A Twisted Crown of Thorns ®

Reformed. Christianity. Evangelism. Modern Culture.

Category Archives: Modern Church Pragmatism

O Lord, I need a personal revival

Quoting John Newton:

NEWTON2_360Do you ask how it is with me?  Just as the weather is this morning.  My heart is cold as the snow under foot, and cloudy as the sky over my head.  Not a beam of sunshine, but it is a mercy to have daylight.  It will not be always winter, though it has been a long winter with me.  We want a revival at Olney both for the shepherd and the sheep.  Yet my mouth is not stopped.  I can sometimes talk loud and look big in the pulpit, but how different a creature am I behind the scenes!  Enter not into judgment with thy servant, O Lord!

How do people drift towards holiness?

drifting“People do not drift toward Holiness. Apart from grace-driven effort, people do not gravitate toward godliness, prayer, obedience to Scripture, faith, and delight in the Lord. We drift toward compromise and call it tolerance; we drift toward disobedience and call it freedom; we drift toward superstition and call it faith. We cherish the indiscipline of lost self-control and call it relaxation; we slouch toward prayerlessness and delude ourselves into thinking we have escaped legalism; we slide toward godlessness and convince ourselves we have been liberated.” ― D.A. Carson

Nigerian Scholar Presents Master Class Lecture Decrying Prosperity Gospel

An increasing number of Nigeria’s 70 million Christians according to BBC are following so called “prosperity teachings”.  According to the report, most of the Nigeria’s “prosperity churches” are led by multi-millionaire pastors who present their personal material success as models of the benefits of “following Christ.”

The following is a short message about the so-called “prosperity (g)ospel” by Nigerian scholar, Femi Adeleye, at the Lausanne Conference 2010, in Cape Town, South Africa. (sorry it has taken me this long to get this clip)

Hi s words seem to echo over and over and prick deep in to the conscience of a nation (nigeria) that seems to have had it’s conscience apparently seared as with a hot iron.

The most popular prosperity mega-churches in Nigeria is the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), led by the Pastor Enoch Adeboye, allegedly known to this followers as “Daddy G.O” (Daddy General Overseer).

RCCG in Nigeria recently completed a worship auditorium one mile long and half a mile wide and can take up to one million people at once. …Read More!

Dabbling in money making schemes and witchcraft while pastoring. What really happened?

If you are wondering about what to pray for when it comes to the church in Africa, do pray for faithfulness to the message of the gospel. Conrad Mbewe a local pastor in Africa in his recent newsletter from Kabwata (Zambia) laments:

[This post was first run here in 2012] I came across a pamphlet today. It was given to me at the traffic lights while waiting for the lights to go green. It read as follows:

My name is Stella Mwanza from Sinda (Eastern Province). I used to read in newspapers and listen to the radio about how different people were testifying concerning Pastor Elijah and I was so impressed with his healing powers that I decided to try him as I had a lot of problems.
First, my husband was divorcing me as he accused me of having an affair with another man and even doubted our lastborn child. Pastor Elijah prayed for me and this calmed down my husband and now we’re happily married with our kids.
I introduced a friend of mine to the same pastor who had an unstable marriage because her husband was sexually weak and had a tiny manhood. She was going out with other men to satisfy her sexual desire though she loved her husband. Pastor Elijah invited the couple to his place and prayed for both of them. Now they are back in a good relationship. Thanks to Pastor Elijah. …Read More!

Questionable methods in Church.

20140802-170755-61675763.jpg“The problem in our day, which gives rise to highly questionable church growth methods, is twofold:

On the one hand, we are seeing a waning confidence in the message of the gospel. Even the evangelical church shows signs of losing confidence in the convincing and converting power of the gospel message. That is why increasing numbers of churches prefer sermons on family life and psychological health. We are being overtaken by what Os Guinness calls the managerial and therapeutic revolutions. The winning message, it seems, is the one that helps people to solve their temporal problems, improves their self-esteem and makes them feel good about themselves.

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What to Look for in a Good Church

One of the most important questions for a Christian after where will I spend eternity and whom shall I marry is what church shall I attend? Well of course if you just need a joint where to spend Sunday morning ‘s hang over then you may as well a steer away from this site. Steer far away.
I was recently asked by a friend how to choose a good church. To be honest it is a head ache. Possibly a migraine of a decision. With the plethora of churches on the high street these days one needs a lot of prayerful patience. You probably won’t find a perfect church but a good solid Biblical church with sound doctrine is indeed a God send. There’s More

“The man of God” personality cult has made the Charismatic movement thrive in Africa.

churchConrad Mbewe a pastor of a little church in Kabwata in Africa has written an interesting post on the growth of Charismatic movement in Africa to the point that there is now a fringe mystic personality that has replaced the local witch doctor. This personality called ‘the man of God’ has become an ‘anointed guru’ who brings deliverance, breaks generational curses and dishes out break-throughs at a local center where you have to come ready to sow a seed. Oh let me not spoil the article for you…

Many explanations have been given for the explosion of the Charismatic movement in Africa. Many have seen this as a powerful visitation of the Holy Spirit. Whereas there is probably more than one reason, I want to add my own observation to this for what it is worth. In this blog post, I do not refer to the old conservative form of Pentecostalism once represented by the Assemblies of God churches. I have in mind the current extreme form that is mushrooming literally under every shrub and tree in Africa. How can one explain this phenomenon?

I think that one reason why the Charismatic movement in Africa has been like a wild bushfire is because it has not challenged the African religious worldview but has instead adopted it. It has simply baptised it with Bible verses and Christian words that previously meant something totally different.
The African Spiritual Worldview
Let me explain what I mean. The African spiritual worldview consists of four tiers.
1. God
2. Angels and demons
3. Ancestral spirits
4. Human beings
It is because of this reality that Africans do not question the existence of God, as is the case with many people in the Western world. To an African, God is there. He is the Creator and ultimate Governor and Benefactor of the whole universe.
Rather, in our spiritual worldview, although God is there he is very far away. Between him and us as human beings lie two layers in the spirit world. One is that of angels and demons (i.e. bad angels) and the other—which is even closer to us—is that of the spirits of the departed.
So, although God is a benevolent, loving, and caring Being, unless the beings that dwell in these two layers that lie between him and us are appeased, his blessings cannot reach us. It is, therefore, important to appease the ancestral spirits and defeat the demons. Only after that will God’s blessings come upon us.
This is where in African traditional religions witchdoctors come in. …Read More!

