What Price Revival?

Fathers, the best gift you could receive today would be the overwhelming desire to seek repentance from the thrice-holy Almighty, the One whom we have long forsaken for the pleasures of the world. Paul reminds us that we are to set our affections on things that are heavenly, not on the things of this world. We need revival in America and in England, but at what price will it come?

5 Indicators of an Evil and Wicked Heart

This blog was posted at Association of Biblical Counselors and was written by Leslie Vernick. I believe the words are very appropriate for what we are seeing, sadly, in many evangelical churches today. While it is important that we call sin what it is, we should be doing so with much love and grace. Ignoring the sin that is present in a congregation and not addressing both forgiving the offender as well as seeking forgiveness when the one offending is a recipe for disaster. The post below is in its entirety as found on the Association of Biblical Counselors website complete with links.

**********************

11953-woman-closeup.1200w.tn

As Christian counselors, pastors and people helpers we often have a hard time discerning between an evil heart and an ordinary sinner who messes up, who isn’t perfect, and full of weakness and sin.

I think one of the reasons we don’t “see” evil is because we find it so difficult to believe that evil individuals actually exist. We can’t imagine someone deceiving us with no conscience, hurting others with no remorse, spinning outrageous fabrications to ruin someone’s reputation, or pretending he or she is spiritually committed yet has no fear of God before his or her eyes.

The Bible clearly tells us that among God’s people there are wolves that wear sheep’s clothing (Jeremiah 23:14; Titus 1:10; Revelations 2:2). It’s true that every human heart is inclined toward sin (Romans 3:23), and that includes evil (Genesis 8:21; James 1:4). We all miss God’ mark of moral perfection. However, most ordinary sinners do not happily indulge evil urges, nor do we feel good about having them. We feel ashamed and guilty, rightly so (Romans 7:19–21). These things are not true of the evil heart.

Below are five indicators that you may be dealing with an evil heart rather than an ordinary sinful heart.  If so, it requires a radically different treatment approach.

1. Evil hearts are experts at creating confusion and contention.

They twist the facts, mislead, lie, avoid taking responsibility, deny reality, make up stories, and withhold information. (Psalms 5:8; 10:7; 58:3; 109:2–5; 140:2; Proverbs 6:13,14; 6:18,19; 12:13; 16:20; 16:27, 28; 30:14; Job 15:35; Jeremiah 18:18; Nehemiah 6:8; Micah 2:1; Matthew 12:34,35; Acts 6:11–13; 2 Peter 3:16)

2. Evil hearts are experts at fooling others with their smooth speech and flattering words.

But if you look at the fruit of their lives or the follow through of their words, you will find no real evidence of godly growth or change. It’s all smoke and mirrors. (Psalms 50:19; 52:2,3; 57:4; 59:7; 101:7; Proverbs 12:5; 26:23–26; 26:28; Job 20:12; Jeremiah 12:6; Matthew 26:59; Acts 6:11–13; Romans 16:17,18; 2 Corinthians 11:13,14; 2 Timothy 3:2–5; 3:13; Titus 1:10,16).

3. Evil hearts crave and demand control, and their highest authority is their own self-reference.

They reject feedback, real accountability, and make up their own rules to live by. They use Scripture to their own advantage but ignore and reject passages that might require self-correction and repentance. (Romans 2:8; Psalms 10; 36:1–4; 50:16–22; 54:5,6; 73:6–9; Proverbs 21:24; Jude 1:8–16).

4. Evil hearts play on the sympathies of good-willed people, often trumping the grace card.

They demand mercy but give none themselves. They demand warmth, forgiveness, and intimacy from those they have harmed with no empathy for the pain they have caused and no real intention of making amends or working hard to rebuild broken trust. (Proverbs 21:10; 1 Peter 2:16; Jude 1:4).

