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A plea for revival

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I enjoy reading about the lives of some of the great preachers of the past, and often find great encouragement and inspiration in their sermons. Men such as Jonathan Edwards, David Brainerd, C.H. Spurgeon, A.W.Tozer, and Leonard Ravenhill spoke with an impassioned, fiery boldness rarely seen in our day.

I guess that passion resonates with me, because through the years I’ve been told several times that I remind people of some of those mentioned above. I can only hope they mean that in a positive manner! Either that, or I need to start hanging out with a younger crowd.

Another preacher that I should mention is a Welsh preacher named David Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Lloyd-Jones lived from 1899-1981, and preached his first sermon in 1925. In 1943, he became pastor of the famous Westminster Chapel in London, following the retirement of G. Campbell Morgan, another giant of the faith who had spent years mentoring him.

Like so many great preachers of the past, D. Lloyd-Jones had the unique gift of not only ministering to the needs of his own congregation, but also spoke with a prophetic vision.

So it was with his first sermon on the subject of “The Problem of Modern Wales”. What is so interesting to me about this particular sermon is the following passage:

“What Wales needs above everything today is…a revival,…a great spiritual awakening such as took place in the eighteenth century under the influence and guidance of the Methodist Fathers.”

“A revival,….a great spiritual awakening.”

Unfortunately, the hoped for revival that Lloyd-Jones spoke of never occurred, at least not to the extent he had wished. As of the last census in Wales, some 86 years after his message on revival, only 57% of the people claimed to be Christian, while 32% claimed no religious affiliation at all.

Is it fair to say that the more things change, the more they stay the same? I cannot think of a single thing more needed in the land today than a God-sent revival that would awaken us to our dire need for Jesus Christ.

Sadly, however, there doesn’t seem to be much support from within the Church for a genuine move of God like that spoken of by Lloyd-Jones.

Whether in the United Kingdom or the United States, instead of revival what we are witnessing is a falling away rather than a rush to repentance.

One could argue, of course, that the opportunity for large scale revival has passed as we edge ever closer to the end time apostasy prophesied by the Apostle Paul.

Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the son of perdition,   2nd Thess. 2:3

Knowing this, one cannot help but cry out to God that He would once again visit his people in a manner that would result in large scale revival. We can only imagine the positive impact such a move of God would have on all facets of our society, a society so broken that it is beyond the scope of human intellect to repair itself.

We desperately need an intervention of the Divine! That is my heart’s cry today, that God’s children would cry aloud to the only Source capable of turning our hearts back to Him.

As a final note about D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, his final days were spent struggling with poor health. Dying of cancer, he had lost the ability to speak. On Thursday evening, February 26, he wrote a note for his wife Bethan and their family: “Do not pray for healing. Do not hold me back from the glory.”

Amazing!

Be blessed,

Ron

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“The evil of many is the consolation of fools”, says Catholic Cardinal

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Deflection

[dih-flek-shuh n]
noun
  1. the act or state of deflecting or the state of being deflected.
  2. amount of deviation.
  3. the deviation of the indicator of an instrument from the position taken as zero.

When the news first broke concerning the latest sexual abuse scandal involving six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania, like most people (I hope), I was both shocked and outraged.

For many days this has weighed heavily on my mind and heart, and I’ve wanted to express my outrage at this abuse, yet knowing that if I did many would consider it nothing more than “Catholic bashing”.

Since the story initially broke, new information has come to light, and my conscious will not permit me to remain silent any longer. If what you are about to read upsets or offends you, that is not my intent. I am only seeking to call attention to the horrors being perpetrated by those who claim to be Christ’s representatives upon the earth.

So widespread is this scandal (it began as far back as 1947), that it has encompassed 54 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties. For 71 years, nearly three quarters of a century, the Catholic Church has willingly and knowingly participated in the coverup of the most horrific sexual abuse of children in our time.

The grand jury * responsible for investigating internal church documents from these six dioceses revealed that more than 300 “predator priests” were ‘credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims since 1947’.

Do NOT miss this key point: the incriminating document were from the Church’s own internal records!

More than 1000 child victims!

