O mărturie avizată a unui fost membru al Guvernului României arată cine era să conducă America: Aflată în vizită oficială în România ca primă doamnă, Hillary Clinton a REFUZAT să intre într-o biserică ortodoxă, deși era în programul oficial

Alegerile prezidențiale din Statele Unite ale Americii de la sfârșitul anului 2016 au fost, fără îndoială, evenimentul numărul 1 din atenția opiniei publice mondiale.

Favorita absolută a scrutinului a fost candidata Partidului Democrat, Hillary Clinton, dar totuși, alegerile au fost câștigate de Donald Trump, candidatul sprijinit de Partidul Republican.

În timp ce Trump este exponentul naționalismului american, Hillary Clinton a fost considerată candidata ideologiei globaliste, a liberalismului extremist, motiv pentru care a fost susținută cu frenezie de organe media precum Digi24, Hotnews, Adevărul sau Realitatea TV.

Observațiile publicațiilor și analiștilor independenți care arătau că Hillary Clinton este exponenta unei ideologii cu accente vădit anti-creștine au fost taxate rapid drept „conspiraționism” și „paranoia” de către deontologii de serviciu.

Iată că acum vine o mărturie, din partea unei persoane foarte avizate, care arată totalul dispreț pe care Hillary Clinton îl are pentru creștinism și valorile sale.

Istoricul Alex Mihai Stoenescu a dezvăluit că în cadrul unei vizite oficiale efectuate în România, Hillary Clinton a refuzat să intre într-o biserică ortodoxă din București, deși era inclusă în programul oficial al celei care era pe-atunci „doar” prima doamnă a Americii. Precizăm că vizita respectivă s-a petrecut în 1996, cu câteva luni înante de alegerile parlamentare din noiembrie, câștigate de Convenția Democratică.

Alex Mihai Stonescu a fost subsecretar de stat în Guvernul Radu Vasile, fiind șeful Departamentului de Relații Publice al MAPN, între 1998 și 1999.

„Alegerea lui Trump, dincolo de avantaje și dezavantaje strategice estimate, impune României o condiție esențială, pe care trebuia să o îndeplinim de mult, pentru care măcar ar fi trebuit să facem ceva, și anume necesitatea de a ne dezvolta singuri un sistem democratic organic și o economie cât de cât sănătoasă. Trump a cerut asta tuturor statelor care se sprijină pe ajutor american, întorcând mesajul: nu vă ajutăm ca să faceți ceva, ci faceți ceva și atunci vă ajutăm!  Noi ne aflăm încă într-o iluzie, iluzia „vin americanii !”, deși Statele Unite sunt abia pe locul 7, undeva lângă Luxemburg, în investiții pe piața românească, iar implicarea militară este provizorie, nu stabilă. Realitatea imediată a acestei situații este tocmai faptul că ea depinde de viziunea unui om, Donald Trump, despre relația țării sale cu Rusia. O Românie solidară național, democratică și dezvoltată economic, chiar mediu, ar fi avut un alt statut strategic: capacitatea de a produce pierderi atât de mari unui inamic, chiar în cazul unei victorii previzibile, încât să nu merite atacul.  Am convingerea că Trump nu va cere altceva României.  În ce mă privește, am optat pentru Trump, asumându-mi riscul oricărei surprize, întrucât am ținut minte că Hillary Clinton, aflată în vizită oficială în România ca primă doamnă, s-a pronunțat deja în privința noastră: a refuzat să intre într-o biserică ortodoxă, deși era în programul oficial”, a spus recent, istoricul și scriitorul Alex Mihai Stoenescu, într-o conversație cu avocatul Marian Nazat.

În ceea ce privește globalizarea, Stoenescu afirmă că este tot un fel de comunism, care va duce în final la conflicte regionale și/sau globale.

CONTINUARE aici – http://www.activenews.ro/stiri-politic/O-marturie-avizata-a-unui-fost-membru-al-Guvernului-Romaniei-arata-cine-era-sa-conduca-America-Aflata-in-vizita-oficiala-in-Romania-ca-prima-doamna-Hillary-Clinton-a-REFUZAT-sa-intre-intr-o-biserica-ortodoxa-desi-era-in-programul-oficial-142055

Reclame

Donald TRUMP: Le voi permite reprezentanţilor religioşi să vorbească liber şi fără teamă de răzbunare. Libertatea religioasă este un drept sacru, însă este sub o ameninţare gravă.

Trump a spus că administraţia sa va „distruge complet” Amendamentul Johnson, care le interzice bisericilor şi altor organizaţii să se implice în activitatea politică, riscând să îşi piardă scutirea de taxe.

Anularea amendamentului va necesita aprobarea Congresului.

Trump a discutat despre influenţa religiei în viaţa sa, referindu-se la Biblia familiei, pe care a depus jurământul ca preşedinte. Liderul de la Casa Albă a spus că mama sa îi citea din Biblie în copilărie. „America este o naţiune de credincioşi”, a afirmat el. „Calitatea vieţii noastre nu este definită de succesul nostru material, ci de succesul nostru spiritual”, a precizat Trump.

Afla mai mult- http://www.digi24.ro/

In timp ce noi ne plangem de grosimea buretelui la scaune… #2

Service in flooded Philippine church
December 28, 2015
Daniel Duncan:
Un prieten din Filipine mi-a trimis aceasta poza dintr-o zona de inundatii in care fratii si surorile au tinut serviciu la biserica lor, desi biserica era inundata de apa.
A friend of mine in the Philippines church was flooded, but they still came to worship yesterday!
We have NO excuse.
Praying, God help us all and ME.
***ReEditing this bc……***
Over 1250+ likes
Over 2560+ shares is….A AWESOME BLESSING FOR OUR GOOD FRIEND. KEEP PRAYING.

 

The Apostle Paul would not feel welcome in many evangelical churches today

photo credit centralumcatl.org

photo credit centralumcatl.org

BY NAPP NAZWORTH, from the CHRISTIAN POST
Worship services in evangelical churches do not mention sin, a major part of the Gospel message, Dr. Cornelius Plantinga, senior research fellow at the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship, said Monday at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s Faith Angle Forum.

„In very many evangelical and confessionally Reformed churches these days, sin is a rare topic,” he said.

Cornelius Plantinga via calvinseminary.edu

He came to this conclusion from his experience of speaking in different churches most Sundays for the past 30 years, talking to evangelical friends, observing the content of worship music used by evangelical churches, and reading the books and articles of Dr. David Wells, distinguished senior research professor at Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary, Plantinga explained to the conference of journalists.

Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans continue to include confession or a rite of penitence as a regular part of their worship services, he noted. But in evangelical and Reformed churches, he sees „less and less” sin-related material every year.

Over 158,000 churches in North America get the music for their worship services from Christian Copyright Licensing International, Plantinga explained. CCLI provides a valuable service to churches by streamlining the process of obtaining licenses for their worship music. Churches can pay a single fee and obtain all the licenses from CCLI’s library.

Looking at the content of CCLI songs, Plantinga observed that there are „very few penitential songs.” The „biblical tradition of lament, which is all through the prophets and the Psalms is gone, just not there,” he said.

One of the reasons Plantinga believes evangelical worship leaves out sin is a desire to be „seeker friendly” and avoid topics that may turn off non-Christians or new Christians.

„Mindful that seekers come to church in American no-fault culture in which tolerance is a big virtue and intolerance a big vice, worship finders in evangelical churches often want nothing in the service that sounds judgmental,” he said. And for that reason „lots of evangelical churches these days are unrelievedly cheerful.”

Quoting Wells, Plantinga argued that leaving sin out of worship is consistent with the theology of many evangelical churches in which „God is on easy terms with modernity” and mostly concerned with „church growth and psychological wholeness.”

The Apostle Paul would not feel welcome in many evangelical churches today, he added. „Where is [Paul’s] easy smile? Why does he want to discipline people? Why is he so doggone dogmatic? Where are the stories in his sermons? And where does he get off implying that the woman singing special music in church should not do so while also lying on top of the church piano?”

During the panel’s question and answer period, Plantinga clarified that he is not only talking about non-denominational congregations but the „old confessional Protestant forms” as well, such as the Christian Reformed Church, Reformed Church in America, and United Presbyterian Church.

This was not always the case with evangelical churches, Plantinga explained. „They used to be champions of the holiness of God, of contrition for sins against God’s holiness, and therefore grace that justifies sinners,” but „a lot of that has dissipated.”

When churches leave the topic of sin out of worship, they are not relevant to the lives of their congregants, Plantinga believes, because people encounter sin and sin’s consequences daily.

„Ceasingly cheerful worship does not fit with the lives of people who come to worship,” he said. „… Churches that silence the biblical message of sin and grace simply aren’t anywhere near where people actually live their lives, including people in their own congregations.”

Read the entire article here – http://www.christianpost.com/news/evangelical-worship-is-too-cheerful-neglects-sin

 

Today was supposed to be my wedding day…

We first posted an excerpt from this story in May of 2012. We thought it was an important story, worth retelling to anyone who is the process of considering marriage.

A heartfelt journey of one young woman – read her entire story here – http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/05/26/today-was-supposed-to-be-my-wedding-day/

May 26, 2012. It was supposed to be a momentous occasion–the day I would walk down the aisle in my mother’s lace wedding gown, peonies in hand, best friend at my side, family and friends looking on with joy. It was supposed to be the day I started a new chapter, the day my dreams would be fulfilled. Little did I know, God had other plans.

We met in the winter of 2010–me and God, that is. He always had his eye on me, but I barely even knew who he was. Once I began spending time with him, our relationship blossomed into something special. He cared for me and loved me like no other. He filled a huge void in my heart.

That’s how I came to know God. It’s also how I came to know the man I thought I would marry.

The relationship started out like many others, following cultural expectations rather than God’s design. Dating, sex, spending the night, meeting the parents, integrating the pets (him, a dog; me, two cats). After 10 months, on a snowy Sunday evening in front of the place we first met, he asked me to marry him. It was romantic indeed. Even strangers passing by yelled congratulations from their car windows.

I was excited to be engaged–to finally be moving toward marriage–but something never felt quite right. I sensed a resistance in my heart, like I wasn’t totally sure about something. But he was a good guy–the right age, handsome, fun, easy-going, from a decent family. What more could a girl want?

So I moved forward. Even though I had just bought my own home, I gave it up and moved in with him on a spring day in early March. Everyone has to make sacrifices for love, I reasoned. That’s where we’re going to end up anyway. Why not start now? At first, it was exciting and felt like the right thing to do. But a different story soon emerged.

After just a few months of living together, God shook things up. I accepted an awesome job opportunity in another state, so we left behind the house we just finished renovating and drove across the country (pets in tow) to set up our life far from home, family, friends, and church.

