Saturday, November 30, 2013

Therefore as the Church is Subject to Christ


Eph.5: 24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing.
25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;
26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word,
27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

I am minded to borrow and alter the quote of Murray Rothbard and say that the organized church is an institution of theft. There it is without frills and niceties. It cannot be overstated. The western construct which is commonly referred to as “church” is a well organized institution of theft. It is conceived in capitalism, operates by the force of a capitalist culture, and for the most part teaches that giving to that institution will result in God’s blessing which includes financial blessings in this life and rewards in the life to come. Its mere existence in its present form is largely due to the tax free status it enjoys, and even with that monumental advantage most local churches and denominations live from budget to budget.  

Let us lift the ecclesiastical veil up a little further. Most churches spend almost 50% of their budget on salaries for the staff. At the very top of these bloated salaries is the head pastor. His is called a “salary package”. I can remember being an associated pastor during a time where the “budget committee” was deciding a new budget and since the church had grown they asked the head pastor about his thoughts concerning his own salary. His told them what he thought he could make in the secular world and suggested the church pay him accordingly. They did.

Eight years ago I was a Sunday school teacher in a large Baptist church. The pastor had been exposed as having an affair and he resigned. Of course a search committee was formed and they began to advertise in some Baptist periodicals and make calls to certain pastors. They received many applications (See, just like searching for a CEO) and of course there was the obligatory and perfunctory solicitation for the congregation to pray. After about 8 months the committee had flown out to hear this man preach at his present church. That’s right, 8 people flew out on the church’s money and hear him preach once, spoke with him, and looked over his résumé.

They came back to the church and the next Sunday they scheduled this man to preach the Sunday morning service and then field some questions from the membership. There is a term among preachers that refer to a one of your “best” sermons and we call it a “sugar stick”. So when a man is preaching “in view of a call” at a prospective church he can either pull out a sugar stick or create an amalgam of a few sugar sticks. It is usually the same formula a preacher uses when he preaches in other churches without being examined as a prospective employee.

Now please think about this. First let us understand that church membership and voting is unscriptural and is another element which reveals how deeply the church construct has borrowed from the culture. So here you have it. The man preaches a sugar stick, fields questions form a mixed multitude of church members, and then that night they vote on him. Since when do sheep vote on who they desire as a shepherd? Since when are shepherds voted on at all? And they extend a call to him because they heard him one time? So his calling is based almost exclusively on his oratorical prowess? The entire spectacle has absolutely no foundation that can be found in the New Testament.

But here is also another element of calling a new pastor. The overwhelming percentage of pastors only leave their present church for one which will pay them more or at least has a much greater potential for human growth. The pastor is almost always presented with the particulars of the salary package before he makes a decision to throw his hat into the ring. So his decision whether this new position is a good fit for him is based largely upon financial benefits or at least the prospect of future salary growth. And the pastor that this Baptist church called accepted the calling that they extended to him after only seeing and hearing him for a few hours. But he had one condition.

Now let me tell you that the pastor they called had been a very successful business man before he felt called to the ministry. He was literally a millionaire. He said that if he was to come they must increase the salary package or it would only be only a “lateral move”. That means that basically their salary package was the same as his present and he felt it would not be wise to make such a move. Can you imagine such a thing? But that goes on all the time in different levels. So the church acquiesced to his request and that pastor came, built an incredible home, found a hanger for his airplane, and began to create some partnerships with a few wealthy men in the congregation and they invested together. So you believe that same capitalist spirit is not prevalent within the evangelical church construct? You would be mistaken.

The hiring and firing of pastors is just one revealing element of the American church. Businesses take much longer and do much more extensive work when looking for a leader. You would think the church would have all kinds of fasting and prayer nights, and if most churches were constructed according to the New Testament they could find another pastor from within their elder body. But just like a football program at a large and renown university looking for a head coach, they desire a kind of celebrity. And if the church is large enough it will almost always require someone with a “Dr.” in front of their name.

But most churches have an abundance of staff positions. If the church is large enough it will include many secretaries, outreach ministers, nursery coordinators, youth ministers, music ministers, Sunday School coordinators, associate pastors, visitation ministers, senior pastors, maintenance overseers, sound technicians, and many other paid positions. That is why 50% of the offerings go to maintain the staff. And the hiring committee hires people based upon their qualifications to perform their duties and as long as they are a member in good standing their spiritual life is irrelevant. So in essence you have a well oiled machine which pauses for a few hours every Sunday to represent a church but which operates just like a business.

