Archive for the ‘Revival’ Category

“We weaken our greatness when we confuse our patriotism with tribal rivalries that have sown resentment and hatred and violence in all the corners of the globe. We weaken it when we hide behind walls, rather than tear them down, when we doubt the power of our ideals, rather than trust them to be the great force for change they have always been.”  – Senator John McCain (2018)

Wiser words were never spoken in our modern time. And yet, this is exactly what has happened, and continues to happen in our world. The question is, Why? 

The answer lies within the pages of the Bible:

“…because they refused the love of the truth that would have saved them. For this reason, God will send them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie, in order that judgment will come upon all who have disbelieved the truth and delighted in wickedness…” – 2 Thessalonians 2:10-12 –

“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion”… In the Last Days many will be deceived by their own sin, and the strong delusion is their punishment. They did not receive the truth or love it, which was their sin; and therefore are given up to believe a lie. Had they received the truth, they might be saved; but not receiving it, they are lost. So that although God is not the author of sin or falsehood, yet he may in justice give them over to their sin, which the apostle calls God’s sending them a strong delusion. It is their punishment; a making of their own, not of God. (See Romans 1: 23-25) 

2 Timothy 3:1-5 warns: “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.” Sound familiar?

These verses are mainly describing unbelievers in the last days before Jesus returns, but sadly, today they could also apply to those who claim to be Bible believing followers of Jesus. More and more of these so-called believers are demeaning others on Face Book and other social media who happen to disagree with them—Even promoting violence on those who happen to have different views. So many are complaining and arguing over political views—some even coming to blows simply because of their political affiliation.

The Bible teaches us that we will reap whatever we sow. (Galatians 6:7-8; Proverbs 22:8; Jeremiah 17:10)  We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security. Those who were designed and appointed to help us and be examples for us—from our teachers and coaches, to our legislators, to the local priest and pastor, on up to the President, have fallen and have led us to the brink of destruction. And no one seems to realize that God may have placed those very people in their positions in order to lead His people to repent of their wickedness and turn once again to Him. (See Psalm 75;4-8; Daniel 2:21)

When people in positions of authority do something stupid and unethical, all of us who are under their authority suffer. But God’s plan cannot be stopped or even slowed by the feeble efforts of wicked men.

Throughout history God has always used wicked leaders to bring repentance unto righteousness in His people. The prophet Habakkuk wrote during the troubled times before Judah’s captivity. During this period, foreign powers invaded Israel again and again, and inside the nation known as God’s people, evil and immorality raged. (Habakkuk 1:5-11) The prophet Jeremiah, a contemporary of Habakkuk, also warned of God’s coming judgment. Many Israelites were confused. Why would a holy God allow such evil to continue? Are we not God’s chosen people?

Is not that the same thing that many Christians today would say? Our nation has been blessed because our country’s beginnings were based on Biblical principals. But because we are so blessed, we have become complacent. Like Israel of old, we fail to seek God; to defend His Word, and to declare His Gospel, because our lives are so comfortable. Rather than making disciples of all nations, we gradually have become just like the world. So God will use our suffering under wicked leadership to try to wake us from our slumber and lead us to repentance. 

We just celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. who stood up for the poor and the downtrodden of his day. He believed with all his heart that no matter what the color of our skin or the place of our birth, we are all created equal by God. Sadly, Dr. King would cringe if he could see what’s happening in America today and what has happened to his dream.

It has passed the time for Christians to stop blindly following the ways of the world like a bunch of unthinking zombies and return to the ways of God!

 

Behold the Lord’s hand is not shortened that it cannot save, nor his ear heavy that it cannot hear, but your sins have separated you from your God and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he will not hear.” (Isaiah 59: 1-2)

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn away from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sins and heal their land.” (II Chronicles 7: 13,14)

 

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Most of us would like to think that people are basically good and that our country will eventually become good and fair for most of us.

I know that the sovereign Creator of the universe will eventually bring his divine plan to fruition. And victory will belong to the faithful because the Lamb of God has overcome by virtue of his death and resurrection (Revelation 5:6; 12:11). And all who stand in opposition to the King of Kings will be vanquished. 