5. Evil hearts have no conscience, no remorse.

They do not struggle against sin or evil—they delight in it—all the while masquerading as someone of noble character. (Proverbs 2:14–15; 10:23; 12:10; 21:27,29; Isaiah 32:6; Romans 1:30; 2 Corinthians 11:13–15)

If you are working with someone who exhibits these characteristics, it’s important that you confront them head on. You must name evil for what it is. The longer you try to reason with them or show mercy towards them, the more you, as the Christian counselor, will become a pawn in his or her game.

They want you to believe that:

1. Their horrible actions should have no serious or painful consequences.

When they say “I’m sorry,” they look to you as the pastor or Christian counselor to be their advocate for amnesty with the person he or she has harmed. They believe grace means they are immediately granted immunity from the relational fallout of their serious sin. They believe forgiveness entitles them to full reconciliation and will pressure you and their victim to comply.

The Bible warns us saying, “But when grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness; even in a land of uprightness they go on doing evil and do not regard the majesty of the Lord (Isaiah 26:10).

The Bible tells us that talking doesn’t wake up evil people, but painful consequences might. Jesus didn’t wake up the Pharisee’s with his talk nor did God’s counsel impact Cain (Genesis 4). In addition, the Bible shows us that when someone is truly sorry for the pain they have caused, he or she is eager to make amends to those they have harmed by their sin (see Zacchaeus’ response when he repented of his greed in Luke 19).

Tim Keller writes, “If you have been the victim of a heinous crime. If you have suffered violence, and the perpetrator (or even the judge) says, ‘Sorry, can’t we just let it go?’ You would say, ‘No, that would be an injustice.’ Your refusal would rightly have nothing to do with bitterness or vengeance. If you have been badly wronged, you know that saying sorry is never enough. Something else is required—some kind of costly payment must be made to put things right.”1

As Biblical counselors let’s not collude with the evil one by turning our attention to the victim, requiring her to forgive, to forget, to trust again when there has been no evidence of inner change. Proverbs says, “Trusting in a treacherous man in time of trouble is like a bad tooth or a foot that slips” (Proverbs. 25:19). It’s foolishness.

The evil person will also try to get you to believe

2. That if I talk like a gospel-believing Christian I am one, even if my actions don’t line up with my talk.

Remember, Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:13–15). He knows more true doctrine than you or I will ever know, but his heart is wicked. Why? Because although he knows the truth, he does not believe it or live it.

The Bible has some strong words for those whose actions do not match their talk (1 John 3:17,18; Jeremiah 7:8,10; James 1:22, 26). John the Baptist said it best when he admonished the religious leaders, “Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God” (Luke 3:8).

If week after week you hear the talk but there is no change in the walk, you have every reason to question someone’s relationship with God.

Part of our maturity as spiritual leaders is that we have been trained to discern between good and evil. Why is that so important? It’s important because evil usually pretends to be good, and without discernment we can be easily fooled (Hebrews 5:14).

When you confront evil, chances are good that the evil heart will stop counseling with you because the darkness hates the light (John 3:20) and the foolish and evil heart reject correction (Proverbs 9:7,8). But that outcome is far better than allowing the evil heart to believe you are on his or her side, or that “he’s not that bad” or “that he’s really sorry” or “that he’s changing” when, in fact, he is not.

Daniel says, “[T]he wicked will continue to be wicked” (Daniel 12:10), which begs the question, do you think an evil person can really change?

 

[1] Tim Keller, Jesus the King, page 172

Dementia – Fighting for Joy

The Gospel Coalition posted this week some thoughts on dementia that I would highly recommend you read. I understand the heartbreak that many go through as they seek to care for their loved ones. As the disease takes hold, the mind of the loved one disappears into an ether that will never return. Some good friends are struggling with this at present with a family member and the sorrow they feel brings back some painful memories.

Dementia

I recall vividly, when my wife and I lived in England, having to watch my grandmother disappear before our eyes. In a very short timespan, I went from being her grandson, to her son, to her brother, and then one painful day, she no longer recognized me. This was a lady who loved the Lord and who had long sung the songs of Zion. Her face had changed little. The pain continued to course through her frail body but she rarely complained in the last months of her life. Even when my own dear mother came to visit us in England, we took her to visit her mom but there was not even a flicker of recognition for her daughter. What a painful experience and another sobering reality of what this life can bring to those we dearly love.