Purposefully driving God out of a church.

Purpose driven church?

Many in the church today believe that the only way to reach the world is to give the unchurched multitudes what they want. . . Subtly the overriding goal is church attendance and worldly acceptability rather than a transformed life. Preaching the Word and boldly confronting sin are seen as archaic, ineffectual means of winning the world. After all, those things actually drive most people away. Why not entice people into the fold by offering what they want, creating a friendly, comfortable environment, and catering to the very desires that constitute their strongest urges? As if we might get them to accept Jesus by somehow making Him more likable or making His message less offensive. That kind of thinking badly skews the mission of the church.

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Why did you become a ‘Reformed’ Christian?

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This question has been adapted from a post written by Jim Bublitz in 2007 titled Why has Jim become a ‘Reformed’ Christian?

As opposed to a “normal” Christian. . .
What exactly does it mean that I have become “Reformed”.

First off, “Reformed” simply means that I attend a church that holds to the beliefs of the protestant Reformation of the 16th century, when Luther and Calvin and others were instrumental in splitting the true church away from the abuses of the Roman Catholic system that evolved through the medieval centuries…

Like the majority of the churches during the post-Reformation era (and the Puritan era that followed), I have come to believe that Salvation begins with an unfailing work of God in the hearts of all those who will believe. While most churches in our current day believe that you “believe to be born again”, like the Reformers and Puritans I have come to believe the opposite about that; my belief is that you are “born again to believe” (see the change in order?).

Here’s a simple quiz for bible believing Christians who may not be convinced of this. Click the link below and see whether you truly believe that God is sovereign over the salvation of souls. …Read More!

The ‘personalised’ bible -with your name inserted in the good verses. No kidding!?!

This sounds like a joke stretched too far. However when it comes to making merchandise of men’s souls there is no end to the limit of options. A new bible version inserts your name in almost every sentence that sounds good or may make you feel good about yourself! It is the ‘personal promise bible’ of course and you can imagine how many misguided people will be buying into this fad. In a liberal generation that holds high self esteem as an essential, this is just the tip of the proverbial self actualization and narcissistic iceberg.

It’s sad to see the line up of celebrities trying to endorse this ‘bible’. To quote some of the personalities:

I loved the Bible and I was quoting excerpts from it in church!! It is a great idea!
Brian Houston, Senior Pastor, Hillsong Church, Sydney, Australia

“Its awesome…how alive the most routine verse has become! I can’t put it down.”
Dr. Wanda A. Turner, Author of Sex Traps and Celebrate Change

A friend on FB made a very interesting observation …Read More!

What is ‘churching’ the unchurched all about?

“Churching” the unchurched is a terminology used by many mega churches or purpose driven churches and if you have never heard of it, (let me begin by bursting the bubble) it actually has nothing to do with evangelism. No…

purpose drivenism“Churching the unchurched is an absolute fallacy – it is like purposing to let the tares in. It is absolutely bizarre to want to make unsaved people feel comfortable in a church. The church is not a building – the church is a group of worshiping, redeemed, and sanctified people among whom an unbeliever should feel either miserable, convicted and drawn to Christ, or else alienated and isolated. Only if the church hides its message and ceases to be what God designed the church to be, can it make an unbeliever comfortable.” ~John MacArthur

“Our pastor is a better comedian than yours!”

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In the modern times in which we live where every body has got the attention span of a gnat it is not surprising to see that many times some pastors opt to dress too casually in t-shirts and jeans to try and emulate popular stand up comedians. Well it actually works…these churches surely get filled up very soon. Most of the churches actually have high turn overs with new faces literally fighting for empty front row seats every week (and an even higher numbers leaving through the back door in search of funnier and more entertaining routines).

Church growth gurus now advocate for “hip and relevant” programmes that are geared to effect maximum entertainment and comedic fun at the expense of discipleship and Bible study. The youth groups are actually not far behind. (Oops! I guess that is the understatement of the generation seeing that its in church youth groups and clubs that the bar is usually lowered to be as permissive as possible to allow as much folly as can be crammed in a short time away from the adults). Aren’t we then surprised when we have Bible illiterate congregations? So are we yet aware where these “comedy wars” will take us?

Alan Redpath had some interesting things to say on this topic:
“God is trying to tell us that our current popular version of Christianity – comfortable, humorous, superficial, entertaining, worldly-wise – is exposed for the irreverent presentation of the Gospel of Christ that it really is. A preacher is commissioned to give people – not what they want – but what they need. No man has any business walking into the pulpit to entertain. He is there to present Calvary in all it’s fullness of hope and glory.”

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2012: The Best and Worst of the year!

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The year 2012 was interesting and frustrating. This year I will not feature the 10 most popular posts like I did in 2011. However I will give you a running commentary and “warm your little Calvinist hearts” with some grace and hope you won’t end up swimming back to Rome in the end.

The year started with high expectations and has ended on a high note – well unless you are a Mayan apocalypse enthusiast then you might be just a tard deflated. But hey cheer up we have extra time now, don’t we?

In 2012 it was interesting to see that many people were interested in reading how Veggie Tales ended up being a failed experiment. Well to be honest it was a fad that went too far into teaching kids how to be “Christian” without knowing Christ. Ironic but frankly I have come to expect this from most Evangelical fads that it doesn’t surprise me any more. Speaking of fads the year kicked off with a fad…oops thud when Steven Furtick (yup the celebrity pastor who spontaneously baptised 2,000 people in two weeks) invited Matt Chandler into a room full of orange flood lights, orange walls and orange carpets. When Matt began to preach about celebrities and supposed pastors using church as a platform for personal ambition, you could hear a pin drop. The barn burning sermon was a good fire starter for the year it and it ended with a clear gospel presentation too. But nothing prepared us for pastor Jim Murphy’s stance when he decided to root out religious junk from his lukewarm church bookstore. Murphy lamented the disintegration of Christianity and its falling away from the truth of the gospel and into more and more error – he traced the roots of today’s error to the subtle attacks on the authority of Scripture. When he finally asked “How did we get where we are?” Many expected him to point the finger else where but the wise old pastor pointed to him self and said said he was responsible for allowing his church to become lukewarm and hence forth there would be changes. Talk about the perspicuity of scripture.

