Tuesday, February 13, 2018

The New Evangelism...Contemporary...Sleek...Appealing...and ABOMINABLE! (Reimar Schultze) Part 2

Part 2 of an article by Rev. Reimar Schultze, a modern-day Elijah and Holocaust survivor, who speaks to the world as few are able to do in our day.  To read Part 1, click here.

Paul said, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears, And they shall turn away their ears from the truth…”  I believe that the time Paul is referring to is now.  And that being so, it is not time to compromise with the world, to mix Baalism with Christ, to keep them at any cost.  Rather it’s time for us to hold steady, to go deeper, to pray more earnestly, to take the remnant and let them be in white heat for their love of Jesus.  Then the day will come when the fire will fall and sinners will be converted in their automobiles, in the taverns, in the college classrooms, in the factories without even a sermon or an altar call being given, as it was in the case of the Welsh revival.

In the Welsh revival, seventeen men refused Baalism in Christianity, they refused to lower the standard, they refused to go after people with chicken feed; and on that memorable night in 1904, the fire came.  Within a month, those seventeen men who prayed and held steady produced a fruit of 37,000 who repented to receive Christ.  And within five months, 100,000 had been swept into the kingdom of God.  Then even Welsh newspapers began to include columns of the names of those born of God.  Again, this revival did not come by compromise, by making the lukewarm or sinner feel comfortable and ”at home” in the church.  This revival came by holding steady until the Pentecostal flames had cleansed every sin, spot, and blemish out of every heart of the committed remnant of God.

Or consider the mighty work of God in the Hebrides Islands revival from 1948 to 1952.  It was equally powerful.  Here, seven men in a barn and two elderly sisters in their home decided to hold on and see the salvation of the Lord.  Listen to this little excerpt of what it was like in those days:

The little band of prayer warriors made their way to the farmhouse to plead the promises of God.  Just after midnight Duncan Campbell asked John, the local blacksmith, to pray.  John rose to his feet with his cap in hand and prayed a prayer that will never be forgotten by those who were present.

In the middle of his prayer, he stopped and raised his right hand to heaven and continued, ‘Oh God, you made a promise to pour water on the dry ground, and Lord, it’s not happening.’ He paused again and then continued, ‘Lord, I don’t know how the others here stand in your Presence; I don’t know how these ministers stand, but Lord, if I know anything about my own heart, I stand before you as an empty vessel, thirsting for thee and for a manifestation of Thy power.’ He halted again, and after a moment of tense silence cried, ‘Oh, God, your honor is at stake; and I now challenge you to fulfill your covenant engagement and do what you promised to do.’

Here is a man praying the prayer of faith that heaven must answer.  There are those in Arnol today who will verify the fact that while the brother prayed, the dishes on the dresser rattled as God turned loose His mighty power.  Then wave after wave of divine power swept through the room.  Simultaneously, the Spirit of God swept through the village.  People could not sleep, and houses were lit all night.  People walked the streets in great conviction; others knelt by their bedsides crying for pardon (“Bright and Shining Revival” by Kathie Walters; Good News Fellowship Ministries, Macon, Georgia, pp. 11-12)

The word is not “compromise” – not to blend in with the values, the mores, and the customs that   The word is “stay put, dig in, get hotter, close the ranks” and pray and obey and live as if it is a matter of life and death for the church of Jesus Christ and a sinful world.
Pastors Reimar Schultze and Aaron Simms at
Waiting 2017, Parker City, IN
people are comfortable with.

Wait and see the salvation of the Lord.  But don’t pollute yourself to get success.  Success in ministry is not gathering crowds, it is not making ourselves look good, it is not competing, but it is dying out to do the will of God second by second.  We will never get to great revivals by compromise, by giving people what they want in our churches, by making them comfortable in our sanctuary.  The key is no compromise!

This drastic attitude was reflected most clearly by our Lord than when he turned to a multitude and said, “If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.  And whosoever doth not bear his cross, and come after me, cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:26-27). Jesus never compromised the standards for discipleship, and he never stooped to do any of his work through anyone who refused such strict standards.  Oh, my friend, let us not build lukewarm churches, knowing that Jesus will spit every one of those lukewarm ones out of his mouth. (Rev. 3:16).

Man, by his perverted nature, is seeking success, a piece of glory, and as long as any of this element is alive in any preacher, he is the most dangerous man in town, and he has no business being in the pulpit.  Modern evangelism is a compromising, Baalish evangelism that is self-seeking, flesh-glorifying, masquerading in a Hollywood spirit, void of the supernatural power.  It holds no promise for the “fire” to fall again.  The spiritual pastor has and is continuing to crucify the flesh and to seek no glory for his own but only that of the Triune God for him and for his people.   He does not give the church what she wants by what God requires of her.

So, let me close with some more words of Tozer on this subject: “Every effort to smooth out the road for me and to take away the guilt and the embarrassment is worse than wasted: it is evil and dangerous to the souls of men.” (“Renewed Day By Day” by A.W. Tozer, Christian Publications, Inc.)

Please pray for me!

  • To read a short autobiographical description of Rev. Schultze's experiences as a young Holocaust survivor, click here.
  • To order Rev. Schultze's captivating autobiography I Am Loveclick here.
  • Rev. Schultze's daily devotional "Abiding In Christ" is available on Kindle for the great price of only $8.99!  Click here to order this worthwhile resource today.

  • Want to read more about walking with Christ?  Here are some recent articles that may help you in your walk with Christ!

    Waiting 2017 - Recap #1 (Summary of meetings held in Dec. 2017 in which Rev. Schultze and others were used greatly of God.)

    Monday, February 12, 2018

    The New Evangelism...Contemporary...Sleek...Appealing...and ABOMINABLE! (Reimar Schultze) Part 1

    Rev. Reimar Schultze is a modern-day Elijah.  This Holocaust-survivor-turned-worldwide-evangelist preaches today, even at 81, a no-compromise gospel that is alien to so much that abounds in the evangelistic world today.  I am thankful to know him. 