But history has proven to us that sometimes a country has to “hit bottom” before drastic changes are made. I know this: if righteousness exalts a nation (Proverbs 14:34), then unrestrained sin will also destroy it. I also know that God has a moral standard by which He judges nations, and when they reach a certain depth of depravity, He will bring them down (Genesis 15:16; 18:22). 

God gave Nineveh, the capital of Assyria, forty days to get their act together (Jonah 3:4). When they repented, God relented. Assyria then continued for another century and a half. However, the Assyrians degenerated again, and the prophet Nahum was sent to proclaim their destruction (Nahum 1:9). Nineveh fell completely in 612 B.C.

What makes Americans believe that we live in an eternal empire, when in reality this country is on a collision course with oblivion when Assyria, Babylon, Greece, Rome—none of these superpowers, lasted more than a few centuries? Decadence consumed all of them. And there are clear signals that the same weaknesses are eating away at America as well.

Anyone who reads a local newspaper or watches the evening news will have to admit to the fact that our country is in deep trouble—School shootings, Sexual assaults on children and other cases of child neglect and abuse have become all too common. And our legislators have done nothing to make any real changes. 1 in 5 children will be sexually abused before they reach 18. (Many in their own homes) And even when the perpetrators are convicted, most judges on sentence them to probation!

We’ve replaced the Bible and prayer in our public schools with metal detectors and police security. We’ve given up the security of family values and replaced them with immoral ideas and attitudes. Sanctity of life is no longer fought for, and more often is legislated against. As a result, our children have become uncontrollable beasts who murder without conscience. And those who were designed to be examples for our children—from parents, teachers and coaches, to the local pastor, to our legislators, on up to the President, have fallen and have led us to the brink of destruction. 

Just as Israel of old, we too, have forgotten God and replaced Him with our own golden calf. We have bowed down to the idols of humanism, secularism, and government control, and we have reaped the rewards of our actions.

I have heard many complain about how corrupt our government is. And they usually blame the current administration for the country’s ills. But God tells us that it is His own people who are to blame: “For exaltation comes not from east or west or out of the desert, but it is God who judges; He brings one down and exalts another.” (Psalm 75:6-7) 

If God is the one who “brings one down and exalts another” then the current administration was placed there by God himself. But why? Why would God place a wicked leader in such a prominent place? So that His people would repent and turn back to Him! (See Habakkuk, Jeremiah and Isaiah) We are like Nineveh. Except God is still waiting for us to repent.

America was once a great nation because it was founded on absolute principles based on God’s Word, the Bible. For years God has been trying to get our attention, calling us to arise from our slumber! To return to him and repent of our wicked ways so that He can heal our land. (II Chronicles 7:14) But we have ignored Him. 

In recent years we had George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barrack Obama as presidents. Each one’s administration and its policies became progressively worse than the last. Yet we refused to repent and turn to God. And now we have Donald Trump who has continually lied to the public, encouraged actions of white supremacists, violated human rights, and has a history of sexual harassments and assaults. And STILL we refuse to repent!

As believers in God and his son, Jesus the Messiah, it is the responsibility of us who have been justified by his death and resurrection to seek God’s face, repent of our apathy and wickedness and pray earnestly for revival! Revival in our own heart first—as well as for our community and our nation.

We have to understand that repentance isn’t just walking in front of the church and parroting a “sinner’s prayer” and then believe that you’re okay as you walk right back into worldly pleasures. Repentance means more than just being sorry. Someone once said that the road to destruction will be paved with the souls of the sorrowful. I’m sure that all of the fallen angels who rebelled against God are sorry now that they followed Satan in his failed revolt against God.

In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

You also have to acknowledge that in your flesh, (that is, in your own strength) this is impossible to accomplish. The foundation of all sin and all the problems that have plagued societies and civilizations since the fall of man is ‘Self’. Everything from lust, to murder, to war, are all sins derived from ‘Self’. Wars are being waged simply because someone has something that the other wants and cannot have. Neither side will compromise, so they go to war. (James 4:1-4)

But how can we know what God’s will is for us? How can we know that what we’re doing is sin that needs to be repented of? 

