Wednesday, December 9, 2009

FA LA LA LA LA LA LA LA?

We sing ‘Tis the Season to be jolly! Fa la la la la, la la la la!” (I think there are enough “la-la’s” in there.) But “jolly” does not really describe many of us today. I think we would identify more with the Christmas carol, “ye beneath life’s crushing load, whose forms are bending low, who toil along the climbing way, with painful steps and slow.”

It’s hard to be “jolly” as you watch your country being led by men and women who mock those of us who “cling to our Bibles” and who declare, “America is not a Christian nation.”

It’s hard to be “jolly” when the most defenseless among us, our unborn children, are at greater risk of being murdered in the womb, than they are outside. To add insult to injury, yesterday a majority of our United States Senators voted that healthcare reform would include government funding for abortion! Our tax dollars would be used to pay for the slaughter of the pre-born should this make it to the President’s desk.

It’s hard to be “jolly” when divorce is ripping our families apart and leaving millions of children confused and torn. Adding insult to injury, today’s parents are so self-centered their children are too often left to fend for themselves. We wonder why our schools are struggling to meet academic goals. We need look no farther than the disintegrating family unit.

It’s hard to be “jolly” when the vice is praised and virtue is mocked. Christianity is ridiculed in the public square while pornography is celebrated.

It’s hard to be “jolly” when government spending is growing at such an alarming rate. Today 20 cents of every federal dollar is spent on the military, while 54 cents is laid out for Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and Welfare programs. The other 26 cents goes for roads and other government projects and the interest on our debt. (Congressional Budget Office 2008). Right now the U. S. Government owes $12,000,000,000,000.00. That’s over $350,000 per American. At the current pace, our debt will equal the total value of all the goods and services our economy produces next year. That hasn’t happened since World War II.

It’s hard to be “jolly” when the Church, the one institution that God has ordained to be the conscience of the nation is for the most part AWOL (a military term meaning “Absent Without Leave.”). Our pulpits are silent on the great moral issues of our day. We refuse to confront sin, proclaim grace that delivers from sin, and promote holiness of heart and life. The fastest growing churches are those that have adopted sensual music and whose leaders embody the spirit of the age.



BUT WE WHO KNOW THE LORD JESUS CHRIST NEED NOT DESPAIR! While we are deeply concerned about the direction of our nation, we have an unshakable confidence, an optimism that is grounded on the unchanging, eternal Word of the Living God— Christ shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though our nation rejects the Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though churches neglect the Gospel of the Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though sinners oppose the Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though the world denies the Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though the self-righteous crucify the Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though the carnal ignore our Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though families renounce our Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though schools disallow our Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though professors and scientists repudiate our Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though cynics and comics deride our Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

…Though the enemy and all the powers of hell are bent on destroying our Savior—He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

You know, the more I think about it, the more thrilled I get! Fa la la la la! La la la la! Hearing the bells of Christendom on Christmas day, Longfellow wrote:

Then peeled the bells more loud and deep
God is not dead, nor doth He sleep
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail
With peace on earth, goodwill to men.

And that we know is true, for He shall reign forever…and of His kingdom there shall be no end.

So look up this Christmas season. Whatever the burden you bear, whatever the concern you have, the virgin-born, crucified, buried for three days, risen from the grave, ascended into heaven, and coming-again King of Kings and Lord of Lords shall reign forever! And of His Kingdom there shall be no end.



If this Christ Jesus is not your Lord and Savior He wants to be. No matter how far you have strayed from His will, He loves you with an everlasting love. He longs to see you reconciled to God.

Repent of your sins—confess your sins and decide to do the will of God.

Believe—Trust only in Christ’s sacrifice for your salvation and believe Him. He told the truth, and He is “the way, the truth, and the life.”

Love—Live life from this day forward loving God, loving His Word, loving His will, loving His church, and loving your neighbor as yourself.

Friday, November 6, 2009

ATTITUDE AND ALTITUDE

My flight instructor warned me, “Do not trust your feelings! Keep your eyes on the instrument panel.” I can’t tell you how difficult that was. For several minutes I flew at about a half mile above the ground with my hands gripping the controls. “Now prepare to land,” my instructor directed. It was my first attempt at landing.

I radioed my intention to the tower then gently turned the plane to align myself with the runway. I was now flying in the landing pattern and waiting for my turn to bring the plane down. “You must keep your eyes on those instrument gauges!” my instructor warned. My eyes quickly scanned the panel.

The altimeter indicated that I was flying at the right altitude, approximately 1,500 feet above the runway. The airspeed indicator showed that my speed was proper—not so fast that I would be unable to land, and not so slow that I would “land” (or perhaps I should say “crash”) before I reached the runway. The fuel gauge reported that I had a half a tank.

“Sport 1150 you’re cleared to land,” the air traffic controller’s voice crackled on the two-way radio. My hands were sweating. With my instructor beside me, we rolled into the final approach to the runway. I extended the flaps on the wings. The plane slowed, and began to drop toward the runway.

For a moment I turned my attention away from the gauges, to look out at the horizon. “Pull back on the stick!” my instructor raised his voice. “Keep your wings level!” He shouted. Watch those gauges. Suddenly an alarm sounded. “Rick!” My instructor’s voice was urgent. “Watch…”

But it was too late. The plane hit the ground moving at 100 miles an hour. My first landing ended in disaster. Fortunately, I was only flying a Flight Simulator—a plane built to teach new students how to fly before actually leaving the ground.

What had been my fatal mistake? I had failed to keep my eye on the gauge that showed my plane’s relationship to the horizon. This gauge indicates to the pilot if the wings are tilted or parallel to the ground. It also would also show if the plane was pointed to the surface of the earth or up towards the sky. Pilots know this gauge to be the ATTITUDE INDICATOR or artificial horizon indicator.

I’ve often thought how appropriately named that gauge really is. As we fly through life, it is vital that we pay attention to our ATTITUDE. If we fail to keep a right attitude, we too will crash.

THE BIBLE URGES GOD’S PEOPLE TO THINK AS CHRIST THOUGHT. “Let this mind [or attitude] be in you, that was also in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 2:5.) That means that we are to discern what is holy and sinful, and that we are to approach each situation with a Christ-like attitude.

Truth is, OUR ATTITUDE DETERMINES OUR ALTITUDE. If we have a Christ-like attitude we will have a heavenly altitude! No matter what our circumstance may be—for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness or in health—we can triumph in every circumstance when our hearts and minds are directed towards heaven.

Fear is paralyzing. But faith—that unshakeable confidence in God and His goodness is empowering. I can’t think of any great accomplishment that was built on the foundation of fear. I can think of many temporal and spiritual victories that have been won because someone believed God. (Be faithful!)

Impossibility thinking is debilitating. But possibility thinking—directed and inspired by God—enables us “attempt great things for God and expect great things from God.” (the words of William Carey, missionary to India). The enemy says, “It can’t be done!” But Jesus said, “with God, all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26 (Be confident!)

Hopelessness drives us to despair. But the Christian’s hope—the assurance that one day our “faith shall be sight”—keeps us moving towards victory. Our brave American veterans who fought their way onto the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, pressed forward with the hope that they would win. And they did! (Be hopeful!)

In fact, if we had come to St. Louis with a hopeless attitude there would be no Faith Community today. But we believe God! And we know, that He will supply all our needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19. We know that “he is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” Philippians 3:20. I agree with the songwriter:
We’ve come this far by faith, Leaning on the Lord
Trusting in His Holy Word, He’s never failed us yet.
Oh! We can’t turn back! We’ve come this far by faith!

The Scriptures urge us to:

“Rejoice evermore!” 1st Thessalonians 5:16 (Be joyful!)

“In everything give thanks!” 1st Thessalonians 5:18 (Be grateful!)

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28 (Be encouraged!)

“And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:32. (Be compassionate!)

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.” 1st John 4:7. (Be loving!)

“Comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.” 1st Thessalonians 5:14.
(Be patient)

“But godliness with contentment is great gain.” 1st Timothy 6:6. (Be satisfied!)

“Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice!” Philippians 4:6. (Be exultant!)
“Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” Philippians 4:8 (Be intentionally upward in your thinking!)

“Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep
your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6,7. (Be peaceful!)


SO BEFORE YOUR PLANE HITS THE GROUND, CHECK YOUR ATTITUDE! And let the mind of Christ be in you! Ultimately it is a matter of our will agreeing with God’s will. When we give up on seeing things our way, and begin seeing things God’s way, it is then that our hearts and minds and lives will soar into the “good, acceptable, and perfect will of God!” Romans 12:2.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

"EMERGENCE" AND "AMBIVALENCE"

When the serpent, “that old serpent called the devil and Satan” (Revelation 12:29), tempted Eve to take the forbidden fruit, his first tactic was to question God’s word. “Hath God said, ye shall not eat of every tree in the garden?” (Genesis 3:1).

The devil’s tactics have not changed throughout all human history. Still today his first attack is “Hath God said?” Is God’s Word true? It is not possible to overstate the importance and urgency of knowing and believing God’s Word

From the middle of the 18th to the early 20th century Bible Believing Christians were ridiculed by scholars and clerics who aggressively taught that the Bible was simply a man-made book. Unlike their skeptical predecessors these cynics doubted not only the accuracy of the texts, but the authority of those who authored the Bible. “Higher Criticism” as this approach to the Word of God was called, undermined the confidence of millions of professing Christians.

