Monday, July 30, 2007

Lauren inspired me..

I have stacks of scribbled notes everywhere and these are some of the ones I've taped into my journal. They're from Leonard Ravenhill of course...

"Men were never crucified in dozens. One at a time. He'll ask you to do things He asks no on else to do. Pay a price no one else has got to pay."

"Greed in Christian circles today is called prosperity, but it's still greed anyhow."

"We see all these men - Mussolini, wicked fascists, Hitler, Stalin - 4 or 5 men - and we think if we get rid of them we'll clean the world up... The devil isn't short of captains for his army. They're not short of funds. They not short of courage to do the most wicked violent things in the face of the world!!.... So why in Gods name are we so timid?.... Oh Dear...."

"Christianity has not been weighed in the balance and found wanting. Christianity has been tried, found difficult, and rejected! It's not only too difficult for the world - it's too difficult for the church!"

"We should get to the place where God Almighty gives us groanings that cannot be uttered. And that's 100 million miles past praying in tongues! It's an inner grief, it's something that has no language!"

"We will go through trials... Jesus told Peter that he foresaw Satan giving him a time and His response was to pray for him that his faith fail not. He could've told the devil to get off, but rather He prayed that Peters faith not fail!"

I'll post more later.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

A Tormented Soul?

I'm reading 2nd Peter 2 right now for our GIFT study. It's talking about false prophets and deceptions, and the punishment that will come upon those who follow them. Look at this scripture:

" And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah into ashes, condemned them to destruction making them an example to those who afterward would live ungodly; and delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their wicked deeds). "

And I thought about that. Lot - who doesn't seem all that righteous to me (hey the guy offered his virgin daughters to a bunch of lunatics) - was tormented by their wicked deeds - Every day! And it's been said that we're in the end times that will grow worse than Sodom and Gomorrah ever dreamed. How many Christians do you know that are tormented in soul day by day over the wickedness of the world they're in? We've just gotten used to it.. The world "tolerance" is thrown around in every "Christian" circle these days. I love the part of Jordans ringtone that says "Have we no righteousness that reflects on their corruption??". I have to honestly ask myself that. I'm not tormented by the worlds wickedness, I'm entertained by it. I recall this scripture in Romans 1: 28-32..

"And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness; they are whisperers, backbiters, haters of God, violent, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, undiscerning, untrustworthy, unloving, unforgiving, unmerciful; who knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death, not only do the same but approve of those who practice them."

Please correct me if you think I'm wrong in interpretation of that to say that one is deserving of death if one even approves of those who openly practice such things?? That's rough!! When I think about it, it's not like I'm walking around giving my public approval of those things. But I observe them behind closed doors or in dark movie theatres as though it's nothing. I'm not offended at sin - I'm entertained by it!!!! Even if I'm not participating in the sin itself I'm tantalizing my flesh with it. I've given my stamp of approval whether I realized it or not. Here I am crying out to God, seeking Him, wanting to know His will, wanting to see with His eyes, hear with His ears, and be His hands and feet.. But He can't use anything that is defiled by sin. God is not sitting in heaven being entertained by the murder taking place on the back ally of a dark street. He doesn't think it's dramatic or emotionally moving to see an unwed mother bring forth a child. But I do. Sin has become so rampant that we don't even bat an eyelash at it anymore. We don't flinch at slander, no one knows how to blush anymore. No wonder the church is so corrupted!! When I started being entertained by sin on movies and in TV shows I started excusing it in my life. I became numb to it. He's having to beat me over the head to wake me up now!

Leonard Ravenhill said this "The good is the enemy of the best. Satan won't tempt you to get drunk. He won't tempt you to commit adultery. He'll tempt you to go to the store up the road and listen to some Christian records for a while when you should be making intercession. It's the good that's the enemy of the best in this Christian Life." I'm not saying that every form of entertainment is sinful or "bad". But it's what we substitute it for that hurts us. Jesus had to spend hours in prayer to survive here. They said he would get alone to pray, as was His custom. He did it often. What makes me think that I'm such a "super Christian" that I don't need to do the same?

God, I have to repent!! It's now obvious to me that He hasn't changed the way that I think about sin. If He had then the very thought of sitting down to watch someone murdered, or slandered would disgust me. If I really thought about sin the way that He does then I wouldn't dream of being entertained by it. Lot tormented his soul over seeing and hearing the wickedness of Sodom and Gomorrah, and I see now that he was a lot better off than I am! Even now it's beginning to break my heart.. I want the attitude of Christ Jesus! I want the mind of Christ! I want to desire the things that He desires and hate the things that He hates! And that means that I'm going to have to change every aspect of my lifestyle to accommodate Him. I'm starting to see that I've made a habit out of entertaining my flesh. It's my form of relaxation. I think I have a right to it and I balk when someone tells me I can't relax.. But what better rest is there than in the Spirit?? God break me, change me, make me new!!! Without you I will die! Torment my soul if you must until I am broken over sin, no longer desiring it or anything to do with it!!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Prone to Wander?

