timothy, who lived in a largely oral and illiterate culture, that “Until I come, give attention to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation and teaching” (1 Timothy 4.13). And in his last letter before he died for the cause of Christ also wrote to his beloved disciple, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2.15). And lest we forget, the context in which Paul and Timothy ministered in was entirely pagan and largely a world that depended upon word of mouth for the dissemination of information. In other words, in that day people for the most part depended upon “sound bites” for the news—sound familiar? It seems that Paul’s exhortation about how to carry out ministry and how to effectively witness for Christ aptly applies to the world in which we now live. It seems that Paul’s admonition to Timothy was to educate others as to what God actually said in the scriptures, rather than dumbing them down by using “entertaining” summaries and stories from God’s word. Paul didn’t recommend that Timothy develop his own “Cliff Notes” about the Bible, but to boldly and faithfully read and explain the scriptures to those who would listen. The bottom line is that our churches are currently overrun with bedtime Christians because too many pastors and leaders have been giving them a steady diet of Christian like “stories” instead of faithfully reading, teaching, and preaching the entire council of God’s holy word.

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HOW TO SPOT CHURCH ZOMBIES

church zombie 1

Well they’ve released another zombie movie. It seems to me that zombies are everywhere these days. I’m not a big fan of zombie movies; I think it’s because of the cannibalism angle. Don’t get me wrong, I like scary movies. Take the movie “Aliens”; now that was a great movie, it had monsters coming from everywhere. However, watching dead people eating other people, that’s a little over the top for me, so that’s the reason that I’ve only seen a couple of zombie movies. But at least the zombies in movies aren’t real. Church zombies, however, well they really do exist. What is a church zombie? They are not hard to identify, and you’ve probably seen some yourself but you just didn’t realize it. Below are some unmistakable signs that will help you know if there are church zombies in your fellowship.

  • Church zombies don’t sing. I’ve never seen a zombie sing in a movie. That’s why you don’t see zombie musicals; at least not yet. In a similar fashion there are people in your congregation that just refuse to sing. It doesn’t matter that the scriptures are filled worship songs, as well as exhortations to sing joyfully to the Lord in praise and adoration—it doesn’t matter because church zombies just don’t sing. Ohhh, they have their excuses: such as, “I don’t like the style of music,” or “I don’t sing very well.” For some reason they mistakenly believe that it’s all about them. Consequently, they think their excuses legitimize their lifeless attendance during worship services—that’s because they are zombies, and everyone knows zombies don’t sing.
  • Church zombies always wander wherever they go. They wander into the church on Sundays, and when church is over they wander out of the building and into their cars where they wander to a nearby restaurant. And when they wake up on Monday morning they wander off to work, and after 7 to 10 hours they wander home and collapse in front of a TV, and after a couple of hours they wander off to bed. And so it goes throughout the week, they wander everywhere they go. They wander because they have no purpose in life, so they wander lifelessly throughout their days simply going through the motions, and nothing ever seems to change for them. That’s because they are zombies.
  • There is one slight difference between regular zombies and church zombies. Fictional zombies eat human flesh, whereas church zombies feed their carnal flesh. Regardless of whatever was sung during the worship service or taught in the sermon, church zombies feed their flesh throughout the week. They feed their flesh by watching a little porn; or gossiping about other church zombies; or lying to those they work with; or stealing from their employer; or getting a little tipsy during their Thursday night bowling league; or spending $20 bucks on scratch-offs. They do these things because they think it makes them feel alive, but none of those things bring true life. Of course they don’t see any problem with feeding their flesh because hey, they aren’t hurting anyone, so what’s the big deal?
  • And just like fictional zombies, church zombies are very easily distracted. Have you ever noticed that in zombie movies it’s not hard to distract a zombie; all you have to do is wave your hands. They may be on the verge of catching their next victim, and all you have to do is wave at them and they lose all focus. The same is true with church zombies, all they need is for anyone to text them during the worship service and immediately they’re texting back; then they’re updating their Facebook status; and then they’re playing Candy Crush; etc., etc. And before they know it, the service is over and they get to go wander someplace else. It seems that church zombies just can’t focus on listening for God’s voice or trying to discover his will for their lives.
  • Another characteristic of church zombies is that they are mean. It’s common knowledge that zombies are not nice or pleasant. Similarly, church zombies are always complaining about something. The church is too cold, the church is too hot, the sermon is too long, the sermons are too theological, the sermons are too shallow, the music is too loud, the music is not contemporary enough, the music is too contemporary, and on and on it goes. Church zombies aren’t just mean in church, just like fictional zombies they are mean everywhere they go. Consequently, no one likes being around them and it’s not hard to understand why; it’s because they’re mean, they never smile, and they’re never happy. Why? It’s because they are zombies.
  • Also, church zombies never think. They never contemplate the really important questions of life. Questions such as: why am I here; what is God really like and what is his plan for my life; how can I effectively share the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ with others; and what can I do to stop suffering and end injustice; and what about those who never hear the gospel. It just never seems to cross their minds. Why? It’s because they are zombies, and zombies never think.
  • And lastly, church zombies just seem to keep on coming. You would think that at some point they would realize that they aren’t having any fun—ahhh but that gets back to the previous point, which is zombies never think. Consequently, church zombies just keep coming to church. They wander into the service, they don’t sing, they don’t think, they quickly become distracted, and when it’s all over they complain, and then they wander out into the parking lot and drive to the nearest restaurant where they begin to feed their carnal nature—and so it goes throughout the week until next Sunday. They just keep coming back, and heaven only knows why.

Did you know that Jesus dealt with some zombies in his day? The particular species of zombie that Jesus dealt with was the very common legalistic zombie, and his interaction with them is found in Matthew 23.27-28. He described them as nice looking on the outside, but inside they were dead, unclean, hypocritical, and full of lawlessness. And so it is with church zombies, they look really good on the outside, but inside they are dead, unattractive, and void of any spiritual life or vitality. They may look alive on the outside, but if you could see them on the inside they would look just like fictional zombies. So what should you do if you find that your church is infested with church zombies? Wow, now that is not an easy question to answer. Should you invest your time in trying to bring revival to your church, or should you seek to plant a new church that rejects church zombieism in favor for the Spirit-filled life that is only found through the grace offered by the Lord Jesus Christ? I can’t answer that question for you, only the Lord can tell you what he wants you to do. However, I do remember what my seminary prof once told to me, which was: “It’s always easier to produce new life than it is to resurrect the dead.” Now those are some heavy words deserving of considerable thought.

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