Friday, April 29, 2005

Friendship & the Fear

One worship leader, who is having an increasing impact on Christian music, strives to hold in creative tension the two elements of friendship and fear. Matt Redman, author of such songs as "Heart of Worship," "Better Is One Day," and "Let My Words Be Few," leads the group Soul Survivor, which meets in a large warehouse in London, England. One year, concerned that worship music was turning the focus to musicians rather than God, Redman and his pastor took the daring step of eliminating all music from worship services. After that period of "fasting," he emerged with a new understanding of worship. As he said in a radio interview:

[Worship] is best summed up in Ephesians 5:10, which says, "Find out what pleases the Lord." If you're talking about music, you want to bring an offering that is going to please him and obviously he is not worried about the music, what style it is or if you're playing in time and stuff. When you pour out your heart with the music and you back it up with your life, that is probably the heart of worship.

An album Redman released in 1998, The Friendship and the Fear, takes its title from a verse in Psalm 25: "The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him." Redman continues exploring the borderland between friendship and fear, for authentic worship encompasses both. It is the proper response when a holy God extends to flawed human beings an invitation to intimacy. In the Hebrew Old Testament, the primary word for worship means "to bow down in reverence and submission." And in the New Testament, the most common Greek word for worship means "to come forward to kiss." Between those two—or combining both—lies our best approach to God.
SOURCE

Prayer: Unanswered Prayer

Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour. Resist him, steadfast in the faith....
--1 Peter 5:8-9

If unanswered prayer continues in a congregation over an extended period of time, the chill of discouragement will settle over the praying people. If we continue to ask and ask and ask, like petulant children, never expecting to get what we ask for but continuing to whine for it, we will become chilled within our beings.

If we continue in our prayers and never get answers, the lack of results will tend to confirm the natural unbelief of our hearts. Remember this: the human heart by nature is filled with unbelief....

Perhaps worst of all is the fact that our failures in prayer leave the enemy in possession of the field. The worst part about the failure of a military drive is not the loss of men or the loss of face but the fact that the enemy is left in possession of the field. In the spiritual sense, this is both a tragedy and a disaster. The devil ought to be on the run, always fighting a rear guard action. Instead, this blasphemous enemy smugly and scornfully holds his position, and the people of God let him have it. No wonder the work of the Lord is greatly retarded. Little wonder the work of God stands still!
Faith Beyond Reason, pp. 36-37
And I'm still fighting for the
Word to break these chains


Luke 9

1And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, 2and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. 3And he said to them, "Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. 4And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. 5And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them." 6And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.


Matthew 28:16-20

16Now the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain to which Jesus had directed them. 17And when they saw him they worshiped him, but some doubted. 18And Jesus came and said to them, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age."


In Jesus' name.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Radical Discipleship & Relationship

A blog I've been frequenting often is a place called "Cerulean Sanctum." I've been challenged and encouraged by this older father in the faith. Ideas about living simply, relationship-centered living, the reality of God in everyday life, its good stuff.

A recent series Dan has been going through is about sex and porn in the church. He has some interesting thoughts to say. I encourage you to check it out. Take time to read the comments to the porn post too, I see Jesus in this guy.

Today he posted on being single. http://www.dedelen.com/2005/04/singleness-radical-answers-for-harsh.html

Definitely keep checking his site...

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The past several days I've been wrestling often with thoughts of relationships (in particular with the opposite species :)) and beyond.

The cool thing is that it hasn't been a angst-driven pity party, but part of a larger, growing sense of needing community.

I'm realizing more and more than I need others.

Its weird, and its a odd thing to realize that.

Learning that I need some sisters in my life, some brothers, and learning that I need people. Its definitely a God thing, because I've been asking for more of His heart for the past year. What a trip to actually be in the midst of that journey.

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I read something today to the effect of, "it's better to love and to be hurt than to have a cold heart."

I'm not sure what to do with that.

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A genuine heart cry is such a powerful thing.

If we do believe God is a God full of desires and passion, have we made an effort to know those things in the heart of God?

Monday, April 25, 2005

Prayer: Pray Till You Pray

Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.
--Colossians 4:2

Dr. Moody Stuart, a great praying man of a past generation, once drew up a set of rules to guide him in his prayers. Among these rules is this one: "Pray till you pray."...

