Five Minute Friday – Together Again

Recent days and months have had their share of sorrow in the death of precious friends.  I’ll tell you, there is a world of difference when a Christian dies and when an unbeliever dies. 
As a Christian I have confident hope and assurance that I will one day see my believing family and friends again.  It brings joy to think that I will once again see their face, hear their laugh and feel their warm embrace.  We will be together in heaven, a place where there is no more sin, sickness, sorrow or death.  We will be with our Savior and see Him face to face.  A place where worship and praise will never end.  Halleluiah, I long for that day.
But when someone dies who has not received Jesus Christ as their Savior, when they haven’t repented of their sin, when they haven’t cried out to the Lord for forgiveness…it’s not good!  It’s a place of eternal punishment, retribution, unrelenting suffering that will never, ever end. 
It almost feels more tortuous when I don’t know if my loved one is in heaven or hell. 
There’s not a day that goes by I don’t think of my precious friend.  I may hear some whose laugh sounds just like her laugh, or see someone who looks like her and I wonder…where is she today?  Will we ever be together again? 
Lord forgive me please for not being more bold in sharing the Gospel message, for worrying more about offending her rather than being concerned about the place she will spend eternity.  
This post is being linked to 5-Minute Friday courtesy of The Gypsy Mama, where you simply write for 5 minutes without worrying if it’s right or not.  Head on over and take the challenge today.

Five Minute Friday – Gift of God

For by grace you have been saved through faith, that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9
I’d like to shout it from the roof top, “Salvation is a gift of God”, and have it echo through time.
Daily I pray for those whom the Lord has laid on my heart…that He would move in their heart and mind, bring them to an end of themselves.  That they would recognize that there is a day coming in which they will have to give an account to the God who created them.  That they would recognize that they are a sinner, unable to save themselves before a holy and righteous God.   That they would cry out, confess with their mouth and believe with their heart that Jesus Christ is Lord and they will be saved.  I pray for divine appointments, bold witnesses, hearts to be tendered, eyes to be opened and ears to be inclined to the Lord.
And yet, I need to confess, that while I pray for them, there have been very few that I have had a point blank discussion with about their need for salvation found in Christ alone.  There are times I will look at someone who I know doesn’t believe in God and think if he or she died today, they would be in hell for eternity. 
You want to know the place that I find it the hardest to share my faith?  The workplace.  People know I’m a Christian and I freely talk about my faith with fellow believers and others.  When people are going through difficult times, trials and tribulations, I’ll let them know I’m praying for them. 
But their greatest need, this side of the grave and for eternity is for them to hear the gospel message.  And I remain silent.  I have news about the greatest gift ever and I keep it to myself. 
Lord…I’m afraid at times I fear man more than You.  Lord how can I remain silent when a person’s eternity hangs in the balance?  It’s You that does the convicting and saving, all You are asking me to do is be a witness.

This post is being linked to 5-Minute Friday courtesy of The Gypsy Mama, where you simply write for 5 minutes without worrying if it’s right or not.  Head on over and take the challenge today.

The Me Centered Gospel

Messages from the Bible
Simplified
To make me feel better

Smorgasbord preaching
Topical
About what God is doing for me

Inoffensive preaching…making all
Comfortable
The sting of conviction has been removed

The Sword of the Spirit rendered
Powerless
Replaced with trite clever phrases of men

Good works expected…motives
Unexamined
No heart check required

The Gospel message
Lacking
There is no mention of sin

by Susan Bunts Wachtel
June 6, 2010

A Beacon on a Hill

Their little church
Became a beacon on a hill
A shinning light
Bidding all who want to follow Jesus
Come…follow Him
From humble beginnings
A group of people
Who loved God’s word
Studied the scriptures diligently
That they might accurately divide the word of Truth
Though their shepherd was struck
They kept their eyes on Christ
Called out to God
That He might bring another pastor
Faithful to preach the full counsel of God’s word
In His perfect timing
God brought His servant
A man ready to preach
In season and out of season
Teaching sound doctrine to equip the saints
God continues to bring them
From far and wide
Those who are unwilling to have their ears tickled
But would rather be reproved, corrected and instructed
So they might be thoroughly equipped for every good work
God is growing His church daily
Knitting each one perfectly into the body of Christ
The saints are not ashamed of the Gospel
For they know personally, it is the power of salvation
For all who believe
By Susan Bunts Wachtel
January 4, 2010

