Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Chuck Colson on Halloween

Chuck Colson had a good take on Halloween on his daily BreakPoint segment (

Honoring the Witnesses
All Saints' Day

October 31, 2007

It is Halloween again, and to be frank, I really don't look forward to talking about it on "BreakPoint" every year. At best, Halloween has become an excuse to ask total strangers for candy. At worst, it is a celebration of the mindless paganism our ancestors wisely turned their backs on.

So this year, I would like to turn your attention to the often-overlooked celebration that Halloween calls to mind. In case you have missed it before, the name Halloween is a shortening of All Hallow's Eve and signifies the night before All Saints' Day.

For centuries on All Saints' Day the Church celebrated the lives of Christians who went before us. And rightly so: We can learn so much from those whom the author of Hebrews calls that great cloud of witnesses.

The tradition of remembering the Church triumphant dates back to the time of the first Christian martyrs. When soldiers of Marcus Aurelius Verus came to arrest Polycarp, a beloved church leader, Polycarp greeted them kindly. According to the third century historian Eusebius, Polycarp "ordered a table to be laid for them immediately, invited them to eat as much as they liked, asking in return a single hour in which he could pray."

When Polycarp later stood in the coliseum, accused and surrounded by the jeering crowds, the governor pressed him to recant his faith. Instead, this man, who himself had been discipled by the Apostle John, said this: "For eighty-six years, I have been [Christ's] servant, and He has never done me wrong: How can I blaspheme my King who saved me?" As they were preparing to burn him alive, Polycarp offered up prayers of faith and praise.

In the years following Polycarp's death, Christians would gather annually to take communion beside his grave. There they would remember his brave witness and take courage from his example.

As the years passed, the day shifted in focus from remembering Polycarp to honoring all martyrs. By the seventh century, the Church created a holiday to honor all of God's saints—heroes of the faith.

One of my favorite heroes was a woman named Monica, who lived during the fourth century. She would never face flames or jeering crowds, as did Polycarp, but she did face testing. That testing came in the form of her own longing for the return of her prodigal son, Augustine. His licentious lifestyle made this Christian mother weep. Later, when Augustine, who is now known as one of the foremost theologians of Christianity and scholars of Western civilization, did come to Christ, he wrote this prayer: "My mother, Your faithful servant, wept to You for me, shedding more tears for my spiritual death than others shed for the bodily death of a son. You heard her."

I could tell you story after story like this, from Justin Martyr to Martin Luther to Amy Carmichael. But let me encourage you to do something this All Saints' Day. Take the lead in your church to honor the great saints who set examples for us. Reacquaint your children with Halloween's Christian origins. Research together and talk about the lives of Christian heroes.

Sure, go ahead and let the kids dress up like Batman and hit up your neighbors for candy. But when the hoopla of modern Halloween is over, encourage your kids to imitate some real heroes—not in what they put on, but in how they live their lives.

Friday, October 26, 2007

The Cry For Revival (Part 1)

How fast is the Good News about Jesus spreading around the world? Well, by the tens of thousands, the Kingdom of God is growing everyday...


The 21st century is a very exciting time for Christians to be alive! The worldwide church has seen greater advance and growth than at any other time since the days of the apostles. For example, one hundred years ago Africa was less than 5 percent Christian but now it is approaching 50 percent. Similarly, China had only about 5 million believers when communism took control of the country but now estimates range from between 50 to 150 million believers. Reliable researchers l estimate that between 25,000 and 35,000 are coming to Christ every day in China.

The same story can be told of South America. I recently attended a church of over 250,000 members in Bogotá, Columbia, a nation formerly known only for its violence and drug trafficking. Across the oceans Korea is host to six of the fifteen largest churches in the world, one in Seoul numbering a staggering 773,000 members! Around thirty percent of the population in Seoul profess to follow Christ.

This explosive growth of the worldwide church must be the most underreported fact of our times! It sounds fantastic but is being corroborated by research done by such prestigious institutions as Fuller Theological Seminary, Overseas Missionary Fellowship and a variety of denominational mission organizations around the world.

Even less reported are the extraordinary miracles that have occurred and which are claimed to be the real cause of this amazing growth phenomena. Stories of personal experiences of God, visions of Jesus Christ, supernatural encounters, physical healings and freedom from dark powers abound.

