The Church of Nice

Posted: Jan 20, 2023

They have healed the wound of my people lightly,
saying, ‘Peace, peace,
when there is no peace.
Were they ashamed when they committed abomination?
No, they were not at all ashamed;
they did not know how to blush.

Jeremiah 6:14-15

Since I wrote a week ago, the following has happened.

* I interviewed Aura Elliot for BG Radio; she and her husband Jeff are our ministry partners in Finland. In the fall of 2018 I gave a message on sexual issues, including porn, on a Sunday morning at their church. In the interview Aura said the last time they heard sex discussed from the pulpit was when I spoke there.

* In response to last week’s newsletter, we received the following comments:

I absolutely agree; churches hate silence in prayer. At the church I used to attend they have a decimal meter to make sure the sound is just below ear-damaging range when the worship band is playing. 

I love your message and your material and I would love going to a church like you described. I’m tired of the show that’s being portrayed in the church.

The church we attend doesn’t seem to want to talk about any of what you brought up. They just study the Bible and avoid the controversial topics. Very nice people but in the times we are living these topics need to be brought up!

* One woman wrote the following on our Facebook page:
I belong to a good church that calls out most sin but in all my years of attending church, I’ve only had one pastor preach on the importance on how women dress. Young, single women dress provocatively to catch a mate, but as they stand in church with their thong underwear and their low-cut tops, they’re tempting all the men around them. It’s in their faces. Dressing sexy isn’t for kingdom minded Christians. The women in the worship team stand on stage with tight, ripped, form-fitting jeans and their tops don’t cover the areas that need to be covered. The church has become an extension of entertainment. You are right! We aren’t just to be hears of the word but doers. Even Satan knows scripture, and he knows it well and how to use it against us. Our culture has us believing we need to have affluence and that we deserve nice homes, cars, you name it; that we need to work harder and give less of ourselves. It’s a lie from the pit of hell. We need to be at the foot of the Throne listening for our next assignment. What we deserve is death but what we got for free is grace.

* Last Sunday, we attended a church here in Arizona. During the worship time, the lights were turned down low. A couple were sitting on the front row with their child in a stroller, with a smartphone attached to a long arm with a bracket at the end that was visible above the tops of the chairs. The cartoon Monsters Inc was playing on their smartphone; anyone 10 rows or more behind them could easily see it. My daughter told me that the previous week they sat in the same location, playing the cartoon “Frozen.”

* One of my daughters attended another church last weekend. In the row in front of her, a woman was texting while the pastor gave the morning message. At one point, when the pastor spoke of how smartphones are a distraction from our relationship with God, she looked up, then finished her text. A little later she picked the phone back up and was on it again.

* And recently, Bear Grylls, the outdoors adventurer who is also a believer, shared the following:

“I think Jesus would really struggle with 99% of churches nowadays. Our job in life is to stay close to Christ and drop the religious act, drop the fluff, and even drop the church if you need to… All the masks, performances, music and worship bands and all of that sort of stuff — I don’t think Christ would recognize a lot of that. Probably most of the people in the congregation have substance abuse, and probably most of their congregations struggle with porn and all that sort of stuff. What a relief it is when a pastor can stand up and go, ‘Welcome to the hospital, folks. Here we go. I’m just standing alongside you on the road, failing our way through, but reaching out of desperation for life and love and redemption. Let’s look outwards, and love other people, and we’re in it together.”

Bear sounds like a Rogue Christian.

I’m not the only one who sees the problems with status-quo Christianity. The performance and comfort-driven church tells us we can have as much of the world we want while having as much of God we can squeeze in. And it’s ruining many of God’s people.

How could any church justify avoiding the topics of sex, porn, adultery, promiscuity, or masturbation for years, especially after the epidemic of sexual sin continues to blow up in the church—and God has given us severe warnings if we take that path:

But I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.  I gave her time to repent, but she refuses to repent of her sexual immorality. Behold, I will throw her onto a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her I will throw into great tribulation, unless they repent of her works, and I will strike her children dead. And all the churches will know that I am he who searches mind and heart, and I will give to each of you according to your works
Revalation 2:20-23

Shouldn’t God’s warnings strike a sense of fear, knowing that the church is avoiding what has become one of, if not the biggest, area of sin that has corrupted His holy church?

Perhaps we would know the fear of the Lord if the culture of nice hadn’t taken over. Comfort is nice. So is the love of God. The worship band is nice. Watching The Chosen is nice. Watching Monster’s Inc and texting during church is nice. Talking about sex, porn, masturbation, hell, sin, spiritual warfare, the occult, suicide, the fact that every believer will face the judgement seat of Christ, that many who sit in church are lukewarm and some are even on their way to a Christless eternity, is not nice. Calling people out for being entertainment and comfort driven is not nice. Thus, these issues that break the law of nice must not be broached on Sunday. Demanding that the church is a sacred, holy place and a house of prayer that includes spending time in silence breaks the law of comfort, which is not nice.

