Sometimes we experience a terrible dryness in our spiritual life. We feel no desire to pray, don't experience God's presence, get bored with worship services, and even think that everything we ever believed about God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit is little more than a childhood fairy tale.
Then it is important to realise that most of these feelings and thoughts are just feelings and thoughts, and that the Spirit of God dwells beyond our feelings and thoughts. It is a great grace to be able to experience God's presence in our feelings and thoughts, but when we don't, it does not mean that God is absent. It often means that God is calling us to a greater faithfulness. It is precisely in times of spiritual dryness that we must hold on to our spiritual discipline so that we can grow into new intimacy with God.This post was written by Henri J. Nouwen. For his website, go to: http://www.henrinouwen.org
BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
Let me tell you a tale of three pastors. All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
One pastor was talking about how the Military creates dependency. "In the military, you don't have to make any decisions, all decisions are made for you, you just obey orders. They feed you, house you, raise you into a fighting machine. They tell you where to live and who to make friends with." (Just in case you're wondering, no, this pastor has never served in the military, although he has had numerous military folks in his congregation.) Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his first church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. (He is well within the top 1% of financial earners in his church. To his credit he does tithe his salary.) His denomination tells him when to move to another church. Does that sound independent to you?
Another pastor was talking about how the new generation of churches will be smaller and transient with bi-vocational pastors. This pastor is a good scholar. He has researched trends in the church and realizes that is what he needs to be training the next generation of pastors to do. Yet, when I think about this pastor, he went straight from high school, to college, to seminary, to his church. He serves in a denomination where the pastor is a professional. The churches in which he has served have always providing housing, paid his expenses, and given him a nice salary. His church isn't a mega-church by any standards but it is a good sized, medium church. He remarked the other day, "I haven't mowed a yard in years. People from the church come over and mow my yard (actually the yard of the parsonage where he lives that the church provides for him as part of his salary package)." Does that sound bi-vocational to you?
Another pastor, now at the end of his ministry due to his age, reflected with me regarding his life as a minister. He never had a church of over 250. He accepted meager salaries in spite of having seven children. He told me stories about God's provision: coats for his children that suddenly appeared on the doorstep one frigid winter morning, receiving "blue milk" and cheese from the local dairy, having an abundance of fresh farms eggs from an unnamed person in the community, working side-by-side with parishioners in painting and refurbishing the church (and telling of the wonderful theological truths and friendships that occurred during these times), caring for the church building by cleaning toilets, mowing the yard, taking out the trash, etc. Also, he never had a parsonage. Every home he lived in he either rented or owned (ironically, now at a ripe old age, on his meager salary, he owns several homes and they are rented by pastors or parishioners of his former churches). Each of these homes, he cared for in painting, refurbishing, caring for the lawn and shoveling snow. (Oh, that reminds me, he shoveled the snow at his churches. He wanted his church to be welcoming even during bad weather.) He stated he would never cancel church. "What if someone found their way to the church during bad weather only to find the doors locked? What if that was the time that they decided they needed Jesus? If even only one person showed up, I still had church." He NEVER wanted to count on the church to take care of him. He told me that he knew that he was called to be a pastor and in doing a pastor's work, he KNEW that God would take care of him. His salary was just to pay what expenses that he had as he never went into debt, owing no man anything.
Like I said in the first paragraph, three pastors: All successes in their own right. I would be pleased to be a member of their congregations. They are good men, godly men, holy men. They have the same Holy Spirit working in their lives.... yet, they are different. And sometimes, they rub me wrong. At least two of them do...
BE A MAN.
“…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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
In this passage we find Solomon in the midst of an Old Testament revival. Solomon had just finished praying, and the spirit of the Lord poured out on the land, and filled the Temple to the point that there was no physical room for the priests to enter the facility. People were giving praises, spontaneous sacrifices were being made, song and dance broke out, and people were taken further in their relationship with God than ever before. All because one man wanted to do things the right way….
