Wise Words

The Greatest Miracle of All

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When we think about the word “miracle”, our minds tend to think of miracles having to do with a person’s health, wealth, or welfare. Things like miraculous cancer recoveries, disappearing tumors, or an unexpected check in the mail or bag of groceries on the porch. While these miracles are certainly amazing to witness and demonstrate just how personally and deeply God cares for His children, I would like to submit to you that the greatest miracle of all is a heart deadened in sin that is awakened to new life in Jesus Christ.

I just finished a wonderful book called The Story of John Paton or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals. I really can’t recommend this book highly enough. As many of you already know, I love reading missionary biographies. They have changed me, because they change my perspective of Christianity. You see, when we are in our comfortable homes with all our modern conveniences and plenty to eat, we can forget what many people give up to tell others about Jesus. It can slip our minds that our faith in Christ is to transform our lives and push us to share the gospel with fervor and zeal.

As I read this book, I was once again reminded of these things. Mr. Paton’s autobiography, which takes place on the New Hebrides Islands (now called Vanuatu) in the mid to late 1800s, includes miraculous escapes, nail-biting journeys, and many testimonies of saved souls. There are so many excerpts I would love to share from this book with you, but I decided to narrow it down to this one testimony of a young chief, troubled and antagonistic, miraculously saved from sin by God’s outpouring of grace on his life. Yet another evidence that the greatest miracle of all is a changed heart.

I hope you enjoy reading this short excerpt and that it will move you to pick up the book and start reading it. The chapter is entitled–

THE CONVERSION OF YOUWILI

THESE events suggest to me another incident of those days, full at once of trial and of joy. It pertains to the story of our young Chief Youwili. From the first, and for long, he was most audacious and troublesome. Observing that for several days no Natives had come near the Mission House, I asked the old Chief if he knew why, and he answered, “Youwili has tabooed the paths, and threatens death to any one who breaks through it.”

I at once replied, “Then I conclude that you all agree with him, and wish me to leave. We are here only to teach you and your people. If he has power to prevent that we shall leave with the Dayspring.”

The old Chief called the people together, and they came to me, saying, “Our anger is strong against Youwili. Go with us and break down the taboo. We will assist and protect you.”

I went at their head and removed it. It consisted simply of reeds stuck into the ground, with twigs and leaves and fiber tied to each in a peculiar way, in a circle round the Mission House. The Natives had an extraordinary dread of violating the taboo, and believed that it meant death to the offender or to some one of his family. All present entered into a bond to punish on the spot any man who attempted to replace the taboo or to revenge its removal. Thus a mortal blow was publicly struck at this most miserable superstition, which had caused bloodshed and misery untold.

One day, thereafter, I was engaged in clearing away the bush around the Mission House, having purchased and paid for the land for the very purpose of opening it up, when suddenly Youwili appeared and menacingly forbade me to proceed. For the sake of peace I for the time desisted. But he went straight to my fence, and with his tomahawk cut down the portion in front of our house, also some bananas planted there—the usual declaration of war, intimating that he only awaited his opportunity similarly to cut down me and mine. We saw the old Chief and his men planting themselves here and there to guard us, and the Natives prowling about armed and excited. On calling them, they explained the meaning of what Youwili had done, and that they were determined to protect us. I said. “This must not continue. Are you to permit one young fool to defy us all, and break up the Lord’s work on Aniwa? If you cannot righteously punish him, I will shut myself up in my house and withdraw from all attempts to teach or help you, till the vessel comes, and then I can leave the island.”

Now that they had begun really to love us, and to be anxious to learn more, this was always my most powerful argument. We retired into the Mission House. The people surrounded our doors and windows and pleaded with us. After long silence, we replied, “You know our resolution. It is for you now to decide. Either you must control that foolish young man, or we must go!”

Much speech-making, as usual, followed. The people resolved to seize and punish Youwili; but he fled, and had hid himself in the bush. Coming to me, the Chief said, “It is left to you to say what shall be Youwili’s punishment. Shall we kill him?”

I replied firmly, “Certainly not! Only for murder can life be lawfully taken away.”

“What then?” they continued. “Shall we burn his houses and destroy his plantations?”

I answered, “No.”

“Shall we bind him and beat him?”

“No.”

“Shall we place him in a canoe, thrust him out to sea, and let him drown or escape as he may?”

