A REALLY BAD SKETCH

tom bradyOn August 12, 2015 Tom Brady was in court faced with the infamous “Deflategate” charges and the media vultures have been hovering in circles picking off the carcase of this story until there is nothing but bones, leaving us all deflated and confused.

But today we are hearing about Jane Rosenberg. Who is she? She is court sketch artist who made an unusual rendition of the New England Patriots Quarterback Tom Brady that caught everybody’s attention…and scorn. It went viral! Obviously, when people look at the sketch it does not resemble Tom Brady in the slightest. His head seems almost distorted in the picture as he looked down at his phone the whole time in court. So the media and comedians have had a field day with it. On the news we have seen pictures have come out with the photoshopped image of the head on “ET” wrapped up in a blanket on a bike; the famous painting of the Munch’s Scream of Nature and even a picture of his head was placed on the late Michael Jackson in his Thriller song.

The poor artist even apologized to everyone-protesting that sketching is not an easy job, and she did could not capture how handsome he was, but we are not here to question her talent even though his head looks deflated. One has to wonder if something Freudian was revealed in her sketch or opinion.

BUT do we as Christians accept the modern day sketches of Christ without even a remark? With all the caricatures of Christ that are being presented behind the church pulpits and media ministries-I am wondering-maybe we should apologize because they are not even close to sketching a right picture of Jesus Christ. It does not seem like there is any apology for the really horrendous impersonations of the Jesus of today’s Christianity!

God demands that we do not worship false images-even images we are tempted to11709676_1141906685825663_8640431874398809008_n ascribe to him (Deut. 4:15-20). Paul warns us that there is a counterfeit Jesus, a “Jesus other than the Jesus we preached.” (2 Cor. 11:4). The Jesus sketch drawn today does not demand repentance from sin and does not preach the Cross! The modern parody of Jesus makes him one way among many ways, one religious choice among many religious choices-because its all good!  For some he is a drippy, soft spoken, wishy washy boyfriend. Others masquerade him as a heavenly politician with his own party and news network concerned with legal and social issues. Others present him as a rock star and superhero with loud music, colorful lights and lots of excitement. Other present him as the successful CEO of heaven who wants you to buy stock in his company and be a “disciple employee.”

But all of these sketches are not Jesus.  Instead He is the indescribable King of kings and Lord of Lords. He poured out his blood to pay for the crimes of despicable sinners like us. He is able to save, heal and deliver the worst people utterly and completely.  In the Bible he evicted powerful demons out of people’s bodies, gave sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf and speech to the mute! He touched and healed the contagious, set free the addict, forgave his enemies and rescued the exploited.  He is the only Savior, all powerful Lord and genuine Messiah who is feared among demons, loved by those he saves.

John 17.17Get the picture? No? You will only find the right picture of Jesus in the Christian Bible. Jesus taught,  “Search the scriptures, for in them you hope that you have eternal life, and they testify concerning Me.” (John 5:39).  When Jesus taught his disciples, “He expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.” (Luke 24:47). Jesus taught that the Holy Spirit lives in the heart of those that accept Jesus as their Savior (John 3:3-8).  The Holy Spirit gives a clear picture of Jesus Christ (John 15:26) and acts as our guide leading us to Jesus (John 16:13) as we see him as the Truth (John 14:6) in the truth of the scriptures (John 17: 17). Let the real picture of Jesus be seen today, so we do not need to make any apologies for a really bad sketch.

© 2015 Rev. Stephen S. Gibney, give credit where credit is due.

Stuck on the Steeple

Recently two men were stuck at a height of 122 feet in a construction bucket which stopped working and lodged against a New Jersey church steeple for hours before they were rescued. These men were working on a restoration project, according to the church’s pastor. Not even the fire department could help them.  As surreal as it seems, the New Jersey State Police dispatched two helicopters to assist those men! After about three hours, the men were taken down by a basket hooked to a crane. The Pastor was thankful and even prayed with those that helped.

I wonder what it would be like to listen to these men tell the story to their friends and family about the day they were stuck on the steeple.

I am not here to blame the pastor for that nightmare, and the breakdown of equipment.  I am not against church repairs. But for the sake of illustration, I wonder about pastors who are more like religious business owners and whose focus is on how tall the “steeple” of the church more than the souls of their people.  There is a sermon  here in fact, it is very possible churches and church goers are stuck on the steeple. I am prompted to advise pastors with the scripture,

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks, and look well to your herds.” (Prov 27:23)

This passage encourages the pastor to know the faces or the state of his sheep, to put his heart into the condition of those that God has entrusted to his care. The pastor has a job to know the condition of the souls of the people he pastors, nothing else is more important. Soul work is hard work and all the work done in a church should flow the condition of people’s hearts.

