I posted this up yesterday to my Wordpress site, but I know not to just share a link to that here. I do want your prayers and feedback -- and frankly, your encouragement -- because I'm rather undone.----------------------------------------------------------“Truly, I say to you, there will not be left here one stone upon another that will not be thrown down.” Matthew 24:2In Matthew 21, Jesus entered the Temple in Jerusalem and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, turning over tables of merchants and money-changers and prophetically condemning them as robbers in the house of prayer. He left, went to Bethany, and returned to the Temple later. At that point in Matthew's narrative began a spiraling climax, a standoff between the powers-that-were in Jerusalem and the King of the Jews. The absolute war of words between Jesus and the Pharisees, Sadducees, scribes, and priests, etc., stretched into Matthew 24.In Matthew 24, Jesus left the Temple for the last known time. After having just declared the house “desolate” (Matthew 23:38), Jesus' disciples, apparently not absorbing His point, “came to point out to Him the buildings of the temple” as if to say, “You've got to be kidding.” Jesus flatly responded, in essence, “You see this? It's coming completely down. Not even one stone of it will be left on top of another.”A desolate house, like a divided house, cannot stand. A house devoted in name and indwelled in vain cannot stand. A house whose builder and maker is not God cannot be devoted to Him because He will not keep a house whose occupants reserve to themselves any right or power for their own gratification. In 70AD, the Roman general Titus, with perhaps four legions of soldiers under his command, set Jerusalem ablaze after a long siege that saw many inhabitants of the city die by starvation and disease. The fight that preceded the burning was hand-to-hand, house-to-house. When soldiers finally reached the Temple, they were so enraged and determined to destroy the Jewish people that they hastily set fire to the Temple before all of its gold treasures could be removed. Gold and silver melted in abundance and poured through the cracks and gaps in the stones of the Temple walls. The walls themselves became a mine of sorts that, soon after, would give way to Roman pry bars while those same soldiers dismantled the whole structure as they separated from it the molten riches held therein. Not one stone was left upon another. Jesus said of the church, “Upon this rock, I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18. The rock Jesus referred to has been variously labeled, but suffice to say that He is the foundation of His church (1 Cor. 3:11). The church of Jesus will not lose to the onslaught of hell.His church is a house not built with hands. (Acts 17:24). “The Most High does not live in houses made by human hands.” Acts 7:48. He is not worshiped by our hands. (Acts 17:25). His church is the “household of God...built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone” which grows into a “holy temple in the Lord”, built together for “a habitation of God through the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22His people, though, are pouring themselves like melted gold into the cracks and gaps of houses built with human hands. We are lighting afire the structures of our own designs and wasting the precious gifts of God, inviting invaders to take us away like merchandise for their own exploitation.I'm holding nothing back in these remarks. My wife and I left a fellowship months ago because it had run Pentecost aground and made it shipwreck. (If you're at all interested, you can read my earlier post from early this year, “What's Wrong With Pentecost?”, which forms a backdrop yet again for what is in my heart today.) We started attending another local Pentecostal/Charismatic church in our hometown. For six months, we attended and today [Sunday, 9-20-15] in the middle of service, we looked at each other and said, “Let's go.” We just got up and walked out. I told my wife, “I think I'm through with Pentecostal churches. And I'm heartbroken about it because of God.” You see, the Pentecostal Holiness movement that truly started with the Great Awakening and into the late 19th century and blossomed into the 20th is no longer. There is little discernible hunger for God in truth in what is left of the churches born from that movement. I am wrestling in my own heart to such an extent that I am willing to lay aside all labels about myself as a “Pentecostal” this or that. The term, as precious and precise as it was as an identifier of a certain kind of Christianity that loved Jesus above all and sought to glorify Him in the earth in a humble witness of power and orthodox Biblical truth and practice, is now a meaningless brand name that is being rotated out of consciousness. Whenever it is used, it is largely misused. Conversations with anyone anymore that include the word are all but impossible. And, it is true that our churches that appropriated the name – or even that of its illegitimate cousin, “Charismatic”, and even the more recent and even more nebulous appellation of “Spirit-filled” churches – have become desolate houses fit for dismantling. In fact, we don't yet collectively know it, but the blazes are already burning in them and the fires are not the revival kind. Tripe as praise. Pep rallies as prayer. Sermons fall in one or more of a handful of categories of abject hellishness: alliterated lists of points that do not deliver