It is interesting to watch the fruit of faith unfold in people's lives. It can also be heartbreaking when the fruit is toxic. There is a direct cause and effect relationship in human lives. People tend to live from moment to moment without taking a "long view" of things. Like a shopper snagging a tempting goodie off of an end display at a store; spending money that they hadn't planned to spend on an impulse, people frequently act without thinking through the possible results of a snap choice. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding," is still good advice. Dear ones, does your faith inform your life? Our present priorities will determine tomorrow's harvest. And in life, we are continually reaping the fruit that we planted yesterday. What we are sowing now we will reap tomorrow. Sow to the flesh and from it reap destruction, sow to the Spirit and reap a godly harvest. Read Gal 5:16-26. We each have a choice, every day, moment by moment how we choose to live. Seek to yield to, know and serve God, and His Spirit will transform you. Seek the things of your old nature and the fruit of sin will taint your life. Believers are redeemed and no one can take them out of our Father's hand. We have been delivered from the power of sin and death but - Satan can still direct us to a course that yields destruction, yes, even in a believer's life. He cannot take away salvation but if we yield ourselves to the wrong things the result will be ugly. "Don't you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one you obey - whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or obedience which leads to righteousness" (Rom 6:16). Every believer in Christ is daily sowing a crop that they will harvest, probably sooner than later. What will it be? Seek Him! Serve Him! Follow Him!
Ephesians 2:10 tells us that "we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." A "virus" has infected the American church. Call it commercialism, a consumer model or what have you, the effect is the same. People attend a church, "do" church but tend to lead compartmentalized lives. Any local body of believers is a community of people, indwelled by God's Spirit, equipped for ministry and partakers together in Christ. It isn't like going to the store or to the gym: there we go, receive services or purchase goods and leave. It is something that we do, not necessarily something that we are. Some groups target a certain demographic. Much like a radio station arranges programming to appeal to a certain segment of the population and targets advertising accordingly, there are churches that do the same. Some have traditional services, youth services, contemporary services etc. Many mean well, wanting to reach people in those groups but I fear that the end result is further fragmentation of God's church and the fostering of a consumer mentality within their group. A redeemed community should cross ethnic, economic, cultural and educational lines. God's church is diverse and local congregations ought to reflect this. And God's church is not a place to come seeking to be served but rather, a place to come as a participant. We should seek mutual ministry. God has gifted, equipped and empowered each one of His people for a purpose: that we might glorify God in His church as each part operates in His gifting. When body parts fail to operate as designed in our physical bodies the result is infirmity and impairment. It works the same in the church. I think that too much of purported "worship" is actually self worship. We seek our comfort zone, seek to please ourselves etc. Our focus is to be Him. To look out rather than in. Worship is focused on God and on His people for His sake. I saw a young man wearing a t-shirt a few years ago that had a short message printed on the front and a verse printed on the back. The message?
"It's not about me." That pretty well says it. Seek Him, believed through the word, prayer, fellowship and service. Everything else will fall into its proper place if those things are kept first. Love in Jesus, Tony
We have a special opportunity coming up to be stretched and to grow. A representative from Jews for Jesus is coming to our church March 16th. Eric Bennett will being giving a presentation on “Christ in the Passover.” In Romans 15:4 we are told that “everything that was written in the past was written to teach us.” In 1 Cor 10:1-13 we are told in a similar vein that the recorded events of the past are given to us as examples. The bible is a unified message and no part of it ought to be ignored by God’s people. Our Lord, walking with Cleopas and one other disciple from Jerusalem to Emmaus opened the scriptures and explained starting from the books of Moses through the prophets what was said in all the scriptures concerning Him. From Genesis through Revelation, it is all about Him.
The law was fulfilled through the work of Jesus and has been satisfied completely and its righteous requirements have been fully met in us (Rom 8:4). We need not keep it, and in fact must not as a means of attaining righteousness. But a deeper understanding of the Old Covenant will enhance our understanding of our faith. Christianity is not antithetical to the Old Testament. It is the fulfillment of it. We may be grafted in to believing Israel, but the tree supports the graft and not the other way around (Rom 11:11-24)!
God’s full redemptive plan was hidden for ages from humanity. It was progressively made known to us and now in its culmination, it is revealed: “the mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together
in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Eph 3:6). Now that we, who are alive in the church age see the fuller picture, let’s see it more clearly! I hope that when you come that you will take notes, take this to heart and see more fully the significance of Passover, Communion and how these these portray Christ.