In the middle of the last century, Bible Believing Christians were ridiculed as unscientific and unreasonable. The creation account, Noah’s flood, and the miracles of Scripture were all discounted as moralistic fables. It is noteworthy that even in many of the Evangelical and Conservative Christian colleges and universities, the possibility that “God breathed into man the breath of life” is no longer considered factual.

And today, at the dawn of the 21st century, we are met with the spectacle of “The Emergent Church.” Their leaders have managed to fuse the dominant philosophy of our generation, “nothing is certain,” into a basic theological tenet. For them, “truth is not a destination, it is a journey.”

Their leaders write:

“We are half finished, half-baked, and not driven by the need to find final and definitive answers.” - Jason Clark

“Modern foundationalism, with its emphasis on the objectivity, universality, and absolute certainty of knowledge, is an impossible dream for finite human beings whose outlooks are always limited and shaped by the particular circumstances in which they emerge” - John Franke

“Moving from Absolute to Authentic” - The subtitle of the book Stories of Emergence

“The problem with the critics [conservative Evangelicals] here is that they think they have a superior, timeless gospel that floats above any culture…” - Brian McLaren

Of course we are humble enough to know that we do not possess all truth. We have never made such an outlandish claim. But we do believe that Jesus is “the truth.” (John 14:6).

We reject the notion that Truth is unknowable, for we know Him! He bears witness of the Truth. (John 18:37) Pilate, the same who ordered Christ’s execution, wondered aloud, “What is truth?” But those who crown Christ King know Truth.

While we acknowledge that the life of faith is a journey from the City of Man to the City of God, it is certain that no one will make it to heaven without Him who said, “I am the door!” (John 10:7). Only those who definitely and unreservedly commit to Christ will be saved. No one can be admitted into the City of God who fails to acknowledge the Lord Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. He is the Way!

And we reject the idea that since we can never know all the Truth, we should not commit to the Truth that we do know! That would be like saying that since I do not understand calculus I will no longer believe the multiplication tables.

Truth perfectly corresponds with reality, but it is more. It is propositional, but it is also personal. “The Word was made flesh…and we beheld His glory…full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) “Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)

And we believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is superior to any and all cultures—American, Roman, Greek, or any other culture on earth. Let God be true and every man a liar. We are Christians first. He is the Life! (John 14:6)

Ours is a generation that would rather discuss all the options than commit to a specific truth or person. We love to talk. We loathe commitment. But it is this unwillingness to commit that lies at the heart of all that troubles our soul—our churches, our politics and our culture.

Leaders would rather waffle than clearly state their positions. Men are afraid to commit to be loyal husbands. Women are hesitant to commit to be faithful wives. Young people are unwilling to commit to virtuous living. Pastors are afraid to say “Thus saith the Lord.” We’d all rather just go along and see what happens than commit ourselves to another person, to a particular choice or to an idea.

Many are hoping that what they lack in commitment they can make up in sincerity. They imagine that so long as they are sincere they will “live happily ever after.” How tragic. When the President Kennedy’s son JFK Jr. was flying his wife and sister in law to Martha’s Vineyard he sincerely thought he was heading for a safe landing but his inexperience cost him and his passengers their lives.

Actually, when we fail to commit or when we justify our lack of commitment we are in fact making a choice. We are choosing to believe that the cost of commitment is greater than the cost of failing to commit. But it is not. When it comes to the most important commitment a person makes—the choice to believe Christ—our eternal destiny is at stake.

Moses urged Israel to choose: “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: (Deuteronomy 30:19).

Joshua made his choice: “If it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD. (Joshua 24:15).

Elijah challenged Israel to choose: “Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye
between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. (1 Kings 18:21).

Jesus said, “6:24 No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.” (Matthew 6:24)

The Apostle Paul knew that half-hearted commitment would not suffice at judgment. When King Agrippa testified, “Almost thou persuadest me…” the Apostle urged, “I would to God, that not only thou, but also all that hear me this day, were both almost, and altogether such as I am, (Acts 26:28,29).

If Paul had been an “Emergent Christian” he might have said, “Agrippa, I know you are on the journey so that’s fine. Just keep searching around.”

If Paul had been an “Emergent Christian” he would have written, “I am pretty sure whom I have believed, and I’m sort of persuaded that He is able, to keep that which I’m considering committing unto Him against that day,” instead of “I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day.” (2 Timothy 1:12

If Paul had been an “Emergent Christian,” he would have concluded his ministry with, “I have struggled with what I should fight for, I think I’ve come quite aways down the track, and I have kept my heart and mind open,” rather than “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7).

May God grant that we will not be changed by the wrong-headed, weak-willed, rebellious Spirit of this Age, but that by God’s Spirit we will change the spirit of our Age!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

A SPIRITUAL CHURCH

Have you noticed that those who are opposed to Christ and to virtue pursue their agenda with fearless and boundless resolve, while those who are committed to Christ and to virtue too often end up in cowardly compromise?

Our enemies are wrong, but we are weak. We are intimidated by their credentials, their wealth, and their influence in society. We fail to speak up for fear of sounding ignorant or old-fashioned. Our ambition to be successful and well thought of lures us to abandon principles and practices we once held with conviction. We compromise our principles, then justify our accommodation as "keeping up with the times," or "being relevant."

Why are we so weak?

A week ago I challenged our church to be a Soul-Winning church. (You may see our adaptation of J. B. Chapman's message "All Out for Souls!" at http://pastorrickjones.blogspot.com).

This week we urged the church to be a Spiritual Church. And here I believe is the crux of matter: Spirituality is essential to power. Until the Church experiences a revival of deep spirituality we will be powerless against the onslaught of the world, the flesh, and the devil. Without the power of God’s Holy Spirit we cannot understand, or stand for, or live out the truth.

When I searched the internet for “Spiritual Church” I was chagrinned to discover that the majority of links were to groups that worshipped ancestors, demons, and spirits that are not of God. It made me wonder how many people today even understand what a Spiritual church really is. Here is what we mean:

A Spiritual Church is a Church that is filled with the Holy Spirit—the Spirit of Holiness, is led by the Holy Spirit, and is obedient to the Holy Spirit. Praise the Lord!

A Spiritual Church is a Church that worships in the Spirit, prays in the Spirit, is edified or “built up” by the Spirit, is unified in the Spirit, and loves one another in the Spirit. Amen!

A Spiritual Church is a Church that is purified by the Spirit, and is empowered by the Spirit to live out and proclaim the will of God. Hallelujah!

That’s the Church I want to be a part of. That’s the Church that God wants us to be. And that’s the Church that we will be, if we are willing to be! Spirituality is essential to power.

This kind of spirituality is well within our reach, IF only we will reach. Spirituality is proportional to sacrifice.

…If we will sacrifice ourselves to do the will of God, and only the will of God we will be spiritual.
The heart of the spiritual person is a million miles away from the legalist who obeys the letter but rejects the spirit of God’s law, and the liberal who disobeys the letter and dishonors the spirit of God's law. The spiritual man loves God and obeys the commandments of God outwardly and inwardly!

…If we will sacrifice our time to fervently and faithfully seek the face of God alone in prayer, we will be spiritual. How long has it been since you talked with the Lord? Have you made it a priority in your daily routine?

…If we will sacrificially give ourselves to loving God and our neighbors, we will be spiritual. Spiritual men go the extra mile. Spiritual men love the unlovable. Spiritual men never give up.

…If we will renounce the devil and all his works, along with the vain pomp and glory of this world, and the sinful desires of the flesh, we will be spiritual. Spiritual men do not try to see how worldly and disobedient they can be and still maintain their profession of faith. They despise the world, crucify the flesh, and hate the devil. “Whoever will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.” James 4:4.

It’s no wonder that we are so weak.

Oh that God would clear out of our hearts and lives any obstacle to the free flow of His Holy Spirit. And may God make us a Spiritual people who are channels of blessing to our judgment bound world.

Jesus, fill now with Thy Spirit
Hearts that full surrender know;
That the streams of living water
From our inner self may flow.

Channels only, bless├Ęd Master,

But with all Thy wondrous power
Flowing through us, Thou canst use us
Every day and every hour.
By Mary E. Maxwell

ALL OUT FOR SOULS!

J.B. Chapman (1884-1947) was a minister and general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene. He was the Editor of the Herald of Holiness.

At the close of the Second World War his Church was facing a crisis. As the Church was turning 40 years of age, Chapman was deeply concerned for the direction of his Zion.

He stood to address a gathering of leaders, he spoke prophetically. It is a message we still need today! We have revised and extended his remarks with the prayer that our Church will take up the challenge and go "All Out for Souls!"

The fault is deeper and more fundamental-there is not enough heartbreak over the lost, not enough soul burden, not enough groaning and weeping and fasting and crying. Moreover, and as a consequence, there is not enough deep and genuine conviction for sin among the unsaved of our families and friends.