the uncircumcised heart to the cutting edge of the word of God; scream-fests; hipster speeches by hair-gelled boys or even crunchy-haired old men that are aimed at being “relevant” rather than the transformation of regenerated wretches into reflections of the Person of Jesus; angst-ridden talks to make middle-class suburbanites feel better about their first-world struggles instead of leading them to daily death to self; and Joel Osteen who is now a genre rather than just a guy. We are on fire within and whatever of that which remains precious and of God is being melted for separation from the stones of our monuments to self that we shamefully still call “churches”.As I sit here in bewildered disgust at all of it, one thought resounds in my heart and mind: Where is the prophet of God to declare LOCALLY to each town, community and city in this nation for God's people to come out from its cocoon of worldliness and false doctrine and repent because the time of the Day of the Lord is at hand? Where is the fear of God in us? Where is the burden of the Lord among us? Do we even know Him at all? Where is the one who will stand as starkly as Jeremiah, willing to be called “crazy”, “idiotic”, “subversive”, “out of his mind”, “liar” – all for the sake of obeying the Lord and making His true testimony of Himself clearly known so that all who reject it are without excuse? His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire. Matthew 3:12. He is ready to separate the chaff from the wheat with His winnowing fork. Those who truly belong to Jesus and who are ready to suffer loss of all personal comfort, advantage and even family are like winnowing forks in His hand. His prophets make clear who He is and what He says so that anyone who denies Him has no excuse. Anyone who delays their full, immediate submission to the actual authority of Jesus Christ now is without excuse, and cannot be identified among His own. They are chaff, separated from the wheat. The wheat is the true grain of the true Sower, bearing fruit in the Holy Spirit in His due time. The sweep of the fork of the declared prophetic word separates the chaff from the grain and the winds of culture, the winds of the ways of the world easily carry the chaff to the side where it can be gathered for destruction.The church as we see it in America is extremely flammable chaff. That sounds like the whining of a disgruntled rabblerouser. But it is still true. The church is unaware of itself as chaff because it relies for its identity on so much other chaff that thinks it is still part of the grain. We have sized ourselves up, seen ourselves so favorably, assessed ourselves as the people of God, yet we've been blown about by culture, into the popular demands of “church growth”. We're sold on being a “this kind” or “that kind” of church that embraces and tries merely to redeem the world's ways instead of repenting of them. It manifests itself in the music of the church and the ministers of the church. And, I submit to you that the so-called “Pentecostal-Charismatic” or “Spirit-filled” church in America has been blown so much farther afield from the heaps of the grain of Christ that the fires among us may consume its false witness first.By the mercies of God, may He grant an awakening and a spirit of repentance among us quickly.
Keep'em guessing and just call yourself a Christian, dolfan. Men make labels to segregate one another in the world and they also make them in the religious world. It's like a "club". It only describes a person superficially. Men often take pride in their "club" name. But the Church can do without them.
Tim,In recent months I have talked to various individuals from different communities. We discussed the state, condition of their assembly. With no exception, all are experiencing troubling times. Some are doctrinal, others are accomodating to popular culture in one form or another. As I see it, the devil has accelerated his work in destroying the brotherhood of Believers because he knows his time is running out.In our church we have had visiting pastors issue the alarm, something that has not happened in all the years we have been there. I am hopeful - it appears as though there is a separation of the sheep from the goats going on. This is my perspective of what is happening in churches. As I voice my observations to others they agree. Let us not give up, give in, but stay true.Sandra
Amen we need an awakening in Australia,Mabey you should look to non Pentecost fellowship ,like brethren or Mennonite ,,,,,,by gods grace ,Iv found an ex Assembly of God paster who is 70 years old ,,,and he is old school Pentecostal. We are so blessed to have found this transdenominal church only a couple years old , ,with solid bible preaching ,like Paul washer stile ,but with some a little more scence of hummer ,,very very challenging preaching ,,,,I nearly gave up the idea of finding a church like this ,,,,,only negative thing is we are not in a revile as of yet ,,,,,tho I expect one ,,,,..I gave the paster a prophecy from two years ago about a revivle and the first fruits of a big move of God ,and he also confirmed that he thought it was from God ,,,,,,,,,,,.dont give up believing tim, because God is going to move here and there in a hidden renewal to prepare for a great awakening.You brother are called to seperate your self for a season ,and that season itself will seperate you ,,now is the time to blow the trumpet and call your brothers to seperation ,from the glaring at a cut rose ,to abastain