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Many of those who had practiced magic brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted up the value of them, and it totaled fifty thousand pieces of silver. So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed. Acts 19:19-20

The Look of Repentance

If you were not aware, repentance has a look. That is to say if an ‘affected’ person is observed for a period of time, their ‘repentant condition’ would yield tangible evidence. Since repentance (by definition) is in part, ‘the relinquishment of any practice, from conviction that, offends God,’ it’s safe to say the absence of those practices would be impacting (and obvious) to the onlooker.

Has your look changed?

Consider the Bible passage above. We see a new group of born-again believers, who having been convicted by the Holy Spirit, destroyed the components of their sinful ways (one cannot easily return to that which he garagedemolished). Take note: there was no garage sale, no giving away, just total destruction. You could say in one sense it was a picture of baptism; the ritual washing whereby a Christian publicly demonstrates their new birth with and in Christ Jesus. The exercise begs the question: “Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”

Have you done similarly or are you still clinging to the relics of your illicit past?”

Legalism

At this point some might cry, “Foul,” that this is just another legalistic trip from the fundamental, Christian, right-wing fanatics. To these I would say you probably don’t understand Godly sorrow as it pertains to sin, repentance, and salvation (not to mention the practice of gleaning from wise counsel and/or the concept of iron-sharpening-iron). The Apostle Paul addresses the first issue in 2 Corinthians 7:9-11.

Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death. For observe this very thing, that you sorrowed in a godly manner: What diligence it produced in you, what clearing of yourselves, what indignation, what fear, what vehement desire, what zeal, what vindication! In all things you proved yourselves to be clear in this matter.

Paul points out the purpose and subsequent byproduct of Godly sorrow: repentance that leads to salvation. If you are a born-again Christian and have never experienced this brokenness, then there is a good chance you have not fully turned away from your sin. There also remains the likelihood that you have adopted excuses, false doctrines, and misguided people to justify the behavior and regalia to which you still hold fast. While I won’t question your salvation (that’s between you and Jesus), as an admonition I question if you are fully submitted to Christ’s will, His plan, and the sanctification process. It could very well be that in your attempt to fool others, you may only be fooling yourself.

Search me, O God, and know my heart; Try me, and know my anxieties;  And see if there is any wicked way in me, And lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24  

Sanctification

Sanctification speaks to two things primarily: separation unto God (holiness) and submission to the changes Jesus desires to make in us towards perfection. If you understand sanctification and comprehend ‘Godly sorrow’ through personal experience, then you will not see ‘repentant change’ as legalism, but rather as liberty afforded by God.

Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:17-18

The good news is that sanctification is a life-long process; it lasts from the moment we’re saved until the moment we cross over to Heaven. At the time of our rebirth there should have been some sure signs of repentance — if we truly turned towards Jesus to follow Him, we turned away from something sinful. As we continue to walk with Him in submission, daily asking Him to search our hearts for things we’re blind to, He is faithful to reveal them, and like those redeemed magicians in Ephesus, we can heap up those things for destruction.

Are you going to Heaven?

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Very rarely does someone stop in the driveway at Planned Parenthood, roll down the window, and begin a civil conversation. If they do it’s usually to babyshare an expletive, a middle finger, or both.  Today was different.

“I need to explain something to you,” she started, “when you already have five children, and can’t afford to feed them, this (abortion) is your only choice.”

I was polite.

It’s never my intention to shame these mothers because of the poor choice they’re about to make (or have already made), nor do I display pictures of aborted babies in the hopes the gory image will change their minds. I believe if I can reach out with the Gospel message (or at least a small portion of it), the mom might be saved and she will in turn save her own baby.

Her car slowly moved forward as she finished her sentence. No time for the Good News today.

“I’ll adopt your baby,” I said calmly before changing it to a question, “What if I adopted your baby?”

What if I adopted your baby?”

The car stopped abruptly and she looked back through her window. She paused a second, then shook her head and said, “Nope! I don’t want anyone else raising my baby,” as the car inched forward.

I was taken aback that she used the term my baby.

“You’d rather kill it?” I asked, kind of ashamed for calling her baby an it.

Without too much emotion she replied, “Yes, I’d rather have the doctor here kill it then let you have it.”

She pulled into the parking lot and behind the building, completely out of my sight. I couldn’t pursue her because it’s private property and I’m restricted to my little portion of sidewalk out front.

“Jesus loves you,” I called down the driveway. “Jesus has a plan for you and your baby! Please come back and talk to me!”

She didn’t come back.

I left about two hours later and did not see her again.

Our Bible, Our Truth

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)

Do I take the Bible literally?

Of course.

doorGod has given all men the faculty of mind to situationally distinguish between allegory and reality, unless we consciously or unconsciously block the process (see Romans 1:20-23). For the believer without ambiguity, the Bible’s literal six-day creation is contextually clear, as is Jesus’ metaphorical proclamation,I am the door.”  It is in this light we take the Bible literally.

Does belief mean we fully understand?

Of course not.

