Blog Archives

What is Wrong with the Church? It’s You, You’re What’s Wrong!


lucy surpriseThat’s right!  I said it, and for God’s sake SOMEONE had to tell you!  You still don’t get it, do you?  Your theology is warped, your view of worship is flawed, you are too worldly, you never share the gospel, you don’t give enough and you certainly don’t serve enough.  I could go on and on and on with your failures to live up to the standards of Christ as I see them.  What is wrong with Christianity you ask?  It is you, you are the problem.

I feel a LOT better now, thanks for letting me get that off my chest!

I want to say that on one hand, I am not being serious.  But on the other hand, there is some truth to what I am saying.  Let me explain… Read the rest of this entry

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An Ancient Theologian explains Tradition


“The heretics did not just offer a different worldview. They were using Scriptures to uphold their ideas…”

Interesting!

We don’t often re-blog other posts, but this was such a thought provoking and stimulating article that we just had to! Mike discusses the framework we should use to interpret opposing views of what Scripture says and how we should use the early church Fathers to aid us in that. Be challenged!

We also wanted to introduce you to Mikes blog, so take a few minutes to check it out. You will probably hit the “Follow” button like we did.

Dead Heroes Don't Save

Irenaeus, a 2nd century theologian, defended Christianity from the Gnostic philosophies that were popular at the time. His 5 volume work, Against Heresies, dedicates the first two volumes to describing the Gnostic views and then precedes to dismantle them in the remaining volumes.

saint_irenaeus_oflyonsThroughout the work we are invited to explore the fundamental beliefs of the early church as they are contrasted with the opposing system.

Underlying Irenaeus’ defense lies the questions: how do we know what the truth is? and how do we decide between different interpretations of Scripture?

The heretics did not just offer a different worldview. They were using Scriptures to uphold their ideas – which centered on two gods – a good one and an evil one. It was the evil god who created the physical world that we must rid ourselves of.

View original post 1,019 more words

Barna Study: Even Christians Are Leaving Our Churches


Why Christians are Leaving ChurchThe church may want to stop focusing on those elusive and extremely sensitive “seekers” for a while, because now, even believers are starting to leave the church.

We were warned back in 2005 that this was coming, but few paid attention to it then.  Many scoffed and pretended it could never happen.  But it is happening. That is what a recent poll by the Barna Group has uncovered, and the implications of it are alarming.

In this article, I want to share some of Barna’s findings with you.  I warn you:  Brace yourself!

I invite you to join the discussion in the comment section, as well as answer the polling questions (there are two polls at the bottom of the post) so we can get a better idea of what is going on from your perspective.   In the next post we will offer our analysis about why it is happening.

“What, if anything, helps Americans grow in their faith?”

When the Barna Group asked this question, people offered a variety of answers:

  • Prayer
  • Family or friends
  • Reading the Bible,
  • Even having children

But CHURCH did not even crack the top 10 list.

That is staggering in its implication.  Christians of all Read the rest of this entry

Are We REALLY Totally Depraved?


total-depravity2Grab the kindling wood and bring your lighters! If you continue reading this post, you may feel the urge to use them!

At least that is what I anticipate with this post on Total Depravity.

Before you light the fire, you should know up front that this post is simply me letting you in on the discussions that take place inside my head!  I’m asking you to consider some of the questions I ask myself while I think out loud about what Total Depravity means.

To start off, let’s define terms:

The Western Protestant church views T.D. this way:   Total depravity is the fallen state of human beings as a result of Adam original sin. The doctrine of total depravity asserts that people are, as a result of the fall, not inclined or even able to love God wholly with heart, mind, and strength, but rather are inclined by nature to serve their own will and desires and to reject the rule of God.

“The immediate concomitant of the first sin was the total depravity of human nature. The contagion of his sin at once spread through the entire man, leaving no part of his nature untouched, but vitiating every power and faculty of body and soul.” Louis Berkhof

This means that the fundamental nature of mankind was changed on that day. Whatever Adam’s human nature was before his sin, it became something different after the fall.  As a result, Read the rest of this entry

The Total Inability of Calvin To Explain Man’s Ability to Respond to God?


Man's Inability and CalvinTotal: Completely, Absolutely

Inability: lack of sufficient power, resources, or capacity

It is true that humanity can not come to Christ unaided. The Scriptures and the early church agree on this. Both sides of the Monergism vs Synergism civil war agree on it. Without God’s grace no one is able to come to Christ. Period!

But what does that actually look like and how does it work? The truth of the matter is that no one really knows and those who say they do don’t understand what they are saying. How God works this out in humanity lies within the mystery of God himself.

