A Hollow Gospel

Sometimes I get angry and need the Lord to settle my spirit.

I am so frustrated over the shattered lives of man after man who I help find the Lord in jail, who then go to some on-fire, podium-focused, pastor-centric church when they get out.

Inevitably, I will see those men back in jail again a year later, or I’ll hear that they have relapsed and fallen back into addiction or bondage.

A Hollow Gospel

Why are they back in jail or back in bondage? Because that church was little more than exciting sermons and glory-halleluiah feel-good meetings and a platform to showcase the gifted pastor and his gifted team – but no one ever seems to come beside broken people to become involved with them one-on-one or take the time for the difficult ministry of cleaning out the mess in their lives.

Oh, sure, most churches have programs and canned answers. But ministry?

Emotional experiences, programs and circus-like services seem to have become the substitute for mentoring, participating, confession, repentance and forgiveness – and the hard work of helping inconvenient people becoming whole and complete in Christ.

In essence, such churches are built around providing spiritual highs – and so is it any wonder that folks with addictive personalities are initially attracted to your meetings? And is it any wonder – as you feed rather than mend their broken personality in your self-serving drive for ever larger attendance – that they inevitably fall back into old habits?

Yet you claim that lots of people were delivered from addiction by jumping up and down and clapping, or crying a few tears of conviction, in some feel-good mass meeting? Get real.

You can boast of your church, but I will be there to pick up the pieces once again as those men discover that when the afterglow of your feel-good meeting fades, they are still left with themselves – while you’ve gone to focus on your next meeting or event.

And although you can boast of “mentoring” an occasional member of your church, it is driven more by your perception that they are worth “investing in” because they have potential to advance your ministry. But when they fall short of your expectations, you’re suddenly too busy to be there for them anymore.

Understand that some of us get tired of constantly cleaning up the lives that such churches can’t seem to redeem. Broken lives and real people are inconvenient and demand more than your hollow gospel, artificial relationships, and podium-oriented focus can give. But praise God, you have great meetings and can charm some dollars from your people!

When did Christianity become little more than a circus?

I really need your prayers. I get so frustrated over all this, yet I see such amazing fruit where the church in fact starts acting like the church and not a circus that puts on good performances. It’s just that Biblical church is so rare, yet the need is so great, and my heart breaks as I see how folks are so willing to settle for hollow and ineffective Christianity as long as they are made to feel good.

Thanks for letting me vent.

~ Jim

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36 responses

  1. You get angry! I’m insensed! I was married to one of these guys who was duplicitous behind a thinly veiled ministry. These men think “they are special with a special message” that no one can deliver the way they do. They sound good and gush with charisma, but the truely spiritual know there’s something “sneaky-evil” behind that veil. It is difficult to put your finger on what is wrong. Their use of cliche’s with mixed efforts to gain attention and laughter and lack of ability to get close to anyone are clues to “run away” not walk away. Eventially, these “little god’s” lives spiral out of control and they get fingered! Is this mean spiritedness or truth? A spiritual warning or a bitter woman? This kind of individual can make you feel like your mind is twisted up if you are in close proximity. It is why it is soooooo important to be versed in who God is and know Him personally–that will strengthen discernment. Who makes men do stuff like this? Saaaaaatan maybe? I was not the pastor’s wife who stood by her man…I ran when his life was exposed so God could deal with him.

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    • That’s wonderful to hear…… I am so glad I have come across this site!
      There is a pastoral counsellor in New Zealand, who knows all about this stuff and spends his life cleaning people up and setting them on the only course for long-term spiritual health – that of making their minds their friend, and dispensing with (seeing thru) the rubbish.

      I myself became suicidal over my genuine need for ministry but being misunderstood and then gossiped about etc…… ended up in a looney bin for a time, so I do know what you mean about being made to feel guilty and unclean when you disagree with “leadership” – Whatever does not kill you makes you stronger…….. at least now, by God’s grace and mercy I have what I needed 20 years ago – that “church” could not deliver except by telling me I was wrong.

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  2. When did Christianity become more than a circus. Good question. I seem to remember when you could actually have a conversation after congregational meeting and a home Bible study. Well you still can, it’s just shallow. And once it get some depth you’re interrupted since anyone is free to interrupt and greet one another. That’s all you do, greet. No real fellowship, I can remember praying with a brother at home, his front porch, in the fellowship (church building), wherever we were.

