Lord, Purge Your Church


It’s the early a.m. here and quiet as a tomb. That silence lends opportunity to think.

I’m pondering the state of the American Church. But then, I never stop.

We live in a world coming apart at the seams. Some say that’s not the case, but as I see it, the deterioration is clear. I wonder regularly how it is that all sense is missing from whichever brouhaha holds our attention this day.

It may not be much on the grander scale, but the fiasco surrounding last week’s notorious conference makes it clear genuine Christians must pray this:

Lord, purge Your Church.

If the Church in America is to have any influence at all on the larger culture and society of the United States, the dross must be removed.

Pray also that you are not the dross.

At this point in 2013, I’m fully convinced that the American Church is thinking too far ahead of itself if it continues to believe it can have such an influence. While the gates of hell cannot hold against the Church as a whole, no assurance is given for any one branch:

Ephesus in ruins

Ephesus in ruins

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.
—Revelation 2:1-5 ESV

We could point to the vitality of the Ephesian Church and its contemporary influence on the world—if it were still around. But the Lord removed that Church’s lampstand and the light went out.

The American Church is at the lampstand-removal phase, if it hasn’t happened already. An opportunity to repent may still exist, but I wonder if it must come down to something more drastic than repentance.

Lord, purge Your Church.

The Cash Value of a Man


A woman only has worth if she’s young and beautiful.

Does anyone reading this believe that statement?

Tuesday night, my wife and I were driving home from a surprise birthday party for a long-time friend, when I made the mistake of turning on a Christian radio station. Yes, I said mistake.

Now most of you readers know that I don’t like to name names when it comes to Christian nuttiness. I tend to avoid pointing fingers at individuals or ministries, preferring to go with the understanding that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

I’m not going to let this one slide though.

The Family Life program was on, featuring a speaker who preached on real manhood, claiming that clueless men are proliferating at an exponential rate. In trying (pathetically and eisegetically, if you ask me) to preach on the husband and wife section of Ephesians 5, he noted that “to nourish and cherish a wife means…money.”

Now I don’t know about you, but I don’t see money mentioned at all in Ephesians 5. I do see a man called to love his wife unconditionally just as Christ loved the Church. The astute will notice that this call to unconditional love of one’s wife flies in the very face of the worldly statement that opened this post. Christians men are to love their wives, even when that fleeting beauty fades and age envelops like a wrinkled cloak.

Can we all agree on that?

As if the ridiculously eisegeted comment about money wasn’t enough, the same preacher (a noted “expert” on biblically-based sex roles) dropped this bomb:

If a man wants his wife to respect him more, he should make more money.


Can I tell you what the world says about the worth of a man? It’s this:

A man only has worth if he is powerful and wealthy.

Does anyone besides me see that this preacher is just mimicking what the world says? We don’t accept that opening statement about a woman’s worth, yet we’re preaching that the respect due a man is directly tied to how much moolah he brings home? In cash we trust?So a Christian man should love his wife unconditionally, but a Christian woman should only respect her husband if he’s bringing home more and more cash?

By this standard, the apostles—at least the married ones—were damnable failures who deserved being nitpicked to death because their wives didn’t have a revolving account at Saks. And let’s not get into that poor carpenter, Joseph, and the miserable father he was for not ensuring Mary and Jesus a gilded, palatial estate overlooking the Jordan.

So much for seeking first the Kingdom! Better seek that fat pay raise or work two jobs, even if your kids never see you.

Who gave this “preacher” a microphone? Shame on Family Life!

Do I believe a man should provide for his family? Yes, I absolutely do. But what message are we sending when we Christians simply roll over and ape the world’s hellish message about a man’s worth?

For all our talk of conforming to biblical standards, we don’t. The Bible tells us that most people worked a farm. In fact, the entire household worked the farm. Distinctions between what men and women did for work didn’t really exist on a macro level. Yes, men did most of the brute strength farm work, while women did things like threshing (still a tough job), but they co-labored.

If we take a look at early America, often held up as Camelot by some Evangelicals, again, you see the same picture of farming and co-laboring, especially in the middle classes on the edge of the frontier. It was only after industrialization hit this country (and that only after a hundred years of factories and reforms) that we started seeing this sort of naïve ideal that a man can’t simply do a man’s work, he’s got to do his wife’s work, too. He better darned well do his work better than the guy next door, as well, because not everyone can have the good jobs. (Some guy’s gotta draw the short employment straw. Guess short straw’s wife won’t have much reason to respect him, now will she? I bet that’s a chilly bed!)

I’ve got to also wonder about a preacher who’s giving a message that the way to a wife’s respect is by making more money. A preacher. Think about that. Think about all the guys out there in the ministry who are making a pittance. I guess the only way those poor ministers are going to keep bringing home more bacon is if they start drinking the Church Growth Movement kool-aid! Butts in seats! Butts in seats! (And a mixed metaphor, too!)

Anyone out there besides me feel like crying?

Oops, can’t do that. Not manly enough.

The 25 Who Should Be Most Influential on Modern Evangelicalism


I was thinking after my post on who is truly influencing modern-day American Evangelicals, perhaps I should post on who I believe SHOULD be the most influential. All the men listed here (sorry ladies, there were a few I thought of, but I had only twenty-five spots and felt these twenty-five were essential—they just happened to all be men) lived since the founding of our country because I felt they best informed American Christianity. Not all are Americans, but all should be influences on us, no matter the countries of origin.

