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Thursday, April 21, 2016

From the Pastor...

A prophetic word from Professor Ronald J. Sider...

“American popular culture is sick, sick unto death. The illness has swept through the church. Hollywood’s outrageous sexual values and crazy consumerism are rooted in pervasive, long standing individualism and materialism that have taken deep root in our culture…. The gospel of self-fulfillment now reigns.”
Is there any question that Hollywood, television networks, and the entertainment industry in general, would see their culture-corrupting power greatly diminished, if not neutralized, if the majority of professing Christians in this country found their chief source of heart satisfaction and pleasure in the pure beauty and holy joy of the Lord?
How can we say we believe the Word of God regarding the eternal tragedy of human beings living trapped in a state of spiritual death, and continue to waste hours and precious dollars on violent, lust-laden entertainment and other distractions which dull our spirits and diminish, if not destroy, our eternal vision? 
If this can be called Christianity, it is an innocuous watered down version; a minor modified addition to what, for many, really matters most: the pursuit of pleasure and personal fulfillment.
Our affections and feelings are constantly stimulated by, and our attention drawn to, an increasingly frenetic world.  
How often are we driven to the ragged edge of fatigue and emotional exhaustion? (Especially when we are sleep deprived because we can’t tear ourselves away from stupid television.)
Between fatigue and psychological overload the compelling here-and-now values and priorities of an idolatrous culture find it easier to invade our spirits, and by their sheer intensity and polluting effect, may for days crowd-out all sense of the eternal.
By our choices we allow ourselves simply to forget God. For believers there is such a thing as practical atheism: we become mentally and emotionally secularized and our prayers become empty words with no sense of the reality of the Holy One whom we are supposedly addressing.

When our affections and feelings are unconsciously drawn away to focus primarily on the “things of the world,” our spirits are gradually but dangerously defiled. As the virulent values of current culture secretly seep into our minds and hearts, the effect of their defilement is the erosion, if not eradication, of our sense of the eternal. (Ref. I John 2:15)
Although nothing can destroy the life of God in the heart of the true believer, the continued influx of falsity, and the corrosive values of the world-system, cloud our perception of Divine truth. Our spiritual power, often imperceptibly, is neutralized. The Word of God becomes ineffective in us; a dead-letter with no power to sustain the soul against tests and temptation.

Because of the passive acceptance of these evils in the Church, and in the world, the eventual judgment of God is inescapable. The immediate problem and deadly element facing individuals is the  incessant  and  devious distraction factor.
Those born-from-above should be strong enough in the Spirit to handle the corrosive impact of the world-system, but though we seek to maintain a life of purity and obedience, the sheer volume of moral corruption and spiritual declension in the environment can subtly distract us from our “sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (Ref. II Corinthians 11:3, NIV)
Here is the challenge.

“And set your minds (and keep them set) on what is above (the higher things), not on the things that are on the earth.”
Colossians 3:2 (Amp. Bible)

As the original Son of God lived in perfect personal fellowship with His Father, so the Father desires that same relationship with each of His children. Our Lord Jesus promised, provided, and commanded, nothing less.

“Dwell in Me and I well dwell in you. Live in Me and I will live in you….” “I have loved you, [just] as the Father has loved Me; abide in My love [continue in His love with Me].”

    John 15:4, 9 (Amp. Bible)

From "Third Millennium Antivirus" by John A. Cerrato, Jr.

Friday, April 8, 2016

From the Pastor...

​Bringing Back the Departed Glory

By: A.W.Tozer

"What house will you build for Me? says the Lord, or what is the place of My rest?" Acts 7:49

 YOU are the temple of the living God. As God has said: I will dwell in them and walk among them..." 2 Cor 6:16

When viewed from the perspective of eternity, the most critical need of this hour may well be that the Church should be brought back from her long Babylonian captivity and the name of God be glorified in her again as of old. Yet we must not think of the Church as an anonymous body, a mystical religious abstraction. We Christians are the Church and whatever we do is what the Church is doing. The matter, therefore, is for each of us a personal one. Any forward step in the Church must begin with the individual.
What can we plain Christians do to bring back the departed glory? Is there some secret we may learn? Is there a formula for personal revival we can apply to the present situation, to our own situation? The answer to these questions is yes.

