The Glory of God in all things

I want to blog today on social justice issues. In the Wesleyan tradition a great emphasis is placed on social justice, and there is ample scripture to back this emphasis. Fathering the fatherless... taking care of widows... feeding the poor... visiting those in prison... giving someone a cold drink... etc. There are plenty of passages in scripture that call us to engage in social justice. Now in many fundamental reformed circles this notion of social justice is immediately labeled liberalism, and treated as though it is a plague... it gets labeled "the social Gospel".

There is a drastic imbalance in both the liberal view of social justice, and the fundamentalist's denial of its importance. Remember the reason for the existence of both the individual and the Church is the Glory of God, and to honor the Lord Jesus Christ. When the focus of social justice is IN THE NAME OF CHRIST, it brings great glory to the Godhead. When the Church goes to those whom no one else will go to for no other reason than the Glory of God it is a great and mighty thing. You must realize that the insistence on social justice is vital and biblical if indeed it is social justice in the name of Christ. When a fundamentalist denies the importance of social justice issues they deny too many scriptures to count.

Now for the flip side. Social justice for the sake of social justice is humanism, and it is wicked, very wicked. Often times the liberals who are all about social justice will unite with ungodly organizations and people to further their social cause. This is nothing more than trying again to build the tower of babel, doing a mighty work that gives God no glory. Why should we cure cancer? So that God's name may be great. How will His name be great, only if the curing is done in His name. What I mean is this, when we do a great social work outside of His name it actually steals honor and glory from Him and is out and out wrong. Liberal social justice does just that, it focuses on human needs and disregards God's glory in Jesus Christ. If you offer someone a drink in the name of Buddha you give honor to an idol, which is idolatry. If you join hands with those who serve other Gods in order to perform social justice you give glory to their idols. Do you see it. Even great events like 'Relay for Life' and such, if you are going to participate you ought to make it very clear that your primary reason for participation is the glory God in Christ Jesus.

We must examine ourselves... do we do social justice as humanists, or as Christians, there is a drastic difference. John Wesley is a good example of a Christian attempting biblical social justice.


A Real Heart Breaker

As a youth pastor I receive a lot of mail promoting various youth events and conferences. I wonder at the millions of dollars that must be spent on these mailings, and then the billions of dollars coming out of church, and family budgets to send their youth to these events, and then I wonder what do these events produce?

Today I received an invitation to "Fusion Youth Conference 2009" held at Indiana Wesleyan University. The invitation was certainly beautiful and eye catching. So I opened it up and read it. There was not a single scripture reference on it, nothing that even mentioned the purpose of the conference. It appears the featured speaker is Darren Whitehead from Willow Creek, and the blurb about him lets us know that "Darren is committed to reaching the high-tech media-driven culture of the next generation." The concert portion will be done by Pillar, Nevertheless, and Connersvine, I am only familiar with Pillar. While I am not out and out against Pillar, I do not find their music producing much more than a mosh pit, and head banging, holiness and righteousness... well they mention those things... subliminally at best.

Anyway, I receive things like this at least twice a week if not more, constantly asking us to send our kids.

I sit back and scratch my head... we went to ATF Battlecry when I was not in charge 3 years ago, and while the kids had a great time, the messages were not bad, but the atmosphere was so impressive that within 5 minutes of the end of any message the kids had already forgotten what they heard. It was a frenzy for sure, but a move of God? Maybe for a few. I contend that if every leader who took a group to that or any of these events would have instead taken their youth to a campground, or a retreat and had a weekend of bible study, gospel preaching, and genuine fellowship there would have been a far greater movement of God, and millions of dollars could have been saved.