    What change? Part of it is this: Formula prayers. No one would call it that but that is what it is. You just say a simple prayer and make sure you throw in “we agree” and add Jesus’ name and think it’s done. Walk away and see ya next week. Christianity became a circus with the Charismatic movement.

    Before I was with the Charismatic movement I was part of a church that was involved physically and face to face in each other’s lives. We were friends. We hung out together, we knew we were in the kingdom of God. Not kingdom kids to call down our own prosperity, we would call that witchcraft. Nah, brothers who knew each other and even got on each other’s nerves.

    And knowing evangelism is not just something you do over the radio or worse….TV. Wait, that’s not even evangelism. MY bad. Getting to know the person and earning their trust is part of evangelism. “Trust in Jesus,” of course! Just because they need to trust YOU and that you’re not a religious nut does not mean they don’t or won’t trust Jesus. I wonder if I have to explain that to the modern Christian. Anyway, true evangelism….I guess it’s called witnessing. Yeah, witnessing….saying a few cute expressions and expecting the person to fall on their knees at that moment to confess Jesus is Lord. And if they don’t just pull a scripture out of context and say, “now is the day of salvation.” First let the Holy Spirit work in their heart and mind. But thanks to the Charismatic movement we have the mentality it should be done instantly, oh so shallow. After all, if you don’t speak in tongues you’re not Spirit-filled. Never mind the fruit of the Spirit.

    I guess I’m venting also. I came to believe the gifts of the Holy Spirit are for today and began going to Charismatic churches. I left one that had some depth, strong sense of brotherhood, reach out to an atheist and actually bring them to a point of godly sorrow to receive Christ Jesus, only to go to a Charismatic church. What a let down. There were no genuine gifts of the Holy Spirit. There was prosperity gospel which is not a gospel at all to you have to “confess your healing” only to cover up the fact no one was healed. No miracles. Maybe a gall-bladder that no one could see from someone who later said “I’m still claiming it.” No, it was all show….two miles wide and two inches deep. It’s loads of extravagant false apostles, false prophets, and false teachers. It’s a lie. And this has permeated the church in America. The gospel of greed has brought a lot of money in for the money preachers as long as naive Christians continue to give and not realize you should have nothing to do with these lying wonders. Do you want scripture for this, read all of I Timothy, then all of II Timothy. There’s more, read II Peter, all of it. It’s okay, it’s not merely head knowledge though it could be.

    OK, I’m admit it, I am venting. This is my way of saying I am through with the Charismatic movement. I mean even the ones without the weird manifestations David Wilkerson so rightly pointed out on YouTube. Anyone see that? That’s what happened and one of the main reasons it’s such a circus out there. I was disappointed over 20 years ago with stupid doctrines I tried to believe, I tried to see this in scripture but couldn’t. And now take a close look at the fruit of the modern Charismatic, Third Wave, whatever latest buzzword they use, what is the fruit. Todd Bentley, that is the fruit. Let me ask you this, when did Jesus pay the penalty of our sins. On the cross or somewhere else. According to Word of Faith beginning with Kenneth Copeland Jesus paid for our sins when he suffered in hell. That’s is outright heresy, Copeland denies the Lord who bought him. Just for the record it was on the cross. I’m sure anyone reading this knows that. It was the Charismatic movement that has corrupted the American church, and has corrupted Christianity. It was a breath of fresh air for awhile. Just long enough to suck everyone in.

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  3. Z Page I’m sorry to hear what happened to you. We seem to be living in the time Paul referred to as the great falling away in II Thessalonians 2. It gets better, I look forward to Jesus return and awesome day of the Lord.

    I know shouldn’t look to being with Christ forever in the next life since Binny Hinn mocks that idea and whats it all now, I mean according to the latest-best wisdom, the “most anointed” men of God we should have the cattle on a thousand hills (or is it a thousand cattle on a hill, something like that) but since we’re not with those most super apostles and arrogant wonders we can only look forward to being alive forevermore with Jesus, the prophets, the true apostles, hopefully some, most, a few of our family members…ancestors in heaven and even on the new earth. I will stop for now.