Now in order for this kind of a business to succeed you need to create a sense of belonging. A church slogan usually helps and church membership with new members being voted in helps make the new members feel welcome and the old members feel magnanimous. And every quarter there is an unscriptural business meeting which also makes members feel important and life caring overseers. Some members search the financial report to see if there were any discrepancies or extravagances but most just look it over and let it ride. It resembles a stockholders meeting and it makes everyone feel comfortable when the church is in the black. The money given to missions is usually less than 15% and rarely above 20%. And the money given to the poor is embarrassing but no one really cares about that.

Now when a collection of church members decide to build, the pastor and his staff embark upon a “building program” which is a church way of saying raising money. Some churches even hire a special staff pastor who specializes in raising money. Yes there are the “faith” pledge cards and the thermometers showing how much has been raised so far and the bulletin informs the congregation of how much was given last week. Everyone feels a sense of belonging and coming together to accomplish something. And the finance committee approaches a secular financial institution and borrows what they need to complete the building. The bank loans the church the money because of the credit reports of its leaders and the pledge cards.

So the church must pay enormous amounts of interest to a financial institution which also loans money to Planned Parenthood, bars, strip clubs, gay clubs, cults, and anyone else who are deemed not to be a financial risk. But the pastor will scold his members for supporting any of these groups while indirectly donating thousands upon thousands of dollars to help their cause. And while people are suffering all around the world, and while brothers and sisters in Christ are in need of common necessaries, the church has locked itself into paying interest payments which are usually much more than any evangelistic budget or any philanthropic endeavors.

And now the pressure is usually on the leadership. They cannot afford to lose anyone since they are obligated to a large debt. And they also must work hard to gain new members. And when you have any of that on your mind then inevitably it leads to all kinds of compromise. Oh you still profess your allegiance to your statement of faith and that the Bible is God’s Word and all the usual rhetoric, but something has happened in your heart and in the way you lead the church. Believe me I have been an all sides of this scenario and I confess to be a grievous participant in all of it.

When you have debt and obligation hanging over your head you cannot challenge the people as you should. There are wealthy givers who are friendly and faithful to the church but whose lives are decidedly hedonistic and you dare not rock that boat. And when a building program is in progress the pastor always assumes some kind of overseer role for that building. He forfeits much time meeting with people and making phone calls and surveying the progress. What little time he had spent alone with God is now much smaller. He still may go out to lunch often and play golf and fellowship with other preachers and with the more prominent members of his congregation, but he still spends much time thinking about and being involved with the building program. As I said, the church is run like a business.

And when the church operates like a business within a capitalist culture inevitably the message subtly begins to soften to accommodate the hedonist practices of its members. The church may still amen all the usual doctrinal suspects like the inerrancy of Scripture, the virgin birth, the deity of Christ, the cross and the resurrection, and salvation by faith alone, but much of the teachings of Jesus are completely ignored and confined to some situational ethics especially as it pertains to money. “It is alright to have money as long as money does not have you” is usually the core mantra. Of course money almost always imprisons on some level those who accumulate it whether they set out that way or not.

So what you end up with is an ecclesiastical construct which is an institution of theft. Are there saved men and women who love Jesus within that construct? Of course there are. Do those churches do some good and see some sinners saved? Of course they do. But that is by God’s grace and surely not because God approves of that which so openly violates His own Word. Look around and see how the culture remains unaffected by tens of millions of professing believers and ask yourselves “Why?”. How can a handful of believers turn the world upside down in the first century following Pentecost and yet tens of millions of professing believers live with this culture of darkness with so little light and salt and whose distinguishing feature is being “conservative”? I submit that it is due to the institution which trains new believers. It has been compromised by the culture and now trains capitalists to be better capitalists and deftly elicits their money through manipulation, fear, lies, and leveraging the “us verses them” spirit.

When you weigh the evidence and assess just how far from Jesus and His teachings the church has strayed, and when you understand how much money is collected and spent on all the ecclesiastical accoutrements, then you must conclude that the American religious construct colloquially called “the church” is an institution of theft. Instead of existing to help the poor and downtrodden and spreading the everlasting gospel, the church operates like a for profit business and helps line the pockets of local banks and members of its staff. And while operating under the guise of being non-profit it enjoys the fruits of being tax free which includes housing allowances, social security exemptions, and many creative structures which leverage its tax exempt status.

