Can Anything Good Come Out of America?
(First of all, I will say right up front that this post won't be comprehensive or exhaustive. I may post again on it but I wanted to at least start it because it's been on my mind lately.)
As was asked in the Bible, "Can anything good come out of Nazareth?" so I wonder "Can anything good come out of America?" I constantly hear other Christians talking of the end times. In fact, it seems it's all we can talk about. I agree, I think we are close. But don't mistake your contempt for the world with prophecy. I think things are bad, really bad. But they could be worse, a lot worse. Don't get me wrong, the return of Christ is imminent, but could we see a revival or another awakening again before that occurs?
Some believe we have had many awakenings and revivals since the inception of our young nation. I am not one that holds to that view. I think it depends on your definition of revival and awakening. I believe there has been only one Great Awakening which led to the founding of the greatest nation on earth, on Biblical priciples. Only one awakening but many revivals. What's the difference? Look at the definitions of each:
1. To induce or elicite a reaction or response.
2. To cease sleeping; stir
3. To cause to wake up.
1. The act of reviving or condition of being revived.
2. A continuing after interruption.
So if a revival is a continuing or resuscitation of something, what is it continuing? I think revival comes after awakening. I think you can have an awakening without revival but you can't have a revival without an awakening.
As the Holy Spirit begins to stir, Christians begin to wake up and respond. That is an awakening. It is a major movement rarely seen because of it's magnitude. But when it happens it's awe inspiring and long lasting.
As habitual sin re-enters, as it always does, the progress of the Christian is interrupted. Prayers become empty, service becomes vain, repetitious and hollow. Thereby requiring a revival to resuscitate the deadness.
So where does that leave us? Are we in the beginning stages of an awakening or a strong revival? I believe we are in the beginning of something.
You don't have to pay attention much to see that satan has stepped up his efforts in recent days. Christians talk of how bad it is, but have you ever thought about why? Satan and his minions aren't omniscient but they do know when good is being victorious and I'm sure they are aware of the moving of the Holy Spirit in a major way.
The Passion of the Christ may have started a culture war but it only precipitated what has been happening for some time now: a major moving of the Holy Spirit. Politics has become visceral and combative. Godless practices such as homosexual marriage are occuring on a regular basis, anti-christian groups dominate the airwaves, muslim extremists are waging war on other faiths, media is battling decency issues, liberal media outlets such as MTV have increased filth, Christians are being persecuted on a daily basis, and hollywood can't shut up about their Godless beliefs.
So what are we going to do about it? Can anything good come out of America?
Make no mistake, satan is at work. And I think it's because the Holy Spirit is at work in a major way. When the Holy Spirit moves and there is an awakening like what occurred in the 18th century, people will be overcome of their sin and overwhelmed by the presence of God. They will forget about trying to dress up before they come to God, and they will just come as they are. They will forget about being a perfect Christian and look inward to the perfectness that already resides there. They will be gripped with the reality of evil that is around and fearful of hell, for themselves and for loved ones. They will be consumed with God's word on a daily basis and in a personal way. They will be prayer warriors, praying in a compassionate and aggressive way. As David prayed, "Let all my enemies be ashamed and greatly troubled."(Psalm 6:10) Awakening will start in the home and spread to the church, not the other way around.
between the cushions
riches in a world of trash
Friday, February 27, 2004
Can Anything Good Come Out of America?
This Week in Christian History
February 25, 1536: Anabaptist Jakob Hutter is tortured, whipped, and immersed in freezing water (to mock baptismal practices), then doused with brandy and burned. King Ferdinand had ordered the persecution of all Anabaptists because of a few violent, millennialist revolutionaries in Munster, Germany—even though most Anabaptists were pacifists and renounced the Munsterite rebellion (see issue 5: Anabaptists and issue 61: The End of the World).
February 27, 1773: Christ Church in Alexandria, Virginia, is completed after six years of construction at a cost of about $4,070. George Washington purchased a pew for himself and his family for $100.
Monday, February 23, 2004
Thanks to Challies.com for making between the cushions his blog of the week. Click here for full post.
I've added him to the blogroll. He has a good site and some interesting posts. Particularly on the Passion of the Christ.
Want to be added to my blogroll? Then sing never-ending praises about me! Just kidding....or am I?
When I was first learning to swim as a child I constantly heard this phrase: "Water is your friend, not your enemy." I wonder how Moses would feel about that phrase.
