Pastor’s Viewpoints, “Fear Sells”

“Fear Sells”
The Rev. Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

Recent books on Prophecy and the End Times are more focused in fear than truth. It seems that emotional fear sells books. Those concerning the “Left Behind” theory are among the greatest sellers in Christian Book Stores.

Few of the experts promoting this theory ask the real expert. His name is Jesus and He gave very specific answers to questions concerning the end of the world so that disciples would not be manipulated by the emotional fear constructed by false teachers.

Here is what Jesus said: “As Jesus sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the close of the age… (Jesus said) “See that no one leads you astray… But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”’ Matthew 24:3, 4, 36

These questions were motivated by Jesus’ prophecy of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. He said that not one stone would be left upon a stone, Matthew 24:2. Jesus declared what happened in 70 A.D. The great siege of Jerusalem by the Roman army was led by Titus. The ancient Jewish Historian, Josephus recorded the total destruction of the temple and the barbaric actions of the Romans toward the Jews.

The disciples also wanted to know what Jesus’ return would be like as well as the day of the end of this world. The first answer concerning the sign of Jesus’ second coming was answered very directly by our Lord. He said that His coming would be like lightning! The book of Revelation describes Jesus’ coming in these words. “Behold, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him, and all tribes of the earth will wail on account of him. Even so. Amen.” Revelation 1:7

The Apostle John was allowed to see Jesus’ coming and he sought to explain the unexplainable in words. The fact is no words are adequate to describe pure glory. But, the Revelation of Jesus Christ which was given to John was intended to reveal the certainty of Jesus’ return. All the nations will mourn because of sin. There will be great wailing by all because the time for salvation will be ended. When Jesus comes again, He will come to judge both the living and the dead. He will come not as the Savior but as the Judge.

John saw more. He saw that Jesus’ return would not be a secret! Every eye would see Him in His glory. There is no “secret rapture” recorded in the Bible. I am aware that there are some who have built an entire theology on one word that is derived from the Latin translation from which our word rapture is derived. The word in the original language is translated “caught up”. It is found in 1Thessalonians 4:17. Paul was describing what would happen to the believers who were alive when Christ returned. He said that the dead in Christ would rise first and those who were alive would be caught up in the air to meet Christ as He descended.

Likewise, Jesus spoke in a figure of speech when He said that “Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and one left. Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and one left.” Matthew 24:40-41 He followed that statement by calling the disciples to “Stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming.” Matthew 24:42 In other words, Jesus was exhorting disciples to remain prepared for His coming because no man knows when He will return. In fact, Jesus declared that in His human nature, He didn’t know when He would return. “No one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.” Matthew 24:36 But, Jesus said that He would return when all the elect are gathered in. That is, when all those whom God chose from eternity have professed faith in Jesus’ person and work, the end will come.

Now you know. Don’t buy into the “fear game” of false teachers. “Rather fear Him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” Matthew 10:28 Are you ready to meet Him?

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “What Will It Take?”

“What Will It Take?”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)

What will it take? What will it take for our minds to connect with what we hear and see? I keep hoping that men and women will become critical concerning what they are told to believe. Yet, I see little evidence that critical thinking is the majority behavior.

I remember that I took a Myers- Briggs personality test about twenty five years ago. This test was designed to categorize one’s personality. It generally revealed how one processed relationships and events. It is somewhat helpful in allowing the person tested to “work on” certain areas of weakness. By no means is this test based upon Christian principles. The founders of the test based their work on Carl Jung, the predecessor of Freud. Nevertheless, just as a stopped clock is right twice a day so too this study has been helpful in assessing various personality strengths and weaknesses. You may have guessed that I’m not a fan of either Jungian or Freudian psychology. As a Christian, I view myself through the lens of Scripture. That is, my identity is in Christ. The Apostle Paul wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and revealed the details of Christian identity. “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20

I’m not seeking to be some “pop psychologist.” I’m simply use my experience of this testing to illustrate a point. I am aware that all truth is God’s truth.

Nevertheless, I was required to take the Myers-Briggs test and when I did, the version I took had a score of 1-20 in four areas. I honestly answered the questions. I had hopes of learning about myself. I discovered that in the judging section of the test I scored a perfect 20. I was so upset that my judging score was 20 that I asked to take the test again. I was allowed to take it, but was advised that any different score would not be counted, but I could take the test for personal reasons. In the re-take, I purposely changed a few answers and to my surprise, my score in the same section was 19 to 1 judging.

My wife still jokes with me about that test. Recently, I’ve started to think about that score I received 25 years ago. Why, I thought, was I so distressed in receiving a score of 20 or even 19 in the judging section? I initially assumed that judging in the test meant that I was a judgmental person. Upon further review, I discovered that the judging section was a determiner of critical thinking. A “judging” person is one who seeks facts rather than perceptions in order to make decisions.