“No! by no means.”

“Then, Missi,” said they, “these are our ways of punishing. What other punishment remains that Youwili cares for?”

I replied, “Make him with his own hands, and alone, put up a new fence, and restore all that he has destroyed; and make him promise publicly that he will cease all evil conduct towards us. That will satisfy me.”

This idea of punishment seemed to tickle them greatly. The Chiefs reported our words to the Assembly; and the Natives laughed and cheered, as if it were a capital joke! They cried aloud, “It is good! Obey the word of the Missi.”

After considerable hunting, the young Chief was found. They brought him to the Assembly and scolded him severely and told him their sentence. He was surprised by the nature of the punishment, and cowed by the determination of the people.

“To-morrow,” said he, “I will fully repair the fence. Never again will I oppose the Missi. His word is good.”

By daybreak next morning Youwili was diligently repairing what he had broken down, and before evening he had everything made right better than it was before. While he toiled away, some fellows of his own rank twitted him, saying, “Youwili, you found it easier to cut down Missi’s fence than to repair it again. You will not repeat that in a hurry!”

But he heard all in silence. Others passed with averted heads, and he knew they were laughing at him. He made everything tight and then left without uttering a single word. My heart yearned after the poor fellow, but I thought it better to let his own mind work away, on its new ideas as to punishment and revenge, for a little longer by itself alone. I instinctively felt that Youwili was beginning to turn, that the Christ-Spirit had touched his darkly-groping soul. My doors were now thrown open, and every good work went on as before. We resolved to leave Youwili entirely to Jesus, setting apart a portion of our prayer every day for the enlightenment and conversion of the young Chief, on whom all other means had been exhausted apparently in vain.

A considerable time elapsed. No sign came, and our prayers seemed to fail. But one day, I was toiling between the shafts of a hand-cart, assisted by two boys, drawing it along from the shore loaded with coral blocks. Youwili came rushing from his house, three hundred yards or so off the path, and said, “Missi, that is too hard for you. Let me be your helper!”

Without waiting for a reply, he ordered the two boys to seize one rope, while he grasped the other, threw it over his shoulder and started off, pulling with the strength of a horse. My heart rose in gratitude, and I wept with joy as I followed him. I knew that that yoke was but a symbol of the yoke of Christ, which Youwili with his change of heart was beginning to carry! Truly there is only one way of regeneration, being born again by the power of the Spirit of God, the new heart; but there are many ways of conversation, of outwardly turning to the Lord, of taking the actual first step that shows on whose side we are.

Like those of old praying for the deliverance of Peter, and who could not believe their ears and eyes when Peter knocked and walked in amongst them, so we could scarcely believe our eyes and ears when Youwili became a disciple of Jesus, though we had been praying for his conversion every day. His once sullen countenance became literally bright with inner light. His wife came immediately for a book and a dress saying, “Youwili sent me. His opposition to the Worship is over now. I am to attend Church and School. He is coming too. He wants to learn how to be strong, like you, for Jehovah and for Jesus.”

Oh, Jesus! to Thee alone be all the glory. Thou hast the key to unlock every heart that Thou hast created.

 

Paton, John Gibson (2012-05-16). The Story of John G. Paton Or Thirty Years Among South Sea Cannibals. Kindle Edition.

10 Reasons Why ‘Jesus Calling’ Is a Dangerous Book

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I recently came across this very solid article by Warren Smith regarding the book Jesus Calling and I want to pass it along to my readers. This author has provided ten very scriptural reasons as to why this is a very dangerous book (remember–the Bible is the only way we know truth from lies and genuine teachers from false teachers).

I know that, inevitably, some of you will be very upset with me for daring to imply that this book isn’t what it seems, but may I please implore you to at least read this article? We have to judge everything that comes our way using the light of scripture, including this book.

