Another beautiful song from the Getty’s. Go here for more
Another beautiful song from the Getty’s. Go here for more
Develop your “personal Great Commission number” as if it were something as routine to your daily life as church, work, fitness, and carting your kids around. How much time do you spend with unbelieving individuals, and what is the quality of your social relationships with them? You can boost your number substantially by exercising these seven disciplines.
Margaret Thatcher once famously said, “There is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women and there are families . . .” Her point being that we must regard each other at human scale, not as mere components of larger social institutions. The same can be said of the way we use the term “the lost.”
Of course our hearts grieve for the millions who do not know Jesus, but we don’t know the millions, personally. Most of us do know personally at least dozens, some of us hundreds, and rather than lump these precious individuals into one big prayer cohort, we could begin to take their given names before the Lord in prayer. Start writing their names down and praying over them at least once a week.
If you don’t make engagement with unbelieving people a priority, your life will gravitate automatically toward the pleasures and comforts of the church community cul de sac. Identify two people outside of your Christian circle with whom you think you would enjoy spending more time. Look for two more who appear to need someone to come alongside of them as they struggle with burdens in their lives. Target one other with whom you seem to have the least in common, but enough of a relationship that you could see it becoming, with a little work, a friendship. You needn’t feel that you to need to sacrifice any of your principles or values to love someone else. It’s what we’re commanded to do. Love God. Love our neighbors.
Family members are people with whom, like it or not, you are already in relationship. You already love them, and they already love you, despite theological differences. Don’t make them a project, just love them as members of your family. Be sincerely interested in what they’re interested in, even if you find it hard to be interested. Know their struggles. Encourage them. Affirm them. Don’t be estranged. Lean in and never give up on any of them. Above all else, pray for them.
Know your neighbors. Help your neighbors. Enjoy your neighbors. Be the epoxy that glues your neighbors into a neighborhood. Practice hospitality. Make your home a place that your neighbors associate with their love for each other.
For most Christians, the workplace is the place where we will spend the most time with unbelieving people. Work requires us to collaborate with others to see it to completion. Relationships in the workplace are sometimes even easier to develop than with family members. You share more time and, in time, more in common. Don’t allow your Christianity to be a wedge that separates you from co-workers.
You needn’t compromise your values, nor engage in any unbiblical activities to secure a co-worker’s esteem or affection, but you do need to take an active interest in your coworkers as fellow human beings, not just the other spokes in a wheel you happen to share. Appreciate that people in the workplace are not the means of getting your work done, they are the objects of your work as an ambassador for Christ.
Children are now involved in lots of activities, year round. If you have several children, the breadth of your relationship universe is substantial across the expanse of all the other coaches, parents and teammates. So, go deep. Work these crowds. Befriend people in these communities. Do things with them. Bring them together in your home with family members, co-workers and neighbors.
A word of warning: don’t permit all of your kids’ activities to take place in Christian-only programs.
Diversions from responsibilities can be personally renewing and restorative, and great venues for evangelism. Find something fun or interesting to do or learn in which you are not fulfilling a specific responsibility or obligation to anyone — just taking your mind off of things for awhile. But, find something that requires you to do it with other people. Here you’ll likely meet people of all different walks, the bond being the shared interest in the hobby. It will help to find something in which someone else, perhaps an unbeliever, will have to be invested in you to help you along. This can be the leaven of really great relationships.
The truth is the product of this hypothetical formula is not a score, it is joy. There are few greater joys in life than sharing the gospel with another person, even fewer greater joys than knowing you have been used as means, immediately or eventually, in another’s conversion in Christ. Yes, we rejoice in corporate worship, in Christian fellowship, and in private devotion, and also in the essential work of sharing Christ with those who do not yet know him.
The Session of Wee Waa Presbyterian Church met on June 3rd 2015. After deliberation we wish to issue the following statement regarding marriage.
So God created mankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. So the Lord God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man’s ribs and then closed up the place with flesh. Then the Lord God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man. The man said, “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called ‘woman,’ for she was taken out of man.” That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh. (Genesis 1:27, 2:21–24, NIV)
Jesus Christ said:
“Haven’t you read that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” (Matthew 19:4–6, NIV)
Session observes that
For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Saviour. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. (Ephesians 5:23-25, 32, NIV)
“the union between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life”.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) (which does not [openly] take Biblical principles into account) declares*:
Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
(*By quoting from the UDHR and the CRC Session in no way confers any authority to those statements; it is quoted merely to point out that proposed changes to the current law would even go beyond the scope of contemporary humanistic statements.)
