VIDEO ‘Worship Protests’ Are Bringing Revival To America’s Troubled Cities

People have asked me why we are holding these ‘worship protests,’ and the answer is simple: God is moving, and our nation desperately needs it.

‘Worship Protests’ Are Bringing Revival To America’s Troubled Cities

By Sean Feucht

Something is happening in America, and it should sound the alarm for every confessing Christian. Simply put, hostile efforts in many cities now threaten to suppress the First Amendment rights of all people to exercise our faith freely. In unprecedented acts of government-authorized injustice, Christians are being told they cannot gather for worship, they cannot sing songs of praise, and they cannot observe church ordinances.

Just last week, politicians in Seattle installed temporary fencing and security guards around Gas Works Park to prevent us from holding a “Let Us Worship” public outdoor service. Similarly, at Cal Anderson Park, Antifa protesters shouted obscenities, intimidated worshipers, cursed out my wife and four children, and damaged our equipment.

While followers of Jesus are being told we cannot worship in public spaces, violent paid rioters are taking over our streets and being given license to occupy and destroy entire sections of our cities. Churches are being covered in graffiti and even burned while civic leaders call for defunding the police. Never did I dream that this would happen, and never have I been more determined to do something about it.

The Church Is Being Persecuted Here in America

For the past 20 years, I’ve taken my entire family all over the world in support of the persecuted church. These efforts have brought greater exposure for dictatorial regimes and their anti-Christian tyrants in places such as North Korea, Iran, China, and Islamic Africa. In some parts of the world, Christians routinely face prison and even torture for nothing more than simple acts of faith, such as reading their Bibles, praying, and peaceably gathering with other believers to worship.

Now in major cities across America, godless politicians are adopting tactics that more closely resemble those of jihadist ayatollahs than men and women who are sworn to uphold the rule of law. Earlier this year in Kentucky, an elected leader tried to “criminalize” the celebration of Easter and would have gotten away with it if not for a federal judge, appointed by President Donald Trump, who blocked him.

In Virginia, the governor tried to stop Christians from gathering to worship under penalty of arrest and imprisonment. In Minnesota, the attorney general enforced the governor’s executive order that banned churches from worshipping but allowed dog groomers and golf courses to remain open.

In my home state of California, Gov. Gavin Newsom and many large-city mayors have ramped up their fight against the freedom of religion. As I write this, elected officials in Sacramento and Los Angeles are wringing their hands in desperation as they try to figure out how to shut down church leaders such as Grace Community Church’s John MacArthur.

In Portland, one of our brothers was stalked by an armed “protester” and shot at point-blank range while bystanders looked on with their phones, recording the whole thing. The victim, 39-year-old Jay Danielson, had weeks before joined hundreds of Christians who came to Oregon’s largest city for one of our “Let Us Worship” gatherings.

Truly, the actions of militant, anti-Christian forces, who want to shut down our churches, silence our worship, and even shoot our fellow believers in the streets, have stirred the soul of the American church. Where we have stood in solidarity with Christians around the world whose hostile governments threaten their religious freedom, we now stand with each other on our native soil.

I keep telling myself and my fellow Christians from every walk of life that this isn’t what America was founded to be. This isn’t how we are supposed to live. I will not stand idly by and watch it happen.

America Needs Revival

The American experiment, now approaching its 250th year, has proved our ability for more than two centuries to withstand foreign attacks from rogue states that despise and reject the freedoms we hold dear. What we face now is not a new threat; it is just no longer a foreign threat. The present madness has arisen from our own soil, cultivated and encouraged by our own politicians.

All across America, however, Christians are rising up. In recent weeks, thousands upon thousands have gathered and marched to assert their God-given freedoms. I’ve stood before them, armed with only a copy of the Bible and a simple guitar. People have asked me why we are holding these “worship protests” across the country, and the answer is simple: God is moving, and our nation needs it now more than ever in my lifetime.

In Seattle, a self-proclaimed satanist came to protest our worship, met the glory of God, and gave his life to Jesus. He is not alone. Thousands of hurting people have encountered the love of Christ in dozens of America’s most troubled cities through the simple act of gathering together in worship.

The church I believe in ministers to the sick and hurting; it doesn’t hide in the darkness. Jesus touched contagious lepers, and our fellow Americans need His healing touch right now. They need the bold, warm embrace of God’s love.

We are just getting started, with worship gatherings planned in Madison, Minneapolis, Kenosha, Chicago, and many more — culminating in Washington, D.C., on Oct. 25. I refuse to seek permission from politicians to adhere to my calling, the church’s calling.

Let me be very clear: Our fists are not held up in defiance; our hands are lifted in praise. Our voices are not raised in shouts of hatred, but our songs of hope and prayers for revival are piercing the darkness around us. God is not finished with America yet.

Sean Feucht is a missionary, artist, speaker, author, activist, and the founder of LetUsWorship.us, a movement organizing worship rallies in America’s most troubled cities.

https://thefederalist.com/2020/09/17/worship-protests-are-bringing-revival-to-americas-troubled-cities/


 

https://thefederalist.com/2020/09/16/wisconsin-worshipers-gather-at-boarded-up-capitol-to-turn-riots-into-revival/

VIDEO John MacArthur’s Church Defies California Orders To Close Doors

‘We cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship,’ MacArthur and the church’s elder board said in a statement.