Shortly after we settled, a friend from work recommended we try out a small new Presbyterian church in the area. I was a tad leery, as I had recently been baptized in a non-denominational church, but I agreed to check it out. I immediately loved it and felt like this could be my church home. On my second visit, I filled out a visitor card, which asked a few questions about how I wanted to get involved. Did I want to join a life group? Be part of a ministry team? Have coffee with the pastor? Coffee sounded good. I checked the box.

Later that week, the pastor emailed me, asking when I wanted to get together. What a great opportunity to get to know him and learn more about the church, I thought. Maybe he would even be willing to officiate our wedding in a few months. High hopes turned to frustration when I mentioned the possibility to my fiancé. „Coffee? With a pastor?” he asked. „Heck, no. That’s just too weird.”

After weeks of my coercing, praying, hoping, and begging, he finally obliged. But we continued to fight about it–all the way to the front door of the pastor’s house. Regardless, I enjoyed myself and looked forward to hanging out with the pastor and his wife again soon. I could see them being our friends–a couple who would help guide our marriage and bring us closer to God.

Before we could marry, the church asked us to complete a series of counseling sessions, so we set up time to meet with our new pastor. He recommended we start reading the book When Sinners Say I Do by Dave Harvey. I ordered it online, along with Tim and Kathy Keller’s book The Meaning of Marriage. And in my determination to be the very best Christian wife I could be, I also ordered a copy of Carolyn Mahaney’s Feminine Appeal.  I thought these books would help us get ready for one of the biggest steps we would ever take.

Help they did, but in a way I didn’t expect. As I started reading Harvey’s book, the first chapter stopped me dead in my tracks. He explained that faith is the most important part of a marriage. Faith? Really? Even though I was now a Christian, I had never considered this point before. Harvey explains that faith is like the first button on a shirt–if you get that wrong, nothing else will line up right.

I began considering how this idea played out in the episode at the pastor’s house, not to mention the weekly task of begging my fiancé to go to church, trying to convince him to join a Bible study, and asking him to remember to pray before dinner. Is it supposed to be this difficult?

No, it’s not, I learned from Harvey, Keller, and my pastor. I began to realize that just as my thinking had been flawed about sex as a prerequisite for love, I also had the wrong idea about the most important traits in a marriage. As I kept reading and talking to other Christians, no one said it was a good idea for me to marry someone with a different worldview. In other words, I had come to love Jesus and make my decisions based on him; my fiancé had not. That discrepancy became poison in our relationship–barely noticeable at first but eventually corrupting nearly every aspect of our lives. As I grew closer to God, I grew further from wanting to marry someone who did not have a relationship with him.

Keller’s teaching on Ephesians 5 helped clarify what I was discovering. Ephesians 5:25-27 says:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.

Thankfully, the Holy Spirit spoke to me on a weekday in early January when my friend opened the Bible to this passage and showed me the truth. I came to understand that God intends for marriage to mimic Jesus’ selfless love for his people. I was awestruck. My husband is supposed to lead me closer to God? I immediately broke down crying. I kept digging, trying to understand how I got so far off base. „He’s a good man,” I argued. „Yes, but is he a Christian? Does he know Jesus?” people asked me in response. „But if I leave him, won’t I be going against what God says, by not loving the unbeliever?” Surprisingly, no. I was not yet married. I had not made a covenant with him before God. I was not bound to him. As much as it would hurt to say goodbye, I knew this was not the relationship God intended for me. He promises much more, and I wasn’t going to find it in a marriage with an unbeliever.

As this devastating realization sunk in, we began the process of disentangling our lives. And within a few weeks, my ex-fiancé headed back to his home with his belongings, including the dog I had come to love and all of my hopes and dreams for a lifetime of happiness together. We both knew he had to find God on his own terms, in his own way.

Who could have guessed that simply checking a box on a church form would eventually end in heartbreak, financial loss, and unwanted singleness? Difficult and sad as it was, God was there every step of the way. He was there in the simple way it ended, despite our lives being intertwined in nearly every way. He was there in the support and love our family and friends provided. He was there to give me a sense of peace that transcended all understanding. Left to myself, previous breakups had knocked me down to my lowest points in life. But this time, with more riding on the relationship than ever before, I was truly okay. I suppose obedience to God made the difference. As much as it hurts, God is always there to pick up the pieces.

Marriage and family are still the two things I want most in life, but I know that they’re in God’s control–not mine. Before I knew God, I tried to control my relational life by making poor decisions and sacrifices that brought little reward. Now, I find fulfillment in God. He is my rock, the one who deserves my love and attention. While it is a daily struggle to trust him with the things I care about so deeply, he has proven that he’s looking out for me. I leave my future in his hands.

 Written by M. Connor. Read the follow-up article from M. Connor, „Today IS My Wedding Day! at the Gospel Coalition.

Related posts

Matt Chandler – What I wish I had known

ChandlerMatt Chandler via churchleaders.com

When is it good to see spiritual immaturity in your church?

Matt Chandler shares how he learned to appreciate God’s work in a growing church, as well as what he wishes he had known about asking for help, laughter and discipleship.

What I wish I’d known about the church.

I wish I had understood that if our church is seeing people come to know Christ consistently, we will always look a bit immature and messy around our fringes.

I would often lose heart in my first few years at what I believed was a lack of holiness in some of our members. My eyes would skip right over those who had been significantly transformed and the maturing center of our membership, and would fixate on the baby Christians struggling with their flesh.

I would often lose heart in my first few years at what I believed was a lack of holiness.

I think the burden is a good one.

I want every one of our members to grow into maturity more quickly than they seem to, but the Lord has taught me to shepherd people, call them to repentance and let Matthew 18:12­–14 play out.

What I wish I’d known about asking for help.

When I became a pastor, I didn’t realize how often I would have to ask for help.

I was used to being the smartest guy in the room, and then God dropped me in a place that was well beyond me. It was painfully awesome.

When I became a pastor, I didn’t realize how often I would have to ask for help.

When I started as a pastor, there was a staff of three and a church of 168. I didn’t know how or whom to hire next, or anything about constitutions and by-laws. I had never been a part of a church discipline issue, and I didn’t know how to find and train elders or how to prepare to preach that many weekends for an indefinite period of time.

I could go on and on. God was faithful to send me wise men to help me through.

What I wish I’d known about laughter.

I wish I had known how re-energizing it is to eat and laugh with good friends and peers.

I had read a lot of books and articles on longevity in ministry and was trying to manage energy, sleep, diet and stress well, but having friends over, enjoying good conversation and laughing always seems to refill my cup.

I wish I had known how re-energizing it is to eat and laugh with good friends and peers.

What I wish I’d known about discipleship.

It may sound strange, but I wish I had remembered that although I was working to make disciples, I was still a disciple myself.

I needed mentors and others to speak into my life, hold me accountable and be willing to say things that are hard for me to hear.

We don’t always need to agree

See ENTIRE MESSAGE here – Matt Chandler – Hebrews 12 at the
Exponential Conference 2011 – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ETNMg1…

 

Syria – Concerned for the safety and future of their children 4 out of 10 Christians leaving Damascus

MissionNewsNetworg.org via OpenDoorsMinistry reports:

Syria ― „The situation is very grim. There is deep sadness and much stress and anxiety.” That is the summary Pastor Edward from Damascus gave to Open Doors on the situation in the Syrian capital. (Photo credit on right www.religiontoday.com)

According to the pastor, about 40% of the members of his church have left the country since the conflict in Syria started over two years ago. Imagine: four of every ten members of your church leaving in such a short period. That means a major loss for every congregation. And that is the reality churches in Syria now face as this example from Damascus shows.

People who have the financial means, and especially those who have contacts abroad, are leaving the country. Pastor Edward knows that in his church, some members still are waiting for the opportunity to leave Syria, too. „They are still trying to find a place to go.” However, all the people that left didn’t leave the church services empty. „No, we see new people coming to church. Many of the families that we visit and help with a monthly food supply, for example, come to our services now.”

Although there is no fighting going on in the central area of Damascus, in several suburbs fighting is a daily reality. No one can escape from the distant sound of explosions and shooting. „It seems that there is no end in sight. Christians are like all other people: concerned for their safety and the future of their children.”

In a way, life goes on for many people in the capital. People who work in the public sector still go to work. „But their income is worth less and less as the Syrian pound lost 75% of its value, which caused huge inflation. After over two years of civil war, most people are suffering economically and are traumatized emotionally.”

The pastor also mentions „a brighter side” in the gloom. „Church people are closer to the Lord and to each other.”

A church in India destroyed, brick by brick by 1000 of the town’s people and they beat the pastor, his mother and congregants

Photo by http://cdn.charismanews.com/

Mission Network News shares a lot of stories of angry mobs attacking churches. There are so many incidents that sometimes one blurs into another.

This time, though, it feels more personal.

A story from Gospel For Asia shares an attack on a church in Haryana State, located in northern India. K. P. Yohannan, Gospel for Asia’s (GFA) founder and president, says while the state doesn’t have an anti-conversion law on the books, the antagonism toward Christians is so strong that it’s nearly palpable.

First of all, the congregation went through the proper channels for building a church. Usually, people will leave the building alone because, as Yohannan puts it, „No one wants to damage the building because of the religious sentiment of the people.”

This church group got the permits they needed and began building. „The believers themselves give of their labor, working hard day and night. We provide the finances for them to buy the materials and all those things. It took them two years to construct this building which seats 300-400 people.”

All that was left was putting the roof on. Local believers say the community has a history of violence against Christians. In fact, Pastor Tanvir is the fifth pastor to come to the village; the previous four left due to opposition.

Although the building project initially met with resistance, the climate seemed to improve recently and construction resumed. Then came August 25.

Shouting religious slogans, a mob estimated at 1,000 people arrived at the church and began using their bare hands to tear it apart. This isn’t a slapdash plywood building, but one made of brick and mortar. Yohannan said the church members were dumbfounded, watching the destruction of this labor of love. „They simply could not believe that these people could lift a couple thousand kilograms of steel truss and tear it down, and then break down the walls, brick-by-brick.”

By the time they came to their senses, the mood had shifted dangerously. With the building demolished, the mob began to beat the pastor, his mother, and church members, some of whom escaped and went into hiding. No deaths were reported.

„This is life and blood and sweat and agony, deep emotional involvement of the believers, who, many, many times are the first generation of believers. They love God, they love Jesus.” A week later, the shock is giving way to grief. „To see the work of their hand being destroyed in front of their eyes, it becomes very, very sad.”

Initially, the grief had the added burden of frustration because local police didn’t want to get involved. Then, a government official heard the story. The first of several answered prayers began coming. „The government has now taken this into serious consideration and is going after the people who led the mob in destroying the church. I don’t know how far that has gone now, but we can at least thank God that the government is getting involved with it now.”

The local church body has faith that God will continue to work in this area. „It is our desire that these who are persecuting will know the love of God for them,” said Yohannan, adding they plan to rebuild.