By studying the Bible (Basic Instructions Before leaving Earth). You see God did not leave us alone without leaving us an instruction manual. By studying the Bible we will understand God’s heart and what He expects from us and how very much he loves us and wants to bless us. And I’m not talking about being spoon-fed a pastor’s version of Scripture, but to really study it for yourselves, allowing God’s spirit to teach you.

But you must also be aware that once you surrender to God’s will and decide to obey Him, the world will come against you—and sometimes the strongest opposition will be among your closest friends and loved ones. (1 Peter 4: 12-16; Romans 5:2-5; Matthew 5:10-12)

I don’t think our nation (or the world) has ever been in a greater sense of turmoil than it is at this moment. All the blasphemy, all the unbelief, all the dirty stories, all the lying, all the deception, all the sexual perversion and all the drunkenness…And that is happening among people who claim to belong to God! This tremendous iniquity continues to rise up in the sight of God. The shadow of darkness and death is over this generation like nothing we’ve ever had before. And yet, the greatest tragedy of all is this: A silent Church in a dying world. We have neither the vision nor the passion, nor at this moment, the intention of setting our house in order “to break up our fallow ground” and to prepare the way of the Lord. (Hosea 10:12)

“…I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. So choose life, so that you and your descendants may live, and that you may love the LORD your God, obey Him, and hold fast to Him. For He is your life, and He will prolong your life in the land the LORD swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” (Deuteronomy 30: 19-20) 

Some will read that Scripture and interpret it as God saying, “CHOOSE LIFE! OR I WILL DESTROY YOU!” But it’s more like a compassionate father gently saying, “I love you. Please…choose life.”

There is  a storm coming. And not many are prepared. Not a physical storm like what we’ve seen lately with rain and hail and tornados and floods; but a spiritual storm. One that will be more devastating than any tornado or flood.

The people of Judah had rebelled against the principles upon which their nation had been founded on. Judah had turned its back upon God and rejected any attempt by those sent to call her back. As promised, God withdrew His protection from her. He had warned that if His people became faithless that He would employ a pagan power to conquer them and lead them back into captivity. He had led them from Egyptian bondage 800 years before, and now, because of their infidelity, He would allow them to return to bondage—this time in Babylon.

They had refused to believe it could ever happen to them. They found their own false prophets to tell them that everything was fine. They ridiculed Jeremiah and others who warned of the devastation to come. The Lord spoke through Jeremiah and put it this way; “Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north…and I will send Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon…against this land and against its inhabitants…and this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:9-11)

But the false prophets told them that God would never allow this to happen because they were God’s chosen people. They were insisting that God loved them and that He only wanted to bless them. But it wasn’t true!

Today we have the modern counterparts of these false prophets. Some promise that God will bless you if you send them money. Some say that God will not bring judgment against Christians because they are God’s chosen people. They say that God loves them and that He only wants to bless them. They claim that the world’s problems are a direct result of sinfulness in the “world”—But if we elect someone with “Christian values”,  America will be great again.

They have forgotten that God is the one who exalts leaders into office: (Psalm 75:7; Daniel 2:21) So what if, because we have turned our back on God and instead placed our trust in man and rejected any attempt by those He sent to call us back, God also removes His protection from us?

There are many today who cry out, “God bless America!” But how can God bless America when we allow children to be beaten, raped and killed? How can God bless America when we refuse to allow our children to pray and criminalize those who do? How can God bless America when we ignore the suffering of the poor and destitute while we indulge ourselves on the luxuries we have accumulated for ourselves.

William Booth embarked upon his ministerial career in 1852, desiring to win the lost multitudes of England to Christ. He walked the streets of London to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to the poor, the homeless, the hungry, and the destitute. Booth abandoned the conventional concept of a church and a pulpit, instead taking his message to the people.

He once related a vision he had concerning the lost. He saw a dark and stormy ocean. In that ocean he saw myriads of poor human beings plunging and floating, shouting and shrieking, cursing and struggling and drowning. But what puzzled him most was the fact that although all of them had been rescued at one time or another from the ocean, nearly everyone no longer seemed troubled by those who were downing—nor did they even seem to care about the poor perishing ones who were struggling and drowning right before their very eyes—many of whom were their own husbands and wives, brothers and sisters and even their own children!

