Author Archives: uncompromisedchristianity

THE VITAL CONNECTION BETWEEN BROKENNESS AND REVIVAL

Many Christians today have realized that we desperately need revival. Whether it’s an end times revival (as I wrote about in my last post) or a revival to get the country back to God so we can glorify Him as we proceed into the future, it is our only hope. I’ve written quite extensively on revival in the last twenty years, as God has placed a heavy burden for this deep in my heart. I’ve also written extensively on the crucial importance of spiritual brokenness (which includes surrender and dying to self) in every follower of Jesus.

And there is a vital link between brokenness and revival. In fact, without spiritual brokenness there cannot be revival. Let me explain.

Brokenness is our deep understanding that we, in and of ourselves, are helpless without God. When left to ourselves, we are a mess and are far from glorifying Him. Brokenness is when we realize this, hate our sin and our mediocre walk with God, surrender control of our lives to His Lordship, and die to self (the old nature that is worldly and not glorifying to God). Brokenness is when we, in an act of our will and in total desperation, abandon all rights to ourselves to God and let Him be in control. Simply put, without spiritual brokenness, we cannot truly glorify God the way He deserves. To be sure, brokenness is a life time journey that needs to be cultivated on an ongoing basis, but the initial decision to make this a permanent part of our lives is one that we all need to make. (author’s note: see detailed discussions on brokenness in the posts “The Wholeness of Brokenness” and “Lord Break Me – A Bold and Daring Prayer”; on surrender in the posts “Its All About Surrender” and “Signing the Blank Contract”; and on dying to self in the posts “Dying to Self – the Key to Life” and “The Three Words that Change Everything”).

How, then, does brokenness tie into revival? Revival, which brings complacent, lukewarm, and/or backslidden Christians back to life, comes only when God’s people see their sin, take responsibility for it, repent from the depths of their souls, and cry out to God for forgiveness and mercy. It is humbling ourselves before our holy God and doing whatever is necessary to regain a deep, intimate relationship with Him. It is performing radical surgery in our lives – getting rid of anything and everything that doesn’t bring Him glory. It is realizing just how much we need Him and just how much we want Him. It is a dying to self because you know your old self will never glorify Him and never grow into deep intimacy with Him. It is surrendering to Him because you know that only He can give you the strength and power to live in His will for His glory.

Brokenness is understanding with our minds that we need Him above everything else in life, and desiring with our heart that we want Him above everything else in life. It is a deep rooted humility that knows that you have nothing to offer Him but your brokenness, and coming to Him in total dependency in everything in your life.

A broken spirit is the one God will revive.

And when God revives a broken Christian, the results are incredible – a renewed love for and devotion to Him; a God empowered life that hungers and thirsts for holiness because he/she understands that without holiness it is impossible to glorify him; a life that is a shining light that bears much fruit for the Kingdom of God in this dark world; and a life that exhibits peace, joy, hope, and purpose because he/she abides in the glorious presence of God.

But, it all starts with brokenness. Allow me to say it again – without spiritual brokenness there can be no revival.

Many today quote 2 Chronicles 7:14 when discussing revival: “if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land”. If you look closely, this verse is all about brokenness – “humble themselves” (in deep acknowledge of their sin), “seek my face” (surrender totally to His Lordship), “turn from their wicked ways” (die to self by repenting of their sin and doing radical surgery to cut out anything that is not pleasing to God). Yes, many people quote this verse, but I wonder how many are really willing to be broken by actually doing what it says.

My friends, our nation needs revival. The church in America needs revival. I need revival. Do you? Are you willing to come to Him in total brokenness so that He can bring a glorious revival in your life?

There can be no revival without spiritual brokenness… in me…and in you.

ARE THESE THE LAST DAYS FOR AMERICA?

Our country, and the world, is in turmoil – a global pandemic, governments exerting almost dictatorial powers in the name of protecting its citizens from the pandemic, economic disaster, hard working people losing their businesses and jobs in record numbers, racial unrest, anarchists roaming city streets burning and looting at will as they attempt to overthrow the very foundations on which our country was founded upon, and a corrupt, dysfunctional government more concerned about their political power than the country or their constituents. People look around with a sense of fear, dread, and anxiousness, and wonder what the future holds.

Are we living in the last days? Is Jesus coming back soon ?