Neh.1: And they said unto me, The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire.
And it came to pass, when I heard these words, that I sat down and wept, and mourned certain days, and fasted, and prayed before the God of heaven,
And said, I beseech thee, O Lord God of heaven, the great and terrible God, that keepeth covenant and mercy for them that love him and observe his commandments:
Let thine ear now be attentive, and thine eyes open, that thou mayest hear the prayer of thy servant, which I pray before thee now, day and night, for the children of Israel thy servants, and confess the sins of the children of Israel, which we have sinned against thee: both I and my father's house have sinned.

A man named Nehemiah was a Jew who was born into the captivity in Babylon. His relatives had been brought into Babylon and he then only knew Babylon. But he had heard stories of the glory of God back in Jerusalem and how Jerusalem was now in ruins and the Temple in shambles. God had burdened his heart to lead a remnant back to restore the City of Peace and the Temple of God. He had even been elevated in Babylon as the king’s cupbearer, a noble position. But Nehemiah was willing to sacrifice all of it and return to Jerusalem. This would not be an easy task and would require self denial and much spiritual labor. To give up a comfortable life in Babylon and travel many hundreds of miles and face all kinds of enemies just to rebuild that which had been torn down seemed like a fool’s errand to others, but Nehemiah had heard the calling of God. Standing among ruins in the will of God was better than living in the palace without God’s will.

And that is the choice before all of us individually. Most Jews stayed in Babylon because they had made friends, established businesses, and just felt a sense of belonging. They had laid down roots in Babylon. So only a remnant went with Jeremiah and Ezra. It is so much easier to stay where we have found warmth and safety rather than get out of the boat and confront the raging seas. When you have established a life where faith is unnecessary except in doctrinal terms it becomes very difficult to leave that earthly sanctuary and go looking for a city whose builder and maker is God Himself.

The road is sometimes lonely; the dangers are real; your friends often forsake you; the comfort of the majority vanishes; the uncertainty is palpable; many questions go unanswered; the path is often dim; your own shortcomings become magnified; the call for self righteousness is relentless; and yet in the midst of all this and more there is a revelation of glory which provides a daily manna that feeds and sustains your soul. Once you are freed from bondage your heart is opened to much more of Christ and His Word than you ever realized was available. And if we walk step by step by faith, and if we constantly beg the Spirit to humble us, then we have an opportunity to glorify Christ and be used of Him in ways far above our talents and intellect. You ARE the church and you ARE the body of Christ. Most of us find fellowship with some friends and even like minded people on the internet or even some church where there is some light.
But remember, a pure crumb is more satisfying than an impure feast.

Christmas - A Pathetic Idol


Who can grasp the fullness of eternity? Who can know its expanse and its glory? Who among us smiles with knowing confidence when someone says that God has always existed and had no beginning? It is the mystery of all mysteries. God is a spirit, but what human words can even define the word “spirit”? Our God is high above all that we are even capable of imagining, and one day all who have been washed by the Lamb’s blood will see Him as he is. Go ahead, feel those goosebumps.

But God knew that man in his fallen condition could never find God since man will always have an ingredient of narcissism and human wisdom. So God uses Noah. Then God uses Abram. Then God calls Moses and protects him from dangerous circumstances and even uses Pharaoh’s court to educate His servant. And then Moses presents His law with all kinds of profound ways to bring mankind to a place of need and understanding concerning redemption. For thousands of years God’s people practiced His laws which included days and months and years and feasts and many types of symbols.

But then came Bethlehem. This was never meant to be a feast. This was the culmination of hundreds of prophetic utterances and this day was the end of the law of Moses and the beginning of an unfathomable miracle that would lead to, of all things, a human sacrifice. But further still, it would be the sacrifice of THE divine Being. Only a few decades ago men believed that our galaxy was the entire universe and it contained a few million stars. Soon they saw many billions of stars. Then Edwin Hubble discovered more galaxies. Today men know that there are hundreds of billions of galaxies with each one containing hundreds of billions of stars.