"The other night we sang a hymn. We sang 2 stanzas, I thought we were gonna sing the 3rd one which I don't like to sing. Because in that stanza we say something like this to the Lord,

'Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love'.

I don't feel like leaving Him. Why don't you go to your wife tonight and say 'You know sweetheart, I wanna sing something to you, "Prone to wander, wife I feel it..." and she says 'Hey!! Who's the other woman!?!" and you say, "No, no, no, it's a kind of feeling I get now and again. You know you're getting a bit old and washed up-". No, you wouldn't sing that to your wife! "Prone to wander wife I feel it-". Look, if you can sing that honestly - Prone to wander, Lord I feel it - you'd better get back to the cross! The world doesn't attract me - I don't want anything the world has, it has death in it! Everything in the world has death, everything in the kingdom has life."

~Leonard Ravenhill Be Holy in all Conversation

I've actually sung that myself. Isn't there a "Christian" artist today who's made that the chorus of a song? I never realized how contradictory that is to the Christian life! And it's challenging me. Am I prone to wander? Really am I? Or is my face fixed like flint to Him and His purposes, and His glory? If it's not then I need to examine myself again. When did I come to the place where I thought it was okay to feel like wandering? My gosh, you'd think singing that would've told me something about my heart and the sorry state of it. What does the world have that I want that would entice me to wander? I must ask myself this honestly. Do I want things of the world more than I want holiness?

I've come to determine that everything I must do to be a Christian will cost me something. Everything. If it doesn't cost me then I must examine myself. He doesn't want an empty sacrifice, he wants a dead sacrifice. Death hurts. But if I am to be holy, death is what He requires of me. Holiness will cost me every ounce of my comfort, every ounce of my spare time, my convenience, my emotions - everything that is mine must be His! And if it's not then how can I be Holy? How badly do I want it? Summed up it's this: "If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it." (Matthew 16:24-25) So it's easy to say "I desire to go after Jesus" - the world smiles on that, they say "Good for you then, you'll be a good citizen if you do that." But it's saying there that if I desire to follow after Him then essentially I must also desire to lose my life. Now that's completely contradictory to anything the world says to do. It's contradictory to what most American Christians say to do. Lose my life? Lose everything? Deny myself of all the creature comforts I have? On purpose? And substitute it with what? Sure, I can deny myself but that alone won't save me. I must deny myself and take up my cross to follow Him. That requires action on my part. It requires work. The 27th verse of that same chapter in Matthew says that Lord will come with all His glory and judge each one by his works. It takes work to exchange my desires for His, then act on them.

I've heard that scripture so many times and always kinda thought "Well how sweet, Jesus wants me to follow Him and I'll find life." But I really thought about it today. I imagined what was going through the disciples heads as they heard him make that proposal.. It wasn't some sweet invitation Jesus was giving out. It was more like "I'm not going to fool you. If you want to follow me you will endure pain, suffering, and persecution like the world has never known. You must lay down every emotion and worldly desire to take up a cross of death to follow me. And be aware that regardless of what you decide mentally, I will judge you by what you do." They knew what a cross was! It was the cruelest, most torturesome way to kill someone that the world had seen yet!! And here Jesus is inviting them to take it up.. I've got to wonder what they were thinking.. It makes me wonder why I think I can get away with so little when He required absolutely everything of them. They'd already given up homes, jobs, families, security and they're wandering around the middle east and Jesus tells them there's more? If anyone had reason to be "prone to wander" they did! But they didn't. They clung tighter to the truth they knew. And He expects no less from me. He deserves no less from me. God save me from my depraved way of thinking.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Psalm 17:15

As for me, I will see your face in righteousness; I shall be satisfied when I awake in your likeness.

Wow. The only place I will find Him, His face, is in righteousness. And I will never be satisfied until I reach eternity. I can't explain why, but that excites me beyond measure! I have a whole lifetime of dissatisfaction ahead of me - Praise God! To be satisfied would to be complacent.. Wow.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Fire - Leonard Ravenhill

"Malachi says 'Who shall abide the day of His coming and who shall stand when He appears!? He is like a refiners fire!!' Matthew 3:11 says 'He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire' 3rd Chapter of Luke 'He shall baptize you with fire', come to the 3rd chapter of 1st Corinthians - the FIRE!!