Yet the answer may easily disappoint some persons, for it is anything but profound. I bring no esoteric cryptogram, no mystic code to be painfully deciphered. I appeal to no hidden law of the unconscious, no occult knowledge meant only for the few. The secret is an open one which the wayfaring man may read. It is simply the old and ever new counsel: Acquaint thyself with God. To regain her lost power the Church must see heaven opened and have a transforming vision of God.

But the God we must see is not the utilitarian God who is having such a run of popularity today, whose chief claim to men’s attention is His ability to bring them success in their various undertakings and who for that reason is being cajoled and flattered by everyone who wants a favor. The God we must learn to know is the Majesty in the heavens, God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, the only wise God, our Saviour. He it is that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, who stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in, who bringeth out His starry host by number and calleth them all by name through the greatness of His power, who seeth the works of man as vanity, who putteth no confidence in princes and asks no counsel of kings. 

Knowledge of such a Being cannot be gained by study alone. It comes by a wisdom the natural man knows nothing of, neither can know, because it is spiritually discerned. To know God is at once the easiest and the most difficult thing in the world. It is easy because the knowledge is not won by hard mental toil, but is something freely given. As sunlight falls free on the open field, so the knowledge of the holy God is a free gift to men who are open to receive it.

But this knowledge is difficult because there are conditions to be met and the obstinate nature of fallen man does not take kindly to them. 

Let me present a brief summary of these conditions as taught by the Bible and repeated through the centuries by the holiest, sweetest saints the world has ever known:

First, we must forsake our sins. The belief that a holy God cannot be known by men of confirmed evil lives is not new to the Christian religion. The Hebrew book, The Wisdom of Solomon, which antedates Christianity by many years, has the following passage: “Love righteousness, ye that be judges of the earth: think of the Lord with a good heart, and in simplicity of heart seek him. For he will be found of them that tempt him not; and showeth himself unto such as do not distrust him. For froward thoughts separate from God and his power, when it is tried, reproveth the unwise. For unto a malicious soul wisdom shall not enter; nor dwell in the body that is subject to sin. For the Holy Spirit of discipline will flee deceit, and remove from thoughts that are without understanding, and will not abide when unrighteousness cometh in.” This same thought is found in various sayings throughout the inspired Scriptures, the best known probably being the words of Christ, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”

Second, there must be an utter committal of the whole life to Christ in faith. This is what it means to “believe in Christ.” It involves a volitional and emotional attachment to Him accompanied by a firm purpose to obey Him in all things. This requires that we keep His commandments, carry our cross, and love God and our fellow men.

Third, there must be a reckoning of ourselves to have died unto sin and to be alive unto God in Christ Jesus, followed by a throwing open of the entire personality to the inflow of the Holy Spirit. Then we must practice whatever self-discipline is required to walk in the Spirit, and trample under our feet the lusts of the flesh.

Fourth, we must boldly repudiate the cheap values of the fallen world and become completely detached in spirit from everything that unbelieving men set their hearts upon, allowing ourselves only the simplest enjoyments of nature which God has bestowed alike upon the just and the unjust.

Fifth, we must practice the art of long and loving meditation upon the majesty of God. This will take some effort, for the concept of majesty has all but disappeared from the human race. The focal point of man’s interest is now himself. Humanism in its various forms has displaced theology as the key to the understanding of life. When the nineteenth-century poet Swinburne wrote, “Glory to Man in the highest! for man is the master of things,” he gave to the modern world its new Te Deum. All this must be reversed by a deliberate act of the will and kept so by a patient effort of the mind.

God is a Person and can be known in increasing degrees of intimate acquaintance as we prepare our hearts for the wonder. It may be necessary for us to alter our former beliefs about God as the glory that gilds the Sacred Scriptures dawns over our interior lives. We may also need to break quietly and graciously with the lifeless textualism that prevails among the gospel churches, and to protest the frivolous character of much that passes for Christianity among us. By this we may for the time lose friends and gain a passing reputation for being holier-than-thou; but no man who permits the expectation of unpleasant consequences to influence him in a matter like this is fit for the kingdom of God.

