HT: The Reformation Resurgence
HT: The Reformation Resurgence
I was asked the other day if I claimed Psalm 91 for protection over my family. You see, God has seen fit to put my family through the wringer more than once and it seems the pressure over us is increasing. I suppose one could say I have had many opportunities to trust in God and have faith that He will provide.
I do not believe in quoting scripture to force an effect or to force God to do something on my behalf. I believe this is occultic and disrespectful in His eyes.
I told the person that I proclaim the sovereignty of God over my family and trust He knows what He’s doing.
I think this sort of mentality comes from the thought process that anything bad comes from the devil and anything good comes from God. This is so not scriptural. God rains on the just and the unjust. God brings sickness and disease upon His saints and has never promised we would have an easy ride with life. Quite the contrary.
“Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.”
Acts 14. 22
It is our destiny to endure tribulation in order to be conformed into the image of our Savior. We are also told that we are to count it all joy when we experience trials and tests (James 1.2). Why because in enduring trials, we learn to act and respond and to live like Christ. We all lack patience. We all need more patience. How does one develop patience? Through being patient. That comes through enduring trials and tests. A sailor will not become better at his trade unless he gets his boat out on the sea and endures some rough sailing. An athlete won’t develop himself unless he continually tests his ability and trains his muscles. A Christian will not become more like Christ unless he is put to the test, hammered on the anvil of life, and purified of his sinful nature.
Or do we claim protection and success over our lives by taking scripture out of context and demanding God do something to fix our circumstances?
One respects God and gives Him the glory He deserves the other reduces Him to a cosmic bellhop placed in our lives to do our bidding.
(Samuel Davies, “Evidences of the Lack of Love to God” April 14, 1756)
“If anyone does not love the Lord–that person is cursed!” 1 Corinthians 16:22
What a monstrous soul you have within you . . .
which cannot love God;
which cannot love supreme excellence and all perfect beauty;
which cannot love your divine Parent, the Author of your mortal frame;
which cannot love your prime Benefactor and gracious Redeemer;
which cannot love Him, “in whom you live, and move and have your being;”
which cannot love Him, who alone is the proper happiness for your immortal spirit;
who can love a parent, a child, a friend, with all their infirmities–but cannot love God;
who can love the world; who can love even sinful pleasures–and yet cannot love God;
who can love everything that is lovely–but God, who is infinitely lovely;
who can love wisdom, justice, veracity, goodness, clemency, in creatures, where they are attended with many imperfections–and yet cannot love God, where all center and shine in the highest perfection!
What a monster of a soul is this!
Must it not be a devil–to be capable of such unnatural horrendous wickedness?
Can you be easy, while you have such a soul within you?
What a load of guilt must lie upon you!
If love to God is the fulfilling of the whole law–then the lack of love must be the breach of the whole law. You break it all at one blow! Your life is but one continued, uniform, uninterrupted series of sinning! The lack of love to God diffuses a malignity through all you do!
Now, I appeal to you yourselves–is not this a very dangerous situation? While you are destitute of sincere love of God–can you flatter yourselves that you are fit for Heaven?
What! fit for the region of divine love?
What! fit to converse with a holy God, and live forever in His presence?
What! fit to spend an eternity in His holy service?
Can you be fit for these things–while you have no love to Him?
You must perceive yourselves to be fit for destruction–and fit for nothing else!
You are devilized already! Lack of love to God is the grand constituent of a devil, the worst ingredient in that infernal character. And must you not then be doomed to that everlasting fire–which is prepared and fit for the devil and his angels?
“If anyone does not love the Lord–that person is cursed!” 1 Corinthians 16:22
(Thomas Watson, “The Art of Divine Contentment“)
“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being content–whether well-fed or hungry, whether in abundance or in need.” Philippians 4:11-12
Paul knew how to manage in every state–he learned to be content whatever his circumstances.
If he was in prosperity, he knew how to be thankful.
If he was in adversity, he knew how to be patient.
He was neither lifted up with prosperity–nor cast down with adversity.
A Christian should be content in any and every situation. Many are contented in some conditions–but not in every condition. They can be content in a wealthy state. When they have the streams of milk and honey–now they are content. But if the wind turns and is against them–now they are discontented. While they have a silver crutch to lean upon–they are contented; but if God breaks this crutch–now they are discontented.
Many would be content with their affliction–if God would allow them to pick and choose. They could better endure sickness–than poverty; or bear loss of estate–than loss of children. If they might have a cross of their own choosing, they would be content.
But a contented Christian does not desire to choose his cross–but leaves God to choose for him. He is content both for the kind of the afflictions, and the duration of the afflictions, which God gives him. A contented man says, “Let God apply whatever medicine He pleases, and let it lie on as long as He desires. I know when it has done its cure, and eaten the venom of sin out of my heart–that God will take it away.”
A contented Christian, being sweetly captivated under the authority of the Word, desires to be wholly at God’s disposal, and cheerfully lives in whatever circumstances that God has placed him in. “I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.” (2 Corinthians 12:10) He does not only submit to God’s dealings, but rejoices in them!
I believe this post that I originally wrote three years ago is even more applicable today. I have edited a few parts. This Resurrection Sunday, I pray that all true believers will be encouraged.
What is society afraid of?
What is Christianity afraid of?
What are you afraid of?
Society is afraid of the truth. Christianity is afraid of being offensive. As for what you are afraid of, that is something only you can answer. My goal is that this post will have you thinking about why you do what you do.
Easter is a great time to bring this subject matter to light. Let me explain. For almost 40 days, many have been practicing the idea of “Lent.” They have no clue why they do it except that it is part of their religion. Many have not a single thought about God, but want to make sure that they cover all the bases just in case. They will live like the world every single day, except for a special day or two in the entire calendar so their “God” box will be checked. This leaves them feeling good about themselves so they can have a sense of being a “Christian.” Yet, the heart condemns those who think they can please God by pleasing themselves.
For years, I have worked with many people who can live, talk, and act like a minion of the evil one every single day. Yet, in one swift moment, as soon as they find out that you are a believer, they can and will proclaim, “Oh, I am a Christian.” The follow-up questions are quickly followed by silence until it grows awkward and the person soon finds something else with which to occupy their time. Or, in the better scenarios, you hear the response of, “Well, that is private and is just between me and the Man upstairs. Besides, who are you to judge me? The Bible says, “Don’t judge!”
What types of questions might we ask of any individual with whom we may meet? This could be another family member, a friend, a neighbor, or a work colleague.
“Where do you attend church? Where are you in fellowship each week with other believers seeking to remind the world that we are not of this world, but that we are just passing through?”
“What about your relationships? Are you married or just living in a way that goes contrary to the Word of God? Why would you want to be living with somebody who does not share your views, if you are a true believer?”
“Do your words and actions reflect that you are different, or do you strive to be just like those around you? Would your Sunday appearance give forth the reflection of a hypocrite, or a genuine believer longing to be more like Jesus Christ despite the difficulties of living a life of holiness?”
Despite the awkward silence or vocal calls about not judging, Easter and Christmas find more people claiming the name of Christ than any other time of the year. They are willing to give up things for Lent, but not for Christ. Far too many think that they are meriting favor or grace with God by giving up chocolate, meat, intimacy, or whatever.
When the forty days of Lent arrives, people flock to services like Ash Wednesday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, or Easter Morning service never to be seen again til Christmas. Yet, for all the fasting or giving up of things, nothing has changed in their lives. They produce the same cursing, same vulgarity, same illicit relationships, and not one thing to indicate that they have actually spent time with Jesus Christ and are a new creation.
As for society, just look at our workplaces. Lies, deceit, and dishonesty rules the day. Few are willing to take a stand, and when something is said as a reminder, those speaking up are quickly removed. What does this have to do with Easter time? Simply this. These same practices and philosophies have moved from universally being accepted as part of the workplace to being fully accepted in the circles of so-called Christianity.