    I was going through some papers of mine the other day and an old copy of  Rev. Schultze's newsletter "Call to Obedience" fell out (You can subscribe to this free resource at his website Schultze.org).  As I began to read these words, they stirred my soul as something coming from the mouth of God.  It is my privilege to share it with you here (with Rev. Schultze's permission).  This is the first of two parts.

    The New Evangelism!
    Contemporary…Sleek…Appealing…and ABOMINABLE!

    “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine…And they shall turn away their ears from the truth…” 2 Timothy 4:3,4

    Dr. A.W. Tozer remarked on this text about fifty years ago, “Any Evangelism which by appeal to common interests and chatter about current events to establish a common ground where the sinner can feel at home is as false as the altars of Baal ever were.”

    Too many men are willing to make some compromise with Baal to gain an advantage over their fellows.  The desire to be “successful” is very strong in any man’s heart born on this side of eternity.  It is bound up within a man’s nature to want to compete, to conquer, to rise to the top.  Any man who does not have a sense of success feels unfulfilled, restless, discouraged, and depressed.

    It is this “let’s do something great” attitude that brought man to the tower of Babel.  Because this attitude is a noble attitude perverted by sin, man seeks something great for himself rather than for God.  It is this sense that is at the root of all competitive sports.  It is this that drives the business machine.  Men want to be first, if not in this or that, then in something else ---but sure somewhere.  If not first on the moon, then perhaps first at a game of chess with a family member, or at being the best driver in the neighborhood, or at being the kindest man in church.  Only those who struggle to the top are assured of a promising posterity.  It is this spirit for success in competition coming from perverted human nature that drives many a preacher to do whatever it takes to fill up his sanctuary and to expand it.

    Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).  What is given to us naturally, being corrupted by sin, is in direct opposition to that which is given to us supernaturally.  This is what Paul means when he says, “For the flesh lustest against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh: and these are contrary the one to the other…” (Gal. 5:17).   Jesus addressed this conflict even more drastically when he said, “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it” (Matt. 16:25). The natural life with all its instinct to advance itself musts be crucified and be replaced by the spiritual life God has in store for us or we shall never be his disciples. 

    Yet, American Christianity is mistaking natural attributes as a blessing or as a gift of God.  It is inconceivable to the American “Christian” that a man who is six-foot six-inches in height should not be a basketball player or that a man with the chest like a barn door should not play football or that a man with iron lungs should not be a soccer player (for all the rest of us Christians to watch on Sunday afternoon television).   We assume that this is all given by God for us to enjoy, not realizing that it is merely our competitive carnal nature trying to get on top of others and preventing us from keeping the Sabbath Day holy.

    If we can’t win the world with the old standards, with the old gospel, then let’s turn that old gospel into a new gospel.  If people will not endure sound doctrine, then let us give them something less than that to save ourselves from the embarrassment of a Noah who, by refusing to become contemporary in his age, won no one to God in about one hundred and twenty years of preaching.  We just cannot endure such humiliation.  We just cannot have people turn away from us when we preach sound doctrine.  We cannot afford to look like losers, and so we run after them with a Christianity that offers them what they want rather than what God wants:

    If they want ten-minute sermons, we give them ten-minute sermons.  If they want sermons that don’t   If they want professional singers dressed in Hollywood attire, we give them professional singers ---saved, sanctified, or not! If they want church or prayer meetings cancelled for the sake of a ball game, we do so.  If they want rock music mixed with Christian lyrics, we do the mixing for them.  When people want drama and entertainment on the platform, we give it to them.  If they want divorce and remarriage justified, we bless them in the name of Jesus (there are now as many divorces in church-going families as in non-church-going families in the United States).  The bottom line is, we do not want to lose them ---at any cost!
    convict, we avoid stirring them where they need to be stirred.

    My friend, let’s be aware of this compromising new evangelism where we raise children who know all the statistics of dozens of ball players but who cannot name a simple hero of the Christian faith, a trailblazer like Augustine, Savonarola, Luther, Wesley, William Carey, Hudson Taylor, Jonathan Goforth, or Mary Slessor.  Their views and their talk is about ball games and the latest accomplishments of their favorite team, and not about the great saints of old who were ablaze with the glory of the Lord, changing their communities and even their nations.  Would it not be wonderful if our boys, instead of following ballgames on Sunday afternoons, would get lost in the books of high spiritual adventures of the mighty warriors of the Lord throughout history?

    When women want to come to church dressed to attract men, carrying their Bibles, we let them do so.  When men come to worship the holy God, and they wear the same garments they did to the last ball game, we let them do so.  In essence, it does not matter what you look like on the outside, it is what you are inside that matters.

    That sounds good at first, but the fact is that what you are on the inside will show on the outside.  Jesus did not say, by their roots you shall know them, but by their fruits.  The roots reflect the inside, the inner life; but the fruit is the outside, the visible.  The words are: if the roots are holy, so will be the fruits.  Remember that....

    To Read Part 2, click here.

    • To read a short autobiographical description of Rev. Schultze's experiences as a young Holocaust survivor, click here.
    • To order Rev. Schultze's captivating autobiography I Am Love, click here.
    • Rev. Schultze's daily devotional "Abiding In Christ" is available on Kindle for the great price of only $8.99!  Click here to order this worthwhile resource today.

    Thursday, February 8, 2018

    Fenelon's Spiritual Letters - Part 2

    I continue today with more excerpts from "Fenelon's Spiritual Letters" by Francois Fenelon (1651 - 1715).  To read the first article in this series, click here.  As I read these true nuggets of spiritual truth, I find myself having to go back and re-read them many times.  I hope these are as helpful to you in your spiritual walk as they are to me.

    On The Necessity and Benefit of Suffering

    A cross borne simply, without the additions of…self-love, is only half a cross.  Those who suffer with this loving simplicity are not only happy in spite of the cross, but they are even happy because of it; for love delights in suffering on behalf of the beloved, and the cross which likens them to their Beloved One is a consoling bond of love.