It is very important to keep in mind that the Bible very clearly states that no one knows the day or the hour when Jesus will rapture His church, which will usher in the events of the end times. In what is referred to as the the Olivet Discourse (Matthew 24-25) Jesus taught about the end times and the signs that would accompany them. In Matthew 24:36 Jesus said:  “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.”, and He said this in Matthew 25:13: “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”. Thus, all of those who set dates for the second coming of Jesus are dangerously overstepping Jesus’ words. Jesus did, however, in the same Olivet Discourse, tell His disciples, and, by extension all of those who would be His followers throughout the ages, to be watching for the signs that would precede His second coming and to be ready (Matthew 24:33, 42-44, 25:13).

The signs that will precede the end times are are found in many places in the Bible (the books of Daniel, Matthew, Revelation, etc). To be sure, every generation since Jesus’ ascension thought that He was coming back in their days. But, obviously, He didn’t. However, at no other time in human history have events and circumstances that the Bible says characterize the end times lined up so remarkably as they do today.

Are we living in the last days? Only God knows, but, to bring it a little closer to home, are these the last days of the United States? As I study what the Bible teaches about the end times, there is never a mention of any nation from the west. Nations from the east, north, and south are mentioned in the passages about the end times (Ezekiel 38:1-6, Daniel 11:40-42, Revelation 16:22) but never one from the west. Why is this? I believe it is because the western world deteriorates into irrelevance and self destructs before the events of the last days start to unfold.

Look at western Europe, it is virtually irrelevant in the world as it has crumbled spiritually and morally. Canada has never been considered a world power, but they, too, have crumbled spiritually and morally just like western Europe. And the United States? We are doing our best to follow their path into oblivion. Yes, the U.S. is still the most powerful country on earth, but our brazen rebellion against God is sucking the very life out of our nation. I believe that America has tested God’s patience for too long and has crossed the line in its wickedness against God. And there’s no going back.

Just take a look at the state of our country. Abortion has taken the lives of over 61 million human beings, homosexuality is now accepted as mainstream, the sacredness of the marriage covenant as God designed it has been disgraced to include the legalization of gay marriage, casual sex (the “hook up” generation) has replaced God’s design for sex as being between one man and one woman in the context of the marriage covenant, gender is now based on the feelings of individuals and can be “changed” at will, prayer and any mention of Jesus has been banned from schools, right has become wrong and wrong has become right as political correctness has replaced God’s moral absolute laws, and the church has played the harlot with the world and become just like it. Do you think we have crossed the line?

Is there hope for America? I’m reminded of the Biblical account of King Manasseh’s reign over Judah, which, at 55 years, was the longest reign of any of the kings of Israel. He was so wicked and he led the nation into such deep apostacy that all hope was gone. Even though he repented at the end of his life (2 Chronicles 33:10-20) it was too late. His wickedness was so great that God was going to bring judgment on Judah through the nation of Babylon, which destroyed Jerusalem, slaughtered myriads of Jews, and took the rest captive back to Babylon. Even though his grandson, Josiah brought about a remarkable revival in Judah before Babylon conquered it (2 Chronicles 34-35), it was too late. Four times the Bible says that God was bringing judgment on the nation because of the sins of Manasseh (2 Kings 21:11-13, 23:26, 24:3-4; Jeremiah 15:4) in spite of his repentance and Josiah’s revival. The wickedness of Manasseh had been that vile, and God’s incredible patience ran out. America, are you paying attention?

Has the United States, like Judah under Manasseh, crossed the line of wickedness to the point of no return? Has God’s patience with us ran out? I am definitely not a prophet, but I believe so. And if so, we shouldn’t be surprised at the chaos that we are seeing in our nation, which is the result of our thumbing our nose at God for too long. And thus, just as the Bible prophecies, there will be no longer a power from the west in the end times events. Just how God will bring judgment on our nation is unknown, but it will be perfectly justified.

If indeed we are living in our nations waning days, what, then, do we do? Just curl up in the fetal position in fear and just hope that the rapture happens soon? Absolutely not! We need to be praying fervently for an end time revival. As God used King Josiah to bring about a revival in Judah before His certain judgment came, He can use us to bring one more revival to America before His judgment falls on our nation. This is our prayer, that God would hear our cries of repentance for the sins of our nation, the sins of the church, and our own sins, and send revival to His church in America. A revived church will glorify our awesome God and can be powerfully used by Him to bring many lost people to salvation before Jesus comes back for His church. In the midst of the growing darkness, an end time revival, a Third Great Awakening would be awesome!

As I said, my friends, I’m definitely not a prophet, and I dare not say “Thus says the Lord”, but these are the things I see as I read Scripture and observe the condition of our nation. I challenge you to study the biblical teachings about the end times and build a biblical theology of eschatology (the theology of the end times).

Finally, will you pray with me that God would send a powerful revival in our days?