Calvin and the “ists’ his teaching has inspired believe this means that humanity can not even respond to God unaided. They teach that man must first be born again and then exercise faith in Christ. One can not say “yes” to God until after the new birth takes place.  Which leads them to teach things like this:

“This doctrine of total inability which declares that men are dead in sin does not mean that all men are equally bad, nor that any man is as bad as he could be, nor that anyone is entirely destitute of virtue, nor that human nature is equal in itself, nor that man’s spirit in inactive, and much less does it mean that the body is dead… The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.” (The Reformed Doctrine of Predestination)

“The inability under which he labors is not an inability to exercise volition, but an inability to be willing to exercise holy volitions.”

Essentially, reformed theology teaches that Read the rest of this entry

Contending for THE Faith?


calvinism2Things are slow around here so when I saw this and I just couldn’t resist.

That sound you are hearing?  That is me stirring the pot!

Calvin’s faith is certainly different from the faith of the early church, but is it going to far to say he reinvented or re–delivered a new faith?

You decide.

Play nice, please.

The Least Most: Our Top 5 Posts That Nobody Read!


 

The Least Most Read PostYes, it is that time again.  The “Best of” posts are all coming out.  (Find ours here)   Today, as an act of humility, we present our Bottom 5.  They are our least read posts of all time. 

Now, we humbly suggest that they occupy the bottom NOT because they were poorly written or were uninteresting.  No!  We believe you (yes you) were too busy doing other important stuff on the days these came out.

So, go ahead and read one.  Or two.  Heck read them all! 

It is a little bit late but Happy New Year! Read the rest of this entry

Great Resource Alert: The Writings of the Early Church All In One Place and FREE!


The Writings of the Early ChurchIntroducing a GREAT resource:  Early Christian Writings

Early Christian Writings is the most complete collection of Christian texts before the Council of Nicaea in 325 AD. The site provides translations and commentary for these sources, including the New Testament, Apocrypha, Gnostics, Church Fathers, and some non-Christian references

If you want to read ANY work from the first 325 years of church history, you will find it at this site.  Free.

 

Questioning Our Protestant Tradition of Sola Scriptura


Not for itching ears Sola ScripturaNothing but Scripture?

It is becoming apparent to me that no church, no theologian, no follower of Christ actually lives out their faith based on the idea of Sola Scriptura.

Sola scriptura as a principle states that Scripture alone is authoritative for the faith and practice of the Christian.   The Protestants among us recognize this and embrace it wholeheartedly.  It sounds good on paper.  It really does.  Why do we need anything but the Scriptures to help us form the doctrinal positions that shape our faith?  “WE DON’T” shout the reformers among us!

The problem with their answer is it is demonstrably not true.   I’ve never met anyone who actually practices this idea and neither have you. The New Testament church certainly did not.  Read the rest of this entry

Can You See The Difference Between Contemporary Worship and Early Church Worship?


Contemporary worship vs Early Worship

Is the Casual Approach to Church Producing Casual Christians?


it's worseIt is worse than it looks!

It doesn’t  matter which study you read about the church, because they all say pretty much the same thing:  The church is in decline.

The church is in trouble.  I don’t need to read a study to know this.  I have observed it over the years in countless churches that I have visited.  Churches are weak and though they may have exciting services, they are largely failing to develop strong, grounded and mature Christians.  The church at large (there are exceptions, of course) is also failing to impact the lost around her.

The statistics on this are over-whelming and should stop every pastor and leader dead in their tracks so that we immediately fall on our knees to cry out to the Lord “What are we doing wrong?”  Sooner or later that will have to happen.  Let’s pray it is the former!

Is This Decline the Result of a Flawed Church Model?

I have a theory.  It goes something like this:  The decline we are seeing in the church is directly related to Read the rest of this entry

The Whole World Stops For 4 Weeks Tomorrow. So Must We


world-cup-2014Every four years, the world effectively shuts down for the greatest sports event on the planet.

What is that event?  Most Americans can’t answer that question so we share the answer here:

The World Cup!

That time is upon us, it starts on Thursday.

Not many people know this, but over here at Not For Itching Ears, we are hard core futbol, or soccer fans. We watch every single game. No matter what time the game is on, we watch it.   What’s not to like about it?  204 teams compete over a three year period to win an invitation to the World Cup, which happens every 4 years.  The host country team gets  in free.    So there is some great competition.

To make room in our schedule, Not For Itching Ears will be on vacation until the World Cup ends.  We have priorities, so we will also be foregoing all yard work.  All items on the “Honey Do” List have been temporarily removed.   We were supposed to be in Brasil for the games, but alas, we are not!