The primary aim of the Salvation Army was not to provide charity, but to win souls from the devil. Booth stated that “what was important was not whether a man died in the poorhouse but if his soul was saved.” (‘The Salvationist in a Secular Society’— p29)

And yet today the Salvation Army is a human organization more interested in the needs of the flesh, rather than the needs of the soul. Is it possible that God had given William Booth a vision of the “future” Salvation Army and Christianity as a whole?

The Church today reminds me of a poem I read years ago written by Howard Clinebell:

The Little Lifesaving Station

On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occurred, there was once a crude lifesaving station. The building wasn’t much more than a small hut, and there was only one boat. But the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought of themselves, went out night and day tirelessly searching for the lost.

Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station. So much so that it became famous for its rescue efforts. Some of those who were saved and various others in the surrounding area wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money for the support of its work. New boats were purchased and donated to the station and crews were trained to improve the rescue operations of the station.

As the little lifesaving station grew some of the members were unhappy that the building itself was so crude and poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided for those who were rescued from the sea. So the members raised funds for the station and replaced the emergency cots with beds and placed better furniture in an enlarged building.

Soon the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members. They decorated it beautifully and furnished it so exquisitely that it became sort of a club. The lifesaving station’s logo still prevailed on the wall above the fireplace and its name was still used to raise funds,  but  fewer members were now interested in going out to sea on lifesaving missions. They even hired lifeboat crews to do the work that they used to do themselves.

About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast and the hired crews brought in boatloads of cold, wet, and half drowned people. These people were dirty and sick. And some of them were foreigners who couldn’t speak English. The beautiful club was thrown into chaos. The property committee immediately had a shower built outside the club building with an attached closet filled with clean clothes so that the victims of shipwrecks could be cleaned up and dressed properly before coming inside.

At the next club meeting there was a split in the membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club’s lifesaving activities because it was unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal social structure of the club. Some members insisted that the lifesaving operations were the primary reason for them being there and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. The latter were finally voted down and were told that if they wanted to save the lives of all the various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters they could start their own lifesaving station further down the coast. That’s exactly what they did.

As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old one. It evolved into a club and later another lifesaving station was founded.

History continues to repeat itself and if you visit that seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along its shores.  Shipwrecks are frequent in those waters, but sadly, most of the people there drown.

“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people. For among them are those who creep into households and capture weak women, burdened with sins and led astray by various passions, always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of the truth…But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:1-7, 14-15)

Many have been commenting on how ugly the 2016 presidential race has become. Many more have become confused over how the most vulgar and the most insincere candidates seem to be leading in the polls.

Everyone seems to be casting the blame for our country’s woes from former President Bush to President Obama. But the real blame belongs to all of us! You see, our leaders are merely mirrors of those they lead. That was how it was for ancient Israel when they cried out for a king in 1 Samuel 8, and how it has been ever since then.

When the Israelites wanted a king like other nations had, they were rejecting their unique, set-apart position as God’s people. The nation whose God was to be the Lord alone was envious of the nations who followed false gods. It is no surprise, I suppose, that the powers of government have always been expanded under this same faulty way of thinking.

God warned Israel that a king would be costly both in goods and in freedom. He told them that they would have to give up their freedom to make your own choices, their land and resources. God also pointed out that there is a point of no return on having a king. There will come a time, God says in vs. 18, when you will “cry out for relief from the king.” But then it will be too late.

Throughout history, the more people moved away from God and his laws, the worse off the people became. It was the same during Israel’s captivity in Babylon. God allowed Israel to be captured and ruled by an evil king because Israel had turned away from God and followed false prophets and evil kings.

It is no different now. And unless we repent of our wickedness and turn back to God and serve him, we too, will find ourselves taken captive by an ungodly government.

We need to pray for America the way the prophet Daniel prayed for captive Israel. A prayer something like this: (Taken from Daniel 9:1-19) “O Lord, our great and awesome God, who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments. We have sinned and done wrong and acted wickedly and rebelled, turning aside from your commandments and rules. We have not listened to your servants the prophets, who spoke in your name.
To you, O Lord, belongs righteousness, but to us open shame, as at this day, to the men and women of America, and to whole world—those who are near and those who are far away. To us, O Lord, belongs open shame, to our leaders to our fathers and to our father’s fathers, because we have sinned against you. To the Lord our God belong mercy and forgiveness, but we have rebelled against you and have not obeyed your Word which you set before us by your servants the prophets. We have all has transgressed your law and turned aside, refusing to obey your voice.

