Sunday, March 4, 2007

Christians in America - An Unbelieving Generation?

Christians in America - An Unbelieving Generation? by Rob Marshall

In a lot of ways I'm pretty average. I may be a bit taller than some, and probably weigh more than I should, but there isn't really anything extraordinary about me. So when I read the stories in the Bible, and think about how the majority of the people who were there reacted, I assume that I would have done what everyone else was doing.

One example is the story in Mark 9:14-29 about a father who brought his demon-possessed son to be healed. When the father came to the disciples, Jesus wasn't there. He was with Peter, James, and John and they were on their way back from the mountain where they had seen Jesus transfigured before their eyes. As they approached the other disciples they noticed that a large crowd had gathered, and that the teachers of the law were arguing with them.

When Jesus asked what they were arguing about, the man whose son was demon-possessed came and explained to Him how his son was being tormented by the spirit, and that he had asked the disciples to cast it out, but they hadn't been able to. It's at this point that Jesus says, "O unbelieving generation, how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy to me." (Mark 9:19)

Like I said, I'm pretty average. If I had been one of the disciples it's a good bet that I would have been in the middle of the crowd, arguing with the teachers, and trying to figure out why I hadn't been able to cast them demon out. And it's not like casting out demons was a foreign concept to them. When we look at Mark chapter 6 we see that Jesus sent them out, two by two, and gave them authority over demons. This was actually something that they had done before.

But when I look at my life, I realize that even though there are things that I've done before, it doesn't mean that it will be easy for me to do it again. All I have to do is look at how I spent the last few days, or weeks, in my life and realize that Jesus could very well look at me and say, "O unbelieving Rob, how long will I have to stay with you? How long will I have to keep reminding you of all that I've already taught you?"

I don't know about you, but when I'm faced with a new problem, or just an ongoing old one, I tend to forget all that God has already done for me. When struggling with financial issues I usually get discouraged and depressed. I focus too much on the problem, or what I don't have, and I forget that all things are possible with God.

One of the scriptures that I battle with the most is in Matthew 6:28-34, especially verse 33 which says, "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." I find myself worrying about what I'll eat, or wear, or how I'll pay my mortgage this month. In other words, I worry about "all these things."

This verse isn't hard for us because God is asking to do something that is impossible. We have difficulties with it because it's so unnatural. If we look around us we can see dozens, hundreds, maybe even millions of examples of people who worry about how they are going survive, let alone doing any better than that. The fact that we worry about it is normal in the sense that it's something everyone does.

But I wonder if Jesus would look at us, those of us in America and other countries where the Word of God is readily available, and just shake His head in frustration. Would He look at us and say, "O unbelieving generation, when are you going to finally understand? When are you finally going to believe?" We are surrounded with God's word, it's being preached in our pulpits, over the airwaves, and at us in our daily email devotionals, but do we believe it?

In all fairness it is a frightening thing, the prospect of really believing God's word, or really trusting Him. And it's not about us having to do anything that is really crazy, or risky, but just trusting Him with our daily battles. It's sad to think that Christians in America are just as likely to get divorced, struggle just as much as everyone else financially, and are just as unhappy with their lives as people who don't believe in God at all.

But I know that taking a step to trust God, to begin to pray with the expectation that He will answer and do amazing things in our lives, won't be easy. Too often we end up like the disciples who watched helplessly as a demon-possessed boy fell to the ground and foamed at the mouth. We end up overwhelmed by our circumstances and unable to see how God can change things.

Because I'm not particularly extraordinary, I'm just an average Christian; I have to realize that the same thing applies to me that applies to everyone else. I have to allow God to change me. I need to ask Him to open my eyes so that I can see beyond what's happening to me and finally see what's possible with God. I must let Him put my faith to the test so that He can remove my doubts. And even though that will be hard, the reward is that I will finally begin to truly have faith in God.

Get two chapters from Rob Marshall's book, "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us" when you sign up for his free weekly Faith-Full Life Newsletter. Visit:

Saturday, March 3, 2007

The Ten Suggestions of God

The Ten Suggestions of God by Gary Kurz

Most of us have heard preachers passionately warn in their sermons, "They are not the ten suggestions; they are the ten commandments". Factually, no one can argue that point. Indeed, no one should argue that point. God gave us commandments. He did not mince his words. He said "thou shall" and "thou shall not".