John MacArthur’s Church Defies California Orders To Close Doors
JULY 25, 2020 By Elle Reynolds

John MacArthur, evangelist and pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, defied state orders to limit worship gatherings in a statement released Friday.

“In response to the recent state order requiring churches in California to limit or suspend all meetings indefinitely, we, the pastors and elders of Grace Community Church, respectfully inform our civic leaders that they have exceeded their legitimate jurisdiction,” the statement said. “Faithfulness to Christ prohibits us from observing the restrictions they want to impose on our corporate worship services.”

On July 13, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced new restrictions, requiring certain counties on a “monitoring list” to stop indoor worship services. Los Angeles County, where Grace Community Church is located, was one of 30 counties on the monitoring list as of July 13.

“In these counties, we have added a requirement that we close indoor operations” for certain sectors which include worship services, Newsom said in an announcement. He also suggested that restrictions would not end anytime soon. “Until there is a vaccine or effective therapy, we will be mitigating the spread of COVID-19 for the long term,” read one of the slides Newsom presented. “Californians must adapt to new behaviors if we are to slow the spread.”

In response, MacArthur and the elder board of Grace Community Church have a clear message for the state of California. “We cannot and will not acquiesce to a government-imposed moratorium on our weekly congregational worship or other regular corporate gatherings,” they said.

When officials restrict church attendance to a certain number, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the saints to gather as the church. When officials prohibit singing in worship services, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible for the people of God to obey the commands of Ephesians 5:19 and Colossians 3:16. When officials mandate distancing, they attempt to impose a restriction that in principle makes it impossible to experience the close communion between believers that is commanded in Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26. In all those spheres, we must submit to our Lord.

The statement represents a shift for MacArthur and his church, which previously issued a statement acquiescing to a decision by the Ninth Circuit Court that barred churches from meeting in late May. “The Ninth Circuit decision is sadly the law of the land in California, and we gladly submit to the sovereign purposes of God,” the church had said.

But now, after more than 20 weeks of restrictions, Grace Community Church is letting Newsom know they’ve had enough. “Roughly forty percent of the year has passed with our church essentially unable to gather in a normal way,” MacArthur and the elders said, noting that the lockdown measures they originally conceded to were supposed to be short-term. “The church by definition is an assembly. … A non-assembling assembly is a contradiction in terms.”

MacArthur’s church isn’t the only one to defy California’s restrictions on worship. Harvest Rock Church in Pasadena, California, held an in-person service on Sunday and is suing the state for the right to continue assembling. “We’ve been essential for 2,000 years,” said Pastor Ché Ahn.

Calvary Chapel of Ukiah, Calvary Chapel of Fort Bragg, and River of Life Church in Oroville are suing the state over its ban on congregational singing. South Bay United Pentecostal Church in Chula Vista renewed a lawsuit over the state’s decision to shutter churches, noting that government favoritism toward the George Floyd protests while churches are forced to stay shut “has caused amazing harm in the form of a general loss of confidence by the American people in the merits of the pandemic restrictions at all.”

MacArthur and his church firmly noted the importance of respecting the rightful authority of government. “Insofar as government authorities do not attempt to assert ecclesiastical authority or issue orders that forbid our obedience to God’s law, their authority is to be obeyed whether we agree with their rulings or not,” their statement said.

They also noted, however, that government authority does not extend over Christians’ freedom to assemble as the church. “We do not need the state’s permission to serve and worship our Lord as He has commanded,” they insisted. “Freedom of worship is a command of God, not a privilege granted by the state.”

MacArthur and the elders of Grace Community Church encouraged other congregations to join them in their decision to gather for worship. “It has never been the prerogative of civil government to order, modify, forbid, or mandate worship,” they said. “When, how, and how often the church worships is not subject to Caesar. Caesar himself is subject to God.”

Elle Reynolds is an intern at the Federalist, and a senior at Patrick Henry College studying government and journalism. You can follow her work on Twitter at @_etreynolds.
Photo Pigby / Wikipedia

 

https://thefederalist.com/2020/07/25/john-macarthurs-church-defies-california-orders-to-close-doors/


John MacArthur: A Triumphant Hour for the Church, and Fresca


 


 

A Man Crying

Hello my beloved readers! I’m grateful to God finally I could spend my time to write my own post again. This post inspired by a conversation between my husband and his friend some time ago. I hope and pray this post could be a blessing to all of us. Thank you very much to the all loyal readers who always visit and read my blog posts.

“As the only man and the eldest brother in family, I shouldn’t show my grief and shouldn’t cry. A mam must be strong!! This word came out from a best friend of my husband who some time ago just lost his beloved mother. Then my husband said, “But actually you are very sad and want to cry, right?”  My husband’s friend replied, “I cannot lie to myself. Yes, actually I am very sad and want to cry to express my sorrow. But you know, since childhood my parents have taught that men should be strong and should not be whiny.”

My dear friends, I kept quiet during the conversation. Those conversations made me thinking and ponder. There was something I didn’t agree of my husband’s friend’s statement. I didn’t agree that a man shouldn’t show his sorrow and shouldn’t cry. I just feel that a man as if made from iron and wire like a robot that didn’t have feeling at all. In fact, the same as women, men could face a similar situation. Death, pain, loss, and various other things that can make a man feel sad. And all of them need a way to express their feeling.

