Thu, Feb 26th - 11:15AM
Sleeping Through The Boat Ride
Have you ever noticed the unity of (not in) The Spirit? You probably have, but maybe you just haven’t thought of it as more than a coincidence. A little over a month ago my pastor began preaching on the book of Jonah, and quite frankly, I wasn’t too thrilled about spending a full month listening to the dissection of a mere forty-eight verses. But I just can't get away from that book, no matter how short my personal attention span is – perhaps the Holy Spirit was behind it all.
This morning, while reading one of our daily devotionals, I heard my wife quote from Jonah 1:6, where the captain of the ship finds Jonah asleep while the storm is raging. He shouts at Jonah, “How can you sleep at a time like this”? And as I heard the captain’s question, the words rang loud in my head with one small, but significant alteration. I heard the Spirit asking me, and us as Christians, “How can you sleep at a time like this”?
These are great times, and we, as God’s family, are incredibly blessed to be alive in them, but I’m not sure the family is pervaded with gratefulness. Let’s face it, was there ever a time in our short lives when we were given such unlimited opportunities to shine? Was there ever a time in our lives when so many needed so much from God? Was there ever a time of such holy hunger? And here’s the good part – the boat ride’s just beginning for us!
This is definitely not a time for real Christians to take a back seat and merely watch as worldwide destruction progresses according to the coalition of pagan agendas we hear reported every day. It is likewise not a time for real Christians to wring their hands and hope Jesus returns to rescue them, and thus, forestall their involvement.
This is a time to press into God, learn who we really are within the authority delegated to us, and rock the foundations of the evil kingdom rising up around us. It is a time for real Christians to stand up and be counted, as they say, and begin to live as if we really believed the reality of our faith. It is a time for us to speak the truth in love, regardless of offense.
Our faith is not a religion (read, philosophy) – it is a living relationship with a very real God. Those who call themselves Christians but live only a philosophy are soon to be numbered in the ranks of the foolish virgins (Matthew 25), who ran out of oil too soon. Were they really considered part of the royal family by Christ?
I submit to you that we were called to “Follow”, not just believe. If you call yourself a real Christian but only believe, whose family are you really in? Read in James 2:19 for the answer. Even as scripture abounds in understatement, I would say that’s a pretty clear answer.
Now, right now, is the beginning of our boat ride. It is for right now that we’ve been called; it is for right now that we’ve been redeemed and gifted by Christ, and it is for right now that we will be held accountable.
We are not able, nor should we be, to woo the pagan world into Christian belief by demonstrating for them that Christians are similar. I’m fed up with the belief held by many Christians, that “I’m OK, you’re OK.” No matter how you wrap it up, it’s still garbage.
Here’s the cold, hard truth: JESUS DIED SO WE COULD BE DIFFERENT – as we represent Him for the pagan world, and He lived to die to prove it!
The five foolish virgins didn’t run out of oil through poor management – they ran out because they didn’t know how, where, or from whom to get more. Likewise, if we want the water from the River of Life – we have to go to it, and stop waiting for it to come to us. He sought us out once – now we have to seek Him. It’s called working out our own salvation.
How can we afford to be sleeping at a time like this?
Tue, Feb 24th - 11:01AM
I have to admit that the topic of “Prayer” usually causes an automatic cringe response in me. I’ve tried to figure out why I have this response, and I suppose some of the reasons are these:
- Real prayer is hard work
- I feel guilty about how little I do pray
- I’m always reminded of unanswered prayers I’ve prayed
- I don’t often “feel” like praying
- I don’t like the “God is not listening” feeling (“feeling” again?)
- I often don’t know what to pray for – or don’t feel I know the real need(s)
- I’m worried God will actually answer my prayer, and how - (not often)
- Satanic opposition (often; probably more than I know)
I’m sure there are other reasons, but these are a few of the most common to me. Maybe you have some of the same ones.
This morning I felt the desire and need to pray about an unfolding situation in my life, and as I began to pray I was reminded of our true status as God’s priests…He considers us His priests, and we have priestly duties – regardless of our feelings.
I can well imagine that the Old Testament priests viewed many days of their priestly duties as more of a job than a glorious privilege, and it’s the same with me.