After building the Temple, Solomon thought it would be only fitting to invite the Lord once again into the Holiest place. Perhaps he thought that it would have been a waste of brick , mortar,and time if God would not have been a part of the process. We see here that fervent prayer was the instigator for this amazing celebration. God had promised Solomon that, if he were to pray, then his people would benefit.
So, do we pray only to receive blessings? Is God a spiritual vending machine, ready to grant our every wish. No….but He desires to communicate with us on an intimate level. He wants to guide us restoration, and heal our land. He must, however, be invited…
This post was written by Rev DeCrastos. For the original post, go to: http://other-words.net/2013/07/04/an-early-revival/
According to a recent newspaper report
, only 8% of British men attend church regularly, though 53% identify themselves as Christians. And the situation is similar in other Western nations, with more than 40% of U.S. evangelicals
not attending church weekly and more than 60% of American mainline Christians
not attending weekly. In short, millions who consider themselves Christians limit their church attendance largely to holidays, weddings, and funerals.
If you’re among these millions, please give church another chance. By getting involved, you’ll discover that what you once viewed as a chore is actually a blessing. Here are 10 reasons why:1. Gathering with a church encourages believers to love others and do good deeds
).2. A church is the main venue for using your spiritual gifts
(1 Corinthians 12:1-31
). God has given you abilities and talents intended to help other Christians. If you’re not involved in a church, others are being deprived of what you have to offer.3. A church helps keep you from abandoning the faith.
According to the author of Hebrews, the antidote to developing an “unbelieving heart” that leads you “to fall away from the living God” is to “exhort one another” (Hebrews 3:12-13
)—an activity that occurs most prominently in the church.4. A church helps you defend Christianity against those who attack it.
When Jude told the early Christians to “contend for the faith” (Jude 3
), he directed his instruction toward a group of believers, not a scattering of lone-ranger Christians. Answering challenges from coworkers, friends, and family members is always easier when you can ask fellow church members for help and wisdom.5. A church is a great venue for pooling resources to support missions and benevolent works
(2 Corinthians 8:1-7
; 3 John 5-8
). Your money combined with that of fellow church members can do a lot for Christ.6. A church helps its members maintain correct doctrine
(1 Timothy 3:15
). You might begin to adopt unbiblical ideas without realizing it yourself. But you probably won’t adopt unbiblical ideas without someone at your church realizing it, and they can help you get back to the truth.7. After your family, a church is the best group of people to meet your physical needs in an emergency
(1 John 3:16-17
; 1 Timothy 5:3-16
).8. A church supports you when you face persecution
). You may not be imprisoned for your Christian beliefs like the apostles were, but a church family is still a great source of comfort when you face stinging words or unfair treatment.9. A church is where you can be baptized and take part in the Lord’s Supper
; 1 Corinthians 11:17-34
; Ephesians 4:4-6
). These two ordinances are a vital part of any believer’s walk with Jesus.10. A church provides the setting for corporate worship
; Colossians 3:16
). Though it’s a blessing to praise God alone, there is a unique joy that accompanies singing God’s praises with an entire congregation of Christ followers.
The list could go on, but you get the idea. It’s worth it to start attending church.This post was written by David Roach. the original post with comments can be found at: http://www.biblemesh.com/blog/2013/01/21/10-reasons-to-be-involved-in-a-church/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
When Paul says we are to “walk in the Spirit” he is writing to a church community, not just to random individuals reading his letter in their private corners. Keeping in step with the Spirit of God is a community activity, something we do together. During anti-porn week,
we identified from secular research what viewing porn does to a person. This week presents practical advice of how to stay away from the influence of porn.
In other words, we keep in step with the Spirit by keeping in step with one another. We must live lifestyles of encouragement and accountability.
Nothing slays the power of sin like confession. James writes, “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16). In confessing our sins to God
we are promised forgiveness. In confessing sin to others
we are made whole.
Sin must be habitually
exposed to the light of confession. This is called accountability
: being honest with another trusted believer about our temptations, sins, and the state of our heart. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, after eating of the forbidden fruit, our knee-jerk reaction is to hide—to hide from God and from one another. Accountability is the willingness to habitually and regularly allow others access to your heart, your motives, your secret desires, your dark thoughts, and, of course, your sinful actions.
