The following sad phrases describe the spiritual condition of Israel just moments preceding the calling of a great man of God Samuel. "The Word of The Lord was rare", "There was no open vision", "The man of God's eyes waxed dim so he could not see" & "the Lamp of God went out"
Oh the tragic state of affairs in Israel those days. Eli the priest had grown old and obese and his children the apparent heirs of the service in the temple had grown worldly, careless and neglectful of the lamp of God. Where the revelation and proclamation of the Word becomes rare so goes the vision. "Open" in the Hebrew means "breaking forth, on all sides, multiplication and growth". The steward of the Flame, Eli, no longer could keep the Flame burning in the Tabernacle. No Word, no Vision, no Flame. It always follows that pattern.
Yet that is the moment the Divine Summons is heralded into the tender ears and heart of a youth, Samuel. The most unlikely prophet. But that is how God has often called prophets & men of God, in their youth. Jeremiah, David, Josiah, Samuel and others. It is in the famine of the word and vision, where the flame burns low and the testimony of God grows silent that God kindles a flame in the hearts of the tender eared. The young, the unqualified, the ungifted, the easily passed over, those that are unrecognized by this world. Those are often the ones that people miss when they talk about who God is going to use for His Kingdom.
When the Flame grows weak and dim and is quenched by the cares of this life, the frailty of human weakness, and the revelry of sinful flesh; it was extinguished in the hearts of those mandated to keep it lit.
The Flame was never to be allowed to go out to but to bring the designated oil to cause the the lamp to burn always. (Exo 27:20) "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."
It is inevitable that we will be faced with similar circumstances where the Lamp flickers and almost goes out. Yet how we react is most critical. Many believers, leaders, servants, missionaries, will try to compensate for the loss of burning. They will try to produce fire by the sparks of their self-made fire. But that over-compensation always leads to sorrow, regret and burn out Isaiah 50.11.
As Keepers of the Flame we are to never attempt to keep it burning, strive to cause the flame to grow or ignite by some new program, effort or campaign but rather we are only to do one thing: bring the pure oil from the beaten, crushed, and mashed olive. This oil was pure because of what it suffered, the beating, crushing. What causes the fire to burn? The right oil.
It is only that anointing oil of the Holy Spirit that falls fresh on tender hearing hearts, hearts broken by God, prepared in consecration, and dedicated to the Lord's service. Only then can the Word of The Lord be heralded into the heart-ears of a new prophet as Samuel, and a vision break forth onto the people of God. Then the Flame burns strong and there is an undeniable testimony of God in the camp.
Of the 300+ prophesies predicting the birth of Christ, the location, the date, the circumstances surrounding it as well as His Name, I've compiled 12 of the most prominent. These prophecies were written between 1450 BC and 430 BC. Manuscripts have been found proving they were written at least 400 - 1000 years before He was born.
Below is a chart of just some of the Old Testament. prophecies concerning the birth of Christ. Along with each reference is the New Testament reference where the prophecy is fulfilled.
1. Promised Through the Seed of Abraham: Old Testament Prophecy: Genesis 22:18 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 1:1
2. Promised Through Isaac: Old Testament Prophecy: Genesis 21:12 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:34
3. Out of the Tribe of Judah: Old Testament Prophecy: Micah 5:2 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:33
4. Born in the Family of Jesse: Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 11:1 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:32
5. Born in the House of David (King): Old Testament Prophecy: Jeremiah 23:5-6 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:31
6. Born in Bethlehem: Old Testament Prophecy: Micah 5:2 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:4-7
7. Born of a virgin: Old Testament Prophecy: Isaiah 7:14 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 1:18
8. Worshipped and Presented gifts by Kings: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 72:10 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 2:11
9. Worshipped by Shepherds: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 72:9 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:9
10. Flight to Egypt Old Testament Prophecy: Hosea 11:1 New Testament Fulfillment: Matthew 2:13-14
11. He will be called Lord: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 110:1 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 2:11
12. He is the Son of God: Old Testament Prophecy: Psalm 2:7 New Testament Fulfillment: Luke 3:22 (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11)
Truly He is The Son of God, Messiah for Israel and our Prince of Peace!
Throughout human history there have always been an exclusive, privileged few that have had the honorable task of keeping, maintaining, caring for and watching over The Flame of God. Whether a chosen family or an individual - this keeper was to continually guard The Flame that it would not be put out, that the ashes would not build up around it choking it and that it would remain burning in the darkest of hours.
The Flame represented the Presence of God, the Witness of the Holy Spirit, the purging of all that can be consumed in sacrifice for the Most Holy. The Flame was the Light that bore the defining Illumination for The Path that had to be trod to The Way Everlasting, The Way into the Promise.
The Flame is characteristic of all that God is, His Desire, His Will, & His Love. Anything that is not all of God is and all that He is made up of is combustible, unstable, temporal and will be consumed. In short anything that is not of Spirit and Light will be consumed by the Flame of God until all that remains is God Himself and His Love.
In each epoch of the Bible it is carefully laid out who the keepers of The Flame were. These keepers were the guards and they themselves were the fuel for its Flame - Hebrews 1.7. These men & women of old and of now in the Church Age, were aflame with that Sacred Fire that burned within consuming their humanity yet not destroying it.
The Flame is not awful, nor is it destructive for those that are enveloped by its passion for Christ but it is a Holy Burning that purges all that is of self and of this rotting world. It sears away all that is love of ego, sentimental, all that is less than Love, Agape Love.
The Flame was ignited by God Himself in the forming of Creation when He spoke "Let the be light." Light originates from the Mouth of God, His Word, His Rhema. His Flame, His illumination comes by no other way than that of the Spoken Word of God. His Word is Light and it's how we see in this dark world.
But the keepers of the Flame, this Light, understood clearly that for The Flame to stay ignited there needed to be wood and there needed to be a sacrifice. Wood always represented that aspect of growth from the earth, trees, that could be cut down to build up and cover. Wood represents all that of Man, sourced in the Earth and not from the Heavenlies. Wood is strong for a season then fades and rots back into the earth only to fodder more. This is man. This is our humanity. This is our fragility. This is our temporal destiny. This is what must be placed on The Altar. This is what will keep the Flame burning with the Sacrifice above it enveloped in its Holy Flame.
We today, the Church of Jesus Christ, The Body of Christ on the Earth today, His Bride are the keepers of The Flame. The Flame is that Holy Spirit ignited in our Spirit that burns up that which is wooden - our humanity, and makes us a Flame of Fire.
This was the vivid illustration portrayed to Moses by God n the Burning Bush. It was a picture, a symbol of Moses' life the bush and the flame The Spirit of Burning that burned and burned yet did not destroy. Moses was to be God's Prophet a man aflame a burning light in deliverance of God's people.
The Flame burns as long as our humanity is laid daily, hourly at the Altar of the Cross. There the Flame burns till all the dross of this world is purged till we are reduced to His Love and only He remains. Then we are satisfied, healed and burn in our service & witness for Him and then find ourselves lit with The Flame that never burns out.
In the following posts I would like to discuss the subject of Fire in the Bible; the Flame of God. We have been talking about this in Philly at our services. I will begin this series with this poem by Amy Wilson Carmichael (16 December 1867 – 18 January 1951) who was a missionary in India, who opened an orphanage and founded a mission in Dohnavur.
Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
From prayer that asks that I may be Sheltered from winds that beat on Thee, From fearing when I should aspire, From faltering when I should climb higher, From silken self, O Captain, Free Thy soldier who would follow Thee.
From subtle love of softening things, From easy choices, weakenings, (Not thus are spirits fortified, Not this way went the Crucified,) From all that dims Thy Calvary, O Lamb of God, deliver me.
Give me the love that leads the way, The faith that nothing can dismay The hope no disappointments tire The passion that will burn like fire, Let me not sink to be a clod: Make me Thy fuel, Flame of God.
I am writing you as well as other friends and co-laborers of the ministry in Ukraine that have been and are today burdened for the Ukraine and the work of the ministry there.
Grisha, an assisting pastor in Odessa, a husband and a
father of 2, is in need of an emergency heart operation which will take place this Thursday the 13th. He has a valve in his heart that requires open heart surgery and due to this heart condition his liver is now beginning to fail thus the speedy operation.
Grisha with his family and team have been a dear friend and a key part in the ministry to troubled youth and orphans in Odessa. He is our first disciple in Odessa meeting him and leading him to Christ in 1995.