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  4. Don’t be too discouraged brother. As many are figuring out, the modern ‘church’ model is a failure from the beginning. When Jesus sent out the disciples to make disciples He intended them to do it in the same fashion that He did. A sharing of life, day in and day out. This is the only form of discipleship that works. Also, many ‘preachers’ and ‘teachers’ don’t think very highly of the Lord anymore. They think Christianity is something simple that can be boiled down to books, messages, and anecdotes. They find no need for the Spirit. Not in their decision making, words, or actions. I used to think that the Bible was obscure and shadowy in its teaching. But the Holy Spirit opens my eyes day after day that He did leave us with definite requirements, goals, and theology. It doesn’t take a cleaver man to understand, but a passionate and willing man. Someone who has no affection for this world or the traditions of religion. The days are dark. And there are many false prophets. But the beauty of the darkness is that it makes the light shine all the brighter!

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  5. Excellent post…simply excellent. And the comments are great too! Once you are in the “entertainment” biz, the pressure simply increases and increases to put together bigger, better, more glitzy, more astounding, more, more, more…that’s why it is easy to get your eye “off the ball” if you are living in that world in ministry. NO ONE can keep up with that pressure…that’s NOT the “main thing” in Kingdom work…it is a recipe for disaster.

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  6. I believe the only way the church will survive and reach people where they are is with love, compassion, walking with those in pain and stop making the church a business with the 3 ring circuses of coffee bars, book stores, advertisements, huge unneeded buildings and state of the art sounds systems and projection tv. Let’s get back to one of one love and investment in each others lives. Oh and please, let’s get rid of this wealth and health gospel. I think as long as the church is seen as just a building with a pastor, which will be the case in every situation because it will be run by men; we will wallow in our own pride. The body shouldn’t be run like a business with advertising, a budget and customers.

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  7. Jim Jones, David Koresh, Jim Bakker, Copeland, Joel Osteen, Ted Haggard………

    Is it their fault? Or is it a two-fold problem? Arrogant pastors who think they don’t need God’s help followed by lazy people?

    Give me Jesus 1st and Billy Graham second. Billy set the bar high in a high profile world because he put Jesus 1st his wife second and his children third. God bless him for spreading the good news of the gospel that transforms lives.

    Some people are just too lazy to dig for wells of living water and a better way of life by way of feeding our minds with God’s Word. Most just want to do the back float in a stagnant pond that will just dirty up their souls.

    You just don’t need to be spoon fed by men…but you do need friends to fellowship with. That is a biblical principal. But you don’t get salvation through your friends. God loves it when we worship him with one BIG congregational voice. That is why fellowship should be important.

    Bible study, meditation, prayer are what the holy spirit uses for life transformation. Another man can’t do it for you. As much as I respect my current pastor who has had 35 years of faithful ministry experience in a large high profile metropolitan congregation, I never let him off the hook by viewing him anything less than human and falible. If his life disintigrates, I’m no worse for ware…I put Jesus 1st.

    So test your church, test your pastor and test your friends by knowing the BIBLE. Surround yourself with good people and mentor those who don’t know him yet. WARN THEM TOO!

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  8. I share your pain and anger. We must press on, right. May God continue to bring more and more to the truth and power, the incredible urgency.

    Sadly, we will always be in the minority, the road is narrow. HE IS MORE THAN ENOUGH!!!!

    Much prayers and love for you and your family as you serve as unto Him.

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  9. This sounds so much like the second last church institution that I attended before I left for good. It wasn’t even American, for I live at the South Coast in South Africa. It was a true charismatic circus where the backstabbing and lies that the pastor was telling became evident. Sheep were systematically hurt and scattered, while the those remaining preferred to worship their entertainer who claimed the title of pastor and prophet, and who had a talent for stirring up a crowd and promising them each time that heaven is going to come down. This was also the second time in my life that I stood up for a friend whom the institutional church mistreated and betrayed. Consequently I was also given the cold shoulder by leadership, and the shameful treatment of being judged, ignored and forgotten.

    I encountered the same pastor a while afterward in the shopping mall. He asked me my opinion about some grace perspective or something, and pretended that nothing bad ever happened in his church. In his severe state of illusion, denial and confusion, I came to actually pity him. Here was a Christian man who saw himself as a great charismatic hero leader, yet was relationally as lost as a doornail. In the beginning it looked so much like a close spiritual family and it was so promising, yet it delivered so much hurt and confusion.