And the curse and oath that are written in the Law of Moses, the servant of God, have been poured out upon us, because we have sinned against you. We have confirmed his words, which he spoke against us and against our rulers who ruled us, by bringing upon us a great calamity. For under the whole heaven there has not been done anything like what has been done against us. As it is written in the Law of Moses, all this calamity has come upon us; yet we have not entreated the favor of the Lord our God, turning from our iniquities and gaining insight by your truth. Therefore, this calamity and has been brought it upon us.

Lord God, you are righteous in all the works that you have done, but we have not obeyed your voice.  O Lord, according to all your righteous acts, let your anger and your wrath turn away from your people because for our sins, and for the iniquities of our fathers, because we have become a byword among all who are watching us.

Now therefore, O our God, listen to the prayer of your servant and to his pleas for mercy, and for your own sake O Lord, make your face to shine upon our country, which is desolate. O my God, incline your ear and hear. Open your eyes and see our desolations. For we do not present our pleas before you because of our righteousness, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive! O Lord, pay attention and act! Delay not, for your own sake, O my God, because your people who are called by your name. Amen”

A deeper understanding of Daniel’s prayer:

 

“And this, knowing the season, that now it is high time for you to awake out of sleep: for now is salvation nearer to us than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11)

Ancient Israel had rebelled against the principles upon which their nation had been founded upon and as a result had fallen from grace. Judah had turned its back upon God and rejected any attempt by those sent to her to call her back.

As promised, God withdrew His protection from her. He had warned that if His people became faithless that He would employ a pagan power to conquer them and lead them back into captivity. He had led them from Egyptian bondage 800 years before, and now, because of their infidelity, He would allow them to return to bondage again—this time in Babylon.

The Lord speaking through Jeremiah said, “Behold, I will send and take all the families of the north…and I will send Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon…against this land and against its inhabitants…and this whole land shall be a desolation and a horror, and these nations shall serve the king of Babylon seventy years.” (Jeremiah 25:9-11)

But God’s people refused to believe it could ever happen to them. They found their own false prophets to tell them that everything was fine and ridiculed Jeremiah and others who warned of the devastation to come.

Indeed, history shows us that the words of Jeremiah turned into fact as they were fulfilled down to the last detail. The desolation began with the fall of Jerusalem to Babylon in 606 A.D., and finally Jerusalem was destroyed just as the prophets had warned. Israel and Judah were in exile for seventy years before the repentant remnant of the people of God were permitted to go back home and begin to rebuild their devastated cities.

It is no different today. Sadly, Christian America, including her preachers, did not learn from the message of Jeremiah’s warning.

But a handful of God’s ministers have refused to stand in their pulpits and preach a strong message of repentance:

“The day of the Lord is near, which is a time of judgment, and that God is specifically warning America.” -Anne Graham Lotz-

“Self-centered indulgence, pride and a lack of shame over sin are now emblems of the American lifestyle. My heart aches for America and its deceived people.” – Dr. Billy Graham-

“The only thing that can save America from the judgment of God is genuine repentance.”  -Dr. Kenneth E. Hagin-

“America will fall to her knees in repentance or she will fall to her knees in judgment.” -Pastor John Hamel-

“And the time isn’t far distant when the wheels of God’s judgment are going to go sweeping through this old God-hating world.” -Billy Sunday-

There are many who say that only religious fanatics and madmen are obsessed with God’s judgment. They say that such doomsday prophets are a hinderance to the message of God’s love. They say that this idea of God’s judgment on America cannot happen because we are God’s chosen people to bring His gospel to the world.

While Jeremiah was prophesying coming destruction because of the sins of the nation, a number of other prophets were prophesying peace. (Sound familiar?) The Lord had Jeremiah speak against these false prophets. (See Jeremiah 28 and 38)

Today, Christians are again listening to the false prophets who are telling them “peace, peace, when there is no peace”. And continue to shout, “God bless America!”