The remaining amount needed for the operation is about 3000$. We are believing God that this be raised by Wednesday the 12th.
If The Lord puts it on your heart to help with 10$, 50$, 100$ or more than please contact the GGWO Missions department firstname.lastname@example.org and designate your tax deductible gift for "Grisha's Operation"
Thank you and God bless you!
UPDATE: 12.24.2012 - God is faithful! The operation has finished and Grisha is now recovering slowly, he is sitting up in bed talking and smiling. Please pray for him and the recovery process and that his liver would also recover from the damage it got while his heart was failing.
“When you don’t have to think of anything, when your mind isn’t being taken to think by the environment…where does your mind go? What does your mind habitually go to? What do you most like to think about? What do you most enjoy daydreaming about? What gives you the most comfort to fantasize about? ... That’s your God. Your religion is what you do with your solitude." - Archbishop William Temple
This was passed on to me this morning and it was blessed manna for me. Enjoy this gem from FB Meyer from 1896.
"Many children of God are so deeply exercised on the matter of guidance that it may be helpful to give a few suggestions as to knowing the way in which our Father would have us walk, and the work He would have us do. The importance of the subject cannot be exaggerated; so much of our power and peace consists in knowing where God would have us be, and in being just there.
The manna only falls where the cloudy pillar broods; but it is certain to be found on the sands, which a few hours ago were glistening in the flashing light of the heavenly fire, and are now shadowed by the fleecy canopy of cloud. If we are precisely where our heavenly Father would have us to be, we are perfectly sure that He Will provide food and raiment, and everything beside. When He sends His servants to Cherith, He will make even the ravens to bring them food.
How much of our Christian work has been abortive because we have persisted in initiating it for ourselves, instead of ascertaining what God was doing, and where He required our presence! We dream bright dreams of success. We try to command it. We call to our aid all kinds of expedients, questionable or otherwise. At last we turn back, disheartened and ashamed, like children who are torn and scratched by the brambles, and soiled by the quagmire. None of this had come about if only we had been, from the first, under God's unerring guidance. He might test us, but He could not allow us to mistake.
Naturally, the child of God, longing to know his Father's will, turns to the sacred Book, and refreshes his confidence by noticing how in all ages God has guided those who dared to trust Him up to the very hilt, but who at the time must have been as perplexed as we are often now. We know how Abraham left kindred and country, and started, with no other guide than God, across the trackless desert to a land which he knew not. We know how for forty years the Israelites were led through the peninsula of Sinai, with its labyrinths of red sandstone and its wastes of sand. We know how Joshua, in entering the Land of Promise, was able to cope with the difficulties of an unknown region, and to overcome great and warlike nations, because he looked to the Captain of the Lord's hosts, who ever leads to victory. We know how, in the early Church, the Apostles were enabled to thread their way through the most difficult questions, and to solve the most perplexing problems, laying down principles which will guide the Church to the end of time; and this because it was revealed to them as to what they should do and say, by the Holy Spirit."
This was most likely our best attended and greatest Ukrainian Leadership Conference ever, the Lord really visited us! With at least 200 at the conference we had guests from Budapest, Poland, Russia, Moldova, Sweden, Finland and of course Baltimore. There were even guests that came 3 days by train from Tyumen, Siberia. We raced Sandy the Super-storm and made it in one of the last flights out of the US before airports began to close. Literally. Half of our group from Baltimore didn't make it out.
The theme of the conference was on Leadership and many of the messages were about God's Agape love. We all grew in our personal visions as leaders and for our personal lives.
I'd like to invite you to hear all the messages here: http://bit.ly/TMk58G See all the photos on Facebook here: http://on.fb.me/RH6r6I
Our next trip t Ukraine will be after Eurocon 2013. Please join us!
I read this article by Tozer this morning early written the first half of the 1900's and was stirred as we as a nation go to the polls today to vote...
"The clever proponents of evil political ideologies are spending millions to make us Americans ashamed to love our country. By the use of all available media of communication they are persuading our people that there is little left worth defending and certainly nothing worth dying for. They are building up in the public mind a picture of an American as a generous, tolerant, smiling chap who loves baseball and babies but is not too much concerned about fringe political theories. This synthetic American subscribes to the doctrine of the fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of man and lets go fishing-everything will be all right. And so in religion, especially among the Protestants.
Let a man rise to declare the unique Lordship of Jesus Christ and the absolute necessity of obedience to Him and he is at once branded as a hatemonger and a divider of men. The devil has brainwashed large numbers of religious leaders so successfully that they are now too timid to resist him. And he, being the kind of devil he is, takes swift advantage of their cowardice to erect altars to Baal everywhere.
The Bible is a book of controversy. The Old Testament prophets were men of contention. Our Lord Jesus while on earth was in deadly conflict with the devil. The Apostles, the Church Fathers and the Reformers were men of controversy. They fought the devil to the death and kept the torch of truth burning for all succeeding generations. Is our contribution to history to be the ignoble one of letting the torch go out?"
Ecclesiastes 11:4-6 He that observeth the wind shall not sow; and he that regardeth the clouds shall not reap. As thou knowest not what is the way of the spirit, nor how the bones do grow in the womb of her that is with child: even so thou knowest not -- the works of God who maketh -- all. In the morning sow -- thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good.
Sowers vs. Reapers A critical part of church planting that is often over-looked by church planting gurus or never addressed in seminars is SOWING and all that has to happen before sowing begins. The new testament talks about 2 types of church planters: reapers and sowers. Much is spoken about the reaping in mega-churches but little about the latter. This therefore impacts leaders, their teams and the result of the new fledging church plant, leading to discouragement or an improper assessment of the field and call no matter how well funded the work is or populated with laborers.
By the Grace of God I've been a part of 7 church plants over the past 25 years; whether by leading, overseeing or participation on the church plant team - goye4th.org. Presently we are planting 2 churches in Philadelphia - ggcphila.org. Over these years it's apparent to me that people; gifted men & women, quit early in the work calling it "not a fruitful area" because of the lack of understanding of sowing & pre-sowing.
There is nothing glorious, exciting, rah-rah, or rewarding in sowing. It is hard work motivated by a passionate love and discipline with little to no results. Psalm 126.5-6 gives us the perspective in sowing: there are tears. How often have we church planters driven home with a heavy heart after a day of rejection or no-shows? How awkward have we felt when we have been asked "how many ya'll got coming out?" At that point we must lean on what God told us personally when he sent us out to this particular field and gain support on the church Body that sent us. That's when we are tested on our personal conviction about what we are doing as a team or as the leader. That's when the conviction of God speaking to us at a point of time about the mission and the target shines forth and lights the way. If there has been no "RHEMA" from God about the work to the team individuals or the leader, this is where the work fizzles out with excuses or "leadings" to other works.
The "Pre-Sow" I've never heard anyone teach on this principle of pre-sow yet it is so vital. Without the proper pre-sow any sowing that happens falls largely on unprepared ground thus the seed never taking root. Any builder of homes or properties will tell you that once they have TARGETED an area to build in there is the long process of SURVEYING and PLANNING. We are the same, there are drawings on napkins, maps, meetings, coffee (or tea), donuts and pizza at late night prayer meetings in people's homes. Once that has taken place and a TARGET has been determined in prayer and seeking the Lord's will & good counsel, we must LOCATE. I understand Psalms 107:37 meaning to chose the fields and vineyards carefully and prayerfully that "may yield fruits to increase", the old rule says, "location, location, location is everything". The target may be right but the location of the church plant or neighborhood may be wrong. Don't be afraid to move around a bit.
Then the tedious mundane work of pre-sow begins. Pre-sow is all about prayer, attitude, faith, and love motivation. Like the example of the construction company, there needs to be trees, and large boulders removed, mounds need to be leveled all blockades to the work. We see such blockades of fear, doubt, distraction, discouragement, people's and government's accusations or threatenings, with Nehemiah and Zerrubabel in the work of rebuilding when the Jews returned from Babylon. This pre-sow happens by prayer and much creativity in the community (which much could be said about but I won't address in this article.).
In any pre-sow the soil must be worked, turned, dug into, turned again, and worked. This happens with much prayer, patience in preparation with our hands getting dirty and much footwork. At times when a church is being re-planted or revived the pre-sow takes place in the hearts of the congregation, and the little team of people that rally around you in the work. This may take some time. Be patient. Be kind. Be prayerful. Lead.