    Why do these things keep happening? I believe it is because we have no real organic apostolic model to follow in South Africa. We sit only with the inheritance of our forefather’s traditions of churchianity, control and ambition. We are a generation of spiritual teenagers who keep producing more spiritual babies, where no-one ever grows up because there aren’t many or any spiritual adults around who know how to relate properly the way that Jesus did.

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  10. Venting can be therapeutic! Your bit about mentoring those who are worth while strikes home. My wife and I seemed to enter a church with hope but rapidly get moved to the receive-only periphery because we had emotional problems–clinical depression is not one of the diseases that seem to qualify for instant healings. One of your respondents has given up on the entire Charismatic movement and describes the excesses very accurately, but I wonder if it is throwing the baby out with the bath water. I think there is a need to go very slowly around such folks who seem to expect everything immediately, but it could well be that when we get to know God better we may find He hasn’t given up on the gifts despite the abuses!

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    • I posted as anonymous by mistake…the Jim Jones, Joel Osteen comment was mine. It urked me to ge anonymous notes shoved under my office door when I was a pastor’s wife.

      Good for you Tom! for starting a dialogue that could potentially lead people away from a false gospel and toword our loving Savior Jesus Christ! He is the great cleaner-upper of souls.

      Z Page

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  11. Wow. I’m so sad because the article and all of ur comments are all so bitter! I got saved late in life, delivered of many things by our precious Daddy God and then found myself a beautiful church to attend.

    Thing is I went in with no expectation of the ppl there because them like me were sinners being used to outwork the gospel, one of the most trusting things Gods ever done I think. Because I managed that expectation I also knew going in that me like them made the church and if something was amiss WE had to fix it, not sit and point at their failings or short falls. Acts like church helped each not scoffed each other like the Israelites in the desert.

    I grew up in a strict Methodist church and attended a Convent for all my school years. I found, no he found me outside all of those things and since used the ppl in the church to build a hedge of live around me.

    I am sorry that some of u have been hurt by the hypocritical of us. I am sorry that some of u struggle to find ppl to talk to (maybe ur talking to the wrong ppl). I am sorry that some of u have not yet found family.

    I have however, because I wasn’t looking for them to be my Jesus. I was just looking to love (not to be loved).

    They don’t make me sad. Your eagerness to stone them does.

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  12. I’m not bitter. I’m delivered. I love my church family, my pastor and my ministry there. I don’t look at the people for my salvation…they are sinners just like me. However, be warned to test what you see and hear there. That is what the bible says to do Mr. Anonymous. I feel sufficiently spanked by you and your judgment of the people who are brave enough to dialogue openly. A warning for infiltration of evil into church would be appropriate. God does not tolerate evil…why would you?

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  13. You have every right (and need) to vent. Your pain is evident in your words. Every time such a story about such a person getting into just such problems comes up (in the media or otherwise), the true Church hurts, and Jesus weeps all over again, for His Bride.

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  14. EXCELLENT!
    After 5 years as the “Head” of a “Men’s Ministry” and watching the programs I was forced to implement fail the men; I had to leave. An occasional disciple here or there was all the program had room for.

    Thank God He has released me to the field and real discipleship.

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  15. ah andre, i feel your frustration, i will keep you in my prayers. Carry on with your work, do what you can and we will pray that the churches will wake up!