Double Blessed



I am a citizen times two

Double blessed

For which I give thanks





According to God’s divine plan

I was chosen from before the foundations of the world

To be a citizen of heaven…where I’ll one day go





My entrance was paid in full

By the precious blood of the Lamb

Irrevocable…secure…my residency is sure





By God’s grace & mercy

His divine providence

I was born in this great nation





Chosen by His will

To live in a county

Where liberty and freedom are available to all





Permitted to live

In a nation where the Gospel is preached unfettered

A beacon to take the Light of the world…to the world





On this Thanksgiving Day

I offer my humble thanks and praise

For the double blessing…so undeserved





Susan Bunts Wachtel

November 27, 2008

Eternal Destiny

Dare I take comfort in the thought,
That my loved one is no longer suffering?
When in fact, an unbeliever who perishes without Christ,
Has just begun to suffer and now knows the truth of eternal punishment.

Dare I take comfort in the calm assurance,
From a man who calls himself “Pastor”?
But one who fails to proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified,
As the only way to salvation.

Dare I take comfort in the platitudes offered,
By those who ignorantly believe that being “spiritual” saves us?
Saves us from what?
Condemnation from a holy, righteous, just God who was offended by our sin?

Dare I believe that I will live on in the memories of others?
What happens when they perish?
Or is it then that I perish…when no one remains who knew me?
When there is no one who was once touched and influenced by me?


Dare I serve a god,
Made of my own making…a god made in my own image?
A hodge podge of my own choosing…taking only what I like,
Selecting that which makes me feel comfortable and good about myself?

Or dare I believe that there is but One God?
One Mediator between God and man.
One Savior, Christ Jesus, whose blood was shed on the cross,
Who for once, for all…paid my sin debt in full.

Dare I acknowledge my sin?
Receive forgiveness through God’s only Son?
Dare I repent and loudly proclaim to a world lost in their sin,
Jesus Christ…salvation is found only in Him!

By Susan Bunts
July 5, 2008

Dedicated to those who are perishing in their sin…who have yet to receive Jesus Christ and Him crucified, His death on the cross as payment in full, covering their sin. Dedicated to those who call themselves pastor, but who do not know that Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life…thus they can not boldly proclaim Jesus Christ and Him crucified. It is my prayer that one day your name will be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life and that you will not take or offer false comfort when someone dies without Christ. That instead it will become your life long mission to preach Jesus Christ to a lost and dying world.

An Appointment with Death

This was the day I’ve dreaded and would have done just about anything to avoid. But there’s no stopping it.

It’s been a long time coming…but suddenly it’s here. Hard to believe…but it was just a month ago…my mom was doing okay…the Alzheimer’s way. Then a phone call about a quarter to 11 pm on April 4th…started a chain of events that seem unstoppable.

My mom was being transported to the emergency room because she was having trouble breathing. I arrived at the emergency room and found her in bed struggling for every breath. It wasn’t just labored…she was fighting for each breath. I was reminded of someone who had just run a marathon and couldn’t catch their breath. Gayle was conscience, but not really. As the night wore on, tests were done, breathing treatments were given and her breathing improved. Despite my protests and efforts to keep her at Placentia Linda, my mom was transported to Anaheim Memorial.

I texted Chris, “Mom in ER, call you in the AM”. Our date and plans for the day would have to be set aside. I headed home about 2:30 in the morning. The hospital promised to call me with confirmation that she would be transferred and when. Before I even lay my head on the pillow I got the call…she would be transferred within the hour. When the phone rang at 5, I tried to focus and answer the nurse’s questions. They would be getting Gayle settled and I went back to sleep…even if it was just a few hours.

I set the alarm for 8. I figured that’s not too early to call Chris and break the bad news. I found Chris awake and getting ready. He was surprised by the news…but eager to come and be my side…even if that was in a hospital room. I can’t tell you how grateful I was to feel the warmth of his embrace and have him by my side as we navigated the hall and maze of Anaheim Memorial.

In the 3 ½ days at the hospital my mom’s interactive abilities declined steeply. While not able to engage in a conversation…she was able to respond. Some of the nurses we encountered were very good. Kind, sweet and made the effort to help someone who could not function on their own. Some of the nurses left me asking why in the world they are working in nursing. Nothing in their personality or skills gave any hint of compassion and caring.

As difficult as that was…it paled in comparison to what we would experience over the next few days and weeks. The bad dream would soon become a nightmare. Her title was discharge planner. But I was certain I had seen her in a movie and her name was Nurse Ratched. Wretched would be a more apt description. I begged her to try and get Gayle transferred back to Brighton Gardens. She said she’d try and even took down names and contact numbers. But because she was unwilling to give the information they needed to evaluate if she could be returned…it remained in limbo. It was only after I talked with the folks at Brighton I discovered that this woman had lied to me. Her lies, laziness and lack of compassion resulted in Gayle being transferred to St. Edna’s.

