DEADLY DANGER of “PRAGMATISM”
Would I be out of line in order if I were to talk to you for a little
while about utilitarian religion and expedient Christianity? And a
useful God? I would like to call attention to the fact that our day is
a day which the ruling philosophy is pragmatism. You understand
what I mean by pragmatism?
Pragmatism means if it works it’s
true. If it succeeds it’s good. And the test of all practices, all
principles, all truth, so called all teaching, is do they work? Do they work?
Now – according to pragmatism, the greatest failures of the ages
have been some of the men God has honored most. For instance,
- Noah was a mighty good ship builder, his main
occupation wasn’t shipbuilding, it was preaching. He was a terrible
failure as a preacher. His wife and three children and their wives
were all he had. Seven converts in 120 years, you wouldn’t call
that particularly effective. Most mission boards would have asked
the missionaries to withdraw long before this. I say as a ship
builder he did quite well, but as a preacher he was a failure.
And then we come down across the years to another man by the
- Jeremiah. He was a mighty effective preacher, but
ineffective as far as results were concerned. If you were to
measure statistically how successful Jeremiah was, he would
probably get a large cipher. For we find that he lost out with the
people, he lost out with royalty, even the ministerial association
voted against him and wouldn’t have anything to do with him. He
had everything fail. The only one he seemed able to please was….
God, but otherwise he was a distinct failure.
And then we come to another well known person, the
- Lord Jesus
Christ, who was a failure according to all the standards. He never
succeeded in organizing a church or denomination. He wasn’t able
to build a school. He didn’t succeed in getting a mission board
established. He never had a book printed. He never was able to get
any of the various criteria or instruments that we find are so useful
(I’m not being sarcastic at all, they are useful). And our Lord
preached for three years, healed thousands of people, fed
thousands of people, and yet when it was all over there were 120…,
500 to whom he could have revealed Himself after His resurrection.
And the day that He was taken, one man said, “If all the others
forsake you, I’m willing to die for you.” He looked at this one and
said “Peter you don’t know your own heart. You’re going to deny
me three times before the cock crows this morning.” So all men
forsook Him and fled. By every standard of our generation or any
generation, our Lord was a single failure.
The question comes then to this, what is the standard of success
and by what are we going to judge our lives and our ministry? And
the question that you are going to ask yourself, “Is God an end or
is He a means?” Our generation is prepared to honor successful
choices. As long as a person can get things done or get the job
done then our generation is prepared to say well done.
And so we’ve got to ask ourselves at the very outset of our ministry,
and our pilgrimage, and our walk,
“Are we going to be Levites which
serve God for ten shekels and a shirt?”,
serve men perhaps in the
name of God, rather than God. For though he was a Levite and
performed religious activities, he was looking for a place, which
would give him recognition, a place which would give him
acceptance, a place which would give him security, a place where
he could shine in terms of those values which were important to
him. His whole business was serving in religious activities, so it
had to be a religious job. He was very happy when he found that
Micah had an opening. But he had decided that he was worth ten
shekels and a shirt, and he was prepared to sell himself to anyone
that would give that much. If somebody came along and gave more,
he would sell himself to them. But he put a value upon himself and
he figured then his religious service and his activities were just a
means to an end, and by the same token, God was a means to an end.
~[From Paris Reidhead’s excellent sermon – “Ten Shekels and
Why you should care
Because you might be snorkeling above Europe’s largest crater.
People flock to Italy for any number of reasons — the art, the fashion, the pasta Bolognese. But volcanoes? Believe it or not, my lovely country boasts the highest number and concentration of volcanoes in Europe. According to the Italian Center for National Research, the country has:
10 active volcanoes, plus 12 more sleeping giants, that could erupt at any time.
This means that Italians are among the most exposed in the world to volcanic explosions. Remember what happened in Pompeii back in 79 A.D., when a catastrophic eruption buried thousands of fleeing villagers under a carpet of ash? Well a disaster like that could happen again — with even more dire consequences. “Italy lies in a very unfortunate spot: right at the intersection of the Eurasian and African plates that are constantly scraping against one another and boosting the underground trapped pressure,” explains Mario Sprovieri, an underwater geology researcher…. https://www.ozy.com/presidential-daily-brief/pdb-86566
Tuesday, May 1, 2018
When I was praying for a word for the year to share with the congregation, one of the key words that came to me was that of Ephesians 6:
Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.
