AUDIO A Battle Cry for a Dead Church

 March 26, 2021  by Shane Idleman

Note: Although this article is mainly directed toward leaders, we all need to hear what is being said. My hope is that you would share this with Christian leaders in your sphere of influence.

It is time to sound the battle cry for a dead church. As I recently stated, America’s stage-four cancer is progressing at an alarming rate (you can read the prognosis here). The warning is dire, and the outcome looks hopeless. The signs of impending death are most evident in our pulpits and our pews:

  • weakness and exhaustion from not obeying God’s Word.
  • spiritually asleep, often spending most of the day consuming social media, Netflix, or the latest popular TV show.
  • the loss of spiritual disciplines: Fasting is old-school, prayer is passé, church is outdated, and holiness is weird.
  • minimal or no appetite for God; difficulty eating or swallowing absolute truth.

But be encouraged—God can heal our land, as well as our families and our churches, if we prepare the soil of our hearts. God heals and restores those who are “contrite and lowly in spirit” (Isaiah 57:15).

HEALING IS COSTLY

As with most things, there is a price to pay; there is a cost, and this cost often begins in the pulpit. Pastor, it may cost you popularity, status, and recognition. Prophetic voices are rarely popular, but they are powerful. God uses them to awaken a dead church.

A quote often attributed to Alexis de Tocqueville helps to clarify my point. Even if you’d heard it before, you may need to hear it again. In short, de Tocqueville looked throughout America to find where her greatness originated—from her harbors and shorelines to her fertile fields and gold mines—but it was not there. In his words, “It was not until I went to the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her success. America is great because she is good, and if America ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.” The pulpit greatly affects the pew and regulates the spiritual climate of our nation. It’s where the battle cry must begin.

SUGAR-COATED PREACHING ISN’T HEALTHY

I so appreciate pastors. For those who are truly called, it’s one of the hardest labors  that man has never known. They carry the weight of the world on their shoulders as well as the burden of the Lord in their hearts. However, like addicts on a sugar binge, we have satisfied our carnal nature with candy-coated preaching, and we are paying the price with poor spiritual health. As with diabetes, the symptoms are clear: extreme hunger for the wrong things, unexplained spiritual weight loss, lethargy in seeking God, and blurred vision when it comes to biblical truth.

You may have a big church, but Hollywood also has a big audience. You may have tremendous growth, but false religions are also growing exponentially. You may have a huge budget, but the wicked also prosper. Growth can be good and God-given, but it’s not the main indicator of spiritual health. It can also be a warning sign that there is cancer in the body.

How are you gauging spiritual success? Is prayer an absolute passion and worship a must? Is there a desire to fast and starve the fleshly appetites that have you in bondage? We must begin with self-examination. Personal revival begins when we stop “doing” and “trying” and turn completely to Christ, admitting that we cannot do it in our own strength. Without Him we can do nothing (cf. John 15).

AVOID TRAVESTY BY FINDING THE BALANCE

The pulpits must be aflame with righteousness again, and leaders must be filled boldly with the Spirit if we are to awaken the spiritually dead. Let me illustrate this with a story from David Ravenhill’s book, Surviving the Anointing:

Duncan Campbell, a key figure in the New Hebrides revival, had a dream where a large crowd gathered to hear the preaching of the Word. As he got closer, he could hear the Word of God being proclaimed, but he didn’t recognize the preacher. After a while it dawned on him that this was no ordinary preacher; this was the Devil. Finally the crowd dispersed, and in his dream he went up to the Devil and said, “You’re the Devil, aren’t you?” “Yes I am,” he replied.

Duncan Campbell then asked, “Why are you preaching the gospel? Why are you preaching the Word of God?” And the Devil responded, saying, “Duncan Campbell, don’t you know that the greatest weapon I have is the preaching of the Word of God without the anointing of the Spirit? You see, the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.”

The truth is that many are not filled with the boldness of the Spirit but rather with cowardliness and complacency. Ironically, the more time we spend with God, the bolder we become.