Hypocrites are too comfortable in our presence, and in our meetings. Bickering and backbiting go with too little condemnation.

Sour holiness, bitter devotion to persons and causes, lightness in the homes and in the churches, worldliness, love of ease and occupation with silly social conventionalities among the women, covetousness and love of money among the men, contentment with the mediocre, delight in nice clothes and comfortable homes, measuring men by the salaries they receive, and weighing people by the position they occupy-all these things get by with too little reproof because the light is not bright enough to discover their devilish origin.

Newton said he had observed that when men are getting religion they have a tendency to be hard on themselves and easy on other people. But when they are losing religion or are already backslidden, they have a tendency to be easy on themselves and hard on other people.

Nine-tenths of the bickering and faultfinding and suspicion and criticism among us would disappear if we were properly joined up in an all-out crusade for souls.

We are callous and indifferent when we are prayerless.

We are dictatorial when we are legalistic, rather than spiritual.

We are critical when we skewer the faults of others, to take attention away from our own inward sense of badness.

It is almost easier to reverse a man who is going in the wrong direction than to start one who has stopped. Stagnation is a more dangerous estate than faulty agitation. Brethren, we are not in so much danger of going the wrong way as we are in danger of not going at all!

We are not as menaced by too much enthusiasm, as we are paralyzed by an increasing stagnation. We are all too complacent. (Definition: –adjective 1. pleased, esp. with oneself or one's merits, advantages, situation, etc., often without awareness of some potential danger or defect; self-satisfied: i.e. The voters are too complacent to change the government.)

I. A RENEWED PEOPLE

I would be untrue both to you and to myself if I stood up here and said this is an easy task. But I would also be untrue if I stood here and said the task cannot be done.

If I said the days of revivals have passed, and that we are doing as well as could be expected, I would be saying what I do not believe, and what you know is not true. This work can be done.

It can be done. It can be done. My soul is so stirred that I feel like saying, It can be done. It can be done either with the present leadership or in spite of it.

It will take a changed leadership to bring it about, but that change can come in the present personnel as well as it could come by a change in personnel. Our church needs a new pastor.

May God grant this Pastor will become new men!

We need new people in our pews. May God grant us new ones, either by making us new or by replacing us with the type of men God designs us to be!

I am afraid of that kind of leadership that concerns itself principally with its own ease and safety. I am afraid of that cautious leadership that is so afraid it will make mistakes that it makes the greatest of all mistakes -not undertaking anything worthwhile. I do not come here today to criticize you or myself for the way we do things.

Rather I feel deeply criticized about the way we don't do things. And I know you know I appreciate all that all of you are doing and trying to do. But my soul is stirred because we have not seemed to do the one thing most needful-lead on in a soul-saving crusade.

We have run the machine; we have made some noise; we have reached some significant records, and built an impressive church, and run a large Sunday School.

But, brethren, these ought we to have done and not to have left the spiritual aggressiveness undone. We have done good things, but we have made a poor showing with the best things.

We have been occupied with the means, and have not in sufficient measure reached the end. We should have done what we have done without accounting it the purpose.

We should do these things again, and better, but should turn more definitely to the one thing that can keep us from becoming just another church. Just a people with a circle of influence, and a nest of static contentment!

I am thinking of the future-the near future-when I lift the battle cry once and again.

Nothing is more important than soul passion, soul burden, souls! Souls! Souls that are lost! Souls for whom Christ died!

Souls which are near and dear to us! Souls for whom we care and for whom we pray! Souls for whom no one cares and for whom no one prays! Souls! All out for souls!

Congregation! all out for souls! All out for souls in 2009! All out for souls! All out for souls!

II. A REKINDLED LOVE

I know you can operate the machinery of the church, and I want you to do these things. But I would not make these the standard by which to measure your fitness for your present task. I ask you, Do you love souls?

Do you find it possible to pray for souls with heartbreak and with tears? Do you make souls your aim?

I know we ask our evangelists to do these things. I know we want pastors to be like that. But I ask you, Are you like that?

How long since you have gone through the throes of birth pains for the deliverance of the ungodly?

And I must not excuse myself. I feel like I need to get down here at this altar and wrap my arms around it, and stay there until God breaks in on me in such a manner that this service will become an upper room from which streams of Pentecostal blessing may break forth to bring the dawn of a new crusade for souls throughout this land and around the world.

I feel that my own soul is lonesome for the company of those other souls which I am to have with me when I come at last to heaven's gate. And I expect the ticket I hold to read, not, "Admit one," but, "Admit two," or, "Admit ten," or, "Admit a hundred." And it will be embarrassing if the Chief Shepherd must ask, "Where are the other nine?" or, "Where are the other ninety and nine?"

III. A REVIVED CHURCH


Brethren, I was born in the fire, and I cannot endure the smoke. I am a child of the bright daylight, and mists and fogs and depressing gloom are not to my liking.

I want to go all out for souls. The revival I seek is not the product of the labors of some personality-plus evangelist. Such a revival is too detached and impersonal to meet my needs or to answer my prayers.

I want that kind of revival that comes in spite of the singing, the preaching, the testimonies, and the human attractions and detractions. I want that kind of revival because it takes that kind to really revive me.

I want a revival that, like a summer shower, will purify the atmosphere of our churches everywhere, and which will awaken the dormant forces of our people young and old.

I want something so general and so divine that it will be uncontrollable. I want something that will re-emphasize old-time moral and spiritual conditions.

Something that will reform and regenerate drunkards and save respectable worldlings.

Something that will bring in the youth and the little children.

Something so attractive that it will break over into the circles of the pleasure-loving.

Something that will set people on their back tracks to make restitution for wrongs committed.

Something that will bring God to bear upon our domestic problems to save our people from the twin evils of divorce and race suicide.

Something that will inject old-time honesty, veracity, purity, and other-world-mindedness into our preachers and people.

Something that will make this namby-pamby, soft-handed, compromising, cringing sort of holiness as obsolete as Phariseeism was on the Day of Pentecost.

Something that reveals a man's credentials by means of souls saved and sanctified and established in Christ Jesus.

And, brethren, I propose that we come down off our high horses, and that we get down before God in sackcloth and dust and ashes, and that we pray until we pray. That we then preach until we preach with unction, and that we win the victory for God and for souls. And then as Sunday School Workers and Deacons and a Congregation…we win the victory for God and for souls!

TRYING IS NOT ENOUGH!

In the heat of a battle in our American Civil War a Confederate general called a corps commander to him and said, "General, go out there and take that fortified hill."

The corps commander answered, "I'll try, sir." But the general answered, "I did not tell you to try. I told you to go and take it." The corps commander answered, "I'll do it or die, sir." Then the general said, "I did not say, Take it or die, I said, Take that hill." Then the corps commander turned his horse and started, saying back over his shoulder, "I'll take it, General." And he did take it.

Trying is not enough. Dying is not enough. We must take this fortified hill. We must take it, brethren, we must take it. Ml out for souls!

Brethren, all out for souls. All out for souls! This is the order of our great Commander in Chief speaking from Calvary, from Olivet, and from His throne now high and lifted up. Our answer is, "We will do it, blessed Lord; we will do it!"

Thursday, July 23, 2009

THE FORGIVING FORGIVEN

After this manner therefore pray ye:
Our Father which art in heaven,
Hallowed be thy name.
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil:
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
But if ye forgive not men their trespasses,
neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
T h e G o s p e l o f M a t t h e w 6:9-13;14,15


Simon Wiesenthal lost 89 relatives in Nazi Concentration Camps. Until his death in 2005, this Austrian born, Jewish architectural engineer devoted his life to hunting down Nazi criminals and bringing them to justice.

To answer those who asked when he would give up his efforts, he wrote a book he entitled, THE SUNFLOWER. In the introduction, Wiesenthal tells of a remarkable experience he himself had had while imprisoned in one of Hitler’s concentration camps.

One day he was yanked out of a work detail and taken by a nurse up a back stairway into a dark hospital room. Left alone with a mortally wounded patient lying on a hospital bed, Wiesenthal introduced himself to Karl, a badly wounded German soldier.

With a trembling voice, the German confessed to Wiesenthal that he had been brought up in a Nazi family, that he had fought valiantly on the Russian front, and that his S.S. unit had brutalized Jewish families.

He told Wiesenthal that on one horrible day, he and his fellow soldiers had herded all the Jews in a Russian town into a wooden building, and then set the building on fire. Karl confessed to have taken an active part in this atrocity.

Several times, Wiesenthal tried to leave the room, but each time the shrouded soldier would reach out and beg him to stay. After two hours, Karl told his Jewish visitor why he had asked for him.

“I am left here with my guilt. I do not know who you are, I only know that you are a Jew, and that is enough. I know that what I am asking is almost too much for you, but without your answer I cannot die in peace.” Karl asked Wiesenthal to forgive him for all the Jews he had killed. He, a wounded soldier who was about to die, asked a Jewish prisoner who might soon die, to forgive him.

Wiesenthal sat and stared silently at Karl. At last, without saying a word, he stood up, and left the room. He left the soldier unforgiven and in torment.

