Monday, February 21, 2011

Season Of Breakthrough

-by Andrew Strom.

A couple of weeks ago we put out a word entitled "First the Bad News". It looked at the huge "shaking" that is already underway around the globe this year, as well as the fragility of the economic system in the face of the long downturn. 2011 certainly looks to be a "shaking" year.

But now I want to look at the "good" news. You see, I believe all this shaking is exactly the environment in which God's true remnant is designed to THRIVE. A couple of years ago, speaking about this very thing, I wrote an article called "Expand While the Devil Shrinks". I believe we are right now entering a time of breakthrough and advancement and "action" for the remnant of God that has been going through a great 'desert' still clinging to pure Truth. A time of real "release" is near.

Certainly, we personally sense a great time of "New Beginnings" this year and next.

In my article 2 years ago I wrote: "Are you one who has spent years in the wilderness, waiting for God's moment? Are you a David in the caves, a Joseph in the dungeons? Couldn't it be that this is the very moment that God has been preparing you for, all this time?... You see, the "big boys" with their shallow gospel are in increasing trouble through all of this. They rely on big money, big media, big hype and big budgets to get their message out. And the budget is looking rather sick. Could it be that God is leveling the playing field? ... Are the little guys with their message of repentance and heart- holiness about to break through the glass ceiling that has kept them down for so long?"

My belief is that the power of Mammon will increasingly lose it's grip on the Western church - and the power of 'Kundalini' even more so. Both will be in more and more trouble, and slowly I believe the Truth will come more and more into the ascendant. Those with a real message of Truth who have been on the back foot for years are about to have their moment. And we need to seize hold of it when it arrives. But it will be far easier with the wind at our backs. We won't need to "strive". This is God's doing - and for us His burden will be light. But we do need to be ready to act and to move and to step boldly into His plan. "Expand while the devil shrinks". Be daring and move forward. Take action in the Lord.

Already the deceivers and false teachers are struggling. Already the "Mammonizers" and spiritual compromizers find themselves on the back foot. This will grow greater and greater, I believe.
Jesus wants His church back. And great will be the crash of once-mighty manipulators. Already it has begun.

Who will step into this breach? Only those who are ready. Only those who are prepared. Only those who have truly come through the wilderness with no bitterness, no malice and are fully ready for their "Jordan".

I want to encourage the remnant of God with these words: Prepare for action. Prepare to "step up". Be on the lookout for open doors and opportunities. Test the waters and move out.

"For many that are first shall be last, and many that are last shall be first." Be alert to move, my friends. We are entering a new time.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Cranking Out Church Services

*Great commentary in this article!

Don’t let consumer demand determine church message
By Doug Johnson , The Register-Mail

According to a recent article in Christianity Today, Americans consume somewhere between 250 and 5,000 advertisements DAILY! So it makes sense that Christians would be tempted to market the Christian faith in the same way corporations market their products.

This is old news for anyone paying attention to the Evangelical tradition. With the rise of the “seeker-sensitive” church movement, Evangelicals have been trying to market the Christian faith to “seekers” since the late 1970s.

A Galesburg Register-Mail article from Jan. 30, “Church seeks to be more relevant,” raises once again the wisdom of this approach to church planting. The “seeker-sensitive” approach to church-planting works like this: Just as advertisers promise that their product can make you sexy, hip and desirable, churches tell us they can provide you with “authentic relationships” and “powerful prayer experiences.” The message is simple and appealing: Christianity is good for you! It will make your marriage happier, your teeth whiter, your children more obedient and your personal life more fulfilling. Christianity becomes a way of reaching the great American ideal of “happiness” with heaven thrown in as a bonus!

So churches promise to be more relevant, more contemporary, and more authentic — and to offer you a great cup of coffee in the bargain. One church-marketing website puts it this way: “Marketing is the study and practice of better, faster, friendlier and cheaper.” In other words, come to our church because we can give you a better, faster, friendlier and cheaper (less costly to you) Jesus!

The problem is that Jesus Christ is not a “product” and the church is not a grocery store for religious consumers seeking the latest spiritual comfort food.

Click here to continue reading this article

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Movement Reaching Out to Native Americans

Growing movement seeks to take Gospel to Native Americans
by Karen L. Willoughby

OKLAHOMA CITY (BP)--Two major events for Native Americans and First Nations scheduled for this spring indicate a surging interest among Southern Baptists in ministering to the people groups.