Put on the full armor of God,
so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil.
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,
but against the rulers,
against the powers,
against the world forces of this darkness,
against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.
If a soldier is in a war but doesn’t realize he’s in a war, he will be defeated. In the same way, if you are a child of God, you’re in a war. If you don’t realize it and act accordingly, you’ll live in defeat.
Therefore, the Word of God tells us to fight.
The first thing we are instructed to do is to be strong. Think about that. You don’t tell someone who is naturally strong to be strong — they just are. That is good news because it doesn’t matter whether or not you are naturally a strong person. You have a choice to become strong. The key is to live not by your strength, but by the power of His might.
The admonition of Ephesians 6 contains another key, one that you wouldn’t see in the translation, but is there in the original language.
It is written, “Our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against rulers…”
Behind the word “rulers” or “principalities” is the Greek word “archay.”
Even if you don’t know Greek, you’ve seen the word in other words — archaeology — archetype — archangel — etc. Archay means ‘first’ — ‘first in order,’ ‘ first in rank.’ In an army, privates fight privates, sergeants battle sergeants, and generals war against generals. So in spiritual warfare, if you are called to fight against those who are ‘archays,’ principalities that are first in rank, it can only mean that you’ve been entrusted with great authority and great power.
But ‘archay’ means, ‘the first in time,’ ‘the beginning,’ and ‘the commencement’ as well. In this is one of the most important keys to have victory in your life in God.
The key is to fight the archay. In other words, don’t fight sin when it’s been given room in your life, fight them in the very beginning, at the very first trace of its very first appearance. Don’t fight adultery when it’s taken root in your heart and life and brought about destruction, fight its archay– the very first suggestion of it. Don’t fight bitterness once it’s become ingrained in your heart, fight its archar, fight the very first thought.
Which is easier – to move a tree or to move a seed? Obviously it’s the seed. The one who deals with seeds will never have to deal with trees. So it is written, “Give the devil no room…” If you give sin room, you’ll be living your life on the defense. But if you fight the archay, you will be living on the offense. And you will be victorious.
This month, don’t live on the defensive, but turn it around. Take the offense. Take new ground. Fight the archay! And may God greatly bless you as you do.
Your brother and co-laborer
in His love and service,
Prophetic Dream: God Is Raising Up Faithful Armor-Bearers to Accomplish His Will
The word “armor-bearer” has the same meaning as a Greek phrase whose literal translation reads, “the one carrying the armor.” It was customary for the armor-bearer not only to carry the armor for their master/king but also to watch over their weapons. This position was held in high esteem. Often, the armor-bearer was willing to take the place of their king—to the death if needed. This is the level of integrity, honor and sacrifice an armor-bearer willingly offered to the one they served.
First Samuel 14:13–14 tells us that Jonathan’s armor-bearer was willing to go with Jonathan anywhere he went, even into extremely dangerous places where they could both be killed: “Jonathan climbed up upon his hands and upon his feet with his armor bearer behind him. And they fell before Jonathan. And his armor bearer was dealing death blows after him. That first slaughter, which Jonathan and his armor bearer made, was about twenty men within about a half-acre field.”
Too many mistakes in leadership/ministry have resulted from the lack of a great armor-bearer who could have prevented certain immoral, and sometimes fatal, situations from happening to great Christian leaders. God is properly placing the right leaders with the right armor-bearers for the assignments ahead. In a recent dream that I will share, God gives three directives for armor-bearers and those who serve leaders in the body of Christ.
In this dream, I was suspended in the air over a major city in the United States. I could see two people: an armor-bearer to a well-known international minister and the man of God. I knew immediately who this international voice and church leader was because he has been around for well over 30 years. This anointed man of God was scheduled to speak at a very large church conference that same evening. He and his armor-bearer were both in a hotel suite, but it was on the church property. The guest quarters were a very large, restored top section of a warehouse-like building, well-built and immaculate on the inside, that connected to the church.
