Thursday, June 28, 2018

Arise in Truth

True then and true today. The city and county of Laurens, South Carolina, bears their name from Henry Laurens, a political leader during the American Revolution, signer of the Articles of Confederation, and President of the 1777 Continental Congress.

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

11 Advantages Of Having 50 Churches Of 100 Instead Of 1 Church Of 5,000

Big churches are great. But they’re very rare. And they’re not the only way to see the kingdom of God move forward.

American church culture tends to be fascinated by large numbers of both people and money - nickles and noses as some Southern Baptists use to say.  But Scripture testifies that God also delights in using small people in small places. As Zechariah reminds us, "Who despises the day of small things?'

Karl Vaters shares a great word here about the value of small churches:

"Church planters are some of the great heroes of the faith. Especially when you realize how many church plants fail within the first few years.

But I wonder, how many failed churches might still be alive and well today if we didn’t pressure them to reach numerical goals that most churches, even after decades of existence, fail to achieve?

What would happen if, instead of sending one church planter to start a church, hoping for it to reach (to pick an arbitrary number) 5,000 attendees, we sent out 50 church planters, and resourced them with the tools to grow to 100 on average?"

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Surely Goodness - Psalm 23

Lead Us, Spirit of God

Wonderful time of worship and message at The Brooklyn Tabernacle via their webcast. Awesome word from Brother Jim about the partnership of the Bible and the Holy Spirit in the life of today's believers: An Up Close and Personal God. Wonderful music and invitation.

Believers and churches today need to be led by the Holy Spirit - not just by people, tradition, or intellect. His plans, His mind, and His ability surpass ours. 

Listen to Jim Cymbala challenge the church in this Father's Day message from June 17, 2018.

Friday, June 15, 2018

Trust in God - Not People

Here's a great reminder of our need to always put our trust in God - from the Family Research Council Prayer Team. . . 

Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the LORD... Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, and whose hope is the LORD. (Jer 17:5,7 NKJV)

Dr. Richard Blackaby (full bio) is president of Blackaby Ministries International near Atlanta, following his father, Dr. Henry Blackaby, who founded the ministry. He earned his M.Div. and Ph.D. at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. After 13 years as a pastor, and 13 years as President of the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary, he now serves as Chancellor. This excerpt is from his devotional, Experiencing God Day by Day, "Trusting God First."

The Israelites of Jeremiah's day believed they could trust in their army, the diplomacy of their king, and their foreign alliances to protect them from the powerful Babylonian empire. They gave lip service to their trust in God, but their actions showed where their faith really was: in their military and financial might. God spoke through Jeremiah to warn them that He would not bless those who trusted in anyone or anything instead of Him.

Placing your ultimate trust in anything other than God is idolatry. How can you know if your faith is not truly in God? Ask yourself these questions: Where do I turn when I experience a crisis? When I am hurting or afraid, to whom do I go? When I have a financial problem, whom do I want to tell first? Where do I seek comfort when I am under stress or discouraged?

God often uses other people as His method of providing for you. But be careful lest you inadvertently misdirect your faith toward His provision instead of toward the Provider. God may meet your need through your friends, but ultimately your trust must be in God. The Israelites were so stubbornly committed to trusting in human strength instead of God that, even as the Babylonian army approached Jerusalem, they continued to desperately seek for a person, or a nation, or an army that could rescue them. They realized too late that they had neglected to trust in the only One who could deliver them. Don't make the same mistake as the Israelites. Go straight to the Lord when you have a need. He is the only One who can provide for you.

Placing our ultimate trust in Almighty God is a major theme in Scripture both for individuals and for nations. America's Founding Fathers believed in the providence of God in the affairs of nations and appealed to Him often. George Washington called upon his Continental troops to seek God and the Continental Congress prayed throughout the War for Independence, periodically calling upon the people to seek God, especially before or during major conflicts in the war. And they were careful to call for thanksgiving after major victories. During eight years of war, they issued 15 nationwide calls for either extraordinary humiliation, fasting and prayer, or thanksgiving. The routine prayer days practiced in the colonies also continued to take place.

For many years, America has been in accelerating spiritual, moral, and political decline, each symbiotic with the other. God has dealt with us mercifully. He has allowed us to see the consequences of our sin through increased violence, crime, massive storms, calamities, and political failures to remind us of our need to turn to Him. God deals directly with individuals and with nations. And each of us has an impact on the welfare and destiny of our nation for good or for evil. Our sins, unrepented of, not only impact our own lives, but our families, our churches, and our nation. Our courageous acts of faith and righteousness and consistent godly behavior has great impact as well.

Even amid a confused and sin-laden society, God is using relatively small bands of believers who are wholly committed to Him and who trust in Him to access His miracles and mercies in America, despite our nation's shocking spiritual, moral, and political divide. Amid the darkness can be seen the fruit of a growing army of believers and churches that God has stirred to humble themselves, pray, seek God's face, and turn from their wicked ways. As that remnant grows over time, I believe God's grace will permeate our entire nation. People and churches will be changed and the kind of righteousness that God says exalts a nation will also. While wickedness is on the increase now, the time may come when righteousness begins to supplant the evil. With the decline of wickedness and the rise of righteousness, godless leaders who have managed to increase wickedness through laws that have corrupted our children, our schools, our cities, and states will be supplanted as well.

