Victory In Christ

Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

 

by Godinterest

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith.

1 John 5:4

The Meaning of the Victory of God

We need to draw near to our Helper, the One who is infinite in wisdom, Jesus. He is our Minister and our great Medical Missionary, and He knows that trials through which His believers on this earth will pass. He has been tempted like we are tempted. Let us not forget that Christ Jesus had came face to face with Satan, and that when He met him, He, our Saviour, was bearing the likeness of humanity.

Jesus is our Restorer, the Perfecter of His covenant with the human agencies who depend upon Him as their Prince and their Redeemer.

Christ conquered as a sinless, unfallen, perfect Man. As the Messiah He has won the victory over the temptations of the enemy, making it possible for us to overcome as He overcame.

We are to overcome in every encounter with the enemy, Satan. We are to be victors by becoming partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. Each victory that Jesus gained in His humanity makes it possible for us, through receiving and believing in Him, to gain the victory as well. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).

Each victory that He gained in humanity secures for us its genuine fruits. Each assault of Satan overcome marks the occasion of a victory for humanity as a-whole

The deliverance of the people of God and His mercies to them in past trials are to be called to mind as an assurance of that which, if we trust in God, He will do for us in present and future emergencies.

Whatever may have been our experience, if we people surrender to God with full purpose of heart, with humility and contrition, He will receive us. To all who by faith receive Christ as their personal Saviour, He will give power to become overcomers—sons and daughters of God. We will become partakers of the divine nature, and fully realize the father God’s mercy and the grace of His Holy Spirit.

Let our prayers ascend to God in all humility. Let us through the grace Christ came to the world to impart confess and forsake our sins, with humble, contrite hearts. The Lord understands, for all secret things are known to Him. Not one mean action can be performed without God understanding every phase of temptation.

Throughout the gospels, Christ made frequent reference to the great conflict that He had with Satan at the beginning of His ministry. He makes constant reference to Satan’s kingdom as opposed to the kingdom of God. Let us be sure that we are on the Lord’s side.

Bible Verses about Victory In Christ

Christians can have victory over sin when they are living for Christ, and there are many Scriptures which detail this topic.

John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

Hebrews 7:25-27

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself.

2 Corinthians 4:8

We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair;

Romans 8:14

For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.

John 8:36

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.

Luke 10:17-20

The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”

Luke 1:47-49

And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Colossians 2:15

He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

Hebrews 4:12

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

Hebrews 11:1

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.

Ephesians 3:6

This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.

John 6:50-71

This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. …

Galatians 2:20

I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

Zechariah 4:6

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.

Ephesians 6:17

And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,

Romans 8:23

And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.

https://godinterest.com/2019/09/09/victory-in-christ/

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7 Inspiring Habits for Christians with Anxiety Disorders

Cortni Marrazzo
Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer Sept 12, 2019

7 Inspiring Habits for Christians with Anxiety Disorders

Anxiety disorders can be a hard topic to talk about in many churches and Christian circles. Some people equate chronic anxiety with a lack of faith and trust in God. However, many Christians who have a close relationship with God—and trust Him deeply—still experience high anxiety.

If you are someone who loves and trusts God, yet still regularly face anxiety, I want to encourage you that you are not alone. Hope is not lost. It’s possible to experience the freedom of Christ in your life, even when anxiety is persistently knocking at your door. I want to share with you, based on my experience with anxiety, seven habits for living well in the midst of struggling with anxiety:

1. Focus on the true freedom of Christ.

So now there is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death. – Romans 8:1-2

To experience true freedom in Christ, it helps to recognize what that freedom really entails. The freedom we have in Christ is freedom from condemnation and freedom from the separation from God. If you struggle with anxiety, it’s likely you face a lot of guilt and shame from not doing enough or not being enough (or both). While this guilt and shame can easily overwhelm you, it’s important to remember that this is not how God sees you.

Experiencing freedom in Christ doesn’t necessarily mean you will ever be free from all the symptoms of anxiety on this side of heaven, but you can be free from being in bondage to that anxiety. Despite how you may feel and what you physically experience, you can always stand on the truth of God’s word that promises that God never condemns you and that you are always loved and accepted by Him.

