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“A total absence of prayer in the church isn’t a likely problem. Maybe a church somewhere out there never prays at all, but I don’t assume that’s happening in yours. I don’t know your church, But I bet there are times you come together to pray. Such praying may sparse and sporadic, but it happens. And therein lies what I think is the biggest problem: not a complete lack of prayer, but too little prayer.”

John OnwuchekwaPrayer, 18.

Prayer

“TO LOOK BACK UPON THE PROGRESS OF THE DIVINE KINGDOM UPON EARTH IS TO REVIEW REVIVAL PERIODS WHICH HAVE COME LIKE REFRESHING SHOWERS UPON DRY AND THIRSTY GROUND, MAKING THE DESERT TO BLOSSOM AS THE ROSE, AND BRINGING NEW ERAS OF SPIRITUAL LIFE AND ACTIVITY JUST WHEN THE CHURCH HAD FALLEN UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE APATHY OF THE TIMES.”

~ E.M. BOUNDS

 

“Revival brings back a holy shock to apathy and carelessness.”

 

“Old-fashioned, Spirit-filled, Christ-honoring, sin-hating, soul-winning, Bible preaching! It is the hope of the church! It is the hope of the nation! It is the hope of the world!”

~ Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)

“The worldly church is not only corrupt but cowardly, for much contemporary worldliness is a voluntary capitulation to the spirit and system of the age. There are times when the powers of the age openly seek to seduce the church or brutally subjugate her to their own purposes”

~ Os Guinness, Renaissance: The Power of the Gospel However Dark the Times, 119-120.

“The prayer of the feeblest saint who lives in the Spirit and keeps right with God is a terror to Satan”

 ~ Oswald Chambers

OswaldChambers.jpg

One of the reasons: the Reformed Church in America’s wavering approach to same-sex marriages.The URC believes marriage is limited to a man and a woman. But denominations toeing the line on traditional marriage face a new problem: the growing number of pastors performing same-sex ceremonies despite rules and the ambivalent responses from denominational leadership.According to URC pastor Kevin DeYoung, his congregation has wrestled for three years with the decision to leave the RCA. The RCA has been debating sexual ethics for much longer. Since the late 1970s, the denomination has been affirming that marriage is between a man and a woman. In 2005, the General Synod took action against a pastor who performed a wedding ceremony for his daughter and her partner, deposing him as a Professor of Theology and suspending him as a Minister of Word and Sacrament.

And in 2012, the General Synod approved their strongest statement yet in favor of traditional marriage, calling homosexual behavior “a sin according to the Holy Scriptures” and making performing same-sex marriages “a disciplinable offense.”

But those actions were short-lived. The pastor was reinstated by his classis in 2011, and the 2012 statement was softened by the 2013 Synod, which left the language calling homosexual behavior sinful but acknowledged that they had “usurped the constitutional authority reserved for the classes.”

And when asked to repeal the ordination of RCA’s first openly gay clergy, the 2013 Synod passed the case back to the regional synod, which has since upheld the 2011 ordination.

“Statements from the General Synod should have some weight to them, especially if they’re stated over and over again,” DeYoung said. “But that’s not been the way they’ve been handled. Now it’s clear that there’s no teeth to them or authority behind them. Individual classes will do what they want to do.”

Familiar Situation

It’s a situation that sounds familiar to Bill Arnold, professor at Asbury Theological Seminary and lifelong member of the United Methodist Church (UMC).

The 2012 UMC General Conference held that same-sex practices are incompatible with Christian teaching. The United Methodist position has remained unchanged since 1972. What has changed is the behavior of pastors and bishops, Arnold said. Pastors are conducting homosexual weddings, and bishops have begun to refuse to bring them to trial, he said.

“Essentially we have different factions in the church living out their convictions in ways that result in miniature denominations,” he said. “It’s a fragmentation of our church.”

And with the General Conference meeting only every four years, there’s no mechanism to deal with crises that arise in the meantime, he said.

“We essentially deteriorate into a screaming match,” Arnold said. “My friend says we’re more like a bad Jerry Springer act than a church.”

The conflict has been amplified by the rapidly changing opinions of the American public. In 2001, 57 percent of Americans opposed same-sex marriage and 35 percent were in favor, according to Pew Research Center. Twelve years later, 43 percent were opposed and 50 percent were in favor.

And while white evangelical Protestants are most likely to oppose gay marriage—only 23 percent approved in 2013—that figure has risen 10 percentage points from the 13 percent that favored same-sex marriage in 2001.