Upon learning of the unfathomable atrocities committed by these imposters of Christ, one has to ask: where is the outrage from America and the rest of the world?

Are we simply numb with disbelief? Are we so apathetic as to have nothing to say? Are we so gutless as to have no fight left in us, even for our own children?

Americans will riot in the streets over a decision made by a President they say they hate, yet the fact that over 1000 children have been raped, abused, impregnated, and threatened garners hardly a whimper from these same impassioned, hate spewing ‘pretenders of the American Way’.

Where are the organizers who are so quick to make a few well-placed phone calls to their millionaire backers and political lobbyists? Why don’t we see them marching on Washington demanding justice for these 1000+ victims of the most sinister cover up of child abuse ever documented?

I say again, where’s the outrage?

Perhaps if we had a separate #MeToo Movement for these sexual abuse victims more people would join in the protest!

Our precious children were sexually assaulted for over 71 years, and there is no collective outrage? Are we so brain washed that we willingly turn a blind eye to this because it was done by supposed members of the Clergy?

Is this because the evil was perpetrated and subsequently covered up by the Catholic Church? Is that why the story dropped off the evening news almost as soon as it appeared? Does our society live in fear of retribution from the Catholic Church, therefor we remain mute? Do we have a subconscious fear that if we speak up it will bring about another Inquisition?

You who cannot resist the opportunity to continually rail against the President, have you nothing to say about the documented facts of the Catholic Church sexually exploiting our children?

Oddly, when we hear that some sadistic monster is found to have been torturing and sexually abusing his victims, it is all the talk around water coolers, the evening news, and the internet.

Web sites, blogs, and forums are on fire with comments for weeks on end. Yet we remain strangely silent about one of the most evil, diabolical, systematic patterns of sexual abuse ever devised by humans.

Tragically, for a variety of reasons many of these cases will never be prosecuted. Whether the statute of limitations has run out, or the victim or the accuser has died, criminal justice will never come for many who thought the one place they would be safe was in the Church.

Of course, this recent discovery of abuse is just one of many.

That we know about.

Few realize that the Catholic Church has even stooped so low as to spend millions of dollars on lobbyists in an effort to block child sex abuse reforms.

These lobbyists were retained, in part, to work on issues associated with “statute of limitations” and “timelines for commencing certain civil actions related to sex offenses.” In layman’s terms what this really means is that when it comes to protecting predator priests, money is no object.

What has been the official response from the Catholic Church? In his speech to the Irish Republic this weekend, the Pope said ‘he is ashamed of the Catholic Church’s failure to adequately address the “repellent crimes” of sex abuse by clergy.’

Nice sounding words that we’ve heard many times before. What he did not say however is perhaps more important than anything he did say. What he failed to do was offer a solution to this plague of abuse. He failed every single one of the abused.

In essence, the official response has been NOT MUCH.

Unless of course you consider deflecting the attention away from their own guilt by reminding their accusers that they too have a few skeletons in their closets, that is.

Apparently, deflection is the name of the game for Mexican Cardinal Sergio Obeso Rivera, who recently spoke to journalists saying “I’m here happy to talk about nice things, not about problematic things.”

Cardinal Rivera

Credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring

 

 

Attempting to deflect attention away from the unimaginable evil committed by predatory priests against more than 1000 children over seven decades, Cardinal Rivera sent a warning to those who would dare accuse “men of the church”.

To his credit, the good Cardinal did acknowledge that the accusations “make us feel bad and we want to improve.”

Wow. The sexual abuse, rape, and destruction of lives committed by supposed “men of the church” against innocent children makes them ‘feel bad’. They don’t want to talk about “problematic things” however.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Cardinal Sergio Obeso Rivera acknowledges that some of the accusations are true, but wants to draw attention to the skeletons in the accusers closets instead, telling them they “should be ashamed”.

No true remorse. No indication of a need for repentance. No clear acknowledgement of guilt.

Just deflection.

The only thing I can think of more disgusting than this man’s reprehensible comments is that the faithful continue to support a diabolical system in which innocent children are fair game for an untold number of sexual predators dressed in priestly garb.