Don’t blink yet, that was just the beginning!

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What would Calvin say on today’s self esteem movement?

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That person has profited well in the knowledge of himself when he is crushed and frightened by understanding his wretchedness, poverty, nakedness, and disgrace. For there is no danger that a person will lower himself too much, provided he understands that he must recover in God what he lacks in himself. — John Calvin

A Mega church pastor and the little known (Un) spiritual gift of “Hype”

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Most mega churches grow by creating Hype! To maintain the experience one has got to keep building up a consumer base by promising a better experience each time and “an awesome entertainment” the next time. It is quite disorienting since its all done in the name of Christianity. Actually some Sunday services experiences these days begin and end without the name of Jesus, God, sin or righteousness being mentioned. Well, recently….

A Colorado Springs megachurch pastor became disillusioned when he began to follow on Twitter around a dozen high-profile pastors whose ministries he respected.
These pastors would regularly tweet something that was, in Pastor Brady Boyd’s opinion, overflowing with hype. “Super Bowl of all Sundays,” “the megamonster of all sermons,” “I can’t think of another time I have been more excited about preaching a message,” they tweeted as they touted upcoming weekend services.
“How can it be, week after week?” Boyd, senior pastor of New Life Church, wrote in his newly released [book].
Sadly, the result of hype is a church full of consumers.
“It would be easy to blame church congregations for the madness that has consumed our gatherings these days, except that from what I see from their pastors, we’re conditioning them to behave this way. We hype and promote and position and tweet and inadvertently create pews full of consumers instead of devoted worshipers of God,” Boyd stated.
“We hyp-ers are setting up our people to expect an experience, instead of teaching them to encounter their Lord.”

Duh, has the penny just dropped?

 

Why are church youth groups the new waste lands?

What happened to modern church youth ministries? Why are many youth walking away from church as soon as they are old enough to leave home? Why is there very little reverance for God among the youth? “Divided” the movie has interesting findings…

Theology gives the alarm at the first and so often decisive moment, when the language of religion among a people begins to decline from the truth, and when error, like a rising weed, sprouts and grows into a plant. It then gives timely warning, and people hasten to root it out.-Louis Gaussen – 1840

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Scratching Itching Ears!

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God wants his messenger to have the spiritual needs addressed, which super-cedes all other needs. It is God, through the Holy Spirit that we start with, not man. Seeker sensitive preaching is determined by the audience, the target is the “felt needs” or what people think is needed in their life. But who knows better, the sinner or God? Our teaching should start with the Holy Spirit leading us into the Scripture. The apostle Paul made it clear “For am I now seeking the favor of men, or of God? Or am I striving to please men? If I were still trying to please men, I would not be a bond-servant of Christ. (Gal. 1:10-11). The gospel offends when it is spoken correctly but for those who come to the cross it heals.

For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. ~ 2 Tim 4:3

HT friends on FB.

The Contemporary Evangelical Christian…cares little about doctrine. Nuff said!

The message that one gets from the questionable theological liaisons is that doctrine doesn’t matter. You can have a Reformed soteriology, but hold onto an Arminian ecclesiology, believe in a non-trinitarian quasi- modalist definition of the God head and even have an Emergent missiology. Who cares about doctrine? Be…..pragmatic!

You don’t have to stay true to your orthodox convictions. Just blend in and appear cool…with a swagger. …Read More!

What Did Paul mean by the head Covering for Women and Does it apply to us today?

Walk into a modern church and tell the women to come back the next sunday with hats and fancy head covering and you will have started a fad. But any one reading through 1 Corinthians 11:2-16 will always ask what is the head covering Paul is talking about and does it apply to us today? Well a couple of views:

The following ‘exegesis’ (if we can call it that) is really no more than an attempt to wrestle with the major hermeneutical-pragmatic double question of this passage, viz., what is the head covering and in what sense is this text applicable today?

There are several views in vogue on the text, but within evangelicalism three or four come readily to mind:

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Dear God, this is why Singapore needs you…

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In Singapore there is a form of godliness that is rooted in materialism and it’s called “Christless Christianity”…

At “Miracle-Seed Sunday” in Singapore’s New Creation Church last month, the pastor’s sermon was preceded by PowerPoint and video presentations, and donations were overseen by auditors.
[ Singaporeans] are flocking to a new species of churches making appeals more in common with “Material Girl” pop-singer Madonna…
Wearing a white leather jacket and jeans, Senior Pastor Joseph Prince asked God to reward a crowd of about 1,200 with houses, cars, jobs, pay raises and holidays if they contributed to New Creation’s multimillion-dollar funding drive.
Prince’s 24,000-strong flock belongs to a flourishing breed of churches from Houston to Sydney winning followers with a focus on personal well-being. As the rise of so-called mega churches helps make Christians the fastest-growing religious group

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All Dogs go to Heaven!

Nothing can be as fatal as holding wrong theology. Nothing is as worrisome as being caught with faulty theology by heathens and pagans. Apparently Cher has been listening to a few celebrity “Christian pastors” and she is irked by their lack of Biblical knowledge in basic Christianity!

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Topics That Get Pastors Fleeing For The Door.

Apparently there are topics that more than half the pastors wont even bother preaching on. They will try tooth and nail to dodge them and use every excuse to avoid some topics. Well you see…

As reported [a while ago] in Your Church magazine, 55 percent of pastors can identify one or more topics on which they would not preach at all or only sparingly, because the sermon could negatively affect their hearers’ willingness to attend church in the future. Among them are politics (38 percent), homosexuality (23 percent), abortion (18 percent), same-sex marriage (17 percent), war (17 percent), women’s role in church and home (13 percent), the doctrine of election (13 percent), hell (7 percent) and money (3 percent).