Here’s a portion of the article from WND–

In 2004, in one of her rare, carefully staged interviews, Sarah Young was asked by the Christian Broadcasting Network “How did you learn to ‘dialogue’ with God?” She answered that it was from reading the book “God Calling”:

“My journey began with a devotional book (‘God Calling’) written in the 1930s by two women who practiced waiting in God’s Presence, writing the messages they received as they ‘listened.’” (parentheses hers)

Also, in the original introduction to “Jesus Calling” that stood from 2004-2013, Young specifically praised “God Calling” as “a treasure to me.” However, “The Encyclopedia of New Age Beliefs,” published by Christian publisher Harvest House, describes “God Calling” as a channeled New Age book that was spiritually dictated by a deceptive spirit pretending to be the real Jesus Christ. In their lengthy “Encyclopedia” chapter on channeling and spiritual dictation, Christian authors/apologists John Weldon and John Ankerberg explain that channeling is a form of New Age “mediumship,” which the Bible clearly defines as a “forbidden” practice (Deuteronomy 18:9-12). Under a subheading titled “Impersonations of Christianity,” the authors describe “God Calling” as a New Age book “replete with denials of biblical teaching”8 that “subtly encourages psychic development and spiritistic inspiration under the guise of Christ’s personal guidance … and often misinterprets Scripture.”

Removing ‘God Calling’

Soon after Sarah Young’s endorsement of this New Age book was widely publicized in 2013, all references to “God Calling” were completely removed from all subsequent printings of “Jesus Calling.” Like the missing 18 and a half minutes from Richard Nixon’s Watergate tapes, “God Calling” suddenly disappeared from Young’s book. There was no explanation, no apology, no anything. But what was even more disturbing than their obvious damage control, was that Young and her publisher expressed absolutely no concern for the countless people who had already read or were currently reading “God Calling” because of Young’s previous endorsement. Nor was there any expressed concern that – thanks to Young – “God Calling” had been resurrected from semi-obscurity and had become a best-selling book in its own right. It was being printed in multiple editions by multiple publishers and was frequently featured alongside “Jesus Calling” in Christian bookstores and other retail outlets.

Young’s silence

To this day, Sarah Young has yet to publicly renounce, much less even acknowledge, her previous involvement with and endorsement of “God Calling.” The Bible says we are to admit our mistakes – not cover them up (Psalm 32:5). And this is especially true when millions of people have been affected by those mistakes. We are to reprove and expose books like “God Calling” – not just edit them away without any explanation (Ephesians 5:11). Scripture makes it clear that in regard to issues like “God Calling,” we are to let our “yes” be “yes” and our “no” be “no” and that it is “evil” to try and avoid the matter by refusing to clarify one’s position (Matthew 5:37).

The fact remains that Sarah Young has stated that she was inspired by “God Calling” to receive her own messages from “Jesus” and described the channeled New Age book as “a treasure to me.” Until she clearly specifies otherwise, we can only assume that where her treasure is, her heart is also.

“For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:21)

 

Finish reading the article here to find nine more reasons why this book is not only heretical but also very dangerous.

Wednesday Wisdom: A True Story of Revival

As you know, I stopped doing Wednesday Wisdom officially about a year and a half ago. However, occasionally, I come across something that I can’t resist sharing–like this testimony of a pastor from the former USSR. His memories of what his country was like is so eerily similar to what’s going on in America, that I thought this may help us find the silver lining to the dark cloud. Perhaps true revival will come to America, as well!

By Georgi P. Vins
(Pastor in USSR who spent 8 years in Soviet prison camps for his faith | Author of The Gospel in Bonds)

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Photo: A communion and worship service in the persecuted church in 1984 in Kiev, Ukraine (taken from The Gospel in Bonds; from the personal collection of Georgi Vins’ daughter, Natasha Velichkin; used with permission)

Revival

At the beginning of the 1960s, the Lord sent a spiritual revival among the Evangelical Baptists of the Soviet Union. The revival preceded a great assault from the atheistic authorities. Soviet newspapers and magazines spewed an endless flow of articles against believers and the Christian faith, against the Bible and God. Radio, television, and movies were used for anti-religious propaganda. Believers were fired from their jobs, and Christian young people were kept out of educational institutions.

In 1960, the Soviet leader, head of the Communist party, Nikita Khrushchev, announced a twenty-year program of definitively creating communism in the Soviet Union. By 1980, there was not to be a single Christian left, nor one church. All citizens of the USSR would have to become atheists and confess only Communist ideology.

In Evangelical Baptist churches, sermons on salvation were forbidden, and children under the age of sixteen were not to be permitted to be present at church services. As a primary measure, it was also forbidden to baptize young people under the age of thirty. This decision of the leadership of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union was enforced by the KGB, the police, and other authorities.