    On Caring For An Aged Person

    Bear the heavy burden of a very aged person who can no longer bear her own.  Reason becomes weak at so great an age; goodness itself, unless very deeply rooted, seems to grow slack; temper and restlessness acquire all the strength which the mind loses…

    (As a caretaker) take care of your health, and relieve your mind by intervals of repose, of joy, and of innocent freedom. 

    As age advances, less and less must be expected of a person who has no resources.  You must expect almost nothing of her, and you must not expect too much of yourself.

    On Forbearance To Others

    …Suffering (at the hands of others) is needful for us.  We are sent into the world only to be purified by dying to our inclinations and to all of our own will.  Let self die in you then; you have excellent opportunities for so doing; what a pity to let them be lost!...

    (In your conversations with others) you must learn at times to slip quietly over certain little matters, while you need all your firmness in those (matters) which you believe essential.  But remember that true firmness is gently, humble, and tranquil.  Anything like sharp, haughty, and restless firmness is unworthy of God’s work.  We are told that Wisdom “sweetly ordereth all things.”…act in the same manner; and, if ever you are betrayed into acting harshly, humble yourself immediately without reserve. 

    On Possessing A Calm Spirit

    What I most desire for you is a certain calmness, which comes from recollection (collecting yourself, composure), detachment (not being attached to the world), and love of God. 

    Occupy yourself as little as possible about external matters.  Give at proper seasons a quiet, calm attention to those things assigned to your care by Providence: leave the rest.  We do much more by quiet, tranquil labor in the presence of God, than by the greatest eagerness and over-activity of a restless nature.

    On Carrying the Spirit of Prayer Into All Our Actions

    Do not be discouraged at your faults; bear with yourself in correcting them, as you would with your neighbor.  Lay aside this ardor (eagerness) of mind which exhausts your body, and leads you to commit errors.  Accustom yourself gradually to carry prayer into all your daily occupations.  Speak, act, work in peace, as if you were in prayer, as indeed you ought to be.

    Do everything without eagerness, in the spirit of grace.  As soon as you perceive your natural impetuosity gliding in, retire quietly within, where is the kingdom of God.  Listen only to the leadings of grace, then say and do nothing but what the Holy Spirit shall put in your heart.
    You will find that you will become more tranquil, that your words will be fewer and more effectual, and that, with less effort, you will accomplish more good…

    I entreat you to try to train yourself to this dependence on the inner voice, then all your life will gradually become a prayer.  You may suffer, but a peaceful suffering is only half a suffering.

    On Over-Eagerness

    You must stifle your restlessness, renounce your self-will, retrench (cut off, pare back) petty curiousity, your longings after success, and your eagerness to attract what gratifies self-conceit.  Silence, (when used) to cultivate the presence of God, is the best remedy for our troubles; it is the way to deny ourselves continually in the most ordinary life. 

    Make good use of your period of repose by calming yourself, softening your temper, fostering (nourishing) charity, humbling presumption… (and) cultivating…the presence of God.  God has given you a great treasure in your (sensitive) temperament, by making it liable to suffer a slow martyrdom every hour of the day.  Things which would scarcely rouse other people touch you to the very core….

    On Gaining The Spirit of Composure

    Avoid whatever dissipates (scatters your attention) and excites you, whereby you cut off the source of dangerous distractions, which dry up prayer.   You cannot expect to find interior nourishment if you live only for what is exterior. Faithfulness in renouncing (abandoning) whatever makes you too eager and (temperamental in your conduct) is absolutely necessary, if you would win the spirit of recollection (composure) and prayer.  No one can have a relish for God and the world at the same time; and you will carry to your hours of prayer the same spirit which you have during all the rest of the day.

    On Love and Prayer

    Let us not bargain with God with a view to what will cost us least and bring us in most comfort.  Let us seek only self-denial and the cross.  Let us love, and live by love alone.  Let Love do whatsoever He will to root out self-love.  Let us not be content to pray morning and evening, but let us live in prayer all day long.  Let this prayer, this life of love, which means death to self, spread out from our seasons of prayer as from a center over all that we have to do.  All should become prayer, that is, a loving consciousness of God’s presence, whether it be social intercourse or business.  Such a course as this will insure you a profound peace. 

    On True Fidelity

    It seems to me that true fidelity consists in obeying God in all things, and in following the light which points out our duty, and the grace which guides us; taking as our rule of life the intention to please God in all things, and to do always not only what is acceptable to Him, but, if possible, what is most acceptable; not trifling with petty distinctions, between sins great and small, imperfections and faults; for, although it may be very true that there are such distinctions, they should have no weight with a soul which is determined to refuse nothing it possesses to God.
    And if, besides this sincere desire always to do what is best in God’s sight, you also do it with joy, are not depressed when you fail, but begin again a hundred times over, hope to the end for success, bear with yourself in your involuntary frailties as God bears, wait patiently for His appointed time of complete deliverance, and meanwhile go on quietly and according to your strength in the path before you… not looking upon God as a spy watching to surprise you, or an enemy laying snares for you, but as a Father who loves, and would (desire to) save you…such you will find to be the path towards true liberty…

    BTW If these are a blessing to you or if you have any suggestions for future blog posts here, I'm available anytime on Facebook or Twitter.  Also, my email is waynenalljr@gmail.com.

    God Bless You!

    Want to read more?  Here are some recent posts you might be interested in:

    Tuesday, February 6, 2018

    I Went To A Town Hall Meeting…And God Showed Up!

    God gave me an assignment this past weekend.  I honestly didn’t see it as God-inspired task when I decided to go to a Saturday morning town hall meeting in our neighboring town, where four Indiana Representatives and one State Senator would be taking questions.  I’d never been to one before but just decided to go to this one and check it out.