How can God bless America when our nation has shed innocent blood on a more massive scale than even Hitler could imagine through abortion and gun violence. How can God bless America when we took the Bible and prayer out of our public schools and refuse to acknowledge His existence? And how can God bless America when we worship Hollywood stars and entertainers instead of Him?

As a result, our children have become uncontrollable beasts who murder without conscience. Pornography has been piped into our homes for us and our children to view at the push of a button on the remote control. And our teachers and ministers, who are supposed to help our children and be examples for them, have become sexual predators who rape and molest them!

AND YOU THINK GOD IS GOING TO BLESS AMERICA?!!

I am not a prophet, but I am convinced by what I read in Scripture that time is growing short for the Church to arise and shine!

In his book, “Why Revival Tarries” Leonard Ravenhill writes:

Solemnly and slowly, with his index finger extended, Napoleon Bonaparte outlined a great stretch of country on a map of the world. ‘There,’ he growled, ‘is a sleeping giant. Let him sleep! If he wakes, he will shake the world.’ That sleeping giant was China. Today, Bonaparte’s prophecy of some one hundred and fifty years ago makes sense.

Today Lucifer is probably surveying the church just as Bonaparte did China. One can almost behold the fear in his eyes as he thinks of the Church’s unmeasured potential and growls, ‘Let the Church sleep! If she wakes, she will shake the world.’ Is not the Church the sleeping giant of today?”

“Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says, ‘Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.’ Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” (Ephesians 5: 3-15 ESV)

Sometimes I feel so low-down and disgusted

Can’t help but wonder what’s happenin’ to my companions

Are they lost or are they found?

Have they counted the cost it’ll take to bring down

All their earthly principles they’re gonna have to abandon?

There’s a slow, slow train comin’ up around the bend

(From Slow Train By Bob Dylan)

There are lyrics to an old camp meeting song that goes:

Give me that old time religion

give me that old time religion

Give me that old time religion

It’s good enough for me

Makes me love everybody

Makes me love everybody

Makes me love everybody

It’s good enough for me

It was good for Paul and Silas

It was good for Paul and Silas

It was good for Paul and Silas

And it’s good enough for me

Many of us grew up in a time where almost everyone went to church services on Sundays. We would sing hymns like the one above, quietly listen to the preacher’s sermon, and we did our best to be good Christians.

America is a wonderful place to live. Here we have religious freedom to express our beliefs and worship according to our faith. But times have changed. According to a recent survey by Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life, the number of Protestants has fallen below 50 percent for the first time in American history and many U.S.-born Catholics are leaving the church. The survey also revealed another startling fact: the number of people who are not affiliated with any faith at all rose four percent in just the last five years and nearly 20 percent of the population said that they are of no specific faith at all!

Why is this? 

I believe it’s partly because we have focused too much on symbols of Christianity  rather than the underlying reality they represent. Christians have fought to place the Ten Commandments in courtrooms and Christmas Nativity scenes outside town halls. We have sued over public prayers and crosses in state parks. Schools have been dragged into court over prayer at football games and whether students should be allowed to post Bible verses on their banners.

Instead of spending time fighting the courts over our “religious rights”, I believe we need to go back to the basics of living as disciples of Christ and demonstrating the Gospel in tangible ways within our schools, workplaces and communities.

Instead of unifying believers, Christ has become a symbol of discontentment and divisiveness. Theologians publicly humiliate each other, pastors hatefully condemn those they disagree with and denominations are split over minor differences.

Professing Christians are now using Facebook and Twitter as platforms to spread hurtful comments, derogatory posts and vicious attacks and to spew degrading opinions and gossip—often without provocation. Accusations of being a “heretic” and “false prophet” are freely given to various individuals who simply have new, bold or different ideas.

While I would be happy to see the Ten Commandments back on the courthouse wall, the fight over symbolic issues is backfiring, alienating people from the truths of the Bible rather than attracting them to it. The kind of Christianity the world responds to is the authentic “love your neighbor” kind. This is something that can’t be legislated through court battles and neither can the courts stop it from spreading.