Today human intellects imagine a great architect, a powerful force, that created and oversees the universe. They envision a colossal celestial mind that throbs with knowledge and power. While that may be true and even understated, what the mind of man misses is the greatest expression of the Creator even known to mankind. Quietly step over animal droppings and the crackle of straw, ignore the stench of cattle, peek over a wooden trough, and look into a tiny human face.

You have just seen God. There is no other. Yes, Bethlehem became the place where God actually revealed His face. This was God coming in the likeness of sinful flesh. Mystery of mysteries and glory of all glories. It soars above all reason. It goes way beyond philosophy. The reality of God is beyond us, but to think that He who created everything stepped into a human body is unimaginable. The Incarnation is a doctrine of the church which elicits sentimentality once a year, but it is the revelation of all that had been foretold and all that would be accomplished.

Who but the fallen ingenuity of man could take the Incarnation when God came in the likeness of human flesh and turn it into a merchandise extravaganza? Who could use and abuse such an event and make it little more than a “season” or some religious sentimentality? God comes to rescue mankind and we create a self serving “holiday” that is not only warned against in the New Testament, but we place it months after the event actually happened as this study illuminates. (It has been brought to my attention that the writer of the link I provided belongs to an aberrant theological community. I do not endorse that, only his research as it pertains to Christmas.) This, as in past Decembers, will provide much fanfare, much warmth, much eating, much buying, much family get togethers, but will once again treat His coming as an aside and completely miss the holiness and the sacred redemptive essence of that God-child.

Yes, the western church has managed to desecrate that holy visitation and turn it into an “observance”. And billions of dollars emanating from evangelical pockets will be spent on each other, and much of it on fluff and worthless hedonistic toys. This is the stuff which boggles the mind, and when your eyes have been opened you eventually become horrified at the entire spectacle. And many who read this post will consider me a raging maniac who has taken a wonderful time of the year and attempted to suck out all the joy. Yes, to many, I am the Grinch.

But this event many call “Christmas” is so much more than seasonal colors and manger scenes and trees. God gives His only begotten Son and yet man creates a self serving holiday that is so tepid, so compromised, and so diluted that even the heathen enjoy its benefits. But Bethlehem’s event will never be Christmas. Christmas is a man made observance which wallows in hedonism and all kinds of hollow sentimentality. When I was a boy my family would open our gifts on Christmas Eve and the go to the midnight service at the Lutheran church. It was one of two times my father went to church. It was centered around music and gifts and smells and the general spirit of the season. Oh yes, Jesus was mentioned and the obligatory story in Luke was read. What an unscriptural farce.

And what does Santa and Mommy and Daddy ask the little child? “And what do you want for Christmas?” What an incredible training toward hedonism and narcissism. My father was German and rarely showed any emotions. He was the only child born to a 39 year old mother. He grew up never really having any emotional training and although he was a good man, he had no sensitivity. I can remember a room full of Christmas presents with only one small one for my mother. And even though I was only eight I can still remember feeling sad because my mother gave everything she had. You see, the materialism was paramount.

The entire spectacle has burgeoned into a full blown hedonistic festival which lines the pockets of store owners while retaining just enough Jesus to make it a religious holiday. But let us not be deceived. We are not celebrating the birth of Jesus which most likely occurred around the Feast of Tabernacles or the Day of Atonement. And even if we were to move the day to a more Scriptural time if it were practiced as it is today it would still be akin to dancing around a golden calf. It does not mean that some people do not love Jesus or are not saved. But what it does reveal is a disregard for Scriptural truth regardless of how we claim to be “Bible believers”.

The Book of Galatians was written to correct the church about attempting to mesh law with grace. Paul goes into great detail about the superior nature of the New Covenant and how God had used the Mosaic Law to point us to this new and surpassing covenant. In the 4th chapter Paul explicitly says that Hagar, representing the law, shall not be heir with Sarah, representing the grace found in Christ. And yet some still desire to incorporate certain parts of the law while still clinging to grace. But Paul refutes that entire concept and in some cities his life was in jeopardy for that very teaching.

Gal.4: 9 But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage?
10 Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years.
11 I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain.

And what shall we make of these inspired words? Shall we just ignore them and do what we desire to do anyway? Should we just confine them to a law vs. grace metaphor and acknowledge the grace of Christ but still observe the things Paul warns against? This is just another example of how far we have strayed from the Scriptures even though we claim they are God’s very Words. And our flesh, when confronted with things like this, screams out in much discomfort. What will happen if we do not observe Christmas? It almost seems like an impossibility.