    There was a pretty decent crowd there for our small town and I took my seat in the back when the two-hour meeting opened.  Each one of the participants had an opening statement about his or her work at the statehouse.  I knew three of the five and really have a lot of respect for all of them.  Throughout the meeting, I got the sense that all of them, including the one from the opposite party of mine, were really good people who were trying to do the best job they could for our state.  The meeting was very civil…quite the opposite of the raucous affairs that you see on the TV cameras from time to time.  It was also very informative.  I haven’t taken any interest in state politics until the last handful of years, but I’ve learned that much more gets done at the state level than most people realize.  Our Founders actually intended for the lion’s share of the governmental work to be done at the state level not the national…but I digress.

    Not too long after the meeting started I began to feel a little nudge from the Holy Spirit about a question that He wanted me to ask.   Now I didn’t come with any idea of asking any questions, but I had felt a nudge before I left home to grab a paper notebook to go with me.  I began (albeit reluctantly) to scribble some thoughts on paper while the meeting was going on.  I really didn’t want to do this, and I wasn’t a hundred percent sure that this was even the Lord speaking to me.  However, as time I went on I began to feel more and more but that this was God because…I really didn’t want to do it! 

    If we want to walk with God, we must listen for the nudges and be willing to obey them when we get them.  One way that I can often tell that it is really God speaking to me in a particular situation is that  He wants me to do something  that I don’t want to do at all.  If it is something that I really wanted to do anyway, well…that’s much harder.  That could just be me speaking to me. Following the Spirit takes much practice, and I confess I’m still a novice at it!

    So at some point in the meeting I began holding my hand up when they began taking questions.   There were a number of people ahead of me, and I didn’t really know if they would have enough time to get to me.  Really, that was just fine with me, because…I really didn’t want to do it! (Did I say that already?)

    The meeting was to end at eleven.  At five minutes til, the gentleman directing the meeting tapped me
    The only picture available from the meeting..
    .not the best!
    on the shoulder and said, “You’re the last question.”  I had been asking the Lord to give me courage to speak boldly, as honestly, I’m not bold at all in my own self.  It was going to have to be all Him! 

    After introducing myself as a local pastor, I told them that I belong to a praying church. I also commended them for their civility and their hard work as legislators.  I told them that they are true citizen legislators, and I really meant that.   I then asked two questions:
    1. In light of the myriad of social problems we are facing in our state (and I listed several of them), what would you say is the overarching problem that we are facing in our state which we as the body of Christ can be praying for?
    2. What can we be praying for each of you personally?
    When I sat down, to my amazement, the room erupted in applause.

    Each legislator then responded to my questions. Interestingly, I didn’t get a lot of answers to the first question, although there were a few.  However, the reactions that I got from the second question were truly surprising to me. 
    1.  One legislator asked for prayer for safe travel on her frequent trips between Evansville and Indianapolis…a three-hour trip.  Also… “Please pray for my kids!”
    2. Another legislator asked for us to please pray for her staff, and the staff of all the legislators at the capitol.  These people are the ones who do the lion’s share of the work at the state level. They are the ones who answer all the irate calls from constituents, and yet they remain largely anonymous to the public (my paraphrase).  Also…”Please pray for those who don’t have anyone to pray for them.” (That was touching!)
    3. Another representative asked for prayer that God would change hearts and minds.  He also asked for prayer for his personal health.  This devoted public servant, who has a full time job besides his extensive legislative work, has been constantly sick with colds the last few weeks, and hasn’t had any down to get over them. 
    4. The lone Democrat on the panel asked that we would pray for more human moments in the legislature.  He mentioned that he is good friends with a Republican legislator who was also on the panel (#3 above), and they ask about each other’s kids and family and that they really care about each other.  He wants us to pray for more of that.  Also…”Please pray for my wife.  She’s 16 weeks pregnant with our first child.
    5.   The lone state senator on the panel, who is a friend of mine and a committed Christian, used the question to talk quite eloquently for several minutes about how much we need God in our  public lives.  He spoke about how that, since we have chased God out of our schools and the public square, we are facing a myriad of social problems that stem from our turn away from God (my paraphrase).  Also…”Please pray for just the weight of the problems we have to deal with.”  He said he wakes up sometimes at 3 am just with a heavy weight of concern on him of all the problems that we are facing as a state and as a society.
    Who knew?

    Every one of them thanked me sincerely for the question.  There was almost a sense of amazement that anyone would ask this question. One of the panelists said, “We don’t get asked about us.”  In talking to the legislators after the meeting, I was again thanked for the question and was told, “We never hear this!  People always come to us just because they need something.”

    I had several audience members tell me things like “That was the best question of the day” and “That was supposed to be the last question.” I know it was.  There was no way I could have engineered it.

    Only God…

    In reflecting about the amazing things that God did with this very simple question, I realized a few things:

