Don’t Get Onboard!

January 21, 2021 by Lisa Beth

Few people today remember or care to recall the sinking of luxury liner RMS Lusitania, destroyed by German submarine torpedoes in May 1915. It was a catalyst to USA entry into WWI. The 1,198 victims included millionaires and commoners and carried works of art by Monet, Rembrandt, and Rubens. But what may be lesser known is that all who boarded had been warned of enemy attacks on that specific ship. The warnings came from the Germans themselves, posted in major newspapers….

Lusitania_warning

Reporters investigating those who perished and the survivors found that all aboard had scoffed at these wartime warnings. They fully believed that the Lusitania was “too big and too strong” to destroy.

Why should we care about this demolished sinking ship today? It seems that many American Christians are investing emotional and spiritual time and resources into saving the luxurious traditions and lifestyle of the USA. Even though this country is sinking, many root their loyalties onboard a ship that God Himself declares destined to sink into darkness.

Increasingly worldliness – not gross sinfulness – stealthily contaminates our faith and deafens our ears to God’s call.

God warns and exhorts His people throughout scripture to separate themselves from unbelievers, living apart from mainstream world culture and values. We are not to get onboard with the world….

“…friendship with the world is hatred toward God…Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world is an enemy of God” James 4:4

In his book, Love Not The World, Watchman Nee expounds upon God’s ongoing cry for His people to separate from this world. I highly recommend this easy to read book as every line holds liberating truth for the believer…

“Separation to God, separation from the world, is the first principle of Christian living.”

“Do not let us think for a moment that Satan opposes God only be means of sin and carnality in men’s hearts; he opposes God by means of every worldly thing.”

“…everything belonging to the world is under the sentence of death. We still go on living in the world and using the things of the world, but we can build no future with them…”

“…there is a mind behind the system…an ordered system, ‘the world’ which is governed from behind the scenes by a ruler, Satan.”

“Indeed, unless we look at the unseen powers behind the material things we may be readily deceived.”

“How watchful we need to be lest at any time we be found helping Satan in the construction of (his) ill-fated kingdom.”

“The essential character of the world is Satanic; it is at enmity with God. To see this is to find deliverance.”

As Americans, we are at critical junctures in our country, much like watching a slow train crash with precious cargo. The greatest temptation for many of us is to join in the foray, fight for ‘upright morals’ and make a stand for…for what?

We are called to ‘stand’, steadfast in our faith, trusting in Jesus and His word, even upon loss of all and life itself. “He who stands firm to the end will be saved”.

Those souls boarding the Lusitania foolishly denied posted warnings of destruction. With God’s unchangeable and trustworthy ‘warnings of destruction’, we have no excuse to get onboard the world’s course. We cannot and are not called to change it nor can we delay the promised culmination of all nations under the rule of the antichrist.

I press these truths into my own heart, that I may not get onboard the wrong ship and later mourn a missed call, a neglected task or intended purpose for my life from our Heavenly Father.

As the Body of Christ in the world, our choices have eternal value and consequences.

Press on brothers and sisters!

Don’t Get Onboard!

Christ and the Churches: Part 3 (Revelation 3:1-6)

Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.

Churches are people and human nature has not changed. As we continue our study, we must not look on these letters as ancient relics. On the contrary, they are mirrors in which we see ourselves!

Sardis, the Feeble Church (Rev. 3:1–6)

Sad to say the city at that time was but a shadow of its former splendor and the church, unfortunately, had become like the city—it was alive in name only. The message to Sardis is a warning to all “great churches” that are living on past glory. Dr. Vance Havner has frequently reminded us that spiritual ministries often go through four stages: a man, a movement, a machine, and then a monument. Sardis was at the “monument” stage.

But there was still hope! There was hope because Christ was the Head of the church and He was able to bring new life. He described Himself as the one possessing the seven Spirits and the seven stars. There is only one Holy Spirit (Eph. 4:4), but the number seven demonstrates fullness and completeness. The Holy Spirit gives life to the church and life is exactly what the people at Sardis needed. The sevenfold Spirit of God is pictured as seven burning lamps (Rev. 4:5) and as seven all-seeing eyes (Rev. 5:6).

All of the church’s man-made programs can never bring life, any more than a circus can resurrect a corpse. The church was born when the Spirit of God descended on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) and its life comes from the Spirit. When the Spirit is grieved the church begins to lose life and power. When sin is confessed and church members get right with God and with each other, then the Spirit infuses new life—revival!

Christ also controls the seven stars, the messengers of the churches (Rev. 1:20), referring most likely to the pastors. Sometimes, it is a pastor’s fault that a church is dying and the Lord of the church must remove the star and put another in his place.

The problem in the Sardis church was not heresy, but spiritual death. The church was infested with sin. Its deeds were evil and its clothes soiled. The Lord has no words of commendation for this church, which looked so good on the outside, but was so corrupt on the inside. Nor is there any mention of opposition or persecution. The church would have been better off had there been some suffering because it had grown comfortable and content, and was living on its past reputation. There was reputation without reality, form without force. Like the city itself the church at Sardis gloried in past splendor, but ignored present decay.

In fact, even what they did have was about to die! Why? Because the believers had gone to sleep. It is when the church’s leaders and members get accustomed to their blessings and complacent about their ministry that the enemy finds his way in.