Let me be very blunt!
Easter is NOT about a bunny that lays eggs!
Easter is NOT about furry chicken that lays candy!
Easter is NOT about egg hunts, bouncy castles, lattes, and clowns on a Sunday.
Easter is supposedly to revolve around the holy Person of Jesus Christ. The reminder of the week prior to the Sunday should be a solemn reminder of the price that was carried on the cross. The wrath of God the Father was poured upon His only begotten Son because of the sins of mankind. It pleased the Father to bruise and crush His own Son because of the cursing, the vulgarity, the illicit relationships, and all sin that separates us from a holy God.
Christianity has allowed society to tell us that Easter has nothing to do with Jesus Christ. We are not allowed to speak of Jesus Christ and His sacrifice on Calvary, but we can speak the religion of secularism and commercialism all day long. Nobody has one single problem with that. The world and the church have now merged in such a way that it is almost impossible in most circles to know where one starts and one ends.
If you are a true believer and have placed your faith in Jesus Christ alone for your salvation, then this next section is a solemn reminder and exhortation to you and your family.
This Sunday, we have the privilege of celebrating the most glorious event that has ever transpired in all of human history. Nothing can top what took place almost 2000 years ago. Let me summarize what this Sunday SHOULD mean to you.
1. He laid aside His glory as the all-powerful majestic King of all Creation and came down to this sin-cursed earth.
2. He was born in a lowly stable showing the stark opposite of what He had enjoyed for all of eternity past.
3. He was welcomed by magi as well as lowly shepherds who guarded the lambs that would be sacrificed each Passover.
4. He grew in wisdom and stature and lived in obedience to the commands of both His earthly parents and the will of His heavenly Father.
5. He spent 3 ½ years walking the dusty roads of Galilee, Judea, and Samaria preaching the kingdom of heaven.
6. He was betrayed and abandoned by every one of His disciples.
7. He, the King of all Creation, was beaten, mocked, scourged into a bloody mess, and then hung between earth and heaven.
8. He bore upon Himself our sins and was ultimately forsaken even by His own Father in heaven because God the Father could not stand to look upon sin.
9. He became sin on our behalf and became clothed with our filth so that we would be clothed in His righteousness.
10. He died and was buried like a common criminal in a borrowed tomb.
But Sunday was coming!
There should be no doubt that the disciples had contacted the local businesses to ensure that bouncy castles were set up outside the tomb to celebrate what was going to happen. There should be no doubt that the apostle Peter, having just denied the Lord three times earlier that week, was the instigator in setting up an Easter Egg hunt in order to entice the children of the murderous hordes to come to their service so that they would have greater numbers. There should be no doubt, based on what we see in modern Christianity, that the early New Testament church was prepared with the latest jokes and frivolity after having just seen the King of all Creation die and be buried.
Dear brothers and sisters, do you see the hypocrisy in the above statements? If it does not bother you to see the entertainment on any given Sunday in church, then it is time to examine your heart to see whether you are truly of the faith. If the only thing you can think of is, “Well, what you say may be true, but the Bible says not to judge,” then you have failed miserably to comprehend the solemnness and the seriousness of what this Sunday is all about. If you think that Easter is about the bunny and candy eggs, then your pastor and church have failed in their responsibility to teach you the truth of the gospel.
Easter is NOT about you and your perceived needs!
Easter is about the conclusion of the worst week in the history of mankind!
Easter is about the reality of the sacrifice that Christ made on Calvary!
Easter is about the truth Christ came to save sinners, of whom I am chief!
Easter is about the defeat of sin, hell, Satan, and the grave!
Easter is about Resurrection Sunday!
Easter is about Jesus Christ coming back to life victoriously!
Easter is about Jesus Christ one day coming for all who believe on Him!
Easter is about change and becoming a new creation in Christ!
Today, you have a choice. You can choose to continue replacing Easter with the world, or you can stop setting your affections on the things of this world, and setting your affections on the things of heaven.
My purpose is not to judge the world with my words. My thoughts are to be a beacon in the wilderness shining a light that points others to Jesus Christ alone. My desire is to be a gentle reminder that true believers are called to be different, not the same as the world.
We are NOT replacing Easter in our home, but we will joyfully, reverently, and humbly celebrate –
He is risen! He is risen indeed! Blessed be the name of the Lord! And can it be that He died, was buried, and rose again for me!
Deuteronomy 32:35 (King James Version) 35. To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
I read throughout the Bible where God punished Israel (and even other heathen countries) for their rebellion against Him and His laws. And I also read where eventually they cry out to God for repentance. They come to the place where they realize that they have wronged God and turn back and beg for mercy. Of course, God stays His hand and gives them relief from their punishment and all is rosy for a while.
I look at society today and see a completely different sort. I see a people who are so intelligent and logical that they can explain the most horrendous events away and never be none the wiser as to their origins.
I see a people who not only have the greatest hate for God, but seem to get offended at the drop of a hat when He is mentioned.
I see a society that sneers at the Christian and detests his existence.
If you mention that pandemics and suffering originate from the sovereign hand of God, they laugh you to scorn and pity your ignorance (Eph. 4.18).
What has changed? Why don’t people throw themselves to their knees in remorse and cry out for mercy anymore?
It’s the same God that runs the show. It’s the same God that is growing angrier by the day over man’s rebellion. It’s the same God that keeps the fires of hell stoked for the day of Judgment.
Yet, man as a whole, just carries on as if life is bliss and all is well in heaven and earth.
I like how Jonathan Edwards relates the picture of a spider being held over the fire. My wife hates spiders with a passion. She would rather put up with thousands of mosquitoes rather than live with one spider. I picture her having to hold a big, juicy, squirming spider by the leg as it frantically tries to crawl back onto her hand. I know for a fact that it wouldn’t be too long before she hurled that vial creature into the consuming flames.
Man is indeed walking through life with a countdown timer ticking. Second by second, tick by tick, man is creeping ever closer to the day he will stand before God and give account for his life on earth. Yet, life seems to continue as normal. Yes, we have quarantines, isolation, social distancing, etc., but how many of us have had genuine thoughts of repentance, reform or revival these last weeks? How many of us have literally been stopped in our tracks by this whole trial and looked up?
Not very many I’m afraid. If the church isn’t turning to God and crying out for reform, then why should the world? All the world sees is a disobedient church rebelling against the orders from our local governments and doing what they can to skirt the rules. How does this make Christ look, seeing as we are supposed to represent Him?
Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God should be listened to by all, saved and unsaved. At this time of year, as we inch closer to remembering Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection, shouldn’t we be focusing on allowing this wake-up call to cut through the cobwebs and mental fog and really shake us up?
What’s so different between this calamity and those we read about in the Bible? Same God. Same sin. Yet, we seem to feel like this is just a virus and it doesn’t really concern us (Prov. 28. 14).
At no other time in history are we as a society faced with so much that can confuse, deceive and destroy us. Some between 40 to 60% of everything we’re told online is fake. The problem is, which part? It is virtually impossible to figure out what’s true and what’s false. And in doing so, you will run into many sources that make their stance sound like the real one. Argh! Even when it comes to Scripture. If you look online you will literally find hundreds or even thousands of interpretations regarding Revelations and eschatology. How on earth can anyone find the truth anymore?
I have had many conversations with Christians in person and online and I have only found a very small few that I can actually talk too and agree on most everything. Notice I said, ‘most everything’. But then there’s those who call themselves Christians and believe such erroneous ideas that you stand back and shake your head in disbelief. Just because one calls himself ‘Christian’, doesn’t mean he’s saved. That’s for sure!