Pastors, we need uplifting messages from time to time, but if you’re not balancing hope and encouragement with warnings and calls to repentance, you are committing the greatest travesty known to man: leading people straight to their graves without telling them of their need to turn from their sins.

REPENT OR CHANGE YOUR TITLE

Where are the Isaiahs calling the nation to repentance? “Cry aloud, spare not; lift up your voice like a trumpet; tell My people their transgression, and the house of Jacob their sins” (58:1). Even Jesus said to go and preach repentance (Luke 13:3-5).

If you’re not doing this consistently, you are not a pastor, watchman, or a steward of the Word of God—you are a motivational speaker. Either repent, or change your title. I don’t say that flippantly or judgmentally, but it needs to be said. If we are to be awakened from our spiritual slumber, America needs to hear the voice crying in the wilderness.

My hope is that the Lord will spark another awakening  in the pulpit as well as the pew that results in deep repentance, sincere humility, full surrender, and passionate, effective prayer. These are the true signs of spiritual health.

WHAT WILL IT TAKE?

How many more mass shootings, teen suicides, and broken families will it take? How much more deaths by addiction and perverted legislation will we endure? Dire times call for dire measures! God says that if you seek Him with all your heart, you will find Him. Partial obedience doesn’t accomplish anything (see Jeremiah 29:13). Whenever I read old biographies from John Bunyan, John Wesley, David Brainerd, George Whitefield, Duncan Campbell, and the like, I think often of that verse. (short clip here).

I was recently captivated by this account from Wesley:  “At about three in the morning, as we were continuing in prayer, the power of God came mightily upon us, insomuch that many cried out for exceeding joy.” Yes, you heard that correctly—3 a.m. They were desperate to experience God. Are you?

Duncan Campbell also writes about a time when they fasted and prayed in an old barn until well past midnight and the Spirit of God fell in such a profound way that an enormous spiritual awakening occurred and the town was set ablaze with the fire of God. It’s not the time of day that ushers in a mighty awakening, it’s the priority of seeking God. Sadly, people are so sick spiritually that they won’t attend a prayer meeting even at a convenient time of day. We must awaken from our death-like slumber.

Join me in praying this today: Oh God, our cry is that you would come down again and rip the heavens open so that even the mountains tremble in Your presence (Isaiah 64:1)! And let it start in me.

https://shaneidleman.com/2021/03/26/a-battle-cry-for-a-dead-church/

VIDEO Micah

By Chuck Swindoll

 

Who wrote the book?

The prophet Micah identified himself by his hometown, called Moresheth Gath, which sat near the border of Philistia and Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. Dwelling in a largely agricultural part of the country, Micah lived outside the governmental centers of power in his nation, leading to his strong concern for the lowly and less fortunate of society—the lame, the outcasts, and the afflicted (Micah 4:6). Therefore, Micah directed much of his prophecy toward the powerful leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah, respectively (1:1).

Where are we?

As a contemporary of Isaiah and Hosea, Micah prophesied during the momentous years surrounding the tragic fall of Israel to the Assyrian Empire (722 BC), an event he also predicted (Micah 1:6). Micah stated in his introduction to the book that he prophesied during the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah, failing to mention the simultaneous string of dishonorable kings that closed out the northern kingdom of Israel.

During this period, while Israel was imploding from the effects of evil and unfaithful leadership, Judah seemed on a roller-coaster ride—ascending to the heights of its destiny in one generation, only to fall into the doldrums in another. In Judah at this time, good kings and evil kings alternated with each other, a pattern seen in the reigns of Jotham (good, 2 Kings 15:32–34); Ahaz (evil, 2 Kings 16:1–4); and Hezekiah (good, 2 Kings 18:1–7).

Why is Micah so important?

The book of Micah provides one of the most significant prophecies of Jesus Christ’s birth in all the Old Testament, pointing some seven hundred years before Christ’s birth to His birthplace of Bethlehem and to His eternal nature (Micah 5:2).