Jim Rutz, the author of the well known book 'Megashift' claims that his research reveals that “by tomorrow, there will be 175,000 more Christians than there are today, in 238 nations around the world.” Jim says, “The Lord is working quietly, continually, and spectacularly.” He claims that God has brought people back from the dead in 52 countries, mostly in the last 10 years. All documented – many through people he personally knows. “Scores of cities plagued with crime and poverty are being transformed. Millions of miracles are happening through ordinary people,” he says.

He is not the only optimistic one. In 2000 German Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke, meeting in Lagos, Nigeria, registered 3,400,000 decisions for Christ of the six million that attended. Campus Crusade for Christ estimates we’ll see a billion new converts in the next 10 years. Such is the exponential growth of the universal Christian community.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Before the Great Awakening

Good Morning.

Wow, is America ready for a revival? Yes. The conditions are similar to the era before the Great Awakening. But the question is: "Are we praying for revival?"

Before the Great Awakening - J. Edwin Orr

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards: they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence.

What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennox, Massachusetts in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Proovost, quit functioning: he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment. The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire averred, and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.”

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole of the student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place: they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College; and they put on anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burned it in a public bonfire. Christians were so few on campus in the 1790s that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

In case this is thought to be the hysteria of the moment, Kenneth Scott Latourette, the great church historian, wrote: “It seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.” The churches had their backs to the wall, seeming as if they were about to be wiped out.

How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer.

J. Edwin Orr, The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening.

Monday, October 22, 2007

John Armstrong on What Makes a Healthy Church


I just received John Armstrong's e-mail news letter. Here is a portion of it. If we lose our focus on Jesus and the cross, then we are dead in the water...

What Truly Makes a Church Healthy?

What Paul is saying is actually quite plain-a healthy church is not established on human talent, conventional wisdom, or sociological/market-oriented insights. Why? Because "[T]he foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men" (1 Corinthians 1:25). "For," Paul adds, "what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus' sake" (2 Corinthians 4:5).

What Paul is teaching is patently obvious-the healthiest congregation, at its very best, must revolve around the primacy of the person of Jesus Christ. And we do not proclaim our theology, though inevitably we must have one that helps to produce health. We surely do not embrace and promote a philosophy, though we must think deeply about the ultimate issues posed by various philosophical questions. And we should not make liturgy, institutional well-being, numerical growth, or denominational and special interests our raison d'ệtre. What we are called to do, if the church is to be truly healthy, is simple really.

We must unapologetically make Jesus Christ the centerpiece of everything we preach, everything we pray, and everything we seek to do in this world.

No other reading of the words of the apostle¯"For I decided to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified" (1 Corinthians 2:2)¯make any sense at all if we miss this point. Everything else, important as it may be, is secondary. This must be primary.

Martin Luther understood this text to be the very center of all true theology and faithful Bible reading. He wrote, "There is not a word in the Bible which is extra crucem, which can be understood without reference to the cross." And the great English theologian P.T. Forsyth put the same truth this way: "You do not understand Christ until you understand his cross."

If my reading of Paul is faithful, and it seems self-evident that it is, then a church does not revolve around a pastor, as important as this office and ministry is for a healthy church. There are two extremes to be avoided by this observation. First, a healthy church will almost always have a healthy pastor, or several healthy pastors. But this is not the primary thing to focus the church's ministry upon. Second, the elders and/or deacons (or church councils) are not the central thing in the life of your church either. It is important that you have godly and faithful leaders. Don't misunderstand me. But some seem to think that if you get the right leaders and the right system of leadership in place you will have health, ipso facto. (I have seen this emphasis fail time and time again over the past thirty-five years of ministry.) But if the proper emphasis is not on our leaders, then it is not on us as the congregation either. We are not the center of attention, as shocking as that sounds to modern Christian ears. To understand this point about what is truly primary would, I am convinced, lead to the true health of many Christians and thousands of local congregations. Read these words slowly and carefully:

The church is not about you, it is about him! Christ is Lord and you are not!

Friday, October 19, 2007

A Gem from Spurgeon

Charles Spurgeon reminds us that revival will both begin and end in the church...