Church leaders have requested prayer from believers around the world that God will protect the pastor, his family, and the congregation, and open the eyes of the villagers so they might experience the love of Jesus in their lives.

Then, Yohannan urges, „Have the Lord give us a burden to pray. Secondly, look for opportunities like this where they can not only pray, but share their resources. Our goal is to see literally hundreds and hundreds of congregations that will have the opportunity to have churches like this constructed.”

Who likes ear tickling sermons ? – O ilustratie: Ce preferinta au crestinii la predica?

2 Timothy 4:1-5 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead,and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, discharge all the duties of your ministry.

…this photo is sad, not funny…and it speaks volumes to the faith possessed by  some/many individual believers, than it does about churches per se, for after all we (individuals) are the churches.

Photo credit www.evangelicaloutreach.org

Usa din stanga = Aici se Predica cu fidelitate Scriptura (Biblia)

Usa din dreapta = Aici predicam sa gadilam urechile

Concluzie: Multi aleg sa le fie gadilate urechile.

2 Timotei 4:1-5  Te rog ferbinte, înaintea lui Dumnezeu şi înaintea lui Hristos Isus, care are să judece viii şi morţii, şi pentru arătarea şi Împărăţia Sa: propovăduieşte Cuvîntul, stăruieşte asupra lui la timp şi ne la timp, mustră, ceartă, îndeamnă cu toată blîndeţea şi învăţătura. Căci va veni vremea cînd oamenii nu vor putea să sufere învăţătura sănătoasă; ci îi vor gîdila urechile să audă lucruri plăcute, şi îşi vor da învăţători după poftele lorÎşi vor întoarce urechea dela adevăr, şi se vor îndrepta spre istorisiri închipuite. Dar tu fii treaz în toate lucrurile, rabdă suferinţele, fă lucrul unui evanghelist, şi împlineşte-ţi bine slujba.

~~~~~~~~~~

and, this one is another indictment of unbiblical church members. RayBaumann.com from www.christian-faith.com. Read their signs:

  1. Don’t mention hell, it makes me feel uncomfortable.
  2. Please refer to sin as ‘bad choices’
  3. Tell me again how much God wants to bless me
  4. Make sure there are enough programs for my kids
  5. Remember how much money I give each week
  6. Tell me how to get rich
  7. Only Good News
  8. Tickle my ears
  9. Nothing about the Cross
  10. if you don’t do things my way…
  11. Be relevant
  12. What can Jesus do for me?

Ce gandesc/spun membrii unelor biserici:

  1. Nu pomeni iadul, ma face sa ma simt prost.
  2. Te rog, refera-te la pacat ca si  ‘o alegere gresita’
  3. Mai spune-mi odata cat de mult vrea Dumnezeu sa ma binecuvanteze!
  4. Asigura copiilor mei suficiente programe la biserica
  5. Nu uita de contributia mea $$$ saptamanala
  6. Spune-mi cum sa ma imbogatesc
  7. Numai Vestea Buna si atat
  8. Gadila-mi urechile
  9. Nimic despre cruce
  10. daca nu iti place cum vreau eu…
  11. Fi relevant
  12. Ce poate Isus sa faca PENTRU mine?

David Platt will Host a Simulcast Seminar in Middle East: Follow Me – the Cost of Discipleship

via http://gospelherald.com map of Middle East via google maps

Platt DavidDavid Platt, pastor of The Church at Brook Hills in Alabama and best-selling author, will host a free simulcast from the Middle East on the cost of discipleship. He released “Follow Me: A Call to Die, A Call to Live” in February, a book which portrays the all-consuming call of Christ for His disciples to follow Him (see Matthew 16:24-25).

Platt will be teaching from an undisclosed location in the Middle East, where sharing the Gospel often means risking persecution and even death in Muslim-dominated regions. He invites believers worldwide to gather together in homes or at church venues to study the cost of discipleship with him, something that he believes is often lost in a culture where Christianity is commonplace. “Scores of men, women, and children have been told that becoming a follower of Jesus simply involves believing certain truths or saying certain words. As a result, churches today are filled with people who believe they are Christians . . . but aren’t. We want to be disciples as long as doing so does not intrude on our lifestyles,” says the product description for his book. Platt also conductsSecret Church, where believers gather together by simulcast to learn fire-hydrant-style teaching for six hours in one evening, with the goal of becoming equipped to teach what they have learned to others.

In a video about the upcoming seminar, Platt said, “The more we think about what it means to follow Christ … the more we’re in tune with His word … His desires … the more we’re going to find ourselves going against the grain of culture in so many different ways … the more we’re following Christ, the more costly it will be … but the more rewarding it will be.” He quoted Galatians 2:20a, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me.”

Read the entire article here http://gospelherald.com

The evils of domestic abuse in the Church (A must read!)

wife sad b-wvia The Aquila Report – Read the article in its entirety here: http://theaquilareport.com In her article, Rachel Miller defines what an abuser is, what typically happens in a church when a victim seeks help, and how to help a vicitim.

Rachel Miller:

Miller quotes from Pastor Jeff Crippen’s book ‘A Cry for Justice’: The local church is one of the favorite hiding places of the abusive person. Conservative, Bible-believing religion is his frequent choice of facade. Within the evangelical church, women (and sometimes men) are being terribly abused in their homes and marriages. The children of such abusers are suffering as well. And when those victims come to their churches, to their pastors, and to their fellow Christians, pleading for help, well … Victims of abuse are often discounted by their churches (12).

So what, then, is an abuser? How does one recognize him? [As Pastor Crippen points out, the vast majority of abusers are men. Because of this and for the sake of brevity, he (and I) will use the masculine pronouns, although we are not suggesting that men are the only ones who are abusers.] Pastor Crippen spends a good majority of the book explaining the “tactics and mentality” of abusers. Here is a brief definition of “abuse” and “abuser”:

Abuse then, is a mentality of entitlement and superiority in which an abuser uses various tactics to obtain and enforce unjustified power and control over another person. The abuser thinks that he is absolutely justified in using these tactics to maintain this power and control over his victim. Abuse is effected in many ways: both physical (including sexual) and non-physical (verbal). It can be active (physically or verbally) or passive (not speaking, not acting). Abuse, therefore, is not limited to physical assault. Indeed, the non-physical forms of abuse often are far more damaging, deceptive, and cruel (18).

Pastor Crippen points out that “it is a serious mistake to assume an abuser thinks like everyone else does.” (19) An abuser has no problems doing horrible things to others and then sleep like a baby at night, without any remorse or attacks of conscience. (42) This is because very often abusers “operate in a world largely or entirely devoid of a functional conscience.” (48) Because of this abusers do not act like everyone else, instead they:

  • Lack shame.
  • Have no empathy.
  • Experience little or not real anxiety.
  • Display false repentance very convincingly.
  • Lie, even in the face of plain facts that controvert their lie.
  • Use what appears to be real emotion or feeling, but in fact is just an act designed to manipulate. (49)

Pastor Crippen believes, despite the fact that many of these abusers are members of churches, that abusers are very likely unregenerate as they do not show evidence of saving grace or true repentance. (43)

While I’m sure that certain abusive tactics are familiar to most people, Pastor Crippen give a list of common tactics used by abusers. Some of these are: controlling the activities of others, abusing things that belong to the victim, harsh criticism (usually with very vulgar language) of victims physical appearance, isolating his victim, sleep deprivation, keeping his victim in poverty, preventing adequate medical care, cruelty to pets, and alienating the children from the victim. (33-34)

One of the main reasons that Pastor Crippen wrote A Cry for Justice is that all too often churches, pastors, and well-meaning Christians end up hurting victims and protecting abusers. Here is an example from the book that outlines what happens when a victim comes to her church for help:

1. Victim reports abuse to her pastor.

2. Pastor does not believe her claims, or at least believes they are greatly exaggerated. After all, he “knows” her husband to be one of the finest Christian men he knows, a pillar of the church.

3. Pastor minimizes the severity of the abuse. His goal is often, frankly, damage control (to himself and to his church).

4. Pastor indirectly (or not so indirectly!) implies that the victim needs to do better in her role as wife and mother and as a Christian. He concludes that all such scenarios are a “50/50″ blame sharing.

5. Pastor sends the victim home, back to the abuser, after praying with her and entrusting the problem to the Lord.

6. Pastor believes he has done his job.

7. Victim returns, reporting that nothing has changed. She has tried harder and prayed, but the abuse has continued.

8. Pastor decides to do some counseling. …

9. As time passes, the victim becomes the guilty party in the eyes of the pastor and others. She is the one causing the commotion. She is pressured by the pastor and others int he church to stop rebelling, to submit to her husband, and stop causing division in the church.

10. After more time passes, the victim separates from or divorces the abuser. The church has refused to believe her, has persistently covered up the abuse, has failed to obey the law and report the abuse to the police, and has refused to exercise church discipline against the abuser. Ironically, warnings of impending church discipline are often directed against the victim!

11. The final terrible injustice is that the victim is the one who must leave the church, while the abuser remains a member in good standing, having successfully duped the pastor and church into believing that his victim was the real problem (21-22).

So, how then can churches, pastors, and concerned Christians help the victims of abuse? The first step is to become very familiar with the tactics and mentality of abusers. Books such as A Cry for Justice or Barbara Roberts’ book, Not Under Bondage, can help a educate leaders and others on what abuse looks like and how abusers and their victims often behave.

When a victim comes to you for help, you will need to be ready. Pastor Crippen lays out some guidelines to help leaders do the right thing. The first is to believe the victim. Pastor Crippen points out that this is not blind acceptance but that “in most cases those who report abuse are speaking with honesty.” (186) Other guidelines include not being swayed based on who the abuser is, understanding that all forms of abuse (not just physical or sexual) are serious, reporting abuse to police and allowing the justice system to act, protecting the victim from accusations, a warning not to attempt to cover up the abuse, and preaching on the topic of abuse to prepare and protect your congregation. (186-188)

In addition to giving guidelines on how to help victims, Pastor Crippen also gives a list of rules for how to deal with abusers:

1. Question everything. Even “facts” he states with absolute confidence.
2. Believe nothing without corroboration.
3. Assume he is attempting to deceive you.
4. Accept nothing less than full, unqualified repentance.
5. Do not pity him, no matter how emotional he might be.
6. Accept no excuses.
7. Do not let him blame others. (237-238)

If this seems harsh to you, remember the definition of abuse and the abuser:

Abuse then, is a mentality of entitlement and superiority in which an abuser uses various tactics to obtain and enforce unjustified power and control over another person. The abuser thinks that he is absolutely justified in using these tactics to maintain this power and control over his victim. Abuse is effected in many ways: both physical (including sexual) and non-physical (verbal). It can be active (physically or verbally) or passive (not speaking, not acting). Abuse, therefore, is not limited to physical assault. Indeed, the non-physical forms of abuse often are far more damaging, deceptive, and cruel (18).

Abusers are not acting and thinking like everyone else.

Click here to read the article in its entirety – http://theaquilareport.com

David Platt – The Tragic Cost of Non-Discipleship

photo from video

David PlattDavid Platt @VergeConference 2013: Yes, Dietrich Bonhoeffer has taught us well, that the cost of discipleship is great. To live with radical abandonment for His glory, faithful adherence to His person, urging obedience to His mission, this is costly. This is gonna cost us and the people we lead, our lives. But I submit to you this morning, that the cost of non-discipleship is far, far, far greater. The cost of non-discipleship is great for scores of people in the church, who are sitting comfortably right now, under the banner of Christianity, but they’ve never counted the cost of following Christ. Many, eternally deceived. There is great cost for all who settle for casual association with Jesus, and miss out on the abundance and satisfaction and joy that He has designed for us.