I am so tired of this belief that we need to have so much media to have an impact. It is a lie, a lie that destroys small churches that cannot afford it, and a lie that puts out the candlestick of the big churches that can. I am not saying media is bad, there is some great stuff on youtube see "Lane Chaplin", and there is nothing inherently evil about power point, it is useful, but at the same time none of it is necessary. Yesterday I preached the gospel to a group of 24 students 20 of whom do not attend any sort of worship on a weekly basis. The gospel was preached in the small chapel of our church (a pretty formal setting). No powerpoint, no cute stories, none of that. Yet you could hear a pin drop in that chapel, and trust me these are middle school kids who have just sat for 6 hours at school, they do not just sit still. However, when the gospel is preached authoritatively, correctly, with much love, but with much conviction, God can do a mighty work. A bunch of 6th 7th and 8th graders sitting quietly is supernatural (I am not trying to make a joke). The Gospel leaves them spellbound, and the silence speaks far more to the power of God than amens, and raucous excitement.

If you are a youth worker reading this, I implore you: study the Gospel, practice preaching the Gospel, pray that God would empower the preaching by His Spirit, and go and preach to your youth. Do not waste your time, or your churches money on these big conferences designed to stir your kids up into a frenzy just to leave them spiritually hungover the following week.

Now, I'll be honest, we play games. We goof off. We do things that are silly... but we preach the Gospel, not a little bit of God here and there just in order to sanctify our good time.


WOW Gospel

Wow is "Word on Wednesday" which is a part of the youth ministry at our church. WOW is all 6th-8th Grade Students. This program draws about 25 youth weekly most (90% or more) who do not go to any church regularly and is purely evangelistic. This is not training up of youth already in the faith, or who have families that are a part of the household of faith. We do a lot of frivolous stuff, then we preach and teach, and then we do it again the next week. What follows is today's teaching:

Too often you view me as a mere teacher, and I view you as mere students, but the things we talk about are far more weighty, far more serious, and have a far greater impact than any math problem, book report, or piece of American history. You see, the things we talk about here have eternal significance, you will use the math you are learning for the next 70 years, yet the truths we speak of will affect you for more than 700 years, yes more than 700 million years. I want to talk to you about the Gospel of Jesus Christ, no power point, no music, no youth room, this is too serious for that.
You see I believe we should have a good time, and I believe that there is a time and a place for playing Dodgeball, apples to apples and such, but... this far outweighs that. Let’s be honest guys, the whole reason that we play games and have food is in order to get you together to hear a message. That is our whole purpose in this. So today I want to teach you yet again on the Gospel of Jesus Christ, just plain and simple. Listen, people over the centuries have died for this message. As we speak there are missionaries walking into towns and villages to preach this message who will not come out alive, it is not some small thing. So let’s chop it up, let’s talk.
God created this universe, He really did. Atheists have worked hard at disproving it coming up with big bangs, and super molecules and so on, but they still cannot answer how it all got started... we know from the first verse of that the bible that “IN THE BEGINNING GOD...” This is really important. I do not really care what you think about evolution, and fossils and everything else, there is one reality you must see, and that is that the God has created this universe and has power over it. So what! Well we need to know some things about this God. First, He is personal, in other words He is not just some great cosmic spirit, or some old grandpa in the sky, He is active, and powerful in creation right now. Second we must know what He is like. He is Holy... in other words He is totally perfect, totally righteous, and totally different than us. Sometimes we think of God as being like us only a lot bigger, but that is not the case at all. Think of this, what is more like God, a powerful holy angel, or a piece of bacteria in the toilet. The answer is neither, because nothing is like God, He is more awesome than anything. It is like saying what is more like a person, gravel, or sand, well neither of them are like people. God is different than us, a lot different. So we cannot just say, well I would never punish someone and God is like me only better so He also would never punish someone. You cannot say that, because God is totally different than you. God is merciful, and patient with us, but at the same time He is perfect and just. Just, means fair. We call the judges on the supreme court justices, and they are supposed to be just. A judge that is just pronounces penalties for law breakers that are the equivalent to the laws they break. If you get a speeding ticket, you pay a fine, if you kill someone you get life in prison, if you rob a bank, you go to jail for awhile and so on. The penalty fits the crime. God is just, so He will penalize people according to their crimes. So that is a little bit about God, and we could talk forever about Him and not even get close to explaining Him. We do not have that long, so we will move on.
When talking about the Gospel we must talk about who God is, which is what we just did, we must also talk about people. Who here has told a lie? – Hmmm... all of you. What do you call someone who tells lies? A liar. The bible says a lot about liars, let’s just look at a couple verses...