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  16. IT IS SAD THAT THINGS LIKE WHAT HAVE BEEN MENTIONED HAVE ACTUALLY HAPPENED IN THE NAME OF JESUS. IT IS ALSO SAD THAT WE ARE TEARING ONE ANOTHER UP BECAUSE OF COMING FROM DIFFERING EXPERIENCES WITH THE CHURCH. THROWING OUT THE BABY WITH THE BATH WATER IS HOW SOMEONE EXPRESSED IT. I AGREE SOMEWHAT WITH THAT ANALOGY, JESUS SAID,LET THE WHEAT AND THE TARES GROW TOGETHER AND IN THE END THE ANGELS WILL SEPARATE THEM AND THROW THE TARES INTO UNQUENCHABLE FIRE. MANY OF US HERE, MYSELF INCLUDED, ARE OF THE PERFECTIONIST MINDSET. WE WANT THAT WHICH IS PERFECT TO BE HERE AND NOW. I WANT TO SEE REAL HEALINGS, REAL DELIVERANCE, AND PERMANENT CHANGE IN PEOPLE WHO SAY THEY ARE CHRISTIANS. I HAVE SEEN THE CHARISMATIC CIRCUS, HOWEVER I ALSO CANNOT DENY THE GIFTS IN MY LIFE AS RESULT OF THE PENTECOSTAL CHURCH I WENT TO. I KNOW HOW EASY IT IS FOR THOSE IN MINISTRY TO GET THE GOD COMPLEX, I WAS ONE OF THEM. WE NEED TO LET THE HOLY SPIRIT DO HIS JOB AND NOT TAKE HIS JOB INTO OUR HANDS. HE REALLY IS NOT SLEEPING AND WHAT HE DOES IN SECRET WILL BE EXPOSED FOR ALL TO SEE. WE NEED TO BEWARE THAT WE DO NOT BECOME LIKE THE ISRAELITES IN THE WILDERNESS. LEAVE THE JUDGMENT TO GOD. IF A SITUATION INVOLVES YOU PERSONALLY, DO WHAT YOU NEED TO DO TO STAY SANE AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM FURTHER HURT. DON’T GET ON THE COMPLAINERS BANDWAGON. I HAVE MORE TO SAY BUT MUST SAVE IT FOR A LATER TIME.

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    • I agree with you Alex. We can and will allow God to separate the wheat from the chaff. The problem here is that many of the “chaff” strangle what could potentially be good wheat. I just don’t want to be “on board” when the ship sinks. God offers the “life boat” of separating ourselves from the apostasy many call the church.

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      • I am glad that my post are able to help you Susan. I am first to admit that as much as I love the Lord, and delight in serving Him, in my younger days my attitude was less than admirable though I truly meant well. I hurt quite a few people as a result of my heavy handedness in how I approached leadership. I grew up in an authoritarian home, went to a church in my youth that had a take it or else attitude and lots of that rubbed off on me. There was no other way but mine. If you disagreed with me you were wrong. If you caused me problems I avoided you like the plague. Very, very insecure. Thank God that He knew my heart and was able to change me and is still changing me. Amazing Grace!!!!!

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        • I thank the Lord for your willingness to shae this Alex – it is like pouring the oil and wine into my wounds. I came across leadership who acted in (sort of) a similar manner, and completely misunderstood my cry for genuine help. It WAS genuine, but they preferred to believe otherwise – and women can have a hard time of it as regards being taken seriously. This is why I ended up in a looney bin for a time………… BUT

          ….. the most amazing thing is – that I began to understand the hand of God in it ALL as well….. that from when I was really small – despite the circumstances I had been born into, and what God knew I would meet in adult life – HE HAD BEEN THERE all along, and in ways I didn’t realise at the time, had prepared me for even the worst…….. so, that like Joseph in prison in Egypt- there was something within him that was able to keep hold on the vision he had in the deepest part of him, that no one could take away, no matter what.

          It was not the path I would have wanted for my life … (urrrmphh – pride speaking there :( ) but in a very roundabout way, The Lord has helped me to be grateful for the truth on which to base my soul: that there are no hopeless situations, only people who have become hopeless about them. And in our struggles to come up for air underneath the torrents, nothing can prevent our Father from resuing us.

          I never thought I would be able to write that. But I have, and I know now it is true, and I’m beginning to see (slowly and falteringly), even worth the pain involved, which was nothing less than psychological and emotional crucifixion (seen from hindsight) taking me through the waters of psychosis and suicide. I don’t want to sound melodramatic, but I suppose that is unavoidable.

          Not wanting to end on a bad note – I give all the glory to Our Father, Creator, Sustainer and Friend for my salvation, deliverance, restoration and promised future. Meanwhile, anyway I can I want to help people work out the puzzlements, contradictions, paradoxes involved in Christian growth & reality ……. – although too old now to permit going back to college to gain qualifications, I feel I have the most important one – a Q.B.E. (Qualified by Experience).