The habit of breaking off our prayers before we have truly prayed is as common as it is unfortunate. Often the last 10 minutes may mean more to us than the first half hour, because we must spend a long time getting into the proper mood to pray effectively. We may need to struggle with our thoughts to draw them in from where they have been scattered through the multitude of distractions that result from the task of living in a disordered world....

If when we come to prayer our hearts feel dull and unspiritual, we should not try to argue ourselves out of it. Rather, we should admit it frankly and pray our way through. Some Christians smile at the thought of "praying through," but something of the same idea is found in the writings of practically every great praying saint from Daniel to the present day. We cannot afford to stop praying till we have actually prayed.
This World: Playground or Battleground? pp. 69-70

Saturday, April 23, 2005

God vs. Sex

This is about Augustine, this is pretty amazing.
"I was astonished that although I now loved you . . . I did not persist in enjoyment of my God. Your beauty drew me to you, but soon I was dragged away from you by my own weight and in dismay I plunged again into the things of this world . . . as though I had sensed the fragrance of the fare but was not yet able to eat it."

What I want you to notice here is the emergence of the phrase, "enjoyment of my God." Augustine now conceived of the quest of his life as a quest for a firm and unshakable enjoyment of the true God. This will be utterly determinative in his thinking about everything, especially in his great final battles with Pelagianism near the end of his life forty years from this time.

He knew that he was held back now not by anything intellectual, but by sexual lust: "I was still held firm in the bonds of woman's love." Therefore the battle would be determined by the kind of pleasure that triumphed in his life. "I began to search for a means of gaining the strength I needed to enjoy you, [notice the battlefront: How shall I find strength to enjoy God more than sex?], but I could not find this means until I embraced the mediator between God and men, Jesus Christ."
SOURCE

Thursday, April 21, 2005

The CHURCH of the COMFORTABLE and TOLERANT

"The CHURCH of the COMFORTABLE and TOLERANT"
-by Jesse Morrell.

Once upon a time in the land called Feel Good there was a Church. This new Church was called "The Church of the Comfortable and Tolerant". Very recently this Church hired a new Pastor, Pastor Peace Keeper, who just graduated from the Seminary of Smooth Talking.

The congregation "of the Comfortable and Tolerant" loved the new Pastor's sermons. Some of their favorites were "God is happy with everyone", "Everything is fine and dandy", and "There is nothing but good times ahead".

Pastor Peace Keeper once made a terrible mistake. He wrongfully allowed Mr. Conscience into the pulpit. Mr. Conscience did nothing but call human mistakes "sins" and called the good folks of the congregation to "repent". Mr. Conscience had never been to the Seminary of Smooth Talking, and maybe he should have before attempting to preach. The congregation of the Comfortable and Tolerant were shocked at Mr. Consciences audacity and arrogance. They said things among themselves like "who does this self-righteous legalist think he is coming and talking to us like that! Why should we allow this false preacher among us any longer to continue to persecute us?"

Pastor Peace Keeper terribly regretted letting Mr. Conscience into the pulpit. Mr. Conscience has betrayed the trust he had with the Pastor. So Pastor Peace Keeper asked Mr. Conscience to please leave the church, he was not welcome there any longer. Everyone was happy that Mr. Conscience was asked to leave, except one member called Holy Spirit. So Holy Spirit and Mr. Conscience left together and after awhile nobody even noticed that they were gone.

Once things were back to normal, the way they had always been, everyone was happy once again in the land called Feel Good. Pastor Peace Keeper continued to sugar coat sweet and wonderful lies that made everyone comfortable in their sins and heavily guarded his pulpit from abrasive truths. Who could blame him? You see, the Pastor loved his new home, his new church, and of course he loved his new income. He couldn't put such precious things on the line! So he absolutely guaranteed that "The Church of the Comfortable and Tolerant" were as satisfied and as happy as they possibly could be while they sat in their complacency.

They lived the rest of their days happily ever after, that is, until they were finally cast into hell.

The point: Rather then preparing the way of the Lord and making His paths straight, preachers are removing the bumps in the road to hell to make it as comfortable as possible for those who travel on them. The backslidden church utterly refused to remove the log out of her own eye and therefore also utterly refuses to remove anything from anyone else's eye. She vehemently opposes those who try to do so also. God help those who attempt to clean up the church and the world! Joseph Parks said it best: "The man whose little sermon is 'repent' sets himself against his age, and will... be battered mercilessly by the age whose moral tone he challenges. There is but one end for such a man. 'Off with his head!" You had better not try to preach repentance until you have pledged your head to heaven."