It’s that time of the year: colds, flue, coughs, muscle pains and pains in the joints. Winter time surely has its rewards. In most cases our bodies do not have the resistance to these ailments. We take vitamin tablets, we need antibiotics to help fight our systems against the bugs attacking us.
On the spiritual side of things our enemy seems to more active now than ever before. We are bombarded by those who attack the God-ordained institution of marriage. The privilege of Scripture classes in schools is under attack. In the name of political correctness Christians are not allowed to say anything Christ and the Bible in their workplace. Tolerance only applies when you believe in nothing; when you are are Christian you’re free game. This is persecution, but only in its early stage. Hundreds of thousands of Christians suffer under brutal Islamic regimes.
The Church of the Lord Jesus finds itself in a spiritual winter: we are being attacked from all sides; but the most dreadful truth about it is that we are spiritually sick – we are not in a state that we can effectively stand against the attacks.
The British paper, The Spectator, published an article this week, predicting the death of the Church of England by 2067. Between 2001 and 2011 the number of children born into Christian homes in Britain fell by 5.3 million — about 10,000 a week. The paper makes this comment:
We often hear complaints about ‘militant secularism’ and religion’s ‘exclusion from the public sphere’. Many Christians seem to believe that the only thing stopping people of faith sharing the ‘richness’ of their traditions is a conspiracy organised by Polly Toynbee, Richard Dawkins and the BBC.
The Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) in the USA has lost about 800,000 members since 2003, when membership peaked at about 16.3 million.
Our biggest enemy is not outside of us, its within. We’ve tried everything to draw the masses in, and apart from pockets in the world where thousands are still saved on a regular basis, the West has lost ground. Why? Worldliness is one reason; but prayerlessness in submitting to the will of God has to take the blame.
With all my heart I believe what Jesus Christ said in his last address to his church:
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8, NIV)
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:19–20, NIV)
There were glory days in Scotland after the Reformation led by John Knox. That was around the 1560’s. A century later the Covenanters protested against a watered down Gospel in Presbyterian churches, and many died at the stake or otherwise, unwavering in their faith of the Lord Jesus Christ.
But towards the end of the 17th century some children of the Reformation became wary of the battle and started to slip away from the true Gospel of Christ. Bible teaching no longer constituted the fabric of the people, but became one of many diverse opinions. The age of secular pre-eminence was dawning. Old established beliefs, hallowed by tradition, were no longer sacrosanct. Young people met together in clubs and there they pulled to pieces the manners of those that differed from them. At a stage there were seventy-two meetings for prayer in Glasgow, which shrunk to five. The young ministers and students of divinity were falling in with the English fashionable way of preaching and love to call grace virtue. The new teaching took full advantage of ignorance but had little sense of sin.
But there will always be a remnant of believers in the Church of Christ. Around 1730 true Christians saw “the valley of bones” around them and gathered themselves in prayer groups, which they called prayer societies. They found themselves in a spiritual winter and lamented the spiritual deadness in the the church.
During this time a certain Rev William McCulloch was called to the little village of Cambuslang, somewhat to the south east of Aberdeen. The spirit between ministers in his presbytery reflected what was going on in about all of the church: there was strife, tension, harmful paranoia, suspicion and mistrust between members of the court. In this time McCulloch went to see a colleague, who wrote about that meeting:
… [McCulloch] knew he was not called of God, and who was nothing but a hollow hypocrite, to demit his Ministry, and give way to another, who might be useful? He opened his mind very fully to me. The main problem was that since his ordination, he has been preaching on Conversion, and the nature of it and now he thinks he is perfectly a stranger to this great work’
How many times a find myself in that boat! You just want to give up and walk away. There is worship, yes; there are Bible studies, yes; there some who attend prayer meetings, yes; we pray for something more, but it just doesn’t happen. Why?
Then, prayer meetings became a movement. Members of Cambuslang and other churches pleaded incessantly for the outpouring of the Spirit of God to revive his Church. All along McCulloch resisted emotion and sensationalism, teaching his congregation to maintain decency in all matters, especially within the church. God used the prayers of his people.
As the fervour of the congregation rose, so too did the fervour of McCulloch’s preaching, until on Sunday February 14, 1742 a woman came under extreme conviction in the morning meeting. She was carried to the manse and there McCulloch answered her anguished cries of despair with promises from the Bible. McCulloch kept the event as orderly as possible by having those gathered sing psalms from time to time to settle the atmosphere. At the end the woman came to a glorious conviction of salvation.
