Open Letter to Joel Osteen “Year of Yes”

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By Chris Harrison

 

For years some people have given you a bad wrap because they say things like “you are soft on sin” or “you are just a motivational speaker that compromises on God’s word.” I want to give you a testimony about how you have helped me as a pastor greatly! In fact, I want to thank you.

I have been a pastor for 21 years. About three years ago, I planted a new work. As new works go, there were some really bad times. After two and a half years, Finances were at an all time low. Attendance had been bad after initially being pretty good. We could not find a place to meet because the place we were meeting was getting more and more expensive. We could only meet on Sunday’s at this facility, making it hard to do any kind of event or meetings. Plus the setting up and breaking down was tough.

Through all of this, you became an encouragement to me. I would listen to you everyday, sometimes several times a day. I knew one thing for sure, if I felt discouraged, I could turn your teaching on and within a few minutes I felt like I could take on any trouble. I want to thank you for that. In December of 2016, the church almost closed because of finances and because we could not find a place to meet. However, you were preaching about a “due season” and that we will reap if we don’t give up in the due season but that we don’t always know when that due season is. I had a few close leaders that told me the same thing. I was encouraged to keep on.

We moved to a smaller building that didn’t really meet our needs but was financially compatible with where we were at the time. On Feb. 5th you preached a message called “the year of yes”. You said that God had told you this was a year of yes and that although we may have been experiencing a lot of no’s in the past that God was going to open up doors for us that we wouldn’t even know the source or how it happened. It just so happened that on Feb. 12 two men walked into our church from another church. They had just a handful of people left. They said “we have almost ten acres of land, a building and $45,000 in cash in our bank account. It’s just going to waste because we only have about 6 people in our church. You are a bunch of people with no building and we have the facilities but no people. We want to give it to you will no strings attached. It’s yours and we will join your church!”

I cannot tell you the joy of this experience. With the money they had, we paid off all our debt. The building and the land was already paid for. The first Sunday in the building, our attendance doubled, our finances doubled and we have had a steady stream of people flowing in ever since.

I want to thank you for encouraging me week after week not to quit. You speak words that build people up. In a world of negativity, you are a great encouragement.

Why Churches could definitely use more coffee bars!

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By Chris Harrison

I recently read a post that became very popular among many of my friends on various social media. It was called “why the church doesn’t need any more coffee bars.” The writer had experienced a personal tragedy when she lost her husband to cancer. She spoke about how she was a hurting person and what she really needed was to come into a place that preached the truth and didn’t need to use any gimmicks or coffee bars to get people in Church.

 

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How has Gen-X failed Gen-Y in Church leadership?

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By Chris Harrison

 

A negative leadership trend has developed in the last fifteen years that is very disappointing to see. When I was a young man in ministry, I had to do the grunt work. My dads generation did not apologize for requiring me and my friends to do the necessary but seemingly menial tasks at church. Setting up for events, Cleaning up after, Yard work, picking stuff up, delivering things, odds jobs, physical labor and volunteer things behinds the scene. We didn’t get paid to do it. We didn’t come up with reason why would couldn’t do it. We didn’t hold out for a management position. We didn’t just serve like this for 2 or 3 years and then move on to greater things. We did this for Years and years and many of us are still doing it because we haven’t passed on this same work ethic to the next generation. Yes there are champions in the next generation who are Servant leaders and do so with or without help from the former generation. But it’s a rare breed.

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Three Questions

These questions recently submitted to me. WIll a person that commits suicide go to hell?  Will you go to hell for having your kids out of wedlock? If you “walk away” from God will you have to get resaved? im

Im sure others have asked the same questions and so I will do my best to answer it

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The End of Revival

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By Chris Harrison

Pictured at the top left is a moment frozen in time from the Brownsville revival. On Fathers Day of 1995, a radical move of God began at Brownsville Assembly of God in Florida just outside of Pensacola. Church would continue 6 days a week for 5 years. Over 4 million people would visit the revival and it’s estimated that 100,000 people gave their lives to Christ during that time. Thousands of people received the call to ministry. Thousands were filled with the Holy Spirit and bright Gods holy fire back to their local churches. Drug addicts were delivered! Lives were forever changed. In many ways, the affects of this revival continue through the people who were touched.
However, something happened to end this revival. Of course, we know that we can’t live in a mountain top experience forever but at the same time it is sad to see the church that hosted this revival become just a shell of its former self. The church which had thousands of members in the past, now only has a few hundred. There are many hurt and disenchanted former members of the church who don’t go to church anywhere. What happened?
Only God knows the true reason but I went back and begin to listen to some of these sermons, testimonies and ministries times. I noticed a theme that I thought was very enlightening. The emphasis was more on sin than on the sin substitute. It was more about repentance than refreshing of the Holy Spirit. Don’t get me wrong, I fully agree that an awakening will cause people to turn from sin. However, on many occasions Evangelist Steve Hill would say things like “you are dirty! You can’t lift up Holy hands because your hands are not Holy. They are filthy with the sin of the world all over them!”
I began to notice that people would turn from sin but then they would be reminded of sin every night during the revival. They stayed on their face hoping to be humble enough to be accepted by the creator. It’s great that sinners were encouraged to turn from sin but then the righteous were constantly made to be sinners again. They were often told that if they didn’t walk the straight and narrow, God would withdraw the revival and his blessing along with it. They were told that certain things had to be done to maintain an open heaven.
I am convinced that through the blood of Jesus we remain under an open heaven all the time. We are not always aware of it. We don’t always tap into it but it’s there.
I acknowledge there seems to be times of special revival that God pours out. We cannot anticipate it or conjure it up. However, when it arrives we must be ready. I think the death of this revival can be avoided in future revivals. We have to make the savior greater than the sin. We have to let the believers know they are indeed clean and their hands can continue to be lifted because they are righteous through Jesus. We must not glorify sin! We must glorify the forgiveness offered through Christ. Do we have to talk about sin? Sure we do! But we cannot keep people in sin through a focus on sin consciousness. It’s time to be Jesus conscious instead!! When God graciously allows another move of God on a scale such as this one, I pray that we learn from what they did right at this revival, which was a lot. But I also pray we learn from what they did wrong. Do it again Jesus!