One of the most exciting things in eternity is that we're gonna be able to sit there maybe for a million years, or 10 million years and watch God put every song you've ever sung or every sermon I've ever preached - put the fire to it! And see how much of self and pride or riches or money or any other thing you've had to the fire! The FIRE!! It shall try every mans work! Not what size it is - what sort it is. Not the quantity - the quality.

You cannot escape fire!"

The Pressure's On

It's been so long since I've written here that I actually have forgotten what my blog looks like. I write this from work, trying to remember what color font to use so that it'll be readable against the background. Just so everyone knows, I don't want to write anything here that doesn't bear fruit unto righteousness, which is part of the reason for my silence. So now that's made clear...

If you've ever listened to Leonard Ravenhill for any period of time you'll know that he quotes old hymns like no one else I've ever heard. He can't sing at all - I swear he sounds just like a goat - but he's memorized so many hymns and quotes them constantly. I really like this one that he quoted in prayer:

"Kindle a flame of sacred love on the mean altar of my heart and there, for Thy glory, let it burn with inextinguishable blaze and trembling to its' source returning constant prayer and fervent praise."

That's the cry of my heart right now. I can't help but ask myself "What on earth are you getting yourself into??" Another hymn says this of the fire; "When Gods' fire upon the altar of my heart was set aflame, my ambitions, plans, and wishes at my feet in ashes lay." Am I prepared to lay down everything? No. I never will be prepared. But it's going to happen - because He is faithful and will do what I've asked Him to do - Consume me. He has given me the will, and to do His good purpose. I have everything I need to be a partaker of His divine nature. And He's going to take me through the fire to get me there.

Fire: destructive burning of something.

The beginning of the Old Testament makes it very clear that the fire is used to make offerings. In fact, that's the only way God would accept the offering - if it was made by fire. He didn't take just any old thing either. He wanted the purest, the best, the first fruits. We can look to the story of Cain and Abel to see what the Lord thinks of an offering that is not made out of the best that we have - out of obedience to His word. If we don't obey Him in every thing, there are grave consequences. In Psalm 51 David is pleading that his heart and hands be made clean. He says that the burnt offerings and sacrifices aren't what please Him but the sacrifices of God are a broken and contrite spirit. It says in verse 19 that He shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness. And we see in the New Testament that God's desires in sacrifice don't change. Romans 12:1 says "I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, Holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service." The standard of God has not changed. He will only accept us Holy. It was made very clear in the old testament that the priest who went to bring the offering to the mercy seat had to be pure or else he would be struck dead. That's really serious!

Jeremiah 23:29 says "Is not my word like a fire? And a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?" If we listened and obeyed His word it truly would be a fire to us, refining and breaking us, bringing to light the things that do not glorify Him and causing a desperation in us to remove sin and make us more like Him that we may stand before Him in holiness, and cleanliness of heart. Isaiah 66:16 "For by fire and by sword the Lord will judge all flesh. And the slain of the Lord will be many." The fire of the Lord is what judges us. He uses it to chastise and discipline, to make us aware of who He is. I didn't write the scripture down, but it says in the OT that His glory is revealed by fire. When the fire comes to burn us up it will reveal His glory in our lives. My fervent prayer is that when I am consumed by Him that my flesh would be slain! That glory of the Lord would be revealed in my life!

1 Corinthians 3:12-15 "Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each ones work will become clear; for the day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each ones work of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." I love how over and over, God shows us that walking after Him, taking up His yoke, while it is easier than attempting to achieve holiness of ourselves, it still requires work - discipline to our flesh. And the fire of God will come and make it apparent to everyone whether or not I've been building unto Him or unto myself. That's a scary thing. Ravenhill made the point that the fire will go out if we don't take out the ashes and soot - clean it out. You have to fuel the fire, add to it, to keep it going. God will always be showing us things in ourselves that need to be burned up. But I pray that even as things in myself are removed that they are replaced with things of Him. That His glory is continually being revealed.. it spurs me on.. To prayer.

Another thing that God has been pounding into me is how essential prayer is. I think I get so caught up in enjoying fellowship that I've neglected to pray. Fellowship is worthless unless I've first spent time communing with God, pouring out my heart to Him through prayer and allowing Him to speak back to me and share His heart. Ravenhill made the point "Prayer is the most demanding thing this side of eternity - that's why we do so little of it." It demands our time, that we put aside everything else, get alone, and seek His face with all our hearts. If we do He promises that we will find Him! There is such a burning in me to pray right now..

"And that's all I got." as Bob would say.. At least on this subject. There's so much more than He's opening up to us - it's amazing how the revelation that God is giving to other parts of the body tie in perfectly with the things God is showing me. We do all have the same Holy Spirit though.. So now, the pressure is on you guys! Get your stuff posted (you know who you are!)!