SHOULD A CHRISTIAN EMBRACE THE “BLACK LIVES MATTER” MOVEMENT?

With the tragic, horrific death of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter group has taken center stage with demonstrations around the country. People of all races have joined the demonstrations, and more and more people of all ethnicities have joined the movement. But the question is: should a Christian embrace the BLM movement? Well, the answer to that is both yes and no.

Yes we should embrace the idea of Black Lives Matter in the sense that social justice must be given to all people regardless of race. Yes, in the sense that racism is diametrically opposed to God’s Word, and thus is sin. Every human being is an intentional, unique, specific creation of God and was created in His image, meaning human beings, unlike any other parts of God’s creation, have a moral will, an eternal soul, and the ability to commune with their Creator. Thus, all life is precious and sacred – Black White, Asian, Latino, Native American, and mixed races. The life of the 93 year old man with Alzheimer’s disease who doesn’t know his name or recognize his wife or kids is sacred, as is the child born with Down’s Syndrome, as is the tiny fetus in the mother’s womb. As Christians, we must champion equality and social justice for all human beings because God loves everyone.

No, we must not embrace or join the Black Lives Matter movement because their agenda has aspects that are totally opposed to Biblical morality. The “What We Believe” section of the BLM website includes these statements:

“We are self-reflexive and do the work required to dismantle cisgender privilege and uplift Black trans folk, especially Black trans women who continue to be disproportionately impacted by trans-antagonistic violence.”

We disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families and “villages” that collectively care for one another, especially our children, to the degree that mothers, parents, and children are comfortable.

We foster a queer‐affirming network. When we gather, we do so with the intention of freeing ourselves from the tight grip of heteronormative thinking, or rather, the belief that all in the world are heterosexual (unless s/he or they disclose otherwise).

As you can see, the BLM movement rejects God’s design for sexuality by denouncing heterosexuality and embracing “queer” lifestyles, for gender by rebelling against God’s sovereign choice of gender for each person as either male or female by “deconstructing cisgender [i.e. denoting or relating to a person whose sense of personal identity and gender corresponds with their birth sex] privilege” and affirming transgenderism, and for family by “disrupting the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure” by saying “villages” are needed to raise kids instead of just parents. Thus, we, as followers of Jesus, cannot be identified with any organization or movement that promotes non-Biblical principles.

So, my friends, we need to be thinking Christians, thoroughly using our God given ability to discern right from wrong instead of relying on the knee jerk reactions of our emotions before jumping on a band wagon. We are responsible for our choices, so we must approach every situation with a Biblical world view. The Bible is the final and only authority on every matter of doctrine and practice, and, being God’s Word, it will always lead us to truth.

AN “EYEWITNESS” ACCOUNT OF THE CRUCIFIXION

Hi my friends. As we approach Good Friday and Easter, I thought I’d share this video of the apostle John’s first hand account of Jesus’ death on our behalf. It is my prayer that it might give you a deeper understanding of what Jesus went through on our behalf, and that you would grow deeper in love with Him and surrender all of yourself to Him. To Him be the glory forever!! Happy Easter!

LESSONS WE CAN LEARN FROM A PANDEMIC

I’ve been asked if the current corona virus pandemic is God’s judgement on the world for our rebellion against Him. Well, the answer to that loaded question is “yes” and “maybe, maybe not”.

“Yes” in the sense that all sickness, disease, famine, natural disasters, pestilences, and death are the result of sin. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, disobeying God’s clear command not to, sin entered God’s perfectly created universe and all of creation was cursed. There would now be calamities like hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, and tsunamis, The climate would be severe at times and the ground would now produce weeds that could be controlled only by hard labor. Disease entered creation and human beings would now get sick and die. So, all of these negative consequences of the fall are, in a sense, God’s judgment on sin.

The “maybe, maybe not” answer to the above question is that the current pandemic could be a judgement on our present society for our rebellion against Him, however, it could also not be God’s judgement. There have been numerous pandemics over the course of history so the question could be asked, then, “have all of the pandemic in history been God’s judgement”? We are not prophets so none of us has a direct pipeline into God’s dealings with mankind. So, then, the corona virus could be God’s judgement, but, on the other hand, it very well could not be. However, we know that God is sovereign over His universe, is omniscient, omnipresent, and omnipotent. This pandemic didn’t take Him by surprise, and He is not at a loss on what to do about it. He can let it go on indefinitely, or He can stop it in the next minute. Regardless of what He chooses to do, He has allowed this to happen, and God always has a holy purpose for everything He does or allows. He is not fickle or capricious, but rules His universe with purpose and intent in the context of His holiness. When He allows something like a pandemic or natural disaster to occur, we must take a step back and ask ourselves “what is God trying to tell us in this, what can we learn?”