    •  Politicians are just people.  Whether on local, state, or national level, they get colds, have issues with travel, get stressed out, and have worries about their families…just like any of us.  They don’t need criticism so much as they need prayer
    • These state legislators work hard for very little pay and not much recognition, yet they often receive much criticism.  One of them told me that their job description only mandates them to show up and vote, yet he knows no legislator in our state in either party who does only the bare minimum.  They serve on committees, spend hours examining laws and studying issues, performing services for their constituents, and a host of other duties not on their job description.  One of them, my friend Sen. Jim Thomes, has such a reputation as a man who will try to help constituents, that he gets calls almost every day not only from people from his district, but from many other districts in the state and even other states.  And his does his best to help every one of them.
    • This is a much-neglected field of prayer that is “white to harvest!”  Many of us pray for our president on a regular basis (which we should), and our national representatives and senators (which we should), but we also need to be praying for those at the state and local level as well.  I have confessed to the Lord since Saturday that I’ve missed this vital area of prayer, and asked Him to help me and our church to be more engaged.
    •  I feel profoundly grateful to be a part of a praying church.  I shared with our congregation Sunday about these events, and told them, “I was just ‘the point man’ on this.  I couldn’t have done this if I didn’t KNOW that I have praying people behind me.”  A group of us meet together for prayer before church on Sunday morning, and again for a dedicated prayer meeting on Tuesday night.  We also have a bible study on Wednesday night where we spend a few moments praying before the study.  And, just as important, by God’s grace, we endeavor to keep Paul’s admonition to “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17), that is, continue in a spirit of prayer throughout the week. 
    • God can do so much with so little, when we just make ourselves available to Him.  I felt a little like the little boy with the loaves and the fishes.  When Jesus blessed his little lunch, a multitude was fed!
    Days before the town hall meeting, God had begun to put in my heart a message to share with our congregation Sunday.  Part of it had to do with Elijah’s “bad hair day” in 1 Kings 19.  This great man of God had the worst day of his life recorded for us in that chapter.  He was thoroughly discouraged and afraid of an ungodly woman named Jezebel, even after he had been used of God in an amazing way on Mt. Carmel just a few days before.  He hid himself in a cave near Mt. Sinai, where God met him.  God’s words to Elijah that day are the same words that I believe He is speaking to the church today.  “What are you doing here, Elijah?”  In other words, "What are you doing in a place of discouragement and fear, when I have anointed work for you to do?"  Thankfully, Elijah would move out of the place of despondency and powerlessness to do even greater things for the kingdom of God.

    As it turned out, the town hall meeting that I attended Saturday provided a perfect illustration for what God put on my heart to share with our congregation on Sunday.   God has called us to get out of our caves! God has called each of us to be “salt and light” in our families, our communities, and our world.  He expects us to be equipped, by spending time daily in His word and in prayer, and to be an active part in our local church body.  Then He expects us through the direction of the Holy Spirit to go love people. 

    A pastor friend of mine shared with me yesterday that Jesus had spoken the simple yet profound words to him recently, “Love is your weapon!”  That is essentially the weapon that God was prompting me to use at the town hall meeting.  It is a weapon that I have often failed to use, and a weapon that the church as a whole has seldom used.  Why don't we as a church put down our carnal weapons, and pick up the God-ordained, love-tinged "sword of the Spirit" that we are called to wield and use it daily for His glory?

    2/7/18 Update
    I received a text yesterday from the representative who asked for prayer for his personal health, as he has been fighting colds for weeks.  I wanted to share this here:

    "...later on Saturday, after the Town Meeting, and completely  unexpected, a doctor acquaintance stopped by our house...(My wife was helping his wife with sewing).  He asked me how I was...before he left I had a prescription for antibiotics.  How often do you get an unprompted house call from a doctor who is not even your doctor?  The Lord does answer prayer."

    Want to read more?  Here are a few other similar blog posts you might be interested in...

    Monday, January 29, 2018

    How To Be A Lukewarm Christian

    “Lukewarmness” seems to be in vogue within the Christian community these days.  Apathy is in.  Yet it may be that some don’t understand all the intricacies of achieving lukewarmness in one’s relationship with Christ.  If you desire to be lukewarm and apathetic in your commitment to Christ, or if you already are lukewarm and would just like to progress in your lukewarmness, this article is definitely for you!

    Below you will find a few tips on how to become a lukewarm Christian:

    Devotional Life
    • ·         If you have to have a devotional life at all, make sure that it is hurried and as quick as possible.  Don’t make a commitment to wake up early to spend time with God.  Develop a harried routine in the morning in which you have no time to listen to His “still, small voice.”
    • ·         Don’t get into the habit of daily Bible reading.  One of the dangers of this pernicious practice is that God might bring conviction to your heart through His word, actually repentance might occur, and before you know it, your lukewarm condition will be a thing of the past!
    • ·         If you must read your Bible daily, don’t read more than a verse or two – preferably out of context.  A verse-a-day Bible app is great for this.  On the other hand, such a Bible app is of no value in developing lukewarmness is you accompany it with substantial Bible reading later in the day. 
    • ·         If you must pray at all, only pray for yourself and your family...and perhaps your friends.  Focus on self is quite the rage nowadays among apathetic Christians.  As one of their kind, you will do well to follow this trend.
    • ·         Avoid taking time to be grateful to God for His many blessings in your life.  This will ramp up your prayer life…something no lukewarm Christian would desire to do.
    • ·         Avoid praise and adoration.  This is so important.  If you develop a habit of regularly praising God in the privacy of your own home, you might find yourself praising Him publicly in the church service…which you irregularly attend.  This can be very embarrassing.
    • ·         Avoid praying without ceasing, as Paul directs sincere Christians to do (1 Thess 5:17).  This direction from that non-lukewarm Christian meant to develop a heart turned towards God at all times during the day.  A quick, hurried prayer in the morning will do nicely.
    • ·         Spend time watching questionable TV programs and movies.  What does this have to do with developing a lukewarm devotional life?  Everything!  You see, those images stay with you  and you take those images into your prayer closet (if you have such a thing.)  They discourage prayer and must be repentented of if one has a desire for a vibrant prayer life (which, of course, you don’t!)