That’s the place where I first realized…my mom is going to die soon. The smell of the place left me with the overwhelming impression that she was going to die there. Her pneumonia was gone…but she was scared and depressed. She had given up. St. Edna’s was the death knell or the proverbial nail the coffin that would lead Gayle on the path to a divine appointment.

St. Edna’s was also the place where I was introduced to Hospice. These people worked miracles to get my mom transferred back to her home. A place where she is known as Gayle and not the patient in bed 40 C. She is well known and well love. A place where tears are shed at her impending death and hugs given in love.

She was transferred back to Brighton on a Saturday. While I knew she wouldn’t regain all her skills and functioning…I figured that she’d bounce back a bit. But I was wrong. Her improvement was short lived. She had given up…and that was most evident in the fact she had stopped eating.

That first day back she was looking quite ragged. Knowing that any girl feels better when they look better, I had her go to the beauty shop for a hair cut. Something short and much different than she had before. But I wanted something that would look good, even when she wasn’t doing good.

Her fading began and was more evident with each passing day. Oh she took a couple of bites of pudding and drank some juice…but that was it. Soon she would be eating nothing. Getting thickened juices down her would be considered a triumph. At first she was up and about in her new wheel chair. Before long she would be in bed, 24/7.

Then came the call from the Hospice nurse. She’s in the process of dying. Maybe a couple of weeks. My regular weekly visits now became a daily thing. At first she was awake for part of the time…interacting a bit. But soon…she’d sleep the whole time through…except when the pain awakened her.

While my mom’s state of salvation has been on my mind for many years…I now find myself desperate to make sure she is a daughter of the King of kings. If her salvation was based on works…she’d be saved. If one could go to heaven because they are good person…she would be welcomed through the Gates of Heaven.

But I know my scripture. I know salvation is not based on works, nor how good a person is. The Bible plainly tells us that there is no one righteous, no not one. If you confess with your mouth and believe with your heart that Jesus Christ is Lord, you will be saved.

To my knowledge my mom had never openly shared her believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and that He died to pay the penalty for our sins. That His death and sacrifice is applied to our sin debt when we receive Him as our Lord and Savior. My mom had been in church for many years…but I couldn’t say with assurance she is in Christ.

That’s why every visit now…I’m telling her about Jesus. I’m reciting the sinner’s prayer. Reading scripture, knowing that even now, even in her advanced state of Alzheimer’s that God can reach her. I’ve put in request after request that people pray for her salvation. When I get upset and cry, people try to comfort me and ask if they can do anything. My one answer is please pray for my mother’s salvation.

I’ve been surprised by people’s reactions. Not so much from unbelievers. They think that if someone is good they will go to heaven. But the responses that surprise me the most are from Christians. They assure me that she’s good and will go to heaven. She’s dying but she seems to be at peace.

That assurance brings me no comfort because I know that if she hasn’t accepted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, this will be the last peace she will experience. I have been burdened and desperate for her salvation. My concern is for the eternal consequences of any unredeemed sinner.

At times she seems peaceful. But I’ve been there at night. That peace was exchanged for torture. A grimace crosses her face. Her glazed eyes seem to be following something along the ceiling. She is shaking her head no and can not be calmed.

While I claim no divine revelation…I believe it’s entirely possible that Satan has sent his demons to taunt her at the prospect that she will be joining them with her impending death. I look up at the ceiling. There’s nothing there visible to the eye. But she is seeing something…and is quite tortured.

That’s why I’m desperate for her salvation. I would rather she experience discomfort this side of heaven…and enter in to eternal rest and peace when she dies. That’s why I’ve ask my friends to go see her and pray with her and for her salvation. That’s why I called Chris on my cell phone and asked him to pray with us and for us. That’s why I don’t care what anyone thinks when I put the speaker on and place it next to Gayle’s ear as Chris prays for my mom and her salvation. That’s why I’m kneeling by her bed and praying on the phone with my beloved man. Where two or three are gathered together…even over the phone.

If my mom dies without Jesus…it won’t be because she’s not heard about him. It won’t be because no one has shared the Gospel message. It will be because she has a hard heart and wants to come to God her own way. Not the prescribed way that God has laid out in the Bible.

When I see the tortured look on her face and see that she can not be comforted…it’s a small preview of what her eternity will be like if she dies without Christ.