I read an interesting article today entitled, "We're Not a Christian Nation," by one Fred Rich, a lawyer and the author of a novel, "Christian Nation." Like many of his ilk on both sides of the culture war he seems to set up straw men so he can knock them down. It makes good reading for people within his socio-political slice of American culture, but it really reveals nothing new or helpful to the ongoing debate over the role of faith, particularly the Christian faith, in our nation.
Mr. Rich seems to be especially frightened by the stubborn persistence of Christian expression in our society. Unspoken is the question, "Why have we not outgrown this by now?" As if our faith represented something to be ashamed of or detested. Maybe to him it is.
He fails to understand a lot about Biblical Christianity. I say Biblical Christianity because there are indeed two faces of Christianity in our nation and in the world. One is fairly innocuous to committed secularists because it poses no perceived threat to their aspirations and agenda. It adheres to the outward forms of Christianity but pitched the core teachings of the faith under the bus long ago. Many such organizations today claim the title of Christian. But they often deny the authority and veracity of the Bible, the divinity of Christ, the lost state of humanity apart from Christ, etc. They substitute for biblical zeal a different set of enthusiasms. Abortion rights, climate change, social justice, LGBT equality, environmental issues, etc. They are ok with his vision for the nation because it closely mirrors their own. Mr. Rich cannot separate extremists from the rest of the believing population and neither can many on the "Christian Right." An example of a similar bit of "tunnel vision": To an Arab, if one is not a Jew or a Muslim and comes from Europe or North America, then one is a Christian. To many Americans, someone from the Middle East is a "rag-head." Anyone coming from that region is viewed as a potential terrorist. Never mind that such a one may or may not adhere to a radical jihadist philosophy. Never mind that such a one might be Sunni, Sufi, Shia or belong another sect. Everyone gets judged by the few. Rich sees "Christians" as a threat; a real and present danger to the republic, if not to the world. He especially confuses "fundamentalists" with the politically power-hungry. For the record, a fundamentalist is someone who actually believes what their faith teaches. Nothing more. He cannot seem to separate those who follow Christ from those who follow the Christian Coalition. I certainly agree with much of the Christian Coalition's stated positions, but I follow Christ, not a PAC or party platform.
Mr. Rich especially gets worked up over those proclaiming America a "Christian nation." The founding fathers indeed based much of our founding principles on Biblical concepts. Some of these men were Christians, some were Deists and others free-thinkers. Men like Jefferson and Franklin certainly respected the Bible and were biblically literate, but they cannot be said by any stretch, to have been Christians. Their own writing militates against that. And true enough, there have been some popular (and revisionist) historians in our camp who have tried to make our founders out to be Bible believing men when they were not, or at best merely might have been. He fears a religious coup de main at the ballot box by radicals that will impose a theocracy on our country. He (and members of the political right) might do well to remember that our nation was set up so as not to establish an official state church. Not freedom from religion but freedom of religion. And, as uncomfortable as it makes people of his persuasion, people, be they atheistic, moralistic, agnostic or believers in a faith, vote. The unspoken but very real fear that he communicates is that a Biblically committed majority may come to real political power and remake the nation in, gasp, a more Biblical image and undo decades of secularist "progress."
For one, he fails to see the difference between people who adhere to Biblical faith from those who use said Biblical faith to advance a political agenda. As has been pointed out numerous times in the past few years, the Democratic Party has viewed ethnic minorities, LGBT, environmental activists and feminists as a locked up and dependable voting block. But the Republican Party has also treated evangelical Protestants, Mormons and Catholics the same way. And there is a grain of truth to the criticisms leveled at both sides. Only an absolute ninny votes a straight party ticket. Such usually take the voting guide with them to the polling station and mechanically vote straight down the line with the party that they have self-identified with. And it might likely be the first time they have actually glanced at it. Dumb. Just plain dumb. Some "ministries" put out voter guides. Some can be useful if they accurately portray the voting records and/or stated positions of a slate of candidates. Many are deceptive and cannot be trusted.
The sheep need to wake up. Mr. Rich's fear is that anyone evangelical is a mere sheep (just like the sheep he writes for, if he was honest). We are seen as ignorant, easily manipulated masses whose stubborn religious "superstitions" just may result in a like-minded majority making it into government and legislating from the position of Biblical values for the population at large. He doesn't seem to remember that that is precisely what the secularists are hoping to do from their vantage point. Both sides will do well to ponder the story of Savonarola. Doesn't ring a bell? Type the name into your search engine and check him out. You might find his story instructive.