In my experience, one truth seems to outweigh everything else when it comes to God. That truth is His absolute sovereignty. God is supreme and all-powerful and in control of the good and the bad. Every creature is on a leash and He controls them all. There is no such things as free will and there is no such thing as some sort of battle between good and evil. God controls the devil and allows him to do His bidding just as He does everyone else, and no one, no matter how powerful he is, can operate outside His sovereignty.
This truth separates the true believer from the false convert. The true believer will embrace God’s sovereignty and rest in its comforting shadow, while the false convert will fight and struggle against it.
This deception has all but ruined the church, but it has done something amazing. It has revealed the tares and separated them off from the wheat. Now we can tell them apart! Now we can know who’s genuinely saved and who’s faking it.
Unfortunately the world doesn’t care about the wheat and the tares and all they see is a bunch of hypocrites.
At this time of year, when we celebrate God’s wrath passing us over and the the beautiful work of Jesus Christ washing us clean from all sin, we must ensure that we act in such a way that brings glory to Jesus Christ and makes the world take notice. They do watch us and they are aware of the fakery of the church. I see this all the time in satires and jokes.
Jesus deserves to be held in such high regard that any notion of sin would be so abhorrent that we would run away from the temptation faster than a COVID-19 symptom party. Paul speaks of carrying around the dying body of Jesus Christ in his daily life. How would that change your way of doing things if you were given the task of carrying the bleeding Lamb of God around all day? Everytime you went to sin, you saw Him staring at you through swollen eyes? Everytime you wanted to sin, you would hear a whisper from bleeding cracked lips, “Don’t”.
I think more of us need this daily reminder. We take life to flippantly. We waste way to much time and leave far too much behind us on a day to day basis. This, I suppose is the downside to eternal security. We don’t have to do anything to earn or secure our salvation, so most, if not all of us, become complacent and comfortable. This is indeed a tragedy. Instead we are suppose to be running the race, spreading the seed of the Gospel to all mankind, and being the ACTIVE ambassadors we were commissioned to be.
Yes, the sinner is in the hand of an angry God, and the more he sins the greater God’s hatred and disgust grows against him, but we as Christians are supposed to be the light that shines in the darkness that gives the lost a beacon of hope to latch onto. If we adopt the dimmer switch of compromise, then when the darkness thickens, the lost won’t see you.
Continued from Part 1.
So now what? We have a world full of glamorous milk-toast men and bull-headed angry women. And it’s not getting better, I can assure you.
A time will come, with a few more generations under our belts, where the masculine man will be the oddity and the “gay” looking man will be the norm. People will point and snicker at the likes of men like me. My “type” will be looked at as someone to feel sorry for. The men of the world who stand for truth and Christ will be forced underground or treated for a mental condition. The delicate effeminate man will be the norm who will look at us with disdain and disgust.
I look at my children and feel sorry for them somewhat. They are growing up in a world where the walls of discretion have fallen. Society, at one point, had rules, written and unwritten to live by. Men were men, and women were women. Children were children. Families were families. Divorce was a blemish. Homosexuality was something no one talked about. It was practiced behind closed doors and was never celebrated. But unfortunately, it is a symptom of failing parents. We as parents have been blessed and entrusted with the greatest of treasures. Our children are worth immeasurable value. They are our future. Period. But if we are teaching them to be something they are not, then how does this affect society?
The church of Jesus Christ has a mandate. That mandate is to proclaim the Gospel to the world. The church also has rules it must abide by. We see it throughout the New Testament. We have standards we must govern our lives and families by. These standards have been put in place for our good and for the good of society. Take away these standards and something will take their place. Hence the mess we find our world in today. Ruled by the worship of self and relativism.
At one point if you went to church it was because you were either saved or desired to be so. Now the church is a place where no matter who you are, are welcomed with open arms. Regardless of your faith or belief system, as long as you can get along and bring your tithes, you are welcomed.
Leonard Ravenhill said it well:
“The Church used to be a lifeboat rescuing the perishing. Now she is a cruise ship recruiting the promising.”
Well said. We allow the congregation to live the lifestyle they want. Men and women can live together and not be judged. Muslims and Catholics can call a so-called Christian church home. The LGBTQ+ group can and usually feel quite safe and comfortable in most churches today. Why? Because the Gospel has been replaced by a message that has had its corners rounded over and its edges covered by the protective foam of non-judgmentalism. Repentance and revival are things that most churches know nothing about. Many modern churches today don’t even know who Jesus is. Oh, they have heard about Him here and there, but they don’t KNOW Him.
Between the family and the church, no wonder the world is in the mess its in. No one wants to discipline and correct anymore. No one wants to touch the hot potatoes anymore because they know that the consequences of standing for the truth are dire. So the men who once stood strong and kept the sin and compromise out of the church have been shut down and shut up by the feminists who have been trained by their aggressive and non-submissive mothers to take charge and not let any man stand in their way. Over the course of a few generations of men being pushed around and degraded, we now have “men” who naturally won’t confront and stand against evil. It doesn’t even occur to them to do so. It’s become natural for men to be non-confrontational and non-judgmental. It has also become natural for women to be the ones who crack the whip and make decisions. The whole dynamic has been flipped. Men are seeking out relationships and women are leading.
Where does this leave the children? God help them.
How can the church spread the Gospel and do the Lord’s bidding if they are so messed up? They can’t.
What’s the answer to all this? The Bible gives us a clear warning to those who refuse to stand for the truth and do the right thing.
“But as for cowards and the unfaithful, and the polluted, and murderers, fornicators, and those who practise magic or worship idols, and all liars–the portion allotted to them shall be in the Lake which burns with fire and sulphur. This is the Second Death.”
This is the point. If we are Christians then we MUST follow the Bible and conform ourselves to what it teaches. This is vital if we want to change the world. Unless we follow the commandments of God, then we will fall into sin and deception and won’t be worth our salt (Matt. 5).
“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” 1 John 2:15
If the Bible says homosexuality is wrong then don’t practice it. Don’t allow it into your church. Don’t allow it into your home. Don’t embrace it for anything. Look upon it as God does. An abomination (Romans 1, Lev. 18).
The Bible commands us to run from fornication and all that that definition implies. It also commands us to separate ourselves from the unclean thing.
J.C. Ryle says: “The standard of the world, and the standard of the Lord Jesus–are indeed widely different. They are more than different–they are flatly contradictory one to the other. Never be satisfied with the world’s standard of Christianity!
A crucified Savior will never be content to have a self-pleasing, self-indulging, worldly-minded people!”
These are simple commands yet the church has allowed the world to dictate what she should believe and that’s the reason why the church is weak and powerless.
“For everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world.” 1 John 5:4
The family needs to get back to its roots. There needs to be a mom and a dad. Not two moms or two dads or three of this and five of that. Your children need a real old-fashioned mom and a real old-fashioned dad. Not only is this important but our children need parents who think of them more than they do of their jobs and careers. How many hours do you spend with your children a week? Actual quality time. One on one time. “Oh I can’t do that, I’m working too much”.
Do your children accept that? Do you think your children want the money or you? My wife and I have made adjustments to our lifestyle in order to be there for our children. Yes, it means trimming the fat and tightening the belts, but they know that we are always there for them, spending quality time with each every day.
If you walked through my home on a daily basis, you would see me playing Nerf wars or doing something in the workshop with my boys. Or you would see me sitting with my daughter listening to her endless adventures about her rabbits. You would see me conducting Bible studies and training my children in the right way to deal with people and problems in a humble and God-fearing manner.
You will see my wife spending her days homeschooling, teaching piano and taking care of the house as a wife should. You would see her nurturing and loving and teaching and guiding in the ways of God.
Yes, I work but I made sure I had a job that gave me the freedom to either include my children in my job and/or make sure I was home to help train and guide them.