A false witness will not go unpunished, And he who tells lies will not escape.
(Proverbs 19:5)

"But... all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death." (Revelation 21:8)

Whoa... God has a pretty heavy punishment for liars...

Who here has used the name of God the same way they would use a curse word. Like if you get mad saying ‘God!’ or “Jesus Christ” the same way someone may use a four letter word? Do you know what that is called? Blasphemy, what do you call someone who Blasphemes? A blasphemer. Now because of time I am not going to go into the verses about blasphemy, but let me tell you the punishment is just as bad as for liars.

Who here has been disrespectful to parents? Did you know that the God is so righteous that He even equates that sin with murder and adultery! You will find that in Romans Chapter 1, verse 30. Let me tell you, God is just, and this lying, blaspheming, and this disobedience to parents will not go unpunished... period. Now we have talked about 3 of the ten commandments, honoring parents, not lying, and not blaspheming. What about stealing? Have you ever done that? Are you a thief? Or what about having idols, worshipping things other than God, like athletes and actors, and actresses. Or how often have you looked at someone of the opposite sex like they were an object, and lusted about them, or thought improper sexual thoughts about them? Did you know that is also something that God hates... Now every one of you here is guilty or has been guilty of breaking many, if not all of the Ten Commandments!! This is no laughing matter. Remember God is merciful, and patient, but He is also just, and if God is going to be just, then He must punish your sin according to His laws. In other words, by your own admission you have sinned sins that deserve eternal punishment in Hell. Every single one of you! Do you think that God is going to forgo His own justice and just let you into Heaven and ignore your sin? Check this out:

He who justifies the wicked and he who condemns the righteous, Both of them alike are an abomination to the LORD. (Proverbs 17:15)

Yeah, so if God forgives without punishing, by His own command He would become an abomination. Do you think that God is willing to become and abomination? Of course not, He would cease to be God! So how can He forgive you?
Ok, check this out... there is this big theological word I want to teach you, it is called expiation. Yeah, expiation, the word is not important, but what it means is really important. If you, by faith put your faith and trust in Jesus Christ, it means that all of your sin was placed on Him. What does that mean, well essentially it means that because of your sin, Jesus became no longer innocent. He prayed before He was put on trial, and agreed to take your sins upon Himself, He agreed to do even more than that. He actually agreed to give you His perfect standing with God, in exchange for your sin. Now remember what we said about all those broken commandments, and the punishment they deserved?
God actually poured out that punishment upon Jesus, who was indwelt with the Christian’s sin. So if you believe, and have faith in Him, your sin has been punished already!

Why would Jesus (God the Son) and God the Father be willing to do this? Well it is because God is love! You see God loves you enough to endure the agonies of Hell for you, so that you would not have to. Sometimes people say hell is too strict of a punishment, but realize that Jesus endured more of Hell than anyone will ever have too, because he endured Hell for millions of people, so His punishment was a million times worse than the worst of sinners. You can never say that God is not fair, if anyone is not fair it is you, because He has done all of this for you, and you still do not give Him the time and worship He deserves.
So what is the application of all of this? Well do you believe? How do you know? Even the devil knows what happened on the cross, but knowing what happened and actually believing it are two totally different things. If you really believe this, your life will be changed, the way you think will be changed, the things you love to do will be in line with what God loves, and over time you will become more and more like Him. If you believe, you have begun to hate sin, and get disappointed when you find you have sinned. If you do not believe you can sin as often as you want and never really be bothered that much about it.
So the question I ask is “Are you a real believer? Do you understand the message that I gave? More importantly, is there something in you that wants to change, that wants to be like Christ, that wants to love God more and seek Him more? If there is today, or if there ever is, pull me aside, I would love to speak with you, and pray with you. If not, well you have heard the warnings, and sin will not go unpunished. Pray tonight before you go to bed, pray when you wake up, pray when you have free time, ask God to forgive you, ask Him to give you faith in Jesus. He will give faith and save everyone who truly seeks Him... not just lip service, but truly seeks Him.

Lets Pray.


The Bible Promise Book...