Same Limbo

Though different in structure from American denominations, the Church of England is also in limbo over the same subject, said Rod Thomas, vicar of St. Matthew’s Church in southern England.

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SARAH EEKHOFF ZYLSTRA

SARAH EEKHOFF ZYLSTRA

“A Revived Church is the only hope for a dying world”

~ Dr Andrew Murray

Brothers and sisters in Jesus, we need to be desperate for revival!

Do we pray for revival every day?

Our churches and our nation (USA) needs God to send genuine spiritual revival!

Amen?

FROM  Oct 28, 2013 

When we consider the predicament that the evangelical church of the twenty-first century faces in America, the first thing we need to understand is the very designation “evangelical church” is itself a redundancy. If a church is not evangelical, it is not an authentic church. The redundancy is similar to the language that we hear by which people are described as “born-again Christians.” If a person is born again of the Spirit of God, that person is, to be sure, a Christian. If a person is not regenerated by the Holy Spirit, he may profess to be a Christian, but he is not an authentic Christian. There are many groups that claim to be churches that long ago repudiated the evangel, that is, the gospel. Without the gospel, a gathering of people, though they claim otherwise, cannot be an authentic church.

In the sixteenth century, the term evangelical came into prominence as a description of the Protestant church. In many cases, the terms evangelical andProtestant were used interchangeably. Today, that synonymous use of the adjectives no longer functions with any accuracy. Historic Protestants have forgotten what they were protesting in the sixteenth century. The central protest of the Reformation church was the protest against the eclipse of the gospel that had taken place in the medieval church.

When we turn our attention to the first century, to the churches about which we learn from the biblical record, we know that all of the churches addressed in the New Testament, including the churches in Ephesus, Corinth, Thessalonica, and the seven churches of Revelation, were evangelical churches. They all embraced the biblical gospel. Yet at the same time, these churches were different in their strengths, in their weaknesses, and in their compositions. An evangelical church is not necessarily a monolithic community. There may be unity among evangelical churches but not necessarily uniformity. The distinctions of the seven churches of Revelation are set forth clearly in that book. They manifest different greatnesses and frailties, but they all faced perils. Each confronted the dangers that assaulted the church in the first century. They faced hazards of varying proportions, but there was a common threat to the health of the New Testament church from many sides. Those dangers manifested in the first century are repeated in every age of the church. They certainly loom large at our time in the early years of the twenty-first century.

Among what I see as the three most critical perils the church faces today are, first of all, the loss of biblical truth. When the truth of the gospel is compromised or negotiated, the church ceases to be evangelical. We live in a time of crisis with respect to truth, where many churches see doctrine merely as something that divides. Therefore, they stress relationships over truth. That is a false distinction, as a commitment to truth is a commitment that should manifest itself in vital, living relationships. Relationships can never be a substitute for embracing the truth of God. So the either/or fallacy of doctrine or relationship cannot be maintained under careful biblical scrutiny.

A second widespread peril to the church today is the loss of any sense of discipline. When the church fails to discipline its members for gross and heinous sins, particularly sins of a public nature, that community becomes infected with the immorality of the secular culture. This occurs when the church so desperately wants to be accepted by the pagan culture that it adopts the very morality of the pagan community and imitates it, baptizing it with religious language.

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The third crucial peril facing the church today is the loss of faithful worship. There are different styles of worship that can be pleasing to God. However, all worship that is pleasing to God is worship grounded in Spirit and in truth. We can have lively worship, manifesting great interest and excitement, with doctrine and truth eliminated. On the other hand, we can have what some call a dead orthodoxy, where the creedal truths of the historic Christian faith remain central to the worship of the church, but the worship itself does not flow from the heart and lacks spiritual vitality.

Another element that threatens the evangelical church is the ongoing erosion of evangelical faith by the impact of liberal theology. Liberal theology saw its heyday in the nineteenth century and raised its head again with the neo-liberalism that captured the mainline churches of the twentieth century. Yet it is by no means dead. Perhaps the place where liberalism is manifesting itself most dangerously is within the walls of churches that have historically been strongly evangelical. David F. Wells describes the crisis of the twenty-first century church as “vacuous worship.” A vacuous worship is one that is empty of content. It is satisfied with platitudes, pop psychology, and entertainment. Such worship is devoid of the Word of God and of the authentic sacrifice of praise.

Dr. James Montgomery Boice, before his death, lamented his concern that the church was being enticed “to do the Lord’s work in the world’s way.” We try to transfer principles of success drawn from Madison Avenue and from other secular institutions and imitate them in the life of the church. Such a process is deadly.

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