 Unfortunately, some of the ministers of Evangelical Baptist churches, fearing persecution, accepted these ungodly decrees as the basis for their ministry and actively began to implement them in the church. The churches were going through great testings. Many thousands of believers raised their voices in fervent prayer to the Lord for help and deliverance. The Lord heard those prayers and answered His people, as it is written in His Word: “It is time for thee, Lord, to work: for they have made void thy law” (Psalm 119:126).

A spiritual awakening began. New churches started to take shape, and groups of believers who refused to compromise with atheism proclaimed the Word of God as the absolute authority in all matters of faith and life. Young people and children attended newly formed congregations whose worship services often took place in crowded private homes or in forests. These meetings were subject to cruel disruption by the KGB and police, with the police beating up believers, and throwing them out of the meeting houses into the snow. Bulldozers were sometimes used to destroy the places where the meetings took place.

The atheistic authorities went to believers’ work places with threats of arrests and trials. But no one could stop the revival, because the Word of God says, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us” (Romans 8:35-37).

By 1966, several hundred independent fundamental Baptist churches had formed. Sixty to seventy percent of the membership of these churches were young people between the ages of fifteen and thirty. The hearts of believers burned with great love toward God, courage, and selflessness in ministry. My poem “Revival” was written in January of 1966, and five months later, in May of 1966, I was arrested in Moscow for taking part in the revival.

My Savior! How I love Your precious call
To slaves of unbelief, by sin defeated.
You long to bless and have each one delight
In all the joys of our eternal promise.

My Jesus! Mighty is Your matchless love,
Your hands are full of tenderness and kindness,
As constantly You lift to life anew
The sons of earth, to save them from destruction.

Our brethren You have visited once more
With Your pure flame of heaven-sent revival!
For exploits and for suff’ring You inspired
To stand for truth and infinite salvation.

When I behold the vibrant Christian youth
With glowing faces, joyous and exultant,
Their gladness like a boundless ocean’s tide,
Burst forth in ever glorious songs of triumph. . . .

And when I listen to a youthful soul
For the first time, his heart to God uplifting:
Scarce breathing then I reverently pray,
While in my thoughts the sufferers recalling. . . .

I know that not in vain their blood was spilt!
They did not bear the pain and grief for nothing.
For now I see our youth’s pure, fervent love
Their hands stretched out to Christ in supplication.

For the revival burning in our church
And for our youth rejoicing in the Savior—
We may, without misgivings or dismay,
Lay down our very lives in distant prisons.
January 1, 1966
Kiev

Wednesday Wisdom: Unwelcome Changes

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I haven’t done a Wednesday Wisdom post in a very long time. And I don’t plan on picking it up regularly again, at least not for awhile. But, I heard this today and I just had to share it. It is so profound and describes our current Christian culture so well, that I had to revive Wednesday Wisdom, if just for this week!

This was shared in John MacArthur’s sermon Why We Believe the Bible is True. (By the way, this is the same sermon which I linked to in April’s Bible Challenge Newsletter.)  He quotes J.I. Packer from his introduction for Puritan Theology. I hope that you will take the time to read this whole thing. It is so insightful and helps us to understand just exactly what is wrong with this modern day Christianity we find ourselves in.

J.I. Packer (as quoted by MacArthur) says this–

He said this. “It does not seem possible to deny that the Puritans were the strongest just where evangelical Christians today are the weakest. Here were men of outstanding intellectual power in whom the mental habits fostered by sober scholarship were linked with a flaming zeal for God and a minute acquaintance with the human heart. All their work reveals this unique fusion of gifts and graces. Where the Puritans called for order, discipline, depth and thoroughness, our temper is one of casual, haphazardness and restless impatience. “We crave for stunts, novelties and entertainments. We lost our taste for solid study, humble self-examination, disciplines, meditation and unspectacular hard work in our study.

“Again, where Puritanism had God and His glory as its unifying center, our thinking revolves around ourselves as if we were the hub of the universe.” And so he writes, “In evangelizing we preach the gospel without the Law and faith without repentance, stressing the gift of salvation and glossing over the cost of discipleship. No wonder so many professed conversions fall away. “And then,” he writes, “in teaching on the Christian life, our habit is to depict it as a path of thrilling feelings rather than of working faith and of supernatural interruptions, rather than of rational righteousness.

