-America of the Founders and Now


Much has been made of the variety of beliefs held by the founders of this country but their words and convictions remain not only on the paper they penned these words on but also in the hearts of the people. America has always been a nation ‘under God’ and ‘freedom of religion’ has been a primary right of its citizens.

One only has to visit Washington DC and look at all of the messages etched in stone to realize how much faith in God has been as part of the American experiment and experience. Stroll into the Jefferson monument and view the different references he made to the Creator. Yet he is supposed to be the champion of ‘Separation of Church and State’ and progressive thought. 

We now live in a generation when some are challenging those rights and liberties in the name of ‘separation of church and state’. Some would even like to remove all vestiges of religion or faith from the public square. Every week we find new challenges to our religious liberties.

I have seen many changes over the course of my life when it comes to religion in the public square. When I started school in the 50’s every day began with a prayer and the pledge. Also, I can remember studying the Bible in elementary school and when it came to Christmas all of the traditional Christmas carols were naturally sung. Prayers were still given at my baccalaureate, commencement, and even before some of the football games in the 60’s. None of the public displays of faith seemed out of place then.

Now that is all gone from the public schools and really no way that it can be recovered.

Growing up, I can remember that every family went to some church or another on Sundays except for the next door neighbor who was a Seventh–Day Adventist and the Jewish family down the street who preferred Saturdays for their worship instead.

It had been much the same way in America when my parents grew up and my grand parents also. In fact my mother told me that the readers they used in school (1915-20)actually taught them how to read using Bible passages. How foreign that would be today in our current schools.

It was also a time when America rose up and took its place among the top countries of the world on many different levels. This country has been tremendously blessed by God.

If God is erased from the public square and discourse of America, then what will be the new basis and foundation of our freedoms? So much of what we have was actually built upon the foundation of Christian civilization that owed its very existence to the Bible and the teachings of Jesus and his disciples. What will be the new standard if any that assures the continuity of freedom in America if not the Creator?

Shall we be left to rely upon politicians and judges and the sifting sands of popular notions? Or will scriptural principles continue to light the way like this NT passage did?:

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” –Galatians 3:28-29

All distinctions were done way in Christ and American society eventually has followed suit and provided equal justice and freedom for all.

What kind of America will my grandchildren and great grandchildren be living in? Will America continue to lead the world in freedom, commerce, and faith or will it decline into the dust pan of history?

I pray that Americans will continue to respect and worship God from whom all of our blessings and liberties flow.            

-An Encouraging Sign: Prayer Movements


            (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

From Charisma News:

A rising tide of concern is sweeping through the body of Christ as America drifts farther and farther away from its moral and biblical moorings. In response, prayer initiatives are budding in an attempt to call people across denominational and parachurch ministry lines to seek God’s intervention on behalf of America.

The article goes on to name a number of prayer movements across America. This is an encouraging development because it means that thousands of Christians are finally waking up and praying to save our declining nation.

This is anecdotal, but I participated in an all day 12 hour prayer meeting several years ago for California and the nation at the football stadium in San Diego- TheCall. Around 30,000 showed up including a number of key leaders and pastors from Southern California. What impressed me most was the variety of denominations and races represented. Better yet was the unity that the Holy Spirit brought to the place as the day rolled on. TheCall movement was not mentioned in the article but it is still going on sponsoring prayer events all across America and internationally. Their focus is on revival which I believe is our only hope to turn back the current tide towards moral decline in America.

Actually you can now see and witness the decline nearly on every front. Politically, religiously, economically, morally…

It is time to get down on our knees and pray for our nation but also pray for forgiveness since the church and most of us Christians in America have been in slumber for nearly a generation believing that we could solve our moral problems through political action. It didn’t work and now its time to pray for help and direction.           

-The Family, Same-Sex Marriage, and the Future of America


            (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In the last several months there has been a dialogue going on in America concerning our direction and the future of this nation when it comes to the major building block of society- the family.

Sunday we celebrated motherhood but earlier in the week the topic of conversation was same-sex marriage as President Obama came out in support of it and ironically cited the teachings of Jesus and the Golden Rule as having a part in his decision.