Talk about crying, I remembered one of David saying when he got deep distress. Let’s see what David said at the time. “You number my wanderings; Put my tears into Your bottle; Are they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8) At the time, the Israelites were using a bottle as a container for water or milk. Other than that, there was a unique culture that comes from Egyptians where they contain their tears into the bottle and then put it on the grave of their family or brethren as an expression of their grief. Well, I will not talk about the culture but I want to talk about David’s word.

We all know very well who David was. Though David was a man who was brave facing the lion, a man who was very brave against Goliath and successfully defeated him, and finally become a king, it turns out, he didn’t ashamed to cry. Why David crying? At that time David was under great pressure because besides being on the run to be chased by King Saul who was jealous with him, he faced another danger of entering the enemy territory of the Philistines in Gath and he was arrested. In the stressful situation, David didn’t look that crying is something shameful to do. He cried just because his mind was depressed but not because he weak. David cried not because he was afraid. Let’s take a look to the following verse,

When I cry out to You, then my enemies will turn back; This I know, because God is for me. In God (I will praise His word), In the Lord (I will praise His word), In God I have put my trust; I will not be afraid….” (Psalm 56: 9-11)

These verses are proof that even though David cried it doesn’t mean he became weak and afraid and his faith remained strong. Although he was crying, David remained steadfastly surrendering his life to God, and still fully believed that God remained with him.

So, whether a man shouldn’t cry? Is crying a symbol of Men’s weakness? My dear readers, allow me to take all of you to reflect on these three things.

First, in my whole life I have never found a rule of life or laws that forbids a man to cry or crying for a man is a disgrace! There’s no single verse in the Bible stated that a man shouldn’t cry. Even Jesus was crying (Luke 19:41) My husband said that, “Crying is how your heart speaks the pain you feel when your lips can’t” So I say firmly, there’s nothing wrong if a man cries and a man doesn’t need be ashamed and feel weak when he cries. The important thing is, when a man cries, his faith doesn’t weaken. David was crying because he was totally under pressure but didn’t mean his faith weakening. At that time David still believed God was by his side. The wrong one is, when a man crying then it makes his faith weaken, weaken his mental, and made he didn’t dare to face all the problems of life.

The second, Actually God doesn’t require us to pretend to be strong even though inside of us are broken. He knows suffering is painful, and for that He is ready to be with us through those painful time. God doesn’t forbid us to have sad feeling. God doesn’t scold us when we crying. My husband’s friend just lost his beloved father. God Himself also definitely understands very well what it feels like to lose. God knows it feels hurt because He also experienced hurt when He let His only begotten Son died to redeem our sins in the cruel ways.

The third, crying because our suffering and sadness isn’t a waste thing. Why? Because actually God know every single teardrop that flows from our eyes. God really understands the tears language which expresses unbearable suffering and bitterness of life. Not only understand, God also collect and record every single of our tears as David said. “… Put my tears into Your bottleAre they not in Your book?” (Psalm 56:8) This verse shows us one important thing that God actually never leaves us alone. Even when we feel like “abandoned by God”, indeed, God doesn’t leave us. God is on collecting and taking note every tears of our crying and as if He said, “My child, I will never leave you alone…Please be patient… Just a little more time will be fulfilled and I will declare my glory”

My beloved readers, through this post allow me once again to express my opinion that there’s nothing wrong at all if a man crying. Crying isn’t a taboo thing for a man. Crying isn’t a symbol of weakness of a man. Beside mind, character, intelligence, and feeling, God also give man tears. As long as a man has feeling, same as a woman, when the lips isn’t able to speaks, crying is a good way to express our sorrow. Crying is the way our heart speaks. But… We must remember that behind our weeping there’s still strength in us. Behind every single teardrop there’s still a firm faith, there’s still strong trust that God will never leave us alone. We have to always remember God’s promises,

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes. (Revelation 7:17)

Blessed are you who hunger now, for you will be satisfied. Blessed are you who weep now, for you will laugh(Luke 6:21)

At the end of this post, I long to encourage all of men that there’s nothing wrong at all if one day you have to crying and there are compelling reasons why you cry. Not just for women, crying is something normal and humane. Don’t ever feel ashamed to express your feeling through crying. Crying doesn’t mean weak. Cry if it can make you relieved and the burden on you is lighter. But let me remind you one thing, don’t be a whiny man. Like David, keep strong, still have firm faith, and keep trusting God that He will wipe every of our tears as He promises, He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:4) Amen.

 

Karina Lam – Living by Faith

Image source: themanmodern.com

 

https://karinasussanto.wordpress.com/2019/09/12/a-man-crying/

6 Ways to Make Sure It’s Worship, Not Performance

Candice Lucey  Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer

6 Ways to Make Sure It's Worship, Not Performance

David danced up the hill with the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel. Angels sang about their glorious King in Luke 2 and will sing when Jesus’ returns according to Revelation 5.

Sing to the Lord, all the earth; proclaim his salvation day after day.– 1 Chronicles 16:23

We are not only permitted but commanded to sing, dance, and generally exalt the name of God. Artists, however, will tell you – it’s easy to cross the line where worship becomes performance.

What is worship?

The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia online defines worship thus: “Honor, reverence, homage, in thought, feeling, or act, paid to men, angels, or other “spiritual” beings, and figuratively to other entities, ideas, powers or qualities, but specifically and supremely to Deity.”

How can we demonstrate “acceptable worship with reverence and awe?” (Hebrews 12:28)

Worship is our gift to the Lord, and like an earthly father receiving a lopsided clay pot from his kindergarten child on Father’s Day, God graciously accepts what we offer as long as we give it as an act of gratitude and a demonstration of love.