Years later Wiesenthal asked 32 rabbis, Christian theologians, and secular philosophers to comment on his response. Had he done the best he could? Out of the 32 people, only 6 said he had done the wrong thing. What do you think?

THE NECESSITY TO FORGIVE

Jesus said, “Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy.” (Matthew 5:7)

He said, “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift. Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison. (Matthew 5:23-25)

Observe, Jesus said that if you remember that your brother has something against you, not that you have something against him, you should go the extra mile to be reconciled with him.

Must we forgive?

Jesus said, “If ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. (Matthew 6:14-15) Reading Mark 11:25,26, Luke 6:27-29, and Luke 6:36,37, one cannot escape this conclusion, IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE AN UNFORGIVING FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST.

Just as God has offered forgiveness to all who repent, so we too offer our forgiveness to all who repent. But there is a great difference between God and us! He knows the heart and we cannot.
At times we will err on the side of forgiveness. Our forgiveness will at times be offered where God’s forgiveness cannot be offered. But that is as it must and ought to be. We are finite, He is infinite.

THE EXTENT TO WHICH WE MUST FORGIVE

Kim Hubbard once said, “Nobody ever forgets where he buried the hatchet.” And so it is. But God’s Word urges the followers of Christ to lavishly offer forgiveness.

God does not mean that we overlook, excuse, or minimize the wrongs. It does mean that we should take the blame ourselves for the wrongs of others.

But it does mean that whenever, and wherever repentance is offered, forgiveness can and must be freely given. One man put it this way,

“Forgiveness is a decision of our will, to bring pain to an end. In order to forgive I willingly let go of my resentment, my bitterness, my hurt, and my pride. Forgiveness,” he continues, “is hard, but hate is harder!”

To Peter’s question, “How often shall I forgive?” Jesus replied, “I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven. (Matthew 18:22)

In his book “Forgive and Forget”, Lewis Smedes writes, “The miracle of forgiving is the creation of a new beginning. It does not always take away the hurt. It does not deny the past injury. It merely refuses to let them stand in the way of a new start.

THE ABILITY TO FORGIVE

The ancient philosopher Epictetus once said, “Forgiveness is better than revenge, for forgiveness is the sign of a gentle nature, but revenge is the sign of a savage nature.”

We have often heard it said, “To err is human, to forgive is Divine!” And it is!

It is the carnal, self-willed, proud, natural man who is unwilling to forgive. Unforgiveness is the natural reflex of the carnally minded.

Is there grace that is sufficient to so transform our nature, that forgiveness is the reflex of our will? Yes! To the Glory of God there is! To all who sincerely apply to the Throne of God’s limitless grace, there is “Grace that will pardon, and cleanse within!”

Wiesenthal’s heartrending account of his Second World War experience leaves us disheartened. But the story of Corrie Ten Boom warms our hearts.

Corrie spent time in Nazi concentration camps for hiding Jews in her home in Holland during the Holocaust. Fifty two years old and unmarried she and her elderly father and older sister Betsie were sent to concentration camps when the Nazis discovered they had been hiding the Jewish refugees.

Corrie lost her freedom, her dignity, and her beloved sister and father in the span of a few months in those concentration camps. In God’s providence, and due to a clerical error Corrie was released just one week before the other women in Ravensbruck her age were executed.

After the war Corrie was invited to speak all over the world. She tirelessly traveled the globe, thankful for every opportunity she was given to tell people about Christ. She always marveled at God’s infinite mercy toward sinners like us.

She also knew that everyone who had received God’s mercy had no choice but to show mercy to others; and she knew from her own experience that wasn’t always easy. In her book The Hiding Place she tells the following story:

“It was at a church service in Munich that I saw him, the former S.S. man who had stood guard at the shower room door in the processing center at Ravensbruck. He was the first of our actual jailers that I had seen since that time. And suddenly it was all there – the roomful of mocking men, the heaps of clothing, Betsie’s pain-blanched face.

He came up to me as the church was emptying, beaming and bowing. “How grateful I am for your message, Fraulein.” he said. “To think that, as you say, He has washed my sins away!”
His hand was thrust out to shake mine. And I, who had preached so often to the people in Bloemendaal the need to forgive, kept my hand at my side.
Even as the angry, vengeful thoughts boiled through me, I saw the sin of them. Jesus Christ had died for this man; was I going to ask for more? Lord Jesus, I prayed, forgive me and help me to forgive him.

I tried to smile, I struggled to raise my hand. I could not. I felt nothing, not the slightest spark of warmth or charity. And so again I breathed a silent prayer. Jesus, I cannot forgive him. Give me Your forgiveness.

As I took his hand the most incredible thing happened. From my shoulder along my arm and through my hand a current seemed to pass from me to him, while into my heart sprang a love for this stranger that almost overwhelmed me.

And so I discovered that it is not on our forgiveness any more than on our goodness that the world’s healing hinges, but on His. When He tells us to love our enemies, He gives, along with the command, the love itself.”

The Prayer of St. Francis is the heart cry of all God’s children:

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace,
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy;
O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love.

For it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.


See also: Matthew 18:23-35

Friday, May 22, 2009

FROM COMPROMISE TO TRAGEDY

On the outskirts of a midwestern college town near a settlement of needy souls there once was a Gospel Mission. Their white clapboard building had no indoor plumbing. Their piano was out of tune. Yet every Sunday about 25 children would walk to the Mission to hear the dear Salvationist (She was an officer in the Salvation Army) tell the story of the cross. Though her husband had unexpectedly died many years before, she was a Mother to the scores of children she loved and brought to the Savior. Usually 5 or 10 people would stay after Sunday School for a worship service.

The year John F. Kennedy was inaugurated, a young Nazarene pastor and his family were led by God to move from Kansas and lead the fledgling mission. Though the young pastor’s stamina was diminished by heart disease, he prayerfully and faithfully set out to knock on every door in the settlement.

Those who came to the mission heard the Word of God, were touched by the presence of God’s Spirit, and they were changed by the power of God’s love. Many were saved. Within a year the mission grew to a record attendance of 100.

It was by divine appointment that the young pastor found himself calling along a nearby country road inviting a retired farmer and his wife to attend the mission. “No” they said, “we are moving.” Seizing the moment, the young pastor asked, “Have you sold your house and acreage?” Within a few hours a contract was written and signed. The four acres were located only a mile from the Mission.

The Pastor gave the house and the land to the Mission. The hardworking craftsmen of the Mission set out to build a new church. Clarence, Dave, Russ, Bob, and Ken were all there, along with their sons, and other volunteers. The new church would be called Faith Church. In less than a year the congregation moved into their new building. And God’s presence hallowed that first service.

As the congregation continued to grow, the young Pastor and his people were tested and tried—but their allegiance to God’s Word, and their determination to be holy and wholly God’s did not wane. Time after time God blessed! God supplied their needs! Souls were saved. Young people were called into the ministry.

Within 7 years the church outgrew their building. A new auditorium was planned and built, debt-free! The lovely colonial style building would seat 500. The first Sunday in the new building was thrilling. God again met with His people. Shouts of victory rang out in the services.

But only weeks after moving into the new auditorium the Pastor and his people were confronted with a life changing choice. Should they follow the lead of their denomination and compromise their stand against divorce and remarriage? Or should they lovingly insist that “what God has joined together let not man put asunder.” (Matthew 19:6). Unwilling to change, the 40 year old Pastor resigned from the church and moved out of the parsonage.

The Church remained connected with the denomination and over the next twenty years called several pastors. The congregation struggled. Anxious to separate themselves from their former Pastor someone sawed his name off the cornerstone.

Some suggested that more contemporary music might help so the church brought in drums and electric guitars to replace the organ.

Others thought that the church could better attract young people with more entertainment. It was decided that the 500 seat auditorium should be transformed into a giant game room. The lovely colonial pews were taken up and stacked in the back of the building. Pool tables were moved onto the platform area. Air hockey tables and basketball hoops were added. A speaker system that would accommodate a heavy beat was added. And a snack bar window was added next to what had been the baptistry.

But programs and entertainments were no substitute for the presence of God that had once hallowed that place. Compromise led only to more compromise. There was no difference between the sacred and the secular. Finally the church was closed.

If only that were the end of this sad story: The vacant church was offered for sale. For months the building sat empty until recently the Church of Nazarene sold it to a Muslim group to be used as an Islamic center.

Now compromise has turned defeat into tragedy.

…Where once Christ was praised as King, today He is acknowledged as merely a prophet.
…Where once the Word of God was preached with clarity and power, today the dangerous and deceptive words of the Koran are honored.
…Where once the Holy Spirit moved with convicting, converting, and sanctifying power, today the spirit of anti-Christ prevails.
…Where once the Love of God was evident, today the hatred of Mohammed is praised.

Christians, let us never forget the lessons of this true account. Let us never compromise in the slightest way with the world, the flesh, or with the devil. Let us resolve to walk in holiness and righteousness. Let us pray that God will forgive us for the error of our ways, for making the slightest accommodations for sin, and for being more seeker-sensitive than Spirit-sensitive!