In the mean time, I admonish us all to get our heads out of the sand and do two things: watch and pray, and study people, parties and records. Yeah, I know that it is a pain, but we had better do it. There is much ignorance on both sides of the culture war and none of it bodes well for the present or future of the nation.
Finally, the strident voices on either side of the national argument should be toned down. They won't tone it down on their own - they posture for dollars. The pundits, with a few exceptions are prostitutes, selling vitriol for sponsor dollars. If it hasn't occurred to you this stuff is big business and, for the most part, is all about generating revenue. Franken, Coombs, Hannity, O'Reilly, Coulter, ET AL are entertainers vying for listeners, viewers and dollars. Some may truly hold the views that they espouse, but I suspect that many seek to cater to a certain target audience for the aforementioned reasons. A steady diet of such drivel can and will warp a person. Remember Psalm 1:1-6. Blessed is the man or woman who does not go to people for answers who do not have them. Blessed is the one who seeks God's counsel. What do you feed your mind and soul on day in and day out? Shut off the radio or TV and open your Bible, or at least give the Word priority. Or risk the very real specter of becoming exactly the caricature of the "Christian" conservative feared by Mr. Rich and his ill-informed ilk.
Was our nation founded on biblical principles? Yes, to some extent. But do not forget that it also limited franchise to property-owning white males and accepted slavery.
It was a mixed bag. Has our faith molded our nation? Again, yes to a fairly large extent. But what did the shaping was not political action or social work. It was the gospel. This nation will not and cannot be changed for the better at the ballot box alone. To change society lives must be altered - one at a time. And it of necessity has to start with the church. It is relatively easy to buy into a campaign or party. It is far more demanding to love God and our neighbor as ourself. But, it is also much more powerful.
While shopping for cat food I came across a product called "Cat Mix." I found it a somewhat gruesome name (right up there with a similar product christened "Dog Chunks"). I tell you, it makes a person wonder. I mean, really, how much actual kibbled feline is in the bag? What type of cats were used in the cat mix? And were they free-range organic cats or "factory farmed" cats? For that matter, why doesn't anyone produce a mouse-flavored cat food? Other sure-fire hits would be gopher, bird and squirrel. How would they test the product to ensure quality and flavor? "No mice were injured in the testing of this product."
The odd pictures that language can conjure up in one's mind reminds me that language of necessity needs to be clear if we are actually going to successfully communicate. How hard recent immigrants must find our language. We tell someone to turn left right after the light. How does one read that if they take things a bit too
literally? God has given us a timeless message. Yes, there is figurative language in the Bible but it generally means what it says and says what it means. It is intended to be understood. The Bible is the "sword of the Spirit." Through it the Spirit of God speaks to the hearts of people. Its message is spiritually discerned. If one is saved, they have
the guidance of the Holy Spirit as they read and study His word. Pastors can make biblical interpretation sound a bit exotic and difficult. It tends to keep folks in awe of their skills as a preacher. It also makes understanding the Scriptures seem the exclusive domaine of the specialist. This is not good and, does in fact, do harm. I have
heard over the years many people state that they depend on the "pros" to understand the Word. That's a good way to be led by the nose into serious error. Read, dig, and ask questions. You have the Holy Spirit to guide you. God has a message for you and He intended you to read, understand and apply it. Those who depend on others to tell them the meaning of the Word would do well to get into it themselves. And if while reading you find some "dog chunks" or "cat mix", remember that just as we read our native language and automatically sift the literal from the figurative, learn to do it here. It is not difficult. Remember three main things and you cannot go far wrong:
1. First, much figurative language is explained by the immediate context (e.g, Matt 13 -
Jesus first gives the parable of the soils and then explains its meaning.)
2. Second, figurative language is frequently explained in the wider context of Scripture.
For example, Jesus warns one of the seven churches that they needed to repent or else
He would come and fight against them "with the sword of His mouth." It isn't explained
right there but all through Scripture God describes His word as a sword (e.g., Eph 6:17,
3. Third, language can be safely taken as figurative when it would be silly or
nonsensical to take it literally (e.g., "You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow
a camel." Try taking that literally!).
So don't be afraid, open up your Bible and dive in.