On the 18th of February 1743 fifty came together to the manse, under convictions and alarming stirring by the Spirit about the state of their souls. This went on for twelve weeks and eventually spread to other towns, and England.
That woman’s conversion popped the cork on the revival that had been brewing for many months and which had been bathed in earnest prayer. Word spread like wild-fire and crowds were drawn from far and wide.
In August of that year at a special celebration of the Lord’s Supper, ministers were called in to meet the needs of the ever growing crowds. Tents were erected near a spacious natural amphitheatre close to the church, as well as in the church yard and a nearby field.
It was estimated that not less than 30,000 people attended on that occasion. Four ministers preached on the Friday, four on Saturday, fourteen or fifteen on Sunday, and five on Monday. There were 25 communion tables, 120 at each, in all 3,000 communicants. Many of these came from Glasgow, Edinburgh, and other towns, even some from England and Ireland. God stirred his work in America through the ministry of George Whitfield and carried forward by Jonathan Edwards.
How did this happen? Surely it was the work of God through his Spirit, but God used the prayer of small numbers of people who constantly and earnestly prayed the He would restored his church to spiritual health.
The prayer groups formed through Scotland, Northern Ireland and the United States were called Prayer Concerts. Regularly, on certain days of the week, small groups of people united in prayer, and prayed for the Spirit of God to revive his church.
The pattern, even before and during other revivals was just the same: God answered the prayers of devoted Christians for the Spirit to give new life to his church. This happened in Wales after Rees Howells became an intercessor for his people and others joined him. In 1860 a Spirit-driven revival hit South Africa and thousands upon thousands came to the Lord.
This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Many peoples and the inhabitants of many cities will yet come, and the inhabitants of one city will go to another and say, ‘Let us go at once to entreat the Lord and seek the Lord Almighty. I myself am going.’ And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat him.” This is what the Lord Almighty says: “In those days ten people from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, ‘Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you.’ ” (Zechariah 8:20–23, NIV)
The Bible proclaims glorious things about the growth of his church have never yet been fulfilled. There has never yet been any spread and pervasiveness of the Gospel to the extent and universality which the prophecies represent. Let’s look at some verses:
God’s promise to Abraham, and through him to Jesus Christ:
I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” (Genesis 12:3, NIV)
About the Messiah King:
May all kings bow down to him and all nations serve him. May his name endure forever; may it continue as long as the sun. Then all nations will be blessed through him, and they will call him blessed. (Psalm 72:11, 17, NIV)
In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as the highest of the mountains; it will be exalted above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. (Isaiah 2:2, NIV)
At that time they will call Jerusalem The Throne of the Lord, and all nations will gather in Jerusalem to honour the name of the Lord. No longer will they follow the stubbornness of their evil hearts. (Jeremiah 3:17, NIV)
From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,” says the Lord. (Isaiah 66:23, NIV)
By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear. (Isaiah 45:23, NIV)
“…the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed, nor will it be left to another people. It will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end, but it will itself endure forever. This is the meaning of the vision of the rock cut out of a mountain, but not by human hands—a rock that broke the iron, the bronze, the clay, the silver and the gold to pieces. “The great God has shown the king what will take place in the future. The dream is true and its interpretation is trustworthy.” (Daniel 2:44–45, NIV)
“In my vision at night I looked, and there before me was one like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven. He approached the Ancient of Days and was led into his presence. He was given authority, glory and sovereign power; all nations and peoples of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed. (Daniel 7:13–14, NIV)
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:10–11, NIV)
Jonathan Edwards writes:
It is natural and reasonable to suppose, that the whole world should finally be given to Christ, as one whose right it is to reign, as the proper heir of him who is originally the King of all nations, and the possessor of heaven and earth.
Our Lord knew what He said will happen. It is possible because He will make his enemy his footstool. But He also taught his church to pray:
Hallowed be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as in heaven.
Surrendering our will, confessing our sins to Him, putting his Kingdom first, lifting up his Name – this is where it starts. The disciples waiting upon the outpouring of the Holy Spirit were praying; when they were persecuted, they were praying; when they faced problems, they were praying; when facing a new task, they were praying.
We can plan and scheme as we like, but without praying we will go nowhere. Allan Webb, a former National Director of OMF Australia said,
“We can do more than pray after we have prayed, but we cannot do more than pray until we have prayed.”
Are we praying?