So, then, what might God be trying to tell us in this current corona virus pandemic? Is God, perhaps, tearing down the idols we have built for ourselves? Is He trying to break us of the things that we have put ahead of Him? Let’s take a look.

Sports have become a major focus in our culture, but now we have had to live without the constant barrage of sports on television 24-7. There was no March Madness, no NBA or NHL games, no XFL football, no Major League baseball, and no golf. We have found that we can survive without these obsessions.

We can no longer go to a restaurant and sit in the dining room to have a meal. We either get take out or cook at home. Likewise, we can no longer go to a movie theater, concert, or amusement park. Our entertainment choices have been severely limited.

We can no longer go to the supermarket and buy whatever we want, as we cannot be certain that those items will be in stock. We have taken for granted the blessing of having a gazillion choices and fully stocked shelves in which to choose from. (On a side note, will any of us ever look at toilet paper in the same way after this is over?)

The idol of busyness has also been torn down. Instead of running around from early morning to late at night taking our kids to myriads of athletic and extra curricular activities, they now must stay home, and we are finding out that life does go on without these endless sources of stress.

The idol of our retirement investment portfolios has been obliterated. So many of us were basking in the booming economy and skyrocketing stock market, and we took our eyes off of the One who alone is the source of all of our needs. We put our trust in Dow Jones instead of the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, and, in a sense, lost our reliance on God.

And finally, for many people, the jobs that we thought were our right to have and took for granted suddenly vanished. The source of income for many people has now been dried up, and we now long for the jobs that we took for granted and so often complained about.

You see, my friends, tragedies like pandemics and natural disasters, perhaps unlike anything else, humble us and help us hit the reset button so that we get our eyes back on where they belong – on Jesus. We realize that we are not captains of our own ship and masters of our fate. We are not in control of the events of life, and the earthly things we trust in are transient at best. The idols we have built, often inadvertently, are straw houses that can be blown over in an instant.

So, my friends, during this tragic pandemic we all find ourselves in, lets ask God to show us the idols we have built for ourselves, and then refocus on the one who is the only one worthy to be worshiped and trusted in. Let’s acknowledge that God, and God alone, is Sovereign, and let us respond by surrendering totally to Him. This is the only thing that will give us peace and hope in these dark days. And remember to be the hands, feet, and mouth of Jesus in your community, helping those in need, and offering the words of hope that is only found in Him alone.

DON’T BE MEDIOCRE

Lyrics on many contemporary Christian songs have the repeated idea that we are all flawed and messed up, but it’s okay because God still loves us anyway. The bottom line is that it’s okay to be not okay. While it’s pretty obvious that we are all flawed and God loves us regardless of this, it’s not okay to be “not okay”! As believers in Jesus, we settle for mediocrity in our lives way to easily. Allow me to explain what I mean.

I’ve talked to many Christians who constantly make bad choices, live lives that are are more worldly than holy, and have a shallow relationship with Jesus. When asked about this they just shrug their shoulders and say “oh well, I’m not perfect”, and then just settle for a mediocre Christian life. This shouldn’t be!! Do you see, when someone trusts in Jesus as his/her Savior, the Holy Spirit instantly regenerates them (John 3:3-8, Titus 3:5; which means they became a new person in Jesus), indwells them (John 14:16-17, Romans 8:9-11; which means His dynamic presence comes into their life permanently), baptizes them (Acts 1:5, 1 Corinthians 12:13; which means He initiates them into the family of God and now they are identified as God’s child), and seals them (2 Corinthians 2:2, Ephesians 1:13, 4:30; which means He forever marks them as belonging to God, and are protected by Him). Do you grasp this? If you are truly born again, you have God Himself indwelling you in the person of the Holy Spirit, and He guides you, teaches you, empowers you, and leads you through life. And because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit empowering us, we have everything necessary to live in victory in order to bring glory to our awesome God! I’m not talking about perfection, obviously, as our sin nature (the old self) hasn’t been eradicated, but a much deeper and richer walk with Jesus, and a holier life than most Christians experience.

Ephesians 1:3 says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ“, and 2 Peter 1:3 states: “…seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence”. Isn’t that absolutely incredible? We have been blessed with every spiritual blessing and have been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness. Bottom line – we lack for nothing that will bring God glory in our lives.