- http://www.openairoutreach.com

Prayer: Two Conditions Must Be Met

Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence toward God. And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do those things that are pleasing in His sight. --1 John 3:21-22

When we go to God with a request that He modify the existing situation for us, that is, that He answer prayer, there are two conditions that we must meet: (1) We must pray in the will of God and (2) we must be on what old-fashioned Christians often call "praying ground"; that is, we must be living lives pleasing to God.

It is futile to beg God to act contrary to His revealed purposes. To pray with confidence the petitioner must be certain that his request falls within the broad will of God for His people.

The second condition is also vitally important. God has not placed Himself under obligation to honor the requests of worldly, carnal or disobedient Christians. He hears and answers the prayers only of those who walk in His way...(1 John 3:21-22; John 15:7)....

The truth is that God always answers the prayer that accords with His will as revealed in the Scriptures, provided the one who prays is obedient and trustful. Further than this we dare not go. Man, the Dwelling Place of God, pp. 86-87

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Missing Men

An interesting perspective of why there is a three women to every two men ratio in many American churches.

http://www.dedelen.com/2005/04/another-look-at-churchs-missing-men.html


I don't necessarily agree with everything that he says, but he makes a point. The bigger issue here...where are the men at, yo?

Masculine and feminine gender roles in society have all been messed up...and the church's perspective on them has been messed as well. How do we go back contributing to the body of Christ in a way that is true to what we were created to be? What does that look like?

Many questions, not sure what the answers are.

Just wondering

Do you ever get the feeling that no one REALLY cares? That a lot of the times...we're just all talk with no willingness to pay the cost?

I feel on some days I'm just being frustrated for the sake of being frustrated. If I could just pretend everything is fine, smile, and wait for Jesus to come back.

There is something terribly wrong with the church, with life, and it feels like we're just walking through life pretending there's no elephant in the room.

Pray/the Word -> Obey.

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Prayer: The Prayer of Faith

..The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.--James 5:16

A second important requirement if the believing church is to be used in God's ministry is prayer and the response God makes to our prayers uttered in true faith.... No matter what our stature or status, we have the authority in the family of God to pray the prayer of faith. The prayer of faith engages the heart of God, meeting God's conditions of spiritual life and victory.

Our consideration of the power and efficacy of prayer enters intothe question of why we are part of a Christian congregation and what that congregation is striving to be and do. We have to considerwhether we are just going around and around--like a religious merry- go-round. Are we simply holding on to the painted mane of the painted horse, repeating a trip of very insignificant circles to a pleasing musical accompaniment?...

All of the advertising we can do will never equal the interest and participation in the things of God resulting from the gracious answers to the prayers of faith generated by the Holy Spirit. Tragedy in the Church: The Missing Gifts, 7-8.

Imperfect Timing -- Grant Jenkins

Needed.
I watched the sun come up this past Saturday morning. Somewhere around 3:30 or 4 a.m., I picked up the book I had been reading, Fresh Faith by Jim Cymbala, and began reading at the top of chapter 7, “Faith Runs on a Different Clock.” I got four pages into this chapter and was really struck by the way that Pastor Cymbala told the story of the birth of John, as told in Luke 1. Basically, he was bringing the reader to focus on the truth that many times God works on a much different time table than we do and that our challenge as people of faith is to not throw away our confidence in the meantime, bearing in mind that it will be richly rewarded (Hebrews 10:35).

One particular line that stuck with me was: "Many of our struggles about faith have to do with timing. We believe, at least in theory, that God will keep His promises—but when?" He approached the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist in such a unique way that I soon found myself reaching for my Bible to read this account more in-depthly for myself. After reading the account detailed in Luke 1:1-23, I was immediately struck by several things.

First, in verse 6 we are told, "Zechariah and Elizabeth were righteous in God's eyes, careful to obey all of the Lord's commandments and regulations." So, we would assume that surely God honored their faithfulness by blessing them with a full and fruitful life. However, verse 7 says, "They had no children because Elizabeth was barren, and now they were both very old." For so many generations, it had been prophesied that the messiah would be born of a woman, so every woman in the lineage of David had a hope and an expectation that her baby just might be “the one.” So you can understand how that to be barren in those days meant that you were disqualified from even being a candidate. Barrenness carried with it disgrace, reproach and a deep sense of rejection and exclusion. So, before we go any further, when you put verses 6 and 7 side by side, you can't help but see that in spite of the disappointment and disgrace that this couple experienced (Luke 1:25), they were still faithful, obedient and righteous in the eyes of the Lord. That's saying a lot right there.