    Church Attendance
    • ·        Don’t be committed to a single church.  Church hopping is very helpful in developing an apathetic, listless life in Christ.  If something doesn’t strike your fancy at one church, (the music program doesn’t do anything for you, the pastor preaches to long, someone didn’t speak to you, etc.), just move on to another one.  There are lots of churches out there.  You won’t ever find the perfect church of course, as they are all made up of imperfect people.  However, don’t dwell on the fact that you are imperfect as well!
    • ·         If you do have to be committed to one local body, don’t attend church regularly.    I would suggest that on Sunday morning you look for any reason at all to miss going to God’s house.  The Enemy (who is really the Friend to lukewarm Christians) will aid you greatly in this, as he will provide you with all kinds of reasons to “forsake the assembling of ourselves,” (as the Bible commands in Hebrews 10:25).  He may provide you with a slight cold or headache, or he might send a long-lost friend over at the last  minute to cause you to miss church.
    • ·        If your church has mid-week service, don’t bother to show up for them.  In our local body, God has provided us with a Tuesday night prayer meeting and a Wednesday night bible study.  Many churches have small group Bible studies in their homes.  Attending these type of meetings can be devastating in your attempt at being lukewarm.  Avoid these gatherings at all costs!
    • ·        Don’t think about preparing your heart for Sunday worship on Saturday evening.  Make
      sure you stay up late watching some worthless TV program or go out partying, so that you feel tired and listless when you wake up Sunday morning.
        If you do drag yourself out of bed to go to church, you’ll probably miss most of what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to the congregation because you are so tired.  This is exactly what you want as an apathetic Christian.
    • ·        Related to this, develop a habit of showing up to church late.  Though it’s no big deal to show up late occasionally, be that person that always shows up late every Sunday…or every Sunday that you come.  This will be especially disheartening to the pastor or worship leader.  In some churches half the crowd doesn’t show up on time…a great sign of a lukewarm church!
    • ·        Whatever meetings you attend at your local church, make sure you get out as soon as the meeting as over.  Don’t stay and fellowship with others.  This might be encouraging to your walk with Christ.  If you want to develop this to an even finer level, leave promptly at 12 (or even a little before) even if the meeting is not over, so that you can get a good seat at the local restaurant.  After all, we do have priorities!
    • ·        If you do have to stay and fellowship with others, make sure you talk about worldly things…last night’s ball game (which you stayed up late to watch), the latest fashion trends, etc. 
    • ·        If you have to give to your local church at all, don’t make a commitment to tithe your income or anything like that.  Just give the little you can spare…Others can take up the slack and the preacher probably makes too much anyway!
    • ·        If your church supports missions, don’t worry about being a part of that ministry.  Missionaries are probably doing just fine without our financial and prayer support.

    Family Life

    • ·        Don’t pray with your spouse or children on a daily basis.  This will bless your marriage and your home, something no lukewarm Christian would desire!
    • ·        Don’t have regular meal times with your family…especially if you sincerely thank the Lord for your blessings before you eat.  (This is a pernicious practice that thankfully is rapidly going by the wayside in our enlightened 21st century culture). 
    • ·        Don’t have family devotions – reading the Bible or Bible stories to your children is not recommended at all.  They might actually have questions that you don’t know about the Bible, which would be embarrassing.  Also, you are too tired.
    • ·        Don’t walk the walk in front of your kids.  This really goes without saying.  Like begets like.  Lukewarm Christians beget lukewarm Christians…Actually, your children will probably see your hypocritical lifestyle and won’t want anything to do with Christ when they grow up…exactly what you are going for!

    These are just a few suggestions for those who want to live an apathetic, listless life as a so-called Christian.  We might add here to be sure not to share your faith with others, but that would be redundant.  Who would want the kind of faith you have anyway?

    Of course, Jesus said “wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it” (Matthew 7:13),  and in Revelation 3: 17 He said of lukewarm Christians that He would "vomit them out of His mouth." As an apathetic Christian, you have chosen the most popular way, and it will certainly lead to hell if you continue on that road…However, you should take comfort in the fact that everyone else is doing it this way, so you will be in good company! 


    If on the other hand you want to live a life devoted to Christ, walking “the narrow way” (Matthew 7:13) that Jesus said leads to life…

    If you want a life that matters to your family and to the world…

    If you want keep the two great commandments that Jesus gave us to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and all your mind” and to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:37-40)…

    If you want to be a blessing to your local church body and to the body of Christ as a whole…

    If you want to go to heaven and bring your family along with you…

    Friday, January 26, 2018

    Fenelon’s Spiritual Letters - Part 1

    Francois Fenelon (1651 – 1715) was a French priest who was an advocate of Quietism, a movement within Catholicism (with influences within Protestant circles as well) which emphasized day-to-day surrender to God, a quiet and meek spirit, and acceptance of all things with peace.  He was a good friend and supporter of Madame Guyon, who introduced Fenelon to a deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.  “It is to the everlasting credit of this powerful and influential man (who served in the court of Louis XIV) that he humbled himself before this obscure woman and received from her the guidance that he did.” 

    A book by Fenelon recently came into my possession which I have really enjoyed reading.  “Fenelon’s Spiritual Letters” is a series of letters that the French priest wrote to Godly men and women who asked advice of him on how to have a deeper relationship with Christ.  I've come across some real gems in my reading of this little book that I wanted to share with you here.  I have put in parenthesis synonyms to some of the more obscure words in these letters.  I have also put in bold those phrases or sections which especially speak to me. I hope much of this long-ago wisdom will speak to you today!