"A true revival is to be looked for in the church of God. Only in the river of gracious life can the pearl of revival be found. It has been said that a revival must begin with God's people; this is very true, but it is not all the truth, for the revival itself must end as well as begin there. The results of the revival will extend to the outside world, but the revival, strictly speaking, must be within the circle of life, and must therefore essentially be enjoyed by the possessors of vital godliness, and by them only."

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Fervent Prayer by Andrew Gray

Good Morning. Andrew Gray writes about the importance of consistent prayer. Are we willing to pay the price to become fervent prayer warriors?

Christ was much in prayer, and will you neglect prayer or pray very rarely? Prayer is the ordinary exercise of every child of God. Why do you not pray? Are you so rich, that you need no supplies of grace; or so careless, that you desire them not? Oh, learn of Christ to be frequent, and fervent, and reverent in prayer! To be frequent, Christ prayed early and late, night and day. "In the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed" (Mark 1:35). Yes, "He continued all night in prayer to God" (Luke 6:12). Did Christ spend nights in prayer, and will you not spend hours in prayer? Why do you pray by fits, and not constantly? Why are you so seldom with God, pouring out your hearts to Him?

Are you afraid of coming to God too often? You may come too seldom, but you can never come too often to God. Is there not occasion for prayer to God early and late? Are there not sins early and late to be pardoned, mercies early and late to be procured, mischiefs early and late to be averted, duties early and late to be performed, afflictions early and late to be endured, and temptations early and late to be broken? Now, whence comes your health and strength? Is it not from heaven? And how does it come, but by prayer? Oh above all things, be much in seeking God! You have the very key of heaven, if you have the gift and grace of praying.

Learn of Christ to be fervent; Christ's prayers were earnest and fervent. "And being in agony, He prayed more earnestly" (Luke 22:44). Did Christ pray fervently, and will you pray slightly, coldly, drowsily, as if you were asleep, or as if you cared not much whether you prayed or not? By this you expose yourselves to the eminent danger of losing your prayers. Cold prayers speak of denial. They are but carcasses of duty, carnal and sinful services which the Lord detests, and will never accept. The greatest liveliness suits us, when speaking in the ears of the living God. Luther was so ardent in prayer, they who stood under his window where he stood praying, might see his tears falling and dropping down. Bishop Latimer, in his prayers, used constantly to beg that the God of mercy would restore His gospel to England once again. He often reiterated, and with such ardency as if he had seen God before him and had spoken to Him face to face. "I care not how long or how short thy prayers be (said Johan Picus, Earl of Mirand, to his nephew) but let them be ardent, and rather interrupted and broken between with sighs, than drawn out with a continual number of words." The more earnest you are in prayer, the more you resemble Christ "who in the days of His flesh, he had offered up prayers and supplications, with strong crying and tears" (Hebrews 5:7).

Reference: "A Door Opening Into Everlasting Life" by Andrew Gray

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Thank You to the Congregation of Harvey Oaks Baptist

October is "Pastor's Appreciation Month". This past Sunday, Harvey Oaks Baptist Church honored the two full-time pastors of the church: Aaron "Woogy" Wolgamott (Pastor of Youth and Family Ministries) and myself.

On behalf of my wife Lois and myself, we greatly appreciate the many cards and gifts.

Woogy and I also were overwhelmed with the prayer over us by the deacons and congregation at the end of last Sunday's worship service.

I am honored to your pastor at Harvey Oaks Baptist

Love in Jesus,


The State of American Christianity (according to Barna)

George Barna points that many of us claim to follow Jesus don't have a clue what it means to be broken and truly sorry for our sins...

"Very few American Christians have experienced a sense of spiritual brokenness that compelled them to who beg God for his mercy and acceptance through the love of Christ. We have a nation of 'Christians' who took the best offer, but relatively few who were so humiliated and hopeless for a holy and omnipotent God that they cried out for undeserved compassion. That helps to explain why in practical terms it's hard to tell the difference between those who have beliefs that characterize them as born again and those who don't" (quoted in David Bryant, CHRIST is ALL! 244)

Let us pray that a spirit of brokenness will sweep through our churches.


Monday, October 15, 2007

Revival first, Evangelism second...

I have often repeated that souls will be saved after God's own people get right with Him and experience His renewal. A.J. Gordon puts it this way...