I have to face the fact that prayer is hard work, but I have the honor and privilege to do it whether I feel the glory or not. We are all priests to God: read Revelation 1:6, 5:10 and 20:6. It is a status we have right now – and will always have into Eternity. It is a fact.
But another fact is that we perform our priestly duties in the middle of a planet at war. Some of us don’t want to face it, and we’d rather just feel the “love.” Now love is a great thing, but I should know that I’m not going to “love” the Devil into leaving me alone. My current job is to ‘resist’, and I can certainly decide to do that.
So this morning I began to pray, and I had a strange picture in my head of being in a foxhole. My prayers were ascending to God from my foxhole, but ascending regardless. Maybe this picture was long overdue. It’s a lot more fun to pray when I’m not hunkered down in my foxhole, but it’s no more valid and important. Because of His faithfulness, and because we are related by blood – God hears my foxhole prayers just as well as any others I may pray.
So here’s the deal – prayer is very serious business; usually underrated; often more of a duty than a glorious feeling; easily scuttled by unbelief; too revealing of our real selves for comfort; and often done from the bottom of our foxholes. But just as we are really priests to God, God always hears them.
He is not limited to how or when He answers, but He always hears the prayers of His priests.
So today, if you find yourself in a foxhole – pray anyway. It’s your calling. And here’s a plus – the more we pray, the more we find ourselves focusing on praise- even from our foxholes!
Odd how that happens…
Wed, Feb 11th - 12:24PM
In this hour of all-but-universal darkness one cheering gleam appears: Within the fold of conservative Christianity there are to be found increasing numbers of persons whose religious lives are marked by a growing hunger after God Himself. They are eager for spiritual realities and will not be put off with words, nor will they be content with correct “interpretations” of truth. They are athirst for God, and they will not be satisfied till they have drunk deep at the Fountain of Living Water.
This is the only real harbinger of revival which I have been able to detect anywhere on the religious horizon. It may be the cloud the size of a man’s hand for which a few saints here and there have been looking. It can result in a resurrection of life for many souls and a recapture of that radiant wonder which should accompany faith in Christ, that wonder which has all but fled the Church of God in our day.
But this hunger must be recognized by our religious leaders. Current evangelicalism has (to change the figure) laid the altar and divided the sacrifice into parts, but now seems satisfied to count the stones and rearrange the pieces with never a care that there is not a sign of fire upon the top of lofty Carmel. But God be thanked that there are a few who care. They are those who, while they love the altar and delight in the sacrifice, are yet unable to reconcile themselves to the continued absence of fire. They desire God above all. They are athirst to taste for themselves the “piercing sweetness” of the love of Christ about Whom all the holy prophets did write and the psalmists did sing.
There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives.
I trust I speak in charity, but the lack in our pulpits is real. Milton’s terrible sentence applies to our day as accurately as it did to his: “The hungry sheep look up, and are not fed.” It is a solemn thing, and no small scandal in the kingdom, to see God’s children starving while actually seated at the Father’s table. The truth of Wesley’s words is established before our eyes:
“Orthodoxy, or right opinion, is, at best, a very slender part of religion. Though right tempers cannot subsist without right opinions, yet right opinions may subsist without right tempers. There may be a right opinion of God without either love or one right temper toward Him. Satan is a proof of this.”
Thanks to our splendid Bible societies and to other effective agencies for dissemination of the Word, there are today many millions of people who hold “right opinions,” probably more than ever before in the history of the Church. Yet I wonder if there was ever a time when true spiritual worship was at a lower ebb. To great sections of the Church the art of worship has been lost entirely, and in its place has come that strange and foreign thing called the “program.” This word has been borrowed from the stage and applied with sad wisdom to the type of public service which now passes for worship among us.
Sound Bible exposition is an imperative must in the Church of the living God. Without it no church can be a New Testament church in any strict meaning of that term. But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth. The Bible is not an end in itself, but a means to bring men to an intimate and satisfying knowledge of God, that they may enter into Him, that they may delight in His Presence, may taste and know the inner sweetness of the very God Himself in the core and center of their hearts.
A. W. Tozer
June 16th, 1948
*excerpt from A. W. Tozer’s preface to his book, The Pursuit of God, published by Wing Spread Publishers.