I want to suggest that we submit to the Lord in prayer. Small groups, regularly, earnestly, purposefully. Think about what family you will team up to pray regularly with. Make it a standing item on your agenda. If you like I will work on prayer points and have it published on the pew sheets.
It will be a concert of prayer – to the glory of God.
Hear us, Shepherd of Israel, you who lead Joseph like a flock. You who sit enthroned between the cherubim, shine forth before Ephraim, Benjamin and Manasseh. Awaken your might; come and save us. Restore us, O God; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
How long, Lord God Almighty, will your anger smolder against the prayers of your people? You have fed them with the bread of tears; you have made them drink tears by the bowlful. You have made us an object of derision to our neighbours, and our enemies mock us. Restore us, God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved.
Return to us, God Almighty! Look down from heaven and see! Watch over this vine, the root your right hand has planted, the son you have raised up for yourself. Your vine is cut down, it is burned with fire; at your rebuke your people perish. Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand, the son of man you have raised up for yourself. Then we will not turn away from you; revive us, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, Lord God Almighty; make your face shine on us, that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:1-19, NIV)
Sermon preached by Rev D Rudi Schwartz on Sunday 14 June 2015
Dr Google is for the most part of our society the beginning and the end of knowledge. So, I find this site to help me select friends. It says make friends with people like this:
One person in this list one can’t miss is “you” – always in the centre and always the most important. This runs contrary to the Bible where God is in the centre: what I do, and the friends a choose are determined by God’s choice for me.
When one grows up, particularly around our teenage years, friendship is important. We suddenly discover the importance of being part of a group. We develop lifestyles which reflect our choice of friendship circle, we choose to dress like the others, wear make-up and hear styles showing that we are “counted in” -and of course there is the ever important idol worship of music artists.
Today, as we look at the Scriptures the message is clear: mind your friends, or: make sure you pick the right friends. Friends can be a blessing, but many folks out there are on the ash heap of life because they over-valued friendship and sacrificed which was supposed to be the most important aspect of the life of a Christian: friendship with God.
The saying goes, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.”
The verse to remember here is:
The righteous choose their friends carefully, but the way of the wicked leads them astray. (Proverbs 12:26, NIV)
Right at the beginning of the counsel of the parents in the book of Proverbs, even before they go into life advice about money, business principles, or minding one’s tongue, the teaching of the parents go to picking the right friends.
It begins with, “If they say, come along with us …” This is the language of the gang.
They offer comradeship. They share one purse and have a common circle; they act as a brotherhood. In addition, they promise riches; precious wealth, spoil from their victims, belongs to the fraternity.
They hold out the thrill of possessing and wielding the power of life and death. They lie in wait for the righteous law-abiding citizen; they identify themselves with the power of the grave and the pit. They are sort of hell’s agents, grim reapers who swallow the innocent alive. This excitement and pleasure beguiles and enlivens the band and calls to the youth to join.
I feel for our young people today; I think in some way we grew up in a more innocent age. Yes, we had our friendship circles, and we did participate in mischief. Yes, there was the enticement of cigarettes, and yes we raided the orchards of many townsfolk for grapes and peaches. Even then there was the pressure to give in to the wish of the group. It was definitely not a cool thing to not be part of the gang.
But there was no drugs, no ice, no internet pornography; surely the enticement to sexual immorality was not as strong. Add to this the pressure of the group to disregard respect for parents, teachers and law officers. It was as if parents cared more for their children – when they out, when they will be back and who they are going with.
I think we should pray more for our young people. We should talk to them about who they should choose to hang out with.
Sure we all know one thing: once part of a group, one can easily become very silly. Social group pressure can be enormous. Just look at how a group of footy supporters act when sitting in the group. If they sat all be themselves they could easily be seen as well-behaved and civilised; they same group can become monstrous, more so when you add a bit of alcohol to the mix. Don’t give in:
Like a muddied spring or a polluted well are the righteous who give way to the wicked. (Proverbs 25:26, NIV)
The Bible’s advice is clear this morning: mind your friends. Pick your friends well.
Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered, or you may learn their ways and get yourself ensnared. (Proverbs 22:24–25, NIV)
Do not envy the wicked, do not desire their company; for their hearts plot violence, and their lips talk about making trouble. (Proverbs 24:1–2, NIV)
When you are wise – and you understand that beginning of wisdom is the fear of God – then what rules your choice of friends is not what you want in the first instance, it is surely what they want you to do, how you should act, how you should talk, and what activities you should be involved in – who makes this choice for you is God: his will is the most important.