O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years
make known; in wrath remember mercy.
O Habakkuk 3:2

Saturday, May 16, 2009

BLESSED ASSURANCE

May 9, 2009

Do people need love and comfort more than they need conviction and conversion?

Recently I was contacted by a professing Christian salesman who was selling computer software and growth strategies for churches. According to his statistics 80% of the people who visit a church are coming because they have a problem and they are looking for answers.

Furthermore, he said most visitors do not return because they do not feel that they are included and genuinely welcome by the congregation. (We work hard to be sure that everyone is welcome here!)

I asked, Do you think that churches should emphasize love and acceptance more than repentance?" "Absolutely!" He quickly shot back.

It's too bad that Jesus wasn't coached by this salesman. For that matter, John the Baptist and the Apostles Peter and Paul could have used his help as well. The first message each preached urged "repentance." See for yourself:

THE LORD JESUS
"From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, Repent: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand."
Matthew 4:17

JOHN THE BAPTIST
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, Repent ye: for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand." Matthew 3:1-2.

THE APOSTLE PETER
"Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Acts 2:38

THE APOSTLE PAUL
Whereupon, O King Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision, but showed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.
Acts 26:19-20.

Clearly the first priority for the Son of God, as well as for the Sons of God, was to call the lost to repentance. Sincere repentance prepares the heart to receive "the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost." (Romans 5:5). And "The love of God" is the deepest need of every heart.

Unless people repent, literally change their minds about sin and self, the Holy Spirit will not be welcome. But all those who do repent--who turn from loving sin to hating sin, and then begin to "hunger and thirst after righteousness" (Matthew 5:6) will be filled. Repenting souls are sick and tired of their own rebellious ways. Repenting souls unconditionally surrender their will to the "good, acceptable, and perfect" will of God. (Romans 12:2). Repenting souls deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Jesus. They pray, "Not my will, but thine be done." (Luke 22:42).

The Apostle Peter could not have been more specific. "Repent, and be baptized,...and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." (Acts 2:38).

THE GIFT OF THE HOLY GHOST

The Bible tells us that when God created Adam he "breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Genesis 2:27). You will notice that it was not until God breathed into man's nostrils that he became "a living soul."

Shortly before returning to Heaven, Jesus met with His disciples and "breathed on them," saying, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." (John 20:21-22).

As the body could not and can not live without the breath of God, so the spirit of man cannot live without the Spirit of God. That is why Jesus urged Nicodemus to be born of the Spirit or "born again." He said, "Verily verily I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the spirit is spirit." (John 3:5,6)

The Spiritual person--or one who is "born of the Spirit" discovers the Holy Spirit to be:

The SPIRIT of LIFE (Romans 8:2)
The SPIRIT of ADOPTION (Romans 8:15)
The SPIRIT of TRUTH (1 John 4:6)
The SPIRIT of WISDOM (Ephesians 1:17)
The SPIRIT of COMFORT (John 14:16)
The SPIRIT who ASSURES (Romans 8:1, 16)
The SPIRIT who GUIDES (Romans 8:14)
The SPIRIT who EMPOWERS (Acts 1:8; Romans 15:13)
The SPIRIT of RIGHTEOUSNESS (Romans 14:17)
The SPIRIT of PEACE (Romans 14:17)
The SPIRIT of JOY (Romans 14:17, Galatians 5:22)
The SPIRIT of LIBERTY (2 Corinthians 3:17)
The SPIRIT of HOLINESS (Romans 1:14)
The SPIRIT who SANCTIFIES (1 Peter 1:2)
The SPIRIT of LOVE (2 Timothy 1:7)

Just think how different our lives, our churches, and our world would be, if this Holy Spirit lived in every heart. You can see now why WE BELIEVE THAT THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER--THE GIFT OF THE HOLY SPIRIT--IS THE GREATEST NEED OF OUR DAY!

Because I have limited space, I would like to focus for a moment on one aspect of the Spirit-life, namely "Assurance."

There is a profound difference between the assurance that comes from God's Spirit, and the assurance that comes from people. THE BEST WE CAN OFFER OURSELVES, OR THAT PEOPLE CAN OFFER US, IS FINITE, OR LIMITED. I'm afraid that sometimes people base their salvation on the words or the witness of other people, rather than the clear witness of God's Spirit.

BUT WHEN GOD'S SPIRIT ASSURES US, WHEN HIS SPIRIT WITNESSES TO OUR SPIRITS THAT WE HAVE BEEN BORN OF GOD HE OFFERS US HIS INFINITE BEST! My Grandmother Jones said that there were some things that you know that you know, that you know that you know! Certainly those who are "born of the Spirit" have that wonderful confidence that they are indeed saved from their sins.

It was this kind of assurance that inspired the Methodist hymnwriter Charles Wesley to pen:
...HIS SPIRIT ANSWERS TO THE BLOOD, AND TELLS ME I AM BORN OF GOD!

It is our prayer that in every service of the Church those who are longing for this kind of spiritual assurance will "seek and find." (Matthew 6:33, 7:7). There is nothing that we can do that is more important than leading souls into the knowledge of that Blessed Assurance. In fact, if that is your heart's desire, you can experience that assurance right now.

The blind poet Fanny Crosby rejoiced in that "Blessed Assurance" in her classic hymn. Her first verse is one of praise, her last is one of surrender--both are keys to Assurance:

Blessed Assurance, Jesus is mine!
Oh what a foretaste of glory divine!
Heir of salvation, purchase of God,
Born of His Spirit, washed in His blood!

Perfect submission, all is at rest.
I in my Savior, am happy and blest.
Watching and waiting, looking above,
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love!

May we all rejoice in that Blessed Assurance today, and as we gather to worship our Lord on Sunday!

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

INTO THIS WORLD THE CHURCH WAS BORN

As the disciples of Jesus gathered in the upper room to pray for “the promise of the Father,” the culture outside their doors was profoundly decadent and corrupt. Understanding the times into which the Church was born, as well as the powerful impact of the Church upon the ancient world is both instructive and a source of encouragement for those of us who are the Church of the twenty-first century.

IN JERUSALEM
Though small by comparison to the other ancient capitals, the Jews in Jerusalem tenaciously proclaimed God to be holy, loving, personal, and active in governing the universe. They zealously preserved the inspired words of the Law and the Prophets.

But ritualists were running and ruining the Jewish church. The Lord Jesus had warned the Pharisees, “Woe unto you,… for ye… have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith.” Matthew 23:23. But their pride and their self-righteous attitudes were incompatible with the Christ.

They were the ones who delivered Christ to the Roman rulers whom they despised, shouting, “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!” They were the ones who had urged the Romans to guard the tomb where the Lord was laid. And they were the ones who paid the Romans to say that Christ’s body had been stolen, rather than to admit He was risen from the dead. (Matthew 28:13ff)

It was into this world that the Church of Jesus Christ was born.

IN ATHENS
Three ideas were captivating the minds of the philosophers in Athens—the philosophical capital of the ancient world.

The Stoics were teaching that the knowledge of what is good or evil was self-referenced or subjective. Each person must decide for themselves, based on their own thoughts and emotions, what was right.

The Epicureans, were contending that happiness was man’s highest good, and that happiness was to be found in pleasure. For them, the standard for knowledge was the impression of the senses. The motto of the Epicureans of our day is, “If it feels good, do it!”

The Skeptics were convinced that truth could not be perceived through reason or the senses. They simply refused to make any absolute moral judgments. Their attitude might be summed up in one word, “Whatever!”

Subjective truth, pleasure as the measure of all things, and a skepticism that refused to make any moral judgments were the three dominant philosophies of ancient Athens; sound familiar? It was into this world that the Church of Jesus Christ was born.

IN ROME
And what was happening in the world’s sole super-power when the Church was born? For centuries the Romans boasted of their military prowess, economic dominance, and established civility, but moral decay was rampant.

Economic Disparity
Wealthy Romans lived in beautiful houses—often on the hills outside Rome. They enjoyed extravagant lifestyles with luxurious furnishings, exotic meals, and lavish dinner parties. Their slaves and servants catered to their every whim.

The disparity between the rich and the poor could not have been more pronounced. The poor eked out a subsistence living. Their houses were squalid and structurally unsafe. When the demented Emperor set fire to the city just to watch it burn, the homes of the poor were devastated.

Marriage
Whatever marriage meant to the Romans, it certainly did not mean “a lifelong commitment of a man and a woman.” Marriage was not regulated in any way by the state. A man could declare himself married, and declare himself divorced. Divorce and remarriage was far more common in the 1st Century than it is even in 21st century America.

Transvestitism and Transgender Deviancy
The Emperors led the empire in deviancy. Nero married two men. In the first marriage he had his lover castrated and then had him dress as the bride. In the second marriage Nero played the bride. He was often seen wearing women’s clothing. And he wasn’t alone in this love of transvestitism. One historian observed, “It might be said that the emperor who didn’t like to dress in women’s clothing was the exception.”

Elagabalus, an Emperor of the 2nd Century was married four times though he was an avowed homosexual. He often prostituted himself in the brothels of Rome. He wanted to cut off his genitals, and asked a doctor to create a vagina for him by means of an incision. He shaved and wore makeup. He is reported to have said to one of his guests, “Call me not a lord, for I am a lady.”