Facing the Red Sea, Moses must have thought, "God, what is it with the water?" Later, water would get Moses in trouble because of the Rock that He was supposed to speak to but instead he struck it. This was obviously a symbol of Christ and it cost Moses a trip to the promised land.
Moses was given power over the very element that could have drowned him as a baby. That experience as a baby in the river could have overshadowed his life and made him fearful, yet that element was something which Moses had power over virtually all of his life through God.
Moses turned the water into blood in the face of the most powerful leader of the day. His leadership, with God's help, liberated Israel. And once again, he stood now facing a familiar element that seemed to be a theme woven into the events of his life. The vehicle that could have carried him to certain death was now instantly obeying his command. And that had to hit the spot.
Friday, February 20, 2004
A Word on Devotions
Christians are the world's worst, particularly the average church member, on getting caught up in vain repetitions. Jesus was very strong in His criticism of the Pharisess. In fact, He was rougher on them than on any other group or people. Why? Because they were so consumed with outward appearance and traditions that they completely missed the lesson God was trying to teach them through His Son. When you put a system before the Saviour you completely miss Him and what He is trying to teach you. That system grows into repetition until you are so ensconsed in it that you do it more out of habit than out of purpose. You don't know why you do it. Before long you are older and your kids and grandkids are following your footsteps into blind faith.
You need to learn that it is better to be in love with the Saviour than with a system. I read and I pray because I like it, but sometimes that desire fades because I am more caught up in the repetition of it and not the Relationship portion.
Blind faith isn't someone who recklessly trusts in God, but someone who believes without seeking to know why it is they believe. We have given into the lie of Satan that it is wrong to question all the time. Don't get me wrong, if you question everything, then there is a problem, especially if God is trying to tell you something. But if you are only religious or a particular denomination because that's what your parents were or that's what you have always been then my friend you are guilty of blind faith. You're guilty of vain repetitions. How? Because if that is you, then your purpose for coming to church and for serving God isn't for worship or meaningful service, but only out of obligation to a routine.
How much greater children and servants could we be if we were in love with the One we serve instead of being in love with serving?
Saviour B4 a System
Relationship B4 Repetition
Sunday, February 15, 2004
The Secret to Spiritual Success
"And you are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he who has done this deed might be taken away from among you." - I Cor. 5:2 (NKJV)
The secret to success can't be found in this verse, but this verse will lead to it. In the church at Corinth there was sexual immorality. Not only that, it was not dealt with. Paul was indignant when he wrote verse 2, and quickly stated later that though he was not there, he himself had already judged and they should do the same. This verse teaches us 2 lessons:
1. That sin and problems in the church and among Christians are serious and should be dealt with harshly.
2. That for Christians to overlook and even take pleasure in those who disobey, is just as sinful.
The Corinthians were so arrogant and carnal that they even excused a man who was committing immorality with his own stepmother. A practice that even Gentiles weren't guilty of. How depraved this makes the church of God look. And yet he was not excommunicated or taken away as was the normal procedure.
So here is the secret to success. If you have ever tried to quit smoking, drinking, eating, go on a diet, exercise more or just plain stop that habitual sin, I am going to tell you the secret to success.
The secret is DESIRE. That's right, desire. Until you are completely disgusted with yourself or your sin you will NEVER have the power to quit. Until your desire to quit is stronger than your desire to sin, you will always give in to that sin.
And that is the dirty little secret of Christians all across America: they enjoy their sin too much to give it up. You may say, "Well, I really don't enjoy it that much. I hate to do it and I feel horrible afterward." If you hated it more you wouldn't do it. We have not only tolerated blatant, blasephemous sins, we have brought them into our homes and exposed our children to them and said, "That's okay." IT'S NOT OKAY!
This is not to say that Christ is not the source of our strength, He most certainly is. And there is nothing He wants more than for us to come to Him as we are: dirty, filthy, dowtrodden and discouraged. But at some point in a Christian's life filled with habitual sin there has to be an awakening that our victory over sin has slipped away, much to our own fault. There is no disputing the sovereignty of God, but there is something very powerful in the choice that God gave Adam. It is the choice that you and I go through every day, some of us many times a day.
It's about time Christians became DISGUSTED with their choices, themselves and their sins. Stop holding on and you will see your desire fade. You WILL NOT and CANNOT change until you decide what you enjoy the most. I hear people say all the time that they really don't enjoy it that much but it's a proven fact of life: you voluntarily do what you enjoy. (Visitation? tithing? church? etc. Is it volutary? Do you enjoy it?)