One night seems about the same as the next. The quotidian rhythm of day and night governs our life on earth in an overpowering and yet almost unnoticed way. It is so routine! Probably none of us go to sleep and doubt the coming of daylight. We are unsurprised when we walk out at night and look up to see stars. It is commonplace, expected and yet can be breathtaking. I love a cold night right after a storm. As the clouds part the stars are so bright. I like to walk out, enjoy the crisp, clear view of the heavens, the smell of wood smoke in the air, and the cold air on my face. Sometimes a shooting star, or a clear sounding and yet invisible flock of geese pass overhead, their calls punctuating the whistling of their wings. Life in its routine and yet beautiful patterns is comforting, and can be exhilarating. But mostly, we are mentally prepared for the expected and ordinary. It is precisely this habit that will cause the return of our King to come as a “thief in the night.” It was the same in the days of Noah and it was the same when Christ was born.
Humanity is enamored with the sensational, the flashy, the new and “cutting edge.” But throughout history the most profound events have occurred in the most ordinary settings. And people passed by unaware and unconcerned. Consider Jesus, God in flesh, Emmanuel! Born into this world in a backwater of the Roman Empire. He was born into a young family of the working poor. Not in a home with a midwife or even surrounded by family. His mother didn’t even have the comfort of having the women of her own family at her side. They probably had already written her off as a disgrace. His parents were just one couple out of hundreds, perhaps thousands pressing in to Bethlehem to register for a census. To those who saw them, merely faces in a crowd. How ordinary. How many just noted them and stepped around them in the street or marketplace?
God works in the ordinary. If you haven’t figured that out yet you need to! While we long for the heavens to part and the earth to shake, God is at work right under your nose changing lives eternally, and we pass by unaware. Right now counts forever. Never forget this. Seek and serve Him now; that’s what matters. Love Him and love your neighbor. If we don’t love our brother whom we have seen, how can we love God whom we haven’t (1 Jn 4:20)? God’s people seeking and serving in the present, and expecting Him to work, will not likely miss too much. Our “lamps will be trimmed” and His activity will be the subject of praise, but not likely of surprise.
And that natal night in Bethlehem that passed so unnoticed by the world? It didn’t go entirely unremarked. God disclosed His glory to shepherds (as opposed to theologians or potentates) and sent them in search of the fulfillment of the ages. The scene of this revelation was a livestock enclosure out in the Judean hills. The Divine revealed in and to the ordinary. Even as He departed 33 years later, and the disciples craned their necks trying to follow His progress, God brought them back to “earth” through an angelic message: “Men of Galilee, what are you doing staring up into space? This same Jesus will come back the same way. Ahem! I believe He gave you some instructions. Get at it!”*
Beloved, seek Him now, in our present circumstances; and expect, look for Him to work! There is no time like the present. Merry Christmas.
*My paraphrase of Act 1:10-11.
A funny thing happened on the way to this election: I have always been fairly passionate about politics but I am now finding myself caring a bit less. Yes, of course I’m going to vote and study the people and issues but I just can’t get myself to see this election cycle (or any) election cycle as the focal point of history. That place was on a hilltop in Jerusalem 2000 years ago where grace met judgment and our debt was paid.
The fledgling church was exhorted to “fear God and honor the king (1 Pet 2:17).” Imagine the reaction of Jews to this? They wanted Rome out of their land and lives. Imagine the reaction of Greek or Roman slaves who were just trying to survive and cared little for politics or the doings of their overlords? What does this translate into in our world? Love God, love your neighbor and seek the glory of Christ in all things. Pray for those in authority over you, even those whose actions and agenda you oppose (1 Tim 2). In fact pray for everyone. It pleases God who wants men to come to the knowledge of the truth. Care for your family and earn your way (1 Thes 4:11-12). Love your neighbor and treat them the way that you desire to be treated (Rom 13:8-12). Be good citizens (Rom 13:1-7), encourage one another in the faith (Heb 10:25-26). Remember that although we should be aware of and engaged in the happenings of our society we need to take the long view and remember that our citizenship is in heaven and live accordingly.
Beloved, there are those who try hard to mobilize the church for one thing or another. This is especially so in the political sphere. We (the visible church) are viewed as a fairly monolithic voting block. And we are either courted or demonized by one side or the other. I am frankly offended by this. We are not a "voting block," we are the church of the Living God! The world also views us as a cash cow and does everything possible to access our wallets. Corporately and as individuals we have an obligation to pursue and advocate righteousness. But, we each have to prayerfully choose what those things are. Outside people/organizations want to get us behind one thing or another in lock step. We represent a potential source of income, or votes etc. Just keep yourself clear minded and don't allow yourself to jump up on anyone's "bandwagon." We are to think, pray and then speak and act.
