Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Revival We Need... Thoughts From A Weeping Prophet

“An astonishing and horrible thing
Has been committed in the land: 
The prophets prophesy falsely,
And the priests rule by their own power;
And My people love to have it so.”
(Jeremiah. 5:30-31)

Though these words were written thousands of years ago, they plainly ring true to God’s people today. Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, could stand in most churches on any given Sunday and declare these same words and we would be forced to plead “guilty”.

My good friend Dr. Michael L. Brown once said, “The majority of what we see in churches across America is simply man’s best effort to make up for the lack of the presence of God”. How sad it is that his statement was and is right on.

Perhaps one of the most difficult things that church leaders do is discern the spiritual climate of the people they oversee and then listen for the voice of the Lord on how to steer them toward a deeper life with God Himself.

As church leaders, we are simply “friends of the Bridegroom” and nothing more. Our main objective is to prepare the bride for her wedding day with the Lord. We encourage her to keep oil in her lamp and to run the race set before her. We cheer her on to fight the good fight and finish the race well.

This is no "walk in the park" and perhaps this is the main reason why it is imperative for church leaders to live a life of prayer. The bride needs leaders who take serious the practice of spiritual disciplines such as solitude, reflection, fasting, study, worship and so on.  The church, once again, needs leaders who walk with God and who can teach others to do the same. If ever there was a need in the church today it is for leaders who know God and not just leaders who know about Him.

Today, more than ever, we have:

·      Christian radio and music
·      Christian movies and entertainment (even Christian comedians)
·      Christian books, audio books and magazines
·      Christian TV networks
·      Countless Bible teachers and preachers
·      Hundreds of Bible schools and seminaries
·      Thousands of children involved in Bible quizzing
·      Untold numbers of Bible translations
·      Untold numbers of Bible commentaries
·      We have an ever increasing number of Christian homeschoolers
·      We have Vacation Bible Schools without number
·      We have Bible studies galore
·      And countless home groups

Without a doubt, we know more about the Bible today than any other generation in history and yet our carnality runs as deep as the ocean. How is it that we have so many people boasting of theological knowledge, yet the majority of Christians live like spiritual babes? Our knowledge has produced more pride than purity. What’s the problem? I believe God’s words to Jeremiah may give us some insight.

“For My people are foolish,
They have not known Me.
They are silly children,
And they have no understanding.
They are wise to do evil,
But to do good they have no knowledge.”
(Jeremiah 4:22)

Now, we could spend all of our time pointing out what is broken with the church (remember, finding fault with something is a cheap gift and everyone has it) or we could go to what I believe is the root of the problem: “They have not known Me.”  It seems that in every generation there is a need to return to God Himself. Our generation is no different.

As evangelical Christians we are so quick to declare that, "Christianity is not about religion, it’s about a relationship!” And then we spend the rest of our lives religiously reciting the “Romans Road” and memorizing scripture to back up the validity of the prayer we prayed to “accept Christ” (the miracle is that He has accepted us). But wait a minute, what about the relationship part? When do we get on with knowing Him and not just knowing about Him? When do we stop feeling like victims of false advertisement?

This is perhaps the greatest failure of the church and the very reason for our shallow living. The truth is that we can only give what we ourselves have. I don’t fault people, for to do so I would have to fault myself. For many years, I thought that Christianity was all about memorizing scripture and avoiding sin. Though I still believe strongly in both of these, I have come to understand that these are byproducts of something far greater. That’s right, you guessed it, the “relationship”. The relationship that I have with Him makes me hungry to read His word and reflect upon it. In fact, the more I read the Bible the more I understand where our evangelical statement, “It’s not about religion, it’s about a relationship” came from. The Bible is lovingly laced with verse after verse that woos, “Come know Me!”

And as for avoiding sin, it’s only natural not to want to flirt with my Groom’s enemies. I don’t want to sin, because I love Him and I want to keep myself clean for my wedding day. I don’t want to come to the altar with stains on my wedding gown. He washed me with His blood and clothed me in righteousness (I’m sorry to say that He has had to launder my gown with patience, forgiveness, and mercy many times).

It has taken me and my generation far too long to understand that God alone is enough. It is in Him that we live, move and have our being. I believe if there is going to be a revival, it must be a revival of knowing Him; a drawing near to the God who whispers to us in the secret place, “Come know Me!”

By Tom Zurowski 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Peace and Order...