That’s why Jesus may be the last thing she hears from me as I’m desperate that God will use anything to bring her to a saving faith in Christ Jesus…before her divine appointment with death.

Her divine appointment has become mine. I’m not sure what God is teaching me in this. But I know He is at work, in both me and my mother. I would rather her death be painful and her eternal life be peaceful and joyous.

The nurses tell me her time is short. A day or two. It’s in the Lord’s hands…as is her salvation. Her inability to speak and give visible acknowledgement of faith is a reminder to me that our salvation is all a work of God, not of us, least any man should boast.

One of the blessings in these last days of her life is that I get to meet the nurses that work the overnight shift. Offer my thanks and encourage them as they work with people in the most critical time of their life. All too often when family is absent.

So…would you please join me in praying for my mother’s salvation? I would be most grateful. Her divine appointment is drawing close. Salvation is a work of God…and I pray that if she is not saved, that He will bring her to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Don’t You Dare

I was surprised at the passage that struck me as I read this week’s Bible Study Fellowship notes. I had read the passage many times before. Of course I knew that the actions of the money changers were wrong…but I never saw the gravity of it before.

Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’” – Matthew 21:12-13

After Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on His way to the cross…Jesus entered the temple. There he found wickedness and hard hearts of men seeking to take advantage of people who had come to obey the law and give a sacrificial offering for their sin.

And there they sat…smug…sanctimonious…ready to condemn and put a hurdle before the people who were coming before the Lord to confess their sin. While a lamb or a goat was an acceptable offering…God made a way for those who were too poor to afford that. Instead they could bring two turtle doves. The doves, lambs or goats had to be perfect without blemish or spot to be considered an acceptable offering. If they didn’t bring their offering from home…they could purchase it outside the temple.

But man…whose heart is deceitfully wicked above all things, sought to profit off the repentant sinners desiring to obey God and atone for their sins. The people would bring into the temple the animal or birds that would be their offering. The offering would be inspected…and if declared unacceptable…the person would be at the mercy of the money changers. If they wanted to have their sins cleansed they would have to get an animal there in the temple…one that had been deemed acceptable. The prices the money changers charged…were many times over what they would pay for an animal outside the temple.

People…for whom purchasing two turtle doves was a heavy sacrifice…would be forced to pay exorbitant rates so they might be cleansed from their sin as specified under the law.

While the Bible never states this…I wouldn’t be surprised that if after they deemed an animal unacceptable as a sacrifice…making pretty penny in the process of exchanging it for an acceptable one…I’ll bet you they turned right around and sold those animals and birds to someone else waiting in line to make atonement for their sins.

They profited from people who were weighed down by their sin…those who wanted to be cleansed.

But what about those people…who didn’t have the money to purchase an animal or bird from the money changes? What about them? Did they leave the temple with their head hung low…bearing the weight sin? Sin that would now not be washed away…as God had commanded?

These people extracted a heavier price for sin than God did. The money changers even kept people from coming to God. How many repentant sinners were kept away from God because of the money changer’s greed and judgmental, condemning attitude?

When I read that passage…I got to thinking about how I might keep people from coming to Jesus? Am I judgmental…because someone doesn’t dress in a manner I think is appropriate? Do I look down on someone…because they don’t know Jesus and are living a sinful lifestyle? Have I so soon forgotten my sinfulness which nailed Jesus to the cross to pay the penalty for my sin? Do I think that there are some sins that are easier to accept like lying or stealing? Do I think that child molester…or murderer…can’t be saved? Am I even relieved to think they are going to hell?

Sometimes it seems like the church…the body of Christ…which should be so loving and forgiving…is critical and condemning. Condemning of both sinners and each other. James talked about the tongue…and how difficult it is to tame. Even for a Christian. God tells us that out of the abundance of our heart the mouth speaks.

So while I might not be out there robbing the local liquor store…shooting up heroin…or stabbing someone to steal their purse…what am I doing with my mouth? Am I robbing someone of their reputation by telling others about their misstep? Am I high on the drug of conceit? Putting others down…so I might feel better about myself? Am I stabbing someone in the back…as I whisper about what they’ve done…to anyone who will listen?

Do I then try to be magnanimous and invite that person who I was just condemning to church? Do I tell them of the love and forgiveness of Jesus…but don’t demonstrate it in my actions and words? Do I forget so easily that God has taken all my sins…sealed them in a bag and tossed them in the farthest reaches of the sea? As Pastor Philip De Courcy said, “Never to be seen again!” Do I desire that others…even the vilest offender be forgiven? Or am I self satisfied…pleased that God saved me but with precious little concern for others?