John the Baptist wouldn’t be allowed in most modern churches today. He wasn’t nice. Neither were Jeremiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Paul, and Jesus. They were kind and loving (Jonah might be the exception), but to genuinely care about others we must warn them of impending danger. To be nice is to avoid warning others for fear of making them uncomfortable. The problem is that nice kills the spirit—and sends people to hell. There is no fire, no prayer, so standard of holiness, no passionate love relationship with God in the Church of Nice. Come as you are, and sit there.

When I experience the presence of God, there is a sense of intense holiness, kindness, love, majesty, and power all mingled into one. I barely want to speak; often there are tears. Deep reverence is a must; I’m in the presence of the Holy Creator of the Universe, not Santa Clause. I experience His presence at His most powerful when alone, seeking and resting with Him (such as during my solo desert trips) and in prayer meetings with other broken believers who aren’t playing church. I can’t recall an instance in a church service that rivaled being alone with Him, or a prayer meeting. God doesn’t compete with the worship band when they’re pinging the top of the decibel meter.

Two days ago, I attended our weekly Wednesday morning Zoom prayer meeting. There were around 10 of us. Tim Peterson led off with a straightforward message that touched on how all will give account to God, the danger of a church that is ignoring its sin, and the fear of the Lord. He read from Scripture. Tim’s message was barely 5 minutes long, but it was refreshing and more powerful than what is often heard on Sunday morning. We spent the rest of the hour in silence and prayer, spiced with sharing that included confession of weaknesses and sin. Although it was a Zoom meeting God spoke to us, including during the moments of silence. We prayed for the church, asking Him to bring conviction and make it a house of prayer. Our time together was refreshing, convicting, cleansing, and powerful. I felt bonded to the others.
That, my friends, is what church is supposed to be like.

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:42

If your church belongs to the Denomination of Nice, and it’s been years since you’ve heard sexual issues opened up in an effective, equipping manner, if they are not equipping you in critical areas such as spiritual warfare, if they have no prayer meetings, and Sunday morning feels more like a show than holy, sacred ground, my friend, I encourage you to pray about making a change, quickly. Time is very short and you have just one life to live. We have become way too comfortable with too little.

Francis Chan shares the following story:

My mind flashed back to five years prior when my daughter and I went to an underground gathering in China. Young people were praying passionately, begging God to send them to the most dangerous places. They were actually hoping to die as a martyr! I had never seen anything like it. I still can’t get over the fearless passion for Jesus this church embodied. As they shared stories of persecution, I sat in amazement and asked for more stories. After a while they asked why I was so intrigued. I told them the church in America was nothing like this. I can’t tell you how embarrassing it was to try to explain to them that people attend ninety-minute services once a week in buildings and that’s what we call “church.” I told them how people switch churches if they find better teaching, more exciting music, or more robust programs for their kids. As I described church in life in America, they began to laugh… they found it laughable that we could read the same Scriptures they were reading and then create something so incongruent.

As I write this, I’m ready to cry. If facing our apathy and love of comfort doesn’t rock us, something’s wrong. I’m sure there are some who read my first post of this year, Those that Give All for All, that challenged people to decrease or set aside entertainment to have more of God, who were offended. To the average American Christian, telling them to give up screen time, entertainment, or sports is like asking them to give up their god. We’re addicted to entertainment. Can you imagine the Chinese believers Francis Chan met whining because someone asked them to turn off their phone and spend several hours in prayer?

My friend, you and I will face the judgement seat of Christ. Do not waste your life, and do not expect the modern, prayerless church to lead you to the narrow path (Matthew 7:13-14). You must take ownership of your walk with God and live your life according to His word, not what the Church of Nice says.

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil.
2 Corinthians 5:10

I challenge you to go all the way with God. Read your Bible and compare your life and your church to Scripture. Been to a prayer meeting lately? Are you isolated? In bondage to sin? The Church of Nice won’t do you much good. Ask God to crucify your flesh. Don’t throw your life away on hours of screen time, including Christian entertainment. Soak yourself in prayer. Are you like one of those fiery Chinese believers, eager to give everything to God, or are you rotting in a soft, lukewarm, cocoon of entertainment, pleasure, and self?

Pray about finding another church, or ask God about starting a prayer meeting and being an agent of change at the one you’re attending. Perhaps the Lord wants you to start a small fellowship out of your home. At the very least, get involved with a prayer meeting with committed believers.  I love our Wednesday morning Zoom prayer meeting; we also have 7 others going through the week.

See this page for the listing – There is no charge to participate and anyone from any country can participate who speaks English.

If you’re in the greater Phoenix area and would be interested in attending a church as I described, should we get it going, please reply to this email.

I will leave you with this quote from Charles Spurgeon.

Look upward and let us weep, O God. You have given us a mighty weapon, and we have permitted it to rust. You have given us that which is mighty as yourself, and we have let that power lie dormant. Would it not be a crime if a man were given an eye that he would not open, or a hand that he would not lift up? And what must we say ourselves when God has given us power in prayer—matchless power, full of blessedness to ourselves, and of unnumbered mercies to others, and yet that power lies still?  

If you’re hungry for more of the way of the Rogue Christian, see