What does it take to put together a worship session that glorifies Jesus? There should be an element of sacrifice. Take time to carefully select songs so they support the pastor’s message. Take time to rehearse and prepare. Pray for yourselves and those listening; to give thanks to God. And finally, lead worship on Sunday morning.

When musicians lead worship on stage, all attention is redirected upwards and inwards; to Jesus and to His Spirit in us. The words we sing, the way we dress, and our movements are thoughtful and devotional.

What is performance?

Dictionary definitions of performance are not nuanced enough to convey the influence of pride and vanity. Performance directs attention to a singer’s acrobatics and range, the guitarist’s nimble fingers, trendy clothes, or a dazzling light show.

Performers want applause and recognition for themselves.  Chosen songs may highlight the leader’s musical preferences and might not support the pastor’s message or encourage congregational singing.

So, when you’re preparing to lead worship that serves the Lord’s purposes, here are six facets to consider:

1. Plan for the congregation’s sake.

Tunes with catchy, memorable melodies are easiest to follow and remember. It’s helpful for worship teams to sing in a key comfortable for the majority of singers. Our worship teams make mistakes and we hear about them from the pastor or from a member of the congregation who found the songs hard to follow, the drums too loud, or the key too high.

On a good day, however, I cannot hear my own voice because the congregation is making a joyful sound.

A multi-generational audience represents assorted musical preferences, so consider adding at least one hymn to the set out of respect and kindness towards your older members. If you want to select a modern arrangement which follows the rules above, sometimes this helps worshipers to hear excellent lyrics with fresh ears while the words remain familiar.

2. Remember your job.

The job of a singer or musician on Sunday morning is to engage, not to entertain. Sing clearly and loudly enough so that, if a song is new, the building isn’t filled with uncomfortable silence. Practice and prepare to set a joyful, enthusiastic example.

Maybe someone in the congregation needs to see that it’s okay not to stand like a statue in church. Show some energy, but nothing ostentatious like spontaneous break dancing, vocal gymnastics, or a drum solo.

Worship leaders are communicating with God and helping others do the same as a “demonstration of respect,” but that bland definition misses the fullness of conversation. We don’t just sing into the ether and hope that God picks up the thread of a tune as He passes by on His way to do something more important.

He is everywhere, all the time, eager for us to talk to Him. We can do that in song, with full hearts, praising, asking, confessing directly to Him.

3. Encourage joy.

Here is the mind-blowing part: God talks back. When we worship the Lord in music, swaying, hands-waving, abandoned joyfully to the rhythms of the Holy Spirit, Jesus uses lyrics and music to express His love back to us.

As we sing, He reminds us of some truth we might need that week, or encourages us when we are suffering. He connects with us individually and corporately.

Music adds a visceral component to the voice of God for ears which often fail to truly hear Him through the week. Scripture set to song is more memorable, replaying itself in one’s mind for days. Even the unbeliever will find truth stuck in his or head throughout the week.

It’s okay to dance on stage; in fact, many people are moved to bounce on the spot by the activity of musicians and singers. This should be a time of joy. James asked “Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise.” (5:13)

A background vocalist raises her hands, gets excited, can’t hold it in. The truth about Jesus really is exciting, moving, and a reason for joy. How can one sing lyrics full of truth and beauty, yet not be moved to…move?

4. Support the message.

Our worship pastor has created a checklist for song choices. Lyrics must be supported biblically, not just enjoyable or popular. As noted above, setting words to songs makes them easier to remember, so we want the congregation to remember truth.

The words to songs we choose on a Sunday connect listeners to the message, helping them to recall what the pastor said more easily as they reflect during the rest of the week.

5. Honor modesty.

Even when the music points believers to Jesus, showing too much flesh or wearing a tight outfit causes competition between worship and gawking. In fact, if the job is done right, musicians become invisible.

True, God accepts us as we are, regardless of the clothes we wear, and praise the Lord every time someone enters church half-naked or unwashed. Churches are to open their arms to prostitutes and the homeless. Leaders on stage, however, are ambassadors of redemption. Carelessness in dress or visuals suggests a careless attitude towards the Messiah, the Gospel, and those we are serving.

A multi-colored light show isn’t necessary to promote praise, but good lighting helps musicians to see what they are doing. It enables the congregation to witness expressions of delight during worship, and also helps shy musicians focus on music and prayer, rather than an audience, by casting the congregation into shadow.

6. Lose yourself in worship.

When will you know that performance gave way to worship? Like discerning whether or not you are wise or humble: if you know you are, then you aren’t. You might be unaware until someone tells you.

I often close my eyes and the people in front of me disappear. Jesus descends over the whole place physically. I might be crying, or smiling like an idiot, and I am definitely dancing. I’ve seen this emotional response from other singers. If my mind was wandering, their emotion has jolted me back to the words.

What Christ did for us on the cross should overwhelm, even take us by surprise. No one is immune, and sometimes getting choked up is the eye-opener someone out there needs to understand that the Bible isn’t just words. Church is indeed more than a way to fill up Sunday morning. We worship a living God every day.

Don’t be afraid that this sense of abandon will happen to you; it will. It’s a reward of praising God authentically. He comes so close you can feel His breath. Zephaniah 3:17 says “The Lord your God is in your midst” and He will “rejoice over you with gladness.”