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Redefining Christianity: A letter from a church member whose church is in transition.

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I am currently reading Bob Dewaay’s book ‘Redefining Christianity’. It is a good primer in understanding the purpose driven movement that seems to be invading Evangelicalism. Today we see highly ‘successful’ and highly publicised churches being paraded in the limelight as the models for church growth. They say that they “do church” for “the unchurched” (unconverted sinners). The statistics of numbers joining is impressive and along with this comes the usual usual prod in the ribs with the jesting question, ‘Hey, is your church growing like ours?’
A rather sobering letter is featured in the opening chapters of ‘Redefining Christianity’ from a church member who is from a church that appears to be ticking all the success boxes. Well all doesn’t seem to be green on the other side of the fence though. You see….

[Letter] There have been major changes at the church. When you walk in, you will now find a MAC machine, a coffee shop where you can purchase donuts, croissants, coffee, you name it. There are also about a hundred tables with chairs to sit and eat. When service starts there is smoke, lights, lasers, and music so loud my ears ring after church is over. This week there was a ten minute service. Then, our pastor demonstrated a soccer move he learned that week. He did a flip and kicked a soccer ball. Then, he set up a table and him and his wife talked to each other about their trip to Africa. On top of this, we no longer use the Bible. We use the ‘Purpose Driven Life’.. …Read More!

Church for “the Unchurched” hits a raw nerve!

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[Some misguided teachers] say “make the service so attractive, appealing, and relevant to the unchurched that your members are eager to share it with the lost people they care about.” This is church for the unchurched (translation: unsaved/nonbeliever). That again is not a Biblical model. The Biblical model set up the church as the “pillar and support of the truth,” the place of fellowship for believers where they can be trained and strengthened to go out and proclaim the gospel to the lost. Then when the lost are found they are welcomed into the church. ~Steak and a Bible

The Theology behind Steven Furtick’s “Audacious Faith”

20120706-181832.jpgSteven Furtick is the poster child of a concept called “audacious faith”. What is this new fad all about? And most important of all what theological depth does it have? Is it a scriptural concept? Pastor Bjoern E. Meinhardt took some time to review Furtick’s ‘five star’ book Sun Stand Still and found very interesting conclusions

Recently, somebody brought the book Sun Stand Still (the title is a reference to Joshua 10) by Stephen Furtick to my attention. I looked it up on Amazon.com and saw more than 100 five-star ratings. I was curious. I wanted to read it for myself. To say the very least, I was disappointed. Furtick’s concept of “audacious faith” is lacking theological depths and orthodox Christian teachings. It is pop-theology pure. In short, it preaches what many people’s itching ears want to hear to make them feel good about themselves in a success-oriented world.

Furtick claims, a theology that does not activate one’s audacious faith is “heresy” (see page 7). Saying that all other theology is heresy is audacious in and by itself. Even more so since the entire book breathes the heresy of Semi-Pelagianism: salvation is not built on the cross of Christ, but it becomes possible through our (human) efforts and doing, which become visible and tangible in wealth, success, and recognition.

Faith understood this way is nothing more than a tool for self-serving fulfillment dreams based on a prayer of entitlement, which can be summarized as follows: ‘I believe, therefore I deserve all these (good) things. All I have to do is get – what Furtick calls – my “Page-23-vision” right, and bring it before god’ (spelled so on purpose). This, however, is not audacious faith in a great God. Rather, this is confidence in my own achievements. God is only seen as the great sugar-daddy who can’t say no

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10 Recommendations to Gospel Artists from a concerned Pastor

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I wish I had come up with these recommendations but I am glad that a concerned pastor has beaten me to it and done it the way an elder should….

1. Write and sing songs that exalt the Godhead, rather than songs to and about the congregation or audience.

2. In many instances, simple is better. But be careful not to dumb down worship by only writing and performing simplistic songs. 7-11 songs – where you keep saying the same seven words eleven times – are not edifying. Write a text. Make a point. Give us something grand about Christ and the gospel to listen to, sing, and think about.

3. Please stop doing so much talking before, during, and after the songs. Just sing. And let the lyrics speak for themselves.

4. Take the time to have a pastor or Bible teacher review your lyrics, to help you think through the theological, doctrinal, and textual implications of your lyrics. (Hopefully, it can be your pastor. You do have a pastor, don’t you?) Word of Faith teachers do not count on theological grounds.

5. Be sensitive to the fact that your recordings influence many local churches, music departments, and worship services – for better or for worse. …Read More!

Why are mega churches “successful”?

20120704-181539.jpgLetter of Marque rightly notes that…

God, the Holy Spirit, inspired the Apostle John to take up his pen and write this word of encouragement and warning to us. In these words we will also find God’s explanation regarding the raging popularity of the Seeker-Driven Mega “churches”. According to scripture, they’re not successful because they’ve tapped into the latest movement of the Spirit, or because their on the cutting edge of revival or because they’ve found a way to communicate the timeless truths of scripture in fresh relevant ways. Nope. Here’s what God says:

“Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. They are from the world; therefore they speak from the world, and the world listens to them. We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us; whoever is not from God does not listen to us. By this we know the Spirit of truth and the spirit of error.” (1 John 4:4–6)

HT Jim West.

Celebrity pastor Ed Young regrettably spits into the wind!

When it comes to setting fashion trends and appealing to people’s sensuality, Ed Young jr. has indeed become a household name. At times his gimmicks have been ambiguous and over the top but he gets away with it because… Well he has a mega church that likes what he does and they will fund him to display his pranks and gimmicks. Recently he seemed to have bitten off too much and thereafter like an impudent brat spoken out of turn leaving his own audience cringing. You see (reports one Ordinary Pastor)….

