-Acts 2/ Joel 2: Looking ‘Forward’

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It is a new day and a new Biblical year and we are still looking forward to revival. But sometimes there is stuff that must come first or may come along with it that we would rather avoid. But the word ‘Revival’ only brings to our minds the ‘good stuff’ and all of the ‘not so good’ that came along with former moves of God is usually forgotten or disregarded. 

500 years ago on October 31, 1517 Martin Luther tacked 95 theses to a door in Wittenberg, Germany. Luther wanted to bring revival and reform to the church but schism came instead and a few years later he was excommunicated and then the wars followed for several hundred years. But the church was reformed and change came to all of the church regardless. One wonders if he would have proceeded differently if he had known all the stuff that was going to follow.

One thing for sure, the Reformation was a Move of God. More than anything else the most important result was access to the Bible and real knowledge of the written Word of God- the Logos. Before 1517 The Word was only available to the Priests, Monks, and scholars and very little of it was allowed to ever trickle on down to the regular folks. Not only that but ‘worship’ services were in Latin which only the educated could understand.

Coming out of the Reformation, services started being conducted in the vernacular and an exposition and teaching of the Scriptures became an important part of worship. Later the Bible was translated into the languages of the people and with the invention of the printing press it became available for regular folks. The church was changed by the Logos of God.

Most of us in Charismatic and Pentecostal churches look back on Azusa Street in 1906 as the beginning of another Move of God that changed the church. This time it was the Rhema Word of God that was restored along with all of the Spiritual gifts. A good historical case can be made that the ‘gifts’ never really departed entirely from the church but few regular folks in the church had the opportunity to experience them.

Now we are at a new crossroad where a significant part of the church is questioning whether the Bible is still even relevant and whether certain plain teachings in the Word should be disregarded or ignored. Ironically it is the old ‘Reformation’ mainline churches that are in the midst of rejecting their own foundations which were rooted in ’solo scriptura.’

The point is, major change and a new move of God including some kind of new ‘reformation’ is ahead for the church and we can expect that the revival we are hoping for may be far different than our romanticized expectations. Fact is, the church is always ‘looking forward’ to the past revivals and is never fully prepared to receive the new one.

To demonstrate what I am talking about let’s take a look at Acts. Before all of the good stuff in Acts 2 we find in chapter 1 that all the church devoted themselves to prayer. Since Pentecost came 50 days after the Passover they could have been praying solid for at least a month or so. Not only that, but for only this one time in history the entire church and everyone in it was actually prepared to receive a move from God.

Now for the scary part that may be relevant for us now or in the very least for the church some time in the future. We all like the ‘good stuff’ in Peter’s quote of Joel 2:

17 “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,and your young men shall see visions,and your old men shall dream dreams;

18 even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. …

21 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.’

Here’s the part of Acts 2 / Joel 2 we would rather ignore. The verses between 18 and 21 (19 & 20):

19 And I will show wonders in the heavens above
and signs on the earth below,
blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke;

20 the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day.

In light of all of the major disasters lately, these verses might be far more relevant to a coming revival than we want to admit. Also, a falling away and major persecution might well come along with it.

It is time for the church to pray. It is always time for us to pray but especially now.               *Top

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-Total Solar Eclipse and Times to Come

Solar Eclipse

On August 21, 2017 millions of Americans viewed a total solar eclipse that started in Oregon and cut a 70 mile wide swath across our nation west to east all the way to South Carolina. It had a unique trajectory that was exclusive to only the U.S. for the first time since the nation’s founding in 1776.

There will be signs in the heavens and on the earth in the last days and one is persuaded to look for some kind of deeper meaning in this natural event. In Biblical times eclipses were looked upon as signs of impending judgment or change. I can remember years ago watching the movie- Apocalypto that featured an eclipse while Mayan priests were sacrificing folks on their pyramid. It was a show stopper as fear gripped the crowd. The closing scenes showed armored Spanish conquistadores in the distance landing on a beach nearby as a chilling portend of coming change. An Actual line in the sands of time.

Nevertheless as our family took in the event on a relative’s farm in Sedalia MO, where we experienced a minute and a half of totality, we found ourselves in awe of God’s creation. In fact everyone we know who saw the total eclipse has remarked about how it was far more of a ‘spiritual’ experience than they had expected.

So was the event a portend of judgment or change in the future for the USA? Nearly all of the prophetic stuff I read looked upon it as a sign of change and almost all positive. Yet when I considered it, all I ever got was that it was a ‘line of demarcation’ – one that we will remember as dividing the time after from that before. Sort of like we Charismatics and Pentecostals look back upon Azusa Street in 1906 as a beginning. But those in San Francisco look upon 1906 in an entirely different light.

Now this week as Houston TX is under water and suffering maybe the worst natural disaster in US history some are coming out of the shadows and calling it judgment. We need to be careful about making such proclamations. What we really need to do is pray for the folks in the midst of that disaster and contribute to the non-profit groups helping the victims.