Worship in response to this promise, for the congregation and for yourself, but mostly to glorify the Father who taught us how to sing.


headshot of author Candice LuceyCandice Lucey is a writer who loves Jesus. She lives in one of the most beautiful parts of British Columbia, Canada, with her family.

 

 

https://www.crosswalk.com/church/worship/ways-to-make-sure-its-worship-not-performance.html

How Can Shepherds Survive Biting Sheep?

Love of people, purpose, and mission won’t sustain you through ministry’s low points.

How Can Shepherds Survive Biting Sheep?
GLENN PACKIAM

 

Phantom strikes. That’s what some people call them, and appropriately so. They are the words from anonymous congregants, the furtive glances and side-eyes fueled by unchecked assumptions. There was a stretch of months a few years ago where these phantom strikes seemed to rain down. People were reacting to changes at our church—some related to worship practices, a few related to leadership. Phone calls and emails poured in. We met with as many people as we could, listened and explained, talked and prayed. But the phantom strikes kept coming. Those were the most difficult because we didn’t know who was saying what. Or why.

Pastoral ministry can hurt. We don’t always get it right. But instead of asking us our reasoning, many people make assumptions about our motives and attack what they presume to be our underlying theology. Pastors are expected to be astute theologians, insightful therapists, and intuitively brilliant leaders. But few of us match the idealized vision of any of those three vocations, much less all three. Our pain from the people we’re trying to help is compounded by our awareness of our own inadequacies.

This raises several questions: Why do we keep going? Why do we give of ourselves day in, day out, week after week? Why keep answering the call every day?

We all know the “right” answer: because of love. But what or who is the object of our love? Once again, the answer seems obvious: the person you are serving, the one to whom you are given. If your life is to be given for your children, then it is the love for your children that leads you to that place. If your life is to be given in service of the poor, then it is the love for the poor that leads to that givenness. And if you’re a pastor, love of the sheep keeps you serving as a shepherd.

That is the obvious answer. But I think it’s wrong.

At least, it’s incomplete and insufficient. It’s not enough to carry us through the dark nights and the lonely hours. It won’t push us through the pain and the hurt we’ve experienced from the ones we were trying to help.

If you don’t believe me, ask the apostle Peter.

After the Resurrection, Peter returned to fishing. Think about it: He ran to the tomb. He saw that it was empty. He was, most likely, with the other disciples when Jesus appeared to them. He may have been there when Thomas placed his hands on Jesus’s scars. And still he went back to his old livelihood.

Maybe Peter felt he had lost it all that night when he denied knowing Jesus. Maybe Peter was too confused about what the Resurrection really meant. Maybe, whatever it meant, Peter was too covered in shame for it to matter. He might as well try to live a quiet life, a smaller story.

But John 21 describes how Jesus found Peter and reenacted the scene of their first encounter, the first time Jesus called Peter to follow him.

“Throw your nets on the other side of the boat,” the voice called out from the shore. Peter knew he had heard that voice before. But it was John who recognized whose voice it was.

“It is the Lord,” John said to Peter.

It might have been John who recognized Jesus first, but it was Peter who responded—and responded radically. Peter threw on his robes and swam to shore, leaving the other disciples to drag a big haul of fish behind the boat to shore.

After their breakfast on the beach, Jesus asked Peter a heart-piercingly simple question: “Do you love me more than these?”

Who were “these”? The other disciples? Did Jesus mean, “Is your love for me greater than their love for me?” Or did he mean, “Is your love for me greater than your love for the disciples?” We can’t be sure. Yet Peter’s answer acknowledged that whichever way the question was intended, Jesus already knew the answer.

“Yes, Lord, you know that I love you,” Peter replied.

“Feed my lambs,” Jesus responded.

This exchange continued two more times, with minor variances. There has been much exploration of the nuances and shifts in word choices between the Savior and his disciple. But the main point is that Jesus was reinstating Peter. He was reaffirming Peter’s purpose, calling, and destiny. The three repetitions of the question correspond to Peter’s threefold denial.

The most significant bit, however, is hidden in plain sight.

In this restorative conversation, Jesus asked Peter, “Do you love me?”

Not “Do you love my teachings?”

Not “Do you love yourself?”

Not “Do you love purpose and mission?”

And not “Do you love the sheep?”

In the other gospel accounts of Peter’s first call, Jesus said to Peter, “Follow me and I will make you a fisher of men.” You might say that first call was about a purpose. In essence, Jesus said, “Peter, I’ll lift you from a life that is going nowhere. I’ll sweep you up in the greatest story of all. I’ll give you a role in the kingdom of God arriving on earth as it is in heaven. I’ll make you a participant and not just a recipient.” That is, after all, what it means to be given.

But it isn’t the love of being given that leads to our givenness. It isn’t the love of a purpose that can sustain us. It was not enough to keep Peter faithful. The love of a calling will never keep you from falling.

If Peter’s first call was about a purpose, his second call—this renewal of destiny and identity—was about a person. “Peter, do you love me?”

What is your primary motivation in ministry? Is it love of Jesus above all else? Lesser loves may lead you to enter into vocational ministry, but they cannot sustain you through phantom strikes from the people you’re trying to serve and other ministry troubles and disappointments. The love of meaning or mission or purpose or the church will not keep you surrendering and serving. Only a deep and abiding love for Jesus can do that.