20120627-164841.jpgThis morning I was inundated with a number of references to a sermon by a prominent Texas pastor. The fact that Ed Young says something controversial is not new. He has been in the news for bringing live animals up for his sermons and who could forget the whole 24-hour web chat from his bed, with his wife, atop his church building? Because of these types of stunts, I don’t pay much attention to what he is saying.
Today was different however. In the midst of a sermon he launched into a diatribe against Reformed Churches. His motto was that “Reformed Theology leads to Deformed Ecclesiology.” Can Reformed pastors afford to look in the mirror in light of the Scriptures? Yes. Absolutely. Do we have the corner market on the truth? Absolutely not.

At the same time, what Young said was truly troubling. Concerning his rant, Justin Taylor tweeted, “(it was) A sad mixture of prideful boasting and sinful slander against fellow pastors and brothers.”

But this is not the primary reason why I was troubled. My biggest offense was with what he said about the work of the Holy Spirit:

Are they all bad? No they just don’t reach anybody. Last year at Fellowship Church we baptized 2,632 people. One of the fair-haired boys of this movement, I will not call his name, they baptized 26 people last year. (he then drops his hand-held mic on the floor and looks stunned). Oh, he’s deep. What are you smoking? Are you kidding me? I cannot put my head on the pillow at night knowing we baptized 26 people.

Without going too deep, the Bible seems to teach that conversion is directly tied to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is the same gracious, powerful, loving, God that brings 1 person to faith that brings 100 or 1,000 to faith.

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Financial Break Through Bible Causes a Stir!

If you are into prosperity gospel, you will probably be happy that the “Financial Breakthrough Spiritual Warefare Bible” by Morris Cerullo is available at the small price of $200. No kidding. However I realise only two people have made comments about it on the Amazon website. I find the comments rather interesting. One enchanted buyer was glad to say:

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My mother absolutely loved this Bible, but she lost it one day. She was so upset that I rushed to Amazon to see if I could replace it. I found the same version she had with the leather cover and it was a good price, so I bought it. It shipped quickly and she was impressed with the condition of the item. No complaints here.

However another customer called Kaylee was rather not amused and wasted no time in pointing out that:

I would not give 2 cents for any of his books, let alone his bibles. The man is a HERETIC and a SWINDLER. Save your money.

Oh by the way Morris Cerullo has started recruiting for a “Joel’s army”. A team of immortals who will bring judgement on the ungodly (the ungodly being those who oppose them). And you can buy some more religious junk and junta paraphernalia

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Evangelicalism is no longer Theologically Liberal. No, It’s fast becoming Vacuous (Empty)!

I have wanted to read Michael Horton’s Christless Christianity for a long while. Glad to find some one who has read it and made a book review. Thad Bergmeier (Changed by The Gospel) explains….

20120626-220348.jpgIn summary, Horton provides a scathing rebuke of the American gospel presentation. And this gospel message, which is summarized by Christian Smith’s–Moralistic, Therapeutic Deism–has only been successful because hundreds of thousands of people accept it. It is a gospel about them. It is a gospel to meet their comforts. But it is a gospel without Christ. His main argument in this book is “not that evangelicalism is becoming theologically liberal but that it is becoming theologically vacuous” (23). In case you do not know, vacuous means empty or without content; put in the context of this book, it means that evangelicalism has become without the content of Jesus Christ. In the book, even before he states that purpose, he has a statement that I think adequately represents the book.
“My concern is that we are getting dangerously close to the place in everyday American church life where the bible is mined for ‘relevant’ quotes but is largely irrelevant on its own terms; God is used as a personal source rather than known, worshiped, and trusted; Jesus Christ is a coach with a good game plan for our victory rather than a Savior who has already achieved it for us; salvation is more a matter of having our best life now than being saved from God’s judgment by God himself; and the Holy Spirit is an electrical outlet we can plug into for the power we need to be all that we can be” …Read More!

A short story about counting converts and belt notching.

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In some Christian circles soul winning ends up becoming ‘belt-notching’. This misguided thinking brings to mind comparisons of the ‘kill’ talley painted on the cockpits of fighter aircraft. Here’s the account of a former soul winning ace, who one day started to question the shallowness of manipulating people into praying that simple prayer; the one that is said to trigger salvation. In one of the accounts that he gives, a drunk man is coached into praying the sinner’s prayer. Incredibly, it was later said of the drunk man:
“I wonder if he’ll even remember getting saved? Boy will he be surprised when he gets to heaven!”.

Excerpt from The Old Truth.

The pitfalls of short term missions trips and aid appeals.

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There is place for missions and aid appeals. However Darren Carlson is looking at a very pertinent issue. The draw backs of short term mission trips and aid initiatives….

I have seen with my own eyes or know of houses in Latin America that have been painted 20 times by 20 different short-term teams; fake orphanages in Uganda erected to get Westerners to give money; internet centers in India whose primary purpose is to ask Westerners for money; children in African countries purposefully mutilated by their parents so they would solicit sympathy while they beg; a New England-style church built by a Western team in Cameroon that is never used except when the team comes to visit; and slums filled with big-screen TVs and cell phone towers.

I have seen or know of teams of grandmothers who go to African countries and hold baby orphans for a week every year but don’t send a dime to help them otherwise; teams who build houses that never get used; teams that bring the best vacation Bible school material for evangelism when the national church can never bring people back to church unless they have the expensive Western material; teams that lead evangelistic crusades claiming commitments to Christ topping 5,000 every year in the same location with the same people attending.

Short-term missions is fraught with problems, and many wish such trips did not exist, at least in the common form today.

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Fishers of Men: Did Jesus mean bait fishing or net fishing (part 2)?

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This is an excerpt of an interesting post by Chris Rosebrough looking at the purpose driven approach to church growth in light of scripture. It does ask pertinent questions. (Read first part here)

The Purpose-Driven / Seeker Sensitive model of evangelism attempts to attract so-called ‘seekers’ (Rom. 3:11) to attend a church service by radically changing the nature of church. Gone are hymns, and Biblical expository sermons. These have been replaced with culturally appealing rocks shows and practical self-help, felt-needs, life improvement seminars that contain a few ripped out of context verses thrown in to create the illusion that they’re based on the Bible. The model of fishing that Rick Warren is teaching his fleet of ‘fishers of men’ to employ is Bait Fishing. It is important to understand that the primary strategy of bait fishing is deception. Bait fishing deceives unsuspecting fish into believing that they are about to enjoy in their favorite meal but instead they find themselves being killed by a well hidden hook.