 “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways…For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)

A wise man will not let his lack of understanding undermine his sensibilities, but will connect by faith these pieces until sight intervenes to confirm, knowing that there remains the likelihood that this will not occur until we arrive home. At this juncture, the Holy Spirit is necessary, for without Him our faith is in faith, but with Him, our faith is in the Lord.

“But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

But I believe in God ~and~ Darwinism!

Then you have a problem. If that’s your position, then you essentially maintain that God is a liar in spite of the fact that the Bible clearly specifies that God cannot lie (see Hebrews 6:18). Simultaneously you are also professing that man (in this case Darwin) is smarter than God. You must know that you cannot believe in man and God without consequence.

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.” Matthew 6:24

Are there other parts of the Bible you reject?

If so, with every occurrence you deny your God-given faith and subvert your confidence in the Father, while planting doubt in the minds of those over which you have influence. Your salvation may be intact, but what of the damage you may be causing along the way? Have you considered the wreckage found in the wake of your unbiblical convictions? Has Darwinism (or other false doctrines) helped, sustained, or profited you? I submit that unless you’re a teacher hired to promote God as a Divine deceiver, there is no sustained profit or gain in this ideology. A person of this ilk may in fact be nothing more than a tool in the hands of satan.

“A wise man will hear and increase learning, And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel” (Proverbs 1:5)

No Joke

A Darwinist and a Creationist die and find themselves standing before the throne of God. Consider the worst case scenario for each:

If the Creationist is wrong (that is to say, his literal interpretation of a six-day creation is errant), what might God say? I venture it would be something like, “Welcome my good and faithful servant, I can’t believe you took Me seriously! Come on in you silly goose!” 

But what if the Darwinist is wrong? Might the conversation go, “Why didn’t you believe Me? What part of, ‘I cannot lie,’ did you not understand?”

If you do not wholeheartedly believe God, do you know God? I for one will not gamble with that equation. By faith I’ll choose to err on the side of Biblical truth rather than on the side of religious skepticism, as there is nothing to be eternally gained by putting faith in man and everything to be gained by wholly trusting in the Creator of all things.

“What things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:7-11

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Speaking generally, it seems to me that the American church is about making converts to Christ, rather than disciples of Christ, in direct violation of God’s precise instruction found in Matthew 28.

And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always , even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)

What if schools did this. What if they simply handed out diplomas without dipenrolling any students? What if students were enrolled, but were not required to observe, learn, or apply any of the curriculum? Would they remain in school? Would they flourish afterwards? Would their diplomas be of any worth?

Two Noteworthy Problems

  1. Most Christians don’t share their faith at all.
  2. Many who do, do so errantly.

The church is very much aware of the first issue: Christians have a tendency to hide their light under a basket. Statistics reveal that ’80 percent of those who attend church one or more times a month, believe they have a personal responsibility to share their faith, but 61 percent have not told another person about how to become a Christian in the previous six months.’ (Jon D. Wilke, Lifeway.com August 13, 2012)

As a result guilt often kicks in and the Christian, motivated by his flesh rather than the Holy Spirit, sets out to correct the offense. As you can imagine this leads to the second problem: a wayward focus on conversion over discipleship; the shunning failure to declare the whole counsel of God. The probable reason we keep doing it is because occasionally it works; every so often a convert becomes a disciple.

There must be a better method.

What if we did it Jesus’ way?

What if we focused on enrolling students (aka: disciples) and emphasized learning? What if the church stressed and affirmed through education: spiritual growth, holiness, fear of the Lord, Christ’s supremacy, submission and obedience, abiding in Christ, fruitfulness, evangelism, love and forgiveness?

What if we echoed Christ’s clarion call:

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)

My brothers and sisters in Jesus, our methods lack Holy Spirit proficiency. Sure, some converts make it. I suppose if you fill a school with children and required nothing from them, perhaps a couple or three might decide to do some *work, but we all know that most will not. But isn’t this what the church typically does? Are we not guilty of handing out diplomas and then sitting back and waiting for disciples to appear? How many people have to leave the church or abandon their faith before we realize the error of our ways?

Can’t we see how large a role ignorance has played on both sides of the equation?

 Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Timothy 2:15)

Final Thoughts

Imagine the farmer planting his crops. Tell me, what occurs if he fails to first clear the land of boulder and brush; if sun-baked soiled is not tendered with the spade? Will the seed germinate; will it blossom and bloom, will it bring forth fruit? I’m seeing a liability issue. If you dare, consider if it is the seed’s fault or the farmer’s that the ground was not properly tilled?  I submit to you that Jesus was addressing the farmer in all of us when He said:

“Behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choked them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty.” (Matthew 13:3-8)

*You may have noticed I mentioned the word ‘work’ in the text. Please understand that I am in no way suggesting or implying that there is any work a person can do unto salvation. Christ Jesus started and finished the work on the cross (nor am I suggesting that we ‘make’ disciples. That is another work of God and we are His instruments). I am however suggesting that work (discipleship if you will) follows salvation. The Christian who rejects work is playing with fire, just like the gardener who rejects work should expect weeds.