The assembly in Sardis was not aggressive in its witness to the city. There was no persecution because there was no invasion of the enemy’s territory. No friction usually means no motion! The unsaved in Sardis saw the church as a respectable group of people who were neither dangerous nor desirable. They were decent people with a dying witness and a decaying ministry.

Our Lord’s counsel to the church began with, “Be watchful! Wake up!” (Rom. 13:11) The people were asleep! The first step toward renewal in a dying church is honest awareness that something is wrong. When an organism is alive, there is growth, repair, reproduction, and power; if these elements are lacking in a church, then that church is either dying or already dead.

The Lord warned the Ephesian saints He would come and remove their lampstand if they did not repent (Rev. 2:5). He warned the church at Pergamos He would come and make war with the sword of the Spirit (Rev. 2:16). If the believers at Sardis did not follow His orders, He would come as a thief, when they least expected Him; and this would mean judgment.

However, a remnant of dedicated people often exists in even a dying church. The Christians at Sardis had life, even though it was feeble. They were working, even though their works were not all they could have been. The Lord admonished them to strengthen what remained and not to give up because the church was weak. Where there is life, there is hope!

What was different about this dedicated remnant? They had not defiled their garments (Rev. 3:4). The remnant in the church at Sardis had not compromised with the pagan society around them, nor had they grown comfortable and complacent. It was this devoted spiritual remnant that held the future of the church’s ministry.

“Wake up! Be watchful! Repent! Remember the Word you have received and obey it!” This is the formula for revival. It is good to guard our spiritual heritage, but we must not embalm it. It is not enough to be true to the faith and have a great history. That faith must produce life and works.

Is there a warning here that a true believer might lose his salvation? I don’t think so. Revelation 13:8 and 17:8 suggest the names of the saved are written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world—that is, before they had done anything good or bad. By God’s grace, they have been chosen in Christ before the beginning of time (Eph. 1:4; Matt. 25:34). They are enrolled in heaven because they have been born again (Heb. 12:23) and no matter how disobedient a child may be, he or she cannot be “unborn.”

The warning here is that we not grow comfortable in our churches, lest we find ourselves slowly dying. The encouragement is that no church is beyond hope as long as there is a remnant in it, willing to strengthen the things that remain.

In Part 4, we will look at Christ’s message to the church at Philadelphia, the faithful church.

https://joequatronejr.wordpress.com/2015/05/27/christ-and-the-churches-part-3-revelation-31-6/

4 things to avoid getting near to in everyday life

January 12, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

What’s near you? Or who and what are you near to? As children of God we know we are to grow in intimacy with God. All who love God are near to Him. What is near to you?

Here are 4 things that are near to us we need to be careful of;

Sin

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him. (Genesis 4:7)

Sin is near the door. Besetting sins (Hebrews 12:1) need to be overcome. Secret sins need to be overcome. It is sins nature to find us out (Numbers 32:23). Mobile phone tech has brought sin closer than we could have imagined. It is essential to curb it’s use.

Death

Fools because of their transgression, and because of their iniquities, are afflicted. Their soul abhorreth all manner of meat; and they draw near unto the gates of death. (Psalms 107:17,18)

There are two kinds of death; those who die in Christ and those who don’t. Who will die in Christ? Those who are born again, born of water and born of Spirit. What happens when you die in Christ? You rest from all your labour (Revelation 14:13)

Trouble

The morning is come unto thee, O thou that dwellest in the land: the time is come, the day of trouble is near, and not the sounding again of the mountains. (Ezekiel 7:7)

What to do when trouble is near? Believe in God’s word and keep your peace (John 14:1,27). You trouble trouble, don’t let trouble trouble you. 

The Day of the Lord

For the day of the Lord is near upon all the heathen: as thou hast done, it shall be done unto thee: thy reward shall return upon thine own head.(Obadiah 15)

There are two kinds of believers in church – One who will be left behind in the day of the Lord, and at the same time, another who will fly away with Jesus on the day of Christ (Philippians 1:10).

In a moment, in a twinkling of an eye, everything will be changed forever. Let’s wait upon Jesus (Hebrews 9:28), our sweet love. Maranatha, praise God and amen!

VIDEO How Bad Do You Want Freedom From Sin?

 December 3, 2018  by Shane Idleman

I remember reading an article about a man who avoided the beach in the summer after admitting his addiction to pornography to his wife. He concluded that being around people who were barely covered often triggered his compulsion. Other cases involved a man who stopped visiting certain sections at a local video store and a woman who stopped reading romance novels. Both concluded that viewing this material was stimulating lust. What about the gym and the yoga pants trend? Enough said!

How bad do you want freedom? Although these examples may seem extreme, to counter lust as believers we must avoid places, people, or things that stimulate that desire. I find it ironic that most of the Christian books that were written over a hundred years ago have a strong emphasis on holiness and obedience, but today we find these words offensive. We want New Testament power but not New Testament holiness. For example, J.C. Ryle (1816–1900) in his book on holiness said that we must stand guard as a soldier on enemy ground. The problem is that many love the world and have a hard time separating. They believe in heaven, but they don’t truly long for it. They “say” that they fear God, but they don’t live like it. They indulge temptation rather than fight it. They enjoy sin rather than confront it. And they compromise rather than conquer.

The lukewarm church disdains the heat of conviction. Holiness, to them, is outdated, old-fashioned, and too conservative, but holiness is clearly biblical and always linked to freedom from sin. Most people want to coddle their sin rather than crucify it. Again, how badly do you want freedom? An extreme attack requires an extreme defense.