Why, then do so many Christians settle for a mediocre life? First of all, what do I mean by mediocre? By mediocre I mean: a life that settles for worldly behavior instead of holiness: a relationship with God that settles for shallowness instead of intimacy; a life that is void of a deep knowledge of the Bible and theology instead of having a solid grasp of knowing what we believe and why we believe it; and a life that settles for defeat over temptation and sin instead of victory.

Why are there so many mediocre Christians today? Probably because they have never been taught the truth about what happens to us when we are born again, or, if they have been taught this, have not put these truths into operation in their lives. Well, the obvious question, then, is how do we do this, how do we put these incredible truths into operation in our lives? The answer is pretty simple but so hard for us to do – die to self and surrender totally to the Holy Spirit. We need to give Him the reins of our lives and let Him be in control of every aspect of our beings. Since God the Holy Spirit indwells us and empowers us with everything necessary that we need to live a life that glorifies God, we need to get out of His way so His power is unleashed in our lives.

But, someone might ask, since the Holy Spirit indwells me, why doesn’t He just take over? Because we must choose to surrender to Him. God doesn’t take over our lives by force. He has created us with free will, and we must choose to surrender to Him by an act of our will. To be sure, it’s what God wants for each of us, but He allows us to exercise our free will in how we choose to live. We must choose to die to self and surrender to Him. We must choose to hand Him the steering wheel and driver’s seat of our lives. We must choose to give up all rights to ourselves to Him. But, unfortunately, most Christians don’t really want to do this. They are afraid of where He may lead them, what He may want them to do, and what He might ask them to give up. So they live controlling their own lives, which leads to mediocrity – shallowness, defeat, and joylessness.

My friends, I believe that God has a specific destiny for each one of us in the life we live on earth, and this destiny will only be accomplished when we die to self and surrender to Him. This destiny will will bring Him glory, which is the only way to live a life of meaning, purpose, and joy. Let me encourage you, don’t be mediocre! It is Biblical truth that you have everything necessary to live a life that glorifies God. Don’t settle for anything less. Die to self, give Him all of you in complete surrender, and be on the journey of holiness. Remember, we exist for one purpose – to glorify Him. Life isn’t about us – our happiness, our pleasure, our success, or our fulfilled dreams – it’s about Him!! And when we truly make Him Lord of our lives, when we strive to be all He wants us to be through the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit, when we won’t settle for being mediocre in our Christian walk, then we will know Him intellectually, pursue Him relentlessly, approach Him reverently, love him intimately, follow Him unconditionally, worship Him passionately, stand up for Him unashamedly, serve Him excellently, and enjoy Him gladly. And this is a life worth living that makes a powerful difference for God’s kingdom in this dark world.

Oh my friends, in the person of the Holy Spirit who indwells you, you have everything necessary to live a God honoring, victorious life. Don’t settle for anything less. Don’t be mediocre!!

WAKE UP, CHURCH !

America is spinning out of control at a dizzying pace. Gender has been totally turned upside down from the two God created (male and female), to more than 50 different ones a person can choose from today. Marriage has been redefined from God’s design of one man and one woman to homosexual marriage, or whatever one wants it to be. Our kids are indoctrinated into these perverse ideas as early as elementary school. Premarital sex, adultery, and pornography are firmly entrenched in our culture. Mass shootings are becoming the norm. Racial unrest is at a boiling point. Abortion is still legal and celebrated, to the extent that a law legalizing infanticide in New York was welcomed with a standing ovation. Drug abuse continues to be widespread and destroys lives daily, but our governing bodies pass laws legalizing marijuana and setting up “safe injection zones” in cities. The family structure is in shambles. Technology has consumed society so much that it is hard to go anywhere these days without seeing numerous people looking down at a five inch by three inch black screen. God’s moral absolutes have been replaced by relativism. And incivility and vicious vitriol is everywhere.

Where is the church, the body of Christ that has been empowered by the indwelling Holy Spirit to impact society for Jesus Christ? The church has fallen asleep.

It’s time to wake up Church!! It’s time we get our head out of the sand and take a realistic look at what’s going on. We’ve deluded ourselves into a “lala” land of “positive and encouraging” while our nation crumbles around us.

Wake up,Church! It’s time to stop putting our energy and time into showing the world how “cool” we are and start falling on our faces before our holy God in repentance, crying out to Him for mercy. While our world is barreling into the abyss, the church is too busy “thinking outside the box” and being emergent, emerging, and seeker sensitive. It’s time we be the body of Christ! We’ve been too preoccupied on being relevant – many churches have made their facilities look like coffee houses where one can come in their lounge pants, tank top, and flip flops and get a mocha latte to sip while sitting back and watching the musical extravaganza and then listening to a motivational speech centered on “me” that’s filled with cool jokes and cute stories. We want people to come to church and have “fun” , feel good about themselves, and laugh. I’m sorry, but there is nothing funny about the condition of our country. We’ve amused and entertained ourselves to death.