However, there is an unexplainable joy that comes to our hearts when we realize that for those who know Christ, they are kept secure in His care. Nothing can separate them from the love of Christ – not even dementia. For those who are left behind, appreciate what you have because one day it will be too late.

dementia2

We deal with these things because of the curse and sin that has passed from Adam to all of his descendants. Praise the Lord though that one day all of sin and death will be totally swallowed up. There will be no pain, no suffering, no tears, and no diseases of any kind. “What a day that will be when our Jesus we shall see!” This is the encouragement that is provided by the truth of Scripture.  For those who have a family member going through this, still show your love to those who cannot remember you. Many times, in our younger years, they loved us when we did not understand. It is our responsibility and our privilege to care for those who will go before we do to the other side of eternity.

Do not lose heart, dear friends and readers, at what you see before you. Trust the Lord for His wisdom, strength, and guidance as you give loving care even to those who no longer know who you are.

Is Forgiveness Optional?

I have several friends right now who are going through difficult times with people they once had close fellowship with. When a friend or relative turns on you and begins to slander you or in other ways make your life miserable, it is easy to become bitter and to even grow to hate that person. These feelings are not unique to our day.

In Psalm 41:9, David says: “Yes, my own familiar friend, in whom I trusted, which did eat of my bread, has lifted up his heel against me.” Then again, in Psalm 51:12-14: “For it was not an enemy that reproached me; then I could have borne it: neither was it he that hated me that did magnify himself against me; then I would have hid myself from him: But it was you, a man my equal, my guide, and my acquaintance. We took sweet counsel together, and walked to the house of God in company.”

Seaset

Sea Sunset

It is never easy to know that someone hates you or is trying to turn people against you but it is even harder when it comes from someone you loved. Jesus Himself experienced this when one of his disciples, who had walked with him for years, turned him over to the Romans to be crucified. As bad as the physical pain was, it must have been magnified by the emotional pain of knowing the perpetrator was one who had been in his inner circle of friends.

When you are being mistreated, the Golden Rule still applies. You must strive to treat that person how you desire to be treated. This does not mean that you pretend there isn’t a problem and open your heart and home to them but it does mean that you refrain from name calling, wishing them evil, slandering them in return, etc. You do not have to let your good be evil spoken of (Romans 14:16), but you must pray for those who persecute you (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12:14) and ask God to help you to love them in spite of what they do to you (Matthew 5:44; Luke 6:27, 35).

Believe me I know how difficult this can be. I am only sharing what the Word of God tells us in regard to these things. If it were easy to be a Christian, everyone would be one. But, to whom much is given, much is required (Luke 12:48). If you are truly saved, you have been forgiven much, and along with that forgiveness comes the command to forgive others (Ephesians 4:32; Colossians 3:13).

It can be very hard to control the feelings of bitterness that arise but it will be at least a little easier if you commit that person to prayer. Ask God to save them or to convict their heart. Ask Him to give you a genuine burden for that person. Do not allow that bitterness to fester until it controls you. When that happens, you are no better than they are. Life is short, and you cannot afford to allow your time to be wasted through fretting about what is being said or done to you, and definitely not through retaliation. Draw near to God and continue to follow Him with your whole heart. If you seek Him and His righteousness, He will handle everything else for you. Your enemy may never come around but you will have peace in knowing that he or she can only speak lies about you because you have walked uprightly.

forgiveness1

In closing, I would add that, if you have hurt someone, causing them to become bitter, you must humble yourself and ask their forgiveness. They may or may not forgive you but you must repent specifically for wrongdoing on your part. Sometimes persecution comes through no fault of yours. I understand that. But before you can pray about the speck in your Brother’s eye, you must make sure there is not a plank in yours. You may even need to explain the situation to a close friend or family member and get their perspective as to whether you are even partly to blame. Only do this if you honestly want to know since you may not like the answer. As painful as this may be, I am convinced that, if you obey God’s Word in these matters, you will find that peace that passes understanding and will develop a closer walk with God than you ever thought possible.