Proverbs 5:3 reminds us that “the lips of an immoral woman drip honey, and her mouth is smoother than oil.” Sin is always enticing: it fascinates before it assassinates! But be encouraged: being tempted isn’t sin—surrendering to it is. Temptation is also an opportunity to do what is right by turning from it. First Corinthians 10:13 states, “No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.” The door of temptation swings both ways—you can enter or exit. If you choose to enter, once inside, you may not see the exit sign so clearly again.

To hit SIN right between the eyes, we need to “go back to the old paths” (Jeremiah 6:16)—the old paths of holiness and a deep hunger for righteousness. Accountability is great, and software protecting your phone or computer is important, but nothing compares to keeping your eyes on Christ and obeying Him. This forward motion leads to the filling of the Spirit. You can’t be filled with sin and the Spirit at the same time. One or the other will prevail depending on whether you  feed your flesh or starve it.

The context of Jeremiah’s words is very relevant for us today. God said, “When I had fed them to the full, then they committed adultery and assembled themselves by troops in the harlots’ houses. They were like well-fed lusty stallions; every one neighed after his neighbor’s wife” (Jeremiah 5:7–8). Since we crave more of what we feed, consider fasting to silence the voice of the flesh. Gordon Cove reminds us in his book, Revival Now through Prayer and Fasting, that “fasting arrests the appetite of sex because food feeds all desires and appetites of the flesh and fasting starves them. A luxurious diet and habitual overfeeding produce an unbalanced animalism” (Schmul, 1988). A free download of my book, Feasting and Fasting, is available here for those needing additional support.

Conviction is a gift from God; use it to return to the old paths. We also must stop making excuses and see the death in sin. America’s porn epidemic will continue to pervert, with the ultimate goal of destroying. Men, stop the silly video games, get off Facebook, kill your porn habit, and tell your ungodly friends to hit the road. You’re called to lead, love, and die if necessary for your family. We are the reason the nation is deteriorating. We are the reason the family is breaking down. We must stop blaming everyone and everything, from God to the government, and face the truth that we are the stench in the nostrils of a righteous, holy, pure God.

I can hear it now: “Shane, you’re being too hard on the guys.” If that’s your thinking, wake up! Life is a battleground, not a playground. In the 1970s, Ted Bundy was one of America’s most brutal serial killers and rapists, who was put to death by electrocution on January 24, 1989. He said, “I’ve lived in prison a long time now. I’ve met a lot of men who were motivated to commit violence just like me. And without exception, every one of them was deeply involved in pornography. Without question, without exception, deeply influenced and consumed by addiction to pornography.”

And Ariel Castro, who was exposed in 2013 for kidnapping three women and holding them prisoner for ten years, admitted that a deep addiction to pornography fed his perversion. He eventually committed suicide in prison. His idol promised pleasure but brought death and destruction. But don’t let discouragement and failure stand in your way. Follow the apostle Paul’s advice, “Forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Forget your past mistakes, but remember the lessons learned because of them, and fully surrender your life to Christ. He is our only hope.Additional support: Both these videos will offer hope and freedom for those who struggle with pornography.

Part 1: 

Part 2: 

And a helpful article is here: 

The Peril And Power Of Porn

https://shaneidleman.com/2018/11/26/the-peril-and-power-of-porn/

How To Know The Damage Sin Caused Mankind?

know the damage of sin

March 10, 2021Author: Nehemiah Zion

Do you know the damage sin has brought into your life?

We struggle with sin because we do not fully understand the extent of damage. The damage caused to our soul and spirit. Jesus had to get down from Heaven to show us how to live everyday. Then, suffer and die on the cross to fulfil God’s word (John 3:16). It is the worst thing that’s ever happened to mankind.

Jesus opened our eyes and now we believe in the power of resurrection. It is by grace alone we are enabled to walk victoriously, daily.

What did sin do to us?

Sin’s effect was so deadly that our spirit was enslaved by the pleasures of the flesh. Our spiritual mind could not think for God anymore, it could only think for what the body needs. Additionally, we grew up in a worldly system that teaches us to live after the flesh – money, reputation, status, etc.

What is in the world? For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. (1 John 2:16)

The very things Jesus tells us not to pursue. Pursuing money brings with it hurtful lusts that end up giving Satan a stronghold. (1 Timothy 6:9)

Shine His light to know the damage

We cannot fight this fight. Without Jesus we cannot do anything (good). The fight against evil powers is impossible without the power of the blood, and the name of Jesus. We display spiritual immaturity when we sulk and brood over what’s been done. We need to grow in faith by submitting our lives to Jesus. Then, He will then fight our battles for us.

Staying in the light of God keeps darkness from entering our lives. Protects us from wicked dark forces that draw us into sin.

This daily stand for God prepares us for His soon coming.

Maranatha, Praise God.

VIDEO John MacArthur: It’s Too Late for America, but Not for the Elect

By Stephanie Martin -March 31, 2021

judgment of god

In a Palm Sunday sermon titled “Chosen for Him,” California pastor and author John MacArthur warned that America is already experiencing the judgment of God, in part for its sexual sins. Like the Old Testament Israelites and the Jews of Jesus’ day, he said, “It is too late. Judgment is already in motion.” Only for a “remnant,” or “the elect,” is that not the case, MacArthur added.

The controversial preacher, who has repeatedly pushed back against coronavirus-related church closures, spoke Sunday at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley. His main text for the hour-long sermon was the parable of the vineyard owner in Mark 12, a parable MacArthur labeled as one of judgment and destruction. In that story, the tenants kill the landowner’s servants—and even his beloved son, the heir.