Whenever, in any century, whether in a single heart or in a company of believers, there has been a fresh effusion of the Spirit, there has followed inevitably a fresh endeavor in the work of evangelizing the world.”

Praying for Revival


Thursday, October 11, 2007

Do We Really Know What Revival Will Do?

Albert Barnes made the excellent point that most Christians will know what revival is about until revival actually occurs.

"That day which shall convince the great body of professing Christians of the reality and desirableness of revivals, will constitute a new era in the history of religion; and will precede manifestations of power like that of Pentecost."

That is why I write this blog. I have read enough to know that what is currently occurring in the evangelical church (at least in America) falls way short of what the Holy Spirit desires.

Yes, the church will wake up when true revival comes. But let's say we wake up today and repent and seek God with all our hearts?

Praying for revival


Wednesday, October 10, 2007

How aware of God are we?

Wow, it has been a while since I have posted anything. I am speaking at a men's retreat this weekend (Friday and Saturday) in Yankton, SD. So I have been busy preparing three messages on men hard after God's own heart. I still to prepare a message for Sunday morning at Harvey Oaks Baptist.

Here is a great quote of revival by Del Fehsenfed Jr.:

"Revival awakens in our hearts an increased awareness of the presence of God, a new love for God, a new hatred for sin, and a hunger for His Word."

Praying for Revival


Thursday, October 04, 2007

Why Few People Attend Prayer Meetings

Phil Miglioratti recently posted on his blog site, The Prayer Leader Blog the following...

Question: Every time we plan a prayer meeting at our church there are very few people who attend. This gets discouraging. Any suggestions?

Answer: Unfortunately, this is something we hear from just about every church we come into contact with. First of all, it is important not to become discouraged because of the small turnouts. Be excited about the people who DO show up and continue to ask the Lord to show you how to plan prayer meetings that will engage the rest. Prayer meetings frighten most people because they are uncomfortable praying out loud and/or corporately.

Prayer has largely been taught as an individual spiritual discipline, so the majority of the people in your church have little experience praying with one another. Another reason people don't attend prayer meetings is that they are often very dull (we've all been there). It seems that either prayer requests take up most of the prayer time with very little actual prayer; or, participants pray for random requests with no focus.

When individuals leave a prayer meeting, they should feel confident that their prayers accomplished the plans and purposes of God. Two very good resources on how to plan the kind of prayer meetings that excite people and touch heaven are:

And the Place was Shaken (How to Lead a Powerful Prayer Meeting) by John Franklin

Fresh Encounters (Experiencing Transformation through United Worship-Based Prayer) by Daniel Henderson


I just ordered the first book and look forward in reading it.

Praying for Revival!


Wednesday, October 03, 2007

How Much Longer Until Revival?

Richard Owen Roberts reminds us that it has been quite a while since America and Canada and England and Wales and Scotland and other places have experienced a nation transforming revival:

"It has been a long time since America and the English-speaking world have been visibly shaken by the power of the Spirit of God" (Revival, 127).

How much longer until revival comes? Will it be in our lifetime?

Brothers and sisters in Jesus, let us persevere in prayer until our world is visibly shaken by the Holy Spirit.


Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Prayer and Revival (Part Four)

Good morning. Today, we will conclude out look at J. Edwin Orr's article: "Prayer and Revival". The revival in Wales was significant and was used by God far beyond the borders of Wales. The last line of the article reminds us that we must not stop praying for revival.

Praying for Revival



That movement lasted for a generation, but at the turn of the century there was need of awakening again. A general movement of prayer began, with special prayer meetings at Moody Bible Institute, at Keswick Conventions in England, and places as far apart as Melbourne, Wonsan in Korea, and the Nilgiri Hills of India. So all around the world believers were praying that there might be another great awakening in the twentieth century.

In the revival of 1905, I read of a young man who became a famous professor, Kenneth Scott Latourette. He reported that, at Yale in 1905, 25% of the student body were enrolled in prayer meetings and in Bible study. As far as churches were concerned, the ministers of Atlantic City reported that of a population of fifty thousand there were only fifty adults left unconverted. Take Portland in Oregon: two hundred and forty major stores closed from 11 to 2 each day to enable people to attend prayer meetings, signing an agreement so that no one would cheat and stay open. Take First Baptist Church of Paducah in Kentucky: the pastor, an old man, Dr J. J. Cheek, took a thousand members in two months and died of overwork, the Southern Baptists saying, 'a glorious ending to a devoted ministry.' That is what was happening in the United States in 1905. But how did it begin?