This kind of outward structure is as strong as being confronted with the carnality and spiritually damaging essence of politics and nationalism. People might believe we have gone mad. And what about the children? You see, the discussion itself does not center on what God’s says but on the repercussions we might face. Again. I judge no one's standing before God as it pertains to their personal redemption. The Lord knows those who are His. But how can we expect to be renewed and progress mightily in our spiritual journey if we are unwilling to examine our hearts and address things about which the Scriptures teach? Is a greater and deeper relationship worthy of some sacrificial and even painful inward spiritual business?

Every year I write about Christmas and almost every year some have their eyes opened. However every year I warn all of us against being self righteous. It has been my experience that anytime God has graciously called my out of some unscriptural ways or called me into a deeper intimacy with Him my flesh strongly urges me to feel superior. This is not something that happens now and then, but even when I write about these things I still must do spiritual battles lest I be lifted up in my own eyes. And so my fellow followers of Jesus, I do not exhort you from the fort called “Arrived”. Far from it. In fact, to whom much is revealed much is required.

And just what was the first step for me concerning Christmas? Well after I became aware of the inaccurate date, and after I had read Galatians again and again, the next Christmas I walked through December with my ears and eyes opened. And I was extremely shocked at just how secular most of it was. Many of the songs were about the season or Santa Claus or the gifts or the tree. But what shocked me even further was how the church went to great lengths to mesh the secular with the spiritual. And those who professed to believe in and follow Jesus spent their money on Christmas with the same vigor as did the unbelievers. And as I became a fly on the wall I hardly heard anyone speak of Jesus. I heard believers speak of traveling, or speak of family times, or speak of crowds, or speak of traffic, or speak of the Christmas pageant, or speak of house lights, but I could not believe how little Jesus was mentioned. We were comfortable speaking about Christmas but not about Christ.

That was when I repented of my own blindness. I would never celebrate Christmas again, but I would embrace the Incarnation all through the year. Yes, I have grandchildren. Yes, I have three children. Two of my children still observe Christmas, and I give my daughter some money to get the kids something. So as you can see I am far from perfect. But I just cannot celebrate that which is now dead to me. I no longer need days and times. I no longer need holidays. I no longer need shadows. I no longer need seasons. I only need Christ, and I need all my energy and sacrifice seeking Him. Christ has nothing to do with Christmas. Perhaps this year the Spirit will gently tap you on the shoulder of your heart. And if He does it will not be easy.

But I am not alone. Let me share with you a quote from someone about whom you may have a greater consideration.
"We have no superstitious regard for times and seasons. Certainly we do not believe in the present ecclesiastical arrangement called Christmas: first, because we do not believe in the mass at all, but abhor it, whether it be said or sung in Latin or in English; and, secondly, because we find no Scriptural warrant whatever for observing any day as the birthday of the Savior; and, consequently, its observance is a superstition, and not because of divine authority."
Who said that? Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
But God will more than fill whatever space is left vacant because you no longer embrace the event men call Christmas. In some ways our hearts are mangers, and Paul says,

Gal.4: 19 My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you,

In some ways the day you believed on Jesus your heart became Bethlehem, and now the Spirit desires your heart to be Calvary. And one glorious day you will be raised in the full likeness of the Risen Christ! But it all began at Bethlehem.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Here's Wishing You...Jesus

I do not celebrate holidays anymore. I am not a legalist and I do buy gifts for my grandkids on Christmas. And I will have a nice meal at a restaurant tonight with my family. And so I do not want to sound haughty or holier than thou when I say this. I am thankful for Jesus. I have experienced almost everything you can on this earth. New cars and new houses and new everything. It means nothing to me anymore. I love my children and their children as well.
But believe me when I tell you I am spent when it comes to the things of this world. Nothing in this world excites me. Nothing gives me hope. I am not being cavalier or callous, and there are many, many believers who I believe live a more surrendered life than do I.
But I just cannot get away from saying that I am thankful in ways inexpressible for my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I openly confess that I have never had anything that deserves His love and certainly not His redemption. In my fallen flesh I am a vile and selfish sinner. And even for the last almost forty years of knowing Christ it is Christ who has been faithful beyond words to me. I could never have found any value to this life where it not for Jesus. I hope it never appears redundant and self serving to say I love Jesus. Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my Great Redeemer’s praise!!
So instead of wishing everyone a Happy Thanksgiving, I want to wish that everyone who does not know Christ will find Him, and all of us who do will continue on this journey of faith and find more and more of Him!