In April one of the big topics on the political scene was a comment that was made by a Democratic operative that Ann Romney never worked a day in her life since all she ever did was stay at home and raise 5 boys. In March the big controversy revolved around contraceptives and abortives and whether the government would force insurance companies to pay for them -even self insured religious organizations who were opposed to their use. It really was a matter of freedom of religion but the mainstream media and one political party styled those who opposed that idea as being in a ‘war against women.’

However, the real war in America is against motherhood, parenthood, and God’s design for humanity and Creation itself. My question is this:

Can God continue to bless America the way we are going? I believe that the answer is no and that our very future is hanging in the balance.

Honoring God’s order and design of the family was important enough to be included in the 10 commandments as a requirement for those who were seeking his blessing:

Ex 20:11-12
12 “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

This was also confirmed in the New Testament teaching on the family in Ephesians:

Eph 6:2-4
“Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.”

Do you really think that we are really honoring God’s plan for mothers, fathers, and the family in America today? So many children are brought into the world with single parents or in households where the parents are not fully committed to each other in marriage. And now if that is not bad enough, marriage itself is being re-defined as including same-sex partners and families are being re-defined to include all of these different perversions. Not only that, but Christians who question this direction in our culture are being cast as bigots, homophobes, and hopelessly on the ‘wrong side of history.’

If we continue in this direction I am afraid that America will ultimately be on God’s wrong side of history.

Again, can we expect God to continue to bless America in the midst of this rebellion against his order in Creation? As long as we were a nation that honored God and followed his order in creation for marriage and the family we could expect his blessings and that our days would be long and prosperous in this land. But that is no longer the case .

How we need revival.                    

-Reformation Needed –For Charismatic Pentecostal Churches?


        (Image via Wikipedia)

This is a great time to consider the real need for a reformation of the Charismatic and Pentecostal churches in America.

J. Lee Grady proposes a new reformation along with new theses for change in this article:

“It’s (Past) Time for a Charismatic Reformation”

Here’s the Theses of change that Grady proposes:

1. Let’s reform our theology.

2. Let’s return to the Bible.

3. It’s time for personal responsibility.

4. Stop playing games.

5. Stop the foolishness.

6. End all spiritual extortion now.

7. No more Lone Rangers.

8. Expose the creeps.

9. Stop faking the anointing.

10. Let’s return to purity.

11. We need humility.

12. No more big shots.

13. Never promote gifts at the expense of character.

14. Hold the prophets accountable.

15. Let’s make the main thing the main thing.

Read the whole article to see his comments and explanations under each of the 15 theses. At least a good start and something to consider and pray about. May God bless and reform his church. Let it begin to day and let it begin with us.

-5 Trends Facing the American Church?


        (Image by shioshvili via Flickr)

Are the bells tolling for the American church?

From LifeWay Research comes the following trends which may soon affect American Churches:

1. Our nation will see the emergence of the largest generational mission field in more than a century. According to our current research, the Millennial generation, those born between 1980 and 2000, will have a very low Christian representation. Our estimates now are that only 15 percent are Christian. With a huge population of nearly 80 million, that means that nearly 70 million young people are not Christians.

2. The dominant attitude of this huge generation toward Christianity will be largely indifferent. Only 13 percent of the Millennials rank any type of spiritual matter as important to their lives. They are not angry at churches and Christians. They simply ignore us because they do not deem us as meaningful or relevant.

3. Senior adult ministries in churches will experience steep declines. As the large Baby Boomer generation moves into their older years, they will resist any suggestion that they are senior adults, no matter how senior they may be. Unfortunately, many churches are slow to adapt to new realities. If they do senior adult ministry the way they’ve always done it, it will be headed for failure.

4. The large Boomer generation will become more receptive to the gospel. Our data is anecdotal for now, but we are seeing indications that the Boomers may actually become more interested in spiritual matters in general and Christianity specifically. If so, this trend will be counter to other trends where adults tend to become less receptive to the gospel as they age. The Baby Boomers have tried it all and found no joy. They may likely turn to the hope of the gospel.