It's your decision. You can change. It's up to you, so stop telling yourself it's not.
Wednesday, February 11, 2004
The Lord shall guide thee - Isaiah 58:11
Not an angel, but Jehovah shall guide thee. He said he would not go through the wilderness before his people, an angel should go before them to lead them in the way; but Moses said, “If thy presence go not with me, carry us not up hence.” Christian, God has not left you in your earthly pilgrimage to an angel’s guidance: he himself leads the van. You may not see the cloudy, fiery pillar, but Jehovah will never forsake you. Notice the word shall-“The Lord shall guide thee.”
How certain this makes it! How sure it is that God will not forsake us! His precious “shalls” and “wills” are better than men’s oaths. “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” Then observe the adverb continually. We are not merely to be guided sometimes, but we are to have a perpetual monitor; not occasionally to be left to our own understanding, and so to wander, but we are continually to hear the guiding voice of the Great Shepherd; and if we follow close at his heels, we shall not err, but be led by a right way to a city to dwell in. If you have to change your position in life; if you have to emigrate to distant shores; if it should happen that you are cast into poverty, or uplifted suddenly into a more responsible position than the one you now occupy; if you are thrown among strangers, or cast among foes, yet tremble not, for “the Lord shall guide thee continually.”
There are no dilemmas out of which you shall not be delivered if you live near to God, and your heart be kept warm with holy love. He goes not amiss who goes in the company of God. Like Enoch, walk with God, and you cannot mistake your road. You have infallible wisdom to direct you, immutable love to comfort you, and eternal power to defend you. “Jehovah”-mark the word-“Jehovah shall guide thee continually.”
C.H. Spurgeon, Morning and Evening, December 27
Monday, February 09, 2004
The Unfinished Prayer
"Now I lay me -- say it, darling,"
"Lay me," lisped the tiny lips
Of my daughter, kneeling, bending,
O'er her folded finger tips.
"Down to sleep." "To s'eep," she murmured;
And the curly head bent low.
"I pray the Lord," I gently added --
"You can say it all, I know."
"P'ay de Lord," the words came faintly --
Fainter still, "my soul to teep."
Then the tired head fairly nodded,
And my child was fast asleep.
But the dewy eyes half opened
When I clasped her to my breast,
And the dear voice gently whispered --
"Mamma, God knows all de yest."
Oh! the trusting, sweet confiding
Of the child-heart! Would that I
Thus might trust my Heavenly Father,
He who hears my feeblest cry!
~ Thomas H. Ayers
Sunday, February 08, 2004
Emotionalism in religion - Part II
Another caveat in the emotional aspect of worship is pride in service. In I Corinthians 13, Paul speaks to the Corinthians about their pride in the tongues they spoke. He said basically it doesn't matter what you do spiritually or how well you do it, if you don't have love, it's worthless.
Why should someone who says, "Amen," "Praise the Lord," or raises their hands, look down on someone who doesn't? Why are these things done? Is it said for men or for God? Is it done for men or for God? If they are done unto the Lord and for HIS glory as supposed, there should be no focus on others.
True, the Bible says, "Let the redeemed of the Lord say so." And no doubt, if God moves you to emotion during worship I believe you should respond. But to go so far as to say that those who remain quiet aren't spiritual is ludicrous and I know some who believe so. I know some people who sit quietly in reverence during the worship service and yet others who have to stand up and shout. Both are the same in my mind. Their hearts, hopefully are there to worship. How can we judge someone's heart by the fact that they don't show emotion during a service? Pride. Those who have become emotional have now become prideful and self-righteous.
Congratulations, you just screwed up one of the basic experiences of a believer....worship. It amazes me (not so much anymore) at how many believers can take a simple act of service and find themselves in sin.
No one should look down on anyone for anything regarding spiritual service, especially when it comes to worship. Last I checked, we were all provided with the opportunity for redemption from the same eternal punishment. And I'm not talking about each other.
Saturday, February 07, 2004
Emotionalism in Religion - Part I
There is a definite fire that comes with preaching. No one can doubt that.
Growing up in the south, I have become accustomed to the fiery sermons and passionate pleas of pastors on Sunday, revivals, etc. There is a definite need for this type of preaching, there is no doubt.