May the Lamb that was slain receive the reward of His suffering!

Jesus - Our First Love


Rev.2: Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.

Phil.3: Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ,
And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:
10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;
11 If by any means I might attain unto the resurrection of the dead.

Is Christianity a set of doctrines or is it a pursuit based upon doctrinal truths? If you arrive at an orthodox theology, and if you arrange them into an organized statement of faith, then are you a Biblical believer? Is the pursuit of knowing Christ an elective or is it an indispensible core of what it means to be a believer? But, Brother Rick, you seem to harp on this topic a lot. Yes, and why do you believe that is so? Could it be that we have been so misled and so deceived by the culture and the church that it will take time for all of us to return to our first love? Let’s be honest with each other, we always need to be challenged to embrace our Wonderful Lord and Savior. As Pastor Robinson wrote in his hymn, “Prone to wander Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I Love”.

And those words strip us all of any pretence and haughtiness since we all feel that same sense of inward warfare. But oh the matchless grace of our Mighty Lord! Without His grace we would still be dead men walking with no hope in this world. But while we were yet sinners and joyfully living on a dunghill, the grace of our Lord and Savior wooed us to a place we had heard in passing called Calvary, but suddenly we saw Him. You see we had heard His story. We knew His name. We have seen thousands of crosses and some with Him hanging on them. In reality we had been saturated by Jesus.

But at one particular moment in time we saw Him for the very first time as he was, and is, and always will be. We did not just see a Savior. We saw our Savior. And at that moment our hearts were empowered by God’s Spirit and we believed. Oh glorious moment! Oh glorious thought! Oh glorious Savior and Lord! And yes we loved our mothers and fathers, and yes we loved our spouse and our children, but when we believed on the Lord Jesus we were overwhelmed by a love which was not of this world. In the spirit realm it was our first love.

It cannot really be described to one who still walks in darkness. To them it is some kind of religious folklore or an emotional crutch. When you tell people you love Jesus they look at you as if you were mentally unstable. But inside your heart, your being, something has changed. It is emotion to be sure, but it is much deeper and greater than just emotion. Last week you had no idea about spiritual truths and you weren’t even interested in eternal things. And yet now your heart is flooded with thoughts that soar way above your complete understanding, and this Person called Jesus has taken on an aura and is now alive within your inner spirit. You cannot comprehend all the doctrinal tenants, but two things you do know. You know that once you were blind but now you see. And you know that the love of God has been shed abroad in your heart because you stand fully in love with Christ.

Paul who was accomplished in the Torah and the study of the Old Testament has one encounter with the Risen Christ on a dusty road to Damascus and now he says he counts all his learning and all his honors and all the accolades associated with being a Pharisee as dung. It is absolutely amazing that the Spirit through this apostle uses such a word to startle and amplify and emblazon just how incomparable the knowledge of Christ is with anything else in this world! This was the man who sought the loves of those who followed Jesus and now he openly rejects all his accomplishments so that he may know Christ. What passion! What love! And as much theology that the Spirit has revealed to Paul concerning the church and communion and fellowship and grace and many other wonderful truths, Paul still is consumed with knowing Jesus!

And therein lies the monstrous betrayal of the modern church. We “orthodoxians” can prove the deity of Christ. We can show in Scripture His many miracles. We can prove He was virgin born. We can trace His Jewish lineage. We can point out He had brothers and sisters. We can catalogue many things about Him and His ministry. But do we know Him intimately, and are we desperate to know Him much deeper and more intimately? You see the word “know” in the Greek in Phil.3:10 is the same word “know in Matt.1:25 where the Scriptures reveal that Joseph “knew her (Mary) not” until Jesus was born. What sacred intimacy!

But there are many obstacles to having Jesus be the very center of your life, or as I have said, be your life. There are the cares of this world which even though can be necessary often demand our attention and time. There are the things which demand us to worry. There are the things which entice us and pull us into their circle. There are the activities within the church which may or not be edifying to the spirit but which have little to do with Jesus. There are the things concerning America which have muscled their way into the church realm and steal that which should be Christ’s alone.