Practically speaking however, as we apply the commandments to our lives, we might do well to consider them as being suggestions as well. In no way does this diminish the authoritative intent of these providential edicts. Rather, acknowledging the suggestive tone of the commandments underscores the importance of obeying them and reflects a little more on how they should impact positively upon our lives.

As commandments, or law, we all fail miserably at keeping them. Is there one who has not lied? Is there one who has not coveted? The question is rhetoric as scripture already provides the answer for us in Romans 3:23 (kjv), where it says: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God".

The chapter goes on to tell us that all are guilty before God. When an elderly preacher was asked by a young Christian what the word "all" meant in that verse, the wise old servant replied "All means all and that is all, all means". In other words, the verse says not some, not many, not even most, but all are guilty of sin and all have broken the commandments.

Armed with this knowledge, one might question why God gave us the commandments at all. If we were all not able to keep them, if we were all guilty of breaking them in God's eyes, then why even go through the drill of trying to keep them?

Is God testing us? Is God tricking us? Is he being some kind of a bully, who, because he has the power, can just force his will upon us and order us to keep his commandments, or else?

If one views the commandments exclusively as commandments, one might arrive at that incorrect conclusion. However, if we also view the commandments as guidance or suggestions on how to live our lives, we can draw a clearer picture on just why God gave them to us.

Simply, God knows us. He made us. He searches hearts and knows the inner-most thoughts of men and women. He understands our old nature and how it contrasts with his holiness. In a perfect world (which he tried to give to us) we would live righteously and holy. There would be no need for commandments, because there would be no sin.

Of course, this is not a perfect world. Sin is present and often wields great influence over people, even Christians. Knowing our propensity to give in to temptation, God gave us commandments that would educate us about sin. That is why he referred to the law as our "schoolmaster" in the epistles.

He didn't lay these commandments upon us because he is the boss and we have to listen to him. He gave them to us because he loves us. He knew the hardships and suffering that would come from doing evil and he wanted to protect us from all of that.

God knows that if we steal, for example, it will hurt not only those we steal from, but it will hurt us as well. First, there are the ramifications that come if one is caught stealing. You may be tasked with making restitution to those you stole from. You may be assigned many hours of arduous community service. You may even be incarcerated.

Next, there comes societal scorn and a ruined reputation as you are branded a thief. You lose friends and credibility. You have a record and authorities keep close tabs on you and your activities. It is harder to find good work. Generally, everything in life becomes a little bit more difficult for you.

Finally, if the previous results do not deter you from stealing again, your conscience might grow weak it will become easier for you to steal again. Eventually, you will lose your conscience altogether and become progressively more reprobate.

Breaking any of the commandments can have similar disastrous effects upon your life and upon the lives of those you love. For that reason, the commandments become practical suggestions on how you should conduct yourself in life.

Moreover, as suggestions or guidance, the commandments carry promises or rewards with them. For example, we are told in the fifth commandment that if we honor our father and our mother, our life will be long on the earth.

As commandments, an "or else" connotation is inferred, but as suggestions for living righteously we are given positive incentives. Without doubt, the commandments should first be viewed as commandments. They are the will of God for mankind. But they should also be viewed as providential tutorials for successful living, where God offers good results for those who keep them.

We are faced with many decisions in life. God has given us free will to make choices. This free will to choose applies to the Ten Commandments. You may choose to abide by them or you may choose to ignore them. You have free will. If you want a long and successful life, God's counsel, God's suggestion, is that you incorporate these ideals into your life.

The author is a Baptist Preacher and Bible Teacher. He helps those grieving the loss of a pet to understand the Biblical evidence that proves they live on. His most popular book, "Cold Noses at the Pearly Gates" delivers hope and comfort to the reader in a very gentle, yet convincing way. Visit at for more information, tips and gifts or write to Gary at

Friday, March 2, 2007

Introduction to Prosperity - Be Faithful With Money

Introduction to Prosperity - Be Faithful With Money by Rob Marshall

It's not a new problem, and it probably started almost immediately. How did Peter, the struggling fisherman, feel about Matthew the wealthy tax collector? Did the disciples have debates about money on top of their usual arguments about who would be the greatest?