As a pastor I desire people in our congregation to study issues and candidates, pray about what to do and who to support and to act accordingly. We should vote. It is your business who to cast your vote for; it is mine to admonish you to do it. Above all, pray for our nation for God's will to be done here "on earth as it is in heaven." And I want God's people to pray for whoever wins the election and strive to honor God no matter what the political and economic climate happens to be. We have a high and holy calling as God's people to be "salt and light." That happens when we love and serve God, and love our neighbor. Love, Tony
In our Sunday mornings we have been teaching through the book of Job. As we have progressed through the book we have dealt with the conventional “wisdom” of Job’s culture. It (and his three friends) maintained that “bad things happen to bad people and good things happen to good people.” The world at large still seems to think this way. Job maintained that he was a man who loved and served God and that he suffered anyway. His friends maintained that he must have secretly been living a double life and were suffering for his sin. If he would only confess and forsake it, God would bless him again. Lots of people are caught up in their same false concept.
They mentioned one valid thing in this: Some professing believers indeed do lead two lives – one in fellowship with other believers and one away from them. When one’s practices and lifestyle are put on and off at will depending on their location or company there is a name for them, a biblical name – hypocrite. The person that people see at work or out on the town should be the same person that they see at church. None of us are “perfect,” but we should all strive for consistency. For example, we are exhorted to guard our tongues (speech) in Jas 3. It shouldn’t both bless and curse. That would be like salt water rising out of a fresh spring or vice-versa. In Eph 4 we are told not to live any longer as the Gentiles (unbelievers as used here) do in the futility of their thinking.
That is not how we learned of Christ!
The question each of us needs to ask of ourselves is, “Am I redeemed or just a poser?” And if I am redeemed, am I seeking to live out my faith wherever I am at or do I change like a chameleon to suit my surroundings? The word “hypocrite” means, “Under a mask.” The world needs to see genuine faith lived out before it on a daily basis. The aim for us is not perfection, which is impossible. The aim is consistency over time. That is powerful. And it is the result is a good witness.
The Columbine shooting, the theater massacre in Aurora, the Fort Hood killing, child abductions and murders, porn rings, sporting events, pornography; what do they all have in common? People indulge in watching the effort, trauma, and depravity of others via the media, and some will eventually act it out. We live in a culture obsessed with physical gratification, violence, and power (or at least it’s illusion), and that gets its “jollies” watching others kill, mutilate, indulge, strive, etc. We have become a nation of voyeurs. Watching is more important than doing. Living out a fantasy vicariously substitutes for action. But for a few, that isn’t enough. And they act out what they once watched. I have long wondered how many rapes would not have occurred had the perpetrators not been wallowing in digital, pictorial and printed filth in the days and years prior. As a society we justly criminalize the abuse of other human beings, and yet we defend those who dump fuel on the fire. Some of the stuff on the magazine rack in an average grocery store would have passed for soft porn twenty years ago.
But, I was speaking of voyeurism. Voyeurism once applied to the interested viewing of another by a hidden observer as they dressed, undressed, made love, bathed or engaged in other intimate actions. With the advent of modern media, it applies to much more than a “Peeping Tom”: reality TV, movies, violence; and all from the safety of your easy chair as a detached viewer. What does this say about us? It always surprises me to listen to a couch potato criticize an athlete. I have competed enough to know that things look vastly different from mid-field than they do from the bleachers. We as a society get entertainment value from watching others excel, others do and dare, others sin, others kill. But is it remote, detached and devoid of effect? Experience seems to militate against any such assertion. And, it can get pretty ridiculous. Drive through town on any afternoon and you will see the logo of ball teams on car and truck windows, often with an off color remark about another team. Fans have rioted and assaulted the fans of other teams. Really? It isn’t as if the fans were down on the field. And the players were not at “war”. They are simply earning their living and might be traded at any time to another club. Would to God that believers exercised such strong loyalty toward Christ! When was the last time we missed church or time in the word so we could watch a game, race or whatever? If we can quote the names and stats of players, is it too much to ask if we even know the books of the Bible?
Before I go too far with this I need to say that watching movies, athletic contests, etc. is not wrong in and of itself. I enjoy a good ball game. But it isn’t my life, and I am not trying to live out my fantasies by watching. Too many of us in America are seeking fulfillment through observing the lives and actions of others. If this was not so the Kardashian’s would be broke! Paris Hilton would not be a household name, Survivor would tank in the ratings, porn stores might go broke (I wish!). To anything that draws us to listen, watch or do, we need to apply the guidance of Scripture. Is it true? Is it just? Is it worthy of praise, pure, excellent or admirable? Not everything adds up to that standard. When I was a kid, people did stuff. Now, many if not most, watch stuff. All I am saying is that doing so carries a price tag if what we take in as a steady “diet” is unworthy and ungodly. We have gone from being a nation of doers to being a nation of watchers. And with a steady diet of watching, some can and will cross the line to doing in the most ungodly and toxic of ways. That’s all I am saying.