Guard the Doors and Turn on the Lights
While still observing the scenario from above, I could see that several entryways led to the guest ministers’ top-floor area. Likewise, the armor-bearer was also aware of the many entryways, but from his perspective (and mine) we could tell that the place was properly secured. Like a good armor-bearer, this one was on high alert and leaving nothing to chance.
As the evening played out, the man of God with his armor-bearer began to prepare for the soon-coming conference meeting. I noticed that the armor-bearer had an extremely hard time finding the light switches in the main areas for the minister. This made it difficult for the man of God to see where he was going.
First Samuel tells us that when David prepared to fight Goliath, Goliath’s armor-bearer carried his shield before him right into battle: “The staff of his [Goliath’s] spear was like a weaver’s beam. His iron spearhead weighed six hundred shekels. And a shield-bearer was walking before him”(1 Sam. 17:7).
In some pagan or earlier cultures, the term “armor-bearer” was synonymous with “shield-bearer.” Every step Goliath’s shield-bearer took was one step closer to his death if things didn’t work in Goliath’s favor that day. (And you know the end of the story.)
Although the armor-bearer was guarding the doors for the man of God, he was unable to activate the light for the one he served. The light represents the power of God’s Word being spoken over our church leaders. Secondly, the light also represents the faithful prayers spoken over our leaders (church and government) for God’s light to shine a clear path for them.
As God’s servants, we must put a high priority on praying for those who are over us. God will not continue tolerating His children complaining and speaking word-curses over our church and governmental leaders, regardless of whether the person over us is right or wrong. If they are wrong in our eyes, or even in God’s eyes, then it is not our place to be the judge and juror (dishonor them). It’s God’s place to deal with and discipline that individual. Our role is to honor their position and pray for them daily. With now twenty-five (25) years of preaching, I have learned some hard lessons on honoring those under whom I served. Honoring may not always be easy, but it must be done.
Finally, once the armor-bearer got the main lights on, it soon became obvious that the armor-bearer’s leather belt wasn’t put on around his waist correctly; the belt no longer worked right or fit properly. I gasped when I saw this in the dream! I knew in my heart that something wasn’t right with the relationship between the armor-bearer and the man of God.
As the time for the main conference meeting approached, I could see that the man of God wasn’t getting spiritually ready as he had in the past; he was lying on a bed-type couch, completely unconcerned with the real reason why he was there that night: to minister God’s Word. While lying on the couch, the man of God quickly looked at his armor-bearer and said, “Throw me the TV controller. I’m now over 200 pounds, and I don’t want to get the controller; get it to me now.” As the armor-bearer tossed the TV controller, I could see from my angle that the man of God was way over 200 pounds and most of the weight rested in the fat of his gut. The man of God, who was watching TV and eating junk food, was within 45 minutes of stepping onto an international platform with thousands sitting before him and probably thousands more watching online.
In the dream, I could tell the current physical (overweight) and spiritual condition of the man of God deeply saddened the armor-bearer. Unfortunately, the man of God had grown accustomed to so much “fame and power” that he had come to a place where he really didn’t answer to anyone. He was no longer accountable at all! Those around him were scared to speak the truth when the truth was going to hurt. Sadly, the armor-bearer chose not to speak up and looked the other way. The belt of truth, once tight around this young man’s waist, now loosened even further.
In 1 Samuel 20, Jonathan discovers his father Saul’s true intention to harm David. Going against his own father’s will, Jonathan then takes his servant out in the field and shoots an arrow far away, telling his armor-bearer to go out quickly to find the arrow. This act tells David that his life was in danger because of Saul and that he needed to go. In doing this, Jonathan went against his father—which in those days could have gotten Jonathan killed. Because it was the right thing to do, however, Jonathan spoke up and spared David’s life.
A “Jonathan” in our lives might be our best friends, but they are also covenant friends—those willing to speak the truth out of love even if it costs them dearly. In the dream, the armor-bearer lost the “covenant relationship” role with the man of God because of a fear of failure or backlash. As servant-warriors, we must stand against fear in the church, making sure that our leaders are spiritually covered as well as covered by our willingness to share the truth. How many great leaders in church history have crumbled because they no longer had someone around them who would share the truth out of love? It is time for genuine armor-bearers to take their places and tighten up the belt of truth.