The Pastors

A.W. Tozer—Tozer is “my C.S. Lewis,” the one I go to whenever I need to be uplifted, provoked, or stirred in any way. I believe him to be the greatest of 20th century preachers and teachers, but always with a pastor’s heart. He loved the Church like few others and his habit of spending the first five hours of his day in prayer is an example few can match. Everything he wrote is a gem—each prophetic, challenging, and Spirit-filled.

Andrew Murray—Few writers of the 19th century had the beautiful loving heart that Murray did. His ability to gently lay out truth is unmatched. Every book of his is a classic.

D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones—The bastion of England during the WWII years and beyond, Lloyd-Jones’s words cut to the soul with their wisdom and insight. His bridges the Reformed tradition and charismatic, penning one of the only good books on the discerning of spirits that exists today.

Jonathan Edwards—Still a powerhouse force and a voice to complacent Evangelicalism. We need s serious dose of Edwards in the American Church today.

Jack Hayford—I have a lot of respect for Hayford and it is sad that he does not get more credit for his no-nonsense approach to Christian living. He may be the only sane voice for the charismatic branch of Evangelicalism that exists today (with the possible exception of Wayne Grudem.)

The Revivalists

Leonard Ravenhill—I think that no man in the 20th century did more to stir up Christians to deeper faith and more compelling service than did Ravenhill. “When are we going to get serious about getting serious?” and “One of these days someone’s going open the Bible, believe it, and then we are all going to be ashamed.” Ravenhill’s fiery wisdom is essential reading and listening for today’s complacent Evangelicals.

C.H. Spurgeon—The “Prince of Preachers,” Spurgeon wrote extensively on revival and oversaw some great ones. His no-nonsense approach to fanning the flames in the hearts of sleepy believers is desperately needed in the American Church

George Whitefield—I believe it was Jonathan Edwards that said of Whitefield, “They go not to see a preacher, but a man aflame.” Whitefield’s preaching almost singlehandedly undergirded faith in early America, even though the great revivalist himself was not from here.

The Intelligentsia

Francis Schaeffer—Francis Schaeffer was not only a man of great wisdom, but his prophetic words about postmodern man are startling as we see the fruit of that worldview come to ripen. Schaeffer addressed the whole man, body, soul, spirit and mind. In an age when Evangelicals are eschewing things of the mind, Schaeffer is needed more than ever.

Alistair McGrath—An apologist and Bible teacher of the highest order, McGrath is sadly overlooked by most Evangelicals, though he certainly will carry the mantle of J.I. Packer some day.

J.I. Packer—The grand old man of modern Evangelical thought. He was on Time’s list and belongs here, too.

Ravi Zacharias—An apologist supreme and with a Third World perspective, too, Zacharias is a powerful speaker every Evangelical should know and follow.

C.S. Lewis—No list would be complete without Lewis. His writings inform more Evangelicals in America than possibly any other figure.

The Examples

E.M. Bounds—Prayer, prayer, and more prayer. Evangelicals would be wise to follow his admonitions that it all starts with prayer.

John Hyde—”Praying Hyde” of India. If a case is made for modern apostleship, Hyde would be at the top of the list. A life wholly surrendered—and powerful as a result.

George Mueller—Another great man of prayer who lived only by what God gave him through prayer. Also saw great needs and met them—again through prayer.

Hudson Taylor—The great missionary to China. Tragedy never overcame triumph in Taylor’s life and the modern Chinese church owes everything to this man who heard the call of Jesus and surrendered all.

Jim Elliot—Cut down before thirty, but his journals should be required reading for all young Evangelicals. The fruit of his work in South America continues to prosper and grow. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”

David Brainerd—Again, cut down young, but what a life! Wholly given to the Lord; every thought taken captive. Saw the need to preach to the native peoples of America and met that need, pouring his life out so that they might know Christ.

Richard Wurmbrand—A modern day martyr who spent years locked away in Communist prisons. No one this century did more (with possibly the exception of Alexander Solzhenitsyn) to promote the plight of the persecuted church worldwide. He has much to teach Evangelicals today about the plight of our brethren worldwide.

The Challengers

Watchman Nee—Brings a uniquely Asian worldview to the Church. His mysticism is needed in an Evangelicalism too rooted in the practical and mundane.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer—Hard-hitting and uncompromising. His book The Cost of Discipleship is the antidote to the crossless preaching of modern Evangelical megachurchianity.

Keith Green—Who has taken up the gantlet that this fiery young prophet threw down to Christians via songs that convict and yet bring joy? It’s been almost twenty-five years since his death, and still we wait for a successor to Green. One song by Green carries more punch than an entire day’s listening on most Christian radio stations today.

George Barna—He holds the mirror up to the face of modern Christianity better than anyone. We truly need to see how we are and Barna is the only one doing it religiously.

Folks, these people are the ones we should be listening to and modeling. I encourage you to find out more about all of them. Seek out their books and teachings. Some links are to the right. Please think about what these men say and let them be influential your life, too.