Infanticide
With rampant promiscuity came thousands of unwanted babies. Many were left by their parents to die by exposure in the forests and countryside. Others were offered up as human sacrifice. The Pelasgians offered a sacrifice of every tenth child during difficult times. It is from this practice that we derive our verb, “to decimate,” the population.

In the Roman city of Carthage, located in northern Africa, the charred bones of literally thousands of infants have been found. In one area over 20,000 burial urns have been unearthed. The Roman historians Plutarch, (AD 46-120), as well as Tertullian, Orosius, and Philo all reference the practice.

Infanticide was viewed with callous calculation by parents of the ancient world. A 1st century letter from a Roman citizen to his wife has been uncovered that reads in part, “"Know that I am still in Alexandria. [...] I ask and beg you to take good care of our baby son, and as soon as I received payment I shall send it up to you. If you are delivered [before I come home], if it is a boy, keep it, if a girl, discard it."

Homosexuality
The Spartan soldiers were notorious homosexuals. The bath houses at Pompeii and in Rome were filled with men who were looking for homosexual encounters. Young men, teens, and even pre-pubescent boys were often brought off the streets to gratify the licentious desires of the older men.

Romans Bath Houses
Both the rich and the poor frequently visited the Roman baths. It was there that males and females would mix freely, exercising, washing, and chatting. Sexual promiscuity was rampant. Art on the walls of the bath houses was explicitly pornographic.

God’s people denied themselves the array of pleasures available at baths, or "Cathedrals of Flesh," as they were known by the Christians.

Roman Games & Stadiums
To entertain the masses, the Romans constructed great stadiums throughout their empire. Here Gladiators would fight to the death, Athletes would compete in the nude, and Actors would portray sexually explicit roles. With the coming of the Christians, a new sport gained popularity. While blood thirsty masses cheered, wild animals attacked the Christians. Thousands of Christians paid for their testimony with their lives.

Religious Views
Because the Roman Empire incorporated so many regions, each with its own religious preferences, the Romans brought idols or writings from each district back to the Capital City. To maintain some semblance of cultural stability, Roman leaders soundly reproved those who were not tolerant of the religions found throughout the empire. It is no wonder that early Christians were scorned by the Roman masses. After all, Christians affirmed that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life.” (John 14:6)

Roman Temples not only featured idols of their many gods and goddesses, they were also centers of “religious prostitution.” Young girls as well as young boys were brought into the temples to be used as prostitutes for “worshippers.”

It was into this world, that the Church of Jesus Christ was born!

SOME CONCLUSIONS:
History records that it was the influence of the New Testament Church that:
1. Changed lives (saving the lost and sanctifying believers),
2. Brought stability to the home (standing with Christ for the permanence of marriage and sanctity of human life), and
3. Transformed culture (promoting civic virtue and dismantling vice-ridden institutions like the public baths).

Our greatest need is not for more education, nor is it for more legislation. Our greatest need is for salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth! (2 Thessalonians 2:13). Our great need is for a Church that is dead to sin, and alive unto God.

When God’s holy people are abundantly filled with all the fullness of God, when they are uncompromisingly allegiant to the truth of God’s Word, and when they are aggressive in their evangelism, lives are changed, and all of history is changed.

…New Testament Christians are not concerned about fitting in with their culture, they want to stand out!

…New Testament Christians are not worried about what people think, they wanted to know what God thinks!

…New Testament Christians are not as concerned about saving their own lives, as they are about saving the lost souls around them.

…New Testament Christians are not looking for a church to ‘dinner-tain’ them, they are fasting and praying for God to speak and to move in life-changing, miracle-working power.

…New Testament Christians are not slaves to fashion, they are not attracted to or are they adorned with gold and pearls, nor are they allured by the pleasures and treasures of this world. They are single minded, suffering the loss of all things that they might win Christ!

…New Testament Christians know that no amount of strategizing and organizing will further God’s Kingdom. They knew that man-made promotions and productions cannot accomplish God’s purpose. They want to know and to fulfill God’s agenda.

Only a people who are purified, empowered, and emboldened with the Spirit of Holiness can “assault the gates of hell,” and prevail.

This is the Church that will become the conscience of a nation and that will “turn the world upside down!”

Oh that God would revive our hearts, and revive our churches, that we might once again see world history, national history, and personal histories changed as they were in the first century. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever!” (Hebrews 13:8).


HERE AT FAITH COMMUNITY we have covenanted together to “wait for the Promise of the Father.” Our cry is that of the songwriter:
“Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me!
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me!
Melt me, Mold me, Fill me, and Use me!
Spirit of the Living God, fall fresh on me!”

Monday, April 20, 2009

SPIRITUAL ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER

Only seconds before our Lord ascended, He gave His disciples specific last instructions. He "commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father," (Acts 1:4).

He did not say "Go!" He said "wait!"
He did not say "Testify!" He said "wait!"
He did not say "Organize." He said, "wait!"
He did not say "Strategize." He said, "wait!"
He did not say, "Rest and Relax." He said, "wait!"
He did not say, "Go fishing!" He said, "wait!"
He did not say, "Go shopping!" He said, "wait!"

Waiting for "The Promise of the Father" was no doubt challenging. But the Disciples took Christ at His word. They knew He meant what He said. They knew He was reliable.

So they waited for "The Promise of the Father,"--the outpouring and infilling of the Holy Spirit! The fulfillment of this promise would complete God's redemptive and sanctifying plan. Now "whosoever shall call upon the Lord shall be saved!" Peter testified that when the Holy Spirit came on that first Pentecost, He "purified their hearts by faith!" Now the world could experience God's promise of grace, and mercy, and complete spiritual restoration!

I. THE ESSENCE (OR ESSENTIAL CHARACTER) OF THE PROMISE.
When we speak of the Holy Spirit we are not speaking of an emotional feeling. People today do the craziest things on a whim, then attribute their actions to the Holy Spirit. We would do well to remind ourselves of the essential character of the Holy Spirit as He is revealed to us in New Testament!

He is the Spirit of Life! Romans 8:2
He is the Spirit of Adoption! Romans 8:15
He is the Spirit of the Living God! 2 Corinthians 3:3
He is the Spirit of Liberty! 2 Corinthians 3:17
He is the Spirit of Wisdom! Ephesians 1:17
He is the Eternal Spirit Hebrews 9:14
He is the Spirit of Grace Hebrews 10:29
He is the Spirit of Truth 1 John 4:6
He is the Spirit of Comfort John 14:16
He is the Spirit of Holiness Romans 1:4

II. THE EVIDENCE OF THE PROMISE
The evidence of that the Promise had been given to the Disciples was not "the sound of rushing mighty wind," "flaming tongues of fire resting above their heads" or even "speaking in languages." Peter declares that the evidence that they had received the Promise was first and foremost Purity!

The tragedy of our times is that too many have put such emphasis upon the "accidents" of Pentecost, that they have neglected or even rejected the essence of Pentecost--namely purity of heart!

But the disciples were not only "purified," they were "empowered" for witness and for service. IT WAS THAT POWER THAT ENABLED THEM TO "TURN THEIR WORLD UPSIDE DOWN (actually they turned it right-side up!). IT WAS THAT POWER THAT ENABLED THEM TO PROCLAIM THE TRUTH WITHOUT FEAR OR COMPROMISE. IT WAS THAT POWER THAT ATTRACTED THE LOST AND CONVERTED THEM TO CHRIST.

It is our conviction that only THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER filling the PEOPLE OF GOD will turn the tide of immorality that is now drowning our nation.

III. THE WAIT FOR THE PROMISE!
I can hear God's people affirming "Yes the Promise of the Father is the Spirit of Holiness!" And "Yes, unless we have this Promise of the Father today, our nation, our churches, our homes, and even our own souls will fall to the onslaught of the devil."

But our problem is this, too many of us today are suffering from SPIRITUAL ATTENTION DEFICIT DISORDER! (SADD) We will not wait! We will not stay in the place of prayer! We will not surrender all! We will not set aside entertainment, eating, and delights of the flesh, so that we can devote ourselves to being filled with THE PROMISE OF THE FATHER!

I "googled" "The Promise of the Father," and I was surprised that one of my first hits was from the New York Times! A Bishop in the Methodist Church had preached a sermon on "The Promise of the Father," and was quoted in the paper saying, "The disciples were not to wait for this promise of the Father in the theater, in the billiard room, in the ten-pin alley, in the places of public amusement!" November 19, 1877. I can't imagine the editors of the New York Times publishing such truth today!

It is another evidence of the depths to which we have fallen. Oh that God would give us such a hunger and thirst for righteousness and for the Spirit of Holiness, that we would purposefully, specifically, and without reservation wait for the Promise of the Father!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

THE BLESSING OF TESTING

Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together
unto him, That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word,
nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. Let no man deceive you by any means:
for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first,
and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition; Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God.
2 Thessalonians 2:1-4



Good Morning Friends,

I'm so glad I'm Forgiven by God's Amazing Grace, Saved by the blood of Jesus, Filled with the Spirit of holiness, Walking in the Light, Separated from the world, and Joyfully obeying the will of God! Aren't you?