What seed are we sowing? Before sowing it must be clear what type of seed we are sowing. there is only one seed in the Bible that we are sowing and that is the incorruptible seed of 1 Pt 1.23 and the good seed of Matthew 13.37. The supernatural seed of the Gospel of Grace. there is no other seed that grows than that of the seed of the Finished Work of Jesus Christ and His Grace. Deuteronomy 22:9 commands us that we are not to sow different seeds, different messages "lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled." It must be clear what our message is and any deviation from the message of Grace defiles the fruit of the work.
"Sow, Sow, Sow - then Sow some more" - Eccl 11.1 In 1978 my family came into a deeper relationship with God and his heartbeat for the world and individuals. The pastor, Carl Stevens, that led us into that relationship was a pastor from Maine that when he first got saved had a bread delivery route in rural Maine. As he began to read the Bible as a young man he began to share the Gospel at each home on his bread route - often being rejected but returned and returned pleading with them to know God and be converted. It is said one home he went back to 42 times when finally the family got on their knees together and received Christ as their savior. In a message preached years ago called "Just Sow!" he explained that he loved sowing because he enjoyed the work. He had a spiritual work ethic that emanated from his passion for the Lord and His ministry. He has been a role model for many of us how to sow.
First Sow to Yourself God's Love Seeds Sowing first begins with us sowing to ourselves in righteousness - Hosea 10.12. Christ's passion for the lost is the compelling momentum in our sowing beside all types of waters and sending out the feet of the laborer and the burden bearers - Isaiah 32:20. When we lose the fellowship of Christ's love toward us we lose our compassion for the lost and our mission becomes burdensome and tiring ending in quitting. God's thoughts towards us fills up our soil with his compassion leading to passion for the lost. When we struggle in the sowing of the seed with little results and much rejection we must not compensate with more scheduling or programs but first sow in the soil of their hearts God's love seeds. Many have quit moments before the harvest was to come. This law is a law that depends on the purposes passion in our hearts. If our passion is purposed it will cause us relatively to sow. The key here is to guard our passion and keep ourselves in the love of God.
The Law of Sowing & Reaping There is a law we discover in 2 Cor 9.6-8 that is called the law of sowing and reaping. This law is a constant as the law of gravity is a constant. If you drop an object it will ALWAYS drop downward never upward. The same goes with sowing. If we sow rarely, sparingly, or hesitate, the law or sowing and reaping comes into affect - we reap sparingly, rarely, and hesitantly. The question is not IF we will reap but IF we will quit. If we don't quit and receive grace's sufficiency of love then we will reap. Have fun in sowing - have fun with your team because sowing is always a part of our lives and not something we do strictly for reaping. If we only sow only that we would reap then we stop sowing when results do come. We are" lifers" in sowing because his compassions fail not - Lam 3.22. Don't quit, or wimp out. Press forward building yourself up - "seeing we have this ministry (of mercy towards us) we faint not - 2 Cor 4.1.
The Inherent Power in The Seed When we think our sowing of the "good seed" is in vain and we need to depend on programs, secular insight, & presentation; then we are depending on something other than the inherent power of The Seed. The power of the message in sowing is not the program or even the presentation but rather the power that lies inherently in The Seed we sow itself! There is the spiritual DNA of God in the Seed of the Gospel of Grace. The Seed does not need to be modified, manipulated or enhanced, any tampering with The Seed will actually hurt it. When The Seed is faithfully sown it goes into the ground for a period of time - a time of death and incubation. When the conditions are right The Seed will sprout and we may not even remember sowing it. Eccl 11:4-6 describes the secret hidden process of the growth of The Seed so the charge by Solomon is to sow in the morning when you want to sleep in and sow in the evening when you want to kick back and relax. Our job is just to sow - not grow the Seed.
So when we as the faithful sower go forth to sow weeping we WILL return rejoicing with our sheaves with us! This is because when The Seed is sown in the right field it will grow and bear fruit. Be encouraged fellow laborer!
Evan Pekarek - one of our awesome MBC&S students spoke today in Sunday on Joseph. Here are some great points he made:
1. He was a man who spoke his mind -boldness (Genesis 37:5-11; 40:12-15; 41:16-36) A. Negative effects B. positive effects
2. He was a man who did not act tritely A. Fled evil (39:7-13) B. tested his brothers before revealing himself (42-45)
3. He was a man who was gracious in nature A. When the time came to reveal himself, he did so with unrestrained love toward his brothers B. He gave what he could despite how his brothers felt about his treatment I. It is in our nature to not want to receive grace from someone we have wronged. C. His gracious attitude reunited a broken, troubled home.
4. God used Joseph as an example of grace, a champion of faith. "God is waiting to be gracious"
Here are some notes on a subject that must be foundational in ministry. Today we use "servant" in place of the Biblical word "slave" because we are afraid to offend.
1 If there be therefore any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any bowels and mercies,
2 Fulfill ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind.
3 Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves.
4 Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.
5 -- Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8 And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.
16 Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.
17 If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them.
But it shall not be so among you: but whosoever will be great among you, let him be your minister;
27 And whosoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant:
28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.
He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.
26 If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honor.
1. A Servant is a disciple and his life is not his own.
To be a disciple means we follow in His footsteps - we lose out lives.
He is the ultimate example in servant hood
It is much more exciting to forsake family, houses, lands, and possessions for the Gospel's sake even to martyrdom - than to die the many little deaths that we must die daily of going to the cross and being sentenced to the servant hood in the ordinary, regular, and trivial.
The flesh desires the glorious mission of being noticed but it cringes at the hidden service where there are no accolades or sounds of applause.
Having the discipline of serving and no choosing our service but letting God chose our service is very freeing from the world's ambitious program of recognition and accomplishment.
Oswald Chambers: "It is one thing to go on the lonely way with dignified heroism, but quite another thing if the line mapped out for you by God means being a door-mat under other people's feet."
2. A servant is not in control. 1 Cor 6.19-20
A servant relinquishes control because he is bought with a price.
A bond-slave that has presented himself a living sacrifice doesn't see himself with the same rights as other people do. Paul a voluntary bond-slave Phil 2.17 counted it a joy to serve the Philippian church
A servant's joy is not based on his control of the grounds of service or the results of the service. He rejoices in the privilege to serve.
The flesh wants to be in control, to determine what it does and doesn't do.
The servant has not chosen to serve (that is being in control) but has chosen to be a servant (his nature)
Mother Teresa: "I belong to Jesus. He must have the right to use me without consulting me."
3. A Servant doesn't get hurt or offended. He serves out of love. Acts 20:24 ...I consider my life worth nothing to me...
How can a servant get hurt when he has chosen to be a door-mat?
Jesus endured the contradiction of sinners for the joy set before him. Kempis instructed his students "to be so subject that all men may go over thee and tread upon thee as upon mire of the street."
A servant doesn't get hurt by people's response as he does it unto the Lord who has called him. Therefore his service in ministry is independent of response and criticism. He is the Lord's freeman - free to serve all in bondage to none.
The greatest enemy to servant-hood is self love. When we complain how hard it is to serve we are already a casualty in service.
4. Where the rubber meets the road: the flesh: If we allow a daily leading into the mundane to serve secretly unnoticed, uncrucified flesh will be severely challenged:
The flesh complains or murmurs
Secretly manipulates for attention
Hesitates in the call to service
Gets hurt and sulks
Doesn't see the benefit of serving
Always asks "what's in it for me" or "when is it my turn"
Availability is our only acceptable act in servanthood. We present ourselves a living sacrifice.
5. Servanthood is the way to true satisfaction
He is blessed by allowing the Master to be the greatest - John 13:12-13
Is an example - John 13:14-17
Is great - Mat 20:27-28
Is always there where Christ is - John 12:25-26
Is always content and not in competition - Phil 2:3-4
How faithful are we to the service the Lord has mapped out for us - do we need thanks or recognition or do we get angry and withdraw
How content are we in ministry when God chooses for us?
How often do we get offended when people take advantage of us and our service. Do I require soulish payment for my service?
2 Timothy 3:14
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been
assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them.
Hello friends and co-laborers!
I'm excited to announce that the Annual Ukrainian Leadership Conference will be taking place Oct 30-Nov 3 in L'viv with the privilege to have p. Schaller with us those dates as our special guest speaker
P. Misha and Yura Petriv will be the organizers of this conference and will be sending out soon a brochure of all the details.