The Judgment of God: Destroyed Due to Willing Unbelief

The chapter preceding that parable features Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem, as well as his cursing of the barren fig tree and his clearing of the moneychangers’ tables in the temple courts. Those acts of cursing and clearing are the opposite of what people would have expected from Jesus on Palm Sunday, MacArthur said. “The people welcomed Jesus as a king; he came as a judge. The people wanted him to bless them; he cursed them. The people thought they were the people of God; Jesus described them as the children of the devil.”

Although the people of Jesus’ generation received signs, said MacArthur, many still refused to believe (John 12:37). In the final verses of Acts, the Apostle Paul also describes willing unbelief, noted MacArthur, resulting in God’s salvation being sent instead to the Gentiles.

In his sermon, MacArthur also referenced Isaiah chapter 1 and its series of “woes.” God, as the vineyard owner, sent numerous Old Testament prophets to warn his people, but the Israelites rejected them all, and vengeance resulted.

“A generation of people can come too late to Christ,” MacArthur said, adding that it was too late for the Old Testament Israelites, who were taken into captivity in Babylon, and also too late for first-century Jews, who endured the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in 70 AD and had to scatter. “It can be too late for every nation,” MacArthur said, pointing to Acts 14:16, which says God allows all nations to “go their own way.”

Both Isaiah’s generation and Jesus’ generation “had their opportunities,” MacArthur noted, but for both it became too late. “The temple was never rebuilt, the priesthood was never recovered. No sacrifices, no ceremonies, no Sadducees, no Pharisees, no priests, no chief priests to this day. The whole system ended.” Meanwhile, the rejected “stone”—Jesus Christ—became the cornerstone, which is “marvelous in our eyes” (Mark 12:10-11).

John MacArthur: This Also Applies Today

Next, MacArthur turned to Romans 1:18, which refers to wicked people suppressing the truth in unrighteousness. “How do you know when a nation passes the point where salvation is possible for a people?” asked the pastor. “When any society suppresses the truth continually, it can go past the point where God will hear. It can be too late.”

Citing other verses in Romans 1, MacArthur said, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind, a non-functioning mind. When you see a nation deep in sexual sin, pervasively affirming of homosexuality, and the insanity of a reprobate mind, where they make laws to criminalize righteousness and to legalize gross evil, you know that nation’s under judgment.”

For Christians, said MacArthur, our message to America is this: “It’s too late” because “we’re under judgment” already. “Judgment has been unleashed. You can hear, but not understand. You can see, but not perceive.” But, the pastor added, “It’s not too late for the elect.” Though most Americans’ hearts have been hardened by God, a remnant remains. “God has his people,” MacArthur said. “So we warn, because we don’t know who those people are, and we also offer the grace of the Gospel. That’s our calling.”

Previous Warnings Against Moral Decline

Warnings about immorality, unbelief, and the judgment of God aren’t new for MacArthur. While appearing on Laura Ingraham’s show last November, the pastor proclaimed, “America is in a moral free-fall.” He said, “This is a nation so far down in the sewer of immorality and wickedness that nothing surprises me.” A month later, MacArthur preached about the state of the world, saying it “appears to be perfectly suited for the Antichrist to come.”

In a 2012 sermon titled “Homosexuality and the Campaign for Immorality,” MacArthur said, “Romans 2 says the Law of God is written in the heart. But when man abandons God as revealed in creation; when man abandons God as revealed in conscience; when man abandons God as revealed in Holy Scripture, suppressing the truth, God judges that society. And though that society may consider itself to be wise, it is, in reality, the ultimate ship of fools. The heart becomes darkened when God is abandoned, and then God abandons the darkened heart.”

Later in that sermon, MacArthur said America’s Democratic Party has made “the sins of Romans 1” its “agenda.” He continued, “The Democratic Party has become the anti-God party, the sin-promoting party”—but then rejected the claim that he was being political. “Romans 1 is not politics,” said the pastor. “The Bible is not politics.”

As for the consequences facing America from the judgment of God, MacArthur stated: “If you want to see a picture of God’s attitude toward homosexuality, what’s going to happen when Romans 1 reaches its ultimate culmination and judgment comes, or when God does what he said he was going to do, in the writings of Moses, to nations that are defiled, that he would bring about their spewing out, here’s an illustration in Genesis 19.”

He then described how God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah, adding, “That’s an illustration of how God feels about a society that affirms homosexuality and people that conduct themselves this way.” Homosexuality, MacArthur added, “is always a deadly sin, and always a defining sin, and always a damning sin.”

117k people express need for Jesus after hearing Gospel through ministry’s virtual Easter events

By Leonardo Blair, Christian Post Reporter

Despite a global lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic, some 117,000 people from around the world expressed an interest in committing their faith in Jesus after hearing the Gospel through virtual events hosted by evangelist Nick Hall and his young-adult ministry Pulse during the week of Easter.

Pulse led two major events during the week, namely, Leader Check-In and a Good Friday service that featured several high-profile Christian speakers, including Francis Chan, founder of Cornerstone Church in Simi Valley, California, who now lives in Hong Kong.

“I’m guessing this is the strangest Good Friday you’ve ever had,” Chan told viewers during his quarantined Good Friday presentation broadcast in nearly 100 countries, including Japan, China, Nepal, Thailand, India, Kenya, Nigeria, Ukraine, and Russia, and was translated into 40 different languages.