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You-gotta-think-like-fish-if-you-want-to-catch-the-fish-church.

Pastor Baitswitch had finally managed to get the right ingredients for his church choir.

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But they seemed to have forgotten whom they would be worshipping. 😉

5 Theological errors to learn (and avoid) from the purpose driven church

Do they want bigger hot dogs? Flavored water or cushions for their ankles the customer is king. This is the approach to successful entrepreneurship. It is sometimes no different when it comes to modern day church marketing only that it is called being ‘purpose driven’. Long gone are the days of preaching the gospel and teaching sound doctrine. It’s not uncommon to hear pastors talk and ask questions like ‘what’s the vision for your church?’ or ‘how is your church going to grow?’ By ‘vision’ they usually mean ‘a purpose driven plan’ or pragmatic approach to church growth.

You see, the purpose driven church movement makes several assumptions but here we will look at 5 common errors and how they deviate from scripture.

1.A pragmatic church assumes that the primary purpose of Sunday morning church services is to reach out to unbelievers who are some times erroneously referred to as ‘unchurched christians’ . In the New Testament, however, the reason the church gathers is for worship and equipping (Eph. 4:11-16; Acts 2:37-47). Evangelism is to primarily take place in the believer’s life context (“as you go”—Matt. 28:18-20) rather than being the main focus of the Sunday worship service. …Read More!

Of Mixed Martial Arts and “Bath Salts” in Church.

An urban legend says that mixed martial arts is the “in” thing for boys to do to prove they are macho men. In a relentless bid to remain cool and relevant several churches have caught up with the culture of the age and have adopted a similar stance towards mixed martial arts. They have abandoned bible study and taken to the mat. But since fads do not stay for long, a new fad is on the rise. It involves using “bath salts”. So, how long will it be till the first youth pastor  takes up the culture challenge?

A little tip: “Bath salts” is actually a misnomer (it actually has nothing to do with taking a bath but it sure will salt up your brain). They are a synthetic amphetamine cocktail known as ‘the new LSD’. A new designer drug that has been responsible for altered states of consciousness and zombie like experiences.

With trend setting youth pastors  already using snake handling gimmicks as a proof of their faith it sure wont be long before a “bath salts” communion cup is fatally passed around a youth group of eager Bible illiterate enthusiasts.

Sadly, this sickening downgrade of the gospel for temporal experiential highs has led to  bible study being a looked at as a stale alternative for Christian growth for my generation of young people and the drum beat of that old limbo song “How low can you go?” has become their mantra.

Leonard Ravenhill was right:

They want their own football field and tennis courts. Dear God, do children go to church to learn to play tennis? God help the preachers! Why can’t we get them spiritual so they want prayer …Read More!

Word of faith preacher Joyce Meyer gets endorsed by ‘joyful’ RnB star Rihanna.

A recent trend these days in Evangelicalism is to endorse a celebrity and in return a preacher gets publicly affirmed. Another version of this trend is to preach (weak and neutral soppy messages) pandering to people’s feeling and sentiments so as to get recognition. These trends are mostly seen among prosperity and word of faith preachers and broad casters. When prosperity guru T.D Jakes was endorsed by multi millionaire P. Diddy, I saw a few people get excited. They said, “Oh look! Now surely there are going to be multitudes coming to church too after seeing their celebrity in church.” The rationale is usually and sometimes is that the celebrity becomes a draw string to bring people to their church. One ill advised pastor revved up his church by inviting a Hip hop artist to share his pulpit while another mega church pastor invited a popular talk show hostess and on and on the brouhaha goes.

Recently “word of faith” and prosperity teacher Joyce Meyer’s teachings got a public nod from an elated celebrity known for her explicitly raunchy music. Had the message of sin, righteousness and judgement self esteem, health and wealth  struck a chord of contention or agreement?

Rihanna’s spiritual beliefs may have raised questions for some in the past, but the 24-year-old singer is not afraid to admit that she is a fan of Christian minister and author Joyce Meyer.

    This month, the record-breaking Barbadian singer has been using her Twitter account to spread Meyer’s teachings.

    “If Satan can defeat you in your thoughts then he can defeat you anywhere else as well,” reads a message written by Meyer and re-tweeted by Rihanna on June 4.

    To underline her point, the singer sent a tweet to Meyer directly.

    “@JoyceMeyer you’re awesome,” Rihanna told the minister via Twitter on the following day.

    When one of Rihanna’s fans tweeted about Meyer being …Read More!

Ten reasons why we will hence forth do no ‘Altar Calls’. No, the piano isn’t broken.

You can imagine the uproar that could occur if the above notice met congregants to most mega churches. Well not only mega churches do ‘Altar Calls’ but most churches I know do. We all know when that moment is a bout to be breached….when the pastor gives a nod and the pianist and worship leader begin to take their places.

But what’s wrong with the ‘Altar Call’ you ask? Well here are ten reasons but first Thabiti Anyabwile humbly explains:

I’m sometimes asked by people why we don’t do “altar calls” at our services. Like the people who ask the question, the churches in my personal background pretty much all practiced “altar calls” at the conclusion of a sermon or service. I’ve seen them done in very poor fashion, and I’ve seen some pastors be really clear about the gospel, repentance, faith, and the fact that “coming forward” does not save. I date my own conversion to the preaching of Exodus 32, which concluded with an altar call.

So, why don’t we practice “altar calls”? I don’t think the pastor who practices an “invitation” at the end of a sermon is in sin, but he may not be acting wisely either. This list of reasons, compiled by Pastor Ryan Kelly of Desert Springs Church, is a pretty good summation of some of my thinking (HT: Z).