5. Family will be a key value for both of the large generations. For the Millennials, family is their most important value. Nearly eight out of ten of the Millennials ranked family as the important issue in their lives. They told us that they had healthy relationships with their parents who, for the most part, are Baby Boomers. Some churches say they are family friendly, but few actually demonstrate that value. Churches that reach both of these generations will make significant changes to become the type of churches that foster healthy family relationships.

Read the whole thing: Five major trends for churches in America

Response: Many secular folks are anticipating a huge decline in membership for Christian Churches in America. As the Boomer generation gets older and begins to depart from this earth, many expect that the Christian influence in America will finally decline and go the same way as Europe.

The key to that expectation lies with the small number of Millennials that are actually Christians and involved in churches in America. The writer of the Lifeway article views this as a wide open domestic mission field opportunity.

-Church Today Not What God Intended?


       (Image via Wikipedia)

The Christian Post put up some observations by mega pastor Francis Chan about the American Church.

Pastor Chan questions whether today’s church is anything like what God originally intended. Here’s some of the quotes –well worth reading:

“You go to a building, someone gives you a bulletin, you sit in a chair, you sing a few songs, a guy delivers maybe a polished message, maybe not, someone sings a solo, you go home.”

“When you read the New Testament, you see the Holy Spirit was supposed to change everything so that this gathering of people who call themselves Christians had this supernatural element about them.”

“Do you really see this supernatural power at work when the believers gather together for what we call church? Isn’t it the same Holy Spirit that’s supposed to be available to us today? Why is it so different?”

“I heard one person say the church nowadays is neither super nor natural,” he says. “Everything is predictable and everything is expected.”

“There’s a truth to that. I feel bad about it. Being around a church culture, even leading a gathering of believers, I’ve gotten pretty good at predicting what’s going to happen in a church service. Was that the way it was supposed to happen?”

“When Jesus said this power (of the Holy Spirit) would come upon you, it really did come upon them and they were powerful beings (Jesus’ disciples). Why is it that in the church so many people are weak or defeated or we get so insecure because we look at ourselves rather than God? It doesn’t make sense.”

“…the response among His people today is: “Hi, welcome to church. Here’s your bulletin. We’ll get you out in an hour. Come back next week.”

“I mean, really? Is that all God intended for us?”

“What would the church look like today if we really stopped taking control of it and let the Holy Spirit lead?”

“I believe this is exactly what the world needs to see.”

Response: I really like the ending. Here’s one pastor who obviously gets it. Those of us who have been seeking revival and renewal have all talked along the same lines about what we observe in the American church.

This is why many of us believe that when revival does come to America it will happen in the public square and in the Marketplace first just like where it started in the first century with the Apostles and also in the ministry of Jesus. The church will be substantially dragged along later kicking all of the way.

This does not mean that there will not be churches involved in the revival. There will be key congregations and groups all across North America that will prepare their members to respond, facilitate, accommodate, and make a place for the move of God. Come Holy Spirit. 

-A Call of Revival from the Past


“In these days of difficulty, we Americans everywhere must and shall choose the path of social justice, the path of faith, the path of hope and the path of love toward our fellow men.”  FDR- Detroit, Michigan, October 2, 1932

Two weeks ago we were in Washington DC. While there we visited many of the more famous monuments. I could not believe how many ‘God’ references there are in DC Chiseled in stone and there for all to see the great religious heritage of our past.

While on the way to the Jefferson monument we walked through the huge FDR monument and were immediately taken back in time when America was far more ‘religious’ than today even in the midst of a depression and a war that was even more severe than what we are facing today.

I never considered FDR to be a very religious president until I read one quote after another calling Americans back to faith and hope in God in the midst of the incredible trouble faced by that generation economically and death and destruction of World War II. Not only that, but repeatedly calling Americans to join together in prayer. The ACLU would have fits with any president that made some of these statements today. But there they are, some of them chiseled in stone including the quote above.

When I read the quote above, the Holy Spirit immediately spoke to me and said that this statement contained the call of revival to America today. It is a Call of Faith and Hope in God, plus Love and Social Justice toward all humanity. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, but completely built upon the foundation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and anchored in the Love of The Father.           