It will be a time of change for maybe millions of people in Texas and we should pray that it will bring many closer to God and result in positive changes for those who are now suffering some of the worst days of their lives. Lord, inspire your children to rise up in love and unity blessing others in the worst of conditions as a testimony of your love.

There is another solar eclipse coming to America in 2024, this time from north to south. I wonder if we will come to look upon those nearly 7 intervening years as the ‘time between the eclipses’ if we are still around? The words that keep coming to my mind are ‘Hope and Grace.’               *Top

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-Some Revival Implications For The Church

26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain. 28 Therefore let us be grateful for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, and thus let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, 29 for our God is a consuming fire. –Heb. 12:26-29

While I was reading the 12th chapter of Hebrews this morning the 26-29 verses leaped off the page and the Following came to me:

This is the revival you have been praying for. 

As I read the verses again some of the implications and dangers for the church in midst of revival and afterwards began to come to mind. It may not be as rosy and cozy as most of us expect. For sure the church will be changed in ways we do not  see now. We have been praying for the Kingdom to come down in our midst and have not fully comprehended how that will change the church as we know it.

The church and the leaders will be refined by God’s own fire and that which can be shaken will. It will be glorious but also painful. The church that remains will stand up and more accurately represent the Kingdom of God on earth, fulfill its calling, and finally become the worthy Body and Bride of Christ.

Unfortunately part of the church as we know it will not endure. Look for whole denominations and movements to go into apostasy afterwards. We can already see it happening as some of the mainline churches are turning their backs upon the Word of God. Look for some to turn their backs upon the Word himself and deny his divinity for the sake of world peace.

Revival will come to every church and signs and wonders will follow and many will be saved but the response of the leaders and the aftermath will not be the same.                 *Top

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-Independence Day 2017: Freedom Comes from God

United_States_Declaration_of_Independence

Happy Independence Day 2017.

The following is our traditional message for the 4th of July:

Flags are flying, parades are moving, drinks are flowing, and politicians are speaking today in America.

240 years ago a message was confirmed by representatives of 13 colonies proclaiming their freedom, a freedom that was considered to be derived from God:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

Much has been made of the variety of beliefs held by the founders of this country but their words and convictions remain not only on paper but also in the hearts of the people.

Declaration of Independence: The Emphasis Upon God

When it comes to the Declaration of Independence, the words- “by their Creator” were a major part of the message, the subject, and the emphasis.

Many secularists and atheists today want to de-emphasize the role of faith in the founding of this country to the point that many are attempting to actually rewrite history itself. For them, God could have easily been left out of the document with little or no effect.

But in the context of 1776, those words were the whole linchpin of the document and appealed to as the ultimate authority and source for the rights of the Americans to rebel against the King of England.

In the context of the 18th century the Europeans believed that their Kings reigned and ruled ‘by Divine right’ under the authority of God and were His direct representatives. In fact, the King of England was also the head of the church and was supposed to defend the Christian faith against heresy and all enemies. In that cultural context, to rebel against the King was tantamount to rebelling against God the Creator himself.

In the Declaration the founders made it clear that they were not rebelling against God but that the Creator was actually the ultimate authority they were appealing to saying that their ‘rights’ were derived directly from the Creator and not given to them by the King of England or some parchment or Parliament.

It was a radical document at the time and changed the whole course of human history and ‘the Creator’ was part and parcel of the Declaration of Independence and the ultimate authority appealed to in the whole process.            *Top

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-Hungary: ‘Greatest Revival of Our Time’?

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Here’s a link to an article by Ted Baehr who claims that the ‘greatest revival of our time’ is breaking out in Hungary:

Recently, I returned from speaking and teaching in Hungary with my son Robby, … Hungary was a wonderful, definitive, different experience because Hungary is in the midst of revival. More than 60 percent of the members of Parliament there are Christian. The prime minister, who was once a typical European leftist, who started out a Communist Youth leader, came to Christ and is on fire for God. Members of the cabinet are pastors and leaders in Reformed and other Hungarian churches.

Besides speaking at the conference that brought me to Hungary, World Congress of Families, I got the chance to speak in the largest Christian church, 60,000 people, one of the largest churches in the world. That church owns the biggest news network in Hungary, reaching 2 million people.

What makes all of this so exceptional is the history of Hungary.

<Read the whole article>

Response: This is really good news.  Most of the time when we read about Europe it is all about how Muslims are taking over significant parts of Germany, UK, Sweden, and causing trouble in France. We forget about what is happening in the former communist countries in the East where Christianity seems to be flourishing more than in the West which is seemingly becoming more secular.

Add this to the on-going secret revivals taking place among Muslims and in China and North Korea. Meanwhile in this country we have a prominent senator and former presidential candidate questioning whether conservative Christians should be allowed to even serve in the government.                 *Top

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