Almost 61 years ago these words were written by A. W. Tozer. They are sadly just as true today. I’ve reproduced them because I doubt if anyone would be able to say them better, and it would be a prideful fool who would try, without giving credit to Tozer. His quote of Wesley’s is particularly painful, for it’s accuracy pertains so well to our time, 2009. If evolution were indeed an universal fact, Solomon’s words would be out of date, “There is nothing new under the sun.”
Today we are spiritually inundated with “Inner healing” and “Self image”, and other topics of such ilk. Churches abound with trained counselors (not a criticism), while Tozer’s words fade into the background:
‘But exposition may be carried on in such a way as to leave the hearers devoid of any true spiritual nourishment whatever. For it is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself, and unless and until the hearers find God in personal experience they are not the better for having heard the truth.’
Never before in our lives has it been more evident but that we believers desperately need an intimate, and growing, relationship with God Himself. No exposition of the truth, no “program” will suffice. We in the church are facing spiritual starvation for the relationship God Himself desires. The world too, is starving for God, but the world is creating their own.
I can't help but believe that our struggles to achieve inner healing and healthy self-images would be moot issues if we Christians fell once again, or maybe for the first time, deeply in love with the person of God.
Perhaps we can't keep the pagans from worshipping false gods – but we don’t have to conform to their images. In that light, all Christians should, in these times, begin to be comfortable with discomfort, for we cannot remain silent conformists and be true to our God.
I for one, don’t think I’ll be able to explain to Him why I lived a wallpaper life in a world gone mad.
Tue, Feb 10th - 5:45PM
As I sit down to write this, I’m a little lost for words. The frustrating thing about it is not having too few, but rather too many words for the topic at hand. As I view it, I have been assigned the task of sounding a wake up call to American Christians. Mind you, as society measures, I’m not a very important cog in the machine, and I’m not assuming a personal importance – rather, the message is important, and in fact, absolutely vital to our country today.
My first bicycle was typical of the era in that it featured a patchable inner-tube. In fact, back then, even vehicle tires had tubes. To patch the tire, the tube would be removed and the hole patched with a piece of flexible rubber and glue. Then the tube was re-inserted into the tire and blown up again. Pretty slick, until there were patches on top of patches; then the tube was finished and a new tube was necessary.
My multi-patched inner-tube illustration points us to the America we live in today. We have too many patches. It’s hard to find the leak because the patches themselves are leaking! I firmly believe we American Christians have been given a golden opportunity, in fact a call, to shout the message: “We cannot settle for more patches – this country requires a new tube.”
Ever since WW II, our steadily increasing materialism and our access to “The American Dream” have savaged our minds, dreams and morals. Now, that so many have so much, we stand a chance to lose it all in the face of our New Socialism. We have turned our backs on God and His standards for so long, most of us don’t even remember the “before”. And now, with the nationwide embrace of socialism, the gloves have finally come off and our rebellion declared for the world to witness.
In spite of massive historical revisionism, here is a fact: our country was founded on Christian principles found only in the Bible. Our Constitution was crafted to work well governing citizens who understood those basic principles, and gave them a place of immense importance in their daily lives. But here is another fact: our Constitution was not crafted to work well governing a Godless citizenry.
As most professing Christians would acknowledge, God is responsible to setting up nations, and taking them down. In our bibles, in Ecclesiastes 3, is found the theme, ‘To everything there is a season,…’ . Our country is being torn apart and torn down, and we are fed a steady diet of helplessness from the news media. It seems the most our “Wise men” in congress can do is propose expensive patches. None of them seem to have arrived at the obvious – we don’t need more patches, we need new tubes! This would be an obvious conclusion if their arrogance and pride was not involved.
As Christians here is our call: let’s get back to the basics, and let’s call for a return to the principles that made us blessed. Believe it, God doesn’t need another Europe or another Asia – He’s showing us He wants America to come back to Him. Having said this, it might be too late for our country, but it’s never too late to show our faithfulness to the God we say we believe. It’s never too late to be loyal to Him, and if our country comes crashing down around our ears, we at least can remain true to Him. In the book of Luke, chapter 18, verse 8, Jesus asked, ‘Nevertheless, when the Son of Man comes, will He really find faith on the earth?’