    The Need of Devotion In A Worldly Life
    …Try to rescue half an hour morning and evening.  You must learn, too, to make good use of chance moments…The less time one has, the more important it is to husband (not waste) it.  If you wait till you have regular and convenient hours at your disposal (to pray),…you run the risk of waiting too long…Take then, Madame, half an hour in the morning, and another half-hour in the afternoon, to repair the inroads which the world makes; and in the course of the day…renew yourself in the presence of God.”
    On Silence
    Silence promotes the presence of God, prevents many harsh and proud words, and suppresses many dangers in the way of ridiculing or harshly judging our neighbor.  Silence humbles the mind, and gradually weans it from the world; it makes a kind of solitude in the heart…
    Talk when you are alone; you cannot talk too much then, for it will be to God alone that you will tell your troubles, your needs, and your longings.  But in society you can hardly talk too little.  It must not be a cold disdainful silence, however, but rather a silence full of deference to others…Constrain yourself then to say little, to speak simply and modestly, to give the precedence to other speakers…”
    Pray, read, humble your spirit by a taste for simple things.  Seek your strength in silence.
    One is sometimes tempted to talk humbly, and it is easy to find a thousand fine pretexts (reasons) for so doing, but it is better to be humbly silent. Talkative humility is to be suspected; in talking, self-love relieves itself a little…
    On Salvation
    Our salvation is the work of every day and every moment of our life.  There is no time more fit for it than that which God mercifully grants us now; because we have time today, and perhaps we will not have it tomorrow…Keeping watch over self means listening to God; abiding always in His presence, being recollected (at peace), not voluntarily seeking dissipation (overindulgence) or distractions among the things of this world; it means, as far as possible, loving retirement (times of withdrawal from the world), good books, and prayer…
    On Christian Service
    It seems to me that a soul which sincerely desires to belong to God never looks to see whether a thing is small or great; it is enough for it to know that He for whose love it is done is infinitely great…
    Often all that we offer to God is not that which He wills.  What He desires most of us is what we are least willing to give Him, and what we dread to have Him ask of us.  It is Isaac, the only son, the well-beloved, that He commands us to resign; all the rest is nothing in His sight…His blessing is not upon…the labor of a divided soul; it is His will that we should yield everything to Him; and, short of this, there is no repose (rest).  If you would prosper, and have God’s blessing on your work, withhold nothing, and the God of peace will be with you..
    On Faults
    You ought to condemn your fault without seeking to soften it by any excuse, and to see yourself before God…without being irritated at yourself and disheartened but profiting in peace by your humiliation for your fault. 
    Vexation (Irritation) at a fault is generally more of a fault than the fault itself…The more peaceful and free your heart is, the more you will become one with God.
    On Self Love
    No peace is to be looked for within (ourselves) when one lives at the mercy of a crowd (within ourselves) of greedy and insatiable desires, and when we can never satisfy this “me” which is so keen (intense) and so touchy as to whatever concerns it…(So) in our intercourse (dealings) with others we are like invalids who have been long confined to the bed, who cannot be touched anywhere without pain.  A sickly self-love, full of pity for itself, cannot be touched without screaming.  Touch it with the end of your finger, and it thinks itself flayed alive.  Then add to this sensitiveness the roughness of other people…and you find all the children of Adam tormenting one another; half of mankind made unhappy by the other half…
    …The only remedy is to come out of one’s self in order to find peace.  We must renounce ourselves, and lose all self-interest, that we may no longer have anything to lose, to fear, or to contrive (to plot or to plan).  Then we shall enjoy the true peace reserved for “men of good will,” that is, for those who have no longer any will but God’s…Then men will not be able to harm us…
    On Avoiding Forebodings and Living By Faith
    Do not think about distant events.  This uneasiness about the future is unwholesome for you.  When God gives you help, see Him alone in it, and take it day by day, as the Israelites (took0 their manna, without ever providing a store to last from one day to another…
    …The life of pure faith does two things: first, it makes us see God behind all the frail agents He uses; secondly, it keeps the soul ever in a state of suspense.  One is always as if in the air, without being able to touch the ground; the comfort of one moment never serves for the comfort of the following moment.  We must leave to God all that depends on Him, and think only of being faithful in all that depends on ourselves.  This dependence from one moment to another, this darkness, this peace of the soul amid the uncertainty of what will happen to it each day, is a real inward and noiseless martyrdom; it is being burned by a slow fire…When God takes away that which He has given you, He knows well how to replace it, either through other means or by Himself…
    Live in peace…without thinking about the future.  Perhaps there may not be a future for you. Even the present is not yours, and you must use it according to the will of God, to whom alone it belongs…Above all, be faithful to the present moment, which will bring you all needful grace…
    …The real learning you need is stripping off self, deep recollection, silence of the whole soul before God, renunciation of intellect, a taste for lowliness, obscurity, helplessness, and (humility).
    On Calmly Enduring the Irregularities of Others
    …Do not be angry about what people say; let them talk, while you try to do God’s will.  As to the will of men, you could never come to the end of satisfying it, nor is it worth the trouble.  A little silence, peace, and union with God ought to comfort you for all that men may say unjustly…Renew yourself often in the presence of God, so as to calm yourself, to humble and adapt yourself to the “little ones.” Nothing is really great save lowliness, charity, distrust of self, detachment from one’s own opinion and will.  All stiff, harsh “goodness” is contrary to Jesus Christ.
    …The right way (to deal with the anger of others) is to act as in the presence of God, wholly divested of self, doing what we can by God’s light, and being content with such success as He gives.  This continual death to self is a blessed life which but few understand.  A word uttered simply in this inward peace effects more, even in external affairs (day-to-day life), than all the most eager and bustling exertions…
    …Let the river flow beneath its bridges; let men be men, that is to say, weak, vain, inconstant (unpredictable), unjust, false, and presumptuous.  Let the world still be the world…you cannot hinder it…The shortest way is to let them alone and to bear with them.  Accustom yourself to unreasonableness and injustice.  Abide in peace in the bosom of God, who sees all these evils more clearly than you do, and who permits them.  Be content with doing without excitement the little which depends on you, and let all else be to you as if it were not.

    To read Part 2, click here.

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    Sunday, January 7, 2018

    The Power Of An Endless Life

    It was one of those indescribable “God-moments.”

    A few days ago, I was having my devotion time early in the morning, when I felt drawn to read some more from a little book I’ve been picking up from time to time.  As a rule, I don’t use a devotional book other than the Bible in my quiet time, but I’ve been taken by the little book “Be Perfect” which someone gave me which was written by the 19th century South African pastor Andrew Murray.  “Old Murray” has a way of saying things that I like.  The chapter that I read was from Hebrews 6 concerning our “going on unto perfection,” not staying as infants any more but growing up into mature saints.  Very good stuff.

    I took a short break.  During that time, a seemingly-unconnected phrase dropped into my head with some force…”The power of an endless life.”  That is from the Bible somewhere, I thought…but where?  After doing a fruitless word search in my usual New American Standard, I checked out the version I grew up with, King James.  There it is…the very next chapter in Hebrews from where I left off!  Now isn’t that amazing!  It had to do with Melchizedek, as a type of Christ, who was a priest not according to the old law, but “according to the power of an endless life.” (More on that in a bit.) 
    Now I was drawn back to the Murray book.  I don’t normally read more than one chapter, but I felt to read on.  As I began to read, I stared in wonder at the words on the page in front in me…This chapter was about Jesus being a priest “according to the power of an endless life!”  I had no clue that this would be the next thing in the book, yet there it was…a more beautiful description of the meaning of these blessed words than I could have described.  This sort of thing has happened to me (and others) so many times over the years, but I never cease to be amazed at these moments that could only come from the Savior Himself.