That’s not to say…that some things shouldn’t be condemned. But perhaps I would do better to walk in grace and love. Condemn the sin…and reach out to the sinner with love, grace and the Good News of the Gospel that Jesus saves!

I can still remember my beloved Pastor Chuck Obremski passionately warning us, “Don’t you ever keep someone from coming to Jesus!” I think those words were uttered in sermon about the realities of hell. How permanent…total and all consuming hell is. That we are never to think that someone can’t be saved. From the vilest offender…like a murderer, child molester, or rapist…to the person who appears good on the outside…but inside is filled with deceit and hatred.

With man it is impossible. But with God…All things are possible!

Broken

Am I broken,
Over churches who compromise,
Fail to teach the Word of God?

Am I grieved,
When churches aim to please seekers,
Instead of feeding the flock?

Do I cry,
When my Savior,
Has been made a mockery to an unbelieving world?

Do I sorrow,
Over pastors who seek to entertain,
With feel good messages?

Do I question,
Pastors who desire to grow numbers,
Rather than grow character?

Do I turn off,
Not even listen,
To pastors who dare not utter the word “sinner”?

Am I appalled,
When a pastor changes a hymn,
From “wretch”, to “saved a soul like me”?

Do I tolerate,
The pastor who embraces a Muslim,
And proclaims we that worship the same God?

Do I confront heresy,
When those in the pulpit,
Deny the trinity, the virgin birth, even Jesus Christ our Lord?

Am I embarrassed,
By those who claim to be a “man of God”,
Yet are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Or do I diligently seek,
Listen attentively,
For the Bible, the inerrant Word of God?

Is the Bible my measure,
To discern,
If one is truly in the faith?

Do I thank God,
Fall upon my knees,
For the uncompromised preaching of the Word of God?

Do I allow,
The full counsel of His Word,
To rebuke, correct, instruct me in righteousness?

Am I overcome,
With gratitude…do I loudly proclaim,
I am a sinner, saved by grace, not of works, least I boast?

By Susan Bunts
February 17, 2008

Broken

Am I broken,
Over churches who compromise,
Fail to teach the Word of God?

Am I grieved,
When churches aim to please seekers,
Instead of feeding the flock?

Do I cry,
When my Savior,
Has been made a mockery to an unbelieving world?

Do I sorrow,
Over pastors who seek to entertain,
With feel good messages?

Do I question,
Pastors who desire to grow numbers,
Rather than grow character?

Do I turn off,
Not even listen,
To pastors who dare not utter the word “sinner”?

Am I appalled,
When a pastor changes a hymn,
From “wretch”, to “saved a soul like me”?

Do I tolerate,
The pastor who embraces a Muslim,
And proclaims we that worship the same God?

Do I confront heresy,
When those in the pulpit,
Deny the trinity, the virgin birth, even Jesus Christ our Lord?

Am I embarrassed,
By those who claim to be a “man of God”,
Yet are ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ?

Or do I diligently seek,
Listen attentively,
For the Bible, the inerrant Word of God?

Is the Bible my measure,
To discern,
If one is truly in the faith?

Do I thank God,
Fall upon my knees,
For the uncompromised preaching of the Word of God?

Do I allow,
The full counsel of His Word,
To rebuke, correct, instruct me in righteousness?

Am I overcome,
With gratitude…do I loudly proclaim,
I am a sinner, saved by grace, not of works, least I boast?

By Susan Bunts
February 17, 2008

The Hard Truth

When I heard, “Who am I to stand in judgment?” I found those words to bring a false comfort. The person who uttered that statement spoke of a family member who lived a good decent life and cared for others by their words and actions, yet failed to accept God’s only way of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord.

In saying that’s a false comfort…I know whereof I speak. My dad, Frank, died when I was ten years old. He rejected God all his life. I don’t even think there was a Bible in our home. We didn’t go to church, even on the big holidays like Christmas and Easter. We didn’t pray at meal time or when needs arose. “Jesus Christ” was not his Savior…but instead a familiar curse word.

My dad died within a matter of weeks of being diagnosed with lung cancer. He was sick and whisked away to a hospital in the distant city of Phoenix.. I was shipped off to stay with friends. My mom never told me that my dad was dying and I never saw him again. I never got a chance to tell him goodbye or I love you. I never got to hear those words from him.

