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  • Samuel at Gilgal

    This year I will be sharing brief excerpts from the articles, sermons, and books I am currently reading. My posts will not follow a regular schedule but will be published as I find well-written thoughts that should be of interest to maturing Christian readers. Whenever possible, I encourage you to go to the source and read the complete work of the author.

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Consumer Churches Are Anti-Christian Churches

Quoting Eugene Peterson’s article “Transparent Lives”:consumer-church

The major American innovation in the congregation is to turn it into a consumer enterprise. Americans have developed a culture of acquisition, an economy that is dependent on wanting and requiring more. We have a huge advertising industry designed to stir up appetites we didn’t even know we had. We are insatiable. It didn’t take long for some of our colleagues to develop consumer congregations. If we have a nation of consumers, obviously the quickest and most effective way to get them into our churches is to identify what they want and offer it to them. Satisfy their fantasies, promise them the moon, recast the gospel into consumer terms-entertainment, satisfaction, excitement and adventure, problem-solving, whatever. We are the world’s champion consumers, so why shouldn’t we have state-of-the-art consumer churches?

Given the conditions prevailing in our culture, we have the best and most effective way ever devised for gathering large and prosperous congregations. Americans lead the world in showing how to do it. There’s only one thing wrong. This is not the way that God brings us into conformity with the life of Christ. This is not the way that we become less and Jesus becomes more. This is not the way in which our lives become available to others in justice and service. The cultivation of consumer spirituality is the antithesis of a sacrificial, “denying yourself” congregation [emphasis mine]. A consumer church is an anti-Christ church. It’s doing the right thing-gathering a congregation-but doing it in the wrong way. This is not the way to develop a contemplative life, a life in which the Jesus way and the Jesus truth are congruent, where “kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame.”

Adversity

Quoting John Bunyan

John Bunyan

John Bunyan

Do not even such things as are most bitter to the flesh, tend to awaken Christians to faith and prayer, to a sight of the emptiness of this world, and the fadingness of the best it yield? Doth not God by these things (ofttimes) call our sins to remembrance, and provoke us to amendment of life? How then can we be offended at things by which we reap so much good?…. Therefore if mine enemy hunger, let me feed him; if he thirst, let me give him drink. Now in order to do this, (1) We must see good in that, in which other men can see none. (2) We must pass by those injuries that other men would revenge. (2) We must show we have grace, and that we are made to bear what other men are not acquainted with. (4) Many of our graces are kept alive, by those very things that are the death of other men’s souls…. The devil, (they say) is good when he is pleased; but Christ and His saints, when displeased.

The Symmetry Of The Financial Crisis

Quoting American Spectator editor in chief R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr:

“There is a condign symmetry about this financial crisis. A government-induced crisis is getting a government-insured resolution. The excesses of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae are being mopped up by huge federal spending, made all the more massive by all the reckless endeavors of the politicians, the regulators and the financiers who frivoled with the intemperance of Freddie and Fannie.”

Does Your Church Cater To Sinners?

From: The Desk of Ichabod Spencer

During a time of a revival, a pastor that I had not known very well called upon me, and by invitation preached for me at my regular weekly evening service. I had mentioned to him the existing seriousness among the people. His sermon did not suit me. He made careless statements; seemed to me to rely on impressions more than on truth; seemed to value his own powers, and to desire other people to rely on theirs. I perceived that he highly esteemed himself, as “a revival preacher”, and I thought he preached “revival” and prayed “revival”, rather than Christianity. After we arrived home, and my pastor friend had retired for the night, a good friend came in to see me, and inquired how I liked his sermon. I criticized it strongly. My friend then told me, that as she left the church she crossed paths with one of our young ladies, who had been serious for some weeks, and who said to her, “oh that sermon will do me good. It was just what I wanted. I wish our pastor would preach like that”. I felt humbled and sad.

And as my pastor friend was much older than myself, I thought it became me to consider more carefully what he had preached, and what I had been saying.

But I noticed that, from that time, the serious impressions of this young lady, who thought “the sermon would do her good”, began evidently to diminish. I saw her often, and aimed to bring back the depth and solemnity of her former seriousness. It was all in vain. She grew more and more indifferent, till finally she went back to the world entirely. There she remains. Years have rolled on; but she remains a stranger to Christ.

Convicted sinners are very poor judges of what “will do them good”. The very things which they think they need are often the very things that are snares to their souls. How is it possible for “natural man, who discerneth not the things of the Spirit of God”, to tell what will do him good? He has no sincere liking for God, or the truth of God. And if likings are to be consulted, the truth must often be sacrificed.

It is better to trouble his conscience, than to please his heart. A convicted sinner is the last person in the world to judge justly, in regard to the kind of instruction he needs. He will seize error more readily than truth, and if his tastes are consulted, his soul will be endangered. In consulting such tastes lies the cunning art deceivers, who lead crowds to admire them, and run after them, and talk of them, while they care not for the truth, “deceiving and being deceived”. (A Pastor’s Sketches, 1850)

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