Do we really understand the strength and passion of our own flesh? The flesh, or the fallen nature, is consumed with itself and it will stop at nothing to have its own way and fulfill its own lusts. And if it cannot keep Jesus completely out of the picture, it will change and dilute our image of Christ and present us with its own caricature of the Savior. And then the flesh will worship that caricature and tell us that we are truly worshiping Jesus. In an amazing feat of deception the flesh can construct an entire false religious system complete with all the spiritual words and call it Christianity. And millions will feel very content and satisfied with practicing that false construct.

But truly following Jesus and having your life be His is a sacred battle which rages every single day.

Throughout the centuries the church has taken the pure and simple faith and made it a complex labyrinth of all kinds of twists and turns of doctrinal academia and in so doing the simplicity which can be found in the Lord Jesus has been obscured. Men of earthly renown sit and exhibit their doctrinal prowess and answer questions posed to them by the ecclesiastical Proletariat. Never would we see these men kneeling and weeping alongside their chairs in brokenness and contrition. You see, they have original language credentials and they have well organized patterns of Biblical interpretation which are admired by the common folk.

But amidst all the modern preacher/teacher worship is a dearth of observable passion for Jesus which can only find life through a hunger and thirst for a humility which sees one’s own intellect as profoundly disgusting, and which spiritually recoils at the slightest hint of people’s admiration. You see, when you are praised and held up as a model then you have become an obstacle rather than a prism through which Jesus alone is exalted. It is a delicate path set before us, but when we remake the path to be more human than divine we are no longer following Jesus.

But in all the hustle and bustle of this western lifestyle the church has gotten caught up with all kinds of offshoots and doctrinal disputes and moral crusades and in the dust of those battle we have lost sight of the Lord Jesus. I have noticed something quite disturbing on this blog which began in April of 2006. Even if I post an essay which is completely devotional and delves almost exclusively about heaven or God’s love or some other topic about which it would seem no one could find an argument, many times someone uses the comment thread to press forward some agenda or point of view which has nothing to do with the post. But because we have become experts and arguing over any and all topics the urge to press forward our opinion is irresistible. And so it is with Jesus.

Our minds and hearts are so cluttered with all kinds of perspectives - political and moral and financial and some finer points of doctrine - that we cannot even completely rest while basking in the glory of the knowledge of Him. There are times to discuss every Biblical subject, however where are the times when we receive the glorious simplicity that is in Christ and allow the Spirit to once again impress that image upon our hearts and minds. I was once sharing my testimony and I used the phrase “I placed my faith upon Jesus” and afterwards a woman came up to me and said that phrase was unbiblical. Why? Because she was a Calvinist. I said that after hearing what the Lord had done in my life that was what she heard most and could not wait to tell me?

But I cannot change anyone. That is the work of the Spirit. But I exhort you to do some inventory of the heart and see just how much unneeded furniture has found a home there. It has become commonplace to compartmentalize Jesus into a Sunday morning celebrity and a theological curiosity rather than the consuming passion of our everyday lives. But because we have very few models of what that would look like in this hedonistic culture ours is a journey of faith. And as we proceed, sins and weights and compromises must be uncovered, addressed, and rejected if we hope to follow Jesus as the Lord of our life. It is one thing to believe in Jesus. It is another thing to follow Jesus. But it is quite another thing altogether to be consumed with Jesus.

But if that journey proves to be too difficult and too unreasonable and too costly then we can all just stoke the campfire and tell each other how great it is to live with so many of God’s blessings. Jesus can wait for a more convenient day.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

The Power of His Resurrection


Rom.1: Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God,
(Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,)
Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh;
And declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead:

Rom.6: Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection:

Phil.3: 10 That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death;

I Pet.1: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,

Rev.20: Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power

Let me say from the outside that the Incarnation, the cross, and the resurrection are inseparable. They actually make up what we call “the gospel”. The cross is usually amplified in our spiritual minds, and well it should be. However if Christ was not God in the flesh then His death was just another human death including many tens of thousands on a Roman cross. So the divinity of Jesus must be clearly understood and upon that truth there can be no compromise or even an open discussion. All who even question the deity of Christ are either searchers still seeking the truth or the vilest of heretics.