“And in dealing with the Christian experience, we dwell constantly on joy, peace, happiness, satisfaction and rest with no balancing reference to the divine discontent of Romans 7, the fight of faith in Psalm 73, or any of the burdens of responsibility and providential chastenings that fall to the lot of the child of God. The spontaneous jollity of the carefree extrovert comes to be equated with healthy Christian living, and jolly extroverts in our churches are encouraged to become complacent in carnality while saintly souls of less sanguine temperament are driven almost crazy because they cannot bubble over in the prescribed manner.” End quote.

Unfinished Houses

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As we traveled through the Ukrainian countryside, I took in the scenery with amazement. For there, dotting the countryside in great numbers, were unfinished houses. Some of these brick structures were only half-built, but most looked almost finished, slowly fading in the Ukrainian sunlight as they waited for owners to fill them with life.

When I expressed my wonderment at this unusual sight– for there were many of these houses, not just a few– whoever I asked just shrugged their shoulders and said that the owners ran out of money. Apparently, after the Soviet Union broke apart, these bricks and other building supplies were available at deeply discounted prices and so lots of people started building these beautiful homes. But a functioning house is much more than the lumber and bricks of its shell. And so funds ran out and the owners walked away.

Because they did not count the cost.

I was reminded of this incident a few weeks ago in our Sunday School class. We are doing the Radical series by David Platt and he was talking about Christianity as Jesus defines it in the Bible.  It is very different from the cultural Christianity that demands nothing– that requires no sacrifice– that only needs a prayer to declare oneself as officially in the Lamb’s Book of Life. He used the following quote by John Stott. Actually, this is a bigger portion than he used, but it’s all so good, I wasn’t sure what to eliminate–

Jesus never concealed the fact that his religion included a demand as well as an offer. Indeed, the demand was as total as the offer was free. If he offered men his salvation, he also demanded their submission. He gave no encouragement whatever to thoughtless applicants for discipleship. He brought no pressure to bear on any inquirer. He sent irresponsible enthusiasts away empty. Luke tells of three men who either volunteered, or were invited, to follow Jesus; but no one passed the Lord’s test. The rich young ruler, too, moral, earnest and attractive, who wanted eternal life on his own terms, went away sorrowful, with his riches intact but with neither life nor Christ as his possession…The Christian landscape is strewn with the wreckage of derelict, half built towers—the ruins of those who began to build and were unable to finish. For thousands of people still ignore Christ’s warning and undertake to follow him without first pausing to reflect on the cost of doing so. The result is the great scandal of Christendom today, so called “nominal Christianity.” In countries to which Christian civilization has spread, large numbers of people have covered themselves with a decent, but thin, veneer of Christianity. They have allowed themselves to become somewhat involved, enough to be respectable but not enough to be uncomfortable. Their religion is a great, soft cushion. It protects them from the hard unpleasantness of life, while changing its place and shape to suit their convenience. No wonder the cynics speak of hypocrites in the church and dismiss religion as escapism…The message of Jesus was very different. He never lowered his standards or modified his conditions to make his call more readily acceptable. He asked his first disciples, and he has asked every disciple since, to give him their thoughtful and total commitment. Nothing less than this will do”
John R.W. Stott, Basic Christianity

I guess the deeper my relationship grows with Jesus Christ, the more I realize that much of what passes today as Christianity isn’t really true Christianity. This is such an unpopular message. And I can understand why! Because true Christianity costs us something. Yes, it’s a free gift, but it costs everything. But when our hearts are changed by the power of the Holy Spirit, our lives are transformed. This isn’t a begrudging obedience to God’s laws — a list of do’s and don’t’s that plague us and keep us from having any fun.

Instead our stone hearts start beating with love for the Father and following His will not only becomes a pleasure, but our main priority.

This brand of Christianity sounds so foreign to most of us. Even as I write, I realize this. And I wonder– what does this mean for all of us in this day and age? How does this kind of Christianity look in a Western culture where indulgence and comfort reign supreme?

All I know is that I am not walking away from an unfinished house. I will keep working and building until I die or my Lord returns. Yes, it’s hard. And yes, there is sacrifice required. Great sacrifice. There is turning away from the world, being unpopular with people, doing what’s right at all costs. It means we love and forgive even when we don’t feel like it. It means we stand alone if we have to. And that our time and resources are no longer our own. This does not sound all that appealing, does it? But when we read in the New Testament, we can’t help but conclude that this is what it’s all about.This is what Jesus demands of His disciples.