Wake up, Church! Jesus never called us to be cool. He called us to be holy, He called us to be His surrendered disciples who die to self and live solely for His glory.  He called us to live in spiritual brokenness, where we are totally dependent on Him in every facet of life. He called us to have a deep, intimate relationship with Him, and to be hungry and thirsty for Him, and for holiness. And He called us to be His witnesses in a sin cursed world.

Wake up, Church! We have become so culturally relevant that we’ve become spiritually irreverent. We know all about the latest box office success, app for our Iphone, or best selling book, but are ignorant about the Bible and clueless about theology. We have become an inch deep and a mile wide, having settled for a shallow, mediocre walk with Jesus that wants just enough of Him to get into heaven but not enough of Him to make Him the absolute Lord of our lives. We’ve lost our first love and gone after other lovers. We have played the harlot with the world, and the world saw through our phony coolness and has cast us aside like dirty laundry.

Wake up, Church! The most powerful entity on the planet, the church of Jesus Christ, has become powerless to impact our world. We have become powerless because we have become passionless, and we have become passionless because we have become prayerless. And as a result we lost the culture.

Wake up, Church! We’ve lulled ourselves into a false sense of God’s approval and have become blind to our own sin. We have become like the Laodicean church in Revelation 3 where Jesus says to it: ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked…”

Wake up, Church! If judgment comes to America God will start with His church, just as He did with ancient Israel. Some of the most chilling verses in Scripture are found in Ezekiel 9:5-7 where God said to the angels who He commissioned to bring judgment on Judah because of their gross sin:  “But to the others He said in my hearing, “Go through the city after him and strike; do not let your eye have pity and do not spare. ‘Utterly slay old men, young men, maidens, little children, and women, but do not touch any man on whom is the mark; and you shall start from My sanctuary.’ So they started with the elders who were before the temple. And He said to them, ‘Defile the temple and fill the courts with the slain. Go out!’ Thus they went out and struck down the people in the city.” God tells the angels to start the judgment in the sanctuary. Do you see, my friends, God’s judgment had start in the very place where He was supposed to be worshiped and glorified. And it will be the same for His church.

Wake up, Church! If God brought judgment on His covenant people Israel, do we dare think he won’t start His judgment now with His new covenant church? Are we so clueless and smug that we have convinced ourselves that we will get a pass because we are His bride?

Wake up, Church! It’s time to stop everything and fall on our faces in humility and repentance for our own personal sins the sins of the church, and cry out to Him for revival. We need a third Great Awakening! Is it too late? Have we crossed the line, and has His righteous judgment been ordained? Only God knows. But, even if we have crossed the line, we can still pray that God would rend the heavens and come down in a powerful move of true revival one more time before His judgment comes. In ancient Judah, King Manasseh was so wicked that he crossed the line and God determined to bring His judgment on Judah. Even though Manasseh repented at the end of his life and his grandson, Josiah, brought about a revival in the land, it was too late, and judgment was coming at the hands of the Babylonians. Manasseh’s wickedness was that bad. Is this a picture of America? Is judgment looming on the horizon as determined by God? I don’t know, but I do know that we need to repent regardless of what God has chosen to do.

Wake up, Church! We live in dire times and need to live with a sense of urgency. We can take back the culture for Jesus in these last days, but only is we repent and humbly cast ourselves at His feet for mercy and cry out for revival. This is our only hope.

Wake up Church! Will you who is reading this right now be one of the remnant who does this, or will you fall into the sad reality of what God said in Ezekiel 22:30 when He was about to bring His judgment on Judah:  “I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.”  How tragic! God could not find anyone who would humble themselves in repentance and cry out to Him for mercy on the nation. Will He find a Christian today who will stand in the gap for America?

Wake up, Church! Will you, reader, stand in the gap, repent, and cry out to Him for revival. Will you risk being laughed at and being called a “doom and gloom negative Nellie” or will you just go with the flow and care more about your reputation and comfort and leave the urgent call to repentance and revival to someone else, who will leave it to someone else, who will leave it to someone else…? My friend, if not you, who?

OH, CHURCH, WAKE UP!

FEARING GOD…AND LOVING GOD

The concept of fearing God is not a popular topic in churches today. Most Christians aren’t interested in a God who commands us to fear Him, they would rather have a God who is syrupy sweet, easy going, permissive and who winks and smiles at their sin and says “its okay, don’t worry about it”.