If my work gets in the way of training my children then something’s got to change. If I’m not there to lead my family, then someone else will. Many women have been pushed into living both roles and most fail miserably because they are not made to be both parents. My wife has been sick from time to time, and when the whole burden of the household fell on me, I was beside myself with the tasks. I realized that my amazing wife did more than I thought. She kept the house running, kept the meals on schedule and kept things moving at an even keel.
When I’m on the shelf with an injury or sickness, my wife realizes how hard my job is and appreciates all I do. You see, it’s a balance. A dance, if you will. A choreographed ballet of talents and skills and I couldn’t do it without her.
This is how you train good, healthy children who will one day contribute to society and make it better.
Otherwise, we have children who have no identity, no worth, falling into gangs and lifestyles that only damage and destroy.
Parents, your first mission field is your family. Get your family in order and then you can go out into the world and clean it up.
In this society where all hell is breaking loose, we, as Christians must stand up and place that candle in our windows, showing the world that there is hope. A warm, inviting light in the darkness will inevitably draw the lost, as a candle draws the moth. God will draw them to you, but how can He if there is no difference between you and the world? Why should the world change if they look at the church and see carbon copies? Divorce rates are the same, so-called Christian men view pornography just as much as the world, there are even Christian atheists taking up pew space. And we expect the world to come to Jesus when we are His ambassadors?!
In closing, I think a Grace Gem by Horatius Bonar is quite fitting.
There is much worldliness among the saints! There is worldliness in their motives and actions; worldliness in their domestic life and in their interaction with society; there is worldliness in the arrangements of their households and in the education of their families; there is worldliness in their expenditure, so much being laid out for self, so little for God; there is worldliness in their religious schemes, and movements, and societies; there is worldliness in their reading, and in their conversation. There is, in short, too much of the spirit of fervent worldliness about their whole deportment, and little of calm, happy superiority to the things of earth.
They are fretted, disturbed, bustled just like the world. They grudge labor, or fatigue, or expense, or annoyance in the cause of Christ, or in serving their fellow men. They have much of earth, little of Heaven about them.
They are not large-hearted or openhanded; not willing to spend and be spent, unmoved and unruffled, as those whose eye is ever set on the incorruptible inheritance on which they so soon shall enter. They are low and unaspiring in the things of God.
Perhaps there are few things against which we require to be more warned than against this spirit of worldliness. The Church is very prone to forget her pilgrim character in this present evil world and to live as a citizen of earth. Her dignity as the eternally chosen of the Father is lost sight of; her hope as the inheritor of the glory and the kingdom of the Son is obscured.
God’s cure for worldliness is the bringing before us of another, eternal world, more glorious than that which He calls on us to forsake. There is no thorough cure for worldliness but this. It is lack of faith in eternal realities, that makes us worldlings! When the believing eye gets fixed on the world to come, then we learn to set our affections on things above.
So long, however, as all here in our present sphere of existence is bright, we are content with this world. We allow ourselves to sink down and settle quietly among the things of earth. Why should we whose home and treasure are above, ever again seek our home or our treasure here on this poor earth?
Why should we stoop from our heavenly elevation to mingle again with the company which we have forsaken? Are we ashamed of our pilgrim staff and our pilgrim road? Surely not. To be a pilgrim on earth is to be divided from sin and sinful appetites, from the seducing vanities and worthless mockeries of the world, from the fascinating beauty and perilous splendor of this decaying scene. To be a pilgrim on earth is to be a friend of God, a member of the heavenly household, an expectant of the kingdom, an heir of the crown of glory.
The opposite of worldliness is heavenly mindedness or spiritual mindedness. This, the new relish which the Holy Spirit imparts at conversion, in some measure produces. But it is feeble. It easily gives way. It is not strong enough to withstand much temptation. God’s wish is to impart a keener relish for eternal things, and to destroy the relish for the things of time.
This He effects by blighting all objects in which there was earthly sweetness, so that by being deprived of objects to “mind” on earth, it may of necessity be led to “mind” the things above. He dries up all the “nether springs” of earthly joy, that we may betake ourselves to the “upper springs” which can never fail.
When God unroofs our dwelling, or tears up its foundation by an earthquake, then we are forced to look upward and seek a better and more enduring portion! Many such shocks, however, are often needed before our souls are broken off from their cleaving to the dust.
What are this world’s allurements to us? What to us are the sights and sounds of earth, who “shall see the king in his beauty,” and hear His voice, into whose lips grace is poured? What to us is the green fertility of earth, who shall enter into the possession of the new earth? What to us is the gay glory of a city’s wealth and pomp, who shall be made citizens of the New Jerusalem, where dwells the glory of God and of the Lamb, whose foundations are of precious stones, whose walls are of jasper, whose gates are of pearl, whose streets and pavements are of transparent gold?
Be zealous and repent and do your first works. Come out, be separate, touch not the unclean thing! Put off the works of darkness! Put on the armor of light. Be done with wavering, indecision, and compromise.
Church of the living God! Be warned. Live for Jesus, not for yourself, for Him, not for the world. Walk worthy of your name and calling, worthy of Him who bought you as His bride, worthy of your everlasting inheritance. Consider the LAMB and walk in His steps!
Men? Be men. Be courageous, strong and stand for what is right. You will have a battle on your hands and you will come up against the feminist juggernaut in your struggles. But stand anyway. You owe it to your family, the church and to the world.
Women? Don’t allow the lure of power to turn your head for it is a deceptive enemy. Embrace the calling of being a wife and mother. This is your greatest and most rewarding job. You also will be met with all sorts of trouble and resistance from an enemy who wants nothing more than to destroy you and your beloved family.
Parents, stand firm as a team. Two awesome people linked arm in arm, hand in hand, heart in heart, mind in mind against a common foe. Stand against the flow of society and perhaps a few generations of children who have been trained, disciplined and loved properly can right this ship before it sinks beneath the waves of compromise and modernism.
“If you will describe yourself as a pretty gentleman, I shall find nothing in the Bible wherewith to comfort you; but as long as you have black words and condemning words wherewith to daub yourself, I feel that you are Christ’s man…”
An excerpt from The Complete Works of C. H. Spurgeon, Volume 36: Sermons 2121-2181.
How many pretty gentlemen do we have in the church today? Never mind the world, as they are supposed to be messed up, deceived and running around blinded and dead in their sins. But we are being inundated by pretty, effeminate men climbing into the pews and seats of authority all over Christianity. These men are delicate, soft, glamorous. They speak nothing of the men of yesteryear who were strong, bold, courageous.
You may shy away from this sort of criticism because it seems normal for you to see such men dolled up and looking beautiful, but if you are middle age and older you remember a time where this wasn’t so.
If you walk through the grooming section of your local drug store, you will undoubtedly see the usual shaving creams, safety razors, deodorant and the like. However, along with the usual old-fashioned toiletries, you will now see a large selection of face putties, under-eye creams, wrinkle erasers and worse.
Society is training its boys to be pretty and delicate, and this horrid philosophy has crept into the church and made the so-called men snowflakes.
I have seen this in sports as well. I catch baseball and hockey highlights from time to time, and when someone gets hurt or hurts someone else, these men tend to fall apart. I watch in shock as the athlete wanders around, head in hands, getting hugs from his teammates, crying and shaking from the horror of it all. I see soccer (football in Europe) players drop like someone shot them when they get pushed or knocked over.
This is a disturbing trend I have found permeating the world. Men are quickly becoming cry-babies!
1. (a.) Having some characteristic of a woman, as delicacy, luxuriousness, etc.; soft or delicate to an unmanly degree; womanish; weak.
2. (a.) Womanlike; womanly; tender; — in a good sense.
3. (v. t.) To make womanish; to make soft and delicate; to weaken.
4. (v. i.) To grow womanish or weak.
What does the Bible have to say about this sort of man?