Glenn Packiam is associate senior pastor of New Life Church in Colorado Springs and the author of Blessed Broken Given(Multnomah, 2019), from which the article was adapted.

https://www.christianitytoday.com/pastors/2019/september-web-exclusives/how-can-shepherds-survive-biting-sheep.html

VIDEO You shall call His Name, Jesus

Matthew 1.21

50 Names and Titles of Jesus:

1.  Almighty One  “…who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” Rev. 1:8

2.  Alpha and Omega – “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.” Rev. 22:13

3.  Advocate – “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father–Jesus Christ, the Righteous One.” 1 John 2:1

4.  Author and Perfecter of Our Faith – “Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Heb. 12:2

5.  Authority – “Jesus said, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” Matt. 28:18

6.  Bread of Life – “Then Jesus declared, ‘I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.’” John 6:35

7.  Beloved Son of God – “And behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” Matt. 3:17

8.  Bridegroom – “And Jesus said to them, “Can the wedding guests mourn as long as the bridegroom is with them? The days will come when the bridegroom is taken away from them, and then they will fast.” Matt. 9:15

9.  Chief Cornerstone – “The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.” Ps. 118:22

10. Deliverer – “And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.” 1 Thess.1:10

11. Faithful and True – “I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.” Rev.19:11

12. Good Shepherd  “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.” John 10:11

13. Great High Priest – “Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.” Heb. 4:14

14. Head of the Church – “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.” Eph. 1:22

15. Holy Servant – “…and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 4:29-30

16. I Am – “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” John 8:58

17. Immanuel – “…She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God with us.’” Is. 7:14

18. Indescribable Gift – “Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.” 2 Cor. 9:15

19. Judge – “…he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead.” Acts 10:42

20. King of Kings – “These will wage war against the Lamb, and the Lamb will overcome them, because He is Lord of lords and King of kings, and those who are with Him are the called and chosen and faithful.” Rev. 17:14

21. Lamb of God – “The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29

22. Light of the World – “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

23. Lion of the Tribe of Judah – “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals.” Rev. 5:5

24. Lord of All – “For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Phil. 2:9-11

25. Mediator – “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.” 1 Tim. 2:5

26. Messiah – “We have found the Messiah” (that is, the Christ).” John 1:41

27. Mighty One  “Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior, your Redeemer, the Mighty One of Jacob.” Is. 60:16

28. One Who Sets Free – “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”  John 8:36

29. Our Hope – “…Christ Jesus our hope.” 1 Tim. 1:1

30. Peace – “For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility,” Eph. 2:14

31. Prophet – “And Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.” Mark 6:4

32. Redeemer – “And as for me, I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will take His stand on the earth.” Job 19:25

33. Risen Lord – “…that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor. 15:3-4

34. Rock – “For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ.” 1 Cor. 10:4

35. Sacrifice for Our Sins  “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.” 1 John 4:10

36. Savior – “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” Luke 2:11

37. Son of Man – “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

38. Son of the Most High – “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David.” Luke 1:32

39. Supreme Creator Over All – “By Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.…” Colossians 1:16-17

40. Resurrection and the Life – “Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.” John 11:25

41. The Door – “I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved and will go in and out and find pasture.” John 10:9

42. The Way – “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

43. The Word – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1

44. True Vine – “I am the true vine, and My Father is the vinedresser.” John 15:1

45. Truth – “And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32

46. Victorious One – “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne.” Rev. 3:21

47. – 50. Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace – “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Is. 9:6

All this…and so much more.

He alone is worthy.

Jesus.

Source: http://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel

John 14.1

To Know Jesus as Lord and Savior

Images: Pinterest

https://beholdinghimministries.org/2019/09/01/you-shall-call-his-name-jesus/

Backup plan launched ‘to force people of faith to abandon beliefs’

Looking to make exercise of religion subservient to LGBT rights in all cases

Bible dust read me

Democrats in Congress already have staged a massive campaign to promote their Equality Act, which would impose the LGBT agenda on churches and faith-based organizations.

But now they’re working on a backup plan should the aggressive Equality Act fail.

It’s named the Do No Harm Act, but it would destroy protections for the exercise of religion by changing the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The bill would make the exercise of religion in public life subservient to LGBT rights in all cases.

The RFRA has helped protect religious freedom since it was enacted in 1993.

The law was cited when a Texas town arbitrarily tripled water connection fees for churches to make up for “lost” property taxes.

The RFRA has enabled citizens to use their constitutionally protected religious faith as a defense against unwarranted demands, including those of LGBT activists.

Doctors have used it to decline to do abortions. Pharmacists have, under its protections, declined to provide abortion-causing drugs.

It has been used to protect a Christian foster care program in South Carolina that provides homes for hundreds of kids. The Barack Obama administration threatened to shut down the program if it didn’t adhere to a “nondiscrimination,” pro-LGBT policy.

Democrats believe they can reverse the Supreme Court’s Masterpiece Cakeshop decision if the RFRA is changed. The ruling protected a Christian baker from being forced to violate his religious beliefs by creating a cake for a same-sex wedding.

Now come Democrats with their H.R. 1450.

While it claims to be the Do No Harm Act, it would allow LGBT activists to impose their religious “views, habits, or practices” on Christians or people of other faiths.

It would prevent using the RFRA to protect a citizen’s religious liberty if the action imposes “dignitary harm” or an insult “on a third party.”

It would modify the RFRA simply to say its provisions do “not apply” in such disputes.