Surrounding Micah’s prophecy of Jesus’s birth is one of the most lucid pictures of the world’s future under the reign of the Prince of Peace (5:5). This future kingdom, which scholars call the millennial kingdom, will be characterized by the presence of many nations living with one another in peace and security (4:3–4) and coming to Jerusalem to worship the reigning king, that is, Jesus Himself (4:2). Because these events have not yet occurred, we look forward to the millennial kingdom at some undetermined time in the future.

What’s the big idea?

Much of Micah’s book revolves around two significant predictions: one of judgment on Israel and Judah (Micah 1:1–3:12), the other of the restoration of God’s people in the millennial kingdom (4:1–5:15). Judgment and restoration inspire fear and hope, two ideas wrapped up in the final sequence of Micah’s prophecy, a courtroom scene in which God’s people stand trial before their Creator for turning away from Him and from others (6:1–7:20). In this sequence, God reminds the people of His good works on their behalf, how He cared for them while they cared only for themselves. But rather than leave God’s people with the fear and sting of judgment, the book of Micah concludes with the prophet’s call on the Lord as his only source of salvation and mercy (7:7), pointing the people toward an everlasting hope in their everlasting God.

How do I apply this?

Much of Micah’s indictment against Israel and Judah involves these nations’ injustice toward the lowly—unjust business dealings, robbery, mistreatment of women and children, and a government that lived in luxury off the hard work of its nation’s people.

Where does the injustice dwell in your own life? Who are the lowly in your life? Do you need a call toward repentance, like the people of Israel and Judah did?

Micah’s impassioned plea for God’s chosen people to repent will cut many of us to the quick. Most of us don’t decide daily to cut people down or find ways to carry out injustice. Instead, we do it out of habit. Let’s allow the words of Micah to break us out of our apathy about extending justice and kindness to others and press on toward a world that better resembles the harmonious millennial kingdom to come. Let’s determine to live as God desires—“to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with our God” (Micah 6:8).

https://www.insight.org/resources/bible/the-minor-prophets/micah


Overview: Micah


Unlocking the Old Testament Part 52 – Micah


 

Pence Warns Graduates to Prepare for Persecution for Their Christianity

May 13, 2019

On Saturday, Vice President Mike Pence spoke to the 2019 graduates of Liberty University.

While many commencement speakers wish the graduates a bright and glorious future, Pence issued a dire warning.

He told the students that for most of America’s history, there was no problem being a Christian, but times have changed.

He continued to tell the graduates that in today’s America to be prepared to be ridiculed and shunned because of their Christian faith.

He also said that the loudest voices for tolerance have little tolerance for anything pertaining to Biblical teachings.

The Hill – Mike Pence tells Liberty University graduates to prepare to be ‘shunned,’ ‘ridiculed’ for being a Christian – Vice President Pence warned the 2019 graduating class at Liberty University in his commencement address that they would face persecution for their faith.

“Throughout most of American history, it’s been pretty easy to call yourself Christian,” Pence told students Saturday, according to USA Today. “It didn’t even occur to people that you might be shunned or ridiculed for defending the teachings of the Bible.”

“But things are different now,” he continued, adding that “some of the loudest voices for tolerance today have little tolerance for traditional Christian beliefs. Be ready.”

Drawing from his own personal experience during the address, Pence discussed the criticism his wife, Karen, received last year after she returned to work as an art teacher at a private elementary school that prohibited LGBT students and teachers

Pence as right when he said the loudest voices calling for tolerance are the most intolerant of all.

They preach inclusion, but NOT the inclusion of Christians or anyone who disagrees with their perverse and sinful agenda.

The Obama administration launched a war against Christianity in the workplace, military and even private life.

The leaders of most major social media outlets have also been busy persecuting Christians and trying to silence the truth of Scripture.

READ MORE HERE

 

Original here