“You’re used to being in a church building with a crowd of people celebrating the cross of Jesus, but I actually think that there’s something fitting about you being alone because most of you are watching this by yourself or maybe with your family in just a small group,” he said, noting that being alone can be a golden opportunity to connect with God.

“That’s why there’s something good about you being alone right now. It’s one thing to yearn for Him and scream for Him when everyone else is there because the crowd may move you to that. But this Good Friday [it’s good] for you to have some quiet and some isolation so that the core of your being, not just your lips, the core of your being will connect with Him,” Chan said.

Other speakers featured during the Good Friday service were: renowned apologist Ravi Zacharias, bestselling author Max Lucado, NFL Super Bowl Champion and Hall of Fame Coach Tony Dungy, and the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez. Worship was courtesy of Christian singers Lauren Daigle, Michael W. Smith, Kari Jobe and Cody Carnes.

“We were literally getting smartphone photos from all over the world — from Nigeria to India and China — of families gathering in their living rooms, around 18-inch cathode-ray TVs, laptops and HD screens watching our services,” Hall said in a release shared with The Christian Post about the collective reaction to the event. “The doors to our church buildings may have been closed, but the church has not closed. We are living through a Great Quarantine Revival, and I think God is just getting started.”

At the Leader Check-In event hosted on April 8, ministry leaders and pastors were encouraged ahead of the Easter weekend. Bible teachers and bestselling authors such as Ann Voskamp, Beth Moore, Chan, David Platt, Rodriguez, Priscilla Shirer and Lecrae offered practical advice anchored in the Word of God.

“This Easter may have been the most significant in a century,” Hall said. “The fields have never been more ripe for harvest as people search for hope and meaning during this global pandemic. It may very well be the greatest opportunity we’ve had to share the Gospel — but we will miss it if we don’t care for our pastors and ministers now.”

https://www.christianpost.com/news/117k-people-express-need-for-jesus-after-hearing-gospel-through-ministrys-virtual-easter-events.html

Seven Reasons Why Church Leaders Abuse People

By Dr. James Scott, Jr. -March 11, 2021

abuse

Seven Reasons Why Church Leaders Abuse People

It’s easy to throw stones at all the things that aren’t so good about the internet and social media, but we don’t nearly as often hear about the wonderful things that also come from using technology to connect with others.

Like, for example, being able to connect with some terrific people you otherwise would never meet!

Just recently, one of those terrific people I’ve recently met through social media reached out to me about the topic of why church leaders abuse people. This fellow is a devoted Christian, a sharp guy who has seen abuse happen by church leaders, and is concerned about it. He leads a ministry that has a popular website, and wanted to talk about why leaders abuse others and see how his website might be able to do something on the topic.

I pointed out to my friend that, like any other problem, it’s important to identify the root cause(s) of a problem in order to effectively address or resolve it. First, we started with this premise: When God calls a godly man, who meets His biblical standard, and follows the biblical model for church and ministry, then the fruit of that will not be someone who purposely hurts others. So our discussion turned to the question of why church leaders abuse other people, and here are seven key reasons we discussed:

1. The practice of sin; the presence of evil. Where there are patterns of abuse, there is the practice of sin.

2. Wrong people in the ministry. More than 1,700 pastors quit each month. We tend to automatically think it’s because these ministers have burned out, etc., but several of the pastors who quit should never have been ordained and in vocational ministry in the first place. That’s because some of them do not meet the biblical qualifications to be pastors; for others who do, many go into ministry inadequately equipped, some who even have never been personally discipled. New attention needs to be given to churches and denominations about their examination process for those they are ordaining into ministry.

3. Wrong method of how we structure a church. Many churches today are structured in such a way as to place all “power” into the hands of a single individual, usually a senior pastor. Instead of structuring a church by biblical example, with a plurality of elders, many churches are structured as if they are a pastor’s personal fiefdom. Instead of elders or deacons, we have “management teams” who serve at the whim of a charismatic or controlling pastor, with little to no accountability to others. This kind of power position is a breeding ground for abuse.

4. Corruption from a broad-based addiction to leadership. Leadership, leadership, leadership. That’s almost all you hear about in church leadership circles. What leadership books are you reading? What leadership conferences are you attending? How many new leaders are you developing? And sadly, much (most?) of what is written about leadership, and taught at church conferences as leadership, are business leadership models and principles, NOT biblical teaching about servant leadership. One outcome is many church leaders would rather spend their time with other church leaders than with the flock they’re supposed to be shepherding. When you adopt a worldly model, you’ll be working from the flesh, not walking, led, and empowered by the Holy Spirit. That’s why many of today’s leadership structures in the church are based on the pastor as CEO and leading an “organization,” not a structure of an under-shepherd serving the family of God. This corruption of leadership is also a breeding ground for abuse, as CEO pastors see church members as volunteers there to accomplish their vision. To get them to do that, manipulation, control, and other abuse can occur.

5. Pride. So many who “mentor” ministers teach church leaders to create their own platforms and promote it broadly and constantly. That makes “being a leader” about pursuing and achieving “success.” Using people to achieve that often results in abuse.

6. Sin. This isn’t the practice of sin, which was the first item mentioned, this is that occasional fall that any and all of us can have in our lives. A pastor can become so over-worked, under-rested, and under-appreciated he could snap at someone or otherwise exercise poor decision-making. This can be rectified quickly with confession and repentance, and usually isn’t an ongoing problem unless the minister fails to fix the things in his life that led him to this momentarily lapse in sin.