However, the Bible is crystal clear, and it is repeated often, that God commands us to fear him. But what does it really mean to fear God?

it is very common to interpret the fear of the Lord as simply having reverence for Him. But this is a soft translation. While the Hebrew and Greek words for “fear” do include the idea of reverence, they also carry with them the idea of genuine fear or dread. The word “fear” in the Old Testament is the Hebrew word yare, which means to revere or to frighten, In the New Testament the Greek word is phobos which means to be alarmed or to frighten. So fearing God includes both reverence and actual fear. Indeed, in the Old Testament, everyone who experienced a theophany (an Old Testament appearing of the Son of God before He became incarnate as Jesus Christ), or experienced a glimpse of God’ s awesome glory fell on their faces in reverence and at the same time were so overwhelmed that they were afraid that they were going to die (Exodus 33:18-20; Deuteronomy 4:33, 5:22-26; Judges 6:22-23, 13:18-22; Isaiah 6:1-5).

God is that awesome.

Fearing God, which He commands us to do, means that we hold Him in utmost reverence and respect, and knowing that He is a righteous and just God who does, and must, punish sin. Fearing God means that we walk in strict obedience to His commands, not wanting to experience His discipline if we stray from Him. To be sure, it is not a cowering terror that causes us to purposely stay distant from Him, but a healthy understanding and a keen awareness of who He is – the majestic, transcendent, eternal, righteous, just, holy One – and who we are – His creations who are sinners saved by His marvelous grace.

Additionally, and importantly, the fear of God must also be balanced with the love of God. This supremely awesome all powerful God is also our Father who loves us and cares more about us than we will ever be able to grasp. In Matthew 22:37 when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment was, He repeated what Moses told the Israelites in Deuteronomy 6:5: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”.

Through Jesus, we have the incredible privilege of coming to the Father as Abba, which is the Aramaic word for “father”, and is used in an endearing emotional context. The English equivalent would be “Daddy”. On the cross Jesus reconciled us to the Father, and when we, by faith, trust in Jesus as our Savior, we are adopted into the family of God and become His sons and daughters, which connotes that we have both an intellectual understanding of our relationship with Him – the fear of God – and the relational connection to Him – the love of God. Indeed, when we truly understand the theology of the cross we can’t help but pour out our love, and fear, for Him.

Yes, both fear and love are crucial in our relationship with God. If we focus on just the fear of God, it can lead to cold, mechanical legalism. But focusing on just the love of God can lead to sloppy, casual, mediocre discipleship. Both the fear of God and the love of God must be grasped and held in a Biblically balanced way if we are going to have the deeply intimate relationship with Him that He wants us to have, and will lead to a life of holiness that brings Him glory.

Unfortunately, we tend to avoid or ignore the fear aspect of our relationship with God because we think it will be a life of drudgery and misery. However, Scripture tells us just the opposite:

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom; all who follow his precepts have good understanding. To him belongs eternal praise“. Psalm 111:10

“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding”. Proverbs 9:10

“The fear of the LORD is a fountain of life, turning a person from the snares of death” . Proverbs 14:27

“Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life”. Proverbs 22:4

“The fear of the LORD leads to life; then one rests content, untouched by trouble”. Proverbs 19:23

The fear of the Lord is not to be avoided but is to be robustly embraced because it is the path that leads to real meaning and purpose – the life that glorifies God. And, my friends, that is the reason we exist. You are breathing and your heart is beating this very second for this sole purpose – to bring glory to God. It is not about us, it is, has been, and will always be about Him. And when we bring glory to God, we experience the reality for which we were created, and experience life at its pinnacle. Nothing this world offers comes even remotely close to living in God’s presence with deep intimacy. And this becomes operative in out lives when we anchor our relationship with God on a Biblically balanced understanding of the fear of God and the love of God.

Do you love Him? Do you fear Him? These two profound foundational truths will be the catalyst in developing a deep intimate relationship with Him. And possessing this relationship with the God of the universe is life at its utmost best.

DEEP

The church today has a desperate need. It’s not for more individuals with PhD’s or ThD’s. It’s not for more talented singers and musicians. It’s not or more eloquent speakers. Nor is it for more people with dynamic, charismatic personalities (those that possess the proverbial “it” factor). I believe what the church needs now more than ever is deep Christians. Followers of Jesus that leave the safety of shallow, superficial Christianity and risk it all to plunge into the depths of discipleship. Those who are not satisfied with a safe, predictable, status quo relationship with Jesus and dare to launch out to know Him as well as a human being can know Him in this life.