The incredible erosion of Christian commitment and the tsunami of immorality that is flooding our land, has some now writing of the "COMING EVANGELICAL COLLAPSE." (See Michael Spencer's article in the Christian Science Monitor, and Warren Smith's new book "Lovers Quarrel with the Evangelical Church).
They point to studies like those of George Barna, to reinforce their thesis. Barna is now reporting an alarming increase in skepticism and resistance to Christianity among those who are 16-29 years of age. (see Barna.org)

Michael Spencer writes, "Evangelicals have failed to pass on to our young people an orthodox form of faith that can take root and survive the secular onslaught. Ironically the billions of dollars we've spent on youth ministries, Christian music, publishing, and media, has produced a culture of young Christians who know next to nothing about their faith...it has become a church that really focuses on therapy rather than redemption."

Yet in the midst of the political, economic, social, and even spiritual turmoil we now face, we have "Christ's own promise, which can never fail!" He said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it!" Matthew 16:18.

THE SPECTRE OF CROSS-LESS CHRISTIANITY HAS AT LEAST THIS ONE BENEFIT, WE'RE NOW FINDING OUT WHO WILL "CLING TO THE OLD RUGGED CROSS" AND WHO WILL NOT.
- We're finding out who will live for The Book, and who will explain it away!
- We're finding out who will die for The Book rather than deny The Book!
- We're finding out who will love Christ even unto death, and who will save their own skin.
- We're finding out who will hate even "the garment spotted by the flesh" and those who crave the life of the flesh.
- We're finding out who will justify their sins, rather than be justified from sin! Bonhoeffer warned of cheap grace that "justifies sin" but not the sinner!
- We're finding out who will stand against the world, the flesh, and the devil, and those who will not.
- We're finding out who will lead in the Cause of righteousness, and those who will follow the crowds of the carnal.
- We're finding out who will be popular with God, and who will be popular with the devil's crowd.
- We're finding out those who desire to get the love of the world out of the church, and those who desire to get the life of the world into the Church. (God deliver us from rock and roll, night-club, food-court, sabbath breaking, money-changing, churchianity!)

These are trying times, but God has always had His people.

ENLIST TODAY! God is calling for a rugged band of holy disciples to stand like a Gideon's Band against the onslaught of the Enemy.

ENGAGE TODAY! Having identified ourselves with the Confessing Church, not the "Professing" Church, we must engage the enemy, and press forward in the battle for truth!

We need men and women with warm hearts, enlightened minds, and faithful action! We're now finding out who will "take up the cross," who will "fight the good fight," who will "finish the course," and who will "keep the faith!"

ENJOY TODAY! Assured that our cause is just, our Christ is risen, our eternity is secure, and that Christ, Our Commander in Chief is on the way, we can press on with FAITH IN THE FUTURE, and an unwavering confidence! We are on the winning side.

Monday, March 23, 2009

OSWALD CHAMBERS - CRUCIFIED WITH CHRIST

The inescapable spiritual need each of us has is the need to sign the death certificate of our sin nature. I must take my emotional opinions and intellectual beliefs and be willing to turn them into a moral verdict against the nature of sin; that is, against any claim I have to my right to myself.

Paul said, "I have been crucified with Christ . . . ." He did not say, "I have made a determination to imitate Jesus Christ," or, "I will really make an effort to follow Him"-but-"I have been identified with Him in His death."

Once I reach this moral decision and act on it, all that Christ accomplished for me on the Cross is accomplished in me. My unrestrained commitment of myself to God gives the Holy Spirit the opportunity to grant to me the holiness of Jesus Christ.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

ME AND JESUS GOT OUR OWN THING GOING

How many times have we heard it? "Christianity is a relationship not a religion!"

At first I thought I understood what was meant. I thought we were being challenged to walk with the Savior rather than rely on church membership or rituals.

But I have come to see that this "relationship" talk has really been more about reshaping Jesus to fit our expectations, rather than our conforming to His demands, humbly and without reservations.

After Pastor Bill Hybels and the Willowcreek Leadership team discovered the large gap between church attendance and Christian commitment, he determined to change the accent of his ministry. He recently wrote:

"Instead of 'Is Jesus my friend?' we will be asking 'Is Jesus the authority and guide for my life?'"

We could not agree more.

All this reminds me of a silly bumper sticker that was popular years ago, "Jesus is Savior, But Is He Lord?"

The truth is, "Unless He is Lord, He cannot be our Savior." Furthermore, "If He is not Lord of All, He is not Lord AT all!"

At the root of the moral crisis facing our nation is a theological crisis in our faith communities. Some are relying on ritual. Some are relying on intellectual assent to a set of beliefs. Some are relying on super-natural experiences. But Christ has called us to rely on Him.

To believe in Him is to believe HIM, and believe everything He said is right. What He said about love and obedience is right. What He said about marriage and morality is right. What He said about repentance and forgiveness is right.

If it can be said that we have a relationship with Christ, it is not a relationship of peers! It is the relationship of a Sovereign to His Servants. Oh that God would purge our hearts of that pride which lifts us up to His level, and that sin which brings Him down to our level.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

THE TRUTH AND THE CHURCH

The Church of Jesus Christ must be
...unwavering in its commitment to truth,
...passionate in its presentation of truth,
...unrelenting in its defense of truth, and
...unyielding to those who would compromise the truth.

We know that Truth is not simply an idea, it is a Person!
We believe the Lord Jesus Christ who declared,
"I am the way, THE TRUTH, and the life,
no man comes to the Father but by me."
The Gospel of John 14:6

The urgent need of our day is for men and women who will acknowledge Christ as the Truth, believe everything He said is the Truth, and then act according to His Truth.

Monday, March 9, 2009

THIS LOST GENERATION

George Barna reported today that only 9% of Americans surveyed hold a Biblical Worldview. He defined a "Biblical Worldview" as holding these basic convictions:

1. Believing that absolute moral truth exists.
2. The Bible is totally accurate in the principles it teaches.
3. Satan is a real being or force, not merely symbolic.
4. A person cannot earn their way to heaven by trying to be good or doing good works.
5. Jesus lived a sinless life.
6. God is the all-knowing, all powerful creator of the world who
still rules the universe today.

BUT WHAT IS MOST ALARMING IN THE RESEARCH FINDINGS WAS THAT LESS THAN 1% OF YOUNG PEOPLE AGES 18-23 HELD A BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW.

This study, and other polling data suggest that while the overwhelming majority of teens have at least some experience in Evangelical ministries, by the time these young people reach their 20's fewer than 20% attend Evangelical churches!

WHY ARE THEY REJECTING OUR BIBLICAL WORLDVIEW AND DROPPING OUT OF CHURCH?

1. They have not been born-again. They have not truly tasted and seen that the Lord is good.

2. They have been programmed by secular educators and godless media to be skeptical of Christianity and to view the Bible as unreliable and unrealistic. Young people have not even heard the Christian perspective and sound Biblical teaching.

3. Too often they have seen inconsistencies in the lives of those who confess Christ. This is not to say that Christians will never mess up, but it is to say that if they do--repentance, confession, and consistent Christian living must be exampled. Authenticity is vital.

4. Too many churches have tried "Night-Club" methods to achieve Spiritual results. Unless there is a clear delineation between the world and the church, the church will be impotent and ineffective. The Church can never, and will never out-world the world.

5. Too many Christians are too lazy, apathetic, or afraid of getting involved in reaching out to the younger generation. Spectator Christianity cannot win against the onslaught of the enemy.

6. We have failed to challenge young people to "deny themselves, take up the cross, and follow Christ!" Until we give them something worth dying for, they will not invest their lives in the cause of Christ.

The battle for our nation's young people can only be won by New Testament methods! Those were the methods that transformed the ancient world, and only those same methods will transform ours.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

THE CROSS AND THE CROWN



"Must Jesus bear the cross aloneAnd all the world go free?No there's a cross for everyoneAnd there's a cross for me."Jesus said, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and follow me." We gladly have taken up that cross. Our only regret, are the times when we have failed to faithfully carry the cross. Our greatest joy, are the times when the Savior has invited us "come unto me," and we have listened and obeyed.May God deliver us from "cross-less" Christianity.

THE TRUTH ABOUT WORSHIP

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Good Morning ,

He has attended our church on and off for several months and this morning he called to offer some friendly advice:“Pastor, you need to get up with the times and preach a more positive message…

"You need to lighten up…you should just pray and help people to think good thoughts…most people are going to heaven they just need encouragement…you’d be more popular.”

His call was not well timed. I had just been reading A. W. Tozer’s warning to the Church. “Modern preaching does not deal with a genuine call to repentance from sin and a separation from the world to the cross of Christ.”

Literally minutes before he called I had re-read the words of Catherine Booth, “Popular Christianity is a misnomer. Neither Christ nor his work has ever been popular. When it becomes popular it ceases to be Christian.”So, on the one hand I was being encouraged by a friend to “get up with the times” so that the church would be more popular. On the other hand I was being reminded that popularity is anti-thetical to Christianity.