It's not just that they were disappointed in general, but verse 7 tells us that "now they were both very old," so they had been disappointed for a long time. We aren't told exactly how old they were, but the fact that the Bible makes it a point to say that they were “very old” is an indication that this was something they had been dealing with for quite a while. In fact, it is likely that they had grown so accustomed to their situation that they figured that it wasn't going to change. But verse 8 says, "One day Zechariah was serving God in the Temple ..." Isn't that something? Disgraced but faithful; disappointed but still serving; unfulfilled but undaunted.

While Zechariah was serving on this day, "an angel of the Lord appeared, standing to the right of the incense altar" (v. 11). Zechariah and Elizabeth did not have a child, but they had certainly prayed about it. "The angel said, ‘Don’t be afraid, Zechariah! For God has heard your prayer, and your wife, Elizabeth, will bear you a son! You are to name him John’” (v. 13). This is incredible to me, especially in the context of what we read in verses 6-8, seeing that Zechariah was faithful to serve, all the while with an unrealized hope tucked away in his heart. He may have even forgotten about his prayer, but God didn't.

When you look at the scope of this series of events that preceded and eventually led to the birth of Jesus Himself, we see that the delay in the answer to Zechariah and Elizabeth's prayer was not really even about them at all. It was all about the timing of the Lord. If it had happened earlier, God may not have gotten the glory, and the prophecy would not have been fulfilled. It had to happen how it did and when it did, in order for the prophecy to be fulfilled and John to be the forerunner to Christ Himself (v. 17). The story is encouraging and redemptive on its own, but still pales in comparison to the small part it played in the larger story of the birth of Jesus and how the world would never be the same as a result.

Reading this story, I was forced to ask myself the hard question: "Can I still serve, be faithful and obey even when I don't get what I think I should have when I think I should have it?" Even harder, “Am I willing to accept the possibility that the time I am spending in wait might not even be about me? Does God have my answer on deck, waiting for a set time to reveal it as a part of a larger and much more important storyline?”

In today's culture, we are so spoiled. When we don't get the job, the car, the promotion, the house, the man/woman or even the pair of shoes that we want, we have the audacity to lose hope and slack off in our devotion, faithfulness and commitment to the Lord. This selfishness is magnified even more when we look at the timelines and demands that we put on our faith. When thinking of the things that we give value to and the relatively short time restraints we put on God "coming through" for us, we can quickly see how our attitude and impatience paints a vivid picture of a shallow faith that is built on having what we want when we want it.

How long have you been waiting? Zechariah and Elizabeth waited a really long time, but they were still faithful and trusted in the Lord. I hope and pray that we can develop that same kind of focus and tenacity to remain faithful and obedient even in the face of an unrealized hope or desire. God has not forgotten you, but faith runs on a different clock. Don't lose heart, but in between the asking and the fulfillment, keep serving. Stay faithful. Be obedient. Unplug your clock and trust in the perfect timing of the Lord. Back up from your situation and begin to ask God for a revelation of the bigger picture of His kingdom being established on the earth and how the hope in your heart today fits into the greater story that will play out tomorrow.

[Grant Jenkins is a late-twentysomething entertainment professional who recently relocated from the rolling hills of community-centered Nashville to the cat-and-mouse game that is Dallas, Texas. He misses the Southern hospitality but admits that it is a fair trade for getting to live out his passion on a large scale.]
SOURCE

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Fire

You never have to advertise a fire. --Leonard Ravenhill
Yet nothing draws people like a fire. You see a fire, you immediately start wanting to linger, to see what is burning, to watch what happens next. Fire evoke memories of stories told while camping, the community around bathed in the amber glow of timelessness and wonder. Fire heals, cleanses, and illumines. It spreads and envelops.

If there is any one characteristic of the Church in America in 2005 it is that for all our bluster, our bestselling fixes, and our introspection over the failure of believers to rise above the secular mire, no other answer can come but that we need the fire of God poured out on us.