The people of Judah experienced renewal under King Jehoshaphat. Assaulted by an overwhelming enemy force, Judah was helpless (read 2 Chr 20:1-30). "Jehoshaphat feared, and set himself to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah." The people fixed their eyes, not on their own army or weapons, nor on some distant ally's help. Rather, they fixed their eyes squarely on the living God, trusting Him. As they did, the prophet said, "You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord...!" They trusted God. Jehoshaphat sent singers to lead the army. But the Lord set ambushes for their enemies and when the Judean army arrived, they found nothing but dead bodies. The enemy armies had turned against themselves and not a single soldier survived.

If a remnant of believing Americans remains faithful and continues to grow, it is just a matter of time before God will use His people and our nation to open wide the doors of entire nations now closed to the gospel. We could see that happen in North Korea, if we will persist in repentance and prayer. Meanwhile, we must continue to press on in urging our fellow believers and countrymen to receive God's grace and turn wholeheartedly to Him. More and more are turning and praying. More and more are getting the vision to be salt AND light, devoting themselves to evangelism and to transforming our culture through transformed character, teaching, and preaching of the word of God as it applies to our culture -- publicly encouraging what is good and denouncing what is evil -- and offering and leading communities with godly solutions.

Pictures used by permission from Pixabay

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Whatever the Left Touches it Ruins

Dennis Prager, one of America's favorite talk-show radio hosts, regularly warns listeners of what he considers to be the greatest threat to America and Western Civilization. 

The greatest threat to the great American experiment is leftism - as opposed to conservatism or classic liberalism. In the 20th century, leftism resulted in such movements as Marxism and communism.  Today, leftist ideology continues to infiltrate universities, the media, and the entertainment industry.

Prager explains the danger of leftism and how it continues to influence public thought in the following article:

"The only way to save Western civilization is to convince more people that leftism — not liberalism — is a nihilistic force. Quite literally, whatever the left touches it ruins.

So, here is a partial listing of the damage done by the left and the Democratic Party:

The most obvious — and, therefore, the one more and Americans can resonate with — is the near destruction of most American universities as places of learning. In the words of Harvard professor Steven Pinker — an atheist and a liberal — outside of the natural sciences and a few other disciplines (such as mathematics and business), 'universities are becoming laughing stocks of intolerance.' "

VP Pence: When Push Comes to Pulpit...

Vice President Mike Pence, who identifies himself first as an evangelical Christian, spoke to the Southern Baptist Convention's annual meeting in Dallas this week. The Family Research Council reports on the event:

"One of the first promises Donald Trump made to evangelicals as a candidate was to the pastors of America: 'We're going to get rid of that [Johnson amendment],' he promised. Now, a year and a half into his administration, it's somewhat fitting that he and Vice President Mike Pence have made a priority of keeping their dialogue with churches going.

Today, Vice President Pence did that in spectacular fashion at the annual meeting of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC). The largest evangelical denomination in America, the SBC hosted as many as 11,000 delegates in Texas. And to them, the administration's second-in-command had a simple message: We 'will always stand with you.'

The vice president took the opportunity to talk about the progress the Trump administration has made on issues of importance to the SBC – and evangelicals in general: protecting life, preserving religious liberty, helping the persecuted church, standing with Israel. But those gains, he reminded them, can't be sustained without engaged, churchgoing Americans."

Monday, June 11, 2018

Too Few Pastors Spoke Up. It's the Real Reason We're in This Mess Today

Spot-on article by Michael Brown. 

"I don't want to sound critical, and I'm not bitter or angry. But I am grieved. And burdened. So I will raise my voice like a trumpet and say it plainly and clearly: The relative silence of our pulpits has helped plunged us into our current moral morass. Do we have the courage and integrity to face this?

I'm not talking about pastors and leaders becoming political. That's the farthest thing from my mind.

But I am talking about pastors and leaders becoming prophetic. I am talking about us speaking the truth in love, regardless of cost or consequence. Confronting sin in the church as well as in the society. Conforming to the image of God rather than the image of the world. Concentrating on obedience more than relevance, on pleasing God more than entertaining people."

Read the entire article by Dr. Michael Brown here.

picture used by permission from Pixabay

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Quote of the Day

“We have all been in need of God’s mercy and grace at some point in our lives. If God were to treat us as we treat each other – for our weaknesses and vulnerabilities, lack of wisdom, and sin – none of us would be a candidate for a comeback. But thank God that He is better than us. And in His great mercy, He gives room for growth.” 

Dr. Tony Evans 

Monday, June 4, 2018

Major Step Forward for Religious Liberty

"The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor today of Jack Phillips, the owner of Masterpiece Cakeshop in Lakewood, Colorado, who declined to bake a custom cake to celebrate a same-sex wedding because of his religious beliefs.

Masterpiece Cakeshop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission is a historic case involving religious liberty, LGBT rights, and the First Amendment.

In the 7-2 ruling, the high court said the Colorado Commission of Civil Rights, which had ruled against Phillips, demonstrated “clear and impermissible hostility” toward the baker and cake artist’s Christian belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman."

Read the entire article by Kelsey Harkness here.

Picture used by permission from Pixabay.