Category Archives: From The Pulpit

Author tells fellow believers to ‘Quit Going to Church’

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By Tonya Whitaker
Inside The Pew

PLANO, Texas – Bob Hostetler has a message for Christians – quit going to church.

He also tells us to quit saying prayers, quit reading your Bible, quit volunteering, quit enjoying fellowship, and so on.

Bob Hostetler

Hostetler, co-founder of Cobblestone Community Church in Oxford, Ohio, uses the Bible to explain why Christians should improve in these areas in his latest release, “Quit Going To Church.” (ISBN 978-0-915547-70-8, $14.99, 224 pages, Leafwood Publishers)

While all these requests sound a bit far-fetched, think again. This thought-provoking and “pull-of-the-gloves” book is based on the premise that much of how we think and act, a great percentage of what we do today as church-going people, bears a slight resemblance to the way of Jesus and “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3 NIV).

The title of the book and its subsequent chapters issue an eyebrow-raising challenge, showing how many of us have misunderstood and distorted the good news of Jesus and replaced Christianity with something else.

For instance, in the chapter “Quit Going To Church,” he points out that Christians should “stop going to church and start being a church” that resembles the one in Acts 2. What should a church look like? Hostetler said it should be holy (“spirituality” and “being the church”), catholic (“universal” and “all of us together”), and apostolic (“based on the teachings of the apostles” and “provide gift-based leadership”). Furthermore, Hostetler tells readers to shy from the long-held notion by some that going to church makes you a Christian. This portion of Hostetler’s book takes me to James 2:14-26, when James talks about faith and deeds. What are you doing to fulfill Christ’s kingdom Monday through Saturday?

Hostetler contends Christians should quit tithing because the practice is misrepresented in today’s church. Everything we have belongs to God. Therefore, if you truly understand the New Testament church, 10 percent or any portion that man constitutes as tithing is incorrect. Jesus wants His people to surrender all to Him. Not 10 percent, but 100 percent. Everything! (Luke 14: 25-34).

As I read more, I stumbled into another nugget that made me nod my head in agreement. Hostetler tells believers to quit helping the poor and unite with them. The author boldly says, “When Jesus said, ‘You will always have poor among you (John 12:8 NIV), he meant, ‘among you.’ Not ‘on your drive to the office’ … Not ‘in shelters,’ … or in neighborhoods far from your community. He meant among you.”

Sadly, some have swayed from the Christ’s roadmap for His church. Hostetler is attempting to convey in “Quit Going to Church” that traditions and customs were not a part of first century Christianity and it should not have a place in the 21st century church. This straightforward title has nothing to do with “denomination” or who is right or wrong. But, if you believe in Him with all your heart, you would adhere to Christ’s vision for His church.

Learn more about Hostetler at www.bobhostetler.com. To purchase this book, visit Leafwood Publishers.

Muse: Color me white

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By Grelan Muse Sr.
Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – When I was a little boy growing up in Amite, La., I can remember the first time I went to school. From day one, it was hard for me. The black kids had to sit at the back of the bus and in the back of the class room. As a kid, I didn’t know what was going on, but I do know that we were treated very badly in and out of the classroom.

The white kids would laugh at us. The black kids were last at everything in school. Sitting in that classroom was one of the

Grelan Muse Sr.

hardest things we had to endure. Fear was a reality for the black kids, for we never knew what was going to happen from day to day. It was difficult to learn in that environment. For some of us, our grades began to suffer, and so we were placed in special education studies. We were looked at as the unlearned kids.

I can recall my siblings and me tell our mother how bad we were being treated. I still recall the pain I felt sitting at the table as I cried to my mother about what was happening at school. As a 6 year old, it was hard to understand why. Day in and day out we went to school feeling this way, being called the “N-word” all the time. I just didn’t understand.

When I got home from school one day, I asked my mother if we had some white paint. She wanted to know why I needed the paint. I told her I wanted to make my skin white so I would not endure the pain of being ridiculed. There were days when I cried because I felt worthless. Sadly, I was starting to hate myself for being black.

At this point, my mother sat me down. She picked up the Bible on the coffee table, and we read scriptures, specifically Matthew 5:44 and John 13:34-35. In Matthew, Christ said, “But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;” (KJV). He echoes this in John: “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another./By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (KJV).

My mother asked us to do what Jesus said to love your enemies’ and she gave us a song to sing. The name of the song was, “I’ve Got The Love of Jesus.” When my siblings and I went back to school, we prayed and the song reined my heart and mind. I was able to overcome this situation in the name of Jesus; I still hear that song in my heart. In any situation you might experience, God will empower you to overcome. He will give you joy to overcome.

Grelan Muse Sr. is founder of Inside The Pew (@pewtalk) and founder of Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries (@EMM4Christ). To respond to this column, email him at pewnews@aol.com.