          But, if no one wants to listen, that’s perfectly OK too :)

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  17. WHAT YOU SAY IS DEFINITELY NOTEWORTHY. I AM CERTAINLY NOT ENAMORED WITH ALL THAT I SEE IN THE CHURCH WORLD. I STILL HOWEVER BELIEVE THAT THE CHURCH IS NOT THE HORRIBLE MONSTER THAT SOME ARE SAYING IT IS. THERE ARE PEOPLE ON THAT “SHIP” AND THOSE PEOPLE ARE LOOKING FOR THAT SHIP TO TAKE THEM TO SAFE HARBOUR. THERE ARE ALSO MANY GODLY MEN AND WOMEN THAT ARE GIVING ALL THAT THEY ARE TO MAKE THE CHURCH WHAT GOD INTENDED IT TO BE. I AM VERY FEARFUL THAT WE MAY BE FIGHTING AGAINST THE LORD WHEN WE VERBALLY ATTACK THE CHURCH FOR ANY REASON. IF WE CAN’T HANDLE THE SITUATION AS IT IS THEN WE NEED TO LEAVE FOR OUR OWN GOOD. LEAD YOU
    GUIDE YOU LEAD YOU BUT DON’T TRASH WHAT YOU LEAVE BEHIND

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  18. MY LAST COUPLE OF LINES TO MY LAST POST GOT MESSED UP DUE TO NO MORE ROOM FOR THE POST. WHAT I WANT TO SAY IS LEAVE THE CHURCH IF YOU MUST,
    LET THE SPIRIT OF GOD LEAD YOU, JUST REMEMBER THAT EVERYONE IS NOT IN YOUR SAME PLACE. TRUST THAT GOD IS ABLE TO SET UP OR TEAR DOWN EXISTING STRUCTURES DEPENDING ON WHAT PART THEY ARE PLAYING IN HIS WILL. GROWING UP ABOUT 50 SOMETHING YEARS AGO I HEARD THE SAME COMPLAINTS ABOUT THE CHURCH WE ARE HEARING TODAY. STILL GOD SAVED ME AND PLACED ME IN A BODY THAT GAVE ME MUCH TO BE THANKFUL FOR. THAT HAS KEPT ME IN SPITE OF ALL THE GARBAGE I SAW LATER ON. IF GOD HAS KEPT ME AND CHANGED ME IN SPITE OF ME BEING PART OF THE PROBLEM AT TIMES, THEN HE CAN SAVE AND KEEP ANYONE.

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  19. my dad evangelized at a mx. security penn. here in canada and he told me that in his many years of experience, it was a sad fact that none of the so called conversions were bonefied, the fruit never followed the words, unfortunately hardened criminals know how to fool a lot of people, now this doesn’t mean to say stop trying, but beware these men didn’t get there by being truthfull, they know how to play the born again ticket to a T time is the best evidence of a true conversion

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    • I have not ministered in any maximum security prison, so your dad’s experience is not something I’m qualified to address. But I do have ten years experience ministering both inside and then on the outside to many, many men who’ve passed through a large regional jail in our area.

      Most of the jail and prison ministry that I’ve seen over the years is very performance based, and it just doesn’t work. Of course, I have no idea if that was your dad’s approach. But when we tell a guy who is twisted and broken inside – from years of abuse, addiction and worse – that he ought to pray more, read the Bible more, attend church more; or when we put whatever other “oughts” on him as the way for him to reform himself, then failure is sure to follow. The cross is not about us doing a bunch of oughts, because that makes us the author of our own salvation. It is religious works, rather than allowing Jesus in us to transform us.

      Instead of a performance based gospel, we have seen great fruit and many transformed lives as we walk with and mentor the men in the process of exposing their core beliefs, perceptions, hurts and ways of thinking to the Lord. We then walk with them in letting Him bring healing and wholeness in those areas of their lives. We also bring them into community – which is NOT to be confused with attending church services or becoming part of some pastor-centric and directed congregation. Rather, we plug them into dynamic, living expressions of the Body of Christ.

      If I did not see daily fruit from walking with these men and dealing with the mess in their lives as God cleans them out, I frankly would not care about them becoming entrapped in hollow, institutional church settings.

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  20. My husband and I attend the poorest, most humble church in our county, a church with a devoted pastor who ministers to alcoholics and addicts. When we found this church 9 years ago we were truly broken. Had we left this church, we would no doubt still be lost.