What Would Jesus Fly?

From a secular writer, this article at Huffington Post says it all. If you follow the teachings of a man like Dollar and think he is a true man of God, then you have been duped by Satan himself. This man is a fraud, a shyster, nothing more than a carnival side-show trying to masquerade as a messenger of the Most High God of heaven.

jet-gulfstream-g650-8

Here is what the apostle Paul has to say about people like Creflo in 2 Corinthians 11.

“And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light. Therefore [it is] no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.”

The article includes this choice tidbit – “World Changers Church International said, ‘A long-range, high-speed, intercontinental jet aircraft is a tool that is necessary in order to fulfill the mission of the ministry.'”

How strange – the tool Christ found necessary to fulfill the mission of the ministry was a rough, blood-soaked crown of thorns and a wooden cross!

For the record – the Savior HUMBLED Himself and found Himself despised and rejected by men. He found nowhere to lay His precious head and did not lay up treasures upon earth. Creflo can have all he wants down here because this is all he will ever have because judgment is coming in the next.

Christians Don’t Lie … Or Do They?

Christians don’t tell lies; they just go to church and sing them.
~A. W. Tozer

This quote came to mind a couple weeks ago as the congregation sang, “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus.” As I looked around, I wondered how many were thinking about the words that were coming out of their mouths: “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus, just to take Him at His Word.” My own thoughts were full of how sweet that truly is and yet how much I need to grow in the area of trust.

For many who have grown up in church, it is easy to sing songs because we have memorized them and yet the words elude us. How many times have you sung “Here I raise my Ebenezer” and had no idea what an “Ebenezer” is. (A name for a goblet perhaps?) I know there are exceptions to the rule, but I see way too many people singing lifelessly, and I expect that it is because the words are lifeless to them.

Our songs should be sung from the heart. Our worship must be honest. If you cannot sing honestly, don’t be afraid to stop and ponder the words or pray that God will help you to grow in an area.

There may be times you should sing in faith, “Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,” but if you have not surrendered and are not willing to surrender all to Jesus, don’t sing, “I Surrender All.” God inhabits the praise of His people but, if that “praise” is done simply for show or merely out of rote, He will not bless it.

I do not want to discourage you from singing but I do want to inspire you to sing with your whole heart. Know what you are singing and let Him know that you mean it. You are not singing those words because you have to; you are singing because you want to, and you intend to live them. It’s possible that this simple act could be what it takes for revival to begin in our churches.

Science, The New Hate Speech.

It should be no surprise to any believer that the Christian worldview is going to be hated. Jesus promised that those that follow Him will be hated because they really hate Christ Himself. But we are entering into a new area of deceit. An era that will not even heed or reason according to its own authority. An era where it is okay to contradict your own worldview because there are no absolutes, and there is no way to tell whether or not what we know is right, right?

This kind of postmodern buffoonery has disparagingly rooted itself deeper by denying the most fundamental knowledge in the scientific community – what makes us male or female. Here is a great illustration of what is common knowledge concerning how gender assignment occurs in the most basic of biological text books.

 

 

ChromosomesIf you have read anything about genetics, this is how this chart works. Typically (I’m saying typically for a reason, which you will see below), the sperm will enter the egg during intercourse where the egg houses the X chromosomes. Gender is determined by the sperm, because it can have the X or Y Chromosomes. When we have XX, it is girl. When we mix XY, we have a boy. But wait, there’s more! There is a gene present in the Y chromosome called SRY protein. This gene is responsible for initiating male sex determination in humans, which then will typically cause testes to grow. Wherever this protein is absent, ovaries will grow instead. There are other factors that affect development of sexual organs, but overall, this is how sex determination works. For a great graphic visual of how this works, go here. (Warning: This video goes over anatomy. Although it doesn’t show actual human genitalia, it does reveal the process via computer graphics)

However, because of the fall of Adam in the garden, this process does not always work together harmoniously. Disorders of sexual development (DSD), or atypical genitalia, is a condition which can be diagnosed with various kinds of outcomes, including hermaphroditism. The percentage of people that can be classified as true hermaphrodites are very small. And even though there are other conditions that are likened to this, there are procedures in place that can assist parents and doctors to determine the sex of the child. For more reading about this, click here.