Jesus said, “By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” American Christians have forgotten how to dialogue and respectfully disagree. We’ve abandoned concepts like grace, humility and love and have devolved into critics instead of encouragers, instigators instead of peacemakers, debaters instead of friends, and reactionists instead of innovators.

Our fast-paced culture of celebrity worship and entertainment has trumped our ability to patiently meditate, pray and reflect. We ignore God’s meaningful truth in the Bible and instead clamor over hollywood celebrities and place Christian entertainers on pedestals as if they were gods to be worshiped!

Today Christians have made salvation as simple as parroting a simple prayer. But we neglect to do what Jesus commanded us to do and have forgotten that our salvation cost him his very life! How different would the world be if Christians understood that our ultimate reward at the Resurrection is based on our actions—what we do, how we conduct our life, and how much we ministered to others—instead of offering this exceptionally generous “Get Out of Hell Free” card?

Jesus also said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (John 14:15) [See also John 14:21, John 14:23, John 15:10, and 2 John 1:6]

But today Christianity credits what you believe far above what you do. This idea is the reason that the Catholic church could consider itself to be Christian during the scourges of the Inquisition and other atrocities committed by them.

Years ago Keith Green caused a great stir among Christians when he published an article titled, “What’s Wrong With The Gospel?”

In it he writes, “Now, because of our dilemma in finding ourselves to be such numskulls, and seeing the demands of Jesus, we have invented some pretty interesting and caraaazzeey doctrines. Some Christians have said, “Well, when God looks at us, He doesn’t really see us anymore, He sees Jesus instead. And when there’s ever sin in our hearts, if God should happen to look at the wrong moment, He’ll see a smiling face of Jesus there, instead of seeing our sin. So God sees me as holy – even though I’m not! But…I really am…er, well, you know what I mean!” (I don’t happen to believe that God is that easily fooled, not even by Christians.)”

The apostle Paul wrote in Romans 2:13, “For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified.” You see, the Bible not only teaches us to love God and others, but that we are to obey His commandments as well!

Christianity is more than just a word that describes your culture. To be a true Christian you actually have to live a Christian life! “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.” (1 Corinthians 11:1) But if you attempt to debate this truth from the Bible, most believers will try to stop you. Because they want you to believe the way THEY believe. Some may preach, argue, get angry, and even threaten you. Why? It’s all written in their own Bible, but most won’t look it up.

I didn’t write the Bible. And I’m not responsible for what the Bible documents. I only read it and pass on what I have discovered. But no matter how often I emphasize this, people still tend to blame the messenger for the Bible’s content. And blame is  a no win game.

“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it. See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.” (Deuteronomy 30:11-16 Emphasis mine)

In the midst of a very turbulent and discouraging time in our nation’s history, God intervened in a supernatural way during a five-year period from 1968 to 1973. A grass roots spiritual movement burst forth on the scene with a spiritual explosion that revolutionized millions of lives.

By most accounts, the revival of the ‘70s began in 1967 with the opening of a small storefront evangelical mission called the Living Room in San Francisco’s Haight Ashbury district that catered to the unchurched hippie generation of the day.

Within a short time, a number of independent Christian communities sprang up all across North America spawning a number of other Christian coffeehouses  and “street ministries” as well.

New converts began enthusiastically pointing their one-way finger heavenward and hitting the streets to tell others about a living, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. They were baptized—many in rivers and in the ocean. They found themselves gathering informally in coffee houses where they shared testimonies about the living God. Like wildfire this move of God spread across the country from city to city. And this was before the advent of cell phones, computers, smart phones, tablets, Facebook, Twitter and other social media!

In order to proclaim the message of the gospel, these new Christians, referred to as Jesus Freaks, simply adopted existing forms of communication. Christian publications with names like Right On!, The Fish, Street Level, and Cornerstone became a fundamental component of each street Christian community.

Realizing the need to open their churches to these “Jesus Freaks”, many conservative pastors recruited hippie liaisons to their ministerial staff. People like Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel, in Santa Ana, California, soon found their churches being radically transformed.

The revival of the 60s and 70s also birthed many prolific writers such as Leonard Ravenhill, Winkie Pratney, David Wilkerson and many others who influenced many who were involved in the revival.