...
For all too many churches today, there is no fire, only ashes. This is the dirty little secret that no one can utter. And when the Sunday service is over, it's the nagging doubt in every person's mind as they walk out wondering why they feel so empty even though they just spent all that time in church.


SOURCE

Sunday, April 10, 2005

No more excuses

Bigger grumbles about the state of the world can be therapeutic, but societies are mostly shaped by the behaviour of individuals operating within their own personal spheres of influence. For most of us ‘changing the world’ actually means changing the way we interact with the people in our street.

City dwellers who complain that ‘we don’t know our neighbours’, as if this is a commentary on the state of the world could try knocking on their neighbours door. You find it scandalous that old or disabled people are isolated in their homes? Why not try visiting one of them?

People who complain that “the neighbourhood doesn’t function like a community any more” could try inviting a few neighbours in for a drink – especially the ones they don’t know. Neighbours don’t have to be friends, but they aren’t part of our community until we connect with them.

If ever there was a time for do it yourself leadership, this is it. Rather than waiting for someone else to inspire you, why not start inspiring those around you?
SOURCE

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Significant increase in out-of-church Christianity

A nationwide survey conducted by the USA based Barna Research group indicates that the number of unchurched adults in America continues to grow by nearly a million people annually. Interestingly, many of these unchurched people are spiritually active. One out of every five reads the Bible in a typical week; six out of ten pray to God each week; and nearly one million unchurched adults tithe their income - that is, donate at least 10% of their annual household revenue to non-profit entities.

The religious media play a part in their spiritual life, too, with four out of ten absorbing Christian content through television, radio, magazines or faith-based websites during a typical month. In addition, one-quarter of them have conversations with one or more friends who held them accountable for carrying out their faith principles.

Having studied church attendance patterns for more than twenty years, researcher George Barna suggests that the consistent resistance to church life in recent years is indicative of a historic shift in the nation's spiritual vision. "A large and growing number of Americans who avoid congregational contact are not rejecting Christianity as much as they are shifting how they interact with God and people in a strategic effort to have a more fulfilling spiritual life. This suggests that we are on the precipice of a new era of spiritual experience and expression."

Barna expects the percentage of adults who are unchurched to grow during the coming decade. "However, the emergence of a national body of spiritual leaders who are assisting unchurched people in their quest for spiritual depth through means and relationships that are outside the usual institutional vehicles is significant. We anticipate substantial growth in the number of people who are not connected to a congregational church but who are committed to God and to their faith."

Auuuugh.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

"Prayer: Just Wait on God"

But the Lord is in His holy temple. Let all the earth keep silence before Him.
--Habakkuk 2:20

I think we are the busiest bunch of eager beavers ever seen in the religious world. The idea seems to be that if we are not running in a circle, breathing down the back of our own neck, we are not pleasing God!

When Jesus said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15 KJV), Peter probably leaped to his feet and, no doubt, scooped up his hat on the way out. He was going to go right then!

But the Lord said, "Peter, come back, and 'stay in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high' (Luke 24:49)."

I heard a Christian leader warn recently that we are suffering from a rash of amateurism in Christian circles. Christianity has leveled down and down and down. We are as light as butterflies--though we flit, flit, flit around in the sunshine and imagine that we are eagles flapping our broad wings.

Sometimes I think the Church would be better off if we would call a moratorium on activity for about six weeks and just wait on God to see what He is waiting to do for us. That's what they did before Pentecost. The Counselor, 95.

A prayer meeting once, a brother brought up the hypothetical that if we were suspend all fellowship/church activities for a week, would Christians continue to meet up?

I think the vast majority of people would not...and I believe part of the reason why is that we've gotten excellent at doing ministry for the LORD, but not ministry to the LORD. One thing I've learned the past couple of years is that a fair amount of what we can be done apart from the Spirit of God.

Let's face it folks, if we truly sowed in the Spirit, we would reap a harvest from the Spirit. I'm not talking about a 30 year famine here. And yet, for some of our lives, that is what it feels like doesn't it? We're so anxious to fulfill the purposes of God in our own strength that we forget that Jesus himself made it a point to be filled with the power of the Holy Spirit before He began his ministry.

Think about how much we try to do on our own. Let's think about how many prayers we throw up about our dependence on God, but in reality, we are "okay" with it if God does not breakthrough on our behalf.