As a Christian, I know that my faith is a gift from God and it is based upon facts. The supreme fact is the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The validity of the Christian Faith rests upon the truth of the bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ, 1Corinthians 15:17.

I know that God enters the mind and changes the heart. I know that Man is made in the image and likeness of God. We bear some of God’s attributes that He communicated to us. We have a mind by which we can think, reason, critique and make decisions.

If you’re a fan of Myers-Briggs, you’ll recognize the following letters: I-T-S-J. Myers-Briggs’ letter categories stand for: I = introversion versus E = extraversion; T = thinking versus feeling; S = sensing versus intuitive; J = judging versus perceiving. Don’t be led to believe that only certain people think or certain people feel, etc. God made us all with all of these abilities. Some are stronger in certain areas than are others.

We must make decisions. I am reflecting upon our culture and am led to ask, “What will it take for men and women to make intelligent, informed decisions?”

I write to Christians. I am concerned that much of the church is not arming her members to think. We have majored in “feelings.” Yet, basic issues are confusing to Christians. We seem unable to know what is right.

Christian, don’t “check” your mind at the door. Study to show yourself approved. Learn what is right and good and true. Then do it for the glory of God!

Pastor’s Viewpoints, “While We Were Sleeping”

“While We Were Sleeping”
Lou Tiscione, Pastor, Weatherford Presbyterian Church (PCA)
My title is taken from one of my wife’s favorite movies, “While you were sleeping.” It’s about a young woman’s desire to marry her “dream” man. Her dream turns out to resemble a kind of nightmare. But the story ends happily as she does realize her dream by marrying the “dream” man’s brother.

Sometimes it’s just great to immerse oneself in the fantasy world of the movies. Some movies, like the one mentioned, provide a respite from the harsh reality that surrounds us. But I chose a variation of the title of that movie to be the title of this article because we are witnessing the decay of our Christian Culture. It has occurred while we, the church, have been sleeping.

Current events seem more like fiction than reality. We are being led by men and women who continue to deny reality. They have no absolute principles. Decisions are made by consensus. The end of the book of Judges is being lived out. “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” Judges 21:25 God’s word revealed by the Prophet Micah is all but forgotten. “…Do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly with your God,” Micah 6:8. This not only reflects our culture, it is reflected in much of the Evangelical Church which seeks to please men rather than God.

The Church has been asleep. The decay into moral relativism has been occurring over decades. It will take an intentional effort of Christians in the Church to be different, speak the truth and thereby by God’s grace make a difference.

Have you wondered why the solutions to the problems in our society seem to be evasive? I suggest that the underlying reason is relativism which militates against absolute standards. When differing parties seek to come up with a solution to any given issue, a compromise that preserves a principle is impossible. The reason this kind of compromise is impossible is that each side has relative principles. We are told the only acceptable solution is to “give up” on the idea of any absolute. Compromise and be tolerant; using the new definition of tolerance which gives every opinion equal validity.

Marriage is under attack so I use it as an example. There is an absolute principle concerning marriage. The principle is that God defined marriage, Man did not. God defined marriage to be between one man and one woman.
Yet, our leaders seem to think that God’s design of marriage is not an absolute principle. We have allowed men and women to lead us who deny this absolute.

The “right” insists that the principle of marriage is based in tradition. The “left” insists that the definition of marriage is fluid and should be based on a mutual “love.” So the fight continues. Even churches have adopted same-sex marriage liturgies, which is in fact an oxymoron.

God has ordained marriage to be between a man and a woman. It is not simply traditional nor is it simply based upon mutual love. Marriage is defined as a permanent union of a man and a woman because God defined it so. God not only defined marriage in this way, but He also ordained marriage to be the building block of all societies.

I suppose that I would be considered by some to be “old fashioned” or worse, bigoted. So be it. It is long passed the time when Christians should seek to appease others. Jude called the Church to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.

The Apostle Paul wrote that God organized the church so that we would speak the truth in love and grow up into Christ, who is the Head of the Church, Ephesians 4:15.

Be strong in the Lord and when confronted with a lie, declare it so. Christian, “Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them,” Ephesians 5:11. Seek God’s glory not Man’s. Remember, “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” The Westminster Shorter Catechism, Q/A#1; 1Corinthians 10:31; Psalm 73:25-26.

Some suggest that the decay of our culture is irreversible. I believe that as the church awakes from her slumber, she will make a difference for God. Regardless, we know that God’s purpose for His people is holiness. No matter what the circumstance we, the people of God are to rely upon His sovereignty and live under His word!