And, honestly, the costs for us are really nothing compared to so many of our Christian brothers and sisters. I can’t help but think of them as they give up homes, loved ones, and even their lives for the sake of Christ. I can’t help but wonder how comfortable, indulged America would respond in the same situation. Oh, may we be found faithful if (or shall I say when?) that happens to us!

If you have started your house of faith but are ready to walk away, please don’t. If the enemy of your soul is throwing arrows and you are just so tired, hang in there. Open your Bible and read Ephesians 6, put on your armor, and beg the Lord for strength to keep going. Let’s keep our eyes focused on eternity instead of the here and now. And, remember, God’s great power is shown best through our great weakness. You aren’t alone. Don’t give up. Keep building.

 

The Pitfalls of Living by Feeling

The following is written by Erwin Lutzer. If you are struggling with loving someone, forgiving someone, or a bad habit you just can’t seem to kick, this is well-worth your time–

Before I suggest how you can cope with your emotions, I want you to consider what happens when you live by the dictates of your own hunches and whims. A life based on desires is an invitation to the sin of disobedience. Often our feelings run counter to what God requires. In fact, most sinful habits are developed by simply following the path of least resistance, by doing whatever we feel like doing. Many of our struggles can be traced to sensuality, and by that I mean being controlled by our physical senses. This spawns defeat, self-absorption, and unbelief. Many people who think they cannot obey God’s commandments simply don’t feel like obeying. Occasionally they have days when they wake up wanting to do what God requires— but not often. Our fallen human nature never feels like obeying God; usually it wants to do its own thing. This attitude comes from Satan as he suggests to us— as he did to Eve— that God has asked us to obey commands that we cannot or need not keep. If we think we can’t obey God until we feel like it, we will never get off the ground in our spiritual lives.

Let’s be specific. In his book on overcoming difficulties in marriage, Jay Adams writes of a particular counseling situation in which all love had been drained from the marriage and the partners had already agreed to a divorce. Neither one had committed a serious sin against the marriage. They just didn’t feel in love anymore. They went to the counselor hoping he would confirm their decision that since there was no feeling left, they should divorce. The couple was shocked to find the counselor saying, “If you don’t love each other, there is only one thing to do: You will have to learn to love one another.” The couple was incredulous. “How can you learn to love someone? You can’t produce feelings out of thin air!” The counselor explained that in the Bible, God commands us to love one another. When the husband was told that he should love his wife as Christ loved the church, he gasped. He could never do that. But the counselor persisted. He explained that the husband should begin on a lesser level. The Bible also commands us to love our neighbor, and since his wife is his closest neighbor, he should love her. But even so, the husband rejected the idea that he could love his wife that way. Then the counselor explained that he was still not off the hook, for God had commanded us to love even our enemies! This couple had made a common error; they had equated love with feelings. In the Bible, love is not a feeling. We can learn to love, even though we begin with little or no emotional impetus. In other words, we can choose to love. And God gives us the grace to do so.

Love is not an emotion; neither is forgiveness. The Bible commands us to put away all bitterness (Eph. 4: 31); we are to forgive others whether they solicit our forgiveness or not (v. 32). Yet many Christians believe that they can’t forgive until they feel like it! They think that if they forgive when they don’t feel like it, they are hypocritical. However, if forgiveness were an emotion, God would be commanding us to do the impossible. We cannot switch our emotions on and off. We cannot develop the right feelings on our own. But God is not mocking us when He tells us to forgive; we can choose to do so, whether we feel like it or not. Never try to skirt God’s commands under the pretense that you don’t feel like obeying Him. A second danger of living by feelings is that you may tend to derive your doctrine from feelings. If you believe God is with you just because “He feels so close,” you will also believe there are days when He forsakes you because “He feels so far away.” The assurance of God’s presence does not come by feelings, but by faith (Heb. 13: 5). Fortunately, you don’t always have to feel God’s presence to be in fellowship with Him and to make spiritual progress.

Lutzer, Erwin W. (2010-01-01). Getting to No: How to Break a Stubborn Habit (p. 104). David C Cook. Kindle Edition.