What is a deep Christian? Deep Christians are those who really understand the cross and have a solid theological foundation in which to anchor their relationship with God on. Deep Christians understand their total unworthiness and God’s mind boggling grace, Deep Christians have a profound sense of humility, understanding what they were and yet understanding their present position as a child of the living God only because of His incredible grace.

Deep Christians come to God in spiritual brokenness and are totally dependent on Him in every aspect of life. They die to self and surrender to Him completely, knowing that the only reason for their existence is to bring Him glory. And this brokenness, surrender, and dying to self is with gladness and joy. They don’t care what anyone thinks about them, they only care what God knows about them. Deep Christians hunger and thirst for holiness, and hunger and thirst to know Jesus more. They bear fruit for God’s kingdom, and desire that He, and only He, gets the glory.

Deep Christians are definitely not spiritually weird in that they have their heads so far in the clouds that they can’t relate to others, or are smug and obnoxious Bible thumpers who act superior to others. Nor are they perfect super saints who have “arrived”. They just live their lives in the power of the Holy Spirit and and emanate the sweet aroma of Jesus wherever they go, even if they are hated by others, criticized, or laughed at.

Deep Christians know Jesus intellectually, pursue Him relentlessly, approach Him reverently, love him intimately, follow Him unconditionally, worship Him passionately, stand up for Him unashamedly, serve Him excellently, and enjoy Him gladly. 

Are you a deep Christian? My friend, don’t settle for shallowness and superficiality. Don’t be like so many Christians who are an inch deep and a mile wide. Leave the safety and predictability of the shallows and dare to plunge deeply into our incredible God. He wants you to. Dive deep, you’ll never regret it.

A 2019 NEW YEAR’S PRAYER FOR AMERICA

Father God,

We enter this new year in serious trouble. Our country has lost its way and is sliding at lightning speed into the abyss. We’ve turned our backs on You, and the evidence is everywhere. We continue to slaughter babies in their mother’s wombs by the millions. Your design for sexuality has been totally discarded and its perversion is rampant – premarital sex, adultery, homosexuality, polyamory, and every other type of perverted behavior that is now called “normal”. Marriage can now be defined as whatever we want it to be. Gender is now determined by our own sinful whims instead of how You created us. Your absolute moral truth has been replaced by relativism and situational ethics. Racism, anger, and hatred define our society. Many facets of our culture have given in to political correctness instead of standing up for what is right. Greed, selfishness, and entitlement have become the prevailing mindset of our culture. We have become slaves to technology, which has actually alienated people from one another and forced us to look down at a little device in our hand instead of looking up to our Creator and out to others. Lord, we’re in trouble!

Have we finally exhausted the limits of your patience and crossed the line into certain judgment? Is it too late for America?

Father, only You know the answer to this, but would You raise a remnant of your people to cry out to you for revival in this new year. We need a Third Great Awakening! You are our only hope. We need a powerful move of the Holy Spirit in a heaven sent revival, and it must start in Your church. Father, Your bride, the church, has lost her purity and has gone after other lovers. We are to blame for many of the evils that exist in our culture because the church is the most powerful entity on the planet because we have the indwelling Holy Spirit who empowers us to do your will, and yet we have become impotent to impact the culture. On the contrary, the culture has impacted your church and we have become just like it.

The church, Your bride, has become like the Laodicean church, thinking we’re just fine when we are actually lukewarm, and wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. We have become like the church in Sardis, thinking we are alive when we are actually dead. We have become like the churches in Pergamum and Thyatira, which compromised truth and tolerated sin. We have become the Ephesian church which had lost its first love.

We have become pragmatic instead of prayerful, entertained instead of worshipful, cool instead of holy, relevant instead of reverent, spineless instead of bold, wishy-washy instead of passionate, compromised instead of radical, and comfortable instead of convicted.

We, your bride, need to repent of our own sin and fall on our faces before You in humility, acknowledging our own sin because the most grievous sin is not “out there”, it is within the walls of the church. Break us of our lukewarmness, pride, compromise, and laziness.

Oh Father, break us of “self”.

The revival must start in the hearts of Your people, who will then be able to go out and impact the world for Jesus. It is only through a revived church that is totally sold out to You that the hearts of our nation will be transformed and our nation healed. Convict us, Lord, and may we respond to You. This is our only hope.

May 2019 be the year where we get serious, get transparent before You, acknowledge our own sin, and seek Your face for mercy and revival. Have we crossed the line? Is too late? We don’t know, so we repent and cry out to You in this new year. Oh Sovereign Lord, rend the heavens and come down, one more time.

And may the revival start with me.