I read these words last night by William Booth and was stirred to think of the dangerous times we are living in:
William Booth, who lived from 1829 to 1916, was the founder of the Salvation Army. As the 20th century began, he was asked by someone what he saw as the greatest dangers for the next hundred years. His response is chilling, when taking into account the cultural and political condition of the world through the 20th century and into today. This is how he responded:
“In answer to your inquiry, I consider that the chief dangers which confront the coming century will be religion without the Holy Ghost, Christianity without Christ, forgiveness without repentance, salvation without regeneration, politics without God, and heaven without hell.”
(This is a chapter from a book on Prayer which will be ready Lord willing by December)
"Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him" - Job 13.15
Matthew 26:42 "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."
There is no negotiating with God. The terms are set - surrender to God's Love, God's Truth, God's Sovereignty, surrender to that Old Rugged Cross rejected and scorned by this world. In our surrender we must surrender our will, emotional feelings, our own religious standards of justice, our human thought process, and our perception of who we are. Anything less is to forfeit the Glory of knowing Him and the Wisdom that is hid from the wise and the prudent of this world. Surrender as a little child and you will be a partaker of the Secrets of the Kingdom of Heaven in prayer.
We must surrender absolutely to The King of Kings and the Lord of Lords, and that is not executed by sheer will power nor human determination. It is as it was with Christ who "through the Eternal Spirit, offered Himself up", Hebrews 9.14. It is that Spirit that works in us "to will and to do" of His good pleasure. Surrender is unconditional and without compromise, yet that can only be accomplished by yielding to that Spirit of the Father that led His Son to Calvary - that Spirit of obedience, 2 Peter 1.2. That Spirit that leads us to surrender is that same "Another" that bore up Peter and carried him where he would not go", John 21.18
When that surrender happens we hear His voice calling us into prayer, into ministry, & into victory. When we surrender with no excuses, alibi's or secret preservations we discover a deep sense of contentment, peace and all our inner battles end abruptly. For human flesh must yield to the Almighty, Habakkuk 2.20
Hudson Taylor once said that secret discontentment can be traced to the the lack of surrender. There is no more turmoil of battle inside our created human soul as we have bowed before the Creator in full submission. Oh! To the mortal man who wars with his secret sins and hidden pride to no avail. The Cross does not empower your flesh to war the good fight of faith, the Cross decimates all your fleshly ability to be Godlike. The Cross crushes your enemy and shouts to us "Surrender and be free!", John 8.36
Surrender leads to prayer, prayer leads to more surrender. Surrender ushers in an anointing in your life, a power that cannot be contended with by the devil, the unsurrendered one. All the prayers we could ever pray would not lead us to that answer we seek deep inside - only surrender to the Omniscient, to the Omnipotent Father who waits to unveil the riches of His Salvation and His Plan to the surrendered saint. When we bow before Him in prayer, surrender all without reservation, without shame. He then will reveal all, He waits to be gracious...
All to Jesus I surrender; All to Him I freely give; I will ever love and trust Him, In His presence daily live.
Refrain: I surrender all, I surrender all; All to Thee, my blessed Savior, I surrender all.
All to Jesus I surrender; Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken; Take me, Jesus, take me now.
All to Jesus I surrender; Make me, Savior, wholly Thine; Let me feel the Holy Spirit, Truly know that Thou art mine.
All to Jesus I surrender; Lord, I give myself to Thee; Fill me with Thy love and power; Let Thy blessing fall on me.
All to Jesus I surrender; Now I feel the sacred flame. Oh, the joy of full salvation! Glory, glory, to His Name! - Judson W. Van DeVenter
I recently read this article by Tozer on prayer. Very inspiring. "Men may, and often do, pray without faith (though this is not true prayer), but it is not thinkable that men should have faith and not pray. The biblical formula is The prayer of faith. Prayer and faith are here bound together by the little preposition of, and what God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. Faith is only genuine as it eventuates into prayer. When Tennyson wrote More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of, he probably uttered a truth of vaster significance than even he understood. While it is not always possible to trace an act of God to its prayer-cause, it is yet safe to say that prayer is back of everything that God does for the sons of men here upon earth. One would gather as much from a simple reading of the Scriptures. What profit is there in prayer? Much every way. Whatever God can do faith can do, and whatever faith can do prayer can do when it is offered in faith. An invitation to prayer is, therefore, an invitation to omnipotence, for prayer engages the Omnipotent God and brings Him into our human affairs. Nothing is impossible to the man who prays in faith, just as nothing is impossible with God. This generation has yet to prove all that prayer can do for believing men and women."
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks, the door will be opened. Mark 7:7-8
Thought Why would God invite, even command us to pray if He were not going to answer? He is ready to answer. It is for us to pray in faith according to His revealed will, persevere in prayer and leave the means and the timing to Him.
Amos 8:1 Thus the Lord God showed to me, and behold, a basket of [ripe and therefore soon to perish] summer fruit. - Amplified
The days of Amos the prophet are not to different then the days we are living in today. The Lord has a harvest of summer fruit for Greater Grace all over the world and here in our region of Philadelphia. Like any summer fruit - it expires quickly and that requires urgency in our ministry.
We have been quite busy here at GGC Philly with new disciples, decisions for Christ, and an exciting vision on the Fall horizon.
We now find ourselves in the middle of August with plans for another Love Philly weekend with a community cookout and concert on Labor Day weekend where we will be inviting the whole community. We not long ago celebrated our first year together in our new configuration with p. Tony & p. Dwight working together to reach Philly. It has been now been 6 months since we took on the precious Body in Hatboro.
We now plan to open our Fall semester of Bible College in a couple weeks. We will be offering classes based on our MBC&S Pathfinder's Course load with a video class from Baltimore.
You may already know but at present I am pastoring two churches of about 30 people each with the awesome help of p. Dwight & p. Tony; one in downtown Philadelphia & the other 25 minutes north in Hatboro on the edge of Philadelphia. This past year we have seen new folks come into the assembly and deep growth in people's lives. We have also seen a real spiritual battle for people's lives and their decisions yet there have been greater victories in people's lives and families.
P. Jim & Peg Hoppe have retired back in February and are enjoying the fruit of their 25 years of labor in Hatboro and 57 years of marriage. They have been true friends in the ministry supporting Dr. Stevens and are solidly behind p. Schaller and the Body in Baltimore. Let's continue to pray for them as they struggle at times financially.
We covet your prayers (and visits!) > For growth and depth in the lives of those Body members in the Philly area > For God's choice of renters of our home in Baltimore so that we may move to Philly in September > For the Pallotta family already living & working in the Philly region. > For a university church on the West Side of Philly in University City in the fall. > For a building we may rent full-time in Center-City. > The Bible school classes we begin in September & for God to call specific students > For our Saturday outreach team that comes up at times staying over for Sunday > For the messages, the visits and outreach - for God to bring the increase.
We so appreciate your prayers and support in this labor of love in a very historic and important part of our country.
Please visit us at our website: ggcphila.org
May God bless you richly Pastor Christian & Gosia Moore
Holy men of soberer and quieter times than ours knew well the power of silence. David said, I was dumb with silence, I held my peace, even from good; and my sorrow was stirred. My heart was hot within me; while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue. There is a tip here for God's modern prophets. The heart seldom gets hot while the mouth is open. A closed mouth before God and a silent heart are indispensable for the reception of certain kinds of truth. No man is qualified to speak who has not first listened. It might well be a wonderful revelation to some Christians if they were to get completely quiet for a short time, long enough, let us say, to get acquainted with their own souls, and to listen in the silence for the deep voice of the Eternal God. The experience, if repeated often enough, would do more to cure our ulcers than all the pills that ever rolled across a desk. - A.W Tozer
“To be a Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you.” ― C.S. Lewis
Hebrews 10:2 "...because that the worshippers once purged should have had no more conscience of sins."
Proverbs 19:11 "The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression."
• Prayer is hindered when stubborn un-forgiveness reigns. Though we approach this subject of forgiveness today; it takes a lifetime to implement, daily applying the healing balm of Gilead.
• Forgiving is the breath we inhale - prayer is the breath we exhale. Anything less is spiritual suffocation. Much has been written about the affect that unforgiveness has on the human body, the human psyche, and the quality of life. Forgiveness is vital to our life energy, it is not optional. We must forgive & we are most like God when we do.
• Most Christian psychologists agree that forgiveness begins when the victim that has been unjustly hurt or violated, willingly releases the painful debt owed by the offender for the purpose of healing for both parties. The human conscience fashioned after the likeness of God requires payment for offence. The offense cannot be brushed aside or ignored. The way the conscience is built is that it will quietly seek out resolution and justice until it is satisfied. Then it will rest.