I don’t know if I’ll be alive when Jesus returns, but I’m bound to remain faithful and in our country today it will be progressively more expensive to do so. I might have to risk being labeled politically insensitive, or worse, politically incorrect. But here’s a news flash for you: if you are a real Christian – you’re politically incorrect already.
Mon, Feb 2nd - 11:46AM
That Barking Noise
Years ago I had a friend who “barked” too often. He belonged to a municipal police department, and was a veteran officer and department trainer. His passion in life was to train officers to survive the hazardous work environments they faced every day, at least potentially. He was one of the best instructors in the country, and his passion for training was incredible. However, this same passion was also a hindrance to his career because it caused him to speak out, and his educated opinions became odious to the police administration, because he had a way of revealing ignorance in high places. In effect, because he spoke out so much, he lost his voice.
Biblically speaking, the same syndrome can be observed with the prophets of old. Apparently, many were reviled, and maybe even killed, to ensure their silence. And be sure, when God has no voice, a nation dies. It’s not complicated, and just like basic biology – subtract the source of life and the result is always the same.
Many decades ago we began a journey in this country to subtract life from our government, our schools, our communities, our thoughts and in some cases, our churches. I guess we figured we could more efficiently realize our dreams if we began to eliminate God, or at least, control Him. Maybe we were embarrassed by how “old fashioned” He seemed to be…how in our way His morals were – how unevolutionary of Him. God never died – He just lost His voice.
I never was able to understand why we would want to emulate Europe, already a moral cesspool forty years ago, and give up our American roots, but I apparently didn’t account for the bigger, coordinated world plan. Forty years ago I wouldn’t have believed in such a coordinated plan. I certainly do now.
Yesterday in church we sang a song that described God as ‘untamable’. I love that, but isn’t that what scares us about Him? We go to church and give Him the good old college cheers, but aren’t we petrified of this untamable Person? What if He gets out?! What if – oh horrors – what if He’s really in charge, and we are not? What would happen to the American dream then?
Most mainline churches at least pay lip service to the Holy Spirit. He’s hard to dodge entirely because the Bible is so full of Him – but we’ve learned to control Him. The more “radical” churches try to find ways to have Him work for us, instead of the other way around, and the “unradical” churches keep Him under control by turning Him into a philosophy of, what else – life! He may be untamable, but He’s not unquenchable. And then we fret about poor church attendance, while turning Him out of our congregations, just like we turned Him out of our country. Sure, we want His benefits, we just don’t want Him.
Having been under the radar most of my life, I guess it’s my turn to bark – so here goes. Without moral fiber based on Biblical worldviews, the United States is becoming just another national “has been”. We are on our way out, and as soon as our money runs out (watch or read any source of daily news), our leadership role in the world will be over. Life, the life we turned our back on, is being withdrawn, and this movement will have two results.
First, many will again seek the source of life with increasingly desperate desire. Second, many more will declare their absolute independence from this source, and line up for the last, great deception. The comfortable, politically correct middle ground is going away. Each of us will choose sides – we will not be given the opt-out option.
Of course, for many, to bark at all is to bark too much, but for what it’s worth, I think our churches should throw open their doors to the Holy Spirit and welcome life back into their midst. He is untamable, and we should recognize that quality as incredibly valuable, rather than a threat to our status quos. We are supposed to work for Him, and we should adapt to that concept. This world is His, and if you want to argue that He gave it to us – we were never created to own it, just govern it for and with Him. He never assumed junior partner status. It was never all about us, and like it or not, it never will be.
Once the churches open their doors to the Holy Spirit, and only then, will they be able to go on the moral offensive they have been tasked with. Constantly instructed on how to fight defensively, these congregations instead feed into our increasingly shallow and lifeless society waiting outside their doors. Members are being equipped for a completely defensive battle, one which they are incrementally losing year by year.
We should learn a lesson from basic infantry training; one which we again learned on the Normandy beaches in 1944 – the best defense, in fact the only one with a future, is a good offense.
It’s time for our churches to get off the beaches and take the high ground - we are being killed where we are.
They say that one barking dog will ruin any neighborhood, but I make no apologies – it’s my job.
Back to Blog Main Page