Sixth, as the knowledge of God becomes more wonderful, greater service to our fellow men will become for us imperative. This blessed knowledge is not given to be enjoyed selfishly. The more perfectly we know God the more we will feel the desire to translate the new-found knowledge into deeds of mercy toward suffering humanity. The God who gave all to us will continue to give all through us as we come to know Him better.

Thus far we have considered the individual’s personal relation to God, but like the ointment of a man’s right hand, which by its fragrance “betrayeth itself”, any intensified knowledge of God will soon begin to affect those around us in the Christian community. And we must seek purposefully to share our increasing light with the fellow members of the household of God.
This we can best do by keeping the majesty of God in full focus in all our public services. Not only our private prayers should be filled with God, by our witnessing, our singing, our preaching, our writing should center around the Person of our holy, holy Lord and extol continually the greatness of His dignity and power. There is a glorified Man on the right hand of the Majesty in heaven faithfully representing us there. We are left for a season among men; let us faithfully represent Him here.

From : Knowledge of the Holy : By A.W.Tozer


Friday, April 1, 2016

From the Pastor...

Our Momentous Privilege  
  Jesus said, “God is Spirit,” and everything the Savior said and did was clearly premised on the fact that man also is essentially spirit; made in God’s image.
  Because of this existential affinity with God, and through His historical revelation of Himself, becoming one of us in Jesus Christ, we may now worship Him in “spirit and in truth.” (Ref. John 4:24) 
In the words of Karl Barth:

“Christian worship is the most momentous, the most urgent, the most glorious action that can take place in a human life.”

We are to give all glory, worship, and praise to God because of Who and What He is. For as the holy and loving Source of all, He alone is supremely worthy of all honor and praise. Again, it is not because He is in need of anything from us, the need to worship and praise Him is ours, and it is a desperate need; for failure to do so is a deep and debilitating spiritual disorder. The Biblical word for this is idolatry.  

Purity Of Heart
  This is all about heart motives. Everything we do has an inward spiritual cause. 

“Guard your heart (the human spirit)…for out of it are the issues (the wellspring) of life.”  Proverbs 4:23 (Parentheses added)

Motives are the “why” of desire, which creates the feeling of need.  This moves us to will (in terms of seeking a way) to fulfill that desire; to endeavor to satisfy that felt need.  
Regarding the Christian’s desire to obey, worship, and serve God, it is vital that there be a merciless examination of one’s heart. Ulterior or selfish motives are a constant problem. Mixed motives are common. The desires of the flesh can corrupt our motives, causing us to attempt to “use” God to fulfill selfish desires. Added to this is our inability to know ourselves as well as we might. There is a way to find power to obey the command:

“Purify your hearts, ye double minded.”   James 4:8

If we are willing to cry out to God, as Moses, praying: 

“I beseech Thee, show me Thy glory.”   Exodus 33:18

...if we take seriously the command to: 

“Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly.”   Colossians 3:16

...then this precious promise is ours: 

“…because we continue to behold, as in a mirror, the glory of the Lord, we are progressively transformed into His very own likeness, from one degree of glory to another; and this is from the Lord, Who is the Spirit.” II Corinthians 3:18

Through this inward progressive transfiguration, a pure Christlike desire, to live every moment, breathe every breath, think every thought, speak every word, and perform every act, for the glory of God alone, can become ours. As we realize the truth of the glory of His perfection and holiness; it becomes our dominant desire to fall before Him, giving Him all praise, blessing and honor, thanksgiving and worship, for we see clearly that He alone indeed is supremely worthy.
“Give unto the Lord the glory due unto His name; worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.” Psalm 29:2

We desire to obey the Lord, not only because it is the place of blessing, but because an obedient life brings honor and glory to Him. We serve Him, and desire to see the lost saved, first and foremost because He is glorified here on earth and for eternity in truly transformed lives. When we worship, we focus on Him, for He alone is worthy “to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.” (Ref. Revelation 5:12) 

“Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but unto Thy name give glory….”  Psalm 115:1

From "Third Millennium Antivirus" by John Cerrato, Jr.