I was looking at my bookshelf the other day in my study area in my basement, and a little blue book caught my eye. It is called “The Bible Promise Book”. I received this book as a gift upon graduation from high school, and for awhile I would occasionally look at it, but I do not think I have looked at it in the last 7 years or so. Now I am not against this book, and I do not think it is a bad book to own, but nonetheless this book highlights a serious problem in the Church today. Let me give a little background on how this book goes. First off, it is all scriptures, no commentary, no how to solve your problems with 5 steps, it contains none of that nonsense. What it does contain is a number of situations, and then scriptures that deal with those situations. For instance, if you are dealing with a death of a loved one it will point you to a comforting scripture. If you are struggling with lust it will point you to a scripture about lust, if you are tempted to lie, it will point you to a scripture telling you the consequences of lying. This book sounds pretty handy right? Umm... well sort of...

We live in a time where the professing church does very little dwelling on the things of God, very little submersion in the word, very little meditation. Books like these are very helpful to the man or woman who is already immersed in God’s word and need a reminder of a promise, however this book is incredibly dangerous for those who use it as a tool to determine God’s will in a given situation. I will illustrate this, what follows is a brief entry that I wrote for a Lenten devotional that our congregation will receive this year. I was asked to do a half page, so here is what I wrote:

Jesus said unto them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.” John 6:35
If indeed you come to Christ you will be filled. Too often as Christians we live malnourished spiritually because we have not come to Christ to be filled. We feed on everything the world has to offer, but rarely feast on the things of God. When we face spiritual difficulty too often we are not healthy enough to deal with it. We are like people eating donuts all the time, breakfast, lunch, and dinner for months then one day we find out we have to run a 5 mile race, but it is too late to get in shape. We find ourselves in a crisis so we open our bible hoping to find answers and understanding, and to be given strength, but we haven’t kept ourselves spiritually healthy. To have discernment and answers when times get difficult, you must have a lifestyle of spiritual health. Lent is the perfect time to begin establishing the habits of daily prayer, scripture reading, and fasting. Be diligent, spiritual laziness in easier times will amount to spiritual fatigue and inability when times are difficult. Jesus is the bread of life, feed on it daily, and ask this day for your daily bread.
My personal decision to enter into ministry was made nearly in an instant when the call was sensed. I did not have to labor much because the years leading up to that decision were filled with study and prayer, and recognizing God’s call came naturally. I am too weak to face situations on my own, so I must remain constantly prepared, when I don’t I fail, time and time again.

In Christ,
Jay Miklovic

Now I know that is a basic teaching, but understand this, a quick glance at scripture now and then will never give you discernment in the things of God. How many times have you read a certain verse that you never understood until you read an entirely different portion of scripture?

Listen! If we do not get serious in this generation we will be Godless by the next generation. If people do not begin to seek God and call out to Him, He will certainly raise for Himself a people, but they will not be in the Western World. Do you want to know God’s will? Why? So you can get through a situation and then forget about it later? Making godly decisions is not difficult... it really is not difficult to make godly decisions. What is difficult is living in His presence and seeking hard after Him, when you do that you will naturally produce Godly decisions. It is like anything else... I will go skiing tomorrow with some of our youth, I have skied a lot, they have not. They will have to concentrate and learn focus, it will be like walking for me. They will have to think about how they are going to turn, I will just go, why, because I have spent time on skis, I have focused and practiced and pushed myself to go further and further into the art of skiing. The same is true with the scriptures, yes the new believer will struggle and fall and will learn and get up. The old believer will fall at times as well, but if they have faithfully pursued God it should not be so much labor to determine God’s will.

I suppose I have rambled some, but do not come up to me seeking God’s will from me, unless you have spent much time seeking it from Him.