 

 

Wednesday Wisdom: Sovereign Over Us

Sunburst in natural Forest - Autumn

If you follow my blog, you will be aware of the fact that I haven’t had a Wednesday Wisdom post on here for a very long time. I decided to focus on a few other areas of writing instead. But a friend who is going through some very deep waters sent me the following lyrics. I had actually heard the second half of this song recently and had wanted to look them up and, lo and behold, this morning my friend sent them to me in an e-mail.

I am sharing them with you today, with the awareness that someone else out there in the “blogosphere” may need to read this today.

SOVEREIGN OVER US

There is strength within the sorrow
There is beauty in our tears
And You meet us in our mourning
With a love that casts out fear
You are working in our waiting
You’re sanctifying us
When beyond our understanding
You’re teaching us to trust

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

You are wisdom unimagined
Who could understand Your ways
Reigning high above the Heavens
Reaching down in endless grace
You’re the lifter of the lowly
Compassionate and kind
You surround and You uphold me
And Your promises are my delight

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
[x2]

Even what the enemy means for evil
You turn it for our good
You turn it for our good and for Your glory
Even in the valley, You are faithful
You’re working for our good
You’re working for our good and for Your glory
[x2]

Your plans are still to prosper
You have not forgotten us
You’re with us in the fire and the flood
You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us
[x2]

You’re faithful forever
Perfect in love
You are sovereign over us

 

Written by Aaron Keyes, Jack Mooring, Bryan Brown

Performed by Michael W. Smith

Daily Blessings

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How often we forget just how blessed we are as believers, resting in the shadow of the Almighty God. No storm can blow or fire burn that removes us from His protection. No trial can touch us outside of His will and nothing can separate us from His love. This knowledge should fill us with praise and gratitude each new morning.

I share with you today a poem written by Amy Carmichael. While I do not have a big love for poetry, I find Amy’s poetry profoundly beautiful.

Daily Blessings

For the love that like a screen
Sheltered from the might-have-been;
For that fire could never burn us,
Deeps could never drown or turn us;
For our daily blessings, Lord,
Be Thy name adored.

For the gentle joys that pass
Like the dew upon the grass,
New each morning, lighting duty
With a radiance and a beauty; 
For our daily blessings, Lord
Be Thy name adored.

Many a storm has threatened loud,
And then melted like a cloud,
Seeking to distress, confound us,
Met they great wings folded round us;
For our daily blessings, Lord,
Be Thy name adored.

By Amy Carmichael

The Parallel Mission

Dean

Verax Institute recently did a video series with my brother, Pastor Dean Good, regarding the big picture of what’s going on in the church right now. I know that many of you not only have questions about what is going on in the big picture, but, closer to home, what is going on in your own local church.

Some of you have a vague uneasiness about the fact that clean water and feeding the poor has taken on a more important role in your church than expositing God’s Word. You feel uncomfortable that your worship service is akin to a rock concert with a brief devotional thrown in for good measure. You see worldliness in the form of drunkenness, sexual sin, and gambling being defended under the guise of “freedom in Christ” and scriptural teaching about holiness and sanctification being totally ignored.  I know there are other concerns. In fact, there are so many, I probably couldn’t list them all here. And, while we can determine from God’s Word what is wrong with some of this,  many of us can’t figure out exactly why some of these trends bother us, we just know something isn’t right.

This series of videos will help you understand what exactly is wrong and why. The first video is especially helpful in defining the mission of the church from God’s Word and from there, we can better discern what is going on with the current trends in the church.

You may not agree with everything in this video series, but I encourage you to take the time to watch it. My brother is very knowledgeable and has the gift of sharing that knowledge in a very understandable way.

1) The Biblical Mission of the Church

2) Satan’s Mission: One World Society

3) The Infiltration of the Church

4) The New Age Movement

5) The Church as an Instrument to Bring in the New Age

6) Parallel Message, Aim, and Strategy

7) Parallel Spirituality

 

So Who Knew?

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So who knew that for the past two thousand years the church fathers were so wrong? I mean if we believe what the modern day “Christian” leaders tell us, they got more things wrong than right —

–7 Literal Day Creation (Genesis 1)

Modern Approach: They had that all wrong. God just starting the ball rolling and put it in motion. They weren’t literal days.

–Women should not be in church leadership (I Timothy 2:11-12)

Modern Approach: That was all about the culture of the time and has no bearing on today.

–We should separate from the world (I John 2:15-17; James 1:27)

Modern Approach: The exact opposite, we actually need to be like the world to win the world.

