Monday, March 15, 2010

Stop Judging !?!?!?

There is a statement that we at Real Truth Matters are becoming familiar with, and it goes like this: You can’t judge! In our ministry of promoting New Testament Christianity by promoting a pursuit of Jesus Christ, distinctions arise between what we proclaim as the gospel and what is being proclaimed in much of American Christianity. In that, it is assumed we are passing judgment upon others, and according to our critics that is something Christians are not to do. They often use Matthew 7:1, where Jesus says, “Judge not, that you be not judged.”

First, let us address what it means to judge something or someone. In this passage, Jesus is literally speaking of passing hypocritical, self exalting condemnation. In the context of scripture Jesus talks about a person who looks down on others and seeks to pronounce sentence upon someone without first considering his own standing before God. But Jesus does say that once a person’s own heart and conscience are clear before God, then he is now at the point where he can help another.
So yes, we cannot judge in the sense that we cannot pass sentence upon someone else. That is only for God to do.

But what about judging when it means not passing sentence but distinguishing, discerning, examining, evaluating? Just a few verses down from Matthew 7:1, Jesus says, “Do not give what is holy to the dogs; nor cast your pearls before swine.” How are we to follow that command if we do not make judgments, or discernments, about what it means to be a dog or a swine?

Later on in the same sermon, Jesus tells us about false followers of God who look like harmless sheep on the outside, but on the inside they are ravenous wolves. He then says, “You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thornbushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them.”

Now wait a second. Is Jesus telling us not to judge and then giving us criteria on how to judge? No! He warns against trying to pass hypocritical condemnation against others, but to still distinguish and discern between what it means to be a follower of Christ and what it means to be a false convert.

And he does this for your good and for my good! Scripture gives clear evidences of what will be in a person’s life if he or she is in a right relationship with God through Jesus Christ. He does this to expose hearts and bring about the salvation of those who do not truly follow him. He also does this so that those who follow him are not lead astray by false followers and false teachers. Just as you know what kind of fruit tree you are looking at based upon what is growing on it, Jesus tells us you can know whether or not a person is a Christian by what is coming out of their lives. And it is for your benefit!

There is so much stuff in America that parades around as Christianity that clearly is not based upon what God has told us in His word. And to warn people against the dangers of heading toward eternal damnation when they think they are headed toward heaven is the most loving thing we can do.

And we don’t think we have some sort of monopoly on the truth. We don’t think we are the only ones who have it right. We are only passing to you what God’s word says. If you think we are hypocritically judging others or you, then search God’s word for yourself. Search it out, prayerfully and humbly and let God’s word be the plumb line and judge of your heart.

And nothing we are communicating is unique to us. Our message is not only supported in scripture, it is the message of God’s church throughout history. And all throughout that history, the church has communicated the same message which stands in stark contrast to the false work of Satan that has been pervasive throughout time, from the Garden of Eden until now. This is not a new struggle. This is not a new war.

We are not here to pass condemnation on anyone. That is not our place. But when we make distinctions about what it means to be a true follower of Christ and what it means to be a false convert, those are not from us, they are from God through his word. Search it yourself. Don’t take our word for it. Let God and the Holy Spirit be your guide.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Early Work from RTM

Friday, March 12, 2010

Exciting News from RTM!

You've seen the blog about RTM going full time. Now, watch the movie!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Spurgeon on the hardening effects of sin

"Sin . . . exceeding sinful."—Romans 7:13.

BEWARE of light thoughts of sin. At the time of conversion, the conscience is so tender, that we are afraid of the slightest sin. Young converts have a holy timidity, a godly fear lest they should offend against God. But alas! very soon the fine bloom upon these first ripe fruits is removed by the rough handling of the surrounding world: the sensitive plant of young piety turns into a willow in after life, too pliant, too easily yielding. It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds. At first a little sin startles us; but soon we say, "Is it not a little one?" Then there comes another, larger, and then another, until by degrees we begin to regard sin as but a little ill; and then follows an unholy presumption: "We have not fallen into open sin. True, we tripped a little, but we stood upright in the main. We may have uttered one unholy word, but as for the most of our conversation, it has been consistent." So we palliate sin; we throw a cloak over it; we call it by dainty names. Christian, beware how thou thinkest lightly of sin. Take heed lest thou fall by little and little. Sin, a little thing? Is it not a poison? Who knows its deadliness? Sin, a little thing? Do not the little foxes spoil the grapes? Doth not the tiny coral insect build a rock which wrecks a navy? Do not little strokes fell lofty oaks? Will not continual droppings wear away stones? Sin, a little thing? It girded the Redeemer's head with thorns, and pierced His heart! It made Him suffer anguish, bitterness, and woe. Could you weigh the least sin in the scales of eternity, you would fly from it as from a serpent, and abhor the least appearance of evil. Look upon all sin as that which crucified the Saviour, and you will see it to be "exceeding sinful."

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you.

Jesus said in John 15:18 "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you."
It is no wonder that Tony "The Lawman" Miano is often heckled when he open air preaches. Tony, a retiree from the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, now works with Way of the Master through their parent organization, Living Waters.

In the clip below, you will hear how hate is often spewed out upon him. The hate, we know, is really directed toward Christ. You can hear the full clip here.