I don’t know in those last weeks if my dad grew bitter, angry and rejected God? Or if someone was faithful to share the Gospel message and tell him about Jesus Christ and that his sins could be forgiven. Is it possible that he accepted Christ in his last days? Yes…I might see him in heaven one day. But I never want to delude myself that he is in heaven. My dad lived a life rejecting God and His plan of salvation.

If I think “who am I to judge”…I’m afraid that I will get complacent about sharing the Gospel.

Will I be tempted to be silent about Jesus when I’m in the presence of someone who is kind and decent and does many good works? Will I seek to keep peace and not make waves with those who seek to earn their way to heaven by their good works? Or what about that person who is seemingly seeking God…and thinks that one day perhaps they too can become a god if they are good enough? Will I rest on my laurels and console myself with the thought that at least they are seeking God….after all don’t all paths lead to God?

In fact all paths do lead to God…but not all paths lead to heaven. The Lamb’s Book of Life will one day be opened. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ Lord. But only those who bow that knee this side of heaven will be saved.

When I encounter someone who hasn’t accepted Christ…will I be content with the thought, “Who am I to judge?” Or will I risk rejection and ire when I share that salvation is found in no other name under heaven than Jesus Christ, our Lord?

Warning Signs of the Me Gospel

On Sunday morning before heading off to church or Saturday evening while cleaning…I’ll frequently turn on TBN our religious broadcast station. While there are some solid Bible teachers…all too often I find pastors and ministries going astray from teaching the word of God.

One of the sure signs that I will hear man’s word and not God’s…is when I see the pastor preaching but there is no Bible to be found. On occasion…the pastor will be carrying a Bible, but he never opens it, nor refers to it. I am appalled when I see props on a stage as opposed to a pastor, his Bible and the pulpit. When our pastors are resorting to make their messages sexier and appealing to better compete with the secular world…we have gone over the edge.

As angry as I feel when I see such shenanigans…more than that I pity those pastors. I feel sad for them that they don’t know the power…the dynamite…of God’s word. The power to transform lives…take people who were dead in their sins and make them alive in Christ. If they had any clue what they were dealing with…they would treasure God’s word…guard it carefully and feed the hungry flock with the only food that will satisfy and last.

When I see such antics by men…and women…who claim to know Christ…I have to wonder if they truly know Christ as their Lord and Savior? All evidence to the contrary. God’s word warns us of such times and teachers. More and more…today’s pastors give evidence that we are in the days in which men will seek teaching which tickle their ears…instead of good, solid Bible teaching.

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. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. – 2 Timothy 4:2-4

With a born again Christian and a Mormon running for President there is more and more of a focus on religion in the media. As a result…I see interviews with pastors that the media consider to be religious leaders. One of “leaders” is Joel Osteen. I was left speechless after hearing an interview in which Joel was asked if Mormons are Christians. Joel had the perfect opportunity and platform to say to a world that is confused, lost and dead in their sins…that indeed there is a difference between the Christian faith in the Bible and what Mormons believe. He could have expanded on those differences and given the Gospel message. But instead Joel Osteen said he didn’t want to judge and that if Mitt says he believes in Christ then they have a common bond.

How is it that a pastor that has one of the largest churches in America not know that there is a difference between Biblical Christianity and the Mormon faith? That the Mormons have an additional text they consider as doctrine. It teaches about a different Jesus…not the same Jesus as the Bible.

But worse than not knowing that there is a difference between Biblical Christianity and Mormonism is the fact that Joel was reluctant or worse refused to address those differences. There is world of people that are dead in their sins and headed for hell unless they receive God only way of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord. Joel had platform to speak to millions of people who may have never heard the Gospel…or know that there is a difference between Mormonism and Christianity…but he remained silent.

Jesus command is clear. “He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” – Mark 16:15.

When I listen to these ministries…I see some patterns. Below is list of some of the things I see from pastors and ministries who do not peach God’s word.

  • No Bible is present…or frankly necessary because they are not preaching from the Word of God.
  • Don’t teach from the word of God
  • It’s all about me and how I feel.
  • God is only as good as what He can do for me.
  • It’s about what I do…not about being broken in my sin and repentant.
  • No conviction…I leave feeling good.
  • No recognition that I am a sinner saved by grace.
  • I don’t hear anything about me being a sinner
  • The message is meant to make me feel good.
  • There are props on stage
  • It’s a stage not a pulpit
  • A few verses are thrown in just for good measure
  • Casual…no suit or tie…the approach to the word of God is casual and laid back.
  • No conviction of sin
  • Illustrations from movies or personal experience…not from the Bible
  • They make Jesus cool…not holy and they don’t revere Him as God.
  • No talk of sin…which left me dead and condemned.
  • When I don’t know I’m a sinner…I don’t need a Savior.
  • Jesus is someone who came to show us how to live…not pay the penalty for my sin.
  • It’s about what I do…not what He did.
  • We’re all sons and daughters of God…they don’t define what makes one a son and daughter of God.
  • No prayer for those who don’t know Christ, who are dead in their sins to accept God’s plan of salvation and forgiveness through Jesus Christ our Lord.
  • No awe and reverence for God.
  • The pastor tells me what I ought to do…but doesn’t share that I can not do it on my own power and strength…but only through the power of the Holy Spirit who lives within me.