Knowing the difference

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By Pastor Grelan A. Muse
Inside The Pew

When I was a boy growing up in Amite, La., my siblings and I had friends that would come over and play. We would always like to play games, especially with the ones we hadn’t seen in a long time. Calling myself funny, I would love to trick the younger kids. The older buds would not fall for it, but the less experienced children would. The question was, “If you had to believe in someone would it be

Grelan Muse

Satan or the devil?”  My brothers and sisters would stand around that kid looking and waiting for the answer so we all can laugh and talk about it to others.

Not comprehending the difference, the kid would stand there thinking, and he would say “Satan.” We would laugh at the answer provided and every time we seen that kid, we would make fun of him until it was not funny anymore. I believe some of us are just like that kid – confused. They don’t know the difference between loving the things of the world and the love of the Father.

At first, I didn’t understand why we allow our kids to walk around with their pants below their waist, let the youth get tattoos on their body and just about every youth that you see wants to rap. This is the ways of the world. Christian parents are working hard to buy the pants and shirts for the youth to wear, giving them money to buy music and all other things of the world. So this is why one kid kills another for the shoes that is on his feet. Parents cry and tell the youth that they work hard to give them the things they want and they repay them by disrespecting them by talking back and not going to church and getting involved in drugs and alcohol. But there is one thing the Bible says about worldly love. In 1 John 2:15-16, the author says, “Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”

When it comes to the Scripture, it is a clear-cut line. Some Christian parents try to keep their children up with the Joneses when God doesn’t want this for anyone. Instill in your children that things of the world are not the true treasures to strive for. Make the Almighty the ultimate gift. Lust of the flesh and eyes divides homes and families. Pride of life drives corporations into the ground. All these misfortunes are not an imagination of one’s mind. These things are not of the Father, and we need to avoid them at all costs.

I go back to the young child back in Amite, La., who was fooled mainly because he didn’t know better. My fellow Christians, don’t be blinded by Satan. Ignorance is not bliss. Stand behind the truth. What might look good isn’t always what it seems. I heard a sermon one time that being a God-fearing person is one of the hardest things. We are bombarded with images and news that takes away from God’s law. What are we to believe? Remember, culture changes. God’s word doesn’t. Amen.

Grelan A. Muse Sr. is founder of Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries Inc.. and Inside The Pew, a nonprofit organization based in Baton Rouge, La. Follow him on Twitter @gremuse.

Football theology for Super Bowl Sunday

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By Bill Ellis
Special to Inside The Pew

It all started in January 1985 before San Francisco and Miami met for the Super Bowl XIX. A story about what I have called “Football Theology” and define as “bad football and worse theology”, was written by Bob Fallstron, sports editor of the Decatur Herald and Review, Decatur, Ill., on Jan. 23, 1986.

In the years that have followed nearly 100 definitions make up my list of football terms that are given a “church twist.” It has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines throughout the nation and other parts of the world, including “USA Today.”

Here are a few of the definitions that have been used. At a Super Bowl party, it could be fun to make up some of your own and by other party participants. I’d sure like to see the new ones you come up with. It is my hope that some of these will bring a smile to your face and I do hope your team wins.

This year, without Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, or Aaron Rodgers, I’ll just watch and enjoy the game with all who attend my party.

Bill Ellis

Here’s my list, smile at least once and enjoy the game.

  • Tackle – when an alert usher does when a child is sneaking out of the service.
  • Fumble – a lousy sermon.
  • Quarterback sneak – Sunday school officers and teachers entering the building five minutes after Sunday School begins.
  • Quarterback – what church members, who believe religion is free, want after putting 50 cent in the offering.
  • In the pocket – where too many church members keep God’s tithe and their offerings.
  • End around – diaper changing time in the nursery.
  • Illegal Motion – leaving before the benediction.
  • Interference – whispering and talking during the sermon.
  • Penalty – what the church gets when its members stay home.
  • Punt – what the pastor does when nothing else seems to work.
  • National Anthem – the choir and congregation doing their best singing “Amazing Grace.”

Thanks for sending to me some of the super definitions you come up with. Have a super day in your church and every day all week long. St. Paul knew a lot about sports, not football, but running and passed these words to all in the game. “Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses (spectators), let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith … ” (Hebrews 12:1-2). The chapter continues to talk about the discipline and vitality that every athlete needs.

The Bible has a great deal to say about sports, bodybuilding, strength, control and all that enables us to always be at our best. Read it and be amazed by what you discover and learn.