This, dear reader, is NOT the Church whose head is the Lord Jesus Christ.

And what of the Protestant,or Evangelical Church, where are the ‘protests’ from within the various denominations that make up this Church of between 400 million and one billion members?

Could it be that the deafening silence emanating from within the Protestant, Evangelical camp is because it is just as guilty as the Catholic church when it comes to its own patterns of sexual abuse? Or worse?

May God in His mercy open the eyes of the blind, and give them the courage to flee before another child has to endure years of unspeakable torment at the hands of these “men of the church”.

Ron

*I urge you to read as much as you can stomach of the 1300+ pages of the grand jury’s report linked above.

 

 

 

 

Do you believe, I mean REALLY believe?

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“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;”  and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.”             2nd Timothy 4:3-4

The misguided congregation of Elevation church has done exactly that. They have placed in the position of pastor a young man that is openly sowing unbelief in the midst of his own congregation, and none dares to call him out on it.

This ‘pastor’ recently preached a message to his congregation, stating that he had doubts in the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. Furthermore, he claimed that no one in the congregation fully believed these things.” [1]

Wow! The ‘pastor’ of the church openly declared that none of his congregation was without doubt regarding the death, burial and resurrection of Christ. There is not one single person attending that church that is convinced by scripture of the truth surrounding the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ? What kind of a place is this?

This my friends, is an abomination. It is a slap in the face of Jesus Christ that an unbeliever such as this man would be placed in the position of shepherd over God’s people.

Yes, I’m sure many of you didn’t like that. It’s awful harsh and judgmental, isn’t it?

It’s also the truth.

At the end of this debacle the ‘pastor’ stated “I have my doubts. Is that alright? Do you need to find another church now that you know the man with the mic has doubts? I have my doubts.”

The answer the congregation should have given was a resounding YES!, followed by an immediate mass exodus to the nearest exit doors, never to return.

I may have doubts about my own capabilities, motives, and yes I even have doubts about my personal value to God’s kingdom. It’s a very normal and human thing to doubt such things about ourselves. If you’re reading this, I dare say you feel the same way at times.

That being said, I can however testify with 100% certainty that I have no doubts as to the truth of the death, burial, and resurrection of my Savior. None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Everything I believe about Him, indeed my very salvation is secured by the truth of His death, burial, and resurrection.

To doubt this is to acknowledge that I have yet to pass from death to life. [2]

If He did not die, I am still lost. If He did not raise from the dead, I am still lost. There is NO MIDDLE GROUND!

How can I be so certain about this? It’s because I have a relationship with Him! I know exactly who He is! Every page of scripture has His DNA embedded in it! He is the Word that was made flesh and dwelt among us!

What about you? Do you REALLY believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ? Or are you seeking for a ‘teacher’ who will lead you down the path of fables?

My sincere prayer is that you can answer YES to the former while rejecting the latter.

Be blessed and secure in His Truth!

Ron

 

[1] For the record, I do not endorse or agree with every article or post from the Pulpit and Pen.

[2] John 5:24

The Hostile Act of Prayer?

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I have written before of the severe persecution of Christians in North Korea and other nations that are closed to the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Sadly, that trend continues unabated as nearly every day a new story surfaces detailing the imprisonment, torture, and killing of believers.

When U.S. citizen Kim Hak Song was arrested in North Korea on May 6, 2017, he was told that his crime was the hostile act of prayer. Officials there had records of an email he had sent to his church asking them to pray for the people of North Korea, and they also knew that he had led morning prayers for a worship group.

Amazingly, after just a year in prison, Kim Hak Song was released from prison a few weeks ago in a “goodwill” gesture prior to the upcoming meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

While this news was received with gladness, there are still an estimated 50,000 Christians imprisoned in North Korea’s brutal prison system. Their “crimes” of being faithful to Jesus Christ have earned them unimaginable treatment including starvation, torture, forced abortion, and separation from their families.

For reasons I fail to understand, Christians here in the West remain willingly ignorant of the plight of their brothers and sisters in North Korea and other countries. It is almost like a game is being played out where if it doesn’t impact me, it’s not my problem.

