Category Archives: American Church

-‘Bless Friday’ Instead of ‘Black Friday’

BLACK FRIDAY BLESS FRIDAY

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Here’s a great way to start the Christmas season, in keeping with the teaching of Jesus who is the real reason for the season after all. From the Christian Post:

On a day when many Americans are crowding the stores for “Black Friday” bargains, a group of churches will instead do acts of charity as part of an annual observance called “Bless Friday.”

“We’re here to help connect individuals, groups and churches to the service opportunities that can transform our communities and our hearts,” noted its website.

     “We hope that by beginning their Christmas celebration with service participants will place their focus on Jesus.  We especially hope that Bless Friday connects Christmas and service in the minds of children, less Santa and more Jesus.”

<Read the whole article>

Response: This is an idea that Christians and churches all across America could get involved in. Making a difference in the lives of people is a positive way to start the Christmas season.

Already I see the Marines out with their drive for toys and the bell ringers for the Salvation Army. Bless Friday is something every church could get involved in some way in the future. It would be particularly helpful to include children in the event to help them understand what the season is really all about.                *Top

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-The American Church Needs to be Resurrected

word-for-the-church-thumb

Yesterday we celebrated the Resurrection of  our Lord Jesus Christ. Today I submit that the entire American church needs to be resurrected.

Some church leaders are looking for a new awakening and others are calling for a new reformation—that too. But the  American Church that was so popular a ‘Palm’ generation ago is now being assailed in this culture and some are demanding its submission and ‘crucifixion’ while others are saying that it is already over for the church as we to knew it.

Meanwhile, many mainline church leaders are caving in and turning in the ‘unpopular’ parts of their Bibles to maintain ‘cultural relevance’ and respectability. Other conservative Christian voices are claiming that this culture is only going to get worse and the only thing left for the church is to be  ‘raptured.’

I believe that ‘a New Day’ is about to dawn upon the America church. Some will call it revival, others a new reformation, but the new move of God will resurrect the American Church and it will rise up and fulfill its calling and destiny while there is yet day.

I posted the following last year at the beginning of the new Biblical  (Jewish) year. I believe that it is still poignant and for today:

(Posted on September 30, 2017)

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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-Acts 2/ Joel 2: Looking Forward

word-for-the-church-thumb

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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-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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-It is Time to Leave Nazareth

He could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them.  He was amazed at their lack of faith. –Mark 6: 5-6

I am really tired of living in Nazareth where only a few folks are healed, as wonderful as that is.

I have friends who have gone on mission trips to India, Africa, and South America, and have come back with incredible testimonies of how God healed everyone they prayed for. Opening blind eyes, healing the deaf, and seeing all kinds of miracles including folks who could not even stand on their own two feet running laps. Some have even seen the dead raised. Then when they come back home to America it is just like it was before- they see a few folks healed once in a while and are glad for it.

At the beginning of the year it was impressed upon me that faith and belief were  THE issues that the American and Western church needed to deal with this year. First of all the scripture that came to me on New Years Eve was Mark 9:24-

I believe; help my unbelief.

I have been praying that one everyday since.

Then reading on in Mark, I came across the passage in 11:22-24 where Jesus talks about having a strong enough faith and belief to move a mountain. I never really considered literally or physically moving mountains as something I might want to do. Maybe figuratively.

However, once when I was on a long hike with my family years ago and realized when we got to the top of one mountain peak that the lake we were going to was on the other side of another mountain. I would have like to have moved a mountain if I could. Then on another vacation I went fishing with a friend on the east side of the Sierra Mountains near Yosemite. We hiked down a mountain side to a pristine lake and had a wonderful day catching fish. Then we literally thought we were going to die going back up that mountain with 10 big fish and all of our equipment including an ice chest and chairs. Moving a mountain would have come in handy that day. However, it never occurred to me to pray it away and I still do not believe that it would have been justified under those circumstances. When would one actually need to move a mountain into the sea? Something I  have always wondered. I guess when God tells you to.

Nevertheless, while reading this passage in Mark, I received a strong word to read it in the Greek. I was in my comfy chair but the Lord knows me well and it came in a way that I could not ignore. It was the first three words of Jesus that changed it all and gave me a different perspective. Maybe I  have heard someone preach on verse 22 in the past but it was rhema for me that day and ever since:

Ekete pistin Theou  (a transliteration-my site will not print out the actual Greek) 

All of the English translations (12) that I have in my library have it as- “Have faith in God.” So that is obviously the best translation.  But there is a couple of things in the Greek which give it a fuller meaning. First of all, ‘ekete’ calls for continuing action- not just ‘have’ but continue to have. ‘Faith’ (pistin) is the subject but God (Theou) is not only the object of it but is the possessor (genitive or possessive in the Greek). It is God’s faith.

So how do you get the kind of faith that can move mountains? My conclusion is that we can only get it from God- we have to ask him for it and we have to completely believe that God’s wants us to do it in the first place and has given us the power to  accomplish the task.

We have faith but Holy Spirit help our faith.

If we want to leave behind the environment of Nazareth where we only see a few wonderful healings then we need to see an exponential increase in our faith and belief. We have to seek it and ask for it.

It is time for the American and Western church to live in a Kingdom environment where signs and wonders, and the miracles and healings of Jesus are demonstrated in our midst. They need to be commonplace and not just fortuitous exceptions but a part of the norm. Then church will become relevant once more and offer a viable and attractive alternative world view in the midst of an unbelieving secular culture.               *Top

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