1. The altar call is simply and completely absent from the pages of the N.T.

2. The altar call is historically absent until the 19th century, and its use at that time (via Charles Finney) was directly based upon bad theology and a man-centered, manipulative methodology. …Read More!

Welcome to the land where pastors don’t wipe their own sweat.

Ultimate  dream: Do you need personal body guards armed with tazers too?

Its disheartening to hear of the atrocities committed in the name of God. More so when the most vulnerable and poor are fleeced of the little they have ( most times they are shamelessly relieved of almost all their livelihood). This is done to fund an opulent lifestyle for a supposed snake oil sales man a.ka man of God. Street Journal reports that…

It has become an agreed fact that the only other business bigger than running a church in Nigeria is politics. No thanks to the intoxicating effects religion has on Nigerians which have gone a long way to prove that Karl Marx was not mistaken when he defined religion as “the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world and the soul of the soulless conditions. It is the opium of the masses.”

Unfortunately for the country, despite the increase in the number of religious centres, there has been a directly proportional increase in the rate of crimes and vices being perpetrated in the country; religious centres inclusive.

In some parts of Nigeria, five minutes walk from anywhere will lead one to a church. Investigations have however shown that not all the churches are genuine; some are no more than business centres and money-making ventures. …Read More!

New generation of snake handling christians take to Facebook to say, “Come join us please!”

Recently there’s been a drastic decline in the numbers of snake handling pastors. Don’t guess why. The theology has been profoundly hermeneutically dodgy and even savvy pagans are out doing them in their fancy snake charming gimmicks. However in a renewed bid to show off to the rest of the world and to other lesser endowed Christians the snake handling fundamentalists are out again to drum up support and to underline the difference between the “haves” and the “have nots”. You see…

NASHVILLE – Hamblin, 21, pastor of Tabernacle Church of God in LaFollette, Tenn., is part of a new generation of serpent-handling Christians who are revitalizing a century-old faith tradition in Tennessee.

While older serpent handlers were wary of outsiders, these younger believers welcome visitors and use Facebook to promote their often misunderstood — and illegal — version of Christianity. They want to show the beauty and power of their extreme form of spirituality. And they hope eventually to reverse a state ban on handling snakes in church.

Since the early 1900s, a handful of true believers in Eastern Tennessee and other parts of Appalachia have practiced the so-called signs of the gospel, found in a little-known passage in the King James Version of the Gospel of Mark:

“And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.”

While other churches ignore this passage or treat it metaphorically, serpent handlers follow it literally. Their intense faith demands sinless living and rewards them with spiritual ecstasy — the chance to hold life and death in their hands.

It began with a tingling

Brother Micah Golden felt it first while standing in the parking lot with other worshipers, waiting for church to start during a three-day revival in early May. It began with a tingling in his hands that spread over his body. Then he began to moan and pray. …Read More!

Away with the gospel we want more signs and wonders and miracles!

Since the time of Simon the magician there has always been a relentless surge for the miraculous. (Actually in the days of Jesus many loved following him just for fish and bread). Simon in his day was a local celebrity. He was a magician of sorts, and had mesmerized the locals with his arts. And they had given him the title “The Great Power of God”. And he loved it. He basked in his reputation and fed off the admiration and respect he received. I bet he would have made it big time on the talk show circuits around Jerusalem.

Speaking of circuits, a local pastor recently found a signs and wonders tent pitched up right near his church. Pastor Scott Rodriguez did what every pastor ought to do in this kind of situation:

Pastor Rodriguez:

Brothers, several have been asking for some backstory/context on these videos. Mrs. Muldoon set her tent up across the street from our church (it is still there until Sunday 5/20.) I received a call from one of our people that some families that attend our church were sitting in her audience. Others were there to pray and share the gospel afterwards with people leaving. They had been accosted by a young man named Devon, (the managers son) on the evening before when he overheard one of our young men talking with someone after the service about the call of Pastor being reserved for men. …Read More!

Was Harry Emerson Fosdick the Original “Give ’em what they want to hear” Preacher?

Harry Emerson Fosdick (May 24, 1878-October 5, 1969) was an American clergyman. As a liberal and modernist Baptist minister, Harry rose to prominence as the weekly preacher at New York City’s First Presbyterian Church (1918-1924). Fundamentalist Christians nationwide attacked his view that ‘modern Christians’ could doubt doctrines such as the literal truth of the Bible and the virgin birth of Jesus and still remain faithful. The modernists denied the authority and inerrancy of Scripture. Fosdick ultimately would not acknowledge the literal reality of God’s wrath toward impenitent sinners. To him, ‘the wrath of God’ was nothing more than a metaphor for the natural consequences of wrongdoing. His theology would not tolerate a personal God whose righteous anger burns against sin. To Fosdick, the threat of hell fire was only a relic of a barbaric age.

His sermons were often creative, inventive and topical …Read More!

Maverick pastor gets crowds streaming into church after erecting a stripper pole behind pulpit

Well you probably think I am kidding. Where in scripture and church history do we find stripper poles being erected in the sanctuary in church during worship and preaching of the word? Well…

A local pastor said he put a stripper pole on his pulpit to help preach his message.It may raise some eyebrows, but Pastor Mike Scruggs said he’s hoping it will save some marriages.Scruggs admits he’s anything but a traditional pulpit preacher.”We try to make it relevant, straightforward.

We don’t sugarcoat anything,” he said.On Friday, Scruggs’ sermon series drew a packed house at the Light of Word Ministries on Colerain Avenue.”We talk about sex. We talk about drugs. We talk about faith. We talk about relationships…, things that people are dealing with on a day-to-day basis,” Scruggs said.The series of sermons is called the “Battle of the Sexes,” with some rather interesting visual props.”On one side, (we’ll have) what men want or desire: your stripper pole, your video games, your sports,” Scruggs said. “The woman’s side (is) orderly, neat. It’s all about love, candy, teddy bears, roses and being wined and dined and cherished.”Scruggs said his church focuses on real situations and brings godly solutions.”We push the envelope, that’s true,” he said. …Read More!