–We should be holy (I Peter 1:15-16)

Modern Approach: Holiness isn’t any big deal, it’s love that matters.

–There is a literal hell (Matthew 10:28)

Modern Approach: A loving God would never send anyone to hell.

–Church is designed to grow and encourage believers (Colossians 3:15-16)

Modern Approach: The church is a very hip, safe place to bring our unsaved friends, where they won’t feel judged or uncomfortable and may (or may not) hear the true gospel.

And the most recent— Homosexuality is a sin before God (Romans 1:24-27)

Modern Approach: We may have gotten that all wrong. After all, gay “Christians” are some of the nicest people around.

Oh, dear brothers and sisters, how we have strayed so far from the Word of God. We are relying on the tainted words of so-called leaders to shape and form our doctrine. We listen to songs and popular authors and they redefine what we think about God and His Word. It happens so slowly we don’t even realize it.

In the last fifty to one hundred years, the modern “church” (and I use quotes because I do not believe it is the true church) has turned away from almost every basic doctrine of scripture. The only thing that is left is love and the cross. And some are even turning away from the cross, encompassing anyone who believes in anything as heaven-bound.

Does anyone else find this incredibly disturbing?

But it is also refreshing. And here is why–

I was thinking about this as I read this article about the Jars of Clay band, that is supposedly a Christian group. One of the group members had a series of tweets that very clearly showed that he believes scripture is irrelevant when determining morality. You can read about it yourself, but something someone said in response to him is very worth sharing here–

“This issue will separate the true Bible believers from those who put experience or personal relationships above Scripture, and while it might result in some real challenges for those who hold to the Word, this could be just what the church of America needs today: a wake-up call to arise from our apathy and man-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me gospel, and a determination to follow Jesus regardless of cost or consequence,” Brown said.

We desperately need this wake-up call. For way too long we have straddled the fence, trying to play both sides. The time for that is over. We either believe what the Bible says or we don’t. We cannot have it both ways.

John MacArthur puts it this way in the monthly letter I receive from Grace to You–

But now, with the facade of cultural Christianity crumbling, true Christianity is starting to stand out in a way it hasn’t in our lifetime. Scripture teaches and church history confront that the Body of Christ is most potent and most effective when it simply speaks and lives the gospel without equivocation or apology. With the mask of superficial Christianity gone, I believe the best days of the spread of the true gospel are ahead of us.

The gospel advances by personal testimony to Christ, one soul at a time. When the church acts like the church; when shepherds preach Scripture and confront error with clarity and boldness; when believers are sanctified, built up, and equipped in truth; people are saved. And that’s when the culture truly changes — nothing transforms the culture like genuine conversion.

For far too long we have lived in the muddy waters of a shallow Christianity in this country. As long as you said “the prayer” you can do or be whoever you like and still consider yourself saved. But this is not what scripture teaches. And as the chasm between true Bible believers and those who follow their own man-made, people-pleasing God widens,  we can and should expect that life is going to get a bit harder for us. We are no longer mainstream and we are going to need to adjust. We are quickly and consistently getting slapped with labels like “intolerant”, “prejudiced” and even “dangerous”.

Buckle your seat belt and hang on, because I am pretty sure we are in for a rough ride. But just you watch and see God work in amazing ways! I am already seeing Him work in individual lives, drawing them to Himself. He is real and alive and He is faithful!

And, in case you haven’t heard me say this before, get into God’s Word for yourself.

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

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“This issue will separate the true Bible believers from those who put experience or personal relationships above Scripture, and while it might result in some real challenges for those who hold to the Word, this could be just what the church of America needs today: a wakeup call to arise from our apathy and man-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me gospel, and a determination to follow Jesus regardless of cost or consequence,” Brown said.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/05/pro-gay-jars-of-clay-singerschooled-by-christian-leaders/#D9KgrlTsxROeuJsc.99
“This issue will separate the true Bible believers from those who put experience or personal relationships above Scripture, and while it might result in some real challenges for those who hold to the Word, this could be just what the church of America needs today: a wakeup call to arise from our apathy and man-centered, what’s-in-it-for-me gospel, and a determination to follow Jesus regardless of cost or consequence,” Brown said.
Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2014/05/pro-gay-jars-of-clay-singerschooled-by-christian-leaders/#D9KgrlTsxROeuJsc.99
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