Probably since before the beginning of the Christian church, there have been discussions about prosperity. The questions of whether or not a person can be rich and spiritual have probably been raging for millennia, maybe even since the beginning of man's existence. And the idea that wealth was the sign of God's favor on a person's life was prevalent even in Jesus' day.

The September 18, 2006 edition of Time Magazine had a cover picture that was the front of a Rolls Royce with a cross as a hood ornament. The title of the cover article was: "Does God Want You To Be Rich?"

All in all, the article was pretty much what I would expect from a magazine like Time. The bias was somewhat toward that idea that the current resurgence of "Prosperity Theology" is not a good thing, and that it's just a handful of American mega-churches that are preaching it, while more "mainstream" pastors find the whole idea ridiculous, if not downright evil. I found it a bit disappointing that the writer felt the need to comment on one "prosperity" preacher's expensive shoes.

No matter where it got started, the idea that truly spiritual people are the ones who have forsaken worldly riches and pleasures is definitely firmly entrenched in the minds of many people. And for those involved with the prosperity teachings, the idea is that God does want His people to have all the worldly goods and heaven too.

Whether they are believers, or scoffers, isn't so much the issue. The real question is: What does the Bible teach us about being wealthy? Does the Bible really teach us that it's wrong to be rich? Or does it really say that poverty is sin and everyone should be rich? And, if we are supposed to be rich, what does that really mean?

In this short introduction to prosperity, we will take a look the general idea that it's not so much a matter of being rich, in terms of our possessions, but that prosperity really has to do with being faithful with what we have been given. And because it has to do with being faithful, it applies not only in American mega-churches, but also all over the world.

In Luke 16:10-12 Jesus says, "He who is faithful in what is least is faithful also in much; and he who is unjust in what is least is unjust also in much. Therefore if you have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? And if you have not been faithful in what is another man's, who will give you what is your own?"

There are a couple of points in this particular statement that we need to highlight. The first is that Jesus is saying our faithfulness with "what is least" affects how faithful we will be with much, or more. He then goes on to point out a couple of "least" things: "Unrighteous mammon" and "what is another man's".

When I read these verses, I hear Jesus telling us that our faithfulness with money affects every other area of our lives. And if we have not been faithful with money, and the things that don't belong to us, we will never enjoy true riches or have real responsibility (things that are our own).

And, when it comes to what belongs to another man, we should always remember that nothing really belongs to us, it all belongs to God.

Many people will say that money isn't that important, but Jesus is telling us something very different. When we look at what Jesus says here, we see that our attitudes towards, and use of, money are extremely important. Jesus tells us that our faithfulness with money will control the degree to which we are entrusted with the true riches.

The same faith that helped David defeat Goliath is in everyone of us. In "Taking On Goliath - How To Unleash The David In All Of Us," author Rob Marshall shows you how to unleash your faith, overcome any obstacle, and live your dreams. Get two free chapters of "Taking On Goliath" when you sign up for the Faith-Full Life newsletter, just visit:

Thursday, March 1, 2007

Prosperity or Poverty - What Does the Bible Really Say?

Prosperity or Poverty - What Does the Bible Really Say by Rev Michael Bresciani

I have never been so determined to keep an article short. The point here is so important that I would not want it to be buried in a lengthy diatribe that only added more confusion to the abounding controversy that has already arisen.

The saddest thing about the whole controversy is that it may become yet another reason for unbelievers to remain just as they are. Christianity should be known for its presentation of the immutable gospel of Jesus Christ not a series of constant controversies and disputations. It strains the credulity of any reasonable man to read about the horrific persecution of believers in over fifty countries while the big question in America is whether Christians should all be floating in God given riches.