• Three unresolved things that must be addressed in a believer's life and healed by the cleansing catharsis of forgiveness for him to advance down the road of communion with The Master in prayer: 1. Forgiving ourselves. 2. Forgiving others. 3. Forgiving God.
Forgiveness comes full circle when the offended out of compassion for the perpetrator prays for them and for their blessing
Proofs of Forgiveness: • We are most like God when we forgive. As we see with Joseph and his brothers:
1. Don't tell anyone what they did - (2 Sam 1.20- Publish it not in Gath) 2. Don't destroy their reputation due to the fact you don't want people to think well of them - Malice - Eph 4.31 3. Don't make/allow them to be afraid of you - "Fear not, it is I" - Gen 50.19 4. Doesn't matter if they feel sorry or not - don't let them or make them feel guilty Gen 45.5 5. Let them save face - cover it. Don't let them know you're hurt - 45.11 6. Protect them from their darkest secret. Gen 45.15,16 7. Total forgiveness is a life sentence - something you do for the rest of your life - Gen 50.19-36
• In the end, what finally destroys every relationship is an inability to forgive. It isn’t the offense that destroys the relationship, it is the inability to forgive that destroys the relationship.
• the inability to forgive not only destroys relationship, it destroys the people who don’t forgive.
• We live in a society that has made a virtue...or tried to make a virtue out of vindictiveness
• To live in unforgiveness imprisons a person to their past
• We must forgive. There is no choice. Do it for Christ's sake. Do it for your sake
“Only the brave know how to forgive. It is the most refined and generous element of human virtue. Cowards have done good deeds and performed kind acts. Cowards have even fought and conquered. But cowards never forgive. It’s not in their nature, their hearts. The power to forgive flows only from a strength and a greatness of soul, conscious of its own humility and security and able to rise above all the little temptations of resenting every fruitless attempt to steal its happiness,” - Lawrence Stern.
Now faith is the title deed of things hoped for, the proof of things which are not being seen. 2 For by means of this [namely, faith] the elders had witness borne to them. - Hebrews 11.1
Some people never experience what God's plan has in store for them because they do not take steps of obedience in the proposition of God's call in their life to walk by faith. Instead of stepping out by faith to walk on the water in their lives in victory out to meet Jesus they procrastinate - rationalizing by what they see and what they feel until they have talked themselves out of a wonderful blessing waiting for them just around the corner. Out of a nation of 2 million people - 2 men were thinking with God about His will. By Faith Caleb & Joshua obtained a good report about the land they were commanded to posses and they challenged and inspired the whole nation of Israel to move forward.Those that walk by faith will always be in the minority thus leading their nation. If we hear the call from God to forgive, or to take a stand for truth in a circle of our peers or simply to give grace, than we default into living, thinking & functioning naturally wondering why there is no supernatural victorious characteristic in our lives as Christians. Without faith it is impossible to please God. Without faith our lives & our Christianity becomes no different than the pagan religions of control, ritual and monotony. Discover God's purposes and dreams for you, take steps forward in obedience, and enjoy the adventure!
"Factory Forever Unlock" - (Factory unlock is not a software unlock but a factory unlock is forever even if you upgrade your iOS software) > iPhone 4 & 4s GSM (AT&T iPhones only) - Factory - 150$ (not Sprint or Verizon iPhones) > iPhone 3gs GSM (AT&T iPhones only) - 70$
Battery Change (we will replace the built in used battery with a new battery) > iPhone 4 - battery change - 95$ > iPhone 4s - battery change - 125$
Call or text: 410.575.3838 Email: hit the "CONTACT" link at the top menu of this blog
We have a special task ahead of us as we begin our Grace Bible Chapel reVision Project. This will be the beginning of our TLC project for our chapel. We will need all hands on deck and would love to have you join in with a little or a lot of help. Food & housing provided. Roll up your sleeves and jump in!
Here are some abbreviated draft notes from a message we preached Sunday in Philly. This is part 2 from last Sunday on Toxic Relationships. Next Sunday will be part 3 of the series and will be on Deliverance & Healing from Toxicity in the Soul & in Relationships.
Mark 7:20-23 - Amplified Bible And He said, What comes out of a man is what makes a man unclean and renders [him] unhallowed. 21 For from within, [that is] out of the hearts of men, come base and wicked thoughts, sexual immorality, stealing, murder, adultery, 22 Coveting (a greedy desire to have more wealth), dangerous and destructive wickedness, deceit; unrestrained (indecent) conduct; an evil eye (envy), slander (evil speaking, malicious misrepresentation, abusiveness), pride ( the sin of an uplifted heart against God and man), foolishness (folly, lack of sense, recklessness, thoughtlessness). 23 All these evil [purposes and desires] come from within, and they make the man unclean and render him unhallowed.
The toxicity that we all see in relationships come all too often from our own toxic heart. The toxic heart in the Bible is the heart in Ezekiel 36.26 where all the pollutants of Mark 7:20-23 can be found in everyman's heart.
God wants to replace this heart with a new heart. He gives a soft heart that is tuned to the frequency of God's thoughts and impulses - Jer 24.7
Toxic thinking begins anytime our thought process excludes God's Grace and we exit Faith thinking.
Toxic thinking is something that finds root when we surrender to toxic influences in 4 areas of life: 1. Commercial philosophy 2. Carnal Entertainment & worldly social trends 3. Toxic People 4. Man-Made Religion
Toxic thinking leads to:
1. Toxic emotions: >Bitterness and resentment >Envy and comparison >Anger and rage >Fear and worry >Resident Guilt & permeating shame.
3. Toxic behavior >Impulsive - Compulsive >Lack of focus, concentration >Addictive habits >Neurological & Pathological >Weak Character - lying, etc
4. Toxic words: >Lethal conversation
Points on Toxicity in the soul. 1. Before we deal with toxicity in other's we must learn to guard the heart by hiding His word in our heart.
2. Any area of our soul that we do not surrender to the cross is an area that will become toxic and corrupt the inside of the soul.
3. Toxicity oozes from un-healed wounds in the soul. Past relationships, betrayals, post-separation, or wounds caused by toxic people need to be addressed with applying forgiveness and prayer for those people. Otherwise the wound remains painful to touch & festers for decades to come.
4. Toxicity can be transferred from mother to daughter, father to son and even from partner to partner. It is transferred through the soul to another unguarded heart where it is emotionally embedded like an old shipwreck embedded in the bottom of the sea.
5. Toxicity causes bitter waters and anyone that drinks from them poisons themselves unknowingly. Guard your heart, Apply the cross in any toxic area of the soul. The cross is the healer.
The Cross - The healer of Toxic Waters in the Soul. "And when they came to Marah, they could not drink of the waters of Marah for they were bitter: therefore the name of it was called Marah. And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink? And he cried unto the Lord, and the Lord showed him a TREE, which when he had cast into the waters, the waters were made sweet."—Exodus 15:23-25.
In these past two weeks I have gotten several calls and emails about dear friends that are in such extreme pain that they feel they will lose their sanity. After prayer the Lord gave me a few thoughts I'd like to pass on.
"Before I was afflicted I went astray." - David the Psalmist
In our culture bent on pleasure people fear pain. Pain today is not accepted, pain is inconvenient, has no purpose, and not beneficial. Pain is considered a thief that steals. Today pain is treated with "pain killers" which may help somewhat but do not numb the soul pain that accompanies physical pain. Drugs and anti-depressants do not address the deep pain of the soul - but compound it. Many people have discovered that pain that God allowed in their life - whether seen or unseen - has become their greatest asset in their spirituality.
Basically the purpose of pain is to prepare us to receive something radically beautiful from God. Extreme pain and suffering brings the soul to a boiling point so all the impurities embedded in the soul rise to the top. God then removes these impurities of fear, anger, bitterness, and unbelief so that our soul is free from these elements that harm the health of our soul. When we are in extreme pain, don't strive in your spirituality; we should become very quiet in our soul and not try to say a lot to God or people. We should be quiet before God and still. People generally do not understand other's pain and often give poor counsel or even may say hurtful things that are so far from the Mind of God. People who have not suffered themselves or avoid pain in His Plan, lack a depth in their lives and cannot effectively counsel others in pain. Because of the few that voluntarily permit God to lead them into suffering there are few that know how to counsel the hurting. In your pain just allow God to love you and quietly speak to you. While in deep pain, there is the temptation to think subjectively in a sense of accusation, isolation, dependency, & loneliness, but learn to allow the truth of Isaiah 63.9 bear you up: In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them; in His love and in His pity He redeemed them; and He lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. For those who allow God to lead them into the valley of the shadow of death must remember that it's just that, a shadow of death.