Be Willing to Fight for Those You Serve
Still watching all of this unfold in the dream, I noticed that the man of God was preparing to leave the room leading to the conference platform when four criminal intruders suddenly entered the area. The intruders breached one of the security doors and were in the room with them both. While not big and strong, these four men were capable of harm. The armor-bearer knew this would be some serious trouble to deal with, but he didn’t seem frightened. It was as if the armor-bearer were already willing in his heart to die for the one he served. Without a doubt, the armor-bearer was in fight mode, ready to protect the man of God.
The four men attempted to reach the man of God to rob him, but the armor-bearer was able to get in front of the crooks to shield the minister. I could tell that the armor-bearer would eventually be overpowered, but I could also tell that it was going to be OK. If one of the crooks reached the man of God, the armor-bearer and the minister had enough know-how to deal with them one-on-one and still survive the ordeal. The armor-bearer didn’t doubt that he might not make it through this scuffle against the four men, but no way was he going to let them harm the person he was called to serve. He fought them with his whole heart. Eventually the man of God and the armor-bearer were both spared. Then I woke up.
God is raising up armor-bearers who are willing to give their all, even if it requires them to lose everything.
“Finally, my brothers, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might. Put on the whole armor of God that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. For our fight is not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, and against spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:10-12).
Gunmen Open Fire During Church Service, Kill 19
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo)00AM EDT 4/28/2018 Jessilyn Justice
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari (REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton/File Photo)
Gunmen opened fire during a Nigerian church service Tuesday, killing at least 19, including two priests.
State police told CNN the attackers were most likely Fulani herdsmen who continued their crusade by burning down 50 homes.
“They attacked the venue of a burial ceremony and also attacked the church where the two reverend fathers were holding mass,” police commissioner Fatai Owoseni says. “We were able to recover 16 bodies from the scene of the attack and those of the two priests.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari tweeted, “This latest assault on innocent persons is particularly despicable. Violating a place of worship, killing priests and worshippers is not only vile, evil and satanic, it is clearly calculated to stoke up religious conflict and plunge our communities into endless bloodletting.”
U.S. President Donald Trump is expected to meet with Buhari next week. Christian advocates implore the president to use this time to pressure Buhari to defend Christians.
“I implore President Trump to leverage his April 30 meeting with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari to insist upon meaningful protection for Christians who continue to be violently attacked by President Buhari’s own people group: Fulani herdsmen,” said David Curry, president and CEO of Open Doors USA.
“President Buhari has done nothing more than issue empty words of condolence as villages have been burned and thousands of religious minorities have been slaughtered. President Buhari’s willful inaction has meant attacks by the Fulani are becoming more deadly and sophisticated. Even the Nigerian House of Representatives has summoned President Buhari to account for these non-stop, religiously motivated attacks. President Trump has a great opportunity to influence the situation and help hurting religious minorities in Nigeria.”
Charisma News previously reported that Nigerian Christians were preparing themselves for increased Islamic crusades that might include mass murder.
Asso parish priest Father Alexander Yeyock said: “The sad implication of [these attacks] is mass murder for Christians in the northern part of Nigeria, especially the northeast and middle-belt regions.”
Tuesday’s church attack occurred in Nigeria’s Middle Belt.
Open Doors ranks Nigeria at No. 14 on their World Watch List for persecuted Christians.
“In the northern and Middle Belt regions, they suffer from violence perpetrated by Islamic militant groups,” according to the report. “Death, physical injury and loss of property are commonplace, as well as loss of land and livelihood. In northern Nigeria, society as a whole treats Christians as second-class citizens who deserve to be discriminated against and excluded. Christians from Muslim backgrounds also face persecution from their own families who reject and pressure them to renounce Christianity. To make matters worse, corruption has made the government ill-equipped to protect Christians from violent attack.”
https://binged.it/2JEHetd – longer version