1 Corinthians 6:9
Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind (homosexuals)…
No longer do we see the loggers, sailors, and miners of yesteryear who were tougher than nails, working, struggling against all odds, standing up against the evil powers of the world. Now we see men talking about relationships, emotions, and male bonding.
I look to the Bible for most of my examples and this is one occasion where the Bible can be used for evidence. Look back into the Old Testament and you see Abraham and Moses. Tough, leading armies against the enemies of God. You see David, a slayer of thousands. You go to the New Testament and see John the Baptist. Nothing pretty or delicate here. Then you see the Champion of our Faith, Jesus of Nazareth. Glamorous and polished? Not a chance. Paul the Apostle? Nope. Peter? Are you kidding?!
The Bible is full of men who were strong and rugged. Courageous and bold. Standing up for truth, defending what was right no matter the consequences.
Remember Peter and John in Acts 4? They stood courageously against the religious leaders and refused to be quiet. They were going to preach the Gospel come hell or high water and it didn’t matter one iota what the consequences were.
How about Stephen? He was stoned to death preaching the Gospel.
The Apostle Paul?
2 Corinthians 11: 23. Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labors more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. 24 Of the Jews, five times received I forty stripes save one. 25 Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; 27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
Did Paul cower and lay in the corner in a fetal position hoping Oprah had the answer? No. He kept going. He poured himself out for the Gospel and when he was finally killed, he left this earth with nothing more to give.
What happened?! Where are these men? Where are the leaders and warriors of the faith?
I read of men and hear it throughout my day where men have arguments or go through trials and they break down and run to their drugs, games or some sort of fantasy to help them cope. No longer do men stand strong in faith and the assurance that God is sovereign and is leading them through the valley of their lives. No longer do men humble themselves before God and pray. They run to Google for their answers. They allow the world or their aggressive, feminist wives to dictate what they should do. This is a modern-day atrocity that can only spell ruin for future generations.
What is happening in the church today is symptomatic of what I am seeing. The feminist movement has marched in and taken over. We see it all the time in the church and because women are being trained to take charge and “be the man“, the men have backed down and kept quiet.
Why? Because parents have dropped the ball. Because parents in my age group are a product of the no-discipline philosophy. They were raised with no correction in their homes and now they have passed it on to their children.
I see it with my wife and her piano students. Children today cannot take criticism. They don’t even know what “NO” means! If my wife tries to correct something in regards to their piano playing they whine and cry and pound the piano in frustration and anger.
If these children are being raised to run the home and get away with whatever they want, what will happen when they are grown up? If children today do not have godly, old-fashioned role models to copy, they’ll copy media, video games, music stars and the like.
I see families where the mom is trying to fill both roles. What happens? Their children, many times decide to embrace a homosexual lifestyle. The same goes with dad trying to be mom. The family has been attacked on all sides and the children are the victims.
I see parents teaching boys to dress up like glamour girls and girls to be men. I see boys feathering their hair and wearing skinny jeans with their delicate ankles showing and girls driving dump trucks. The whole core of the family has been twisted around and perverted.
This reverberates straight through into the church, where the pastor dares not mention sacrifice, sin, and hell. Instead, he tells a story full of emotion and emphasizes relationships and staying relevant to the world. All the while the enemy stalks through the sheep-fold unmolested.
The church is supposed to reflect Christ and His teachings. Islam understands this. Buddhism understands this. Talk to any religion out there and they all get this. Their religion reflects its founder.
Why doesn’t Christianity?
Here was our conclusion from “Shaken in Prayer.”
Romans 8:28 is not a standalone verse. It comes AFTER we begin to pray with the mind of the Spirit that we can then claim verse 28. Why? Because those who love God will have all things work together for good. Why? Because we are called according to His purpose. It is His way and His will that matters. Prayer is NOT about us and our wants and even our needs. It is about learning to pray in a way that matches the will of God on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN.
Sadly, too many who claim the name of Christ prefer to pray like this: “God, please do and accommodate my will in heaven as I want it to be done on earth.”
We go to church and say that we want the power of God to fall in our midst. Yet, we could not stand if it actually did. And the reason it does not fall as the Holy Spirit fills us to overflowing is that we have asked amiss. We ask the wrong questions, pray for the wrong things, and then stop praying and consider it a waste of time because we don’t get the answers we want from God.
Now, we raise our children to ignore prayer because they see no fervency in our times of prayer. Let me expand on this a few minutes.
For years our family have gone to prayer meetings in various churches that I pastored or where we were members. Apart from our children, I can count on both hands the number of children I have seen through the years in attendance. Our family believes firmly that if church is important enough to attend, then our children (even when they were little) should be sitting with us and learning why we pray.
As with many church services, the number of people in attendance drops drastically from a Sunday morning to a Sunday evening. Even more dramatic is the drop-in attendance from a Sunday to a mid-week prayer meeting.
When I pastored in England, we had some dear brothers and sisters who would come to mid-week prayer meeting. With not one week’s exception during our years there, the request would always come in to pray for wayward children to come back to God.
As disheartening as this will sound, I am convinced that one main reason that children flee from church and have no interest in the things of God is because that is the way they were raised.
English churches are no different than the ones here in America. Excuses were always given that it was too late because of school or whatever to attend anything other than a Sunday morning. Yet, having visited many homes I knew that many of those children that were supposedly getting ready for bed and then school were actually playing video games or watching television with the parent who chose to stay home.
What are they actually teaching their children? Let’s make this more personal. What are WE teaching our children? At no point have they engaged in prayer apart from the perfunctory blessing over the meal. At no point have they realized the wonder of God and the truth that He delights to bless His children AND He delights to hear the prayer of those who walk in righteousness before Him.
When your children are absent from times of collective prayer, you are teaching them that prayer is not important. You also teach them that you believe life is possible without having to resort to that old-fashioned notion of humility before the throne of God.
So, here is the order of events.
1) Send our children to junior or children’s church so they never learn to sit through worship and give attention to the Word of God being faithfully proclaimed.
2) Keep our children at home for any other scheduled events. Don’t get me wrong here. I know there are reasons why littles might be kept home if services are late. However, as they get older, they should be learning the true meaning of worship.
3) Refuse to keep them in during times of communion (like they do in England). Instead of being able to observe the testimony of believers one to another in the solemn rejoicing over the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, the children have no idea why this little addendum to a service once a month is vital to our remembrance of the Savior.
4) During times of prayer, allow them to run around or play instead of paying attention to the prayers of the saints. This allows them to grow up without knowing the blessing of seeing prayers being answered.
5) As they grow older, let them “make their own decisions” as to whether they want to go to church or not.
6) Come to church prayer meeting as an older adult and mourn. Complain loudly that you don’t understand why they don’t know God. Cry for them to return to the fold.
Oh, my dear, dear readers. The reality is that they were NEVER in the fold. We taught them everything they know and don’t know about church because gathering collectively was not important to us.
Worshiping God and praying humbly before Him was not a priority.
Many times, I have visited churches and heard them invoke the reply of God to King Solomon about the children of Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14-15 and claim it for themselves or the church at large. While the principles of this verse can be found throughout the Scriptures, what we fail to comprehend is the requirement for God to hear us is that WE MUST PRAY!
14 if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. 15 Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place.
Prayer meetings are not usually humbling because we have grown accustomed to lives of ease. We trot our little wish lists, make a show of coming before the Almighty God of all creation, and then quickly leave so we can go about our lives.
It is as though we come to the foot of the cross just briefly, stand back up and with a backward glance, we call out, “Thanks God for listening. I’ll just pick up my burdens and take it from here again!”
Why, oh why is prayer so hard?
We will look at these in-depth in another post, but here are four reasons.
First, prayer is hard because it requires true humility that can only come from God.
Second, prayer is hard because it requires true confession of sin before God and before those whom we have offended.