Pastors today feel the lure of the new models of religious marketing and church growth. That shining serpent beckons to them and promises them freedom from “old religious ways”  and to attract more crowds to church in the name of love and healing. I am concerned that they may have forgotten their true call, to care for their sheep.  I have seen pastors and churches advertise and market programs and go light on preaching. When they do preach, they are sloppy on the gospel.

There is a possibility of involving people so much in “God’s Work” that they get end up in a dangerous situation. In seemingly thriving churches I have seen adultery, drug abuse and financial controversy. How could this happen? They are stuck on the steeple. Pastors may be putting people  in danger, because their agenda has become their gospel.  We shuld love helping the poor, clothing the naked, feeding the hungry we should do it without a second thought but these things are NOT the gospel. Man cannot live on bread alone. Full stomachs can result in anorexic souls.

I have been part of churches where Sunday after Sunday they push small groups, leadership programs, denominational conferences so much that it becomes forced. It is like an arranged marriage to an ugly partner. The religious peer pressure kicks in and you either get left out or singled out.

The bottom line is not the project it is the condition of people souls! Their souls are more important than any agenda you may have. Is what you are doing, contributing to a dangerous situation for them spiritually?

Many of these pastors seem promote membership and Churchianity.  They preach with passion the importance of attendance and faithful tithing. If only they would preach the cross and exposit scripture with such fire! They quote Hebrews 10:25 and have the nerve to shake their finger at people for neglecting the fellowship. But I wonder, what is the sense of going to church when they nauseatingly preach a man centered message to a gospel hardened people?

I have heard messages that were not messages at all. I have heard pastors talking about sex until it bordered on soft porn. I have hjerad them use vulgarity when preaching. I have heard them preach on finances until you felt like you were going to work and they were about to sell you a new 401k plan. They act like stand up comedians who use the Bible as a punchline. Many look like slobs and act like slobs. They will show movies, plays and concerts in place of what used to be Sunday morning worship. This is a bad dream and “Ouch!” that pinch hurts when you realise you are wide awake.  It breaks my heart. When you confront these things all you hear from these same people is that you are “religious” “judgmental” or pharasaical! That gets old fast mainly because it is so unoriginal.

How many more churches and preachers must be exposed for their malpractice until they repent!  Some men see people problem and clear themselves of the blame saying it is this or that person’s fault. But they say that are praying for them. Oh you will pray for them? Ah, to little too late. 

Recently, the Michael Jackson wrongful death case was blazed in the media. Dr. Conrad Murray was found guilty.  He gave drugs to this troubled man who was depressed, full of anxiety and despite all his success and charity was empty inside. The man that should have helped him heal, created the perfect storm in his body and killed him. We do not know all the wherewithal about this case still, but we know that a Doctor who was supposed to keep an oath to care for the welfare of his patient literally gave him the drip of death. We are aghast at this! Yet how much more those who give the drip of death to the soul.

You are being charged with malpractice by the Surgeon General of Souls! If you continue to go against the scripture or only use scripture as a garnish for the toxic candy you serve people God will remove your license to practice. The salt is in danger of losing its savor. Repent now, help those people stuck on the steeple you have made!

Imagine your people stranded to the point where the world has to come in and “rescue” them. We surrender our problematic people and flock to the programs of men, their philosophy, their psychology and counsel. We exalt the counsel of the wicked to help them and because we have laid aside God’s Word, his true grace, true love and true forgiveness. The repair of their souls cannot be found in the hands of those like Absalom who kiss them and steal their hearts from the Lord. People who call themselves Christians live dangerously close to the world and not for the gospel. I watch them dabble in all sorts of witchcraft, violence, idolatry of all kinds and I wonder what are they hearing in church? Is it so, that there is not a wise man among you?

Stop using the pulpit for idiocy! You are endangering the souls of your people! Stop being an activities director, a marriage counselor or financial guru and start looking at the faces of your flock. Look at them burned out on the steeple, forced  to work in man-made vineyard and yet neglecting their own spiritual vintage. Start preaching and ministering to their hearts.  Look at your people, they are miserable, on the verge of spiritual collapse stuck on the steeple you sent them to repair. They trusted you as their pastor and you are more like a taskmaster.  Repent now, your candlestick is in danger of being removed!  Look to God’s Word for your guidance. He will show you the path and he will make it clear how to minister to your people. He loves them. He will rescue them. Let God’s glory and their spiritual welfare be your goal. Let God speak to them through you by his Word, and he will rescue them from being stuck on the steeple.

God is sending help to rescue these people from these taskmasters and their steeples. Just like in the Garden of Eden he will expose these lies for what they are and all your fig leaf suits and hiding behind your Bible won’t stop his presence from exposing it!

 (c) 2011 Soul Health Care Ministries, If you share this article just let them know about us and where it came from.