Jesus was serious when he said, "Wait." That's the one of the hardest lessons that I, as a western Christian, need to grasp. We have such an abundance of resources and such a low expenctancy threshold that we are willing to do ministry without God.

Let us pray, let's labor in the secret place. Being still before God is hard (Psalm 46:10). Prayer is hard, folks! Satan will fight you every inch into that place.

Sunday, April 03, 2005

"The DARK NIGHT of the SOUL"

"The DARK NIGHT of the SOUL"
-by Mario Murillo.

... Another key similarity between revival and nuclear fission is a strange phenomenon that occurs right before the atom splits. The nucleus actually depresses. Scientists observe that the neutron bombardment which seemed to be changing the nucleus, now shows no sign of reaching critical mass. Nothing seems to be happening.

That is also what happens right before a manifestation of God's glory. The revival core will be praying and sensing a rising tide of power and expectancy. All of a sudden, you hit a brick wall. The power is gone. God's presence seems to have lifted. Your prayers feel trapped in your mouth. A deep despair settles in. You feel physically drained.

This is the dark night of the soul. This is where every revival pioneer has been before you and now it's your turn. It will take everything in you to keep moving. The sobering fact is that many who have reached the dark night of the soul have retreated. Eternity will reveal a long, sad history of revival near-misses.

Let me stat emphatically that 90% of revival is getting to the point where an unshakeable resolve is born. Everything you have done before you reach this dark night will seem unimportant. It is what you do now that makes or breaks your heart's desire.

At no other time does God express love more than when He allows this time of total emptiness. God risks being misunderstood. He faces the potential of one of His children walking away frustrated and confused, but He believes the good it will produce is well worth the risk.

What do you do when this cloud of darkness settles on you?

Scientists respond to a depressed nucleus by intensifying the neutron beam, and resolve to do so until fission occurs. They commit to keep moving, not relying on any physical signs. That is precisely what we must do to see the end of this night.

Why does God allow this dark night? I strongly believe that our Father realised that those through whom He works to bring revival receive great praise from the church and awesome attacks from Satan. A person lacking humility won't survive the praise of men. A person without perseverance won't overcome Satan. The revival core must realise this and stand the test.

Just as a scientist turns up the force of the neutron beam even though he sees no result, so true revivalists will turn up their prayer during the dark night of the soul. If the children of God demonstrate that they won't go by what they see or feel, God will know that He has vessels that will not rely on circumstances or feelings to keep them on a straight course.

If the prayer of the revival core continues during this dark night, their true motive surfaces. The only thing that will hold us when the nucleus depresses is a pure heart of love for the lost and a true desire to see God glorified. God wisely observes that anyone who survives this night is rightfully suited to invade enemy territory.

Again we see this fifth stage in our key verse, 2 Chronicles 7:14, "...will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways...'

It would seem that by this stage, God would know we have abandoned our sin. The issue, however, is something deeper; it deals with our ways.

Our repentance has dealt with what we have done; now the purification focuses on what we are.

The psalmist distinguished two aspects of God: His acts and His ways. "He made known his ways to Moses, his deeds to the people of Israel" (Psalm 103:7).

The children of Israel only knew God from miracle to miracle, but Moses knew the deep intentions and the long-range plan of God. Moses understood the essence, heartbeat and direction of God.

To turn from our wicked ways doesn't just mean to repent of our sins. Hitherto, we have repented of our acts, now we need deliverance from our ways.

Gethsamane was the dark night of the soul for Jesus Christ; it was the test of His ways. You wonder if Jesus had to repent. The answer is no, but He had to be examined in His Father's court of justice.

The dark night of the soul is a very baffling test, for it comes at a least expected time and with special conditions. The inner nature must be surprised, caught off guard, in order to be exposed and conquered.

In the many records of revival, there is an almost uniform description of this crucible... on the mountain top one moment, feeling run over by a train the next.

Joseph, barely recovered from a glorious dream, is thrown into a pit by his brothers. David, still hearing the chant of the throng saying, 'Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands,' wakes up in a cave being hunted like an animal.

Even Jesus, with the hosannas still ringing in His ears from the triumphal entry into Jerusalem, now prays alone, cold, tormented, sweating blood, and surrounded by sleeping disciples.

The battlements of heaven are waiting for that unmistakable ring of genuine obedience where the dragon of human nature has been met and beheaded. "Not my will but thy will be done!"

Before the crown comes the bitter cup. It must be swallowed to the bitter dregs.