"Something is happening in North America that I can't explain except to say that God is at work, and it is happening among our Native American churches," said Emerson Falls, pastor of Glorieta Baptist Church in Oklahoma City.

The first event is called The Gathering, set for March 2-4 at Southern Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. Native American Christian leaders will discuss more effective ways of reaching Native Americans with the Gospel and will interact with International Mission Board representatives who work among tribal groups.

Also at the conference, leaders will hear about Bible storying and the ways God appears to be already at work among Native Americans.

Meanwhile, the North America Native People Summit is scheduled for April 27-28 at the Springdale, Ark., campus of Cross Church. The networking event is designed to bring together Native American Christians in the United States and First Nations Christians in Canada as well as believers everywhere who are interested in ministering alongside them.

With this surge of interest, the methods for reaching Native Americans and First Nations are changing. Previously, Christians went to reservations and carried out their own plans for reaching the people. Now they plan to ask the people groups how they can best help reach others among them.

Author Richard Blackaby agrees that "something seems to be afoot" among Southern Baptists related to Native Americans and First Nations.

"The fact that so many state conventions are being drawn to work together in this project is one indicator that God is the Author of this movement," Blackaby said. "The fact it's among such a forgotten group is further evidence: When God wants to do a great work, He often does it with people like this.

"Anytime you see something happen in the character of God -- when you start to see people open to the Gospel who were closed -- you say, 'That's God doing something,'" Blackaby added. "When you see state conventions all wanting to participate, even those who have never had such a ministry before, that's God causing people to do the unusual."

While signs of God's stirring have emerged throughout the past decade, what is new is a growing urgency among Native Americans to be used in building God's Kingdom, an eagerness among Southern Baptists to be part of ministry with -- rather than to -- Native People and an acknowledgement that work on reservations for the past century has been mostly ineffective, leaders say.

Henry Blackaby, author of "Experiencing God," is among those leading the surge in ministry to Native People. The son of a banker, Blackaby was classmates with First Nations in his hometown of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, before he became a pastor.

"God gave me a tremendous burden for First Nations people," Henry Blackaby said. "He takes the weak, despised, rejected and uses them for His purposes. I've told them God could use them to bring revival to America."

Falls, an Oklahoma pastor, also is leading the movement. He is a member of the Sac and Fox tribe as well as president of the Fellowship of Native American Christians and immediate past president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.

"My conviction is that God can use Native Americans just as well as others," Falls said. "This movement is something different, something that empowers us. We should have been doing this all along.

Click here to continue to read the article.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Legal Dispute Over The Ten Commandments

Ohio judge cannot display 10 Commandments
Lisa Cornwell, Associated Press

CINCINNATI – An Ohio judge violated the U.S. Constitution by displaying a poster containing the Ten Commandments in his courtroom, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

A three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a federal district court's ruling that Richland County Common Pleas Judge James DeWeese violated the constitutional separation between church and state by displaying the poster.

DeWeese's attorney, Francis Manion, said he and his client disagree with the ruling and are considering their options. They could ask the full appeals court for a hearing or appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The judge hung the poster in his courtroom in Mansfield, north of Columbus, in 2006 after the U.S. Supreme Court let stand lower-court rulings that another Ten Commandment poster he hung in 2000 violated separation between church and state. The latest poster titled "Philosophies of Law in Conflict" shows the Ten Commandments in a column listed as "moral absolutes" and secular humanist principles in another column listed as "moral relatives."

DeWeese attached a commentary to the poster that said he sees a conflict of legal philosophies in the United States — between moral absolutism and moral relativism — and that he believes legal philosophy must be based on fixed moral standards. At the bottom of the poster frame, readers are invited to obtain a pamphlet further explaining DeWeese's philosophy.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio Foundation filed suit against DeWeese, and the district court agreed with the ACLU that the display endorsed religious views and was unconstitutional.

The ACLU also sued in the case of the first poster.

Attorneys for DeWeese argued before the appeals court that the latest display was different from the first one, when DeWeese hung a poster of the Bill of Rights next to a poster of the Ten Commandments.

Click here to continue reading.