Yet in it all, God is sovereign and uses even this for His purposes. I heard one of the most amazing sermons on that by John Piper. You can find it here:

Monday, March 1, 2010

RTM Goes Full Time

By Michael Durham

Every believer is a minister and every minister has a ministry. We use words and phrases that weaken our views of ministry such as, “bi-vocational,” “part-time,” and “volunteer staff.” Our ministries should be no more than an overflow of our intimate relationship with Christ. And that should be full-time, all the time.

What I mean by Real Truth Matters going full-time is that we have added and are going to add full-time paid staff. Up to this point all that RTM has done has been through the labors of several people volunteering their time and talents. These dear people have been outstanding in their devotion and labor for this ministry. Were it not for them, there would be no Real Truth Matters. I am not exaggerating. RTM is not the product of my mind or heart, but theirs. The truth is I have been quite comfortable being a pastor that also does itinerant ministry. But God disturbed my comfort and raised up young men and women who have seen His glory in the gospel of Jesus Christ. They wanted this ministry. They believed that what I had taught them needed to be communicated beyond these walls. And so RTM began.

Don’t misunderstand; I’m not a reluctant participant. Far from it! But I often feel more like a spectator as I watch the Lord orchestrate things that for years I tried to do but failed. Years ago our church had a media ministry called Living Priorities. Many of the things I see happening now are what I had hoped for that ministry. But at the end of 2004 the Lord put an end to that work. For nine years I struggled trying to get people to help in that ministry. For nine years I tried to encourage people to come alongside of me and help in ways that now I don’t have to encourage. They now come to me. There were some who helped during the years of Living Priorities but it was nothing like it is now.

For example, almost four months ago Joseph Durham, who serves as my administrative assistant, shared with me that he was convinced that God had called him to work full-time with RTM. I responded with great faith and said, “You surely know we don’t have the money to pay you a full-time salary?” He answered with tears pouring out of his eyes, “That doesn’t matter to me. My Heavenly Father told me I was His son and He would take care of me.”

Almost a month later, J. T. Crawford, who has been an instrumental part of RTM from the beginning, also came to me saying that he believed God was calling him to give himself full-time to RTM. He went on to share how in the past few months God had led him and his wife, Kerie, to quit her teaching position at the community college and be a full-time mom, homeschooling their daughters. Here I am faced with a man who, starting in May, will have no visible means of support.

If that wasn’t enough to blow me away, last month Justin and Missy Reed shared with me that they have a burden to give themselves to the work of RTM. Justin’s expertise is in development and audio engineering, while Missy has a degree in journalism and has worked as an editor. In Justin’s case he currently has the means of self-support so that he can give more time and energy to the ministry.

We have not rushed into this. The volunteer staff of RTM meet and covenanted to pray for 60 days as to whether or not this was God or just wonderful, but human, plans. After those 60 days we were unanimous that we believed it was God leading us.

It is also amazing to see the convergence of skills coming together at the same time. Joseph is university trained in web design and desktop publishing. J.T. is a professional photographer and videographer, while Justin is an experienced sound engineer who’s worked with Christian music producers. It would appear that in less than a year the Lord brought all of these abilities to us. For such a time as this? Perhaps.

Therefore, I am announcing that Real Truth Matters is now a ministry with full-time employees who have given themselves to God to live by faith and by the gospel they help broadcast. One of my heroes from whom I have learned much about faith, George Müller, never asked nor made known specific needs concerning his ministry. By prayer and faith he saw God answer the needs of a very extensive ministry. Yet, the Apostle Paul did not seem to be bothered to let people know ministry needs and instruct how they were to give to support those needs. What then should RTM’s policy be? I think somewhere in between.

First, we will never beg or harass people for financial support. RTM will simply express that we are a donation supported ministry. While full-time staff of RTM are members of Oak Grove, a policy that will continue, we are not looking to the church to be our only means of support. RTM is going to be incorporated and will apply for membership in the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability for the means of financial transparency.

Second, we will not become in any way merchandisers of the gospel. In other words, we will, with God’s aid, never make money the issue. The issue is the gospel and its free access to those who need and want to hear it. While we do ask certain donations for resources, these are requests to meet expenses only, and not to build income. Our store policy is as follows:

Real Truth Matters has no desire to make a profit on the truth. We have freely received and we in turn want to freely give. That is why every spoken and most written resources in the store are offered free by means of downloading an MP3, text, or PDF file. We are aware that you may want to have a hard copy. If so we simply ask that you would be willing to help offset our costs. It is our intention to keep our costs as low as possible.

If the suggested donation is beyond your means, then by all means contact us and we will accept what you can afford. If you cannot afford to give anything, then we will accept nothing! Contact us and let us know what you are interested in. All free orders must be under $25.00.

Lastly, we will live by faith that demonstrates the gospel that we love to proclaim. While we will make needs known, that is all we will do. The rest we will leave to our Provider.

In a future blog I will elaborate more on what RTM actual work will look like and ministry burdens. If you want to support Real Truth Matters after prayerfully considering then follow the link below. We will never be able to tell you how appreciative we are. Please pray for us that our faith, when tried as with fire, will not fail.