5/22/16

God Can Do It Again!


Dr. David Jeremiah preached a powerful message about revival today. (It will be in the Shadow Mountain archives soon - 5-22-16).

He shared how God moved in great revivals in American history. And he drove home this great truth:
God can do it again. 

We must prepare our hearts to receive what the Lord might want to do in us and through us in the days ahead. We must become the pure kindling our Father might use to start a holy revival fire again.

Without repentance, there can be no revival.

"Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?" Psalm 85:6
"Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10

Ladies ... let's cry out to God together!

I recommend the Cry Out True Woman 2016 National Women's Conference, Sept. 22-24 ... and the national simulcast prayer event on Sept. 23, calling thousands of women to prayer.

5/21/16

Before It's Too Late, America!

I'm re-reading a book my pastor published back in 1982 ... 34 years ago! Except for some "current events" from back then, the book is still relevant for today. 

In the book, Before It's Too Late: Crises Facing America, Dr. David Jeremiah noted:

"One of the alarming side effects of my study of our American heritage was the realization that many of the characteristics of greatness that our nation embodied during the formative years were disappearing, and in their place the signs of deterioration and decay were multiplying."

And that was 1982! 

Dr. Jeremiah addressed only 12 of the "issues of the eighties"including the sanctity of marriage and the family, abortion, homosexuality, pornography, the new morality, the nation's pride and presumption, and other topics that affect both the home and nation. And I recognized each one in today's culture.

I also just finished doing research for a Christian author on many of those same topics and morewith up-to-date statistics. At one point I was so overcome by the foolishness and degradation in America, I had to stop.

     Deeply grieving, I couldn't see through my teary eyes to keep typing.

It's so much worse today than in 1982. I firmly believe we are on merciful borrowed time. We need to cry out to the Lord.


(Note: Don't miss the information at the end of this post 
about a special simulcast event for women 
to "Cry Out" to God in September.)

It's sad. We see incredible moral and ethical failure not only in "the world," but also in the character and choices of God's people in our churches. How God's heart must grieve.

Looking for some hope, I jumped to one of the final chapters in Dr. Jeremiah's book. I discovered some of the reasons for God's blessing in America's past, but also a strong warning for America's future. 
  1. America has been blessed by God because she has been the launching pad for the greatest missionary movement in history.
  2. America has been blessed by God because she has been a homeland for the Jewish people and a friend to Jews everywhere. 
  3. America has been blessed because she has been a laboratory for the development of the principles of freedom. (Not license, I would point out, but freedom based in law and strong public standards of decency.)
  4. America has been blessed by God because America has honored God and His Word.
"But America," my pastor said, "faces a dangerous situation. That danger lies in the departure of this great country from those values and principles that have secured her greatness."
"There are many illustrations in Scripture that warn us that even a long-suffering God will not forever strive with men. If we ignore divine directives, we cannot enjoy God's blessing." 
Dr. Jeremiah's example of Israel's history was enlightening and challenging. Over and over again, the nation cycled between rebellion, retribution, repentance and restoration13 times in the 21 chapters of Judges alone. (Years later, after the nation separated into two kingdoms, the routine continued.)

Israel was called to remember her glorious beginningher tender relationship with God and her holiness unto the Lord (Jeremiah 2:1-3). Israel rebelled in wickedness (2:4-5) and became indifferent to God (2:6). Not surprisingly, this was accompanied by a vacuum in spiritual leadership (2:8, 13).

I can't help but see some parallels to America. Can you?

In verse nine we read: "Therefore I still contend with you, declares the Lord, and with your children's children I will contend." It's as if the Lord was bringing charges against His people, hoping to wake them up. 

There was still hope.

In chapter 3 and the beginning of chapter 4, when Josiah was king, Jeremiah the prophet was sent to warn faithless Israel and call God's people to repentance.

God was pleading with His people to change!

Later in Jeremiah we see what God's plan for recovery entailed:
"... look and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is; and walk in it, and find rest for your souls." (6:16)

It was a clear, explicit plan, but God's people refused (6:16-17).

And it was too late for Israel, at that point. Jerusalem fell, and most of the inhabitants were carried off to Babylon in captivity.

Dr. Jeremiah made it clear: "America is not God's modern chosen people." America is not Israel.