2. Keep coming to God for help with your anxious feelings.

Jesus understands every weakness of ours, because he was tempted in every way that we are. But he did not sin! So whenever we are in need, we should come bravely before the throne of our merciful God. There we will be treated with undeserved kindness, and we will find help. – Hebrews 4:15-16

My own experience with anxiety has caused me to run to God a lot, because I find myself in desperate need of His peace to overcome anxious feelings. I used to try to numb my anxious thoughts with shopping, food, tv, social media…whatever I could do to temporarily drown it out. This was mostly because I felt shame about my struggles, and didn’t want to take it to God for fear of judgement.

I know in my mind that God doesn’t judge me in my weaknesses, but anxiety tries to convince you of things that aren’t true. Jesus was human and experienced anxiety Himself, so not only does He accept and love us no matter what, He can actually relate to our struggles! He was so anxious before dying on the cross that he actually sweated drops like blood (Luke 22:44).

When you are anxious, you are in need of God’s peace, and God tells you to come bravely to Him when you are in need. He promises that you will be treated with undeserved kindness and that He will help you.

Anxiety can cause us to feel ashamed when we are in need, but God actually created us to need Him!

back view of diverse group of adults linking arms around waists, walking forward together

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

3. Embrace outside help in dealing with your anxiety.

Without good direction, people lose their way; the more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances. – Proverbs 11:14 MSG

It is very important to seek God’s help when struggling with anxiety, and sometimes part of that help may come from outside sources like a professional counselor. When my son was diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, I found myself struggling with my own anxiety in trying to navigate how to help my son.

I sought out a Christian counselor who has since helped point me back to God’s Word, while also equipping me with tools and actions to help me physically train my brain to do what God had actually made it to do.

Counselors are trained in methods of dealing with anxiety that make changes at a physical level. They can teach us how we can help our brain recover from the fight or flight reactions that kick into overdrive when anxiety shows up.

Healthy habits like journaling, deep breathing, practicing mindfulness, and many others have personally helped (and continue to help) me when I struggle to get past anxious thoughts and feelings in my life.

4. Take care of your body.

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own;you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. – 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Exercise and diet are huge factors in helping anxiety. Running is something that has personally helped me immensely. I actually didn’t realize just how much until recently when my running partner went on vacation and I took a week off from running and found that I struggled with a lot more anxiety that week than I did when I was regularly running.

For me, when I run or do some other form of exercise consistently, it helps me eat less junk and eat more nutrient-dense foods. Exercise and nutrition have a big impact on your brain and can contribute to the levels of anxiety you experience in your day to day life.

5. Follow God’s leading on how best to tend to your unique anxiety needs.

The Lord says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you.” – Psalm 32:8

There is a wealth of information out there and a lot of people advising those struggling with anxiety. While research, knowledge, and advice are valuable, it’s important to listen to what God is specifically telling you to do. 

Prescription medicines for anxiety disorders can be a controversial choice for some people, but I believe each person should follow God’s leading on this decision. Because an anxiety disorder is a medical diagnosis that stems from the way your brain is wired—and can be genetic—it is highly possible that you may benefit from a medication to help you. This is especially applicable if you’ve found that counseling, diet, exercise, and even prayer just don’t seem to be relieving your anxiety.

If you feel like you could possibly benefit from the help of medication, pray for God’s guidance in this matter, and don’t let fear stop you from at least talking to a counselor and/or your doctor about your options. God may lead to you this resource as a way to help you.

There have been a few times in my life where I’ve taken medication to help me through some particularly rough seasons. Before making that decision, I prayed about it and when I sensed His peace about it, I continued to trust that God would help the medication work in my brain.

I continued to seek God and use other strategies to help myself while taking medication, but I believe God used the medication to help me quiet my brain down enough to make those positive choices every day. More importantly, it helped me connect with Him on a daily basis. My hope wasn’t in the medication, but my hope was in God using it for good in my life.

a woman with her eyes closed and a grateful expression

Photo Credit: ©GettyImages

6. Give yourself grace when you feel anxiety.

Yet now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless as you stand before him without a single fault. – Colossians 1:22

One of the worst things about anxiety is the guilt and shame that often accompany it. It’s easy to blame yourself for how you feel or feel guilty about it, yet experiencing anxiety about your anxiety is very easy to slip into. Have you ever struggled with any of these thoughts?

“If I trusted God enough, I wouldn’t be anxious.”