There’s a cost that comes to monotonous routine religious Christianity. So, don’t do it, and don’t lead churches like that! We’ll waste our lives away like that, and the cost will be great for us and the church, and our lives, And the cost of nominal Christianity will be great for those who are lost in this world: for people in our communities, in our cities, for people groups around the world who will go on without the Gospel because we’re content of not making disciples of all the nations. Because is our casual approach to Christianity, we are leaving them on a road that leads to an eternal hell. The consequences of casual, cultural Christianity in the world are tragic. Eternally tragic. So, I urge us, from the beginning of this conference, in view of the majesty of the King who has called us, let’s follow Him with abandonment for His glory, with dependence on His grace, with adherence to His person, and with urgent obedience to His mission.

Mark Dever – Centrality of the Church in Disciple Making from the Desiring God Conference 2013 – Session 1 – The Disciple Making Pastor

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Mark Dever from  http://www.desiringGod.org from February 4, 2013 TEXT – Matthew 28:18-20

 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth.19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

1. Preach God’s Word

  • Don’t think that making disciples is something that merely happens in sort of one on one meetings. The most fundamental way you make disciples in your local church is by preaching.
  • There is only one thing that is biblically necessary for building the church and that’s the word of God.
  • The Gospel is God’s way of giving life to dead sinners and to dead churches.
  • God’s word is His supernatural power for accomplishing His supernatural work. That’s why our eloquence, our innovations, our programs are so much less important than we think. That’s why we, as pastors have to give ourselves to preaching, not programs.

2. Pray

  • Devote so much time to prayer that nominal Christians are bored by talking to a God they only claim to know.
  • Diligently call upon God by prayer for the true understanding of His word.

3. Make Personal Disciple Relationships
4. Have Patience
(see notes below video)

Centrality of the Church in Disciple-Making from Desiring God

What does it mean for us to make disciples?

In (this) Session 1 I want to talk about the disciple making pastor. And, in
Session II I want to talk about the disciple making church (coming soon)
We’re going to be looking at similar things, same goal, but, slightly different perspectives.

The disciple making pastor. What is Gospel ministry about? If it’s not about making disciples. If someone were to look at your ministry and ask you, „How do you see the Lord, using your ministry to make disciples?” How would you answer that? What do you see?

1 Peter 5:1-4 – So I exhort the elders among you, as a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, as well as a partaker in the glory that is going to be revealed: shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock. And when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory.

Many of you read this passage, no doubt. We understand and see the weight of it. Now, the subject of the ministry should interest any Christian. Anything that gives us examples of how to follow our Lord Jesus Christ, and Pastors we see are supposed to be examples. Anything helps us if we’re Christians. And, if we’re really Christians, we want to follow Christ. And, we’re anxious to get anything that will help us do that. Even though, more than merely Christians, I think this topic is one that is especially interesting to church members.

Normally, we can assume that Christians know that they should be church members and they are. And, for church members, few topics can be more significant than what those who lead them are commanded by God’s word to do, for God’s glory and for their own good.

If we are the one who normally preaches at our church, we need to understand, we need to have unique opportunities as we teach the word from week to week. What a privilege, what a special burden the Lord gives us. I love those weekends where I don’t preach. And, I love those weekends where I preach. I want us to, at this time, consider some practical faithfulnesses that you, brother Pastor are especially called to pastor your church. But, before we do that, let’s make sure we notice these few verses in 1 Peter 5. I think it’s clearly there in verse 4, where Peter writes about Jesus Christ as chief shepherd. He is the senior pastor. He is the Chief shepherd. He is the Good Shepherd. You can tell, because good leaders, the good shepherd lays down His life for His sheep, as we read in John 10. So, brothers, if you’ve come to this conference weary, take hope from verse 4. „when the chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the unfading crown of glory. That will never fade away.

The ancient Greeks saw pelicans beating it’s breast with its beak and they thought that the pelican was plucking its breast to feed its young with its own blood. The early Christians adopted this as a picture of what Christ has done for Christians. That He has fed us and given us life, by giving us His own blood, by giving us Himself, for us. This is what a good leader, a good shepherd, a good pastor does. He lays down His life for the sheep. We’ve read of pastors doing this, we have biographies in the book store. We’ve heard of pastors doing this. We’ve seen pastors doing this, in imitation of Christ. But, brothers, these are the years, the days, and your church is the place where you must do this. I want to share with you some reflections on 4 crucial aspects of the ministry of the disciple making pastor. (12:32)

4 crucial aspects of the ministry of the disciple making pastor

1. Preaching God’s Word

preacherDon’t think that making disciples is something that merely happens in sort of one on one meetings. The most fundamental way you make disciples in your local church is by preaching. That is the most fundamental ministry God has entrusted to you: giving God’s word to God’s people. There is only one thing that is biblically necessary for building the church and that’s the word of God. Others, can do pretty much everything else, but, I was set aside by the congregation for the teaching of God’s word. The word of God would be the fountain of our spiritual life, both as individuals and as a congregation. God’s word has always been His chosen instrument to create, and convict, and convert, and conform His people. God uses His word to create faith. As we go through the New testament, we see this.

~~1 Thessalonians 2:13 – when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. So, the word performs God’s word in the believer. Or,
~~Hebrews 4:12 – For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. God’s word gives us new birth. James advises in
~~James 1:21 –  and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. The word saves us. Peter, also claims regenerating power for God’s word-
~~1 Peter 1:23 – since you have been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; 1:25 And this word is the good news that was preached to you.

So, there is creating, conforming, life giving power in God’s word. The Gospel is God’s way of giving life to dead sinners and to dead churches. Friends, many of us are called to go to a church that is orthodox on paper, and dead in practice. There is no other way. This is what God does. He creates His people by His word. If you want to work for renewed life, and health, and holiness for your church, then you must work according to God’s revealed mode of operation. Otherwise, you risk running in vain. God’s word is His supernatural power for accomplishing His supernatural work. That’s why our eloquence, our innovations, our programs are so much less important than we think. That’s why we, as pastors have to give ourselves to preaching, not programs. That’s why we need to be teaching our congregations to value God’s word over programs.

Preaching the content and intent is what God used to call His people and build His church in the past. It is what God uses today to build His church. So, preaching His word, His Gospel is primary. Practically, one thing that means for Pastors is – if you want to know what the heart of your public ministry is- it’s your private study. The heart of your pastoral ministry is when you are giving yourself to God’s word in private. To poring over it, studying it, praying for God’s Spirit to give you eyes to see. Praying for the people He has called you to preach His word to. You must give yourself to the study of God’s word.  What did Paul say to Timothy? 2 Timothy 4:2 Preach the word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction. We must teach our congregations that this is our job description. (19:00)

2. Prayer

man prayingThe second aspect of a disciple making ministry is prayer. In your personal life, pray. In your homes, pray. In your meetings with others, pray. In your public services, devote so much time to prayer that nominal Christians are bored by talking to a God they only claim to know. Don’t worry about them. Don’t try to pitch your times together so nominal Christians will like, you will kill your church. You want to be a disciple making pastor? Pray to God, unashamedly, publicly. Lead your people into praying to God. Show them how to pray to God, by your own example of praying. You want to attract real Christians and hungry non Christians.

Diligently call upon God by prayer for the true understanding of His word. So that you may be able to teach and exhort by the Scriptures with wholesome doctrine and to withstand and convince those who oppose the truth. Prayer shows our dependance on God. It honors Him as the source of all blessing. It reminds us that ultimately converting individuals and churches is His work, not ours. Jesus reassures us that if we abide in Him, and if His words abide in us, that we can ask anything, according to His will and know that He will give it to us.  What a promise! Are you seeing that in your church? (22:00)

Okay, what then shall we pray for, if that’s the case?

  1. What more appropriate prayer could a pastor pray for the church he serves than the prayer of Paul for the churches that Paul planted? Just look through the New Testament: Ephesians 1, 3 Philippians 1, Colossians 1, 2 Thessalonians 1. Allow these prayers to be a starting point for praying Scriptures more consistently. Instruct your church members that one of their most effective ministries is praying for you. 
  2. Pray that your preaching the Gospel would be faithful and accurate and clear.
  3. Pray for the increasing maturity of the congregation, that your local church would grow in corporate love and holiness and sound doctrine, such that the testimony of the church in the community would be distinctively pure and attractive to unbelievers.
  4. Pray for sinners to be converted, and the church built up through the preaching of the Gospel.
  5. Pray for opportunities for yourself and your church members to do personal evangelism. Model that yourself. Pray about such matters publicly in your services.

Pray personally. Model for your congregation faithfulness, in praying for your people. Your prayers don’t have to be long, just biblical. You want to give yourself to prayer. If you want to make disciples, as a pastor, preach God’s word, pray, and

3. Personal Disciple Relationships

bible study groupOne of the most biblical and valuable uses of your time as a pastor, and I realize that a pastor’s time is limited, but have personal disciple relationships in which you meet with a few people one on one to do them good spiritually. If you’re in the kind of church that’s given to gossip about the pastor having friends, you need to confront that head on. Call it carnal, jealous, ungodly, satanic. Tell them you’re a human being, you can have friends or they can fire you. I’m not joking. I really think we are responsible to teach our congregations that that is a good and Godly thing, and will be for their own benefit, even if they’re not the immediate ones that you have time to befriend. Because what will happen through your discipling relationships, your church will be built up and your whole congregation will be blessed through the mature leadership. Pray against the tendency you see to jealousy, or to gossip in this. Teach and encourage your fellow workers to join in with you in this ministry.

So, initiate personal care and concern for others, and pray God would use you to establish a culture of that in your church. Not merely a program that you can implement, a staff member responsible for it and think you’ve taken care of that. This practice of personal discipling is helpful on a number of fronts. It obviously is a good thing for the person being discipled, because they’re getting biblical encouragement and advice from someone a little further along in terms of the life stages or their walk with the Lord. In this way, I think discipling can help to function through another channel in which the word can flow into the hearts of the members and get worked out in the context of personal fellowship.