"But God has not changed His mind 
about holiness, righteousness, sin and judgment." 

In America today we see complacency, apathy, great wickedness and irresponsible dependency. Our nation is ripe for loss of liberty and maybe even bondage to others.

My pastor is still calling the church to revival.
I just read an email message from him (May 20) that said, 
"Can God stir revival by His Holy Spirit even in our culture today? 
Do we really believe He can? ...I want to encourage you that He can!"

Like Dr. Jeremiah, other godly individuals and organizations are calling America back to the "old paths and the good ways"  and praying for the Church to weep and respond to the Lord in repentance, holiness and obedience.

I'm thinking of and praying for three revival outreaches in particular today:


Revival begins in the hearts of God's people and the effects spread to affect families, churches and sometimes, even communities and the nation. But we need spiritual hunger that draws people to pray, asking God to revive His people and His work. We need to seek God in His Word. We need to become spiritual people with a heart for God that overflows into love for others and humble service.

I am just a little voice ... but I'm adding my voice to the great throng of saints who have cried out to the Father for mercy, ready to obey when He makes His will known.

"Your face, O LORD, I will seek" (Psalm 27:8).

Are you seeking God for revival in your own life? For your family? For your church? For your nation?

NOTE: If we expect revival to come, our hearts and our churches must be seeking the Lord. In the month of June I will post on Facebook a daily "Pray 4 Your Church" series - simple prayers we can pray for our home churches and all the churches representing the family of God.

Also, in September, Revive Our Hearts plans to host a simulcasta nationwide prayer event for women on September 23rd called "Cry Out." It is part of the True Woman "Cry Out" conference, Sept. 22-24. Watch the video HERE for more information, and plan to join hundreds of thousands of women in thousands of locations, seeking God in such a time as this.

4/5/16

Because of Love


"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. 
Anyone who loves is a child of God and knows God. 
But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. 
God showed how much he loved us by sending his one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through him. 
This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins" (1 John 4:7-10, ESV).

Have you ever has someone push "speaking the truth" about the Gospel and the source of a transformed life. And by "push," I mean beating people over the head with truth. 

Insensitive. Unkind. Unloving.

I used to be one of those people.

But God changed my heart. 

The Lord reminded me that yes, Jesus is "the way, the TRUTH, and the life" (John 14:6). but also, Jesus died for us because of His love.

Who am I to beat people up with truth 
when God's own Son died to teach us what true love looks like?

I must always speak the truth—clearly and courageously.

"Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ" (Ephesians 4:15).

But I must remember to love extravagantly, just as God loved me.

"Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another" (1 John 4:11).

It's pretty simple. Speak the truth ... in love and because of love.

Is God teaching you this truth too?

4/1/16

What Happened to Civility?

Back in April of 2009, in a National Public Radio interview, Mark DeMoss told host Michel Martin, "On both sides of any issue, I'd like to see us increasingly wage ideological battles with words and ideas and not with volume and antics."

The interview came about in regard to growing resentment about the Obama candidacy, but DeMoss, a public relations strategist and consultant, spoke of the incivility in both parties.

"They're just shouting," DeMoss said. "And I don't know what we're accomplishing except ... sort of feeding the media beast." 

DeMoss, disheartened, eventually disbanded the Civility Project (co-founded with Clinton adviser Lanny Davis). The project was formed in an effort to calm the vitriol in that election. He told The Times the political divide had become "so sharp that everything is black and white." This is a shame, because the three tenets of the project were so simple:
  • I will be civil in my public discourse and behavior.
  • I will be respectful of others whether or not I agree with them.
  • I will stand against incivility when I see it. 
Sadly, many of the nasty letters DeMoss received regarding his efforts were from fellow conservatives. "Many of them could not be printed or spoken in public media due to vulgar language and vicious personal attacks," he said.

Once again as we view the political spectacle, we're seeing a lack of civility in the public discourse.

These additional words DeMoss shared with The Times might have been spoken viewing recent protests and disruptions in campaigns:

"Whether or not there's violence, 
whether or not incivility today is worse than it's been in history, 
it's all immaterial. 
It's worse than it ought to be."

This is a crazy election year. The anti-Establishment sentiments run high. Disrespect reigns. A spirit of rebellion is in the air and it is feeding behavior that disgusts and appalls many on both sides of the political aisle.