“Why do I keep struggling with this?”

“I’m just not good enough to get past this.”

Anxiety isn’t something anyone chooses, but it is something many struggle with. There are many different reasons someone may experience more anxiety than the next person: genetics, how your brain is wired, previous trauma, perfectionism, and many others.

The point is, it’s not your fault. You are not less than others, or less than God wants you to be because you struggle with this.

You are human and your struggle is part of your humanity.

7. See the good in your struggle with anxiety.

Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:8-9

Even though we don’t know for sure what Paul’s particular thorn was, we know it was something he struggled with. I don’t know about you, but anxiety sure feels like a thorn in the flesh to me because it’s definitely a struggle! But when I struggle, I run to God because I know He is the only one who can ultimately help me. This keeps me coming to God a lot, and as a result, I am growing closer to Him and growing in my faith.

Dealing with anxiety isn’t easy or fun, but it keeps you aware of your need for God and helps you continue to see just how much His power works through your weaknesses. And when you experience God and His strength more powerfully, you are able to share your experiences with and encourage others who are also struggling.

Truth is, even when you have to consistently face the monster of anxiety, you can still freely live out the two greatest commandments that Jesus gave: to love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself. (Mark 12:30-31)


Cortni Marrazzo is the Communication Director at ONE* Church in Spokane, WA.  She and her husband Jason have two elementary-age sons, one of which has special needs. She has a Degree in Biblical Discipleship and has a passion for ministry and encouraging the body of Christ. You can contact her at Cortni.Marrazzo@gmail.com or on her Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/CortniMarrazzo)

https://www.crosswalk.com/special-coverage/depression-suicide/inspiring-habits-for-christians-with-anxiety-disorders.html

5 Truths about God’s Design for Sex in Marriage

by Bonny

Living in an over-sexualized culture, we hear messages about sex, wrong messages.   These messages become more a part of us than God’s truth because we hear them repetitively and churches are scared to address sexuality.

For too long, I believed the world’s message about sex.   That it’s a superficial, feel-good avenue to self-satisfaction.   Wrong, partly.   God did design sex to feel good!

But, there is more than that.   He designed it for profound spiritual, physical, and emotional connection.   It is just a shadow of things to come.

God’s design of sex is too amazing to keep silent about.

Here are five truths about God’s design of sex in marriage.

God designed sex to be bonding.

Not only spiritually bonding, but emotionally and physically.   When the two become one flesh, biochemicals are released in our bodies like oxytocin and dopamine.   Oxytocin, especially, is a bonding chemical.   When I embraced this truth and started engaging in the marriage bed more, the tone of our marriage completely changed.

“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and bonds with his wife, and they become one flesh,” Genesis 2:24 (NIV).

God designed sex for both husband and wife to experience pleasure.

It’s an equal opportunity activity.   Why else would there be a clitoris?   It’s only function is for pleasure.   The Song of Solomon is full of beautiful poetic language about the pleasures of physical love for both spouses.

If one spouse struggles with the ultimate moment, there are Christian resources available to help the couple understand how to achieve mutual enjoyment.

“The mandrakes send out their fragrance, and at our door is every delicacy, both new and old, that I have stored up for you, my beloved,” Song of Solomon 7:13 (NIV).

God designed sex so that we would know yearning.

Before you were married, you yearned for your fianc.   Not only did you crave your fiance’s touch, you craved his/her presence and knowing him/her better.  Even after years of marriage, it is good to remember this yearning.  It mirrors how God desires us to yearn for him.   I believe this is one reason he frequently uses the marriage as a symbol of his relationship with us throughout the Bible.

“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that he jealously longs for the spirit he has caused to dwell in us?” James 4:5 (NIV).

God designed the marriage bed to be a place to show the fruit of the Spirit.

Peace, patience, love, joy, gentleness, kindness, faithfulness, goodness, and self-control are the foundation of all Christian life, especially the marriage bed.   All conflict surrounding the marriage bed can be managed through employing these key traits.

My own marriage endured a long season of mismatched sex drives.   It was through these qualities and some wise communication tools that we overcame our conflict.

God designed sex as a powerful mystery.