It’s good for the one who disciples as well, because it encourages you to think of discipling not as something that super christians do, but it’s something that, if you’ve been a christian for 2 weeks, you’ve got something to say to someone who just came to Christ yesterday. It’s part and parcel of your own discipleship to help other people follow Christ. Members need to know that spiritual maturity is not only about their own private quiet times, but about their love for other believers and their quiet expression about that love. It promotes this culture of growing a distinctively christian community in which people are loving one another, not simply as the world loves, but as followers of Christ, who are together trying to understand and live out the implications of what Jesus commanded His disciples, there in Matthew 28- that we are to live our lives in love for God and others. These kinds of relationships help both spiritual and numerical growth of a church.

Another healthy byproduct of your own personal discipling is that other members of your church- you will find that it helps dissolve resistance to your pastoral leadership, as you are there with individuals, trying to help them. Developing these kinds of relationships establishes personal knowledge of yourself, which is so helpful in nurturing personal trust of your character and your motive, and growing an appropriate level of your leadership among the congregation. Brother Pastor, pray for sheep who want shepherds, who want to be pastored and loved, and cared for.

4. Patience

Brothers, run at a pace the congregation can keep.

  1. patienceHave a biblical perspective on time. You’re there for the long haul.
  2. Have a biblical perspective on eternity. As Pastors, we will one day be held accountable by God for the way we’ve led and fed His lambs. All our ways are before Him. He will know if we’ve used the congregation simply to build a career for ourselves. He will know if we’ve led them, or left them prematurely for our own convenience and benefit. He will know if we drove the sheep too hard. Shepherd the flock in a way that you won’t be ashamed of on the day of the Lord. Colossians 3 „Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.”
  3. Have a biblical perspective on success. Brothers be careful. If you define success in terms of size, and your desire for numerical growth will probably outrun your patience with the congregation, and perhaps even your fidelity to biblical methods. Either your ministry among your people will be cut short- I mean, you’ll be fired- or you’ll resort to methods to draw a crowd without preaching the true gospel. You will trip over the hurdle of your own ambitions. But, if you define success in terms of faithfulness, then you’re in a position to persevere, because you’re released from the demand of immediately observable results  are freeing you for faithfulness in Gospel ministry, to whatever the message would call us to, leaving the numbers to the Lord. It seems ironic at first, but, trading in size for faithfulness as the yardstick for success is often the yardstick for legitimate numerical growth.

God is happiest, it seems, to entrust His flock to those who shepherd in that way. Confidence to christian ministry does not  come from personal competence or charm or charisma, or experience. Nor does it come from having the right programs in place, or jumping on the band wagon  of the latest ministry fad. It doesn’t even come from getting a degree from seminary. Much like Joshua, our confidence is to be in the presence and the power and the promises of God.

More specifically, confidence for becoming and being a pastor comes from depending on the power of the Holy Spirit to make us adequate through the equipping ministry of God’s word. 2 Corinthians 3:4-6 Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God,who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. And, how does the Spirit make us adequate? What instrument does He use? God’s word. 2 Timothy 3;16 All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, The one thing necessary is the power of God’s word. That’s why preaching and prayer will always be paramount, no matter what fads top the charts. Stake your ministry on the power of the Gospel. Success is faithfulness in these matters.

Summary

Preach, and pray. Love, and stay. One day, before the American Revolution, there was a day of remarkable gloom and darkness. There was an eclipse over the New England states., known for years afterwards, simply as ‘the dark day’. A day when the light of the sun was slowly extinguished. The legislature of Connecticut was in session, and as its members saw the unexpected and unaccountable darkness coming on, they shared in a general awe and terror. It was supposed by many that this was the last day, that the day of judgment had come. And someone, in consternation, moved and adjournment. And then, there arose an old Puritan legislator, a Mr. Davenport of Stanford, and said that if the last day had come, he desired to be found in his place, doing his duty. And, therefore moved that candles should be brought in, so that the house could proceed with its duty. I think there was a quietness in that man’s mind. The quietness of heavenly wisdom, an inflexible wisdom to obey present duty. Pastor friend, you and I should do our duty, in all things, like this old Puritan. We can’t do more. We should never wish to do less. The ministry has private discouragements, and public discouragements aplenty. And God’s kindness to it, often has compensating blessings in this life.

One day, these clouds will be rolled back like a scroll. Live and minister in light of that day.

Voddie Baucham – When to leave a church

baucham

This is a short clip uploaded by wretchedtv. Watch the message Voddie Baucham preached at this same G3 conference (including full transcript) here- Voddie Baucham – What the Gospel Is, and What it is Not

Voddie Baucham on when and if one should leave a church. Some points from Baucham:

  • When you leave a church, there’s a way that you leave a church. We leave a church when we are in a right relationship with that church. There can be a variety of reasons to leave a church, but, it’s always to go to a church- if God’s called you to another place, you’ve had to move, or you found a church that better suits you or fits you. It’s not (because) ‘I don’t like you, or you don’t sing the songs that I like

If the church plays contemporary music and I like hymns, is that a reason to leave?

  • It could be, but can you stay there and not be divisive? If you could stay there and not be divisive, and be a source of encouragement, and live your life with these brothers and sisters, love covers a multitude of sins. 

Is a good rule of thumb, that if I’m getting bitter, maybe it’s time for me to rethink?

  • I think it’s time for you to repent. Because, when you get to that place, there’s a number of reasons you could be at that place, and they’re not all somebody else’s fault. So, if you’re at a place where you’re gossiping, and you’re becoming bitter; sometimes when we get to that place, things aren’t nearly as bad as we’ve made them out to be, because we’ve rehearsed them over and over again. And, often times, what’s needed at that point is really repentance and to go to our brother and say, „I’m sorry, I’ve been talking against you, instead of praying for you. I’m sorry.” 

Join the Christians of Iraq in praying for unity of the Church – Week of Prayer Starts January 18

iraq

Mission News Network reporting:

Iraq (MNN) – Yesterday saw the deadliest violence in Iraq since late November. Despite the uptick, Open Doors USA says believers are coming together in Baghdad. Starting tomorrow, Christ-followers from 14 different denominations will gather for a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity.

It’s modeled after Christ’s petition in John 17:20-21 – „that they all would be one.” Get your friends to join you in praying for the Church and Iraq and throughout the Middle East.

Read more on the Global Persecution Watch Page

Mai mult

Os Guiness – Engaging an increasingly post-Christian culture in the west (Gospel & Culture Lectures)

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~~You can always look at what conversion means at any moment by whether the church is likely to be worldly or not.

~~The key test is conversion. Conversion should be the radical break that is the bridge between an old way of life and old culture, and a new way of life and a new culture. And when conversion is as radical as it’s supposed to be, that radical about turn of heart-mind-spirit lifestyle- everything, then the church leads on to a new way of life that’s shaped by the Word and not by the world.

~~Now, let’s be blunt. The church in America is numerically large, compared with Europe and many other parts of the modern world. But, it is culturally desperately weak, because it’s weak and worldly. At point after point, after point, the church in America is shaped by the modern world. The world and not the church.

via www.churchleaders.com and photo via www.amginternational.org Video (47 min) from RedeemerCFW (Tim Keller’s Church).

One of the great turning points of World War II was the battle of Britain. And, both before and after that battle in June 1940, Winston Churchill made two of his greatest speeches. The speech before it is the more famous, and is recalled by the words of the last line: ‘their finest hour’. But, after the war was over, certainly after the battle was won, there was a burst of intellectual activity among some of the leading Christian intellectuals in Europe about another line that Churchill had said, in a speech not so famous. Churchill simply said, „The battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon the outcome of this battle depends the future of Christian civilization.”

And after the war, T.S. Elliott, Jack M., Christopher Dawson, Emil Brunner and a whole host of the Christian intellectuals had a strong debate: What was particularly Christian about the victor? What did it mean that any civilization was Christian? How was it that the Christian faith was linked to civilization?And what were the prospects of restoring a genuine Christian influence in civilization today?

What’s interesting is that the same debate broke out after World War I, although a much more secular discussion. Historians who picked up H.G. Wells and many others, asked the question about civilization again. As we look book after 60 years of the second of these debates, you can see on the one hand where they were exactly right. They were at a moment when a fragility of the civilization showed through. And the underlying barbarianism was obvious. But, on the other hand, any hope they had of restoring civilization has not worked out.

Can we, should we really seek to change the world?

We are today, a long way from a christian civilization in the West. Many, for 30 years have blithely talked about turning America around, making a difference in culture, changing the world. But, can we, should we really seek to change the world? What I am not speaking to is  the crisis. You can easily argue at many levels of a divided West, of an American republic on the verge of potential decline, about the weakness and worldliness of the church in America. We could look at the various aspects of the cultural crisis, particularly in the West. But, I want to assume much of that, And, if that is so, what should our attitude be?

Is it that we resort to nostalgia or defeatism? No, obviously not as people of faith. But, what does it mean, to move potentially into something of a new darker age, if not a new dark age itself?

Let me lay out some thoughts arguing for a Christian renaissance:

1. Bear in mind the first, global task of the church in the global era.

As we look around the world today, the Christian faith is the world’s first, truly global faith. We are the most numerous faith on earth, the church is the most diverse community on earth. In many, perhaps most parts of the world the fastest growing faith on the face of the earth, not Islam. And our faith is through conversion, not demographics. And the Bible is quite simply the world’s most translated  book in all Christian history. But, the church is doing magnificently well in the so called global south and far from well, in the advanced modern world- the so called global north, Europe and the United States in particular. That leaves us with 3 grand global tasks:

  1. To prepare the global south. What is done in the church in the west is capitulation to the modern world the church helped to create. Much of the global south is premodern. So their challenge is coming. And anyone who sees the remarkable growth of the church through the Gospel in China, for example, where I was born is the epicenter of an explosion of the house church movement. Or in SubSahara Africa. Anyone who knows that story, which is real, encouraging and inspiring, knows that much of the growth is a mile wide and an inch deep, as the arch bishop of Uganda put it recently. You can see, the crying need in the global south is for discipleship to match the evangelism. And a discipleship that is aware of what’s coming, with all the challenges, subtle and overt of modernity.
  2. To win back the West. Many people look at the discouragement of the church in the west, and are discouraged and defeatist. But, if you think we are the product of 2 earlier missions of the West. The first of course was the conversion of Rome. Three hundred years- an incredible achievement under the Holy Spirit. But the faith that the Romans had conceived of was provincial misfits. We have replaced the ideology of mighty Rome itself. When the western empire fell, so did most of the western church. And less well known to Christians in the west today is the second mission to the west. The so called conversion of the barbarian kingdoms. What we Europeans need to acknowledge is that while the Chinese were civilized for thousands of years, we were the barbarians. Violent, war thirsty, warring, tribal, and it was the Gospel that gentled us. But the winning of the barbarian people to Christ is an extraordinary story. Patrick in Ireland. Columbo in Scotland. Columban, down through Gaul, and so on. But, of course we are now living in the twilight of that second mission to the west. And the challenge before us today: Do you commit yourself to  a third mission to the west? Do you believe that we could win the West back for our Lord again?