Third, prayer is hard because it requires true dying to self daily.
Fourth, prayer is hard because it requires true faith that God does answer prayer. He does and will not always answer the way we want or like because His goal is not our happiness and our satisfaction. God answers in the manner and timing of His choosing so that He may be glorified in Himself.
Let’s close with these words from James 4:6-10 and a brief word of exhortation.
6 But he gives more grace. Therefore, it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” 7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 8 Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. 9 Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
Parents, you are to be an example of Christ to your children. We are to be a witness to our own households. We must be taking time to pray or learning to pray if we have done little before. When you go to church and if there is a prayer time, INCLUDE your children. They have plenty of time to play and do games, but there will never be enough time in prayer.
If prayer is not important or you have no desire to humbly approach the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, then you may need to do a heart checkup and see whether or not you are one of His children.
In the meantime, I encourage you to watch this video and maybe for the first time in a long time – Behold Your God!
—- To be continued —-
Is there any wonder as to why we STILL face an unfinished task?
There was a time when prayer accompanied the cry and call to missions throughout the evangelical church of Jesus Christ. Sadly, those days are rare any more for there is little prayer and no longer any calls to serve and deliver the gospel message.
“Facing a task unfinished
That drives us to our knees
A need that, undiminished
Rebukes our slothful ease
We, who rejoice to know Thee
Renew before Thy throne
The solemn pledge we owe Thee
To go and make Thee known
I found this video on a Christian brother’s website. Paul, thank you for posting this to your site. It is truly convicting and right in line with what I have been sharing on my posts about “Spiritual Vertigo.”
In a previous post entitled, “Spiritual Vertigo”, I addressed three reasons why true believers, particularly in western evangelicalism, have entered a state where they have become disorientated. They struggle from week to week and from one Sunday morning worship to the next. The church has lost its balance and people are sick.
But, why or how does this happen?
Here are the reasons that I gave.
First, we fail to keep sight of the holiness, majesty, and glory of the almighty God. (Part 1 – Found here.)
Second, our vision of eternity is dulled because we become too focused on the world and what it has to offer. (Part 2 – Found here.)
Third, we become disorientated when we work harder to make the church appealing to unbelievers than we do in making the church a place for the sheep to come and find quiet waters and pastures where they can feed without the fear of wolves.
Let’s get right to a summary of this blogpost.
1. Heaven is NOT for unredeemed sinners.
2. The Bride of Christ is the manifest evidence to a dead world that Jesus Christ is alive and is coming back for that which He redeemed with His precious blood.
3. Church is NOT for the pleasure of the world.
4. Church is a gathering together of believers who meet together for teaching, fellowship, the breaking of bread (communion or the Lord’s Table), and prayer.
Now we will break some of this down.
We live in a day and age of snowflakes. An overwhelming majority of people want to be offended, and there is no lack of intolerance. The worldling wears proverbial chips on the shoulder and just dares anybody, somebody, everybody to breathe in their direction so it will fall off and plummet to the ground.
Wikipedia defines the word “snowflake” as “a 2010s derogatory slang term for a person, implying that they have an inflated sense of uniqueness, an unwarranted sense of entitlement, or are overly-emotional, easily offended, and unable to deal with opposing opinions.”
Many pastors and teachers of the Scriptures today feel they are in a quandary. On one hand, they know that true believers are to obey God rather than man. On the other hand, many have not considered the price of standing for truth whether it causes offense or not. In other words, many are afraid of the faces of the people for a myriad of reasons, some of which may include their paychecks each month.
When being politically correct is more important than preaching truth, the minister who caves into the world is no longer a shepherd. They have become nothing more than a hireling.
For example, the rise of “issues” such as the LGBTQ+ movement is not a reflection of the direction the world is moving. The gross immorality of this movement has been in place for millennium. It will continue to grow more and more depraved, but we MUST expect that for the world runs headlong after all that opposes God and the truth of holiness.
The real issue is that the church bears the necessity of condemnation for its failing to adhere to Sola Scripture (Scripture alone) in all that it believes and practices. Little by little, the world kept pushing the boundaries. Pastors and church leaders kept quiet or used the phrase – “Well, whatever is done in the privacy of their own homes is ok as long as it is not done in the open.”
That was never going to be good enough, so the world continues to push. The church caved even more and now it is hard to find churches that have not openly accepted those who stand in open rebellion against God. Those who practice lawlessness moved their wickedness out of their own homes into the light of day and now have charged militantly into the church.
The militancy of this particular tiny but excessively and aggressively vocal subset of the community continues to try to infiltrate every single aspect of all that is good. What God created to be holy, they have made into degradation including marriage and the family.
Why is this important? Because the downward slide into oblivion will continue. The world will continue to make the church and God seem irrelevant. This means that true believers have just one of two choices on the shelf —
PLEASING GOD or PLEASING SELF!
What makes the situation in church even worse is that the world laughs at the church. They laugh, mock, and belittle true believers. Further, they think they are mocking God and thumbing their noses at Him. Listen to the words of King David from Psalm 2:1-4.
Why do the nations rage and the people plot in vain? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying, “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord holds them in derision.
Truly, there is a dizzying difference between the churches of centuries past and the modern, so-called evangelical churches of today.
The early churches KNEW what it meant to take a stand and to be separate from the world. The world knew they were different. In fact, Acts 5:13 notes of the world, “None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem.” The world did NOT consider it a light matter to join themselves to the small bands of Christian believers. They were afraid of the judgment that came from God against those who lied and grieved the Holy Spirit of God.
Today, many churches have little to no requirements for those who want to “join.” The worn-out motto has become “Come as you are, leave as you came!”
Is it any wonder that the church has no power?
Should we, who are bought by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, reduce our inheritance to nothing for the sake that we may be liked by the world? Have we truly forgotten the words of the Lord Jesus Christ that the world will HATE you because it hated me FIRST?
Brothers and sisters, the local body of believers is to be a haven of rest. It is a place where we may go to worship the God of all creation as a collective group. Will unbelievers come in to visit? Yes! Should they be welcomed? Yes!
Should we give the impression that God loves them just as they are and that our lives should be lived in a way that reflects the holiness of God? No, no, a thousand times NO!
Church is for true believers to be edified and built up in their faith. We are then to go OUT into the world to proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ. As new believers are brought to the Savior, then they should be taught and discipled to become more and more like Jesus Christ.
Dear readers, you and I WILL NEVER change the church to look more like the world and find that we have attracted anything other than goats.
The joy of salvation is that the Bible makes a clear distinction between those who are lost (goats) and those who are true believers (sheep). However, the apostle John made it clear that whosoever is thirsty, may come and drink of the water of life. The gospel call goes out to the world to come and dine at the feet of Jesus Christ. Finally, the apostle Paul said that whosoever will may come and be saved.
For the church, judgment must begin with at home. We must stop trying to pacify the world and get back to reflecting the truth that we are the Bride of Christ. The Bride of Christ who is making herself ready for the return of the King.
As I concluded in the previous post, if the wonder of eternity remains dulled to us because we prefer to believe that the world holds more allure to us, then we will become a miserable failure because of a dimmed vision.
May our hearts be encouraged with a fresh look at the Savior today. May we be blessed with the recollection of all the heavenly benefits that belong to us.
Vertigo is defined as “a sensation of whirling and loss of balance, associated particularly with looking down from a great height, or caused by disease affecting the inner ear or the vestibular nerve; giddiness. It can cause loss of balance, ringing in the ears, nausea, and disorientation.”
Two weeks ago, I woke up and began what seemed like a normal day. Less than an hour later, something went pear-shaped in my head. Extreme dizziness and violent retching overtook my body. By the fifth day, I paid a visit to a local Urgent Care.
After a preliminary check by a nurse, then another staff member, a doctor entered the room. They ran some additional tests for various flus and viruses. All came back negative, and the result was that I had vertigo.