Soccer is God’s greatest gift for world evangelism.  It is an instant conversation starter.  Just ask ANY non-American, male or female, who they are rooting for or what they think or their countries chances and you’ll have a 5 – 10 minute conversation about soccer.  After that, the rest is up to you.

Our staff is rooting for in this order:

1. The USA and Ecuador (it’s a tie actually) Neither will win, but Ecuador has the best chance of advancing out of their group.  Sadly, the USA is in the “Group of Death”

2. Any South American Country

The teams we most want to lose: Ghana, (sorry friends, you have beaten us one to many times) and Mexico. You can’t throw beer bottles at the USA team on their home field in the USA and expect us NOT to despise your team (we love you though!)

Take my advice: Stop blogging for a month and enjoy the World Cup. See you Mid-July!  If you don’t know much about it check out this article on the Ten things Non-Soccer Fans Need To Know About the World Cup. 

Can You Write a Better Worship Song Than These Song Writers? We Don’t Think So


Enjoy this satirical look at modern worship lyrics. Song writers were challenged to write a worship song using the name of Soap Opera’s as their dominant lyrics. Hilarious, and surprisingly similar to the typical worship song being written and sung in churches across the USA.

Two Different Views of Salvation: Protestant vs Orthodox – Which Makes More Sense to You?


If you are like me, you might not even know what the Orthodox Church is!

The Orthodox view salvation and the purpose of mankind through a different lens than most Protestants do. In this short video, you will see a very accurate portrayal of mainstream protestant soteriology which you will recognize immediately. You will also be introduced to the Orthodox view.

After you watch it, come back and share your thoughts about the video. Which view best represents the Gospel in your opinion?

Top 10 Reasons You Should Visit Our Church This Sunday


top10Top 10 Reasons You Should Visit Our Church This Sunday

#10 We have the best worship team in town filled with young, uber-talented musicians and singers.

#9 Our worship team recently recorded a cutting edge worship CD (You can buy it for $13).

#8 We have state of the art sound and lighting systems that allow you to hear and feel the worship, as well as experience worship in a way you can’t at other local churches.

#7 Worshipping in song is the best and highest form of corporate worship. We do it with excellence and we do it a lot! If you like music, you are going to love our worship!

#6 Come as you are. You can wear whatever you feel comfortable in. People wear everything from business casual to jeans and T-shirts

#5 We have GREAT coffee drinks (for sale) and you can bring the drinks with you into the auditorium.

#4 We have free wi-fi available throughout our facility and it is available at all times

#3 Our services are short! Each of our 3 services is only 70 minutes long

#2 Our pastor is an incredibly gifted speaker who is VERY funny. Each week you will hear a short inspirational talk based on our pastors life experience  or the experience of others that is always relevant to your life. There is usually a Bible verse or two sprinkled throughout the talk to help inspire you to live your life to the fullest.

#1 Our services are FUN! We have eliminated the old school, boring liturgical stuff from our worship which many of the other churches in town still utilize. We won’t ask you to stand or sit or kneel. There are no corporate readings or corporate prayers or communion. Just cutting edge worship and inspirational words.

What’s missing?

I have compiled these “reasons” from church websites and church advertising in my area. Before you write to correct me, realize that this post is a joke. The sad part about it is that they are real reasons that actual churches have given. Well, I have added my special touch to the reasons. Nevertheless, the gist of them is spot on.

Some will object to the competitive nature of the post. The “Our Church is Better Than the Rest” idea is abhorrent, I agree. However, that idea is rampant in our church advertising. It is sometimes subtle, sometimes over the top, but often present for anyone to see. At least I see it.

Some will see nothing wrong in the Top 10 Reasons I have listed. Others, will be able to spot what is missing easily. Still others, will have to look harder until they see what is missing. Feel free to throw daggers, share thoughts or comment as you see fit!

Thanks for visiting us here at http://www.NotForItchingEars.com

 

Is God Really Calling You To Plant a Church?


cross-with-roots3-e1288037811724“Do we really need another one?” I asked with an annoying tone. I must have been bothered by it, because I asked my passenger Dakota her thoughts on the subject. Dakota is my Golden Retriever, and from what I could tell she was all for it, as long as they gave away tennis balls to all visitors.

In my town, it would seem there is a new church starting every couple of weeks. I understand the idea behind planting a new church. It is suppose to be the most effective form of evangelism known to mankind. At least that is what I was told in seminary, and it would seem our young leaders are being indoctrinated with the same idea.  But is it true?

I think the greatest form of evangelism is one on one. More people are still introduced to God and Jesus Christ via interaction with people outside the congregational walls. Period.