  3. Contribute constructively to the human future. We’re moving into what’s called the crunch generation. For those of you in your 20’s, in your adulthood, many of the world’s questions, global issues, demography, economic and environmental questions, nuclear… many, many issues are coming together. They will have to be answered wisely and well by your generation. Now, at such a moment, we followers of Christ are usually good at fighting evil. We have a long record, unprecedented in human civilization of reforms, of standing against injustice and oppression. But, today we are less good at getting into the thick of any of the great issues of human kind, not just the great evils. Conceiving and articulating, and struggling for constant solutions to guide human kind forward to the future.

2. Explore relationship between Christian faith and civilization

Explore the somewhat surprising relationship between the Christian faith  and culture in civilization. You can define culture very complexly. And the same for civilization. You can equally put them very simply: A culture  is simply a way of life, lived in common.  So you can talk about the youth culture, hippie culture, etc..- a way of life lived in common. A civilization, put simply  is a culture with sufficient extension (it spreads widely enough), sufficient duration (it lasts long enough), and sufficient elevation- it produces sufficient excellence.

If you think about it that way, the Christian faith is actually the decisive factor in what’s now described as the world’s most powerful civilization. If only because our civilization is globalizing the entire world and is not limited to any region or time. But, that’s surprising. We’ve first got to admit that the Christian faith is unnecessary to culture. Can you be good without God? Can you create a civilization without Christ? Some Christians have argued ‘No’. But, I think many have understood that all human beings, whether they recognize God or not are made in His image, living in His world, there is such a thing as common grace, and so you can have ‘good pagans’  who may be better artists than another Christian artist, or better husbands than another Christian husband. And equally, you can have great civilizations that have never had any regard for God, like the Chinese, or the Mayan or Greek, or Roman. Photo below http://www.mbconf.ca

Culture Gospel and ChurchYou can go further though, and say that the Christian faith is unlikely, as a faith to produce civilization. Jesus says, „My kingdom is not of this world.” And He is relatively indifferent to most of the issues we talk about today in political and global affairs. He repudiates and renounces force, which you need to establish any culture. And you can see that neither He, nor His first followers had any discussion or effort to build a culture or create a civilization.

And yet, it is undeniable that the Christian faith is the decisive force in the world. Of course, if we look at our western civilization, we owe a great amount to the Greeks: Philosophy, Science, Democracy, Drama, Tragedy, Literature. And the Greeks were the fist Europeans to have the self awareness that they were not in this case Asians. We owe a great deal to the Romans, particularly in America who prizes the Romans above the Greeks. Whereas in Britain, we prize the Greeks above the Romans. But, law, stability, order, empire lie much behind the American founders understanding of the American republic. And of course, we owe everything to the Hebrews: Supremely to their understanding of God, and all the difference that a radical, ethical monotheism makes. And his view of history and human agency  and a dozen other things.

We owe a lot to all of these. But, if you think we talk of western civilization- all of those were Mediterranean. What was it that made it European, and then Western? It was the church and the Gospel. And particularly, the winning of the blood thirsty barbarian European tribes.And there’s no question. If you look at the rise of western civilization, the church and the Gospel were the decisive factors in creating what we see today as the West.

You look at western civilization and say: What’s distinctive? Our reforms, our philanthropy, the rise of the modern universities, the rise of modern science, human rights, an indirect link to capitalism, an indirect link to democracy, and so on.. all going back to the Gospel and the Scriptures. (18:00)

3. Let’s acknowledge a paradox of our reformation heritage

Don’t misunderstand, I am an anglican out of the reformed heritage and a proud  and grateful heir of the Reformation, as an evangelical. It is the 400th anniversary of the King James Bible. We owe to the Reformation the rediscovery of the Gospel, the restoration of the Scriptures, and the reemphasis on lay people. And through that many historians have said- creation of the modern world. But, we have got to acknowledge with realism and humility that the story is a little deeper than that. And I add some factors, not to debunk the reformation, but to remember that God’s sovereignty in grace and sin, and the fact that as we work today in culture, we too must be realistic about what we are doing, and deeply humbled, because nothing we work at comes out as humbly as we had hoped. (continued below video….)

1. The Reformation’s complexity – There were 4 reformations. Most of us are from the 2nd Reformation of Jean Calvin. But, there was Luther, there was Zwingli, and there were the Anabaptists. Of course, now we recognize that the so called counter reformation was itself a reformation of sorts. So, you take even the 2nd Reformation, it has extraordinary sins of commission. Take the iconoclastic movement, which at the time destroyed the arts in various cultures.

Or you take the sins of omission: It is almost unbelievable today that the Reformation rediscovered the Gospel, but never rediscovered mission. The counter Reformation rediscovered mission.  And Matteo Ricci reached China in the name of the Jesuits. And the Reformation had no missionary movement to speak of. Or you look at one of the great blind spots of the Reformation. The whole notion of the cessation of the work of the Holy Spirit.  The Reformation reacted rightly and understandably against the superstition before it, the way that healing and deliverance had become specialized- you went to a saint, or a shrine that was specialized and commercialized and exploited. The Reformation threw out the bath water, and sadly the baby and said that the work of the Holy Spirit had stopped with the Apostles. Clearly it didn’t stop with the Apostles in the New Testament and it didn’t stop with the apostles in the early church and is one of the great mistakes of protestantism to keep that belief alive today. If ever we need both the word and the Spirit,  it’s today. The Reformation in many circles has lost that. Photo from http://theresurgence.com

2. Or, take, let’s be honest- the Reformation’s entanglements. The greatest 2 corruptions of the Christian Church in 2000 years are with political power  and financial (economic) power. The Renaissance papacy showed both and the Reformation attacked both, rightly. But, we had our own political entanglements. Thank God for Frederick the Wise,  who helped Martin Luther. But, Martin Luther got into bed with Phillip of Hesse’s bigamy and even bypassed his bigamy and moral flagrant sins because he was supporting Luther. And you can see, flowing right down to the 19th century, many of the great protestant nations created great nationalistic religions and clearly, the political power was the ruler and the church was the tool. So, Christian American exploitations are not new.But, the Reformation has led to its own political entanglements, from which we’ve got to break free.

3. The Reformation’s ironies, unforseen consequences- We say rightly that ideas have consequences and they do, but, never simply and straightforwardly .   There are always good ideas, bad ideas, mixed ideas and ironies. The Reformation talked about restoring unity to Europe. And some reformed people are fighting and splitting ever since. The Reformation talked about restoring a ??supernaturality??. In some places they did, but they’ve also produced in certain places the most secular societies  the world has ever seen. They’re enormous ironies and we’ve got to face the heritage of the Reformation as paradoxical, so that we go in today with all that we try to do with a realism and humility. Nothing ever works out quite as we intend in a fallen world. (24:00)

4. Explore these secrets of the cultural dynamism of the Gospel. Getting more constructive and positive here. Why is the Gospel in the church, so powerful in culture? Well, of course you say, „It’s the Lord! The power of His Word, the power of His Spirit.” That’s true. But, what is it when the Gospel and the culture, the Word and the Spirit work in us? That makes even frail sinners like us, together powerful in culture?

There is a key principle that people have noticed. When the church is true to this, the church is truly culture shaping. The key principle goes back to our Lord’s call that we are to be ‘in the world, but not of the world’. In, but not of. Or, as Paul picks it up, „Be not conformed, but transformed, by the renewing of your minds.  And when that’s lived, it is called social dualism- a tension with culture that makes the church powerful in culture.

C.S. Lewis put it one way: He said there are many religions in the world which are world affirming. Say- Confucianism, or humanism. They are world affirming, they only have this world and their whole emphasis is on this world. Then you have other religions in the world that are world denying. Take Buddhism, described as a world gigantic NO human aspirations in all of history. But, Lewis pointed out, the Christian faith is unique. It’s both world affirming, and world denying. The world was created good, very good. And the church has gloried in all sorts of positive things, humanity above all. But, there’s also fasts as well as feasts, sacrifice as well as fulfillment, and denial and so on. And the Christian faith is uniquely both.

The secret of the cultural dynamism of the Gospel:

The social tension of being in, but not of the world

marks the church when it is most powerful.

city of God augustineBut, the deepest formulation of the social tension was St. Augustine’s, in his great book „The City of God’. And that is so important to us because he lived in a time rather like ours. You remember that the conversion of Rome was not actually in 312 A.D. The Christians were allowed and favored after 312 A.D. But, the real declaring of the Roman Empire Christian was 388 A.D., under Roman Emperor Theodosius. And from 388 A.D. onwards were called the Christian times. And believe it or not, they thought the emperor was the second King David. And that Rome would conquer the world and the church through Rome would conquer the world. That was the new understanding under that commission. So these were the Christian times, with the church now identified with Rome.

And St. Augustine said: No- in, but not of. He said, „There are two loves: Love of God and love of the self. And because of that, two humanities: To love God supremely and those who love themselves supremely. And because of that, two cities: The city of God, typified by Jerusalem and the city of man, typified by Rome, Babylon earlier. And Augustine’s point was that the city of God and the city of man are inexplicably entangled, intertwined. But ultimately, they are mutually exclusive. And when Christians live in the kingdom to the city of God- in, but not of- the are powerful. It was his breaking with those Christian times and putting the kingdom of God first, ‘in, but not of’, which lay the siege of the church that took us through the dark ages that were to come. (29:20)

That’s the key principle. But, there’s a key question. We can easily say ‘in, but not of’. ‘Not conformed, transformed’.  Against the world, for the world.  All sorts of nice, fancy formulations to roll off the tongue. Nice balance for the mind. But they don’t make any difference if we’re not living them. So, the key question to ask of the key principle: Is it any one moment in the church which is dominant? Is it the Word or is it the world? Is it the Spirit of God, or is it the spirit of the age? (30:00)

photo from pray-america-pray.org

Now, let’s be blunt. The church is America is numerically large, compared with Europe and many other parts of the modern world. But, it is culturally desperately weak. Because it’s weak and worldly. At point after point, after point, the church in America is shaped by the modern world. The world and not the church. That’s not my central point today (though).

The key test is conversion. Conversion should be the radical break that is the bridge between an old way of life and old culture, and a new way of life and a new culture. And when conversion is as radical as it’s supposed to be, that radical about turn of heart-mind-spirit lifestyle- everything, then the church leads on to a new way of life that’s shaped by the Word and not by the world. And so, you can always look at what conversion means at any moment by whether the church is likely to be worldly or not. That’s why I think the Insider Movement mission in Islam is so dangerous. Encouraging people to come to Christ and stay in the mosque. 31:50 It’s those who have broken with the mosque courageously, sometimes at the cost of their life. The faithfulness and the fruit afterwards are 100 fold different.