When Kindred Community Church was searching for a Pastor it took almost two years. During that time I was left to contemplate what would I do if we got a man who did not preach the word of God. What would I do? I love the body of Christ at my church…but I knew I had to seek God and His word first. I praise God that each week…in church and in Bible studies that I hear the full counsel of the word of God. I praise God and thank Him for bringing us Pastor Philip De Courcy…who teaches from the Bible. There is many a Sunday when I leave not feeling really good about myself because I’m being convicted of sin. But then I know that in no way will God reject or cast out a repentant sinner…and that I am forgiven. Sometimes I’m comforted by God’s merciful and loving word. But I’m always being fed God’s word.

I thank God for His hand of protection upon Kindred Community Church and allowing us to hear the full counsel of the word of God. We need to be mindful, to whom much is given, much is required. But praise God…where He calls, He equips.

This Side of Heaven


This side of heaven is the only place where we will be able to preach the Gospel message and where it will have the power of God through His word to save souls from hell.

In heaven…we’ll be able to rejoice and tell each other how God saved us…and praise Him for the glorious plan of salvation through Jesus Christ His Son. But in heaven…our testimony won’t be a tool that God will use to bring people…draw them to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.

Our last breath here on earth…will be the last breath where we can share the Gospel with unbelievers.

Once we are in heaven…we won’t encounter unbelievers. This is our only chance to reach out to them. Sometimes that prospect may seem good…especially if we encounter people living ungodly lives…in a prideful, flaunting manner. But here and now is our only chance that we will have the opportunity to love the unlovely…do good to those who despitefully use us. To turn the other cheek…out of love and obedience for our Savior.

This side of heaven is the only place where we can and are called to forgive. In heaven…I won’t be able to obey God’s command because there will be no need to forgive others. Do I remember when I forgive…I am imitating Christ and acting in the same manner that my Savior did? When I forgive the inexcusable…am I aware that I can do this only through the power of Jesus Christ living within me? Am I mindful that when I forgive I am defeating Satan and his plans to harm me…and allowing God to work all things together for good, for those that love the Lord and are called according to His purposes?

Here and now…is the only time we will be able to demonstrate that our hearts break for that which breaks God’s heart. Do I weep when I see someone lost in their sin…living an ungodly lifestyle? Or do I just choose to “be offended” by their ungodly choices and have nothing to do with them? Do I remember that those who live descent lives and are good people, but have not yet received Christ Jesus as their Lord, are just as lost as the vilest offender and need the Gospel message just as much?

Jesus was so broken hearted at seeing the destructive force of sin…and its inescapable consequence…that He chose to come down and bear our sin debt. Holy righteous God can not even look upon sin. But Jesus…chose to set His glory aside so that He might dwell with sinful man. So that He might show us the way…on His way to bearing out sin debt in full. He chose rejection and scorn…as part of the path for Him to redeem us from our sins. He willing received beatings that left Him so marred He was beyond recognition as a human being.

Do I choose to risk rejection and scorn by others so I can share the Gospel message with those lost in their sins and bound for hell? Or do I prize and more highly value the praise and acceptance or men?

Do I really believe that person sitting across from me is bound for hell because they have not accepted God’s only plan of salvation through Jesus Christ our Lord? Or do I think…gee wiz they are a nice person…and surly God must “grade on the curve”? Do I withhold sharing the knowledge of the only cure for their terminal and most certain fate…all because I’d rather receive their acceptance and love this side of eternity?

Will I remember clearly the faces of those whom God brought into my life so I could share the message that salvation is found no other name in heaven and earth…than Jesus Christ? Will I be rejoicing because I obeyed God in sharing the life saving power of His word and through it He brought many to salvation? Or will I be weeping because I know I remained silent? I had the cure…I knew it and didn’t share it with those who are perishing. Lame excuses like “I’d didn’t have time” or “I didn’t know what to say”…won’t fly in heaven.