Church planting certainly has its place.   Is it possible to over plant the church? Can there be too many churches in a city? If you are considering planting a church where the church already exists in abundance, it would be wise of you to thoughtfully and unselfishly pondered that question.   I think the answer is a resounding YES!  Take a look at Colorado Springs, CO.  Do you think it needs one more evangelical congregation?  The red dots are churches.

Churches in Colorado Springs

Over church planting in a city can cause a stumbling block for evangelism.  So many different churches can lead non-christians to believe that even Christians can’t figure this stuff  about ultimate issues out.    I can imagine the questions that arise in the mind of the non-Christians: “Why are there so many churches if the claims of Christianity are true?  Isn’t the fact that there are so many different churches PROOF that Christianity is false? Why are they starting another one?  Why do they all believe different things?  If they can’t agree on what the truth is, maybe they are all just a bunch of misguided, well-meaning people who I should not take seriously.”

We won’t even talk about how one more church plant will dilute the scarce resources of leaders, servants, and dinero.

I applaud you for wanting to step out in faith and make a real difference in people’s lives.  Still, I want to issue a challenge to if you are thinking about planting a church.   If God is calling you to a particular area that is church saturated, perhaps it is NOT to plant your own church.  Perhaps you are being called  to come alongside someone else. Here’s an idea:  If God has called you to come to a city where there are hundreds of churches, why not find a job like Paul did and the rest of us do.  Why not volunteer to help another local church like the rest of us?  Why start something new?

Be honest with yourself, isn’t what you are thinking about starting exactly the same thing as the last 35 guys who came here to start something?  Does God really need 36 congregations that are essentially the same thing?   Perhaps it would honor God more and make a bigger impact on the community if you went and helpedp the last guy God sent here.  They don’t have enough money to pay you, but they need your help.  Just a thought.

Want to be challenged more or get more upset?  Read our post “Would The Apostle Paul Plant a Seeker-Sensitive Purpose Driven Church?

Check out the result of 4 different polls and the challenging conclusions arrived at in our post It’s Official: People Don’t Want To Sing So Much On Sundays.

Inspiring Lives From Church History


The_Christian_Martyrs_Last_Prayer_by_leon_geromePeople have been living and dying for Christ for over 2000 years and history is full of wonderful examples of men and women who followed Christ faithfully.  We can learn a lot from studying their lives.  Yet, there is something truly compelling about those who suffer for Him and pay the ultimate price for their faith.

When I read the historical record of what some of these ancient brothers and sisters went through, it challenges me deeply.   I often wonder how I would respond in such situations.  I guess we won’t ever know unless and until we find ourselves in the same place.   The one thing I can say with certainty is that these accounts inspire me to live for Christ.  That is why today, we are beginning a new series.  In it, we will highlight men and women who suffered for Christ, because of their faith.  They won’t be long posts, so you should be able to read them in less than 5 minutes.  My Prayer is that they will cause you to reflect on your own life and faith, inspiring you follow Him more deeply.

Today, we will read about Mark, the Bishop of Arethusa  (361 AD)

Mark, Bishop of Arethusa, suffered for his faith in Christ under the emperor Julian the Apostate (361-363). By order of the emperor Constantine, St Mark had once destroyed a pagan temple and built a Christian church.

When Julian came to the throne, he persecuted Christians and tried to Read the rest of this entry

Holy Week Prayers: Saturday


holy-saturdayHoly Saturday:

 O God, Creator of heaven and earth: Grant that, as the crucified body of your dear Son was laid in the tomb and rested on his holy Sabbath, so we may await with him the coming of the third day, and rise with him to newness of life; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Were You There? I Was


Question mark peopleI came across this sermon back in the early 90’s.  Each month, Preaching Today send me a tape of an exceptional sermon.  When I put this one in the old tape deck and started listening, I was immediately drawn into the story of Jesus on the way to the cross and Simon of Cyrene.  By the end of the message, I had been reduced to a weeping young pastor marveling at the scene of The Cross.
 
Not many people know about this moving sermon preached in 1944.   We are letting you all in on it.   I can’t think of a better audio to listen to on this Good Friday.   Hope you enjoy, from all of us over here at NotForItchingEars.com.
 

Were You There?

With emotional brush strokes of dramatic narrative, Dr. Marshall’s gripping account of Simon of Cyrene meeting Jesus on His way to the Crucifixion puts the listener at the very foot of the Cross. After experiencing this message, there is no longer any doubt about the answer to that famous question: We were all there. (Preached on March 9, 1944)

Holy Week Prayer: Good Friday


Lamb of GodGood Friday Almighty God, we pray you graciously to behold this your family, for whom our Lord Jesus Christ was willing to be betrayed, and given into the hands of sinners, and to suffer death upon the cross; who now lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.