But, the same challenge comes to church in America. Look and say on the gay movement. Many of you are on the tail end of that. It started very early with Jimmy Carter’s election to the presidency. Chuck Colson’s conversion, his book ‘Born Again’.  But much of the ‘born again’ movement, looking back, you can see this whether you examine it sociologically or spiritually- has been a form of religious conformism to the American culture, and not a radical breakthrough into a new way of living that marks the kingdom of God. So, explore that with great depth. The secret of the cultural dynamism of the Gospel. It’s the social tension of being in, but not of the world which marks the church when it is most powerful. (33:00)

5. Count on the unique dynamics of the kingdom. I say this because the huge discussion that took place last year was half correct. It put in place a good understanding of the secular dynamics of how cultures are changed. You can read a book, for instance, like Randall Collins’ ‘The Sociology of Philosophies’ (800 pages). If you boil it down to the core of the points made, and they’re all good points, you can see how ideas shape culture and they’re easy to say. There are three principles:

  1. Through leaders, rather than followers
  2. Through the center of a culture, rather than periphery
  3. Through networks, rather than just through individuals or institutions

We as Christians and evangelicals have a lot to learn form that. Our Roman Catholic brothers and sisters are much better at the first- they always go for leaders. Now, their danger always is falling over into elitism. And we, evangelicals, since the second awakening first was led by real leaders and intellectuals like Jonathan Edwards, John Wesley and so on. The second awakening- the Cambridge Revival in Kentucky, you can see the populism, the suspicion of leaders, the resentment of discipline, the throwing off of hierarchy. Everybody wanted it all to be easy, instant and available to ordinary people. Since then we’ve relied on mass movements and we’ve been unable to change culture, one of the central weaknesses of the Christian right.

On the second point, too, we’ve got a lot to learn, although not you people here in New York. In other words, you change culture through the key cultural centers. Again, evangelicals have missed the boat here. It is often said, „Where are the Jewish people strong? New York, L.A., Chicago, which are the leading cultural centers of America. Where are Christians strong? Colorado Springs, Orlando, Wheaton. Thank God for what’s happened here in the last 20 years (New York), but this is rather different.

The third point we’re much better at. The networks, the disciples, the benedicting, the Moravians, the Wesley cell groups, the Clapper circle of Wilberforce, we’re better at that one. But, all those 3 together are only the secular ways of how ideas change culture.

The apostle Paul is aware of that. In his own way, he is always aiming (for example) for Rome. And he finally gets there. But, you can also see in the Scriptures, the unique dynamics of the kingdom which are different. And it’s not one or the other, it’s both and.

  1. The first dynamic of the kingdom is the leader: Is the Spirit. Take the book of Acts. How does the Gospel get to Africa? The Spirit tells Phillip to go to a certain crossroads and he meets the eunuch and it gets to Ethiopia. How does the Gospel get to Europe? Paul is sure the next place should be Bythinia in Asia minor and he cannot get in. Frustrated, the Spirit speaks to him and he goes from Troas to Philippi. One historian says that when that little rabbi (Paul)  crossed unknowing from Troas to Philippi, that was more history changing in one moment than the great battle of Actium which took place just 20 miles away. How did the Gospel get to the Gentiles? The Spirit speaks to Peter. In other words: Not vision, mission, all these grand things we have today. our strategic understandings of timelines and next steps, and all that. FOLLOW THE SPIRIT, AND THEN WE’LL REALLY MOVE.
  2. Another unique dynamic of the kingdom are surprising reversals. I love Luke 3;1 The day when the Emperor was Tiberius, and the Governor of Judea was Pontius Pilate, and the tetrarch of Galilee was Philip… rolls on like that into the high priests. And then it says, „The Word of the Lord came to John in the desert.” It bypassed all of them and went to a nobody. And of course, the whole teaching of our Lord: The first- last. The humble exalted. The high and mighty brought down. We’re in the upside down kingdom and we know that God always works through extraordinary reversals and surprising moves, if we’re open to him.
  3. The third principle you can see in the unique dynamics of the kingdom is that culture is usually almost always a by product. It’s not a goal, it’s not a name, it’s a byproduct. We do have some near exceptions, like William Wilberforce, who at 28 sets out his 2 great objects and for 47 years pursues them. But, as one historian says, „How extraordinary.” And remember that he died just 3 days after slavery was abolished. So, here’s his whole life work and at the end, just 3 days apart. And as one historian says, „How rare that anyone’s termination of their life  and determination of their labors exactly coincide? But, actually, many of the greatest influences in history have been unknown to the people that did it. They’ve been a byproduct. Culture most often is and our Lord’s view of the kingdom is organic, not organizational. It’s like a seed that grows surprisingly in the night. That notion of the organic invisible secret, unstoppable growth is at the heart of so many of them. And you can see today that we tend to ignore that in our organizational frenzied type world. T.S. Elliot said in the previous discussion- You don’t build a tree, you grow it. And the same is true of a great Christian culture. „Seek first the kingdom of God- living the way of Christ in the world today- and all these things are added to us. We don’t necessarily aim for those as the goal. We seek, we’re faithful in our lives, in our callings in whatever sphere of our society we are called to be in and we leave to God the results.

6. Think through some of the enduring lessons of Christian engagement with culture. It is clear that there is no one Christian culture. There is no golden age behind us. It’s ahead of us, when Christ comes. Every period in the past, however great had it’s flaws. But, there are certain lessons of the enduring relationships of the church with the culture.

  1. Success often carries the seeds of failure. I talked about the church at the time of Rome. If you think, ‘How extraordinary that the church would become identified critically with Rome, when Rome was alien”, what is less surprising, but in even greater capitulation, was when the church capitulated to its own culture: Christendom. And one writer at the time of Christendom says, „I started the story of two cities and now I am only writing about one city- the Christian city of Christendom. But that’s precisely why they lost this social tension and it’s not surprising that out of CHristendom came the greatest evils the church has ever produced in the world. Take the Inquisition. Take the wild slaughter of the Albigenians. Take the excesses of the crusades, in the name of Jesus. Many of the evils of Christendom we are still living down today. But, at the time of Christendom they lost the cultural tension, the social tension, „the in, not of”,  and so, they never criticized their own culture and the truth is that the moments of success are often carrying the seeds of our failure, cause we who succeed are sinners. And the one thing that very few of us can argue against, ever, is our own success. That convinces us. 
  2. The second of the enduring lessons sounds like a cliche but it does prove that the darkest hour is always before dawn. That is true of every revival. Five minutes before the SPirit speaks, things look terrible. Five minutes after the Word speaks, everything changes. Take Jefferson’s prediction that evangelicals will disappear and enlightenment would sweep America. Then came, within one year, the second awakening and Jefferson died a disappointed man. The same is true of the so called dark ages. We’re often blamed for the dark ages. „The church created the dark ages.” Nonsense. The Dark Ages were very dark. But, what carried through the light of civilizations of the Dark Ages was the Gospel and the Church. And even historians like H. G. Wells that Christianity „saved learning and saved civilization.” Christopher Dawson says, „Church was the ark of which it was saved through.”
  3. The third principle, also counterintuitive, is the church goes forward best, by going back first. That sounds crazy in a day of innovation. everything’s gotta be new. The newer, the truer, the greatest. No one wants to be left behind technologically. That’s all wrong for the church. Revival and reformation  are actually going back. The two greatest movements in the west, of ideas were the renaissance- largely pagan, and the Reformation. Both of them were movements that were going back. And the simple fact is, as you see in the Scriptures and as you see in history- the church of Jesus goes forward best, by going back first.

Karl Barth  described Martin Luther with this wonderful little picture. He said: Martin Luther was this man, groping his way up dark, steep steps of a medieval Cathedral to the top. Pitch black. Afraid of stumbling, he reached out, he found the stair rope in the circular stairs. He found the rope and pulled it to steady himself, and to his amazement heard a bell ringing above him, which woke up the whole countryside. It wasn’t the stair rope, it was the bell rope. In other words, Luther didn’t say, „REFORMATION. Mission, timeline”, and all that sort of stuff. Luther wrestled with God, wrestled with his conscience, wrestled with his times, wrestled with his church in his times and out of that great man’s grappling came what we call THE REFORMATION. I believe we go forward, each of you  with your faith in God, with your calling in the world- in the arts, in politics, in finance, whatever you’re in. Each of you, so wrestling with the Lord honestly, totally, and together, that the Lord knows what may fall out. Christopher Dawson says, „Is it possible to think that for a third time, the church might be revived in the West, having come to the end of the second time? Then he says, „Of course.” Every Christian would answer in the affirmative. But he says, „We mustn’t answer it too quickly and too easily because what’s at stake today is potentially the whole future, not just of the West, but of humanity.

Description for Redeemer church Youtube video:

As we discuss how the church can engage an increasingly post-Christian culture in the west, it is helpful to take a step back from our own times and historically examine how Christianity has dealt with cultures that seemed implacably opposed to it. Christianity was never expected to convert the Roman empire; nor was it expected to convert the barbarian tribes after Rome fell. Yet, it both cases it succeeded despite the odds. Similarly today, Christians must hold onto hope for a revival in the modern west.

This lecture was given as part of the Gospel & Culture Lecture series featuring Os Guinness. Os Guinness is an author and social critic. Great-great grandson of Arthur Guinness, the Dublin brewer, he was born in China in World War Two where his parents were medical missionaries. A witness to the climax of the Chinese revolution in 1949, he was expelled with many other foreigners in 1951 and returned to Europe where he was educated in England.

To view more resources, please visit http://www.faithandwork.org/resources.

Published on May 23, 2012 by – http://www.faithandwork.org/gospelculture

Iranian government pressures Christ followers of a church to self identify and 700 come forward and give their names and addresses saying, „Here we are”.

Also check out the
Global Persecution Watch Page – Stories from around the world
photo source wikipedia
iran iran

I’ve got to admit, reading this story made me shed tears. Having been born in the same communist country that  tortured among others, Richard Wurmbrand, I have read and known many stories of persecution, and praised God  for those courageous and loving men and women who were true examples of what a true follower of Christ looks like when they served God even  in prisons, because they were ‘not ashamed of the Gospel’. Here’s another example of Christ followers who fulfill those words of Paul in Romans 1:16- For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes…From MissionNetworkNews – mnnonline.org :

Iran is putting more pressure on Christians. In recent days, the government demanded personal details from members of a Tehran church.

„People thought maybe a hundred or so would come forward, and over 700 came forward, gave their names and addresses and said, ‘Here we are. Here’s where we stand,'” an Operation Mobilization worker focused on Iran told us at Urbana 12.

The Islamic republic of Iran ranks #5 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List, a compilation of countries most resistant to Christianity. Under Iran’s harsh apostasy law, anyone from a Muslim background who becomes a Christ-follower faces the death penalty.