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  21. Dear Sue, I wrote you an invitation to my web site Group. I don’t know if you got it but I cannot see it here. Regardless of that, I want to take the time to respond to what you wrote me so you do not think that I have ignored your response, or that I am blowing you off. I am sure that what you went through was probably like being a resident of Hell for however long a time you experienced what you did. For whatever reason there is a disconnect between Pastor and Church members. Kind of like, “what came first, the Chicken or the egg?” In other words, is the pastor the way he is because the people don’t understand or trust him and want to run the church without him, or are the people the way they are because they have had a number of Pastors that cared only about themselves and as a result He gets pay back for what others in his position did. Every scenario is so entirely different that you cannot put them all in the same category. Are you following me? In my case, I was very idealistic in my approach to ministry. I believed that I was called by God to be a Pastor. That meant that I waited on God for Him to give me messages for the people. After I delivered the message the people were responsible to do what the message said. Right or wrong, that is and was my M.O. I told the board of one church that God called me to Pastor, not to be a politician. That was said following being told told I needed to be more diplomatic. After 25 years in existence and 19 Pastors I found that a bit ludicrous. There was in that church a handful of people that ruled the church by holding the purse strings. Nothing got done unless they liked the ideas presented. My problem was not being unloving or not wanting to love enough, I wanted results from my work. I took my role seriously, but I was often misunderstood because I wanted results now. After all, 25 years should be plenty time to get their act together as a church. As a result I spent most of my time with the handful of people that were serious about wanting reality in the church, and with those who were open to change to reach everyone, not just those who were approved by the elite of the congregation. My problem was that I saw the scripture through perfectionist lenses. I came across harshly back then, mainly because I believed that God held me responsible for the actions of the people. I came across as “Do this, or else!” I lacked grace in my own life and had little for anyone else. Add to that lots of self doubt and insecurity. Filling me with Grace is what God has been doing in me and through me lately as a result of the struggles and trials I have undergone. My heart was pure, but my works were done in a legalistic fashion. When I was approached about this by a sister in the congregation, I was taken aback. I rejected what she said because I believed she was one of the members that didn’t want me there. A few years later while a member in a large Christian Community in Ohio, God revealed to me not only that the sister was correct in what she shared with me, but that I needed to call her and tell her what God showed me. I did, and Grace flowed like a river. I cannot believe the changes God has worked in me as a result of my submitting to His will, be it through good or not so good times. I am so happy for you and your deliverance from such a heavy load. I also believe that there are deeper meanings for what you went through. You are not alone and your story is not unlike many others. You have the keys to unlock the chains that formerly bound you, and now you need to unlock their chains as well. You needed to experience those things, like Joseph in Egypt, others may have meant what you experienced for evil, but God meant it not only for your growth, but for the good of others. Welcome to the Fellowship of His sufferings. You are a chosen one. Rejoice and be glad for great is your reward for being faithful in hard times.
    God Bless you, and give you His peace,
    Alex

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    • Dear Alex, I did reply to your FB request – but there were so many of you – I sent the message to the first Alex Di Matteo as he was described as having pastoral responsibilities and none of the others did. I think I posted another reply on this site to you to, mentioning Joseph in Egypt. So at least we are on the right page there!

      I concur that God was involved in the process that happened, as you say, not only for my growth (which certainly needed to happen), but in an unseen way also for greater good (For His Glory alone, totally) He certainly does work in amazing ways.

      This morning I read Isaiah 3 v 13: “The Lord stands up! He is the great Prosecuting Attorney presenting his case against his people! First to feel his wrath will be the elders and the princes, for they have defrauded the poor. They have filled their barns with grain extorted from the helpless peasants.” (TLB)

      An easy way for leadership to do this spiritually (even if unaware of what it is they are really doing) is to have the expectation that God has led people to their church to listen to them and cooperate with whatever their agenda is, and to be told what to do and how to think. I grew up believing I was obliged to do this, even…… to be an obedient Christian – otherwise I would be “in rebellion” …….. O, this is so, so wrong. How much re-directing and healing of the mind needs to happen because the Gospel that is preached by the Pharisees is no Gospel at all, and leaves us worse off than the Jews by a further 27 books!

      Like

  22. Pingback: Becoming The Body of Christ | Crossroad Junction

  23. Pingback: Killing Calvinism; Killing Sin; Dispensing with Good Enough; Suffering Well; and so much more « ChosenRebel's Blog

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