7. Mental health issues. Just like the general population, many ministers struggle with mental health issues, from things as simple as temperament weaknesses and dealing with stress, to working from patterns of irrational thinking or developing habits of cognitive distortions. These can lead to conflict and, if not handled properly, may lead to abuse. Also like the general population, a sizable percentage of ministers say they do suffer, or have suffered, from a diagnosed mental illness. These can include anything from narcissistic tendencies, depression, and chronic anxiety, to bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder. If a minister doesn’t receive appropriate treatment for a mental illness, his illness could contribute to inappropriate treatment of others.

There are other reasons why church leaders abuse people, these are some of the primary reasons. When you identify a root cause to a problem, you can then identify some of the ways to fix a problem. For the issues shared above, some things to do to fix some of these issues include:

  • The personal holiness of those who claim to be called to church leadership of any kind. Have they been discipled, trained, and equipped? Is their covenant relationship with Jesus Christ authentic and mature enough to move into ministry?
  • So the assessment process for licensure or ordination of ministerial candidates must be explored and addressed.
  • How churches are structured must be explored and addressed.
  • How to address falls (not a practice) of sin must be learned.
  • The plight of leadership addiction must be addressed in the church. We must change what it means to be a leader in the church.
  • Whether there are mental health issues or illness needs to be identified and treated.
  • All Christians need to be discipled to spiritual maturity.

Just as there are other causes for church leaders abusing people, there is more to be done to resolve such issues as well. Abuse of any kind, by anyone, anywhere is not acceptable, but it certainly must never be tolerated in the church among church leaders. We need to look closely at why some church leaders abuse people, and take every necessary action to stop the abuse, see to healing of the abused, aim for restoration and discipleship of the leader, and be proactive in preventing any opportunity for abuse to occur in the church by its leaders.

This article originally appeared here.

Dr. James Scott, Jr., is a minister, former church planter, Christian clinical therapist, certified Personal Trainer, and author. He currently serves as Founder and President of Scott Free Clinic, an international parachurch ministry. Follow him at ScottFreeClinic.org.

AUDIO The Untold Story Of The Prodigal Son

By Rev Bill Woods

Luke 15:11-32 
11  To illustrate the point further, Jesus told them this story: “A man had two sons.
12  The younger son told his father, ‘I want my share of your estate now before you die.’ So his father agreed to divide his wealth between his sons.
13  “A few days later this younger son packed all his belongings and moved to a distant land, and there he wasted all his money in wild living.
14  About the time his money ran out, a great famine swept over the land, and he began to starve.
15  He persuaded a local farmer to hire him, and the man sent him into his fields to feed the pigs.
16  The young man became so hungry that even the pods he was feeding the pigs looked good to him. But no one gave him anything.
17  “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!
18  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,
19  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’
20  “So he returned home to his father. And while he was still a long way off, his father saw him coming. Filled with love and compassion, he ran to his son, embraced him, and kissed him.
21  His son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you, and I am no longer worthy of being called your son.’
22  “But his father said to the servants, ‘Quick! Bring the finest robe in the house and put it on him. Get a ring for his finger and sandals for his feet.
23  And kill the calf we have been fattening. We must celebrate with a feast,
24  for this son of mine was dead and has now returned to life. He was lost, but now he is found.’ So the party began.
25  “Meanwhile, the older son was in the fields working. When he returned home, he heard music and dancing in the house,
26  and he asked one of the servants what was going on.
27  ‘Your brother is back,’ he was told, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf. We are celebrating because of his safe return.’
28  “The older brother was angry and wouldn’t go in. His father came out and begged him,
29  but he replied, ‘All these years I’ve slaved for you and never once refused to do a single thing you told me to. And in all that time you never gave me even one young goat for a feast with my friends.
30  Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’
31  “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.
32  We had to celebrate this happy day. For your brother was dead and has come back to life! He was lost, but now he is found!’”

Tell the original story of the Prodigal Son.

    – He was in rebellion against his father’s authority and his father’s religion.

He felt he was missing out on whatever the Far Country had to offer.

    – He was tired of being stuck on the farm!

It must’ve hurt Dad for him to reject how he’d been raised.

This father had provided food, shelter, love and training for this son and wanted him be a successful adult.

    – Dad’s heart must’ve ached to have his son want to leave.

I can relate — we have 2 grandchildren who are sewing wild oats right now.

    – We’re praying that soon they’ll come to themselves and say, ”What am I doing here?”

Finally, when his money and friends were gone and he’d hit bottom for a Jewish boy, he began to realize what he had given up and where his foolish choices had taken him to.

Luke 16:17-19:   “When he finally came to his senses, he said to himself, ‘At home even the hired servants have food enough to spare, and here I am dying of hunger!
18  I will go home to my father and say, “Father, I have sinned against both heaven and you,
19  and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

Describe how Dad was praying for him and watching for him every day!

    – Finally, he arrived and Dad rejoiced and celebrated…………..

The older brother was really upset!……………….

He was forgiven by the father, but what about “THE REST OF THE STORY?”

What probably happened after the Prodigal’s dad died?

    – The son was now a servant of the older brother until he learned the lessons of obedience.

He’d lost his inheritance because of the sinful decisions he had made.