The OM worker said for „Muslims who follow Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior, there are often huge obstacles and problems…they’ll lose their jobs, their bank accounts are frozen, and in general, life becomes very difficult.”

Take Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani, for example.

In 2009, Nadarkhani was arrested for protesting the Islamic indoctrination in his sons’ school system. He served nearly three years in prison, refusing the multiple opportunities to recant his faith. Despite an execution order signed in February 2012, the pastor was acquitted of apostasy and released seven months later.

Nadarkhani was taken into custody again on Christmas Day. Officials claimed that he must finish the remainder of his sentence, approximately 45 days. In September, the courts had stated that Nadarkhani could finish his remaining time in probation.

„There’s not been freedom of religion [in Iran],” the OM worker explained. „There has not been basic recognition of human rights, freedom of conscience, and freedom to practice your faith, especially if you’re a Muslim who decides that you want to believe in Jesus Christ.”

Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) reports that December marks a traditional crack-down on Christians by the Iranian regime. Following Nadarkhani’s arrest on Christmas Day, nearly 50 believers were arrested at a Tehran home two days later. CSW says most were released after surrendering mobile phones, full contact details, and passwords to e-mails and social networking sites.

Despite a myriad of challenges, believers are standing firm. There’s a resiliency among Iranians who want to follow Christ, said the worker, „sort of like the story of the man who sold everything in order to get that treasure buried under the ground.”They value the precious treasure they’ve found; they’re willing to lose everything for…the sake of finding Christ.”

Pray for these precious people of Iran, that God strengthen them through their tribulation and that others in Iran come to know Christ through these precious Christ followers’ demonstration of what christianity is all about.

From Hovsepian Ministries and The Voice of the Martyrs Canada:

IRAN: A letter from prison

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De la Conferinta Bisericilor lui Dumnezeu Iulie 2012

Voi posta o predica transcrisa din Limba Engleza recomandata de Pastorul Cornel Ilioi. Daca doriti sa ascultati/vizionati predica in video faceti click pe acest link – http://www.churchofgod.org/ga2012/stream-archive-thursday-7pm/

De notat: La minutul 82 Superintendentul Church of God, Dr. Culpepper declara ca singurul mod in care vom implini marea trimitere a lui Hristos e daca ne unim si lucram impreuna. Ne anunta ca statisticile dovedesc ca se intampla o mare trezire pe glob, in fiecare 25 de minute se intorc la Dumnezeu 3000 de suflete. Apoi face introducere la mai multi vizitatori speciali printre care este si George O. Wood, Superintendentul de la Assemblies of God impreuna cu Dl Arledge (Chief Operating Officer Assemblies of God) Dr Garrison Executive Director of US Missions, impreuna cu Niki Pop si Alex Sangeorzan (tot de la Assemblies of God)la minutul 86:00 (1 ora 26 min).

Bishop Ishmael Prince Charles este Pastorul Bisericii New Testament Church of God International Worship Center,  in Baughers Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands, o biserica cu 800 de membrii.

PREDICA lui ISHMAEL PRINCE CHARLES incepe la minutul 90 (1 ora 30 min):

I was preaching once in Leicester England, there were probably 3,000 to 4,000 young people at that youth convention and I looked and I got so scared that the only thing I remembered was ‘hallelujah’. And, I thought I remembered, maybe it was at Lee University, „Every time you say the word ‘hallelujah’ you are bringing down one kingdom and you’re lifting up another kingdom.” If you catch that, it’s not a hype. Tonight, there are kingdoms in this house that will try to elevate themselves over the kingdom of God. But, tonight we are here to lift up the name of Jesus, above every other name. His name is power, His name is glorious. His name is excellent. The Lord, our God is in this place.

The Church of God is going through what we are calling ‘one of the toughest times in history’, but I declare to you that we are going to rise again. Thank God for yesterday, but our brightest days are ahead of us. There is a reason why we’re going through something, there is a reason we see theologians and philosophical people doing all this stuff. There’s a reason for doom and gloom. There’s a reason for why we pray the way we pray. There’s a reason for the hysterical bombardment and all the boredom that we see and the reason is this: We are about to go through a perfect storm. Because our God is perfect. So tonight here is the key statement you must catch in this message. Get it: There’s a powerful spiritual force that is about to be released on the earth, over the church. It will shake the very foundations of the kingdom of darkness and the church will rise again. Get ready to receive this power! Get ready to stand up and declare again, „Jesus Christ is Lord of all!”

We know the story in Joshua 1, where God Himself spoke to the servant Joshua Moses my servant is dead. Now then, you and all these people, get ready to cross the Jordan River into the land I am about to give to them—to the Israelites. I will give you every place where you set your foot, as I promised Moses. The missionaries that are here tonight, God has positioned. God has positioned the Church of God to take back territories all over the world. Your territory will extend from the desert to Lebanon, and from the great river, the Euphrates—all the Hittite country—to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. No one will be able to stand against you all the days of your life. How many of you know tonight that God is with us?

I want to say to the people of God tonight, „God’s word is saying to somebody: ‘Be strong in these hard, turbulent times'”. Why? Because God is with us! I want to give you a word tonight and it is simple, „It’s time to rise again!” In spite of what the enemy is saying. We have seen it tonight with our missionaries.

(1) It’s time to rise again, but in the power of the pure Word

The problem that I have found out is this: We have deviated from the Bible.

We have deviated from the power of the purity of this book. That’s why we have so many problems. There is no money shortage or power shortage in the kingdom. We are diverted. We have moved away from the power of the Word. The Bible says, „In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.” And the Word is God Himself!

God told Joshua to meditate. The problem we have… Can I just be myself here? … A bunch of preachers are preaching ‘donkey heads’ instead of the Word. Preaching people’s business, instead of the Word. Preaching gossip and all sorts of modern day mess instead of the Word. Preach the Word! It’s time for the Word again. Let’s get back to the Word.

WHat I have found in this word is the very character of God, the essence of the qualities of God that tells me how to live. How many know that we are pentecostals? I was a little baptist boy, 14 1/2 years old on the island of St. Vincent. One night I heard a Church of God of prophecy preacher and he spoke in tongues on the roadside. I said, „God, if that thing is right, I need it”. I went home, knelt at my mother’s bedside and my lips started trembling. My tongue was stuck in my mouth. I couldn’t talk properly. What came out of my mouth, I couldn’t understand it, but it was so sweet. God understood what I was saying. He baptized me in the Holy Ghost. We are pentecostals. Something more than what ought to be seen must happen. If we have the power of this book, something must be wrong.

I love the missionaries of the field, because when they go in the field they have to stand on the word. The miracle we heard and saw from Zambia tonight is because the pure power of the Word. There is power in this Word. There;s life in this world. There’s glory in this Word.

(2) It’s time to rise again out of our competitive jealousy

Competitive jealousy is causing us not to live in the Word. The devil is the instigator of competitive jealousy. He empowers agencies to destroy and blocks the anointing. But the power of the Word is by the Holy Spirit outpouring, it’s what empowers us. There’s a problem in the church. One of the major pitfalls that blocks the missionary operation,  that block the local church from arriving at its destiny of greatness is competitive jealousy.

It stands behind the pulpit. It sings in the choir. It sits in the bands, on the usher boards, it sits on the pastor’s counsel board. The power of the enemy comes down, it’s a secret killer. It’s a spirit that says, „Why do they prefer him over me?” When bitterness overtakes a christian, it leads to nothing else but an empty self that depends only on the devil’s agencies. Competitive jealousy has a root in the preference over one another.

And we have leaders who lead by intimidation, manipulation, victimization and discrimination. Tonight the church of God is going to rise out of this spirit. The leaders must be raised up again to lead with love, to lead with joy. Come out of this spirit of competitive jealousy, there’s too much of it in the church. Let’s rise up out of competitive jealousy, the same spirit that overcame Cain and Saul.

Our present position is not an indication of our future potential in God.

(3) It’s time to rise again and come to grips with ourselves 

We must begin to understand that we must not lead by the enemy’s plan.It is time to return to true biblical, pentecostal spirituality. I want to read something to you: „The church today wants to be everything, rather than the people of God. That’s why we have an identity crisis. The church needs to constantly have the Gospel afresh in this culturally driven society. The church has an anemic epistemology today, hermeneutics of suspicion; we are prone to doubt what God is doing. We need to get back to the power of Pentecost. Peter and John did not doubt the power of Pentecostal spirituality.

Peter and John said, „Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” What they had, the apostles gave. The problem is that most of the people today have nothing to give, because they’re full of themselves… Empty vessels standing behind the pulpits. Grudge, hatred, envy, malice, preaching every Sunday…

The Bible said, when the lame man got healed he  started leaping, shouting and jumping when Peter healed him. Arise and leap and jump. When was the last time in your church that you’ve seen arising? When a church possesses pentecostal spirituality there’s nothing that can stop you from rising. Why is it that we are not seeing the recovery? Because the church has become a consumer item. The church has become what is called in theology a tithing unit. We see the church now, instead of walking with God, the church becomes an emblem of consumer mentality, where sometimes, we just consume in the church instead of having power.

The problem with Pentecostals is that they have compartmentalized their lives. They don’t see their whole lives under the leadership of Christ. This is why so many preachers, great leaders are falling. Because we separate Scripture from its ethics. We separate facts by values. We separate personal faith and say it should be a private matter. But, in this western culture, I’m calling you back. They say the neutrality of all knowledge is a deception of the devil. The essential biblical spirituality is that ‘Now is the time to rise again!’ The church is not just a tithing unit for a consumer relationship. The church is a place of divine capability. The church is a place where the power of God resides, where the sick must be healed, the lost must be saved!

Pastor Ishmael Prince Charles concludes with a poignant story he heard of a young woman, who had a dream when she was 12 years old that she would have a child and the Lord told her what to name him. Something strange happened. A man came to her village and this young girl, who was now 15 told the man, „Pastor, I was already a christian the night I got pregnant in a one night stand. She said I was studying to be a school teacher and now my life is a mess. I am just about to have an abortion”. The holy spirit, speaking through the pastor, said, „Don’t touch the child. I need him”. She brought the child into the world and she said her grandmother kicked her out. She lived by the roadside, in a shack. The child was born in a shack and he contracted pneumonia and asthma. At the point of his last breath, close to death she put him down and arranged his hands to his side. She was so poor she lay him in the street. She said she sat there, a lonely teenager, crying and the same voice spoke and said, „Pick up the dying child, take him to the river and dip him 3 times and the boy shall live”. She said she was so frightened, there was such a bright light. The voice said again, „Pick up the child”. She looked and picked him up and slung the boy over her shoulder. She walked about a mile to the cold, running river and dipped the child in the water 3 times. And the little boy got up and breathed again. That little boy is me.

It is time for you to rise out of your story.

You can watch the message, which starts at the 1 hr 30 min mark here- http://www.churchofgod.org/ga2012/stream-archive-thursday-7pm/

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