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A Step Towards Revival

Did you read the story about Natalie Grant walking out on the Grammy Awards?  I didn’t watch the program, but apparently it was so filthy and demonic, Natalie upped and left, tweeting,

“We left the Grammy’s early. I’ve many ngthoughts, most of which are probably better left inside my head. But I’ll say this: I’ve never been more honored to sing about Jesus and for Jesus. And I’ve never been more sure of the path I’ve chosen.”

Was it Katy Perry‘s performance replete with satanic imagery and witchcraft that caused Natalie to bail? Was it Queen Latifah (aka: Dana Elaine Owens) officiating over a mass homosexual wedding to Macklemore (aka: Ben Haggerty) & Ryan Lewis‘s pro-gay marriage anthem ‘Same Love?’ Or could it have been  Beyonce‘s (aka: Beyoncé Giselle Knowles-Carter) disgusting dance to open the program?

I suspect it was none of those things, but rather it was the result of her submission and obedience to the Holy Spirit. I’d like to speak with her directly to get her testimony regarding the incident, but it’s my sense that the Holy Spirit was directing her to not attend the award show at all that evening. Of course (and if in fact my hunch is correct), she disobeyed and decided to go anyway. I’m not condemning her for that, but only using it to highlight the fact that in due time, she listened to the Lord’s directive and walked out.

Bravo, Natalie, bravo!

I applaud her obedience. This Bible passage came to mind:

“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:1-2)

What Really Happened?

I submit to you that what Natalie did is a picture of revival. If you’re not sure what revival is, I like this definition:

Revival refers to a spiritual reawakening from a state of dormancy or stagnation in the life of a believer. It encompasses the resurfacing of a love for God, an appreciation of God’s holiness, a passion for His Word and His church, a convicting awareness of personal and corporate sin, a spirit of humility, and a desire for repentance and growth in righteousness. Revival invigorates and sometimes deepens a believer’s faith, opening his or her eyes to the truth in a fresh, new way. It generally involves the connotation of a fresh start with a clean slate, marking a new beginning of a life lived in obedience to God. Revival breaks the charm and power of the world, which blinds the eyes of men, and generates both the will and power to live in the world but not of the world. (Taken from GotQuestions.org)

Revival is initiated by the Holy Spirit. In other words, it’s not something we can work-up within ourselves. God, through His Spirit guides, instructs, and empowers. Individually it occurs when the believer first recognizes God’s voice, and then decides to submit to His will and obey His directives. I for one believe this is what occurred with Natalie; I doubt she was led by her flesh to leave the show [because] her flesh would likely have told her that the choice could greatly damage her career. She disobeyed her flesh and obeyed the Lord — the first step toward revival.

The question is not whether or not Natalie will keep on walking (I pray she does), but rather if you are willing to take the first step of revival, with the resolve to stay revived in and with the Spirit of God.

Did you walkout on the Grammys?

If you didn’t, you still might be in the world, and therefore not revived. Does that make you sad?

I pray that it does.

“For even if I made you sorry with my letter, I do not regret it; though I did regret it. For I perceive that the same epistle made you sorry, though only for a while. Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.” (2 Corinthians 7:8-10)

I feel confident in telling you, my brothers and sisters in Christ Jesus, that the Lord, by means of His Holy Spirit and His Word the Bible, is telling you it’s time to walk away from all those things that are attractive to your flesh. He’s been telling you all along, but you have been tuning Him out. You know this is true.

Jesus knows you cannot achieve this on your own, which is why He has given you the power to do this! The evidence of your personal revival is going to be a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit which will manifest itself in your changed life.

But it’s hard!

Jesus said it isn’t.

“For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” (Matthew 11:30)

Jesus cannot lie. If it’s hard, let me tell you what’s going on — it’s a sign that you are being driven by your flesh and that you need to switch drivers. Praise the Lord that He has given us a method whereby we can easily identify the problem. It is when a Christian allows himself to be led by the Holy Spirit that the words of Jesus spring to life and His truth is experienced.

The Bible tells us the works of the flesh are evident.

“…Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (Galatians 5:19-21)

Saint, you need to know if your watching these things on TV or the computer, God has said you’re an accessory to the crime — look it up; it’s in Romans 1. The good news is that the Holy Spirit has given you the power to walk away and when you submit and obey the Spirit, it will be easy and the load will be light. It’s a promise of God!

“I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law.” (Galatians 5:16-18)

Be revived

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Dave Wells:

Have you prayed for Pastor Saeed today?

Originally posted on END TIME HEADLINES:


Advocates for an American pastor imprisoned in Iran over his Christian faith are accusing the U.S. of surrendering in the fight for his freedom.  The comments are based on a tweet from Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who said, “Our relationship w/ the world is based on Iranian nation’s interests. In ‪#Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iranian nation’s will.” That, say advocates for American pastor Saeed Abedini, who has been in Iran’s prison system since 2012, describes what the world sees American doing. American Center for Law and Justice Executive Director Jordan Sekulow said the message is clear and unambiguous. He said the word chosen for the tweet is a clear commentary on Iran’s opinion of the Obama administration regarding Abedini. “To use a word like that, surrender, is in line with what we’ve said about this administration and that they betrayed Saeed Abedini, who is an American citizen wrongfully imprisoned in Iran…

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