There is a first time for everything. Despite having had malaria and typhoid twice while we served in Liberia, this was completely different. Every day that I wake up, my world whirls and spins as I try to recalibrate. I can now sit in my chair, but again each move has to be calculated or my stomach starts to churn and the world constantly spins.
I am disorientated. To use the medical definition for disorientation, I have a condition that causes me to feel as though I have lost my sense of direction.
As I have been pondering this new condition, it has made me think more about spiritual matters. Sometimes, the only thing I can do is close my eyes and pray for others while waiting for the world to stop spinning.
This diagnosis makes me realize that there is a spiritual connection, in that, there are some within the church who have spiritual vertigo.
They have lost their balance, or something is making them sick, or it may be that they have become disorientated. Some within evangelical churches have lost their sense of direction.
But, why or how does this happen?
First, we fail to keep sight of the holiness, majesty, and glory of the almighty God.
Listen to the words of those whose sight was not dimmed when they wrote the following thoughts.
C.S. Lewis – A man can no more diminish God’s glory by refusing to worship Him than a lunatic can put out the sun by scribbling the word ‘darkness’ on the walls of his cell.
John Piper – If you don’t see the greatness of God then all the things that money can buy become very exciting. If you can’t see the sun you will be impressed with a street light. If you’ve never felt thunder and lightning you’ll be impressed with fireworks. And if you turn your back on the greatness and majesty of God you’ll fall in love with a world of shadows and short-lived pleasures.
A.W. Pink – Happy the soul that has been awed by a view of God’s majesty.
King David – Psalm 93:1, “The LORD reigns; he is robed in majesty; the LORD is robed; he has put on strength as his belt. Yes, the world is established; it shall never be moved.
Jude – half-brother of Jesus Christ in his little book – Jude 25, To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.
Second, our vision of eternity is dulled because we become too focused on the world and what it has to offer.
My dear readers, there is absolutely NOTHING the world offers that will compare with the riches that await us in Christ and in heaven. It is easy for those who are seated with Christ in the heavenlies to become dizzy and disorientated when they gaze longingly down to the mud and muck offered by the world.
Missionary and martyr Jim Elliott wrote in his diary, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.”
Third, we become disorientated when we work harder to make the church appealing to unbelievers than we do in making the church a place for the sheep to come and find quiet waters and pastures where they can feed without the fear of wolves.
This third point is a sad fact in far too many churches that claim the name of Christ today. Instead of being focused on preaching, teaching, and prayer, we have become centers for socialization or programs.
Pastors and teachers, if our time dissolves each week because of all the things we think we have to do instead of what God requires, then we cannot be surprised when our churches begin to look more like a worldly business.
True believers need to come together for worship remembering that Jesus Christ is King of kings and Lord of lords. Every aspect is to be about Him. Church is not meant to be a well-oiled piece of machinery at the expense of seeing Him who is above all.
Every Sunday, across our land, true believers gather. They need encouragement, exhortation, and edification. They come hurting physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Like soldiers on the battlefield, they are bruised and broken from fighting the evil one and his minions. There should be one inviolable focus and goal for every person who preaches or teaches.
“The goal for every true believer is to be more like Jesus Christ today than we were yesterday, and more like Him tomorrow than we are today.”
Anything more or less than this is a disservice to the hearts and minds of true believers. When we ponder the state of the persecuted church, it becomes easier to see how far we have slipped. People in our western bastions of evangelicalism are not ready for persecution. We refuse to see it coming because the world has disorientated us to the point where we think they walk the road of life with us hand-in-hand.
May we be encouraged to stand fast and once again follow the command of the apostle Paul to the church in Colosse.
“Set your affections on things above, and not things of the earth.”
My dear wife, Violet, has long been a person who spends far more time in prayer than I do. One of the areas that she ALWAYS remembers in prayer is the persecuted church.
In fact, it is through her devotion to the Lord and the concern that she has for brothers and sisters overseas that has helped me to be more consistently aware of those who are beaten, raped, and murdered simply because their faith is found in Jesus Christ alone.
A friend and past contributor, Sony Elise, writes encouraging posts, and in those encouragements often includes admonitions to pray for others. I am thankful for those who would be considered prayer warriors. These are people who give of their time and energy to remember the plight of others.
However, one of the areas in which I am often discouraged is the seeming lack of care, concern, and even love within the western church for these brothers and sisters. Too often, I have grown disheartened when I seek to remember those in places like China, Vietnam, Mongolia, and even in the heart of Muslim countries, yet most in the West live like these people do not exist.
The apostle Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 3:12, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”
I have many times brought the matter up for prayer in church meetings only to be ignored even by church leadership. I can only conclude a couple of main reasons for why our churches do not remember the persecuted church, or if they do, it is on the rarest of occasions.
First, remembering those who are persecuted would mean a vivid reminder that we are one family in Christ Jesus. This means that we must strive to follow the command that Paul wrote in Galatians 6:2, “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.”
Second, remembering those who are persecuted would cause us to have to examine our hearts and lives. I am afraid that in the western world, we are NOT ready for persecution. Our lives are filled with plenty and many of our churches resemble the church in Revelation that was found in the city of Laodicea.
Revelation 3:17 says that the church in Laodicea said, “I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing.”
Yet, Jesus Christ said that the Laodicean church was actually wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.
How sad that we live and prosper, yet compared to our brothers and sisters who languish in prison, we are poor and to be pitied. Our barns and presses burst full of wine, yet the wine is but the fruit of sour grapes.
A pastor in a persecuted country was asked about the things for which he and his people prayed. The western individual expected that to hear that they prayed for freedom of religion, freedom from persecution, and for better lives.
The westerner was visibly shocked when the old but wise pastor, who had spent many years in prison for his faith, responded with gentleness.
“Our church prays for grace and strength for our people to endure whatever will make us more like Jesus Christ. He suffered and died for us, so is it too much if He asks us to do the same for Him?”
“We also pray for the church in the West that God will bring our brothers and sisters times of persecution so that the true church will grow in its faith. When that persecution comes, we also pray that God will show His love and mercy by providing the same grace and strength to our Christian family in the west.”
Dear readers, our brothers and sisters do not want our freedoms. When the Iron Curtain crashed down, it is said that the struggling and persecuted underground churches dreaded what would come to their doors. Pastors would send word that they only wanted missionaries who would preach and teach them the truth of God’s Word.
I personally spoke with one pastor, who had been imprisoned in Romania for many years. He spoke words that have stayed with me for almost 30 years.
“When the freedom came, all the things found in western churches came to Romania. These were things we did not want. We did not want the entertainment, the worldly music, or the sermons with no real meat. But that is what many missionaries brought to us.”
“The underground church that grew under persecution has become cold. The focus is no longer on Jesus Christ, but on what we can do to draw crowds of unbelievers. Our young people sing all the popular songs from the West, but their lives have not changed. We are no longer ready for persecution and we are the poorer for it.”
What can we do? For too long, the church in the west has done a great disservice to the persecuted church. The call to action comes ringing across the waves from the great cloud of witnesses that cry loudly for the Lord’s return to bring justice.
Here are four areas that will help you and I – starting today!
1. CONFESS! If you do not regularly pray for or remember the persecuted church, seek forgiveness from the Lord. Ask God to help you overcome callousness of the heart and pray to become sensitive to the needs of our far-off family.
2. PRAY! Ask the Lord that our brothers and sisters will stand strong. Pray for their captors and those who persecute them that our God will be gracious and bring even some of “Caesar’s household” to Himself.
3. STAND! Stand with our brothers and sisters. Do not ignore their plight. Find ways to encourage others, especially those who put themselves in harm’s way to go to the persecuted church and try to be a blessing. Find others to meet with who have a similar passion and share times of worship and prayer together.