Many questions come to our mind in pain. These questions must be stilled before the Everlasting Wise God who loves us. All these questions will be answered in time. As He delivered those 3 Hebrews while in the furnace, so he delivers our soul while in pain and not from pain. What God shows you in pain may be something that is not easily communicated to others until they themselves are suffering. After the horrible pain has ended we sense a cleansing and we trust Him and know Him more and he heals us from the scars of the pain that may linger in the soul.
When we suffer we have such a greater capacity of empathy with the ability to counsel and encourage other's suffering and pain. Remember, if someone permits the Lord of Psalm 23 to take them by the hand and lead them into suffering - the pain will translate into an exclusive reward and joy in what Paul the apostle called "the fellowship of His sufferings". After the suffering you will have the same confession as Job in the last chapter of his book: 42.5 "I had heard of You [only] by the hearing of the ear, but now my [spiritual] eye sees You."
Here are some draft notes from part 1 of a message we preached at Grace Bible Chapel (ggcphila.org) on Toxic Relationships.
Proverbs 14.1 is a tell tale verse describing healthy relationships and toxic ones. "the wise woman builds her house, but a foolish one tears it down with her own hands"
People; women or men, who suffer a poor self image and hold a low value of their own soul can attract toxic personalities that are either controlling, manipulative, con-artists, betrayers, fault-finders, prying, narcissistic, abusive, promise breakers, accusative, possessive, dangerous, angry, religiously cultic, jealous, manic, deceptive, & that will continually tear down. These people will convince a needy person that has low-confidence in themselves that everything is their fault in the dis-functionalities of the relationship. Toxic people steal people's life energy and eventually their lives and their uniqueness in who they are in God's eyes. Toxic people may actually prey on needy men or women that are hungry for love & acceptance.
The truth of God's love is the most vital nutrition of the soul, The human soul feeds on this love and this love is like sunshine that makes the soul bloom in God's wonderful plan and grace. Needy people that are not filled with the fullness of God's love, truth and purpose, are people that are hungry, they are searching for meaningful relationships on the interent, at work, at school, in church; that will feed their deficit for love. But they will go from relationship to relationship seeking for what they will never find: eternal unconditional love only found in God. This is what we call deficit motivation in relationship. Deficit motivation produces co-dependence in a relationship that is not healthy, and the relationship becomes an end in it self. This is a cursed relationship that will never experience satisfaction and promote individual growth and joy.
A mal-nutritioned soul starving for love may not actually believe that they are worthy of a healthy relationship because of resident guilt and they may remain in a poisonous relationship believing that that is actually what they deserve. Even if they understand the toxicity of the relationship, they may lack the courage to break free of it or get counsel. This is bondage. It's a soul based relationship conscious only of itself and what it wants, nothing in consideration of the other. It is a "serve me relationship" and not a "let me serve you love". There is no spiritual content in the relationship and that ends in the downward spiral of the relationship into self- destruction.
Just as Proverbs 14.1 describes, a toxic person (in this case in the verse we see it is a woman) is a person that tears down anything that has value in their life and is not interested in building anything eternal and lasting in God's eyes in the relationship. That is because the toxic person is themselves be-shelved in their soul.
Signs of a toxic relationship: 1. Co-dependence to the point of the loss of personal individuality & freedom in Christ 2. Manipulation with guilt and emotional tantrums 3. Abusive, negative words that persistently tear down 4. No selflessness, but rather an ego-centric or narcissistic orientation in communication & behavior. 5. Insincere behavior - lying, stealing, betrayal, and promise-breaking. 6. Jealousy that manifests itself in continual prying; "where were you?" "who were you with?". Also invading personal property or information. 7. Over sensitivity due to unhealed wounds festering in the soul. 8. Unwillingness to allow freedom to be who someone is in the church or among friends & family. 9. A forced withdrawal from the church, family, friends, with the accusation "you don't love me" 10. A continual downward depression of low self-esteem, hopelessness, and feeling smothered & trapped.
A healthy relationship is one we see illustrated through Christ who is the best lover of your soul because He was the creator of it. He laid his life down to the shedding of His own Blood in obedience to His Father's love - Philippians 2 is a classic chapter on a healthy relationship between the Father and His only son and between each other in the church. The church is to be the place where an environment is provided by the Holy Spirit and the Word of Grace for people to courageously discover who they are in Christ as a new creation and what God's gifted them to do in their high and holy calling.
- P.Christian Moore
Enjoy a video of what Greater Grace Ministry is doing by God's enablement in Philly!
Today as we celebrate our nation's birthday we have a keen underlying persuasion of what true freedom is. The true freedom we rejoice in is that we have been set free from the slavery of the bondage that the Law of Moses brought in accentuating the law of sin and death. Romans 8.2-3 is our Declaration of Independence: "For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death. For God has done what the Law could not do, [its power] being weakened by the flesh [ the entire nature of man without the Holy Spirit]. Sending His own Son in the guise of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, [God] condemned sin in the flesh [ subdued, overcame, deprived it of its power over all who accept that sacrifice]." We are now free to love God, His Plan, & His People!
My Pastor leaned over and as handed me something to read he asked "you wanna read something heavy?"
I'd like to recommend a book that tackles the honest state of American Christianity.
Here is Amazon's review of the book with a link to read the Prologue of the book for free on Google books. "... In Bad Religion he [Douthat] offers a masterful and hard-hitting account of how American Christianity has gone off the rails—and why it threatens to take American society with it. Writing for an era dominated by recession, gridlock, and fears of American decline, Douthat exposes the spiritual roots of the nation’s political and economic crises. He argues that America’s problem isn’t too much religion, as a growing chorus of atheists have argued; nor is it an intolerant secularism, as many on the Christian right believe. Rather, it’s bad religion: the slow-motion collapse of traditional faith and the rise of a variety of pseudo-Christianities that stroke our egos, indulge our follies, and encourage our worst impulses.
These faiths speak from many pulpits—conservative and liberal, political and pop cultural, traditionally religious and fashionably “spiritual”—and many of their preachers claim a Christian warrant. But they are increasingly offering distortions of traditional Christianity—not the real thing. Christianity’s place in American life has increasingly been taken over, not by atheism, Douthat argues, but by heresy: debased versions of Christian faith that breed hubris, greed, and self-absorption.
In a story that moves from the 1950s to the age of Obama, he brilliantly charts institutional Christianity’s decline from a vigorous, mainstream, and bipartisan faith—which acted as a “vital center” and the moral force behind the civil rights movement—through the culture wars of the 1960s and 1970s to the polarizing debates of the present day. Ranging from Glenn Beck to Barack Obama, Eat Pray Love to Joel Osteen, and Oprah Winfrey to The Da Vinci Code, Douthat explores how the prosperity gospel’s mantra of “pray and grow rich,” a cult of self-esteem that reduces God to a life coach, and the warring political religions of left and right have crippled the country’s ability to confront our most pressing challenges and accelerated American decline.
His urgent call for a revival of traditional Christianity is sure to generate controversy, and it will be vital reading for all those concerned about the imperiled American future."
Here you can read the first 25 pages free: http://bit.ly/KlQwKd
Proverbs 14.34: "Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people." George Washington our 1st President said regarding patriotism: "While we are zealously performing the duties of good citizens and soldiers, we certainly ought not to be inattentive to the higher duties of religion." The love of country is noble and healthy but the higher duties Washington writes of are outlined in our personal convictions living for Christ in a time where standing for truths that our nation were founded on is now passé. David, a righteous king who reigned fearing God & His Word wrote in Psalm 11.3: "If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do?" Many Christians today are disoriented to what their duty is in a nation that is sinking in its morals. The best thing we can do for our country today is walk with God personally & share the Gospel with our neighbor
"Facebook introduced me to world of internet social networking. I was in an orchestral board meeting and I mentioned "the rolodex." I got real laughter. "You use a rolodex?" I was bewildered. I had not heard that rolodex was out. "People use facebook now." Well, I didn't know that facebook had replaced the rolodex, but the one telling me was a high level manager in a large Bay Area company. I figured he must be right. "Rolodex" was truly funny to several people in that meeting.
I had joined facebook without really thinking about what I was doing. Sometimes I make picks for the games of the NCAA basketball tournament. I decided to make them on the CBS sportsline website. I liked the way that my choices looked in their proper place on the bracket on the computer screen. To use their bracket I had to join this "facebook" thing I had vaguely heard of. This was several years ago. After I signed up, I started getting requests in my email box, asking me to be a friend. I always said, "no," and deleted them. I hadn't even looked at my facebook site. About six months ago, I decided to become more active at facebook because it was something my son was going to be involved with and I wanted him to have accountability.
I learned a little about facebook. There were many aspects about it that I never liked. I was always uncomfortable there. Everyone in our family has now deleted his facebook account. I'm going to tell my problems with facebook. This will give someone reasons why to delete a facebook account. I'm not expecting that any one of these reasons will be enough to persuade someone to drop it like I did, but all of them combined should at least get you thinking. Once I deleted my account, I have not only not missed it, but it has been wonderful to lose it.
1. Facebook hinders scriptural values.
Facebook wasn't around when David Wells wrote No Place for Truth, but if it was, I think he would have written about it in that book.
Having turned inward in a search for meaning, we turn outward in a search for direction, scanning others for the social signals they emit regarding what is in and what is out, what is desirable and what is not. . . . This person is oriented not to inner values but to other people. It is in the peer group that acceptance is found and outcasts are named. . . . Where once people took pride in accomplishments and in their character, [they] think only of how they stand with others. . . . Once people worked to achieve tangible ends, to accomplish things. Now, such accomplishments are of far less significance than one's "image." Once people worked; now they manipulate. Once people sweated; now they seduce. Once people wished to be respected, to have their accomplishments recognized; now they wish to be envied, regardless of whether they are envied for anything they have actually accomplished. This characteristic of modernity does not orient itself toward God, but toward people. It influences away from judging based on scriptural values and toward judging based upon a societal norm.
2. Facebook alters the biblical understanding of friendship.
To be a friend at facebook, just click. Normally I'm careful with whom I choose as friends. I might be able to be a friend to someone, but someone can't be a friend to me without fulfilling certain characteristics. James tells us (4:4) that friendship with the world is enmity with God. I can't have enmity with God, so I can restrain myself in my choice of friends. I'm to have no company with certain people and mark and avoid others. People in your "friends" list at facebook might be people that would never join my church. We don't believe or practice the same. I don't want to call them my friends. In so doing, I believe I'm just dumbing down what the Bible says about a friend. Here's something else that Dr. Carl Trueman said about it:
The way of connecting with people on Facebook is, apparently, to `friend' somebody. That the noun has become a verb is scarcely cause for concern; but the cheapening of the word surely is. Simply to be linked to someone on the internet is not true friendship; yet the use of the word creates the image that such is the case, or at least blurs the difference between casual internet acquaintance and somebody for whom one might have real affinity, affection, and concern. . . . Further, as the language of friendship is hijacked and cheapened by these internet social networks, this cheapening itself is part and parcel of a redefining of intimacy based upon the erosion of the boundaries between the public and private.
3. Facebook sets wicked things before your eyes.
I can't control the content of what I look at on my facebook page. I not only look at things I don't want to see, but I invite others to look at them when they look at my facebook page. Pictures, advertisements, and statements show up that I don't want to see or have others see either.
4. Facebook causes people to stumble.
I might be able to handle some of what my "friends" believe and practice, but not everyone can. I'd rather not introduce people to other people that I'd rather they didn't meet.
5. Facebook hinders real discernment.
If you were to judge each of your friends based upon a scriptural standard, you would probably lose a large number of them. But you don't. Why? You want to be sociable. It encourages you to make decisions based upon how you feel instead of what the Bible says.
6. Facebook wastes time.
I know you could argue with me on this one by pointing out other ways I waste time. You may think that I'm doing that by writing this blog. Fine. I think it's different but I'm not going to take the time to defend my blog writing right now. Here's how facebook uniquely wastes time. You open yourself up to social activity that you wouldn't choose as a good use of your minutes. You have a friend who isn't much of a friend. That friend writes on your wall. Now what do you have to do? You have to write something back to him. Don't you want to keep your choices about communication under control? You have created new things to take away time from something productive. If you have facebook, you've got to maintain it. Is it worth maintaining?
7. Facebook encourages busybodying.
I've had people ask to be my friend whom I know don't care about me. I know they don't really want to be my friend. What is it that people want? They want to find out what you're doing. I'm not ashamed of what I'm doing, but I believe that this kind of voyeurism fits the biblical criteria of the busybody. It influences others toward being one. "Why did so and so become his friend and not mine?" "I wonder why he has so many friends or who those people are."
8. Facebook hinders real relationships.
Do you think that a real relationship is sitting in front of a computer screen at 11:00 at night? When you could be talking to a real person either in person or by phone, you are constructing your facebook persona.
9. Facebook doesn't like bold, biblical Christianity.
Watch your "friends" list shrink when you confront people about something sinful on their wall, in a photo, or in a comment. Facebook isn't designed for confrontational Christianity, the kind we see Jesus do in the Bible. Typical facebook brings up something essentially secular, earthly, or temporal. You then interact on the same level, training yourself to do more of it. It is a bastion of compromise.
10. Facebook redefines biblical community.
In a real community people do things for each other. Facebook isn't about doing anything to help anyone. I'm not saying that nothing can be done, but it doesn't encourage that. It encourages a fake community. You can join a cause, but what does the cause really do? When you're asked to join a cause, for instance, against internet pornography. That is good. That's a wonderful thing to be against. I'm even for being in a group that is against it. It might even make me think more about being against it. But how are you helping get rid of pornography? What you could do is talk to someone that has an immodest picture up and ask him to take it down. And I really am part of a group that is already against it---my church.
11. Facebook offers way too much acceptance.
Much of what is on facebook should be rejected. However, facebook is all about affirming. You affirm people that really need confrontation. Since very often you can't really know the person you're talking to, you could easily be reaffirming someone with a lukewarm, worldly brand of Christianity that isn't honoring to Christ.
12. Facebook is too public.
Yes, too public. What do I mean? It offers people an opportunity to snoop around and get information. I recognize that you have means on facebook to control that, but it still is a place for trolling perverts. I don't want to be on the same playing field with them or encourage others to be there with me....and him.
13. Facebook preys on fleshly tendencies of man's nature.
Facebook makes you think too much about yourself. Your status shouldn't matter. Someone shouldn't have to return a comment just because you've made one. Facebook fits the narcissism of our day in which men have become lovers of their own selves. What difference does it make how many friends you have as long as you have the friend of sinners Himself, the Lord Jesus.
14. Facebook breaks down decent language.
You can talk right on facebook, but it doesn't encourage it. What it encourages is drivel. We should want to elevate one another, to bring up the level of discourse. That doesn't occur when these abbreviations and slang are used. Young people even feel pressured to bow to talking like this. It attacks spelling, grammar, syntax, and cogent thought. It's lazy speech and many times gutter language.
15. Facebook spawns fraudulence and hypocrisy.
You don't have to be who you are on facebook. You can create a whole different persona of yourself that is a lie. It spawns this kind of activity. Here's what Trueman wrote on this:
On Facebook, I can be anybody I want to be: an eighteen year old Californian with a six-pack, good teeth, a sun tan and a pilot's license; or even a 25 year old blonde beauty queen from North Carolina with a degree in astrophysics. I can become the ultimate in self-created beings - a factor which, I am sure, also partially explains the massive, if little noted, popularity of role-playing video games in the modern world. In virtual world, be it Facebook or the undersea city portrayed in Bioshock, I can be anyone I choose to be. I am the Creator; or at least, I have the potential to think I am. Even if you sort of know who you're talking to, the person can take advantage of the anonymity of it.
16. Facebook tempts toward infidelity.
I've seen married women talking to younger men on facebook, legitimizing this kind of relationship and giving a false boost to the boy's ego. Her picture might be the most inviting, even a little risque, putting thoughts in his mind that he shouldn't have. Men like to hear someone boast on them, and perhaps they're not getting enough of that at home. These places and others stimulate that kind of activity. Men and women mix in unhealthy ways that would be discouraged in a different setting. Her husband may not be talking to her like she is talked to. She doesn't have to work at it. She can just go to her facebook to get what she needs.