Now let us get to the meat of the matter. Since Bruce Jenner’s “sex change,” there has been a circus of people on TV and in the media outlets that are giving their various opinions on this critical issue. The biggest problem I see is that the majority of people who are applauding this behavior are lashing their tongues at those who view this kind of behavior has unnatural. I have read some pretty hateful comments on Vanity Fair’s Facebook page that truly should be deemed hateful. Anything from “sick” to “yuck” to “I just vomited.” But those remarks don’t get nearly as much attention as those that say, “Bruce Jenner is still a man” or something along those lines.

If we were to place the biblical worldview aside, what do you say about those that are calling Bruce by his new name Caitlyn? What about when they address him as she? What should we call those that bow the knee to such an idea that breast implants and facial reconstruction (which is all Bruce has done for now) makes a male female? One thought comes to mind, science haters. That’s right, science haters. Because it seems that science is the new hate speech. If that is too strong, then science deniers is also fitting. Either way a point in this direction needs to be made.

When we reevaluate what exactly makes us male and female from the time of conception, it should cause a reasonable human being to stop for a second and ponder that sex reassignment requires a change of genetic make up! As of right now, that is genetically impossible! For now at least. What’s worse, though, is if you even challenge the idea that Bruce Jenner is still male because of the scientific reasons cited above, you are still labeled a bigot and hateful person. Hold the phone! Am I a bigot because I cite the most fundamental knowledge discovered by the scientific community? Are we to throw out and burn every page that demonstrates to us the most basic knowledge of how we are made male or female? This is pretty scary stuff. Not only are Christians labeled bigots and haters because we state that homosexuality is sinful, but now foundational scientific discoveries are being openly defied in the name of sexual freedom.

America lost its moral fabric a long time ago. Tracing the black thread that has unraveled us to this point would be too much to write and is outside the scope of what I am trying to convey here. But when a country is willing to spit in the face of the most basic of testable, observable, and repeatable proofs concerning our genetic make up, we have indeed jumped off the precipice of moral hypocrisy to pure insanity. People will quote scientific discoveries all day long and will try to pit it against the Bible as if true science contradicts Scripture. They will quote study after study, and journal after journal using a Darwinian worldview in an attempt to demolish and minimize Christianity as being dangerous, insane, and intellectually foolish. But it seems that observable science is only the intellectual high ground when it is convenient.

The fact that the scientific community is not in an uproar concerning the antics put out by the media and liberal activists is not at all surprising to me. Mankind desires to be autonomous and to be free to sin however they like. They will jump from one argument to the next, like a checker piece, to justify their actions and their immorality, even when they know it is inconsistent within their own worldview. The American public has demonstrated that they are willing to overthrow what has been scientifically observable in order that they might celebrate what they feel is a “heroism.” It doesn’t require any specific worldview or a rocket scientist to affirm that X and Y Chromosomes make a male. But we are not to fret. The gospel of Jesus Christ shines the brightest in times like this.

Decade after decade God has shown Himself mighty in nations that have lived in all manner of confusion and debauchery. And there are only a few ways God moves in times like this – judgment or revival (in some ways, a mixture of both). I’m praying to see God glorify Himself through the faithful few who are going to be bold as lions, and will make the effort to speak truth to their neighbor, their co-worker, friends, and family…Christians who will display the love of Christ by opening their mouths wide to proclaim the truth that Jesus saves sinners wherever people are found. We need a holy people to walk righteously before a perverse generation, and to make His gospel known. Let’s be about our master business and be a witness to those that are within our reach. These things that sinful men glory in are temporary, but there is an eternity that awaits us all.