And it states that “sexual orientation or gender identity” protections trump constitutional protections for religious freedom.

Faith-based morals also could not be used to deny “a person the full and equal enjoyment of a good, service, benefit, facility, privilege, advantage, or accommodation.”

Courthouse News reported this week the House will hold a hearing on the bill.

The report explained it condemns “those who wield their faiths to hurt others,” according to a civil-rights lawyer.

Rachel Laser of Americans United for Separation of Church and State claimed the Trump administration is “weaponizing” the law to “undermine civil rights protections.”

She said it harms “women, people of no religion, the LGBT community and religious minorities.”

She condemned RFRA because it allowed the South Carolina foster agency to operate according to its faith, which she said is unacceptable.

Rep. Phil Roe, R-Tenn., had a different perspective.

“This isn’t about forcing religious beliefs; this is about forcing people of faith to abandon their beliefs.”

An obstetrician, he asked: “Will I be forced to perform something I believe is wrong? Will I be forced to perform an abortion?”

Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Mich., explained that the Constitution doesn’t confine religion to houses of worship.

“I understand that I am a Christian first and a congressman second. My faith is not divorced from my life. And I would expect everyone else who has a similar belief, that they, in this country, should be free, whether they’re Judeo-Christian or not,” he said.

 

https://www.wnd.com/2019/06/dems-launch-backup-plan-to-force-people-of-faith-to-abandon-beliefs/

VIDEO Choose Whom You will Serve

As For Me

April 19, 2019

 

Immersed in the routine of everyday life, most do not notice that the world is changing. Moreover, it is changing rapidly, irreversibly and radically. The world, as we knew it, is disappearing before our eyes. The world is changing rapidly, and the rules of the game are changing with it. There are also many events that illustrate these changes in a symbolic way. But many of them pass unnoticed by the majority because the information agenda is formed from other, noisier, but less influential events.

I have been fortunate for a time to leave and return to the United States every so often, and every time I returned, our country, although with familiar surroundings, irreversibly and radically was different. Today, there are many events that signify these changes in a symbolic way. The threat to modern society is fraught with not only terrorism and crime but also many other negative phenomena. These include the activities of sects and cults, the promotion of different justice movements and much more. The world is changing, and not always for the better. There are new threats that most of us are not prepared to meet.

Our country became like the following statement from Romans 1: 21-25, 27-31:

“Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves:  Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator… likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.  And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient;  Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers,  Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful..

The world is a madhouse!

Furthermore, the Bible displays that wars on a large scale, famine, pestilences, or epidemics (terrible diseases), natural cataclysms, increase in crime and destruction of the earth.  Likewise, widespread apathy and even ridicule toward the evidence of the approaching end, the scripture and disbelief of the word.

But people, Jesus tells us that when we see such things, to not fear, but lift up our eyes, as he is approaching fast. While in Daniel, there is a promise: Many shall be purified, made white, and refined, but the wicked shall do wickedly; and none of the wicked shall understand, but the wise shall understand. People, those who are wise…remember, the beginning of the wisdom is fear of God. Not just fear of trembling, but fear to disrespect, disobey, to not know him. We need to know him! To humble ourselves before him! Our Father says, “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will heal their land.”

People… choose today to humble yourself as pray for our nation and our world to repent! Stop playing the role of god and judging people… stop snubbing your nose at God… Stop playing with fire and pray for our people. Be passionate, obedient and filled with faith… stand in the gap and let people choose to follow the lord. The day of the Lord is near, let us not watch as the nation goes to hell. We are all that is left… we are the remnant! If not… be the remnant! The only hope for America, the west and the rest of the world is to wake up and repent. Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, and lead by example if you so choose to serve the Lord.

Although the 120 Day Prayer Campaign is over. Use the videos playlist to be the echo of the campaign.

Choose Whom You will Serve

In Spirit, In Time

In today’s evangelical church, the word worship has become synonymous with singing. Worship leaders belt out popular Christian tunes, and we sing along to words projected on a screen. Lyrics, not music, are considered the main vehicle to adoration.

But what about the music itself—the walking bass line, reverberating snare, plaintive violin? Without lyrics, or even an obvious spiritual context, would these musical lines “count” as worship?

As a violinist  and a new believer, I worried about how to “best steward my talents for God” when I went to college. If I played an orchestral piece  for a church audience that wasn’t composed by a Christian, was I somehow working against God, engaging in a type of self-indulgent, humanist behavior? Did playing such music even have a point, kingdom-speaking?

In her book The Spiritual Life, Evelyn Underhill writes about worship as an act of being, not acting or doing. As I have grown in my faith and musicianship over the decades, I’ve learned just to “be” with my violin, which has helped me learn the importance of being fully present in body, mind, and spirit: in other words, fully present with God. The physical act of playing a tune becomes just as important—if not more so—than any lyric or idea.

Over the past several years, I’ve transitioned almost completely from classical music to the world of fiddling. I’m drawn to tunes with Scottish and Irish roots in particular, even though I carry none of that ancestry. Nonetheless, the keys, rhythms, ornamentations, and shapes have become prayers for me—one of my primary ways of feeling God’s pleasure, as Eric Liddell regards running in Chariots of Fire.

If I played an orchestral piece for a church audience that wasn’t composed by a Christian, was I somehow working against God, engaging in a type of self-indulgent, humanist behavior?