Michael Hyatt wrote about the disrespect that "poisons the presidential race." He acknowledges, with a nod to history, "American politics is rowdy." But we should count the costs, he said, to these "feisty tactics" and realize the damage it does to the American political system.

"Civility might be rare in US politics," Hyatt wrote. "But the American people deserve better ... None of us is served by these tactics. It encourages the worst and deprives us of statesmanship in a time when we need it most."

As a Christian, I've been thinking about this for some time, and especially as the incivility escalates. There is a great deal of variation in the Bible, as well as current culture, about what it means to be civil.

In a "What would Jesus Do?" moment, I thought about the Savior's responses to others. His strident discourse (Matthew 23:1-36) against the hypocritical Pharisees sounds like incivility. And yet Jesus never sinned. With holy zeal, He overturned tables because merchants had contaminated the Temple (Matthew 21:12-13; John 2:15). Yet again, Jesus never sinned. Righteous anger is not sin.

People wondered where He got the authority to engage with such force (Mark 11:28), but this was the normal behavior for God's prophets. They upset things. They weren't very tolerant of unrighteous attitudes and actions.

That doesn't mean we can promote aggressive civil disobedience or even violence. In our culture, tolerant discourse is prized. Or it least, it was.

We've become pretty thin-skinned and intolerant when people don't agree with our ideology. We take offense where none was intended. We think disagreeing equates to arrogance and hate.
I am looking to the balance of scripture for my own perspective on civility.
Yes, there is Jesus' zeal and what our culture would call "intolerance" regarding evil and injustice. And certainly, as the Son of God, He had the authority to call out sin wherever He saw it.

But at other times Jesus spoke out with quiet wisdom, convincing men and women with truth, and practicing true compassion. He saw each person as they were: made in the image of God yet marred by sin.

Likewise, we need to stand for truth with love, and conversely, love with the truth. Jesus could stand for truth so passionately because He "so loved the world" that He would even die to conquer its evil and bring us salvation and peace (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:14).

Paul took on false apostles (2 Corinthians 11:11-14) and pulled no punches regarding the Cretans (Titus 1:12-13). Peter and Jude also spoke sharply against false prophets and dissenters (2 Peter 2; Jude 1:3-19) in ways that would likely shock our culture's more "tolerant" sensibilities. 

There is definitely a cultural dimension to civility, and we cannot claim for ourselves those behaviors that are proper for Jesus, the Son of God, and we may or may not want to emulate the leaders of the early church when it comes to civil discourse.

The balance for me comes in loving truth, practicing love, and remembering some other passages about civility:
  • "The words of the wise heard in quiet are better than the shouting of a ruler among fools ... The words of a wise man's mouth win him favor, but the lips of a fool consume him" (Ecclesiastes 9:17; 10:12).
  • "Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear" (Ephesians 4:29).
  • "Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger" (James 1:19).
  • "With it (our tongue) we bless our Lord and Father, and with it we curse people who are made in the likeness of God. ... My brothers, these things ought not to be so" (James 3:9-10).
  • "But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth ... Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person" (Colossians 3:8; 4:6).
  • "So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding" (Romans 14:19).
The silly season of politics can descend into foolishness and overbearing, destructive behavior. These days, attacks are the "norm" of election cycles rather than insightful discussions and evaluations. Unfortunately, those who determine not to be brash don't get headlines.

But Christians, we know a better way ... 
and we need to live to honor the One who loves us.

We can ask God to make us courageous to stand for truth, and behave in ways that honor God.

We can pray for civility in our culture, and we can make a personal commitment to become more civil ourselves. 

What do you think about civility and the elections? How should Christians respond?

Graphic, PourquoiPas, pixabay.com.

3/27/16

Our 'Triumphant Holy Day'

"Lives again our glorious king, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once He died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where thy victory, O grave? Alleluia!"

~ Charles Wesley hymn, "Christ the Lord Is Risen Today"

"The Resurrection" by Carl H. Bloch (1834-1890)

"Concerning His Son  . .. the Son of God in power 
according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead,
Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:3-4).

Thank you, Lord Jesus, for your redeeming work. 
We are triumphant in You. 

"Jesus Christ is risen today, Alleluia!
Our triumphant holy day, Alleluia!