Why ‘Gospelite’ is dangerous for your church.

Christian Post is running a feature story on a new book. I think it is an interesting one too. It’s written by a couple who were once  false converts of a falsified watered down gospel (gospelite) to warn other false converts. You see …

In their new book, Falsified: The Danger of False Conversion, authors Vincent and Lori Williams seek to use Scripture to identify what they define as an “epidemic” of false conversions currently sweeping evangelical churches in the U.S. The couple speak from personal experience, as they too were once false converts.

The Williams define a “false conversion” as one in which the converted feels that they are saved, but in reality are not because they are not living by the correct teachings of Scripture. The couple confess in their book that they were at one time “false converts led into a false sense of security by seeker-sensitive churches preaching a watered-down Gospel.” …Read More!

Why are Mega churches resorting to finding “Church growth consultants” and “High Capacity People”?

The latest buzz in numbers of those flocking to a new church will always cause ears to prick up. The stats are certainly impressive, the buildings expensive, and the congregations expansive. And perhaps there is plenty of reason to be enthusiastic— lost people are attending weekend services. Isn’t it? But does the evangelistic philosophy behind the so-called “Church Growth Movement” match up to or follow the biblical model? Does it meet Scripture’s standards or does it fall short of God’s expectations? Where do “church growth consultants” come from and why do they insist on pastors identifying their number one asset “the high capacity person”? If all this is news to you FBC Jax watch dog explains….

Let’s start things off by looking at a 6-minute video produced by Jim Sheppard, the CEO of a consulting firm named “Generis”…

Jim produced the video [above] for an event called “The Nines” [in 2010], where 100 leaders gave 6-minute talks on the Internet to help church pastors… In his video, Jim explains to church leaders how they need to develop strategies for going after the very wealthy in their community, who he calls “the high capacity people”.

Here are some quotes from the video: …Read More!

ACTS church emphasized teaching not performance arts or activities.

 A timely message from Dr. Martyn Lloyd Jones:

In Acts 2, what did the Christians come together for? Here were these people who had come out of the world to join the group of people called disciples, and they formed the first church, but what is the Christian church for? What does she do? What does she provide? Do Christian people come together for socials, dances, raffles, dramatic performances, lectures on politics, literature, and sociology? There was nothing like that in the early church. It is not my objective to denounce these things. But I do want to show how far removed they are from the Christian church. You can get all that in the world, and you can get it very much better there. The Christian church makes a fool of herself when she attempts these things–she does them so badly. If you want activities like that, then go and get them organized professionally. But that is not the Christian church. It is a travesty. …Read More!

Amusing the goats but starving the sheep!!

Charles Spurgeon was right…

My first contention is that providing amusement for the people is nowhere spoken of in the Scriptures as a function of the Church. If it is a Christian work why did not Christ speak of it? ‘Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.’ That is clear enough. So it would have been if He has added, ‘and provide amusement for those who do not relish the gospel’ No such words, however, are to be found. It did not seem to occur to Him. Then again, ‘He gave some apostles, some prophets, some pastors and teachers, for the work of the ministry.’ Where do entertainers come in? The Holy Spirit is silent concerning them. Were the prophets persecuted because they amused the people or because they refused? The concert has no martyr roll. …Read More!

Methods, Methods and More Methods: Sacrificing Sola Scriptura on altar of Sola Cultura?

We have seen this happen day in and day out. A church is set up in the corner and before you can even say “Smith Wigglesworth” it has become the local centre of entertainment and creative arts. Along the way you find we have lost the gospel and no longer even mention the name of Jesus lest we offend some first time visitors. So, methodology (and contemporary methods at that) are they neutral? Here is something you can learn from Arturo Azurdia as we go back to scripture….

As a man devoted to the gospel first and foremost, how am I to respond to the steady barrage of novel methods for ministry being advocated today by various expressions of evangelicalism? Is it ethically responsible to disengage my evaluative faculties in the name of contemporaneity? Is it true that methods for ministry are of no real consequence to God insofar as our motivation is the salvation of human beings—that, in fact, our methods should be altogether determined by the unique mores of each cultural context? Is methodology neutral? Or are we dangerously close to sacrificing Sola Scriptura on the altar of Sola Cultura? …Read More!

Two Rap artists causing mega church leaders to run for cover

Funny. We always have this caricature of rappers as geezers walking with dirty jeans balancing over their knees and featuring in lewd music videos. Right? Wrong. This article on CNN’s website is rather interesting in a way. Who surely would have thought Rap artists would be calling pastors to righteousness? Read on….

Two Christian Rap Artists, “IV His Son” and Jovan Mackenzy, in partnership with online production company CrownRightsMedia.com have made a video that is going all over the Christian community and causing quite a stir. In the video IV His Son and Jovan Mackenzy are seen standing in front of the popular mega churches of two controversial Atlanta pastors, Eddie Long and Creflo Dollar.

IV asks the listener if they are supposed to follow these men, despite all the problems with their “prosperity Gospel” and sexual accusations or are they supposed to follow the Bible.

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Somebody! Anybody pa-leeeease take Ed Young out of the pulpit into the wood shed!

I am not surprised any more (honestly) at what some of these celebrity pastors come up with. Especially from the guy with endless gimmicks who calls his flock “ferraris“, tells them that they should get a swagger and at the end of it all demands them to give him their bank direct debit details and routing numbers so that he can “joyfully” strip them of their tithes. But that is not all….

Sexperiment author and Fellowship Church pastor Ed Young, who is challenging married couples at his church to have sex for seven straight days, believes that sexual deprivation and not satisfying a spouse within the lovemaking department are sinful.

“I think one day we will be held accountable regarding how we satisfied our spouse’s sexually,” Young told The Christian Post in an interview Friday.

“I would, in fact, off of Romans 12:1 say that sex is even an act of worship because Romans 12 said we can present our bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is a reasonable act of worship.”

Young teaches in his new bestselling book, Sexperiment: 7 Days to Lasting Intimacy with Your Spouse, that depriving a spouse of sexual intimacy is a sin. …Read More!