Biblical stories of sex often confused me when I was young.   There was some nasty stuff in the old testament, the rape of Dinah, Lot and his daughters, the men of Gibeah  clammering for the male visitor, Leviticus 20.   And yet, there is the beautiful Song of Solomon.   The New Testament seemed to prefer celibacy, to be honest.   As a teenager, I couldn’t understand why I liked thinking about sex if it was disgraceful and violent.

But, as an adult, I realized the stories were teaching me that sexual intimacy is powerful and mysterious.   It’s OK not to have it all figured out, as long as you respect the power it holds to do good when it is aligned with God’s perfect design.

“For my thoughts  are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the  Lord. 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.

Final Thoughts

Don’t let the world’s message of cheap sex destroy the meaningful sex in your marriage.   Sex may only be a small portion of the whole of your marriage.   However, sex matters.   It especially matters if one spouse is more interested than the other.   When we ignore its power and importance in marriage, the relationship suffers.

Now, granted chronic health issues can affect sexual function and that’s a more complicated story.

https://godinterest.com/2018/03/29/5-truths-about-gods-design-for-sex-in-marriage/

Reality Check List for all Husbands – Reignite your Marriage

HOW TO REKINDLE YOUR MARRIAGE

The Key to a Happy Wife:

Husbands should understand the importance of emotional intimacy in marriage. This is the key to living with a happy wife. It is a well known fact that women are emotional beings, if you’re an emotionally unavailable man, your marriage will suffers from all directions. I know that maintaining emotional intimacy requires hard work due to the fact that men are not that emotional. But restoring emotional intimacy after it is lost can be a lot tougher than working hard to preserve it along the way. As a matter of fact, this is where all divorce process begins.

Validate your Wife’s Feelings:

To your wife, being understood means having her feelings validated and accepted. I know women can get overly emotional, which makes them hard to understand. But it helps to just bite your tongue and actively listen to her. “Pretend if you have to.”  It will magically calm things down and give you some breathing space. In return, she will feel loved, valued, and safe enough to allow emotional intimacy.

Marriage is Work in Progress:

Having strong emotional bond in your marriage relationship is important and worth the effort. When you take steps in the direction of strengthening this area it demonstrates your commitment to a long, strong and happy marriage. And that helps you become a better father and man, as well as being an amazing husband. If your wife is happy, it’s guaranteed that she will always desire you.

Photo by Lubov’ Birina on unsplash

Spend Time Together:

Your wife probably has a lower priority with marital intimacy than you. If you commit to meeting her other needs and desires, things will change. When you approach her for deeper intimacy, she wants to get together with compassion, not with someone who simply shares her mailing address. If you’re not spending time having fun together in all kinds of settings, she’s going to be less motivated with being intimate with you. Commit to spending at least 30 minutes of uninterrupted time with her. If you have kids, wait until they are in bed.

Put Away Devices and Take Her Out:

Making time to focus on each other without the kids or other distractions is critical to maintaining the sparks in your marriage. Deep intimacy in a relationship depends on the quality of human interaction. Electronic devices has greatly interfered with human one-on-one interaction. When you spend time with your wife, consider turning them off, look each other  in the eyes when talking. It creates deeper connection. Avoid the boring marriage spells by visiting different places together.

Spending time in pursuits you enjoy together can build good memories and experiences. Consider the things you did when you were dating, the ones that made you look forward to the next time you spend together. Remember those fan activities strengthened the bond between the  two of you. They played a huge role in your decision to put a ring on her. For this reason, you need to reintroduce them back.

Spend Time Away From each Other:

Although making time for each other in important,  time away from each other is just as important. Strong marriage relationships have two interdependent partners. Each one has a professional life or social life, they come together to invest in the marriage. Too much togetherness can be a bad thing if it deprives the marriage of the energy and experiences of interdependence. Take time to engage in some good self-care as a husband and allow your wife to do the same, and then come together as a secure and trusting partners. It is absolutely healthy to spend some time with other men. Time away allows you to appreciate your spouse more.

Make Her feel Safe in your Arms:

Your wife needs a safe and secure relationship. In order for her to engage with you from her heart, mind and body, she needs assurance that you will be there for her, that you are committed to her. There’s no short cut to this, for your wife, any physical intimacy has to be in full alignment with her emotional feelings. If you repeatedly do things that make her feel insecure, she will not allow herself to be intimate with you.