What we fail to realize however is that this does impact us. Whether we like it or not, we are all one body, united in the Spirit. Christians suffering in remote prisons are no less a part of the Body of Christ than you or I.

You see, in the Kingdom of God we are all seen as equals, for the ground is level at Calvary.

While we here in the West argue over carpet colors, styles of music, the brand of coffee being served in the church cafe, pews or theater seats, or a hundred other insignificant items, thousands of our fellow believers are wondering if today will be their last day on this earth.

If you remain unconvinced as to our responsibility to care for those such as Kim Hak Song and the hundreds of thousands worldwide who are currently suffering for the cause of Christ, I offer these words of Jesus:

31 “When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the,holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory.

32 All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.

33 And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left.

34 Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

35 for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in;

36 I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

37 “Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink?

38 When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?

39 Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’

40 And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’    Matthew 25:31-40

I am not suggesting that anyone fly to North Korea to try and win the release of Christian prisoners. That would be incredibly foolish and you would no doubt find yourself in the same situation as thousands of others there.

What I am suggesting however is that you take just a few moments each day to pray for those I consider to be our generation’s true heroes of the faith.

They would willingly do the same for you and I, even at the risk of imprisonment.

Hostile Acts of Prayer? The only thing remotely hostile would be our continued indifference to the plight of those now suffering for Christ.

Be blessed in Jesus name,

Ron

For a detailed account of the scope and magnitude of Christian persecution in the world today, I invite you to go to https://www.opendoorsusa.org/  where you will find an amazing amount of information related to this matter.

Worthy is the Lamb

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I guess it’s just a fact of life that some people think way too highly of themselves. Preachers, politicians, athletes, entertainers all seek the praise and adulation of others. Some people never learn the difference between being confident and egotistical, unfortunately.

Who is worthy to receive worship, praise, adoration, and honor from the saints of God? There is no man or woman past, present, or future who is so deserving. That right is reserved for Jesus Christ alone, the perfect Lamb that was slain for our transgressions.

8 Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints.

9 And they sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation,

10 And have made us kings and priests to our God;
And we shall reign on the earth.”

11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the throne, the living creatures, and the elders; and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands,

12 saying with a loud voice: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain To receive power and riches and wisdom, And strength and honor and glory and blessing!”

13 And every creature which is in heaven and on the earth and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, I heard saying: “Blessing and honor and glory and power Be to Him who sits on the throne, And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

14 Then the four living creatures said, “Amen!” And the twenty-four elders fell down and worshiped Him who lives forever and ever. Revelation 5:8-14  NKJV

The day is coming saints of God, indeed our turn is coming, when we too will gather around the throne and cry “Worthy is the Lamb!

Be blessed!

Ron

 

“It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood…”

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Hi neighbor!

How many of us remember that tune from the “Mr. Rogers Neighborhood” TV show?

Mr Rogers Neighborhood

photo from Amazon.com

Just a few days ago Fred McFeely Rogers would have turned 90 years of age were he still alive. A lot of things were unique about Mr. Rogers. For one thing, he always changed into a sweater when he came through the door, and he could often be seen changing into comfortable tennis shoes as well.

Another thing that always stood out about him was how gentle and kind he was. He never spoke harshly about anyone, and he could put a positive spin on just about anything. You could always count on him smiling for most of the show too!

You also may not have known that he was a gifted musical composer who wrote over 200 of the songs that were performed on the TV show, including the iconic theme “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood”.

The one thing that stands out above all of these tidbits though is that Mr. Rogers was a Presbyterian minister, and he used his call to minister to children everywhere. He felt a special bond with his young audience, and considered it his mission to provide programming that reflected his own gentle spirit.

“Those of us in broadcasting have a special calling to give whatever we feel is the most nourishing that we can for our audience,” Mr. Rogers said. “We are servants of those who watch and listen.”   Fred Rogers

Of course, he had his detractors as well. Some people cannot stand the fact that there are kind, considerate, and gentle people in the world and therefore have to find something negative to say. Through the years I’ve heard just about everything possible said about Mr. Rogers, and I dare say his reputation far exceeded that of his harshest critics.