Very soon in there walk with God all Christians should learn the Lord’s prayer: Hallowed by The Name, Thy will be done, Thy Kingdom come. Our example is the One who gave his life so we can indeed call God our Father, Jesus Christ: that was his prayer, “Not my will, but Your will be done.” He gave his life so that we can be free from the bondage of sin; He gave his Holy Sprit to bind us to Christ so that we will want to please Him an all we do.
Fact is, the gang cannot deliver on its promises. As birds are ensnared by the invisible net, so the gangsters cannot see the trap they have set for themselves. They lie in wait for their own blood. In the end, the grave swallows them, and the pit takes them. The so-called freedom they promise through drugs is what in the end will kill them too; the so-called sexual freedom to do with their bodies as they like, in the end get to them in all sorts of physical diseases, not to mention the mental torment some have to live with. How many women just can’t forget the unborn child they aborted because of their sexual immorality. There are scores wandering the streets searching for the boy or girl they gave away through substance abuse and promiscuity. Regret always comes too late!
Real wisdom is to consider end of a thing. To see where a path leads is to discriminate whether it is fit for travel. Consider the end of the gang and be wise. For all its promises, it ultimately cannot deliver anything but death. The voice of peer pressure requires the antidote of wise instruction, wether it comes through friends, or fellow members of your church family.
This does not just apply to the young people in our midst today. It is for us all. This wisdom of the Scripture applies to who we take as business partners, who we hang out with socially, who we take that oversees trip with. it determines what societies and social groups will have my name on their membership roll.
We need to be wise here – we cannot withdraw from this world; we need to have a voice in our society. The Bible does not forbid us to have an influence in even a bad society. No, we are called to be the salt and the light in this world. But we should never be dictated to be the world how we should conduct our lives. Because the Bible tells us very clearly that same-sex marriages are against his will; we therefore are guided by what God says, not by the world. But we will surely sound the trumpet for the truth when we called to do so.
We do so because God wants us to be his ambassadors for the truth. There is this verse we need to hold on to in the times we live is.
… if I am delayed, you will know how people ought to conduct themselves in God’s household, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and foundation of the truth. (1 Timothy 3:15, NIV)
Take the message of God’s Word out of society – and that is our duty – and society has nothing to stand upon – truth is robbed of its meaning and replaced man’s idea of truth, which cannot stand the test of time.
A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity. (Proverbs 17:17, NIV)
A real friend is a blessing from God.
One who has unreliable friends soon comes to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24, NIV)
Your real friends, that is if you call yourself a Christian, should be a fellow Christian – which does not mean that all Christians make good friends, or that unbelievers can’t be good friends – we’ve got a long way to grow in our understanding of what the Bible expects of us as Christians to really love one another.
Your true, real friend will do as proverbs tells us this morning:
Better is open rebuke than hidden love. Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (Proverbs 27:5–6, NIV)
True friends are not nice – there is no command of the Lord that we should be nice. Being nice can be extremely dangerous; being nice sometimes evades the truth and dances with falsehood to avoid the boat from rocking. A true friend tells it like it is: the truth and nothing but the truth. Let’s be honest, truth hurts and it opens wounds – but that’s what doctors do to make you better. Always remember, God is more important than friends – his will is supreme. Love your friend to death, but do not withhold rebuke when necessary. Listen to the next three verses:
One who is full loathes honey from the comb, but to the hungry even what is bitter tastes sweet. Like a bird that flees its nest is anyone who flees from home. Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend springs from their heartfelt advice. (Proverbs 27:7–9, NIV)
What does it say? A friend in need is hungry for what is good in the same way a hungry person will eat honey. A true friends heartfelt love and concern is like a spring of water in a barren desert. Such friends are people we should cherish and hang on to for dear life:
Do not forsake your friend or a friend of your family, and do not go to your relative’s house when disaster strikes you— better a neighbour nearby than a relative far away. (Proverbs 27:10, NIV)
If you are in need a friend nearby is much more precious than a brother far away. Remember:
As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. (Proverbs 27:17, NIV)
Of course we need to pour out Christ’s love on those we come in contact with. We should be ready to give account of the faith that lives within us; we should spread the message of the Gospel to all, irrespective of who they are. And we should do so with the prayer that God will use our testimony to his glory and to bring the sinner to repentance and life.
But if it doesn’t happen don’t be discouraged. Keep these verses in mind:
A wise son heeds his father’s instruction, but a mocker does not respond to rebukes. (Proverbs 13:1, NIV)
Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. (Proverbs 18:2, NIV)