form looking at the dieing attraction ,of the temporal world ,to fast and pray ,,,and expect trust and believe that God has indeed ,he truly has been listing to prayers , he has herd all ,and has kept every tear as a witness ,of your burden ,,the time is come to have faith that God is about to move .You are chosen by him to bare the burden ,and dicect its meaning ,and fulfill and flow in prayer ,expecting prayer ,and to mentor ,some of God chosen vessels ,who will produce a harvest greater then the last four ,to whom much is given much is required ,and God will give you the grace to ministerer ,,but you must believe ,and that will be your only condition that he asked from you in this hour ,, when the enemy comes in like a flood the spirit of the lord will lift up a standard , that wil be you ...,because you will not know ,that it is you , and you will give all the glory to the lord .Listen to what the spirit is saying to you ,because he gave you ears to hear And speak what it is that you desire and have desired for some time ,and lift up and blow the trumpet ,and give no place to what the eyes see ,for you shal live by faith and not sight ,in the coming hour.Repent of your doubting ,for the lord has a gift for you ,a special gift prepared for you , a gift that he has prepared before the world was .Iv chosen you says the lord to be my vessel of restoration ,a hidden vessel , a favoured vessel of sanctification ,to prepare and express my will and plan, listen to me for I love you and you know all that I do ,and all that I've done and shown you in the past , it is time for you to come closer to me and SEPERATE YOUR SELF for a season ,and the season it's of will seperate you ,come be blessed with the new rain af of old ,for it is the time for rain and a time for the wet season has come , dig the furrows down the field of your heart ,dig them to the east that led to my river ,and my river shal flow through your field. And the seeds that you planted and the seeds you will plant will indeed sprout And take root ,and they will produce a harvevest for me ,and the smell of the fruit will be very pleasing to me and to you.. Listen to what the spirit is saying tonight ....
Tim- one of the best things I've read in a good while. A couple of queries: 1) Whose responsibility is revival- ours or God's? 2) why has God allowed His Church to sink so low? 3) Why has the gospel not prevailed? It did 2000 years ago. You asked: "As I sit here in bewildered disgust at all of it, one thought resounds in my heart and mind: Where is the prophet of God to declare LOCALLY to each town, community and city in this nation for God's people to come out from its cocoon of worldliness and false doctrine and repent because the time of the Day of the Lord is at hand? Where is the fear of God in us? Where is the burden of the Lord among us? Do we even know Him at all? Where is the one who will stand as starkly as Jeremiah, willing to be called “crazy”, “idiotic”, “subversive”, “out of his mind”, “liar” – all for the sake of obeying the Lord and making His true testimony of Himself clearly known so that all who reject it are without excuse?"Is this a legitimate answer: "because God has not raised up such a person(s)?"I certainly sense your frustrations. About 5 years ago I was involved with a group of men from differing churches who met regularly to pray for revival in our churches and town. I mean we really prayed. It was pretty intense. But gradually our fire faded, for various reasons, not the least of which was we didn't see anything changing. So to my shame I have not lately prayed for revival, or an awakening. At least a part of the reason, lurking in the back of my mind, is that I am not convinced that God wants revival in America. I wish someone would provide me with some encouragement by convincing me I am dead wrong about this.
God always wants revival in His people! We should never doubt that. Unbelievers cannot be revived, they must be born-again (No new wine in old wineskins). The church in the wilderness (Israel) sunk low because of sin and the Church in the wilderness (world) today is no different. Jesus' warnings to the 7 churches in Revelation prove that He wants revival in His Church as He instructs them in the way they should go. The present condition of the Church is not the fault of the world, it never has been and never will be. Tim got it right when he said, God's people need "to come out from its cocoon of worldliness and false doctrine and repent because the time of the Day of the Lord is at hand?"Fortunately, the Lord knows how to rescue a wayward church and it is never pleasing to the flesh. He has a way of showing us whether our faith is real or if we are just "playing church". Luke 3:17 Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable.Psa 1:4 The ungodly are not so: but are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. Jer 15:5-7 For who shall have pity upon thee, O Jerusalem? or who shall bemoan thee? or who shall go aside to ask how thou doest? Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting. And I will fan them with a fan in the gates of the land; I will bereave them of children, I will destroy my people, since they return not FROM THEIR WAYS. 2Tim_2:19 ...And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity. God is real serious about what He has said in His Word. We should be very sober in these days.May the Lord have mercy on His people and wake us up. 1Cor_15:34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.