If you watch pornography or stare at other women, in her presence, you are being unfaithful. You don’t need to have an affair to be an unfaithful husband. The bible makes it clear that any lust for a woman who is not your wife is adultery.
Proverbs 5:18-19, TLB. “Let your manhood be a blessing; rejoice in the wife of your youth. Let her charms and tender embrace satisfy you. Let her love alone fill you with delight.”

“Thought for the Soul”

Often, couples don’t realize the signs of emotional intimacy withdrawal. One spouse may be blindsided when their partner announces that they want to leave the marriage. If emotional withdrawal can be avoided, then the worldwide divorce rate can decrease.

Original here

Breathing And Other Luxuries

AUG 23, 2019  by Bill Sweeney

Most people don’t think of breathing as a luxury, after all, even the poorest among us can breathe. They wouldn’t be among us otherwise.

Luxury: a condition of abundance or great ease and comfort.

After almost twenty-three years with ALS, which greatly affects my ability to breathe, I believe the above definition of luxury perfectly fits being able to breathe in ease and comfort. But maybe only those who’ve had breathing problems view breathing as a luxury. I hope this simple post will give readers a new appreciation for the ability to just breathe. I think this is important because, if we learn not to take breathing for granted, we’ll begin to view material luxuries for what they really are – just stuff!

Regardless of location, status, race, religion, politics, or anything else that divides people, taking a breath is the first thing we do when entering this world and the last thing we’ll do when exiting this world.

Breathing is a great equalizer.

The ability to breathe was also the first gift that God gave to mankind:

“And the LORD God formed a man’s body from the dust of the ground and breathed into it the breath of life. And the man became a living person.” (Genesis 2:7).

Even though I don’t have the ability to use or the money to spend on the latest gadgets, I am fascinated by technology. I am literally surrounded by incredible machines that add to my quality of life. My wheelchair reclines and is very comfortable. It even has headlights and taillights for cruising around at night. This wheelchair cost as much as a new car. It was donated to the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) after the original owner died from ALS. I am borrowing it from them.

In front of me, attached to the wheelchair with a bar, is my eye-tracking computer. This special computer enables me to communicate, type this post, and do so much more.

To the right of my wheelchair is a little pump mounted on an I.V. pole. This pump is connected to my feeding tube, and for twelve hours a day, its slowly pumping a lab concocted formula into my stomach.

Finally, to my left, is a ventilator that breathes for me through a little breathing mask that’s plugged into my nose.

Now that I think about it, I might be more machine than human.

Because ALS also weakens the muscles needed to breathe, I’ve been relying on a breathing machine when I sleep for the last twenty years. Increasingly over the last few years, I’ve also had to use this ventilator during the daytime. When fighting for every breath, it’s such a relief when Mary puts the breathing mask on me. I am finally able to relax. That’s a luxury.

A few weeks ago, I was watching a television show called “American Pickers.” This is a show about two men who travel America in a van looking for old items to buy and resell for a profit. In the episode I was watching, these two men were in Florida trying to buy old luxury cars from a wealthy man who lived in a mansion near the ocean.

This elderly man owned several once-beautiful and very expensive cars, but because he lived near the ocean, these cars were just rusting away in the salty air. When I was a boy, while playing with my Matchbox Cars, I dreamed about one day owning some of the very cars that this man was letting sit in his garage and rust away. That little boy in me and the adult me were in total agreement; they both had the same thought – WHAT A WASTE!

The “Pickers” made offers to buy some of the cars, but the man refused to let go of his rusting luxuries.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. “But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)

In the years following my diagnoses with ALS, I’ve learned to place a higher value on my many blessings. Apart from the rare visits from that little boy inside of me, my definitions of treasures and luxuries are not the same as they once were.

Breathing is a great luxury.

No matter how bad things look to you, there is hope for a better tomorrow if you’re breathing today.

Thanks for dropping by my blog.

Original here

VIDEO 5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Immediately

Shane Idleman
Contributor to ChristianHeadlines.com Sept 10, 2019

5 Things Pastors Need to Stop Doing Immediately

Pastors, we are not just cheerleaders, we are game-changers. We are called to stir and to convict so that change takes place. Granted, there are many wonderful pastors and churches—I appreciate their ministry, but, as a whole, the church has drifted off course. They have lost the compass of truth – many are more concerned about wine tasting and craft beers than truly seeking the heart of God.  