How Attempting to Obey the Commandments Brings a Curse

 

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By Chris Harrison

Some of the most powerful words in the entire New Testament are found in Romans.

“Sin is no longer your master, for you no longer live under the requirements of the law. Instead, you live under the freedom of God’s grace.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is a mouthful but I’m not sure that most believers really understand the significance. The New Testament is clear about several things. One is that sin is destructive. It will cost you everything and whoever obeys sin will become a slave to sin. No one really argues with that. But the answer to living a life that is free from the bondage of sin is not what so many think that it is. In fact, the enemy has blinded the minds of so many people because he wants to keep them bound to sin. I would dare to say that a large portion of older believers who were deeply rooted in old line hard preaching cannot receive the things that I’m about to say. However, here is the sad part about that, what I am about to say has the ability to create right living and the ability to walk out a holy life.

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Is it sinful for Alabama to have a lottery?

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By Chris Harrison

 

The biggest reason that Alabama doesn’t have a lottery is because of certain churches and denominations as well as politicians who say that it’s morally wrong. If you want to use other reasons, such as “does the money go to education as its really supposed to” and other questions such as that to oppose a lottery I think it’s perfectly ok to ask those questions but do not use morality as your reason. It might came back to bite  you.

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When did Jesus cleanse you of your sin?

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By Chris Harrison

There is a lot of emphasis given on what we must do to please a holy God. Some groups will say that we are forgiven when we repent, are baptized, confess our sins and call upon Jesus. Other groups add more requirements and still other groups have less requirements. But at what point exactly are our sins forgiven?  Is it the moment we believe? Is it the moment we turn from sin? Is it when we become sorry for our sin? Is it the very second we come out of the water? When are we cleansed of our sin? The following verse could be helpful

“The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command. When he had cleansed us from our sins, he sat down in the place of honor at the right hand of the majestic God in heaven.”

‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

According to this passage, Jesus cleansed our sin without our help 2,000 years ago at the cross and then sat down and will not do anything else about our sins. He doesn’t sit around forgiving sins all day long as long confessionals come into Him. No! It was a one time deal. This idea is repeated through the book of Hebrews.

So why confess our sins at all? Why repent? Why be baptized? Why believe in Christ at all? It’s very simple. These things do not aide in our forgiveness at all. These things are a response to the cleansing that Jesus did at the cross. When I know that Jesus forgave me, I will repent. When I know that Jesus cleansed all my sin, my response is to believe and to follow in baptism.

Jesus did all the cleansing he will ever do at the cross. Everything I do is a response to what He already did. Why is that so important? It takes the self effort and labor out of it. If you feel that your actions will bring His cleansing then you will live a defeated life of condemnation. When you see the work is all of God and that He doesn’t need your help, you can rest!

Did Jesus really teach a New Testament message?

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By Chris Harrison

The Bible translators decided to put the New Testament at the Birth of Christ. I can understand why Matthew, Mark, Luke and John are in the New Testament. After all the Jewish Scripture was very old and dealt with the one who was coming but not the one who had come. However, the word testament simply means covenant. This can confuse people who think that Jesus’ words were all New Testament words or new covenant words. There are different theories about the words of Christ. One theory is that Jesus is neither New or Old Testament. Since He is the word Himself, whatever He says is right and true. Of course, Jesus’ words are right and true but we have to deal with the purpose of His words and the context. There is no such thing as an inter-testament period. It’s either under the old covenant or its under the new.

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Praying for the Answer

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By Chris Harrison

“Ask me and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭33:3‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This is one of the most definite verses in the Bible on prayer. This verse is clear cut and very black and white. This verse tells us that God simply wants us to call to Him in order for Him to reveal things to us. He is ready and available to save, heal and protect. He stands ready to answer us when we pray but he ask one thing, will we do it?

James says, “we have not because we ask not.” Can you imaging if all that heaven had to offer was literally at your fingertips? Everything you needed for your current job. Everything you needed to parent. Everything you needed for your marriage. It is all there for the taking but God just wants you to ask him. How about when we don’t receive what we are asking for? Does this mean that God said no? Of course not! The Bible says that “all His promises are yes and amen!” If God said it, He will do it! We have to stay in faith and continue to thank God for the answer. Resistance will come at times but we must stand our ground.