Most people have heard of the Welsh Revival which started in 1904. It began as a movement of prayer. Seth Joshua, the Presbyterian evangelist, came to Newcastle Emlyn College where a former coal miner, Evan Roberts aged 26, was studying for the ministry. The students were so moved that they asked if they could attend Joshua's next campaign nearby. So they cancelled classes to go to Blaenanerch where Seth Joshua prayed publicly, 'O God, bend us.' Roberts went forward where he prayed with great agony, 'O God, bend me.' Upon his return he could not concentrate on his studies. He went to the principal of his college and explained, 'I keep hearing a voice that tells me I must go home and speak to our young people in my home church. Principal Phillips, is that the voice of the devil or the voice of the Spirit?'

Principal Phillips answered wisely, 'The devil never gives orders like that. You can have a week off.' So he went back home to Loughor and announced to the pastor, 'I've come to preach.' The pastor was not at all convinced, but asked, 'How about speaking at the prayer meeting on Monday?' He did not even let him speak to the prayer meeting, but told the praying people, 'Our young brother, Evan Roberts, feels he has a message for you if you care to wait.' Seventeen people waited behind, and were impressed with the directness of the young man's words.

Evan Roberts told his fellow members, 'I have a message for you from God.

You must confess any known sin to God and put any wrong done to others right.

Second, you must put away any doubtful habit.

Third, you must obey the Spirit promptly.

Finally, you must confess your faith in Christ publicly.'

By ten o'clock all seventeen had responded. The pastor was so pleased that he asked, 'How about your speaking at the mission service tomorrow night? Midweek service Wednesday night?' He preached all week, and was asked to stay another week. Then the break came. Suddenly the dull ecclesiastical columns in the Welsh papers changed:

'Great crowds of people drawn to Loughor.' The main road between Llanelly and Swansea on which the church was situated was packed with people trying to get into the church. Shopkeepers closed early to find a place in the big church. Now the news was out. A reporter was sent down and he described vividly what he saw: a strange meeting which closed at 4.25 in the morning, and even then people did not seem willing to go home. There was a very British summary: 'I felt that this was no ordinary gathering.' Next day, every grocery shop in that industrial valley was emptied of groceries by people attending the meetings, and on Sunday every church was filled.

The movement went like a tidal wave over Wales, in five months there being a hundred thousand people converted throughout the country. Five years later, Dr J. V. Morgan wrote a book to debunk the revival, his main criticism being that, of a hundred thousand joining the churches in five months of excitement, after five years only seventy-five thousand still stood in the membership of those churches!

The social impact was astounding. For example, judges were presented with white gloves, not a case to try; no robberies, no burglaries, no rapes, no murders, and no embezzlements, nothing. District councils held emergency meetings to discuss what to do with the police now that they were unemployed. In one place the sergeant of police was sent for and asked, 'What do you do with your time?' He replied, 'Before the revival, we had two main jobs, to prevent crime and to control crowds, as at football games. Since the revival started there is practically no crime. So we just go with the crowds.'

A councilor asked, 'What does that mean?' The sergeant replied, 'You know where the crowds are. They are packing out the churches.' 'But how does that affect the police?' He was told, 'We have seventeen police in our station, but we have three quartets, and if any church wants a quartet to sing, they simply call the police station.'

As the revival swept Wales, drunkenness was cut in half. There was a wave of bankruptcies, but nearly all taverns. There was even a slowdown in the mines, for so many Welsh coal miners were converted and stopped using bad language that the horses that dragged the coal trucks in the mines could not understand what was being said to them. That revival also affected sexual moral standards. I had discovered through the figures given by British government experts that in Radnorshire and Merionethshire the illegitimate birth rate had dropped 44% within a year of the beginning of the revival.

The revival swept Britain, Scandinavia, Germany, North America, Australasia, Africa, Brazil, Mexico, Chile. As always, it began through a movement of prayer.