David's Mercy

So he said to his men, "Far be it from me because of the LORD that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD'S anointed, to stretch out my hand against him, since he is the LORD'S anointed." (1 Samuel 24:6)

This verse is David speaking in a cave where he was hiding as Saul was pursuing him. David had the opportunity to end the pursuit with ease because Saul had entered into this cave not knowing that David was there. However David would not consider over throwing the Lord’s anointed (Saul), even though Saul was a vile man without the Spirit of the Lord. David understood the authority that was in place by God, and David had utter respect for that authority. God would eventually give David authority in due time, and would ultimately bring salvation to the world through the line of David, in fact other than the Lord Himself you may be able to say that David ended up with more authority than maybe any other man has ever had. Nonetheless he was utterly submissive prior to being crowned king.

Fast forward to the present time- how easy is it for you to speak against the Lord’s anointed rulers today? Seriously? At some point we need a reality check on this. Christianity is certainly a nonconforming religion, yet true Christianity refuses to conform to this world while still functioning under the existing authority structure. David is a wonderful example in this, especially how he deals with Saul. I have found we have in our culture today men who are chasing down the truth faith to do it harm whether they know it or not. The purpose driven movement, Best Life Now-ism, willow creek this and that, all seem to be so focused on bringing in the unchurched that they have become an unchurch. Evangelism is incredibly important, but evangelism is a sending more than it is a drawing, and they focus on drawing more than anything else. Anyway many fundamentalists will look at the Rick Warren and Joel Osteen and want nothing more than to see them fall. There will be great rejoicing in the fundamentalist camp if these men are exposed. I do not sense that would be the attitude of David, and I am certain that is not the attitude in Heaven. “There is great rejoicing in heaven when a sinner falls and is exposed.” Is that how the verse goes? Not at all, there is great rejoicing in heaven when a sinner repents! Do you share heaven’s desire for repentance concerning men like these? Or in the back of your mind to you want to see a big nasty fall first, and then think it would be a bonus if they repented?

Looking at David’s life is fascinating, do you remember his enemy of a son Absalom? People expected him to rejoice at Absalom’s death, but did he? No he mourned the death of his son, enemy or not. You see God’s ways are not our ways, His thoughts are not our thoughts. Do you pray for God’s wrath upon the corruption of the church in America or do you plead His mercy? Do you desire to see Mr. Osteen converted, and hear Him truly preach the gospel to his huge congregation, or would you rather see him fall?

Was God inconsistent when He showed David mercy in the Bathsheba incident, recall He had doled out fiercer punishment for lesser crimes in the past? David showed mercy to Saul, Absalom, Methibosheth, and others. What is mandate of Christ? Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. David certainly in many cases was merciful. Can you be merciful to your enemies and the enemies of God, knowing that you too were an enemy of His at one point? I believe in exposing false doctrine, I believe in showing lies for what they are, I even believe in mocking at times the foolishness of men, but nonetheless do you desire mercy? Vengeance is fine says the Lord... oh wait, ‘Vengeance is MINE says the Lord.’

Ok well this was a random post, but I have seen my need for repentance with regard to the way I view the wolves in sheep’s clothing. I typically never consider that heaven is ready to rejoice in the event of any of these men’s repentance.

Well I ran a lot of circles there, and this was a pretty random post, but maybe it helped someone.

Under Authority,,, again

I have reread my past post a few times, and for awhile I was waffling on it, even debating deleting it altogether. It is true that I often wrestle with my own postings, I am not sure if that makes me some sort of hypocrite, or schizophrenic, but none the less I often struggle with the things I write. So anyway I was having difficulty concerning what I wrote about submission to unbiblical church leaders.

Fast forward to today. I was listening to the scriptures on my iPod and was listening through 1st and 2nd Samuel and David's submission to Saul struck me. It is almost painful to observe his submission to Saul considering the terrible leadership of Saul and his out and out wickedness. Nonetheless David exhibits a submission to authority that could have cost him his life at the very hands of the authority to which he submitted. Of course we know that God worked powerfully in that. In fact it was not until David held the position of authority that he blundered with the Uzza and the Ark situation as well as Bathsheba.

So what is my point. I struggled with the last post, but in light of the scripture I have been listening to I believe the post to stand. Submission to authority is required regardless of whether it is government authority, authority within your congregation, evil, or good. The only times in scripture where a violation of authority is permitted is when the said authority is in contradiction with God's sovereign authority.

I apologize if this post was a simple or boring read, but it has at least helped me.