Tim,Welcome to the fellowship of the disenfranchised!Disenfranchised that is from the empty shell of organised religion, but connected to the Church of the risen Christ who is our Living head.Gary has written a truly inspired word of encoragement to you and also all those to who will receive it imo. Thank you Brother Gary!
Good post, Dave. Narrow road is normal Christianity. Enjoyed Gary's post, too.
Brother Tim,The problem with the institution we call, 'church' is that, it isn't really the Church at all! And the evidence of it is in the lives/fruit of its ministers and attendees. The word, 'Repent' hasn't been heard from America's [insert whatever country you like] pulpits in DECADES. Where sin is minimized, so also is the holiness of God. We've been visiting various churches and right now, I'm just tired! The music is just downright silly. You don't have to sing hymns [I love hymns] but where did all the songs about the awesomeness and majesty of the Lord go?! Did I mention said churches were 'solid' Baptist churches? Just this morning, a dear sister and I were sharing about Reese Howells' autobiography that we've been reading. She pointed out the one common thread THROUGHOUT his life and ministry: REPENTANCE. In every place where the Lord was truly at work, there is such heavy conviction of sin, accompanied by repentance and restitution. Until we return to that holy ground of personal repentance, the Lord is nowhere near. Our powerless lives attest to that fact.
Wow, guys. Gary, that was intense, brother. I'm meditating on that, listening to the Spirit more deliberately and patiently and waiting.TMK -- I don't know. Every good and perfect gift comes from above, the Scripture says. Awakening is a gift. Revival is a gift. Since nothing good dwells in our flesh, revival must come from God. As to "responsibility" -- I am not sure if I have the wisdom to answer. "Why" God has let the church sink --- again, I want to be careful --- but I quit asking God "why" a long time ago. Seems I never understood or got an answer, and I finally came around to accepting that He owes me no explanation of Himself, but that He simply gives me Himself and He is enough. It finally got through my thick skull and proud heart that I don't have to know "why" He does anything. So, in true humility and still WISHING a little in my flesh that I had an answer for you -- I just don't. I think I know why the gospel has not prevailed: men have loved darkness rather than light, and in the last days we are lovers of self rather than lovers of God. I think that's an expressly Scriptural explanation as to the limited influence of the gospel now. How that helps understand what's going on, I'm less sure of.In our home fellowship, we are being very careful not to get ahead of the Lord. One thing we're asking Him as a group is "who do you want us to be?" And, one thing we're praying to Him as a group is "take us away from who we have been and make us who you want us to be." Another thing we are praying specifically is for God to raise up a prophetic voice in north Alabama (we started out just asking for the county where I live, but others said, 'let's ask that for the whole area, so we are) to awaken the lost and to awaken the sleeping church to a seriousness about Him that the time requires.Dave, we don't want to be disenfranchised anymore than you do. I know how you feel in that you've expressed it here before very well, and I know a little of what you've experienced. Man, we are really concerned about our daughter. She's 11, she's strong-willed, tender-hearted, really cares about people, wants to be a "good Christian", and I feel like we are failing her terribly. We are truly concerned that she have a peer group of believers. Our home fellowship does not provide that. Nor do the local churches. So, we're fighting for her future in the Lord as we pray and seek Him about belonging to a traditional church congregation while we keep meeting at home. I just think I'll throw up in the pew if I have to sit through another session like we've been sitting through, and like we sat through in our previous church. ((I want to speak in self-defense, too. We are not church hoppers. We are not church troublers; whatever positions of leadership or teaching we've been in were offered to us and not requested by us or sought by us except for a discipleship ministry that we did start and do for 3 years -- and when we laid that aside, it was not in rebellion or in anger. We are not church perfectionists. We are broken hearted, and we know that what we see is completely off the rails. We are glad people attend these churches but we hope God will awaken them. I know y'all didn't ask me about that, but I also have been around long enough to know that people who complain are usually worthy of being complained about and we've consciously done all we know to do to be someone easy to shepherd and not be people who require attention or cause problems. ))