The pulpit regulates the spiritual condition of God’s people which affects the nation. A lukewarm, sex-saturated culture (and church) simply reflects the lack of conviction in the pulpit as well as the pew.

Pastors and Christian leaders alike must take responsibility for the spiritual health of today’s church, and the nation. We don’t need more marketing plans, demographic studies, or giving campaigns; we need men filled with the Spirit of God.

This is not a letter of rebuke (I’m in no position to do that) – it’s a tear-stained plea that we once again seek the heart of God. Here are five issues we need to overcome:

1. Stop watering down the gospel. The truth is often watered-down in the hope of not offending members and building a large audience. Judgment is never mentioned and repentance is rarely sought. We want to build a church rather than break a heart; be politically correct rather than biblically correct; coddle and comfort rather than stir and convict. The power of the gospel is found in the truth about the gospel – the edited version does not change lives.

2. Stop focusing only on encouragement. We all need encouragement, that’s a given, but most people feel beaten down because they’re not hearing more about repentance – “repent and experience times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord” (cf. Acts 3:19). To truly help people, we must preach the difficult truths as well as the joyful ones; preach the cross and the new life; preach hell and preach heaven; preach damnation and preach salvation; preach sin and preach grace; preach wrath and preach love; preach judgment and preach mercy; preach obedience and preach forgiveness; preach that God “is love,” but don’t forget that God is just. It is the love of God that compels us to share all of His truth.

3. Stop getting your message from pop-psychology or the latest fad. All of us must return to the prayer closet where brokenness, humility, and full surrender take place. God prepares the messenger before we prepare the message. Without prayer, “the church becomes a graveyard, not an embattled army. Praise and prayer are stifled; worship is dead. The preacher and the preaching encourage sin, not holiness…preaching which kills is prayerless preaching. Without prayer, the preacher creates death, and not life” (E.M. Bounds). “Without the heartbeat of prayer, the body of Christ will resemble a corpse. The church is dying on her feet because she is not living on her knees” (Al Whittinghill).

4. Stop trying to be like the world. If a pastor fills his mind with the world all week and expects the Spirit of God to speak boldly through him from the pulpit, he will be gravely mistaken. “The sermon cannot rise in its life-giving forces above the man. Dead men give out dead sermons, and dead sermons kill. Everything depends on the spiritual character of the preacher” (E.M. Bounds). Who he is all week is who he will be when he steps to the pulpit. We are called to the separated life guided by the Holy Spirit not Hollywood.

When God brings change, separation and prayer have been the catalyst. The dry, dead lethargic condition of the church simply reflects our lack of being filled with the Spirit. While 5-minute devotionals and prayers are good, they aren’t going to cut it in these dire times. We need powerful times of prayer, devotion, and worship. Again, God prepares the messenger before we prepare the message. It takes broken men to break men. Unplug the tv, turn off Facebook, and get back into the Word, prayer, and worship.

5. Stop asking, “Will this topic offend my audience?” and start asking, “Will my silence offend God?”A paraphrase that is often attributed to Alexis De Tocqueville—a Frenchman who authored Democracy in America in the early 1800s, helps to better understand this point: “I looked throughout America to find where her greatness originated. I looked for it in her harbors and on her shorelines, in her fertile fields and boundless prairies, and in her gold mines and vast world commerce, but it was not there…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.”

Is your pulpit aflame with righteousness – it all begins here.

More at www.ShaneIdleman.com.

Watch, I Remember When the Church Prayed

Photo courtesy: Getty Images/4 Maksym

Video courtesy: Shane Idleman

https://www.crosswalk.com/church/pastors-or-leadership/things-pastors-need-to-stop-doing-immediately.html

Major U.S. city bans Christian agencies from helping kids

Faces claim of causing ‘grave harm’

By Bob Unruh   September 1, 2019

(Image courtesy Pixabay)

The briefs are flooding in at the U.S. Supreme Court in a case in which the justices are being asked to reverse a Philadelphia policy that critics say is causing “grave harm” to children.

The policy bars faith-based foster-care agencies from helping needy children, points out a brief from 44 members of Congress asking the court to review a lawsuit against the city brought by Catholic Social Services.

“Religiously motivated providers and parents have played a critical role in filling this need for centuries from coast to coast, and to drive them out ignores the critical need and the grave harm to children that would be caused by their loss,” the lawmakers told the court.