How does this relate to pornography? The late psychologist, Dr. Al Cooper, believed three main factors draw people into online sexual activity:
(porn is accessible easily from any Internet connection)
(millions of free or very cheap images are available online)
(home computers and Smartphones have made it very easy to be secretive)
He dubbed this the “Triple-A Engine” of Internet porn.
These three factors work like three legs on a stool: remove just one of the legs and the stool will fall (or at least make it awkward to sit on).
The easiest leg to remove is the leg of anonymity
, or secrecy. We do this by becoming accountable to others about the time we spend online, taking away the option to hide our Internet activity.
One way to do this is through the use of Covenant Eyes Internet Accountability.
This software program monitors your home computer, work computer, or smartphone and then sends a detailed report of your Internet activity to a trusted friend, spouse, or mentor. Covenant Eyes,
which pioneered this concept, also rates websites for mature content, flagging specific web searches and sites.
Confession of sin is not the only goal of Christian community. In the face of each other’s weaknesses, we need to encourage one another to fight sin. The author of Hebrews says, “let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Heb. 10:24-25).
This can be called “responsive accountability.” When we give an account
of our sins to someone else, in return, they should listen and then give an account
of God’s gospel promises to us.
In this text, God calls us to “stir up” one another—that is, to urge, to spur on, to provoke, to motivate each other—to love and good deeds. Each time we meet together we should be contemplating and praying, “God, show me how I can really motivate my friend to resist temptation and instead love You and others wholeheartedly.” We are to have a hardcore intentionality and thoughtfulness in our friendships.
Like the embers of a red-hot fire, we stir up the fire not by adding heat to it, but rather by exposing the glowing embers to the air, helping to bring out of the embers the energy that is in them already. If the Spirit of God is in us, He has already planted His holy desires into our hearts. He has etched his law on our hearts (Jer. 31:33-34; Ez. 36:25-27). But He has also placed us in the family of the church, among trusted friends who are also filled with His Spirit, in order that we might stir up in each other what God has already put in us.
This post is taken from the booklet, YOUR BRAIN ON PORN
by Luke Gilkerson. The booklet can be found at: http://www.covenanteyes.com/brain-ebook/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
We are seeing reports on the news for the past several weeks about the weather. If you live in the Midwest especially, the concept of rain is something you remember reading about in a textbook. At this point, many of us are longing for a catastrophic flood as described in the story of Noah. Lawns are drying out, swimming holes are being closed, and kids are staying inside due to the heat. It has been a very dry summer to say the least.
If we were to evaluate the spiritual condition of many Christians, summer seems to affect our souls in a similar way. The sun makes us somewhat lethargic and we feel as if God is temporarily on vacation. The dryness we see reflected in our local climate is mirrored within our hearts. It can be a discouraging time. Passion seems to be a memory.
In the 37th chapter of Ezekiel, a beautiful story is told about an intimate conversation between God and Ezekiel. Ezekiel was experiencing intense discouragement because of his lack of resources and feelings of inadequacy (in a nutshell). God, however, used this time as a teaching moment for all who may feel the same way.
In this story, God uses a valley of dry bones as an illustration about how only HE has the power to animate that which is lifeless. At the end of this depiction we see an energetic army ready to their next command….Every soldier brought up from dry bones. Imagine experiencing each tendon coming together, and each patch of flesh connecting….The awesome power would have been overwhelming.
In the times of our intense dryness, we must remember that God has the power to give us life and passion once again. We must also remember that God can use these dry times as teachable moments for not only us, but others we share our testimony with. I challenge you to find a way to reflect on God’s work during these times so that the process can be recorded. Later you will read the narrative as the story of God’s faithfulness and a reminder of His power.The God that can create from nothing can bring you out of the dryness you are in. Trust Him.This is reprint of a post by Rev. Landon DeCrastos. You can find the original post with comments here: http://otherwordsdotnet.wordpress.com/2012/07/17/dry/BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
"...I shall be anointed with fresh oil"
The word used for "anoint" in the Septuagint and the Greek New Testament comes from the Greek word chrio.