"Shut the door of your room and call Jesus, your Beloved, to you, and stay there with Him. There is no greater peace anywhere else than to be with Jesus. If you had not left your room, nor listened to gossip, you would have retained your peace, but because you crave the latest news you must, as a consequence, suffer a disordered heart." ~ Thomas a Kempis

    In the busyness of life, we often find it difficult to slow down. In society, we have been taught that slowing down is just a step above laziness and that sitting quietly with God may seem spiritual and nice, but not very productiveAs a result, many people live chaotic lives without peace and without order of inner self.

     The truth is and will always be, that we cannot give away something that we do not have ourselves. For many years, I have heard people tell me stories about "trying" to help other people only to come to the realization that they themselves also needed help. They had little or nothing to offer. The hurts and needs of others only added to their own disordered lives.

    As Christians, when we are looked to for help, it is not necessarily our opinion that people are looking for. Sometimes people just need someone to listen to them and say very little. Sometimes people come to us because they want to know what God thinks about a certain situation that they are facing. At that moment, because of the craziness and disorder of our own lives, we far too often find ourselves offering well meaning shallow advice rather than godly perspective.

    It has been said of godly men of old, "It was in silence where I learned how to speak." Another way of saying that may be, "When I sat alone with God and gained His perspective on life, I had something meaningful to offer my hurting friend." Maybe it could also be said, "When I sat with, talked with and meditated on my Lord, He brought peace and order to my life. As a result, I was able to help bring peace and order to others."

    The older I get, the more I find myself drawn to older men who walk in peace and demonstrate humility, gentleness, and wisdom. Just being around men like this offers me great strength. They are not men who "know it all", but they are men with well ordered lives, who have found their peace from walking with God Himself. 

    There is one common denominator in the men that I esteem most; it is not their knowledge of the Bible, or the apparent success of their ministry, but rather it is their devotion to God that pulls me in. These men have taught me that the only hope I have of finding the true peace and order I so desperately need is to get alone with my Lord. I need to be still and know that He is God. I find myself wanting to be like these men when I grow up. For the sake of all the lives that I will touch in my lifetime, it is imperative that I do.

    If the Christian life you are living lacks peace and order, maybe you have been trying to live it on your own strength. If that's you, it's time to shut the door and sit alone with the only true source of real peace: God Himself.

Peace be with you!

By Tom Zurowski

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Private Faith?

In the world we live in there are many unwritten rules to live by, such as: “Don’t discuss politics and religion”, and “Don’t ask how much someone’s house or car costs”. Or how about this one? “Faith is a private thing; it’s to be kept to yourself.”

"Private" faith? This one has always stumped me. I can understand not pushing our views about Democrats and Republicans, taxes, health care, free trade, or the war in Iraq, but to tell someone to keep their faith a secret just doesn’t make much sense to me. I mean I wouldn’t die for my political views, but I would die for Christ if need be.

Many of us would call ourselves Christians or simply put, we follow the teachings of Jesus. At some point or another we decided to make Him our Lord. We fell in love with Him. Our heart was moved when we realized that He died for us so that we could live and not die in our sins and go to hell. And, in light of that, we were forever changed. Now the unwritten rule says we are to keep that to ourselves. To ask me not to talk about Him is like asking me not to breath. I’m not a weirdo; I’m just overwhelmed buy the magnitude of His love for me. As it says in the book of Jeremiah, Then I said, “I will not make mention of Him, nor speak anymore in His name." But His word was in my heart like a burning fire shut up in my bones; I was weary of holding it back, And I could not.

To ask someone who has truly fallen in love with Christ not to talk about Him is like asking a man who has fallen in love with a woman, and marries her, not to be seen in public with her. That would be unheard of. That would be just plain weird! No one has touched my life like Jesus. No one has loved me like He has and because of this I am compelled to break the rules.

Now we all know that sharing our convictions about important issues can reveal disagreements. More than that, it can actually start a fight and even divide families and “friends.” Nothing seems to make the air thick like someone making a statement such as, “Anybody that would vote for that guy is a brainless idiot!” or “That woman is going to hell for sure!” Maybe the problem isn’t the convictions we have as much as the way we discuss them. 

It is evident in our society that some of our fellow citizens lack good people skills, but that doesn’t mean that we should spend our lives talking about things that don’t really matter…" does it? 

By Tom Zurowski

Daylight Savings


Tonight is Daylight Savings. Don't forget to set your clocks ahead (SPRING AHEAD) one hour before you go to bed!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

October Baby

*NOTICE* ~ For all those who are planning on seeing "OCTOBER BABY", The Chapel will have tickets on sale this Sunday for $7.50 each. Please see Jessie Johnson for more details.