-South OC: Contemporary Revival Characteristics

There are a number of characteristics that continue to come to the surface in South Orange Co. California when we pray about and talk about revival.

Most around here are convinced that we are on the verge if not the beginning of another move of God here but one which is radically different than the ‘Jesus People’ move in our past.

What is similar is a whole new generation of young people with radical dedication to Jesus beginning to rise up in our schools.

What is different is the forum of revival.

Whereas the move in the 70’s revolved around Bible study groups, the development of alternative contemporary worship, End-Times Pre-Trib eschatology, and the beaches and surf of Southern California. Today it’s at Starbucks, Wal-Mart, and the Irvine Spectrum. Bringing healing and letting a new generation find out that they have a Father who really does know who they are and actually cares about them.

This time it isn’t about a thousand bare-foot hippies trying to cram into a small church in Costa Mesa nor really about all of the ‘mega’ Calvary Chapels and Vineyards which followed in its wake. Nor is it centered in a church building at all where folks fly in from all around the world to get a touch like Toronto and Florida.

God the Father is pursuing people where they live, work, and shop.  Right now this is a ‘hidden’ marketplace revival. However at some point I believe that it is going to touch every facet of life and culture in South OC.

-Re: Breaking the Division Between the ‘Spiritual’ and ‘Secular’

Here’s a link to a Christian Post article which explores some themes that I believe are critical for any kind of cultural revival of the American and Western church:

Tim Keller: Spiritual and Secular Jobs are God’s Work

Here’s the opening line:

Pastor Tim Keller challenged a crowd of New York City professionals Sunday to rethink how they view work and to debunk the notion that spiritual vocations matter more to God than secular work.

Here’s a notable quote from Pastor Keller:

“There is no menial work. Jesus came not as a philosopher, not as a general. He came as a carpenter. The Bible says that all works matter to God. All works. Not just works that make money.”

Response: People spend 40 hours or more a week working or in business but it is only the 2 hours spent helping with the Sunday School that has any lasting eternal value? This dichotomy has not served us well and it is past time for the ‘Good News’ to touch every facet of our lives including our work and businesses, and our families and homes.

It is imperative for all Christians to understand once more that each one is called into a ‘priesthood of all believers’ that in the Kingdom of God there really is no division between the ‘secular’ and the ‘Spiritual’. Every occupation one is called to is to be lived out ‘as to the lord’ and dedicated to His Kingdom and rule.

<<Read my complete article and response>>

I plan to expand on this thought in another article here. I believe that the current revival in America is beginning in the marketplace and neighborhoods where folks live rather than in churches.           

-Exorcism for Today?

This last week Roman Catholic authorities in America were gathered together in a conference on Exorcism noting that the ministry had declined considerably in America.

The meeting, was held in Baltimore with over fifty bishops and sixty priests in attendance discussing and learning the procedures of the Catholic ‘Rite of Exorcism’.

Dr. Albert Mohler (President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) responded on his blog with his views on Exorcism and why ‘evangelicals’ don’t have a ‘rite of exorcism’ in the following article:  “On Exorcism and Exorcists: An Evangelical View

Here’s the money quote from the article:

“We should respect the power of the Devil and his demons, but never fear them. We do not need a rite of exorcism, only the name of Jesus. We are not given a priesthood of exorcists — for every believer is armed with the full promise of the Gospel, united with Christ by faith, and indwelt by the Holy Spirit.”

Response: I respect Dr. Mohler and normally agree with him on most issues. I even met him at a blogging conference several years ago. However on this issue he came up short as far as I am concerned. 

He acknowledged that Jesus and the Apostles cast out demons but really didn’t seem to consider any special attention to it as necessary today.

I know that in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles there are those who specialize in Spiritual warfare and casting out demons. Dr. Mohler didn’t say that ‘exorcism isn’t for today’ but from my perspective seemed to imply it.

What do you think?

I have participated in praying for folks and casting out demons in the past and have some incredible, exhilarating, and chilling memories of the experience.  One thing I know is true- the ‘name of Jesus’ is above any other name.