“Be Thou My Vision” is perhaps the most famous hymn with Celtic roots. It is based on a tune called “Slane,” which is named for a hill in County Meath, Ireland. According to the Psalter Hymnal Handbook (1998), St. Patrick lit an Easter fire on Slane as an act of defiance against the pagan king Loegaire, leading to his unlimited freedom to preach the gospel in Ireland. But before being repurposed as what would become one of our most popular hymns, “Slane” found itself as a folk tune published in Patrick W. Joyce’s 1909 Old Irish Folk Music and Songs. The title? “With My Love on the Road.”

Sacred, profane, and sacred again. Given the interchangeability of folk and religious tunes, there is little musical difference. And that makes all the difference in the world.

Without the explicit message of a lyric, the worshipper relies on keys, chords, intervals, and time signatures for emotional expression. For a word person like me, it means feeling my feelings without explaining them and allowing those feelings to come through the physical movements of finger and bow. With “Be Thou My Vision,” it means keeping a trinitarian ¾ time in E-flat major—a key that, according to 18th-century German poet Christian Schubart, connotes “love, devotion, and intimate conversation with God.”

With E-flat, I can’t just bounce all over those bright, open-string chords that make many fiddle tunes sound much more technically impressive than they are. I slide into an understated, flattened fourth finger on the A string (the note that corresponds with “heart” in the lyric). I can’t quite articulate what playing that note feels like on a spiritual level. But isn’t that the point of loving God with my soul? Sometimes my mind has to step behind the curtain as the Holy Spirit and I improvise.

Sometimes my mind has to step behind the curtain as the Holy Spirit and I improvise.

“Melody,” says poet and musical collaborator David Wright, “creates movement and allows us to move through time.” I feel the movement of “Be Thou My Vision” taking me back a few steps into questions and doubt, then forward, then back again, then finally at the feet of God.

Take a few moments to hum “Be Thou My Vision” to yourself. Do you feel the movement from line to line?

God, are you there?
God, are you really there?
Actually, yes. I kinda do feel you now.
You were there the whole time.

But why these sentiments, when I have the actual lyrics? Because I walk to familiar melodies and rhythms throughout the day. I forget words while a song presses through my bones, tap and hum while it glimmers in my blood. “Be Thou My Vision” is about reaching, then reaching further. It’s about pulling back a bit with a an intake of breath. Then exhaling in complete surrender.

This is the weird, right-brained, messy soul-work of worship—what stays in the body in the dark hours of the night when you are half-asleep and lacking words, history, or sense. It’s what cannot be taught or written about (though I’m trying) while the smoke of rosin rises to the sky.

Original here

An Open Letter to Pastors and Christians …Stand or Fall

 

July 3, 2018

 

A paraphrase that is often attributed to Alexis De Tocqueville—a Frenchman who authored Democracy in America in the early 1800s, helps to open this letter: “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.”

Over the last few decades, Americans have seen the destruction of the institution of marriage between a man and a woman, the removal of God’s Word in several areas, and the blatant murdering of millions of babies. This is an indictment against America and the pulpit is partially responsible – our silence speaks volumes.

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.

Sadly, many pastors are exchanging truth for passivity, boldness for cowardliness, and conviction for comfort…they are not aflame with righteousness. We aim to be motivational speakers rather than preachers of righteousness.

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.

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. Here are four ways to re-set the compass.

1. Return to the prayer closet. 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).

When God brings change, prayer has been the catalyst. Martin Luther prayed and the church was reformed. John Knox prayed and Scotland was revived. John Wesley prayed and America was restored. George Whitefield prayed and nations were changed. D.L. Moody prayed and America fell to her knees. Amy Carmichael prayed and India received the gospel. And so it goes…when you pray, you move the hand of God.

The dry, dead lethargic condition of the church simply reflects an impotent prayer life. 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. “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).

Sermons should not come from pop-psychology and the latest fad; they must come from the prayer closet where 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 of God, prayer, and worship.

2. Return to a separated life. 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.

3. Worship must be a priority. A pastor who does not worship is not prepared to preach. Many sing “about” God but they have never truly experienced Him—head knowledge without heart knowledge. Styles of worship range from the old, beloved hymns to contemporary. All worship should be God-centered, Christ exalted, and doctrinally sound.

Worship allows us to shift our focus and praise toward God. Whether you prefer hymnals and organs or contemporary bands, is really not the issue. The issue is: are you truly worshipping God in “spirit and in truth”? He is the Creator of heaven and earth. He is not a cosmic force, universal love, or a doting grandfather; He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. We must worship Him. He created, redeemed, and saved us. As one of the countless hymns declares so well, “O’ The Blood: washes me; shed for me…what a sacrifice that saved my life, yes the blood, it is my victory!”

4. Preach the difficult truths – they set people free. The church cannot neglect, water-down, or avoid preaching sin, repentance, or the fear of the Lord in the hope of not offending or securing an audience. Difficult truths often offend, and rightly so, sin put Christ on the cross. The goal of preaching is faithfulness to God, not crowd appeal. The church, as a whole, may have forgotten the fear of the Lord, but it doesn’t follow that we should.

Let it not be said of us today: And there arose another generation after them who did not know the Lord because pastors failed to be preachers of righteousness. The burden of responsibility rests squarely upon our shoulders. It’s our choice—stand, or fall!

But there is hope: “Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you…” (Zechariah 1:3). That’s a life changing promise – return to Him and He will return to you.

 

Original here