Dependence Day In Isaiah 1:1-20 God confronted Judah with their rebellion. They had been prosperous and secure and had become complacent and unfaithful. As Isaiah wrote God’s message his people were enduring judgment as a series or wars and other catastrophes were hammering Judah (Is 1:5-9).
Yet the nation was, at least outwardly, very religious. God rebuked them and likened them to Sodom and Gomorrah. Why, because like Sodom, they were arrogant, overfed and unconcerned for the things that should have been their priority (Ezk 16:49-57). All their other failings stemmed from these.
God had no use for Judah’s religious devotion. He called it “meaningless,” and said that His soul hated their special days of worship (Sounds like another situation: Rev 3:14-22). Further, God stated that He did not listen to their prayers (Is 1:15-16, Ps 66:16-20, Mt 5:23-24, 1 Pet 3:7, 1 Jn 5:13).
God called on Judah to repent (Is 1:15b-20). A series of verbs flow out: “take, stop, learn, seek, defend, plead,” these are calls to do and not merely to think (See Rev 2:4-6).
God calls Judah to reason with Him and repent and be restored (vs 18).
God never postures – what he says, He does (Is 1:21-31). The parallel here is not being drawn between Judah/Israel and America. That is “apples and oranges.” God has a covenant relationship with Israel – not with America. The parallel is between God’s chosen people and the church. With each He has a covenant relationship. God has and will judge His people. We in America are saturated with biblical teaching, much of it good and much of it hideous! How do we respond? I see two ways in scripture: In Ezk 33:30-33 God tells Ezekiel that to the people who followed his preaching he was no more than a singer of love songs who had a good voice. He was just entertainment, not any lasting force for good. Yet, God also made it plain that that would change (Once God had “lowered the boom” on His people). Mal 3:16-18 shows quite a contrast: The people heard God’s message and repented and enjoyed the blessing of God. That is what is needed today in our nation and especially in the church.
What will it take for our nation? Consider that since 2003 we have been continually at war and have lost over 6000 of our children in Iraq and Afghanistan. We have suffered catastrophic damage and loss of life from storms, floods, fires and drought. Maybe these would have occurred anyway and maybe not. But we know who rules the universe. Yet instead of repentance what does our nation focus on? The sex lives of the rich, famous and idiotic, sports, politics, network TV, social media and on and on. We are a people asleep in our complacency. We slaughter the preborn and rush after anything but God. I am speaking here in general terms regarding our nation and culture. What about us, the church?
We know that judgment begins in the house (family) of God (1 Pet 4:17). When considering the visible church there are only two possible categories that people can fall into: regenerate and un-regenerate. Either a person is saved or they are not. Church attendance does not a Christian make! Tragically the distinction between a believer and a non believer is not always readily apparent to an observer. In 2 Pet 1:3-11 we are told that God has given us everything we need to posses eternal life and grow in our faith through the work of Christ. He has called us to Himself “through His own glory and goodness.” And we are to seek Him! Doing so results in the fruit of the Spirit being evident in our lives and in an effective, productive and spiritually perceptive life. The opposite is true if we stagnate. Spiritual “slugs” manifest a different type of fruit (Gal 5:19-21). We are to be "salt and light." The Holy Spirit indwelling and working through God’s people is the most powerful force on the planet. Seek Him, beloved. Don’t warm a pew and wait for others to feed you. Be proactive in your walk with God (Hen 5:11-6:12). Be available for God to use! What we do for Him is holy, well- pleasing and our well-reasoned act of service to God (Rom 12:1-2). And hang on; it is going to get exciting.
I am far from pessimistic regarding our nation. God has sent revival several times before and He can do it again! A relative handful stood the world on its proverbial “ear” in the first century. Read Eph 1 and stand in awe – the same power that created the world is at work in and through us! Pray for our nation, pray for the church, pray for revival and seek Him.
Pastor Anthony Loubet
Tony has been the pastor of Standish Bible Church since 1987. He, and his wife Cindy, are graduates of Shasta Bible College. They are the proud parents of three and, even more proud, grandparents of five. They enjoy working together in ministry, fishing, hanging out with grandkids.