4. PREPARE! Persecution is promised to those who would live godly in Christ Jesus. Pray that God would help you and I to take our eyes off of the rust, moth-corrupted treasures of this world. Pray that we would heed the words of Paul in Colossians 3:2, “Set your minds (affections) on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
In my reading through the Scriptures in a year, today I read Ezekiel 5-9. I realize that Ezekiel was written by the prophet Ezekiel to the people of Judah and Israel. Yet, my mind struggled with what was prophesied would happen to Jerusalem.
V. 3 tells us the glory of God had departed! This is itself is tragic, but read on.
Vv. 4-6 give a solemn declaration of judgment pronounced against those who were God’s chosen people. These verses read like this in the ESV,
4 And the LORD said to him, “Pass through the city, through Jerusalem, and put a mark on the foreheads of the men who sigh and groan over all the abominations that are committed in it.” 5 And to the others he said in my hearing, “Pass through the city after him, and strike. Your eye shall not spare, and you shall show no pity. 6 Kill old men outright, young men and maidens, little children and women, but touch no one on whom is the mark. And begin at my sanctuary.” So they began with the elders who were before the house. — (Emphasis added)
Dear brothers and sisters, how often do we read through the pages of Scripture and fail to understand what is happening?
We can often overlook the principles found in the Scriptures and do not comprehend how it can apply to our own lives over 2 1/2 millennium after Ezekiel wrote these words under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Under the judgment of God, the ONLY people who would be protected from the wrath of the Almighty were those who sighed and groaned over all the abominations.
There would be no pity shown, and nobody was exempt. Sadly, the nation had become so corrupt that the messengers who would be placing the mark upon the foreheads were told to start with the elders. These were the men charged with the religious and governmental affairs of the nation.
In other words, there were people from the top of the religious and social stratum who were NOT sighing and groaning over the abominations. These abominations were so vulgar and grotesque that Ezekiel only alludes to some of what these might have been.
The scenario we find in the 21st century is much different. The world faces even greater abominations. Abortion is now acceptable. The family is being destroyed. LGBTQ issues cloud every aspect of culture and society. What transpires behind closed doors is now openly flaunted and accepted.
In fact, our own governments willingly and deliberately strip financial aid from countries that refuse to allow for abortion at will and who refuse to legitimize ALL aspects of the LGBTQ movement.
What is NOT different is that many “elders” who are to stand in the gap and proclaim thus saith the Lord refuse to stand anymore. Even evangelical churches are becoming more open and accepting of contemporary issues of the day.
Instead of being like Martin Luther and stating, “Here I stand, I can do no other”, elders and churches are allowing for more and more abominations to come into the places where God’s people are to worship. Entertainment drives the masses and the goats feel happy while the sheep starve for lack of the bread of life from pulpits.
In this life, we are not worried about the enemy brazenly storming across our land. We do not go to sleep worrying whether our women will be violated, our children openly sold as slaves, and whether we will even have enough to eat for tomorrow.
Sadly — nay, tragically, the abominations that surround us are compounded by the reality that very few sigh and groan. Instead, we laugh when it flickers across our screens. At times, we can become so hardened in our hearts that there is only a twinge of guilt that we have mocked the God we claim as our Father.
My challenge to you — go and read Ezekiel 9. See the state of Israel and Judah. Ask yourself whether you are laughing and enjoying the fruit of the world and its abomination.
If we truly desire revival, we need to begin learning once again how to sigh and groan over the abominations. We need to seek forgiveness for our own areas where we fail to meet the perfect, holy standard that is Jesus Christ. We must hold ourselves accountable and strive to become more like the Master.
May you and I who truly know Jesus Christ as our Savior remember that like Israel of old, we are called to be a spiritual house and a holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:5). Unlike the abominable offerings that God refused to accept from Israel, we MUST offer spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
Take the world, BUT GIVE ME JESUS!
While many would long claim that Max Lucado has relinquished his stand on Biblical Christianity years ago, others still find encouragement in the poignant words that he has written down through the years.
However, in the shadows of what has happened with former Christian leaders like Ray Boltz and Joshua Harris, there is a serious question that true followers of Christ must ask themselves and those with whom they choose to fellowship.
At what cost am I willing to compromise?
In November 1605, an anonymous letter alerted authorities to the dangers of a man named Guy Fawkes. This man fully intended to blow up the Houses of Parliament in London, England, and kill King James the First. The plan was to remove the Protestant king and place a Roman Catholic king on the throne again. Thankfully, the plan was foiled and Guy Fawkes paid the ultimate penalty for his treason.
Over 400 years later, there are still those who seek to warn true believers of the dangers that are being faced within evangelical Christianity.
One of these is Alisa Childers.
Alisa Childers writes in her article dated January 13, 2020, about Max Lucado’s glowing endorsement of Jen Hatmaker, who openly endorses the LGBTQ lifestyle as being acceptable along with same-sex marriage. She also affirms the false teaching of men like Richard Rohr.
I highly recommend reading the entire article found at this link.
But we are not encountering anything new. Every generation of Christians has been tasked with the command to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
Alisa then continues with the following paragraph from Al Mohler. Read these words carefully.
In a recent briefing, Al Mohler noted that when we look at the history of the mainline denominations being lost to liberal theology, it wasn’t because the liberals outnumbered everyone else. Rather, “In almost every case it’s the muddy middle that ends up ensuring the liberal future of the church, because those moderates are unwilling to draw clear doctrinal and moral boundaries and to make them stick. They are far more concerned with holding the denomination, the institution, or the congregation together than they are with keeping a very clear commitment to the historic Christian faith and to its central doctrines and moral teachings.” (emphasis mine)
To conclude, it is imperative that we stand for truth no matter what others may think. In fact, it is right and Biblical that we stand even when others who supposedly claim the name of Christ are willing to back away from historical Christianity and the truths found only in the pages of Scripture.
Below is an excerpt from the opening of the article “10 Signs The Christian Authors You’re Following Are (Subtly) Teaching Unbiblical Ideas” by Natasha Crain.
I highly recommend you visit her blog and read the whole article.
My friend, Alisa Childers, recently wrote a review of the bestselling book, Girl, Wash Your Face, by Rachel Hollis. It started a firestorm of online discussion about what makes someone a “Christian” author, what responsibility a self-identified Christian author has in promoting ideas consistent with biblical faith, and what harm there can be for Christians reading books that contain nonbiblical ideas.
I personally haven’t read the book, so I’m not going to comment on it specifically. But I will say I was extremely disappointed and saddened to see the kinds of comments supporters of the book wrote:
“It wasn’t meant to be a devotional.”
“She’s not teaching theology.”
“Our job is not to seek people out and hate them.”
“Stop competing! Just imagine what the non-Christians think about the McJudgies! We need to focus inward because the project within ourself is the most important work we will accomplish. Don’t use your blog to bring someone down.”
Unfortunately, such comments are representative of the lack of discernment common in the church today. If Alisa fairly characterized the claims of Hollis’s book, Hollis is promoting ideas that conflict with a biblical worldview. And when there is a concern that millions of women are consuming content from a Christian author that can lead them to embrace unbiblical ideas, we should be raising a warning flag and calling out for discernment in the body of Christ.
It’s not about being a “McJudgey.”
It’s about discerning biblical truth from non-truth…something the Bible consistently tells us to do.
Continue reading here.
Leonard Ravenhill is the type of preacher that is needed today. Yet, many places no longer have times of prayer. Churches are kept afloat by sermonettes or entertainment, not because of the clear message of the Gospel. The Gospel is all about Jesus Christ, and not about what we bring to the equation.
May God daily, even hourly, bring His holiness to our attention so that we will humble ourselves before Him. If we are ever to see revival, which we desperately need in this day and hour, we must get back to the basics.