In another brief, officials from 10 states argued that working “with a diverse coalition of child-placing agencies provides better services to children in foster care and the potential parents eager to care for them.”

As WND reported, the city ordered Catholic Social Services to change its religious doctrine if it wanted to continue placing foster children as it had for a century.

The city’s “nondiscrimination” policy requires any partner agency to place children with same-sex couples.

Catholic Social Services, represented by the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, sued the city and now are appealing to the Supreme Court.

‘Children are suffering the consequences’

Becket senior counsel Lori Windham said that as Philadelphia “attempts to shamelessly score political points, dozens of beds remain empty and children are suffering the consequences.”

“It’s time for the Supreme Court to weigh in and allow faith-based agencies to continue doing what they do best: giving vulnerable children loving homes,” she said.

The case was brought on behalf of foster mothers Sharonell Fulton and Toni Simms-Busch.

Fulton has fostered more than 40 children over 25 years, while Simms-Busch is a former social worker who fostered two young brothers and now has adopted them.

Becket noted that last year, Philadelphia officials put called for 300 more foster families to care for a growing number of children.

But the city banned CSS families, even though “not a single same-sex couple had ever come to CSS seeking to foster.”

“Without new referrals, the number of children in homes certified and cared for by CSS has dwindled, leaving foster families’ homes empty and forcing CSS to reduce their staff. The only way CSS can care for foster children is through a contract and license with the city. If the city cuts ties with CSS, the agency will soon be forced to close its 100-year-old foster care ministry,” the organization said.

Windham argued that the foster care system “relies on agencies that reflect the diversity of our communities.”

“That’s why it is so important to have faith-based agencies working alongside agencies that cater to ethnic and racial minorities, children with disabilities, and LGBT families,” she said.

‘Overwhelming need’

The members of Congress argued that the need for foster families is “overwhelming.”

“Over 5,000 children in Philadelphia, over 16,000 children in Pennsylvania, and over 437,000 children in the United States are currently in need of foster care. In the face of this overwhelming need, the city of Philadelphia elected to close one of the city’s most successful foster care agencies and to shun the services of scores of foster parents,” they wrote.

“The city’s decision was unnecessary (as the city has identified no harm it needs to remedy), was contrary to historic practices and legal precedent, and was a heart-wrenching reduction in the already insufficient pool of available foster homes.”

The brief from the states pointed out the long historic links between states and religious foster care services.

“Religious entities have been involved in the provision of foster-care services longer that many states have existed,” the brief said.

A number of states already have enacted laws expressly protecting “the religious liberty of faith-based child-placing agencies.”

But the Supreme Court needs to rule because those states now are vulnerable to lawsuits by LGBT activists if they work with religious agencies and depriving children of needed care if they don’t.

Also, the brief argued, partnering “with religiously affiliated foster groups allows the states to demonstrate their commitment to free exercise.”

 

In April, 3rd Circuit judges Thomas Ambro, Anthony Scirica and Marjorie Rendell endorsed the city’s policy.

The case centers on whether or not “a government violates the First Amendment by conditioning a religious agency’s ability to participate in the foster care system on taking actions and making statements that directly contradict the agency’s religious beliefs.”

The dispute provides “an important opportunity” for the Supreme Court to “apply the First Amendment to a post-Obergefell system in which same-sex marriage co-exists with the ‘proper protection’ owed to ‘religious organizations.'”

Obergefell was the landmark 2015 ruling that created same-sex marriage.

Despite the Obergefell opinion’s promise to protect religious rights, U.S. District Judge Petrese Tucker ruled the city could order the Catholics to place foster children with same-sex foster parents in violation of their religious beliefs.

CSS has charged the city’s policy is motivated by religious hostility, and foster mother Fulton has argued the policy causes “harm and heartache.”

“What justice is there in taking stable, loving homes away from children? If the city cuts off Catholic Social Services from foster care, foster moms like me won’t have the help and support they need to care for special-needs kids,” said Fulton. “I have relied on Catholic Social Services for support for years, and the city is taking away this help and causing harm and heartache to countless families like mine.”

 

Original here


Narrow Path Ministries is in the process of opening an orphanage. An Endowment fund has been established  to fund the orphanage.