Today thousands of Christians in Islamically controlled countries are facing the very loss of life and limb while American Christians are debating whether God is supposed to be giving them all untold riches, houses and lands. Sound silly, it is but that’s exactly what one proponent of the goody gospel espouses. In the Time magazine article “Does God Want You to be Rich” Kirbyjon Caldwell said “God wants you to own land. The entire Old Testament is all about land. Land represents that God is with you and God has blessed you.”

Between the recent interview of Joel Osteen by Barbara Walters and the September 18, 2006 issue of Time on the same subject one question comes to mind. Why is America so engrossed in this question about Christians seeking wealth or resigning to poverty? More importantly is the question, does the Bible really present a conflict on the issue or is it yet again, man meddling with the message?

Time, a largely secular news outlet gave a fair presentation of both sides and included the scriptural proof texts used by each side. They quoted such Christian notables as Rick Warren, Joyce Meyer, Kirbyjon Caldwell and Ron Sider. They gave a fair breakdown of the general views of others on the subject as well such as T. D. Jakes and Creflo Dollar. How I wish they might have attempted to balance it all with a quote from the late Kathryn Kuhlman.

I will have to paraphrase the statement I once heard on Kathryn’s radio program because it was so long ago that I heard it. But forget it I never will, I hope no one else will ever forget it either.

What she said is that we should never isolate and amplify any verse of scripture to the exclusion of other verses that also speak to the same subject. Simply put this means, don’t teach or make a big deal out of one verse and forget the other verses that also talk about the same thing.

The verse of scripture I will quote here gives support to neither side of the argument and yet it is the final and consummate answer to the whole matter. The verse takes its authority as final in the matter not from me, but rather from a sovereign God who decides each mans destiny, and each mans wealth or the lack of it on a one to one individual basis.

I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings. Jeremiah 17:10

The heart is still deceitful and desperately wicked (Jer 17:9) in the twenty first century and we would like to level the ground that God alone has reserved to his own regulation. Those who persist in this argument could find themselves coming under the same kind of rebuke that Peter got when he questioned the fate of another apostle after hearing of his own. (John 21:19-22)

Only a sovereign God has the right and the wisdom to decide who gets what portion in this world. Teaching believers that God has one plan for all is flying in the face of Gods authority to plant, lead and call to accountability every person he calls. Each of us must account for what we do with what we are given; the parable of the talents is proof that not all receive the same portion. (MT 25:15)

Here’s the bottom line. Whether you believe in the prosperity gospel or the austere life of denying worldly possessions there is one rule for all and that rule comes from God not either one of the aforementioned groups. That rule is, and always will be Jeremiah 17:10.

The real danger especially in the prosperity gospel is that it is not a universal gospel. The Gospel of Jesus Christ can be preached and produce genuine converts in any nation or community on earth. The prosperity gospel can only be preached in America and Western Europe in large part. That means it is coming dangerously close to what the Apostle Paul called “another gospel” (Galatians 1:8-9)

Years ago God spoke to the heart of Pastor David Wilkerson of New York’s, Times Square Church about a coming time of great distress in this nation where the entire fiscal health of the country will collapse. He spoke the same thing to my heart over two decades ago. I’d rather not mention this to anyone, I’d rather I didn’t hear it, but I did and I have no doubt it is nearer now by far than when I first heard this message so clearly.

Whether anyone heeds the message and whether they have the heart to see through the obvious weakness and error of the prosperity gospel is not up to me. One thing is certain. Those who insist on this gospel and their respective churches will be hit the hardest when the time comes. Conversely, those who have learned to live in the portion they are given and are content, will be affected least. As always with the great things God does…the choice is yours.

Suffice it to say that when such a question reaches the height of being examined by one of the media’s biggest interviewers, Barbara Walters it may be time to dig in and find the real answer. The Time magazine front cover was splattered with a picture of a Rolls Royce sedan with a huge gold cross as a hood ornament. The caption for the picture read “Does God Want You to be Rich.”

For some Christians Time’s cover may be a bit embarrassing but what it should really do is make us ashamed. Where have all those preachers gone who used to ask only, “Does God want you to be saved?”

Rev Bresciani is a Christian author and columnist. His articles on many important subjects are now read in every corner of the globe. For a list of subjects and news from around the world visit

Article Source: