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The politics of evil

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Evil

adjective
profoundly immoral and wicked

Evil appears in many ways in American society today. Whether we categorize it under different headings such as murder, various kinds of abuse, organized crime, or any number of extreme acts of violence, evil abounds in America.

There is one type of evil however that exceeds any of the aforementioned types. This evil is so diabolical as to stagger the imagination. Not only that, it is openly flaunted by millions in this country as their highest example of freedom, liberty, and the power of choice.

This evil has become a type of sinister litmus test in determining one’s political affiliation. Get on board and you are “in”. Resistance is futile however, and will banish any detractor to the category of Right Wing Neanderthalism.

This profound evil not only has a name, but it is endorsed by the full power and authority of the United States government. So powerful is this evil that it has managed to withstand a continual onslaught of legal challenges to its existence.

What is this ‘profoundly and immoral’ evil?

It’s name is ABORTION, and if the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates has its way, this evil is about to take a quantum leap to a level not imagined by any current or previous abortion proponent.

A recent article in the New York Times entitled “On Abortion Rights, 2020 Democrats Move Past Safe, Legal, and Rare” gives us an insight into just how deeply entrenched the evil that is called ABORTION has embedded itself into our culture.

The Times article notes that the presidential hopefuls are embracing what they call “far-reaching” abortion extremism by supporting abortion positions that most Americans disagree with. Most candidates, it seems, want taxpayer-funding for elective abortions, and few support any restrictions on abortion in the third trimester.

So in other words, the fact that most Americans disagree with these extremist abortion positions means nothing. Not only does it not matter that most don’t agree with their positions, these politicians want you and I to pay for them as well because if you are opposed to such an abomination, you quite simply don’t matter.

It is unconscionable that a nation who purports to believe in God could have arrived at such a dark place. Yet here we are, and the truth is that not only have we fallen from the pinnacle of idealistic morality, there are those among us who declare we should be proud of this!

Consider the recent statement from Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, who claimed that supporting the killing of unborn babies for any reason up to birth is something candidates should be proud of.

“They’re setting the tone that this is something we should own proudly, and not just react to when something happens,” Hogue said.

They(the current crop of Democratic presidential candidates) are setting the tone for all of us that killing children in the womb is something we should proudly “own”. Let that sink in for a minute. We should give honor to these people because they are setting the tone for us to proudly “own” the murder of the innocent.

Well, there is one part of Hogue’s diatribe I can agree with. We will “own” this, and we will answer for it when every one of us stands before a righteous God. That includes those who stand in their pulpits every Sunday, belching forth their latest sermonette replete with a myriad of jokes and pleasantries, all while never daring to warn the sheep of the impending destruction that awaits.

“Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you: Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead”. 1st Peter 4:4,5 KJV

I don’t know which is worse. The fact that these candidates do not want any restrictions on abortion, or that these candidates actually invoke the name of the Almighty in their speeches.

Actually, this is further proof of just how deeply Satan has ingrained himself in the psyche of American culture. That we could “own” such a heathen practice as abortion while still claiming to be “Christian” is undeniable proof of the following texts:

For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ. And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  2nd Cor. 11:13,14  KJV  emphasis mine

While America is embroiled in bitter division over whether or not the boogeyman (aka Donald Trump) has committed impeachable offenses, the devil is busy at work right under our noses in an all out assault on the collective morality of this nation.

The evil that is abortion has proven to be the single greatest weapon in Satan’s arsenal against America, for it has served to undermine the foundation of our Christian heritage. Think about that, would you?

America has survived a Civil War that came close to destroying her. She has survived two World Wars. She has managed to come through wars in Korea and Vietnam. She is still engaged in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It is clear however that the enemy that will eventually conquer America will not come from a foreign power. No, the enemy that will be our undoing is alive and well right here in our midst. It is an enemy more powerful than any nuclear weapon or any army of soldiers.

It is the enemy of…

Evil

adjective
profoundly immoral and wicked

Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
Or a bride her attire?
Yet My people have forgotten Me days without number.  Jeremiah 2:32  NKJV

Because My people have forgotten Me,
They have burned incense to worthless idols.
And they have caused themselves to stumble in their ways,
From the ancient paths,
To walk in pathways and not on a highway,   Jeremiah 18:15  NKJV

We have but one hope America. Either we return to God with a repentant heart, or we continue the downward slide into oblivion.

May God have mercy on us.

Ron

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sorry Chick-fil-A, this isn’t your fight

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By now most of America and beyond has heard the news about Chick-fil-A issuing a statement saying they will no longer support certain charitable groups such as The Salvation Army and the Fellowship of Christian Athletes.

According to the press release from the company the restaurant chain has decided it “will deepen its giving to a smaller number of organizations working exclusively in the areas of education, homelessness and hunger”. Noticeably absent is any mention of faith-based groups, long a recipient of Chick-fil-A’s generosity.

Almost immediately after this press release, Christians came out of the woodwork accusing Chick-fil-A of caving in to the relentless pressure from the LGBT community. On the surface, that is exactly what it looks like has happened.

Reading the entire press release however leads one to believe otherwise. As any company has the right to do, Chick-fil-A says it has decided to go a different direction with it’s philanthropic endeavors by contributing $9 million dollars in more specific ways. [1]

Only time will tell the whole truth. Personally, I would like to believe that they did not in fact cave to external pressure, and are simply changing their course in mid stream.

The pessimist in me however believes that the company grew tired of the constant fear of boycotts and picketers,(along with an unending stream of negative publicity) and decided they had had enough.

Seriously, who could blame them if they did?

Now, all of this fuss over chicken nuggets (granted, the tastiest chicken nuggets on the planet) has always been blown out of proportion. Of course, it is no secret that the LGBT community would rather see every Chick-fil-A restaurant go bankrupt then continue to operate it’s business on Christian principles.  This is after all a spiritual battle, not a fight over who has the best chicken sandwich.

Just as obvious is the fact that had Chick-fil-A and Jesus never been mentioned in the same breath, they would have been thought of in the same manner as KFC,Zaxby’s, and Popeye’s. Just another chicken joint.

I think we all get that.

What concerns me far more than a systematic attack on a Christian-based restaurant chain however is the fact that Chick-fil-A has been forced to the forefront in defending Christianity. Why is that a concern you ask?

It is a concern because it is NOT the responsibility of Chick-fil-A (or any other business)to defend Jesus, Christianity, or the Church.

That responsibility falls squarely and solely on the shoulders of the Church, the Body of Christ. That’s you and me beloved.  Yes, the very same ones who couldn’t wait to criticize Chick-fil-A. Who, by the way, were noticeably absent when they could have used our support.

Yep, that’s you and me beloved. Quick to judge, so slow to defend.

How sad is it that a national restaurant chain is forced to defend not only it’s foundational operating beliefs, but the whole of Christianity itself while the church sits by silently? Aside from a recent post by Franklin Graham, I am unaware of any Christian leaders taking up the fight to proclaim the gospel alongside Chick-fil-A in the face of unbelievable hostilities.

Am I the only one that wonders when the famous TV preachers are going to remove their hand from your wallet and get back to preaching the WHOLE counsel of God? [2] As the days draw darker shouldn’t God’s anointed rise up in power and authority to confront the sins of our day? After all, that is exactly what our spiritual predecessors did!

Defending the faith is of course a very unpopular thing to do. It always has been. It cost eleven of the twelve Disciples their lives. Additionally, history has recorded that defending the faith has cost millions of believers their lives through various persecutions, inquisitions, and genocides. Sadly, this continues unabated in many parts of the world today. [3] [4]

The Church should be fearless and tireless in its efforts to proclaim God’s word to this generation. All of God’s word, not just a selective few “feel good verses”. She should not be hiding behind the counter of a chicken restaurant, afraid to declare what “thus says the Lord”.

These are dangerous days, even hostile days for Christians everywhere. Whether fighting over the right to operate a business based upon Christian principles or simply desiring to live one’s faith in a peaceful manner, the cost to do so is increasing daily.

I have said for many years that the day would come here in America when Christians would be largely on their own in the fight against the forces of darkness because the institutionalized Church would not have the courage to do so.

Don’t look now, but that day is at hand.

Be encouraged, in Jesus name!

Ron

 

[1] The complete news release from Chick-fil-A can be read here.

[2] Acts 20:27

[3] Read the 11th chapter of Hebrews (verses 35-37) for a detailed description of what many have been forced to endure while defending the faith.

[4] https://www.opendoorsusa.org/christian-persecution/world-watch-list/

 

Sometime’s your vision just needs to be cleared

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Have you ever given thought to how easily we can become complacent in just about every aspect of our lives?

For example, how many times on our jobs are we simply going through the motions? We’ve done it the same way so many times that now we don’t even have to think about it. We just do it, giving no thought to any new ideas or methods that may help to make the job easier or more productive. Along the way we miss things that are right in front of us, but all that matters is the doing.

Or have you ever considered the daily route you take to school or work? How many of us can remember the 1st time we took that journey? We were careful to stop when we were supposed to and turn at the right intersection, all because it was new to us. Fast forward a year and how much thought do we give to that same task? I dare say not much, if any at all. We could get there with our eyes closed.

This is what happens when complacency sets in. It clouds our vision. It destroys the anticipation of what might be. We miss new and exciting things that are right in front of us because our senses have become dull.

Did you know this very same thing happens to us in our service to the King? If we’re not careful, church becomes routine. Just another mindless task that we could simply mail in if we chose to do so. And we can definitely miss some incredible things that He has for us.

In his address to the seven churches of Revelation, Jesus confronted the apathy and complacency that had infiltrated the church near the close of the first century. No less than five of the seven churches had serious internal concerns that Jesus called attention to. [1]

  1. The church at Ephesus had lost its first love
  2. The church as Pergamos harbored those that taught false doctrines
  3. The church at Thyatira permitted false teachers to deceive God’s people
  4. The church at Sardis had become weakened to the point of death
  5. The church at Laodicea had become lukewarm to the point of being rejected

Apathy, coldness, indifference, and complacency marked these five churches. Though they all had different specific issues, they all shared a common malady: their vision of who Christ was had become dim and cloudy. They no longer saw Him for who He was.

Today, many of us are in a similar situation such as the churches of Revelation were. We do not love like we did when we first came to know the Lord. Gone is the zeal and enthusiasm for the things of God. Gone also is Christian love for one another. Worse still, many of us aren’t even aware that it’s gone.

We tolerate any teaching that comes from the pulpit because frankly we don’t really care. We don’t “fact check” what is being taught, instead we simply nod in agreement while keeping one eye on the clock. What does Biblical literacy matter anyhow, isn’t that what we pay the pastor for?

So many of our churches are on spiritual life support because they are no longer connected to the vine. Just as a severed branch will remain green for a little while, so it is with churches that have disconnected themselves from the Source of their strength. Like the church at Sardis, the grim reaper is at the door.

Without the passionate flame of the Holy Spirit continuously burning within us, we too become lukewarm and eventually cold and lifeless.

Fortunately, none of these things has to happen. Every one of them is preventable. All that’s required is to ask the Lord to help us. Ask Him to reveal to us where we are with Him.

Are we hot, cold, or lukewarm in our walk with the Lord? Do we love like we did when we first came to Christ, or do we love selectively or not at all?  Do we love the truth of God’s word, or are we content with any doctrine? Are we as connected as we once were, or are we in dire need of a Holy Ghost transfusion?

I’m praying that the Lord will open all of our eyes so that we might see ourselves exactly as he sees us. That he will remove the scales from our eyes and gives us 20/20 spiritual vision.

Be faithful to Him dear friends…

Ron

[1] Revelation chapters 1 & 2

 

 

Why we must resist spiritual pride

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Pride is one of those things that all of us possess in one form or another. Having pride in one’s appearance, taking pride in a job well done, or being proud of your children are all different types of pride that are looked upon as favorable.

Having a sense of pride however that borders on arrogance and superiority are not thought of as admirable traits, as most of us are not drawn to individuals possessing them.

When those traits creep into the church they lead to spiritual pride, or thinking too highly of ourselves. When we allow such pride to overtake us, we become unreasonable, rigid, self-serving, and see ourselves as nearly infallible. This does not reflect the nature of Jesus Christ.

For the Christian, this is a very dangerous place to be in because we become hardened to the Spirit of God. We are no longer malleable in the Masters hands, having convinced ourselves that “I’m in complete control, not God”.

Additionally, any Christian, especially one in leadership who operates under the guise of “it’s my way or the highway” is headed for a fall because the scripture makes it clear that “God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble”. [1]

When those in church leadership positions allow spiritual pride to enter their hearts, they seek honor for themselves and not God. Under the cover of their position or title they exalt themselves (the creature) instead of the Creator. [2]

You may be thinking that this is an extreme example, but I can assure you that it is not. As a matter of fact, there was a time in my past when I found myself in this very predicament, and I don’t think I’m too far off by saying many of you have struggled with this issue at some point in your life as well.

All of this matters because God has a divine plan for each of our lives, a plan where there is no room for a “haughty spirit”. [3] Part of that plan is to mold and shape us so that we conform to His image and not our own. God calls this a “transformation”, which the Apostle Paul spoke of to the church at Rome.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2  (emphasis mine)

When we become a born again Christian, a mighty transformation begins to happen in our lives. Because we live in this world and are a product of its ways, thoughts, and practices, this ‘conforming nature’ has to go if God is going to have his way in our lives.

In order for that to happen God has to first chip away at the “world” that has enveloped all of us. How does He accomplish this? This is accomplished when we are placed on the potter’s wheel as mentioned in Jeremiah. [4]

As the Lord deals with us and we begin to grow in our relationship with him, the transformation becomes visible for all to see. In essence, we are not the same person we were before we found Jesus. Old things pass away, all things now become new. [5]

During this process we must take care not to become spiritually proud and to think more highly of ourselves than we should. Again, the Apostle Paul speaks to this as well.

For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. Romans 12:3 (emphasis mine)

Paul is warning us here not to over-estimate ourselves. Don’t allow pride to enter your heart and cause you to become puffed up in your own eyes. This is a clear warning to be mindful of the dangers of spiritual pride.

We must not judge ourselves by our talents, our title, or our position in the church. Instead, we should measure ourselves by our Christian character. If Christ has been at work in our hearts, our character will be transformed, just as our minds are being renewed.

Anything less is not acceptable.

Be blessed, in Jesus name!

Ron

 

[1] James 4:6, 1st Peter 5:5

[2] Romans 1:25

[3] Proverbs 16:18

[4] Jeremiah 18:3

[5] 2nd Corinthians 5:17

 

 

The dangerous sin of Indifference

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Now, just the mention of the “S” word is a complete turn off to most people today, of this there can be little doubt. That three letter word conjures up other words such as judgement, guilt, and condemnation. None of which are exactly going to have people clamoring to read this post.

I get it.

Speaking of the “S” word, most Christians are aware of what Jesus referred to as the Unpardonable Sin, the blasphemy of the Holy Ghost. According to Jesus, every conceivable type of sin can be forgiven except this one. [1]

That may come as quite a surprise to those who see God as a ‘Grandpa’ figure that winks at every rebellious act of his grandchildren.

While often misunderstood, this statement makes it very clear that this should not be taken lightly, and to say that this is the single most dangerous sin that could be committed would not be an understatement.

There is another one of those “S” words to be avoided that I believe to be of equal importance today, and while not necessarily dooming the offender for all of eternity, nevertheless is of such importance that I believe it merits our attention.

I’m referring to the sin of indifference found in Revelation chapter 3. This is where Jesus confronts the church of Laodicea for their lukewarm condition. So important was this to Jesus that he said that because they were neither hot or cold, but lukewarm, he would vomit them out of his mouth if they did not repent. [2]

That’s because the church of Laodicea lacked a certain key element in their devotion to Christ, and that missing ingredient was passion. Thinking they had it all, Jesus had to remind them that he knew their works, and that they were lacking some very important things.

Imagine Jesus showing up at your church next Sunday and telling you that!

The Laodicean church was a very prosperous church. They were a church on the move. They were the church that didn’t need anyone or anything. If any church knew how to ‘do church’, it was this one. They had it all figured out. No bake sales and building funds needed here, that’s for sure.

They had a major problem though, which was that they were simply going through the motions of ‘doing church’. On the surface, they appeared to be “blessed and highly favored” (a newish term I personally find somewhat arrogant, but that’s another post).

If you haven’t figured it out by now, the Son of God has a real problem with His church not being totally dependent upon him. It’s true because when we become self-reliant, we act as though He doesn’t exist.

Here in America many of our churches are are blinded by the sin of indifference just like the church of Laodicea was. Speaking in broad terms here, our churches are ridiculously wealthy when compared with those in other countries, and what has this gained us?

Has our religious wealth bought us a closer walk with the Lord? Have our overflowing coffers stemmed the tide of worldliness that is so pervasive in our churches today? Have our riches enabled us to mount a successful counter attack against the evils of society? Are our collective billions eliminating hunger, drug abuse, prostitution, sex trafficking, or the homeless problem?

We all know the answer to these questions is a resounding NO. Just as the church of Laodicea found their riches to be their undoing, so it is with many of our own churches today. In essence we, like the Laodicean church, are rich and increased with goods, but are unaware of our own nakedness and blindness before the Lord. [3]

The Church was never intended to be like this. Even a cursory look at the book of Acts reveals that the true mission of the Church was to go and make disciples. [4] It was never intended that the church become fat and lazy, content to rest upon its laurels. God’s Church was always supposed to be a doing Church!

God has warned us in many ways that this would happen as the church crept closer to the time when Jesus would come the second time. He warned us through his word  and he warned us through the mouth of his servants. [5]

Consider the following response to a questionnaire from a major US newspaper in the latter part of the 19th century. This paper had sent out a question to many of the prominent people of the day, and it just so happened that the founder of the Salvation Army was given the question. Below is his reply to “what are the chief dangers that confront the coming century?”.

“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”. [6]

Amazingly, every point that William Booth made well over 100 years ago has come to pass, both in the Church and in our present society. Allowed to fester unchecked, this is what the sin of indifference brings: a counterfeit Church.

We do not however, serve a counterfeit God. Far from it! The God we serve is “able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all we ask or think, according to the power that works in us“. [7] For this very reason, I believe that from within this present day Laodicean church the Lord is raising up a people that will once again trust Him to do what he said he would do.

Beloved, we serve a God who knows our very thoughts. So intimately does He know us that he hears the cry of our heart. In fact, he has numbered every hair upon our heads! This is how deeply our covenant relationship with Christ runs.

All around us is despair, ruin, and fear. Yet we are urged onward by the One who abides within us, for greater is He that is within us than he that is in the world. That my friends is the promise of God. Our walk with God is not dependent on the circumstances around us, for God is above all.

My prayer this Lords day is that we would shake off the heavy bands of indifference and press towards the mark of the high calling in Christ Jesus. Call upon the Lord to renew the passion you once had for Him. Replace the cloak of lukewarmness with the fire of the Holy Spirit and see what the Lord will do in your church and in your life!

Be blessed,

Ron

[1] Matthew 12:31

[2] Revelation 3:16

[3] Revelation 3:17

[4] Matthew 28: 19,20

[5] 1st Timothy 4: 1-3

[6] William Booth, Salvation Army

[7] Ephesians 3:20

“My house shall be called a house of prayer”

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My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.

Those were the words of Jesus, quoting Isaiah 56:7 after he had entered the temple and drove out all who were buying and selling, or profiting off of God’s house. The Jews had turned the house of God into something it was never intended to be, and Jesus had literally had enough and decided to do something about it.

Many of us have a problem envisioning the gentle Savior becoming angry, don’t we?Harder still is imagining the scene where Jesus overturns the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. Images of tables overturned, coins tossed all about, and men scrambling to get out of his way are not the images we associate with Jesus. [1]

Yet this was Jesus in action, whip in hand, taking authority over what had become the desecration of the temple. The temple was the place where men assembled for one purpose: to worship God. This was a sacred and a holy place, for it was here that men went to call upon the Lord.

Because their hearts were so far from the one true God, the Jews had long ago stopped worshiping Him and instead had resorted to using the temple as a means of profiteering. They knew that since the people came from many different areas to worship, that they would need to purchase animals to sacrifice.

Money changers would be needed to exchange the various types of money for shekels so the people could purchase these animals, and these money changers were all too happy to tack on a little extra charge for the privilege. In other words, they found a way to profit off of God.

A religious racket if you will.

This is what had infuriated Jesus that day. Worship now came at a monetary cost. If you wanted to worship in the temple, you now had to pony up and pay the going rate, otherwise you were left on the outside looking in.

The Jews had distorted the true meaning of worship. They had prostituted the worship of God in exchange for money. The new order of the day was ‘you wanna play, you gotta pay’.

All of this in a place designed as a house of prayer. A place where devout worshipers went to meet with God had been turned into a cold, dead, lifeless building operating under the marketplace mentality of those who knew not God.

How sobering is that?

I submit to you that it is no more sobering than seeing what we Christians have done to God’s house in our day. In fact, I would even go so far as to say that the church has taken this to levels the temple Jews never dreamed of.

It didn’t start out this way, of this much we know for certain. The early New Testament church faced an unrelenting persecution levied against it by king Herod. It was this Herod who made James(the brother of John) the 1st of the Disciples to be martyred for Christ. [2]

Seeing that this pleased the Jews so much, Herod then took Peter and threw him in jail, intending to kill him as well. Knowing full well what had happened to James, the church then began an earnest prayer meeting on behalf of Peter. [3]

So intense was this prayer meeting that the Bible tells us that “prayer was made without ceasing of the church unto God for him(Peter). No two minute prayer read from a prayer book meets the definition of ‘prayer without ceasing’. No, this was praying on a whole different level. [3]

These men and women were praying around the clock for Peter because they knew that his very life depended upon them interceding with God for him. I liken this type of prayer to a woman in labor. Intense prayer, prayer wrought with tears of desperation and anguish.

If you know this story at all, then you know that God did indeed intervene. He sent an angel to deliver Peter from the prison, a pattern of deliverance that was repeated time and again in the early church. Their formula was simple: whenever a great need arose, the church banded together in one mind and one accord and prayed until they saw the victory.

These early believers knew something we don’t know today. They understood that God intended for his church to come together in meaningful and enduring prayer, hence the prophet Isaiah’s words that “my house shall be called a house of prayer”.

Is that how we would best describe your church or mine today? Are we gathering together in seasons of meaningful, enduring prayer as the early church did?

Unlike so many of us, they understood that the connection between God’s power and presence was solidified through prayer. Not preaching or teaching, not singing or music, not programs or activities.

God showed up when people prayed.

None of those other things are capable of bringing the power and the presence of the Holy Spirit unless they are first bathed in meaningful and enduring prayer. There is an anointing, or spiritual power that exists in our efforts when those same efforts are saturated in prayer.

There is no anointing my friends on the flesh-centered mindset that permeates so many of our churches today. Services that have been carefully designed to make you feel as though you are the most important thing in the building are devoid of any Spirit that “breaks the yoke” of sin. [4]

Do you see the difference? I have commented on this before, this absurdity of believing that someone can “lead us into the presence of God” or somehow ‘bring a word’ when they themselves never approach Him in prayer. Yet for some odd reason, God’s people seem to be content to have it this way. [5]

Could it be we don’t even know what we’re missing?

Prayer is the key whether we are talking about an individual or an entire church. Without it we are left to stumble along, guided by our own ideas and methods that can never have the impact they could have were they birthed in prayer.

I think it’s time that Christians everywhere were reminded of the fact that the church was birthed in a prayer meeting. This thing we call ‘Church’ began in an upper room in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, when the Disciples of Jesus along with several others were filled with the Holy Ghost. [6]

My hope is that all of us would stop to consider that if the Church was birthed in a prayer meeting, wouldn’t it make sense that the Church should continue in the same manner?

Be blessed everyone,

Ron

 

[1] John 2:15

[2] Acts 12:2

[3] Acts 12:5

[4] Zechariah 4:6

[5] Jeremiah 5:31

[6] Acts 2:4

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thoughts on Prayer

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Most of you that follow this blog have figured out that I am something of a throw back to a different time, even a bit old fashioned in some ways. As far as ministry is concerned, I am more closely aligned with those of the past who eschewed the latest fads and techniques in favor of simply proclaiming the word of God.

I can truthfully say that I have never attempted to follow anyone’s prescribed methodology of ministry. That’s not to say there haven’t been a few who have attempted to get me to follow in their footsteps, because there have been.

How well I recall the minister who told me to “just do what I do”. Thankfully, I chose not to do follow his advice because it wasn’t long before that particular individual was never heard from again.

Instead, I have held to the belief that if we pray and seek God He will produce the desired outcome. His desired outcome.

Like many of you, I have learned through the years that whatever is born out of prayer will stand the test of time. Likewise, that which comes from the heart of man will eventually falter no matter how much effort is put into shoring it up.

It is with this background that I approach the subject of prayer in the church. I’m referring to a specific time or season of prayer here, not merely saying a prayer. Perhaps you have heard of such a season referred to as ‘the prayer meeting’, or more simply ‘a time of prayer’.