    – He’d lived with harlots!  He indulged in every sin his heart desired, but it hadn’t satisfied him, in fact it destroyed what should’ve been good in his life.

Listen to what the older brother said, — Luke 15:30Yet when this son of yours comes back after squandering your money on prostitutes, you celebrate by killing the fattened calf!’

Everything belonged to the big brother now — Luke 15:31His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.”

Somehow we’ve gotten the mistaken idea we can sin and ask forgiveness and there’ll be no consequences for our actions…………   

    – LISTEN!  SIN ALWAYS BRINGS LOSS AND DESTRUCTION!

    – GOD WILL FORGIVE, BUT THERE’S STILL A PRICE TO BE PAID!

It’s like throwing a rock into a pond and praying there’ll be no ripples!

    – Sin always has consequences!  That’s the part of the untold story of the Prodigal son  

      That people forget to acknowledge and tell.

    – A person might find forgiveness for a promiscuous sex life, but still be a candidate for sexual transmitted diseases.

This sexually orientated society wants to sin and avoid the results.  IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!

    – Take drugs with no after affects – AGAIN, IT AIN’T GONNA HAPPEN!

How much better it would be to avoid sin in the first place!

    – Sin always bring limitations………….

    – People talk of the character value of limitations…………almost proud of sin.

Imagine what God can do for a person who gets saved while still young and avoids the sinful snares of Satan…………..your kids and grandkids……………..

Even if you’re and old geezer or geezerette, you should get saved as quickly as possible and let God help you clean up your life.

Some will say, “I’m just too old and now it’s too late!”

    – Colonel Harland Sanders was 77 years old when he asked Christ into his heart in 1979.

  • He had lived a rough life with many failures until Jesus saved him.
  • He had a filthy mouth, that God helped him clean up.

He said, for most of his life, he knew he needed to devote his life to Jesus Christ and finally at the age of 77 years old he was fortunate to accept Jesus Christ. And he calls it “the greatest experience I’ve had in my 89 years of life”

He acknowledged and shared the fact that, no amount of good works would get him in to Heaven. Only having God in his heart, would assure him of salvation.

He urged all who would listen, especially the older ones, to accept Christ before it was too late.

God prospered him and he used his wealth to bless others.  He gave most of it away, “You can’t take it with you, No use being the richest man in the cemetery. Because you can’t do any business in there”!

Well, the Prodigal Son had wasted his inheritance and sin had stripped it all away.  Now he had to be the servant under the discipline of his older brother after Dad died.

He had confessed to Dad:  Luke 15:19and I am no longer worthy of being called your son. Please take me on as a hired servant.”’

The older boy had been faithful and Dad told him, Luke 15:31 — “His father said to him, ‘Look, dear son, you have always stayed by me, and everything I have is yours.”

His older brother was now willing to accept him as a servant!

    – This situation gave him the opportunity to become bitter or better…………….

      – We’ll all eventually face the choice of getting “bitter or better”  (it’s not always the result of sin.)

      – To become bitter is sin…………….

      – To become better is spiritual growth.

We have the ability to learn greatness through serving.

Matthew 23:11-12
11  The greatest among you must be a servant.
12 But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will  be exalted.

We live in a society that’s success and goal orientated.

    – If you haven’t got wealth, fame, etc. you’re a failure.

When I arrived in Cheyenne, the largest Church on the District, I thought I’d made it!……

    – When I arrived in Stevenson — I felt I was failure.

    – I was embarrassed and complained to an Old lady running the Christian bookstore in Hood River:  She said, “What an opportunity!”

Here I was, “College degree, seminary, having pastored larger churches and now having to pastor one of the smallest churches on the district and hauling laundry to make ends meet!…..” – That really sounded successful to me!

        – I had a choice, I COULD BECOME “BITTER OR BETTER.”


Success isn’t always measured in wealth, things, popularity, etc.

  • I found success is being where God puts you doing what God wants you to do!

By today’s standards, Jesus would be a failure.

   – Look how Jesus measured up to these standards:

    – Was He popular?

     – No!  He wasn’t well liked by the high society.

     – In fact, after one of His sermons all His followers deserted Him, except for the 12.

John 6:66-67
66  At this point many of his disciples turned away and deserted him.
67  Then Jesus turned to the Twelve and asked, “Are you also going to leave?”     

Did He have political power?

    – No!  He was a political failure — all levels of government rejected Him……………..  

      – They conspired to kill Him!

Did He have lots of friends?

    – No!  His friends often hurt Him—eventually abandoned Him, and one of them betrayed Him.

Did He have money and possessions?

    – No!  No house, no wheels, no world headquarters, no Christian amusement park.

Was He respected by His peers?

  – No!  His professional peers (Pharisees and Saducees) rejected His message and His work.

Despite His apparent failure by these standards, Jesus Christ has changed the lives of millions of men, women, and children across the centuries.

 – How could that be in light of His failures?

How do you let set-backs affect you?………

    – Are you able to pick life back up and keep going knowing God keeps perfect records?

– I’ve heard Christians say about seemingly successful people, “It’s not fair!  They don’t even serve God and look how successful they are!…………”

  • May I remind you the games not over yet!

Not all set-backs are the result of sin but, many people today suffer limitations in their Christian lives because of past rebellion like the Prodigal.

    – David and Bathsheba (he lost privilege to build Temple)

No matter how you say it — SIN IS STUPID!…………

  – You’ll always pay for sin even though forgiveness is given.

  – Don’t sin and hope to avoid the consequences.