What will I be feeling when the books are laid open…and truth is made known? Will I want to shrink away knowing full well how much I failed in obeying God, loving people and sharing the truth? Or will I be most grateful to hear my Savior say, “Well done good and faithful servant”?

Are the unsaved saved more than just “Gospel fodder”? Do I truly love them…desire to get to know them and care for them…weep with them when they weep and rejoice when they rejoice? Do I want to build a relationship…invest time…so that I can share the best treasure I have with someone I love? Or do I tolerate them as a necessary evil, present the Gospel message so I can say I obeyed…and then flee?

Am I mindful that nothing good dwells in me? That the pain and suffering that Jesus bore was a result of my sin? That God turned His back and rejected His Son on the cross because Jesus bore my sin? Sinless, perfect, holy, righteous Jesus Christ was rejected by God the Father…because of me? Do I think that in and of myself I have something to offer God? Or do I remember that I am a sinner, saved by grace, through faith, least I boast?

This article is dedicated to Gary Peterson who heads Kindred Community Church’s Prison Ministry. Gary has a love for the lost that he walks out in his life daily. May we be a shining light of God’s love to those who are not yet saved.

What do I still need to do this side of heaven?

The Reluctant Gospel

How easily I compromise,
When failing to share the only Cure,
With those lost in their sin…bound for hell.

Reluctant…I don’t want to offend,
The Gospel message seems so narrow a path,
So I don’t share, lest they think I’m judgmental.

How ironic…if they had cancer,
I would be so eager to share the good news,
Medicine that would spare their terminal prognosis.

Whether they believe in no God or many,
Create a god of their own making,
Or deceive themselves that they are god.

Do I lack confidence,
Because I fail to know the Truth,
Or do I study God’s Word so I might know?

Not my own words,
Nor my own wisdom,
But the Truth from the infallible Word of God.

We are lost in our sin,
Unable to save ourselves,
Our own works…will never bring righteousness.

There is only One Way,
He Who is the Way, the Truth and the Life,
We can only come unto the Father by Him alone.

Instead I draw back…fail to share the truth,
After all I am no scholar or theologian,
I might not be able to answer all their questions or challenges.

So instead I stand back,
Let them go forth to eternity,
Lost…soon to share that which God created for Satan and his demons.

How pray tell is that walking in love?
Like letting one walk off a cliff,
Only to fall to their most certain death.

Those lost in their sin will pay the eternal price.
Will I choose to remain silent?
Or share the life giving message…salvation is found in Christ Jesus alone?

By Susan Bunts
September 16, 2007

The above poem was inspired by today’s sermon from guest speaker Kevin Lewis. Kevin addressed a concern, near and dear to his heart…the Christian church is influenced by today’s secular society and is weak and lacking in their Bible knowledge. So much so that we are ineffective in sharing the Gospel message with those who are perishing…lost in their sin. Kevin got down to basics as we started to delve into “Jesus Christ …the Only Way to Eternal Life”.

Deceived

Even the elect may be deceived,
By a work packaged with purpose.

Influenced by their emotions,
Their words of praise are influenced and driven.

Even as they themselves firmly preach the Word of God,
Acknowledge today’s church, like the infant only desires milk.

Well hidden by the attractive wrappings,
They fail to see that the meat of the Word is not preached.

Souls lost in their sin sitting on Sunday morn,
Will not hear the Gospel message for fear that it might offend.

Observation will reveal,
Attendees do not carry, nor raise the sword of the Spirit.

Satan delights as they grow and prosper,
Earn widespread praise from the mouths of men.

An ineffective foe they are,
For the battle they fail to be equipped.

Deceived as they sit in their pews,
Ears tickled and they feel so good.

The Word of God delectably mixed,
With error and the wisdom of men.

Does the preacher feel no conviction?
Is not the son disciplined by the Father?

Tragically some will one day hear,
The Savior’s final words, “Away from me, I never knew you!”

By Susan Bunts
August 4, 2007

The above poem was inspired when I heard a beloved Bible study teacher singing the praises of a ministry that regularly preaches a watered down Gospel message due to the offensive nature of the cross and sin to the unbeliever.

Sinners will not hear the Gospel message out in the world for the world does not know the message of salvation. The place unbelievers must hear Gospel is in the church. If we fail to preach and teach the full counsel of the Word of God for fear that we will offend…are we not consigning the sinner to hell? All done with the good intention of not wanting to hurt of offend or hurt someone. Is not an eternity in hell infinitely worse than any hurt or offense felt when confronted by the truth of the Word of God?

“In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony.” – Luke 16:23-25