 

Bill Ellis is a syndicated columnist, and convention and conference speaker on every continent. He is the writer of more than 2,000 newspaper and magazine columns, articles and contributions to books. He is also a widely known motivational speaker and pulpit guest who utilizes enjoyment of life and just plain fun and laughter while speaking to high school, university and professional sports teams as well as to business and professional groups of all kinds. His keen understanding of human problems makes him a favorite speaker for youth, parent, and senior adult meetings. He is accompanied by Kitty, his wife, favorite singer, editor and publisher.

 

Lee: Book has reinforced ‘humility, patience’ in me

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By Donald Lee
Special to The Pew

In an interview I did with my former employer, “The Advocate” newspaper in Baton Rouge, about the future best-selling book my friend and prayer partner Bre Eaton and I just released, columnist and pal Terry Robinson asked me an awesome question.

He asked me whether our book, “Married to Commitment,” ministered to me in any way. And if so, what was the one thing that I learned from the book.

My response: “More humility and patience.” The book is about being humble, recognizing that it is God who gives promotions (whether in the workplace or in relationships). And it’s about being patient.

Many divorces occur or many marriages are strained because of a lack of patience on the part of at least one of the two persons. We,

Pastor Donald Lee

generally speaking, get tired of waiting on God to send us our Ruth or our Esther or our Boaz or our Isaac, to the point where we succumb to the pressures of impatience (like Abraham and Sarah did) and we (not God) produce Ishmaels in our lives rather than waiting on God to present us our Isaacs.

Some of the biggest, most recognized, most influential pastors out there today often say: “Most divorces occur over money.” I’ve always contended that “money” was not (and perhaps never was) the reason for so many failed marriages.

I contend that those marriages fail because of “selfishness,” “self-centeredness,” “pride.” This — a selfish, haughty spirit — is the root cause of divorce. The money factor, I argue, is the fruit of the divorce. But the root of the divorce is the self-centeredness factor.

In other words, money, if you will, is (how can I say it?) “the straw that broke the camel’s back.” That one straw, alone, couldn’t do it. But it’s placed on top of all the other stuff.

Successful, new marriages or relationships are birthed from honest, self-evaluations concerning what went wrong in previous ones.

Donald Lee is founder-pastor of nondenominational, multi-ethnic Kingdom Living Christian Center in Dallas. He co-authors “Married to Commitment,” (Xulon Press, $14.99) a powerful book on relationships and commitment. To obtain your copy of the book, visit http://www.xulonpress.com or call toll-free (866) 909-2665. Lee can be contacted at pastordonjlee@yahoo.com. Follow him on Twitter @donaldj_lee. To hear Lee’s sermons “LIVE” via teleconference, call (218) 862-4590 (conference code: 279498#) at 10 a.m. (Central Standard Time) on Sundays and 7 p.m. on Thursdays.

In God’s eyes, underdogs always have their day

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By Pastor Grelan Muse
Founder, Inside The Pew

BATON ROUGE, La. – Another great weekend of NFL playoff action has come and gone. The San Francisco 49ers shocked my New Orleans Saints on Jan. 14 to advance to the AFC Championship Game against the New York Giants on Jan. 22. And, I cannot go without mentioning the Jan. 8 heroics of one Tim Tebow, who led the Denver Broncos to an overtime victory against the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers.

Many felt the underdog 49ers would collapse to the offensive onslaught the Saints orchestrated during the season. In the end, the underdogs had different plans. Forty-niners coach Jim Harbaugh gave his players the greatest words of inspiration before the game. He told his men the team they were not supposed to be in the playoffs. Essentially, the 49ers were cast off. Excuse after excuse was given by naysayers, including the 49ers early dominance of their division, the NFC West.

Now that the dust has cleared, the underdog 49ers is still in the game. Just like the 49ers had their doubters, there are so many people in our society who have been pushed aside. But, God has not. The Almighty will never doubt our abilities. God’s children are not powerless, for it is He who is with us always. In Romans 8:31, it is declared that He is for us, therefore who can be against us. I am sure we all can relate to the story of an individual who overcame obstacles in life despite a sub par start to life. God’s unwavering love is what allows the underdog to keep going.

It is no mystery as to why God finds favor in the underdog. There are endless examples of how God used those who were not expected to push forward to do so. He took care of the Israelites in their despair, made Abraham the leader of nations, allowed Moses to part the Red Sea, used Joseph to save Israel’s sons from starvation, and chose David to be king.

Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 1:28-29, “God has chosen what is low and despised in the world, things that are not to reduce to nothing the things that are, so that no person might boast before God.”

Tarry on underdogs! Harsh life circumstances and critics who favor worldly thoughts will never dictate your story. God always has the final say.

Pastor Grelan Muse Sr. is founder of Emanuel and The Mainline Ministries Inc. (www.emmnetwork.org), a Baton Rouge, La., 501 (c) 3 nonprofit organization, and Inside The Pew. Connect with us @PewTalk on Twitter and @Inside The Pew on Facebook.

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