Another development was Jesus Music, the controversial combination of rock music and the gospel as one of the most effective—and subsequently the most lasting, result of the revival.

There has been a long legacy of Christian music connected to the Jesus movement. Jesus music, also known as Gospel Beat music in the UK, primarily began when some hippie and street musicians of the late 1960s and early 1970s converted to Christianity. They continued to play the same style of music they had played previously but began to write lyrics with a Christian message.

Many music groups developed out of this. Most notably: Barry McGuire, Second Chapter of Acts, Petra, Phil Keaggy, Randy Stonehill, Keith Green, Glenn Kaiser and the Resurrection Band, and Larry Norman. Many of these artists traveled throughout the U.S. and Europe, performing in festivals held underneath giant tents.

As Christian coffeehouses and Jesus music festivals emerged as a popular alternative to popular rock music, many mainstream church-goers lamented that this Jesus Music was a spiritual compromise and a trick of the devil to entrap young people. But these pioneers of Christian music maintained that they were combating the negative influence of mainstream rock music. In an attempt to develop an apologetic for their evangelistic efforts they echoed the sentiments of reformer Martin Luther when he asked “why should the devil have all the best tunes.”

So what happened? Why did the revival of the 1970s die?Long-haired evangelists, and Jesus rock musicians were portrayed throughout national magazines like Time, Newsweek, Life, Rolling Stone, and U.S. News & World Report. In 1971 the Jesus People were the religious event of the year while ranking third in Time Magazine’s story of the year. Press articles, and other media reports all detailed various facets of what was now being called the  “Jesus movement.”

With Watergate and President Nixon’s promises to end the war in Vietnam dominating the front pages, the cynicism born of societal fears towards “cults” and their “brainwashing” techniques made evangelism a less fruitful endeavor than it once had been.

Soon those involved in the revival began to believe the world’s description of the revival as a “movement” rather than a move of God. And as the revival came to an end, Jesus People groups either disbanded, or joined the institutionalized church, following traditions of men as though they were doctrines of God. (Matthew 15:8-9; Isaiah 29:13 ) Sadly, many simply returned to their countercultural roots of sex, drugs and rock and roll.

And those who stood firm in their faith and followed the truth of God’s Word have been labeled legalistic or fanatical.

Leonard Ravenhill was one of those who were labeled too fanatical. Ravenhill argues in his book “Why Revival Tarries” that, “We do not have revival for the simple reason that we really don’t want revival. We are simply too contented, too smug, too self-satisfied, and too carnal. Our hearts are not broken and we do not earnestly long for a powerful move of God.”

Ravenhill reminds us that “As the Church goes, so goes the world. The world is in a mess because the church is in a mess. And the church is in a mess because so many of its leaders and preachers are in a mess: The tragedy of this late hour is that we have too many dead men in the pulpits giving out too many dead sermons to too many dead people.”

Until we are broken and repentant, we will see no fresh move of God’s Spirit. As Leonard Ravenhill says, “The church must first repent; then the world will break! The church must first weep; then our altars will be filled with weeping penitents.”

Like John the Baptist, Leonard Ravenhill was a voice crying in the wilderness as he continued to preach, “This generation of preachers is responsible for this generation of sinners.”

Strong words, but true. Our problem is ourselves and our spiritual leaders. We need to break up our fallow ground and seek God’s truth and his righteousness. (Hosea 10:12) That is what happened during the revival in the 70s. People rejected man’s religion and returned to the practices of the early Church.

We simply cannot keep blaming the world and others for all our troubles because In many ways, we have only ourselves to blame. So let’s humbly learn lessons from the errors of the past and seek God with passion so that he, in our time, might be merciful, and revive us again, however and through whomever he sovereignly chooses.

“From the days of our fathers to this day we have been in great guilt. And for our iniquities we, our kings, and our priests have been given into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, to plundering, and to utter shame, as it is today. And now for a little while grace has been shown from the LORD our God, to leave us a remnant to escape, and to give us a peg in His holy place, that our God may enlighten our eyes and give us a measure of revival in our bondage.” (Ezra 9:7-8)

There is no question that we are reaching a tipping point and a place of desperation in our land. I pray that God will leave us a remnant and bring a fresh move of God before the clock runs out.