Every day people made fun of him. Names such as wimp, sissy, gay, and others much, much worse were ascribed to him. He was the butt of endless ridicule for his soft spoken manner.

To countless children however, he was a friend. A friendly, smiling face that came into their homes and offered encouragement and hope.

I don’t know about you, but I believe an awful lot of people could sure use a friendly, smiling face to come and offer hope and encouragement to them today.

Mr. Rogers passed away on February 27th, 2003, but the driving force of his life lives on eternally. While he did his best to teach children about many things, he taught a lot about friends and friendship. He himself had a Friend like no other.

A man who has friends must himself be friendly, But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.    Proverbs 18:24

If you need a friend today, I encourage you to call upon the Lord Jesus. He has promised to never leave you or forsake you. I’d call that a pretty special friend, wouldn’t you?

Oh, and before I forget, Jesus will make your neighborhood more beautiful than even Mr. Rogers could!

Ron

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood
A beautiful day for a neighbor
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

It’s a neighborly day in this beauty wood
A neighborly day for a beauty
Could you be mine?
Would you be mine?

I have always wanted to have a neighbor just like you
I’ve always wanted to live in a neighborhood with you

Let’s make the most of this beautiful day
Since we’re together, might as well say
Would you be my, could you be my
Won’t you be my neighbor?     

Fred M. Rogers

Stuck at the starting gate…

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Do you ever think about whether or not you are making progress in your walk with the Lord? Are you growing in your faith? Are you steadily marching along toward the goal of spiritual maturity?

Tough questions for all of us, aren’t they? Even after all these years, there are times when I think to myself “am I really growing like I should be”?

Do you feel like instead of progressing, it’s more like you’re stuck in neutral?

If we’re being honest, does it feel like you’ve been taking two steps backwards and one step forward?

Or are you one of the millions that have started on a journey with Christ, yet you are neither going forward or backwards, like you’re not moving at all?

In other words, are you stuck at the starting gate?

starting gate

If this is you, then read on because this post is for you!

Being stuck at the starting gate describes those of us who know the Lord as our Savior, who attend church regularly, read our Bibles, and for all intents and purposes are doing all the right things. We’re on our way to heaven.

Yet for all of that, something is missing. There is no passion, no excitement, no enthusiasm for the things of God. Just going through the motions of “churchianity”. We’re described in the Bible like this:

“This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me;” Matthew 15:8

OUCH!

We’re present in body only. We can’t seem to find a way to become engaged. We just “are”. We’re stuck at the starting gate. Nothing moves us, nothing motivates us. We just “are”.

motivation not

This is a long way from the life that Jesus describes in the second half of John 10:10!!

“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”

The Abundant Life. You’ve no doubt heard about it. You’ve probably heard a sermon or two about it.  TV preachers talk incessantly about it. Book shelves are filled with volume after volume of authors who attempt to link prosperity with the Abundant Life. You know the ones:

  • The Laws of Prosperity
  • Blessed
  • Biblical Keys to Financial Prosperity
  • Christian Prosperity Secrets
  • The Prosperity Bible

OK, you get the point I’m sure. It seems there is no end to the amount of information out there about prosperity and the Christian. The world, and sad to say a great many preachers, says that living an Abundant Life means living a life of financial prosperity.

But that is NOT what Jesus was referring to when He spoke of the Abundant Life! Truth is, you can live an extraordinarily Abundant Life while being flat broke!

The Abundant Life is a life of meaning, purpose, contentment, joy, strength, and faith that culminates in eternal victory in Jesus Christ.

Now that’s an Abundant Life!

Of course, this does not mean that God doesn’t want us to be blessed and prosperous. Of course He does. What we have to ask ourselves however is what good does wealth and prosperity do us if we are miserable, unhappy, living in fear and doubt, and without hope?

Or what good does wealth and prosperity do us if we can’t get past the starting gate?

If you’re feeling like you are stuck at the starting gate, I have great news for you! The only thing keeping you there is YOU! The Gatekeeper is Jesus, and he has left the gate wide open for you to walk through and begin the journey of a lifetime!

The key to an Abundant Life is Jesus!

Be blessed,

Ron

 

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