Yes, I stole the title for this post from an old spiritual, but it is appropriate to what I want to mention today. I was alerted via my Facebook news feed to this post. The article exposes just five of an overwhelming number of what well-grounded theologians would call false prophets for our day (and the number is far greater than the five representatives).

My response is not so much that we should be shouting down our spiritual noses at these misguided teachers who misrepresent Christ and the Gospel, but that we become more aware of the Gospel and the subject of the Gospel, namely the Christ.

The thing that disturbs me most is not even the number of people crowding into the arenas that play home to these personalities and the venues where they hold their festivals of tickling ears. What does disturb me most is the black cloud that is afforded the true Christian community because these teachers claim to be something that they are not–preachers of the Gospel of Christ.

I commend the article to you and pray that more and more believers will spend more time and energy supporting and serving their local New Testament church rather than these mega-movements that draw sheep away from the Good Shepherd.

Advertisements

Before you get uptight and stop visiting the blog, rest assured that I am not about to get really political here. Even so, I understand that this is a year in which those of us who are citizens of the United States of America will elect the president who will serve for the next four years (2013-2017). I am not about to tell you for whom you should vote, it isn’t any of my business. Nor am I going to tell you the candidate who will get my ballot, that isn’t any of your business.

Yes, I do have strong opinions. And yes, I often share them with you–that’s part of what this blog is about. Jumping on someone’s campaign bandwagon is not one of my cherished ideas, though. I can tell you this much: some of you would be surprised because you think that I think just like you and would vote the same way you do as a result of that affinity. It might surprise you that your opinions don’t influence me that much.

Others of you think you know my leanings because of my background–family, region, religion, etc.–and would discover that I’m either just like you thought or not at all. One request on this end: don’t put words in my mouth, it’s unsanitary, and I like to speak for myself.

At any rate, I think that voting is an important privilege for US citizens of voting age. Because of this, I take the task seriously. I pray about the candidates and what they say or promise. I ask for guidance. And I read, listen and look for as much information I can to help me make an informed choice. I would like to encourage you to do the same. To that end, I have stumbled on a series of articles posted by my friend Marty Duren at Kingdom in the Midst. In the series, he has allowed four people who support one or another of the candidates in this year’s presidential race to voice their opinion. The entire series is well worth your attention. I would ask you to remember that (1) the opinions expressed in each article are those of the one making the opinions and do not necessarily represent my opinion. (2) Again, while I am not endorsing any one candidate or other for your support, the people quoted in the articles are, but some of what they have to say may resonate with you (that might be an indicator of where you should place your ballot).

So, in the order that they appeared on Marty’s blog, here are people who will tell you whom they will vote for and why:

Realize that each of these articles may persuade you. They are well-articulated and very persuasive. But it is my desire to give you yet another tool as you prepare to approach the voter’s booth (or not) in November.

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,500 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 25 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Today, I want to discuss a couple of issues. The first stems from a discussion started by Preacherman. I chimed in about the length of my sermons (which average in at about 45 minutes). The readers at the blog seemed to come to the consensus that anything longer than 20 minutes is too long. Of course this discounts great pulpiteers like Stephen Olford who was once quoted as saying that anyone “who can’t preach for an hour or longer is not worth his salt,” and Mark Dever who consistently feeds his church an hours’ worth of spiritual teaching in a given Sunday.

ThenĀ  as I was coming to the last few pages in Calvin Miller’s book called (conveniently) Preaching, I read this:

The issue of a given sermon is not how long or short it is; the issue of this sermon is that each of us have unfinished transactions with God. The altar will allow each listener the chance to complete this transaction. How long will all this take? The qustion is pointless. Will the roast burn if you tarry too long beyond noon? How superficial a question! In the meeting of a King and the receiving of his commission, such questions pale into insignificance. Just focus on your need and his sovereignty. The clock is set to measure many things, but not this. (p. 247)

This statement brings us to the second issue of today: the altar. The modern trend is to do away with an altar call at the end of the sermon. The argument is that such a practice is manipulative and non-biblical. Proponents of this omission suggest that the altar call (as we know it) is a product of the brush arbor camp meetings of the 19th century. I would suggest that so few people are responding that closing the sermon without an “invitation” (as it is called in Baptist circles) is a decision more out of convenience, embarrassment, or preference rather than historical, theological, or biblical foundation.

I extend an invitation (many churches still have a “closing hymn” but without the opportunity for response) and there are a number of reasons:

  1. I believe that the sermon should include a challenge that brings listeners to some kind of response. If there is no response there are two things going on, either I’m not really preaching a sermon or my listeners are either lethargic in their Spiritual lives and unwilling to respond or Spiritually dead and unable to respond.
  2. I see it as courtesy as well. What kind of ogre or villain would I be to call for response without giving the opportunity for response (it’s just bad manners not to extend an invitation).
  3. Historically, evangelicals have typically offered the opportunity at the climax of the sermon for the congregation to respond to the calling of God as He has extended it during the preaching of the sermon.
  4. I also believe that there is biblical precedent for such a call to the altar. Perhaps the biblical form does not look exactly as our “invitation hymn” of today, but still it was there–in the Old Testament (see Exodus 32–the story of the Golden Calf; Joshua 24–the call to choose between the gods of the land and God Almighty), and in the New Testament as the church is born (Acts 2) and daily people are being added to their number.

As lazy as I am, I still am of the opinion that it is a truly lazy preacher who will not offer an opportunity for response. Should this sometimes be followed up with more counseling? Of course. Are spur of the moment decisions made in the frenzied pitch of a manipulating evangelist real? Sometimes no. Does this excuse us from offering the opportunity? Certainly not. Let us open our altars once again, and let God do His work.

Several years ago a group of young(ish) Southern Baptist pastors/leaders got together to use the new(ish) technology of the blogosphere to voice concerns about the SBC. Certainly they were able to raise the bar on how Christ followers think about affecting our world. That project took some twists and turns that made it become, well, “ish”.

So they moved on, stepping back from the political fray that is the SBC but keeping a presence in the blogosphere. Some of these guys I know personally, and others have become my friends through the electronic medium. All of them have forced me to think about my faith and the practice of it. And now it’s time for their collective missional voice to try to challenge our thinking once again.

I for one will be trying to keep up, and you can too by clicking over to MissioScapes.com. I will not guarantee that you will always agree with what is proposed there. I will not guarantee that you will even want to read what they have to say. I will promise you that you will be forced to think about what you believe. And maybe you’ll be challenged to grow.

Tony Kummer has developed another great idea. He’s the brain-power behind sites like SBC Voices and Devotional Christian. He has now birthed another brain-child called My Christian Blogs. It seems to be another clearinghouse site to feed the need for Christian thought. You’ll find feed from a variety of Christian bloggers such as Tim Challies and Al Mohler, as well as Internet Monk.

Why am I telling you all this? For two reasons: (1) It’s just nice to have another place to find “one stop shopping” when you’re looking for all that’s going on in the world of C’hristian thought. (2) I’m hoping to re-charge my blogging batteries and be a bit more disciplined about posting here. I need to think more, journal more, and converse more with those who can teach me. So check out My Christian Blogs; official “launch” details this summer.

Tomorrow is “Blog Action Day 2008.” I’ll be participating by including an article on poverty. Please take the time to respond with your thoughts on the matter as well. Or better yet, join in the action by posting your own article on poverty.

(HT: Tony Kummer)