17. Facebook makes you a consumer in a day when we need more producers.
Facebook is a company. They sell ads. They make money off of you. You may not buy anything, but you are another statistic for them to use to sell ads. In other words, facebook is using you. You may think that you are using facebook, but I would say that the owners think otherwise, especially as they laugh all the way to the bank.
18. Facebook is an easy temptation when you need to be getting something done---really done.
You need to write. Go to facebook instead. Homework not done. Gotta do facebook. Need to memorize some Scripture. Facebook is there. Haven't exercised. Oh well, let's facebook. Trueman again writes:
Well, the virtual world is new but it is here to stay; and it will no doubt continue to shape human behavior and self-understanding. We cannot ignore it but neither should we simply allow it to dictate to us who we are and how we think. Thus, we must teach people by precept and example that real life is lived primarily in real time in real places by real bodies. Pale and pimply bloggers who spend most of their spare time onanistically opining about themselves and their issues and in befriending pals made up of pixels are not living life to the full; nor are those whose lives revolve around videogames; rather they are human amoebas, subsisting in a bizarre non-world which involves no risk to themselves, no giving of themselves to others, no true vulnerability, no commitment, no self-sacrifice, no real meaning or value. To borrow a phrase from Thoreau, the tragedy of such is that, when they come to die, they may well discover that they have never actually lived.
For myself, I rejoice that I grew up before the web and the videogame supplanted the real world of real friendships, real discussions, real lives. I did not spend my youth growing obese and developing Vitamin D deficiency in front of an illuminated screen, living my life through the medium of pixels.
19. Facebook causes more facebook.
Very few people could handle facebook in a scriptural manner. It offers so many temptations. The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.
Nineteen might seem like a lot. I could have named more." - Kent Brandenburg
Original post: http://kentbrandenburg.blogspot.com/2009/02/why-to-delete-facebook-account.html
When the Enemy comes in like a tsunami flood; 9 times out of 10 we get subjective, self-conscious, and sink into our little limited world of hurt, sorrow and fear. Then our perception of life and those around us becomes un-objective subject to our own private interpretation and not from God's Word of Promise. That's because we stop looking at our Victor Jesus Christ who beat sin & death at the Cross. Much of the time we slip into this downward spiral because of not the great mountain but the little things that cause us to panic. Elijah that great courageous prophet fled not from the voice of a king or an army but from the threat of a woman. Satan is a liar and his lies are purposed to stun us from manifesting the Glorious Gospel of Grace & to live in self pity. Let's learn to lay hold of the promise & live in our place in the Body & not our feelings.
I read this recently and it spoke to me about STILLNESS. Here is an excerpt from Fenelon's Book:
"It is certain from the Holy Scriptures (Rom. viii.; John xiv.,) that the Spirit of God dwells within us, acts there, prays without ceasing, groans, desires, asks for us what we know not how to ask for ourselves, urges us on, animates us, speaks to us when we are silent, suggests to us all truth, and so unites us to Him that we become one spirit. (1 Cor. vi. 17.) This is the teaching of faith, and even those instructors who are farthest removed from the interior life, cannot avoid acknowledging so much. Still, notwithstanding these theoretical principles, they always strive to maintain that in practice the external law, or at least a certain light of learning and reason, illuminates us within, and that then our understanding acts of itself from that instruction. They do not rely sufficiently upon the interior teacher, the Holy Spirit, who does everything in us. He is the soul of our soul; we could not form a thought or a desire without Him. Alas! what blindness is ours! We reckon ourselves alone in the interior sanctuary, when God is much more intimately present there than we are ourselves.
What, then! you will say, are we all inspired? Yes, doubtless; but not as were the prophets and apostles. Without the actual inspiration of the Spirit of grace, we could neither do, nor will, nor believe any good thing. We are, then, always inspired, but we incessantly stifle the inspiration. God does not cease to speak, but the noise of the creatures without, and of our passions within, confines us and prevents our hearing. We must silence every creature, including self, that in the deep stillness of the soul we may perceive the ineffable voice of the Bridegroom. We must lend an attentive ear, for his voice is soft and still, and is only heard of those who hear nothing else!
Ah, how rare is it to find a soul still enough to hear God speak! The slightest murmur of our vain desires, or of a love fixed upon self, confounds all the words of the Spirit of God. We hear well enough that he is speaking, and that he is asking for something, but we cannot distinguish what is said, and are often glad enough that we cannot. The least reserve, the slightest self-reflective act, the most imperceptible fear of hearing too clearly what God demands, interferes with the interior voice. Need we be astonished, then, if so many people, pious indeed, but full of amusements, vain desires, false wisdom, and confidence in their own virtues, cannot hear it, and consider its existence as a dream of fanatics? Alas! what would they with their proud reasonings? Of what efficacy would be the exterior word of pastors, or even of the Scriptures themselves, if we had not within, the word of the Holy Spirit giving to the others all their vitality? The outward word, even of the Gospel, without the fecundating, vivifying, interior word would be but an empty sound. It is the letter that alone killeth (2 Cor. iii. 6), and the Spirit alone can give us life.
O! eternal and omnipotent word of the Father, it is thou that speakest in the depth of our souls! The word that proceeded from the mouth of the Saviour, during the days of his mortal life, has only had energy to produce such wonderous fruits, because it has been animated by that Spirit of life which is The Word itself. Hence it is that St. Peter says: Lord, to whom shall we go? Thou hast the words of eternal life. (John vi. 68.)
It is not, then, the outward law of the Gospel alone which God shows us internally, by the light of reason and faith; it is his Spirit that speaks, touches, operates in and animates us; so that it is the Spirit which does in us and with us whatever we do that is good, as it is our soul that gives life to our body, and regulates all its movements.
It is, then, true, that we are continually inspired, and that we do not lead a gracious life, except so far as we act under this interior inspiration. But O God! how few Christians feel it! how few are they, who do not annihilate it by their voluntary distractions, or by their resistance!
I thank thee, O my God with Jesus Christ, that Thou hast hid thine ineffable secrets from these great and wise ones, whilst Thou takest pleasure in revealing them to feeble and humble souls! It is with babes alone that Thou art wholly unreserved; the others Thou treatest in their own way; they desire knowledge and great virtues, and Thou givest them dazzling illuminations, and convertest them into heroes. But this is not the better part; there is something more hidden for thy dearest children; they lie with John on thy breast. As for these great ones who are constantly afraid of stooping and becoming lowly, Thou leavest them in all their greatness; they shall never share thy caresses and thy familiarity, for to deserve these, they must become as little children, and play upon thy knees.
I have often observed that a rude, ignorant sinner, just beginning to be touched by a lively sense of the love of God, is much more disposed to listen to this inward language of the Spirit of Grace, than those enlightened and learned persons who have grown old in their own wisdom. God, whose sole desire is to communicate Himself, cannot, so to speak, find where to set his foot in souls so full of themselves, who have grown fat upon their own wisdom and virtues; but, as says the Scripture, "his secret is with the simple." (Prov. iii. 32. vulg.)
I was once as wise as any; thinking I saw everything, I saw nothing; I crept along feeling my way by a succession of reasonings, but there was no ray to enlighten my darkness; I was content to reason. But when we have silenced everything within, that we may listen to God, we know all things without knowing anything, and then perceive that, until then, we were utterly ignorant of all that we thought we understood. We lose all that we once had, and care not for it; we have then no more that belongs to self; all things are lost, and we with them. There is something within that joins with the spouse in the Canticles in saying; "Let me see thy countenance, let he hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice and thy countenance is comely." (Sol. Song, ii. 14.) Ah! how sweet is that voice, it makes me all tremulous within! Speak, O beloved, and let none other dare to speak but Thee! Be still, my soul; speak, Love!
Then it is that we know all things without knowing anything. Not that we have the presumption to suppose that we possess in ourselves all truth. No! on the contrary, we feel that we see nothing, can do nothing, and are nothing: we feel it and are delighted at it. But in this unreserved abandonment, we find everything we need from moment to moment, in the infinity of God. There we find the daily bread of knowledge, as of everything else, without lying up; then the unction from above teaches us all truth, while it takes away our own wisdom, glory, interest, yea, our own will; it makes us content with our powerlessness, and with a position below every creature; we are ready to yield to the merest worms of the dust, and to confess our most secret miseries before the whole world, fearing unfaithfulness more than punishment and confusion of face.
Here it is, I say, that the Spirit teaches us all truth; for all truth is eminently contained in this sacrifice of love, where the soul strips itself of everything to present it to God."