So then, what is the Lord really looking for? A servant who knows that the cup cannot pass. Take heart if you wish that it would pass. Even Jesus asked if it was necessary tO drink. But He did not ask to escape because of fear of pain or selfishness. He asked because, for the first time in eternity, He would be separated from His Father. He knew that the plan to save man would have to break His Father's heart. Only Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah could begin to understand the grief.

Herein lies the truth that releases the g]ory. In repenting of sin, we rid ourselves of evil but in the dark night of the soul, we surrender the things we dearly love, things we can't readily identify as being in conflict with God.

Here the issue is not right and wrong, but high and low purposes of living.

Spiritual awakening is not simply getting rid of sin, it is giving God what He wants.

Again and again I have tried to stress that we must conclude with iron resolve that there is no substitute for revival. It is the higher ground we must reach because the flood is rising. No point of return can exist, no alternative can be considered.

For fire to fall and consume the sacrifice, it must be innocent and without blemish, but, most of all, it must be on the altar to stay.

Under every other circumstance our nature can hide, but in this dark night it screams for its way, and its many tentacles are exposed.

The protest was immediate. "Why this waste?" screamed the apostles, led by Judas Iscariot. Their outrage was almost convincing. The ointment was worth a year's salary (maybe $12,000 today). It could have been used to have fed the poor, they argued (actually, Judas wanted to steal it).

This is the entire issue with revival. They wanted to do something for God. Mary knew it was time to do something to God.

The time has come to pour out our best on God. Jesus said, "The poor you have with you always." Good deeds are always available.

America is spiritually dying because God has sales reps and not channels of His glory. We feverishly do the right things, almost as a bribe to postpone the needed pouring out of ourselves as a living sacrifice.

Again we must no longer see the bad things as barriers to revival, but the seemingly good.

We can't dole out precious ointment to the poor in doses that don't cure them or honor God. We must be poured out on God!

Spiritual awakening means that the faithful become fiery, the decent become dynamic, and the acceptable become excellent. But, most of all, we become disgusted with our evil, and totally dissatisfied with our good.

We realise that now is the time to pull out all the stops. No program is sacred, no worthy project is worth enough. None of the ointment can be spared. It is revival or death!

As I said before, the nucleus of the atom depresses right before fission and in that lies another key parallel to revival... the nucleus explodes from that depressed condition. It does not split when it looks inflated and energetic but rather when it is shrunken and lifeless.

Revival comes out of nowhere by sovereign timing. The prayer core is ready to fall from exhaustion but hangs on by its confidence in the faithfulness of God.

Jehovah detects that special quality that can be rewarded with revival.

An eviction notice falls with a loud crash on the porch of the local satanic supervisor. Angels receive their invasion orders. The prayer core looks up and sees the glory coming. The roar of God is about to be heard in the land once more....
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[-From the book "Critical Mass" by M. Murillo].
First of all, thank you all for birthday salutations :). It was an eventful day, and for those aware of the content on the flyers...I am stillin getting calls...

The exhortation to pray...first and foremost responsibility. I want to reiterate that prayer is HARD :). Not so we can be discouraged (or that I would be...), but that we realize that the battle is real, the opponents are real, and the weapons are warfare are not carnal but mighty to tear down strongholds (2 Cor. 10:4).

Listen, we CAN go through life without praying, but it doesn't make it a good idea. To borrow from Chris Rock, just because you can drive with one foot doesn't make it a good idea. We can certainly walk through day to day, in explicit "ministry," school, or work...but the living God isn't pervading our daily existence, how are our lives any different from those who don't consider themselves "like-Christ." We must pray, we must lay hold the throne of grace daily.
Prayer: Our First Responsibility

I rise before the dawning of the morning, and cry for help; I hope in Your word. My eyes are awake through the night watches, that I may= meditate on Your word.
-Psalm 119:147-148

Briefly, the way to escape religion as a front is to make it a fount. See to it that we pray more than we preach and we will never preach ourselves out. Stay with God in the secret place longer than we are with men in the public place and the fountain of our wisdom will never dry up. Keep our hearts open to the inflowing Spirit and we will not become exhausted by the outflow. Cultivate the acquaintance of God more than the friendship of men and we will always have abundance of bread to give to the hungry.

Our first responsibility is not to the public but to God and our own souls. God Tells the Man Who Cares, 115-116.