This word originally denoted the smearing or rubbing of oil or perfume upon an individual.
For example, if a patient came to see a physician because of sore muscles, the physician would pour oil upon his own hands; then he would begin to deeply rub that oil into
the sore muscles of that patient. That penetrating application of oil would be denoted by the Greek work chrio.
So technically speaking, the word "anoint" has to do with the rubbing or smearing of oil upon someone else.
When you read the word "anoint" in the Bible, think not only of the oil, but of the hands of the Anointer. Oil was very expensive in Bible times; therefore, rather than tip the bottle of oil downward and freely pour it upon the recipient, a person would first pour the oil onto his hands and then apply it to the other person.
Let's consider this concept in the context of God anointing our lives. God Himself -- the Great Anointer -- filled His hands with the essence of His Spirit and then laid His mighty hands upon our lives, pressing the Spirit's power and anointing ever deeper into us. So when we speak of a person who is anointed, we are actually acknowledging the the hand of God is on that person.
If you would like a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit upon your life, you come before the Great Anointer! He alone can give you what you need. Open your heart to God, and allow Him to lay His hands upon your life in a new way.
This post is taken from SPARKLING GEMS FROM THE GREEK
(p. 363).BE HOLY.BE A MAN.
, I posted about how a young man used the retelling of the crucifixion of Jesus so that he could sin
and take others with him in his sin.
Today, I want to share something beautiful from my experiences with the Easter Musical. In this church that annually would share the Easter story with its community, there was always a special private showing of the final dress rehearsal.
The final dress rehearsal was an invitation to individuals who were physically as well as mentally challenged. The church would clear out much of the seating so that people using wheelchairs, walkers, crutches and canes could easily navigate into the auditorium. This was a fun tradition in this community because these individuals got to see the musical before anybody else.
In this final dress rehearsal that I am remembering, Jesus was being taken down from the cross. This is a very solemn and quiet scene, taking a good ten minutes or so. Jesus is carefully removed from the cross, given to Mary, Joseph of Arimathea, John and Nicodemus. They lovingly prepare Jesus' body for burial, wrapping him in cloths.
Well, during this scene, one man in the audience who couldn't speak or walk due to his challenges, started weeping uncontrollably. It was quite a poignant scene that was enhanced by this man's sensitivity. I firmly believe that this man was so touched by this reenactment that he said yes to God's invitation to accept Jesus as his Savior. Needless to say, this man's behavior affected many others not only in the congregation but many of the actors and orchestra members as well. In my own heart, I felt a revival of my own commitment to serving Jesus. I'm sure that many had a similar experience. An unspoken revival of sorts happened right there because of this man's sensitivity to Jesus' gift of salvation.
I want to tell you that the man that was weeping was so much more of a man than many men I have ever met. Especially, more so than that young man from yesterday
who wanted to have sexual conquests to prove his manhood. That weeping man allowed God to transform him. Outside he was still the same but I believe that man left the church a new creation.
You may be wondering how the above picture of the extreme mountain climber fits into this story. Well, I'm thinking that when this guy gets to heaven, he's gonna want to do the things he always wanted to do but couldn't because he was in an earthly body that didn't work as he wanted. I'm gonna find him and we're gonna do some extreme mountain climbing. When we get to the summit, I'm gonna ask him, "remember when you were at that private showing of the Easter Musical? I want to know what you were thinking." I anticipate he will share with me his love for God and how the Holy Spirit worked in his life that night.
Together we will agree with the Roman Centurion, "Surely, this man was the Son of God!"
and we will spend a couple hundred years on that summit praising our Savior and recalling all the wonderful things that God did.
Do you want to experience something beautiful?
You can right now as you ask Jesus to lead your life, turn from your sinfulness and allow God to transform you.
We want you to join us on that summit in eternity.BE HOLY.BE A MAN.