However, there is also a danger in getting caught up in the "emotionalism" aspect of the whole "experience." Preaching to "amen" corner of the peanut gallery serves no spiritual purpose. I have sat through services and heard sermons that had to be crafted in order to elicit responses for the hearers. Sometimes preachers get so caught up in pleasing man, that he forgets why he is there in the first place: to relay God's message to His people and most importantly to feed the sheep.
It is an important part of worship to "leave changed." There are a few different greek words used in the New Testament to describe worship but the 2 that are used the most are: Proskuneo and Therapeuo.
1. Proskuneo - is used 54 times in the NT (22 in Revelation). It's main definition is "to kiss the hand to (towards) one, in token of reverence." Meaning to kiss, like a dog licking his master's hand)
2. Therapeuo - is used 43 times in the NT. It's main defintion is "to heal, cure, restore to health." (38 of the 43 times used). It's where we get our word Therapeutic.
Knowing the definition of worship is important both for Christians and for pastors. What are we there for?
To kiss the Hand and receive healing.
It is definitely an important part of worship to get fired up about serving God. But in the long run, preaching is more than a pep talk. Emotions fade, excitement wanes, and then what?
This is not to discount the emotional aspect of worship and there may be some that do not understand what I am trying to say because. I'm not sure I even do. We are to love the Lord and worship Him with our emotions, intellect and will. yet the most important thing in the long-run for everyone is the feeding of the sheep. As a servant, we're there to do service to the King and to receive healing. Spiritual healing. We don't worship based on feeling. At least I hope not or I'm in trouble. I don't always "feel" like worship. But I do need healing, whether I feel like it or not.
Dead church/Christian = no emotion
Fake church/Chrisitan = all emotion
True (healthy) church/Chrisitan = emotion with service (emotional preaching with substance)
Wednesday, February 04, 2004
"I often dream that I am tagging along behind Jesus, longing for Him to choose me as one of His disciples. Without warning, He turns around, looks straight into my eyes, and says, 'Follow me!' My heart races, and I begin to run toward Him when he interrupts with, 'Oh, not you; the guy behind you. Sorry.'
I have been trying to follow Christ most of my life, and the best I can do is a stumbling, bumbling, clumsy kind of following. I wake up most days with the humiliating awareness that I have no clue where Jesus is. Even though I am a minister, even though I think about Jesus every day, my following is...uh...meandering."
"...Turns out all of the biblical characters were a complex mix of strengths and weaknesses. David, Abraham, Lot, Saul, Solomon, Rahab, and Sarah were God-loving, courageous, brilliant, fearless, loyal, passionate, committed holy men and women who were also murderers, adulterers, and manic depressives. They were men and women who could be gentle, holy, defenders of the faith one minute, and insecure, mentally unstable, unbelieving, shrewd, lying, grudge-holding tyrants the next.
The New Testament characters weren't much better. Look who Jesus hung out with. Prostitutes, tax collectors, adulterers, mental cases, penniless riffraff, and losers of all kinds. His disciples were hardly models of saintliness. They were committed to Jesus, were ready to follow him anywhere (with one notable exception), but they were also troubled by infighting, always jockeying for position, suspicious of each other, accusatory, impulsive, selfish, lazy, and disloyal. Most of the time they did not understand what Jesus was talking about, and when he died, they had no clue what to do next.....sounds like you and I are in good company."
~Michael Yaconelli, Messy Spirituality
Tuesday, February 03, 2004
I sinned. And straightway, post haste, Satan flew
Before the presence of the Most High God,
And made a railing accusation there.
He said, "This soul, this thing of clay and sod
Has sinned. 'Tis true that he has named Thy name,
But I demand his death, for Thou hast said,
'The soul that sinneth, it shall die.' Shall not
Thy sentence be fulfilled? Is justice dead?
Send now this wretched sinner to his doom.
What other thing can righteous Ruler do?"
And thus he did accuse me day and night,
And every word he spoke, O God, was true!
Then quickly One rose up from God's right hand,
Before Whose glory angels veiled their eyes.
He spoke, "Each jot and tittle of the law
Must be fulfilled: the guilty sinner dies.
But wait.......Suppose this guilt were all transferred
To ME and that I paid his penalty.
Behold My hands, My side, My feet. One day
I was made sin for him, and died that he
Might be presented faultless, at Thy throne."
And Satan fled away. Full well he knew
That he could not prevail against such love,
For every word my dear Lord spoke was true!
~Martha Snell Nicholson