+ + + +

Observers of Evangelicalism are reporting that mega-churches are growing. They also are alarmed that American church attendance is falling. For the first time in our nation’s history, those attending services on an average weekend will number less than 20% of the population. (See Christianity Today, “Christianity in Crisis.”)

The mega-churches have learned how to market the church, how to manage the church, and how to make their messages “relevant.” But they are not producing mega-spiritual results. The more they have chased after relevance to the culture, the less relevant they have become to Christ. They have unwittingly embraced a humanistic gospel that seeks to make men happy to the neglect of making men holy.

One pastor recently admitted that after spending millions of dollars in programming and marketing their message to “seekers,” they have failed in their mission to produce fully devoted followers of Jesus Christ.

What is our goal? Is it popularity or is it Pentecost? Is it influence with men, or power from God? Is it affluence, or is it the riches of Grace?
+ + + +

In reflecting on the state of contemporary Christianity, I have found myself asking God to reveal the Truth about our worship.

1. Is our worship spirit-ed or spiritual? Spiritual worship is ordered by the Holy Spirit and inspires holy love that results in holy lives.

2. Is our philosophy of ministry geared to “fit in” or to “stand out?” Are we trying to look, sound, and act as worldly as possible to attract a crowd, or are we trying to separate ourselves from the love of the world in honor of our coming groom—the Lord Jesus Christ?

3. Does our music call attention to the musician or to the Master? Is our music geared to entertain, or does it inspire virtuous living and Scriptural thinking? Does our music, and our presentation of it, appeal to the carnal nature or to the spiritual man?

4. Do we depend more on our technology to “wow,” than we do on the majesty of God’s presence to “Woe!” Remember Isaiah’s reaction when he stood in the presence of God? “Woe is me for I am undone.” (Isaiah 6)5. Does our preaching bring comfort more than conviction? Are our messages burning in our souls and bathed in fervent prayer and fasting, or are they simply adaptations of the latest greatest evangelical book hot off the press? Are we more likely to say, “Thus saith Rick Warren, or Max Lucado or Joel Osteen, or some other popular author” than we are to say, “Thus saith the Lord?”

6. Are we producing Christian spectators or Christ-like participants? If the ministry is fulfilling its God-given assignment, it will “perfect the saints for the work of the ministry.” Ephesians 4:12.

7. Is our Christianity self-absorbed or does it move converts to “turn the world upside down?” Are we producing pray-ers or play-ers? Are we “me” oriented or mission minded? Are we, like our Lord, “moved with compassion” when we see the multitudes scattered abroad like sheep having no shepherd?

8. Are we giving to get from God or are we giving to Glorify God? Do we give incidentally or do we give sacrificially? Do we tip or do we tithe? Do we give to be loved or do we love to give? Jesus said, “where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

9. Do we seek to justify our sins or are we seeking to be justified (made righteous) from all sin? Do we love sin or do we hate even the garment spotted by the flesh? (Jude 23). Do we desire to sin, or do we desire to be sanctified wholly?

10. Is the accent of our ministry on this world, or is it on the world which is to come? C. S. Lewis says that those who are the most heavenly minded are the most earthly good.

+ + + +

On the day that Jesus announced there would be no more free fish suppers so many of his followers left, that Jesus turned to the disciples and asked, “Will ye also go away?” (John 6:66)

As it was in the first century, so it is in the twenty-first century. Jesus is still asking his followers, “Will ye also go away?” Sadly many have. But we agree with Peter, “Lord to whom shall we go, thou hast the words of eternal life!”With the song-writer we have decided to follow Jesus!
“Though none go with us,
still we will follow!
No turning back.
No turning back!”

THINK THINGS LOOK BAD NOW?

Good Morning!

Think things look bad now, imagine what the disciples were thinking on Good Friday.

Jesus was betrayed by one of his twelve disciples, falsely accused by the religious leaders, convicted in a kangaroo court, cruelly executed by the Romans, and carried by his broken-hearted disciples to a grave just as the sun was setting. From the perspective of our Lord's faithful disciples, everything had gone wrong. Certainly it appeared that the Lord was powerless against the onslaught of Satan.

And what of our day?

Like Judas, there are many who have betrayed the Lord for personal gain.

Like our Lord's accusers, "professing" religious men mock and reject those who will stand with the Christ for Biblical Truth (Witness the shouts of "legalist!" against those of us who strive to enter in to the straight gate of purity and holiness).

And like Pilate and the Roman culture he represented, our generation is unwilling to acknowledge even the existence of Truth. Governance is more about personality than principle. And like sheep led to the slaughter, we are being led to the precipice of moral anarchy.

Objective truth is being sacrificed for subjectivism, freedom is being sacrificed for the illusion of security, responsibility is being sacrificed for immediate gratification, and holiness is being sacrificed for popularity. We are paying dearly now, but I fear we have only begun to realize the cost of our folly.

It appears to us, like it must have appeared to the disciples, everything is going wrong. So what are we, as the people of God, to do?

OUR COMMITMENT .

1. TRUST THE WORD OF GOD!
The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testament are inspired by God, and are inerrant. God's Word is intellectually credible and rational. It means what it says and says what it means. Extensive knowledge of the Word is important, but obedience to the letter and to the spirit of God's Word is more important. When Biblical commands demand that we change course, we must trust the Word more than our feelings or our desires. For example: If God's Word says we should not marry a particular person then we should not marry them. If God's Word says we should dress modestly and according to our gender, then guys shouldn't wear dresses and ladies should not dress in a revealing fashion.

2. ACT BY THE SPIRIT OF GOD!
Beginning at Pentecost, the New Testament Church was Spirit-driven. The Power of Pentecost moved them to action--witnessing publicly and from house to house, walking in the Spirit of Holiness not fulfilling the lusts of the flesh, and prayerfully following the leadership of the Spirit. If God's people would truly act in the Spirit, we would fill our world with the Gospel, like the 1st Century Christians filled Jerusalem with their doctrine.

3. LOVE THE WILL OF GOD!
It is not natural for men to love to do the will of God. But when the "Love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost," then "His commandments are not grievous." "Herein is our love made perfect" as we "dwell in Him and He dwells in us." Pray God will perfect your love for Him, so that "you whole body, and soul, and spirit, will be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord!" "Faithful is he that calls you who also will do it!"

OUR PLAN OF ACTION .
This is NOT the time for God's people to retreat from the mainstream of society and confine ourselves to our comfortable Christian sub-culture.

This is NOT the time for the Church to imitate the world, ingratiate the flesh, or surrender to the devil.

This is NOT the time for the Church to blend into the culture (I'M HEARTSICK AT THE NUMBER OF CHURCHES THAT LOOK AND ACT MORE LIKE NIGHT-CLUBS OR SHOPPING MALLS, THAN HOUSES OF PRAYER!) This is the time for our services to God-ordained, Spirit-filled, and Christ-honoring gatherings.
Our mission must be to disturb the comfortable and to bring comfort to the disturbed.

This is NOT the time for the Church to give up on the Great Commission (Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19,20), it is time for us ramp up our efforts, increase our investment, and give all we have to this holy Crusade.

TO THAT END WE ARE DEDICATING OURSELVES TO:

1. INTERCESSORY PRAYER. We will pray fervently and "without ceasing" for the salvation of the lost, for believers who are battling the enemy, for the Church of Jesus Christ, and for our nation. Watch for announcements of special prayer services. Every service of the Church will begin with prayer.

2. AGGRESSIVE EVANGELISM AND SOUL-WINNING. With the Lord's help, we will take the Gospel to 500 homes every week, in addition to our regular calling on prospects and families. Time is short, millions are unprepared to meet the Lord. We cannot, we dare not stand idly by.

3. SPIRITUAL WORSHIP. Jesus said, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shallworship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him." Our singing, our praying, our testifying, our giving, our preaching--all will be Spirit led, and Truth driven. Church must not be turned into entertainment or a performance or a rock and roll concert. Only spiritual worship can produce spiritual worshippers.

4. TOTAL COMMITMENT AND COMPLETE INVOLVEMENT. It is settled in our hearts that our Christianity will not be segmented to only a few hours a week, but that it will be integrated into all that we do or say, at work, at school, at home, and wherever we are. It's All for Jesus! Discipleship is not optional!

The Apostle Paul encouraged the Corinthians,
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God.
For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

Indeed we too are "weak in him" but WE SHALL LIVE WITH HIM BY THE POWER OF GOD! For "the same spirit that raised up Jesus from the dead," will "quicken our mortal bodies" to live in victory!

WE LOVE ALL OF YOU AND LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THIS SUNDAY! IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT YOU COME THIS WEEK FOR A VERY SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT.

Pastor Rick Jones

FAITH COMMUNITY CHURCH
2969 North Lindbergh Blvd,
St. Louis, MO 63074
Telephone (314) 607-1424

Sunday Service Schedule:
Children's Bible Hour & Adult Bible Study 10:30 A
SundayMORNING PRAISE AND WORSHIP 11:00 A
SundayEVENING SERVICE OF EVANGELISM 7:00 P
MIDWEEK SERVICE, Wednesday 7:00 P
FRIDAYSTeen Service 7:00 P