Many church goers today are unaware that there was a time when the prayer meeting was the single most important meeting of the week. It was given far more emphasis than even the Sunday morning services. It was deemed so important that the great British pastor C.H.Spurgeon had this to say about it:

“The condition of the church may be very accurately gauged by its prayer meetings. So is the prayer meeting a grace-ometer, and from it we may judge of the amount of divine working among a people. If God be near a church, it must pray. And if He be not there, one of the first tokens of His absence will be a sloth-fullness in prayer”. [1]

This is an incredibly powerful commentary on prayer in the church. Written by Spurgeon well over 100 years ago, it describes perfectly the relationship between God and His church and the effects a lack of prayer has upon her.

God has always called His people to pray. Going all the way back to the 4th chapter of Genesis we are told that after the birth of Enos (grandson of Adam and Eve), men began to call upon the name of the Lord. [2]

This ‘calling upon the Lord’ carried into the New Testament where we find Jesus teaching His disciples how to pray. [3]. The record we have of the early church gives us no less than four examples of how prayer should be made “without ceasing”. [4]

Starting to see a pattern here? Sounds like prayer is a really important part of man’s  relationship with his Creator, wouldn’t you agree?

This leads me to a question for us all: how much emphasis is being placed on prayer in our churches? A little? A lot? Hardly any? None? Sadly, I know exactly how I must answer this.

If Spurgeon was right in saying that the church may be gauged by its prayer meetings, what does that say about us today? What does this say about our relationship with our Heavenly Father if we have forsaken prayer?

I was discussing this issue with my wife and we started talking about all of the different metrics the church uses today to determine it’s effectiveness, or success. Things like attendance and offerings seem to be two of the most popular metrics, with ministry involvement and the number of conversions following close behind them.

One item you won’t find on any church’s flow chart however is the % of its congregation that is committed to regular prayer, whether at home or in a scheduled time of corporate prayer at the church. I’ll leave you to figure out for yourself why that is.

The result of what Spurgeon deemed “slothfulness in prayer” is the absence of the greatest church metric there is. I’m speaking of lives that have been transformed by the power of the gospel. Seriously, If we need to count something, why don’t we count something that really matters, like lives forever changed by the power of the gospel?

How hard can that be? Wait…maybe that’s the problem!

I see it all the time, and I’m sure that you do as well. Church services that are filled with hurting, desperate people all filing out at the end of the service exactly as they filed in. Unchanged, unmoved, and unregenerate. And we wonder why so few wish to join us. Why would they?

“Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof”. [5] Do you suppose the Apostle Paul was looking into the future to our day when he said those very words?

As I look upon the landscape of the Church today, I see a famine of unprecedented magnitude. To be sure, we have preachers a plenty. And there is certainly no shortage of singers and musicians in God’s house. We have programs designed to meet nearly every need imaginable, yet fail to recognize that we now mirror the church of Laodicea that was “rich and increased with goods”, but did not know she “was poor, and blind, and naked”. [6]

Yet for all of these, the Church is starving to death for the Presence of God. When we do not pray, He will not come. Why would he show up uninvited, even in His own house?

I speak only for myself, but I cannot abide such an environment for even one more Sunday. I can no longer be content with another church service where we repeat the same tired, worn out routine again. I am desperate for the power and the Presence of God!

A form of godliness emanating from a man-centered, manufactured service does nothing for me or anyone else. And how are we to know that it is only a ‘form of godliness’? Because there is no transformation taking place.

If God were in our midst like we pretend that he is, I can assure you that lives would be changed on a regular basis. Needs would be met. Addictions would be broken. Diseases would be instantaneously healed. Marriages would be restored and families reunited. Those who handle the Word of God would cast aside their haughtiness and pride, finding themselves broken and prostrate before Him.

Maybe, just maybe what is needed is a return to the ‘Old Paths’ where “if my people, who are called by my name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land” [7will once again become the battle cry of the redeemed.

Who can tell if the Lord will reveal himself anew if only we would call upon Him in earnest and sincere prayer?

Actually, I believe that that is precisely what he is waiting on.

Be blessed,

Ron

 

[1] Spurgeon at His Best(Grand Rapids:Baker)

[2] Genesis 4:26

[3] Luke 11

[4] Acts 12:5, Romans 1:9, 1 Thess. 5:17, 2 Tim. 1:3

[5] 2 Tim. 3:5

[6] Revelation 3:17

[7] 2nd Chronicles 7:14

 

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