    So what of this “power of an endless life?”  What does it mean?

    Well, before I let Murray take over, let me set this up for you.  The writer of Hebrews is grappling with the issue that Christ, who has every right to the throne of David as the heir of David…even more as the Creator of David, does not have any lineage that qualifies Him under the old Levitical system to be a high priest.   Yet He must be a priest to perform the priestly duty of intercession for those who He has redeemed, by virtue of His death on the cross and subsequent resurrection.  Yet here the writer quotes an old testament passage (Psalm 110:4) which describes the coming Messiah as being “a priest forever according to the order of Melchizidek.”  But what does that mean?

    To find out about Melchizidek, we must go back all the way to the time of Abraham.  In Genesis 14, we find Abraham, who has only recently come to his God-called destination of Canaan, trying to rescue his nephew Lot from a pickle he had gotten himself into when he was hanging around Sodom (not a good place to be!) and was kidnapped.  In the middle of the rescue attempt, Abraham runs into a very strange fellow named Melchizidek, who is both king of Salem (later Jerusalem) and “priest of God Most High.”  He pronounces a blessing upon Abraham, and Abraham as a response gives the king/priest a tithe of all he possessed…And then we never hear from Melchizidek again.  How strange!  In our Bible, which is fraught with genealogies, there is no Melchizidekian genealogy.  As the Hebrews writer states a few verses before, he is

    without father, without mother, without geneaology, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he remains a priest perpetually. (Hebrews 6:3)

    In other words, as far as the Bible is concerned, we have no record of his parents, nor of his descendants.  He is in this way a type of the future Messiah, Jesus Christ.  Though Melchizedek’s life was endless only in type, Christ, by virtue of His resurrection, is endless in actuality.  So the priesthood of Jesus Christ is not along the line of Levi, the descendant of Abraham, but along the line of Melchizedek, who blessed Abraham and received tithes from him. 

    This Melchizedekian priesthood of Christ is not some far-flung theological mumbo-jumbo which has no bearing on our lives.  It actually has tremendous implications for how we live from day-to-day.  It means that because Jesus, who fulfilled the Mosaic law perfectly, is a priesthood of a different order, we also live under a different order than the old Mosaic law.  The writer of Hebrews, drawing from the Old Testament again, will later describe the new law under which we live.  Quoting from Jeremiah, he writes:

    Behold, days are coming, says the Lord, when I will effect a New Covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah…I will put My laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be My people (Hebrews 8:8a,10b)

    We who are of Christ operate under the New Covenant, which functions in our hearts and in our minds.  We are not law keepers, except as we keep the inward law given to us in Christ.

    I’ll let Murray take over here:

    A careful perusal of the verses placed above, will show that the writer thought it of great importance to make it clear that the law could perfect no person or thing... It was not only the Hebrews who greatly needed this teaching: among Christians in our days the greatest hindrance in accepting the perfection the gospel asks and offers, is that they make the law
    its standard, and then our impotence to fulfil the law, the excuse for not attaining, for not even seeking it. They have never understood that the law is but a preparation for something better; and that when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part is done away.
    The Law demands; the Law calls to effort; the Law means self. It puts self upon doing its utmost. But it makes nothing perfect, neither the conscience nor the worshiper. This is what Christ came to bring. The very perfection which the law could not give He does give. The Epistle tells us that He was made a Priest, not as Aaron, after the law,…but after the power of an endless life. What Christ, as Priest, has wrought and now works, is all in the power of an inward birth, of a new life, of the eternal life. What is born into me, what is as a spirit and life within me, has its own power of growth and action. Christ's being made perfect Himself through suffering and obedience; His having perfected us by that sacrifice by which He was perfected Himself; and His communication of that perfection to us, is all in the power of an endless life. It works in us as a life power; in no other way could we become partakers of it. Perfection is not through the law;…What the law could not do, God, sending His Son, has done. The Son, perfected for evermore, has perfected us forever. It is in Jesus we have our perfection. It is in living union with Him, it is when He is within us, not only as a seed or a little child, but formed within us, dwelling within us, that we shall know how far He can make us perfect. It is faith that leads us in the path of perfection. It is the faith that sees, that receives, that lives in Jesus the Perfect One, that will bear us on to the perfection God would have.

    So now, in the new order of things, we walk, not under the auspices of the law, which required much doing but no faith, but under the new law of faith.  It is by dwelling with Christ day-by-day, abiding in Him, knowing Him progressively more and more, than we fulfill perfectly the requirements of the law, because Jesus is in fact fulfilling those requirements in us! Christianity is not about rule keeping.  Far from it.  It is about walking with the only One who ever kept all the rules!  We can now “go on to perfection” (Hebrews 6:1) because the Perfect One lives in us!  Isn’t that wonderful! 

    Let’s turn to Andrew Murray again:

    And how do we become partakers of this perfection with which Christ has perfected us? First of all, the conscience is perfected so that we have no more conscience of sin, and enter boldly into the Holiest, the Presence of God. The consciousness of a perfect redemption possesses and fills the soul. And then, as we abide in this, God Himself perfects us in every good thing, to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ. Through Christ, the High Priest in the power of the endless life, there comes to us in a constant stream from on high, the power of the heavenly life. So that day by day we may present ourselves perfect in Christ Jesus…

    There is tremendous freedom in these words.  Because we have a High Priest with the power of an endless life, we now have the opportunity never before afforded humankind to live the power of the heavenly life.  Shouldn’t we be taking advantage of this opportunity daily…this power of an endless life?  

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