 Galatians 6:7 — Don’t be misled — you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant.

Remember, Satan’s out to destroy you!

1 Peter 5:8-9
8  Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.
9  Stand firm against him, and be strong in your faith. Remember that your Christian brothers and sisters all over the world are going through the same kind of suffering you are.  
    

Learn to avoid his temptations James  4:7-8 
7  So humble yourselves before God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
8  Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.

1 Corinthians 10:13The temptations in your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will not allow the temptation to be more than you can stand. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you can endure.

We get too comfortable with things that’ll destroy us.

Few college football coaches have made a point against drugs as effectively as Erk Russell of Georgia Southern College. He arranged for a couple of good ol’ country boys to burst into a routine team meeting and throw a writhing, hissing, six-foot-long rattlesnake onto a table in front of the squad. “Everyone screamed and scattered,” Russell recalls. “I told them, ‘When cocaine comes into a room, you’re not nearly as apt to leave as when that rattlesnake comes in. But they’ll both kill you!”

The best way to assure victory in your Christian Life is to leave sin alone!

 – There’s no way to reclaim lost years of service for God………….

I’m sure the Prodigal regretted his years away in “the far country.”

He couldn’t reclaim them, but he couldn’t afford to let them keep destroying him either.

Today, find God’s Will for your life.

 – Walk in harmony with Him…………….

If you find limitations in your life because of past rebellion, don’t rebel any longer!

Turn those limitations into a life message.

Arnold Daniels smoked for years and developed emphysema — he tried to teach others by his mistakes.

If you find limitations in your life from past sin, conquer them by letting Jesus have control.

If you find limitations in your life—not because of sin and rebellion—instead, something that will give you opportunity to grow—use it for God’s Glory.

OBEY GOD!

USE HIS DIRECTION AND EVEN YOUR LIMITATIONS FOR SPIRITUAL GROWTH IN YOURSELF AND IN OTHERS.


PODCAST THE UNTOLD STORY OF THE PRODIGAL SON

https://www.buzzsprout.com/824359/7979596


10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

By Gerald R McDermott -April 2, 2020

10 Things You Should Know About Anglicanism

1. It didn’t start with the divorce of Henry VIII.

Actually, it started in the very first centuries of Christianity when Romans settled Britain and Christians came as soldiers, administrators and traders. The first mention we have of English Christianity comes from Tertullian who wrote in 200 AD that “parts of England were conquered by Christ.”

Very soon, Christians in Britain developed their own way of worshiping the triune God, involving attention to the beauty of the created world and missions. The Celtic church in England differed with Rome over many points of worship, and in the fourteenth century Oxford priest, John Wycliffe, called the pope “a poisonous weed” and denied transubstantiation. All of these differences with the Roman church were centuries before Henry VIII.

2. By the fourteenth Century, England had developed a distinctive spirituality.

It was rooted in the synthesis of doctrine and prayer taught by two Christian greats: Augustine of Hippo—the great theologian whose Confessions are an extended prayer—and Benedict of Nursia, whose monasteries modeled the Christian life as work amidst liturgical prayer. By the fourteenth century, English Christianity had long been influenced by both Augustine’s “pessimistic” emphasis on sin and Benedict’s “optimistic” stress on joy in common life.

3. Anglicanism is not just for the English or for Americans.

Today the majority of Anglicans are in Africa and other regions of the Global South. Each province uses its own culture to worship God with the Book of Common Prayer and the orthodoxy of the Thirty-Nine Articles.

4. There are more Anglicans in church on Sunday morning in Nigeria than in all the British Isles and North America combined.

5. With a membership of about 85 million, Anglicanism is the third-largest Christian communion in the world, after the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church.

6. Anglicans consider their way to be a via media.

This means the “middle way” between Roman Catholicism and Protestantism. They think they have the best of both—the worship of the catholic tradition of the undivided Church of the first millennium, plus the emphasis on preaching and justification by faith from the Reformation.

7. The Anglican Book of Common Prayer is widely regarded as the most beautiful worship in the English language.

The “sombrely magnificent prose” (Eamon Duffy) of the Book of Common Prayer has attracted legions of admirers all around the world. It reflects the liturgical genius of Thomas Cranmer, but it also provides moderns access to the worship of the early church. Cranmer, and the many other hands that produced the Book of Common Prayer, were adapting a basic catholic pattern of worship derived from the first few centuries of the Church that then developed over the course of the Middle Ages.

8. Anglicans worship not only with liturgy (ordered prayer that changes every Sunday of the seasons of the church year), but also with sacraments.

These are the two Dominical (commanded by the Dominus, or Lord, of the Church, Jesus) sacraments of baptism and Eucharist, and the five “sacraments of the church”—confirmation, Holy Orders, marriage, absolution, and healing of the sick.

9. Anglicans believe that in the Eucharist, they receive the real body and blood of the risen Christ.

This differs with the Catholic view of transubstantiation, which holds that the substance of the bread and wine are changed so that they are no longer bread and wine. Anglicans believe the bread and wine remain as bread and wine, but that in a mysterious way, the body and blood of Christ are also conveyed through the sacrament.

10. While Thomas Cranmer (1489-1556) was the English Reformation’s greatest liturgist, Richard Hooker (1554-1600) is widely regarded as its greatest theologian.

His Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity are a comprehensive treatment of life and worship on the via media.

Content adapted from The Future of Orthodox Anglicanism by Gerald R. McDermott. This article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.

Original here