But the resurrection is also indispensible if we are to understand the Incarnation and the cross, for if Christ did not resurrect from the dead then we are serving a dead Savior. And Paul even suggests that given that scenario we would be the most miserable of all men. So often we under emphasize the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus died upon that cross. He was dead. I cannot begin to fully unpack that mystery that God did actually die. God is life and even the word death seems to be completely incongruous with His eternal nature. And yet Jesus died. Some attempt to seem oh so intellectual and exhibit doctrinal prowess by explaining which part of Jesus died or the process of divine death or other things which the Scriptures do not explain and therefore we should not either. Is it not enough to make our very beings tremble when we say “Jesus died”?

But on the third day Jesus resurrected from the dead. That is no metaphor. That is an eternal truth and theological fact. Now before we go any further let me expose some heretics who take the gospel narrative of the resurrection and translate it to us as some kind of a fresh start or a turning over of a new leaf. Rob Bell and others take that kind of license and by doing so they dilute the power of the resurrection and expose themselves as heretics. The resurrection of Jesus Christ came through the power of Almighty God and it authenticated, substantiated, and openly proved who Jesus was, what He did on the cross, and that every word He spoke was the Word of God.

This was not just some noble Jew who was martyred because he was a trouble maker. He was not just a wise man who has some interesting and arresting communication skills. This wasn’t even some Jew who had some divine power and healed people. But how can I reveal who He was through the limitations of human words? God the Word was born to a virgin, lived a sinless life, and then finished what He came to accomplish. Jesus did not start at Bethlehem. He was God the Son, God the Word, from eternity past to eternity future. Even while being in the grave dead for three days He was still alive. Go ahead and run that through that pea shooter we call our “intellect”.

Jesus was dead and resurrected and showed Himself alive to many hundreds of people. The resurrection is still that which makes many stumble. They will admit that Jesus died upon that cross and they can define it in many ways that suit them. But if you deny the bodily resurrection then you deny Christ. Plain and simple.

But the power in that resurrection can and does change a person’s life from the inside out. I am not one to micro manage doctrinal words or to slice things so thin it elicits arguments over the finer points. But please understand what I am going to say. The glorious resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was not just so people could get a new start or alter their lives in some way. That does happen but it is residual. The resurrection and the power revealed by that event was to make a show openly that Christ has triumphed over sin, hell, and the forces of darkness as well as to broadcast throughout eternity that Jesus is and always was the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords! And who can stand against Him from whose face the earth and the heavens fled? And when you read the Book of the Revelation and get some glimpse of the eternal place we call heaven, you may have missed something very revealing.

It always seemed that Jesus while upon this earth was subordinate to the Father. Even the term “Son” seems to indicate a subordinate status. However that is untrue albeit a very great mystery. But when you read the Revelation we find very much more about Jesus the Son than we do the Father or the Spirit. Again and again Jesus is seen in all His regal glory and He is worshiped by the throngs of the redeemed. Can you see what has happened? The Son willingly humbled Himself and was born in the likeness of sinful flesh, and He suffered and died, and all the while He submitted Himself to His Father. And now, throughout eternity, it is the Father and the Spirit who step back while the Son, the Lamb, the Lion, the Redeemer, the King, the Lord, and the Word is openly and without end glorified in front of all creation!

The resurrection has always been that which establishes a true believer from a fraud. Death and life are great mysteries, but to understand that someone could die and then return to life here on earth is astounding and boggles the mind. But to understand further that someone could die and after three days could return to life again shakes the intellect. But then to understand those two things but also being asked to understand that this “someone” was the Creator of all there is and all there ever will be is a feat of faith which can only be realized with divine power. The resurrection lifted up the Son of God and proclaimed Him to be the Eternal Lord of Glory.

Many students of the Word believe that the last few verses of Psalm 24 describe the victorious entrance of Christ as He ascended into heaven and was recognized and glorified by all its inhabitants. I kinda agree with that interpretation, and so with that backdrop please allow you spirit to soar into that wondrous event as the Resurrected King returns to sit on His majestic throne!

Ps.24: Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
10 Who is this King of glory? The Lord of hosts, he is the King of glory. Selah.

So let the world receive this glorious news! The Eternal Son of God has risen from the dead! There is a God and He is alive! Spread the glad tidings that Jesus has risen from the grave and He lives forevermore! Up from the grave He arose in a mighty triumph o'er His foes! There is no one so called season where this news is celebrated, no, we who know and follow Him must celebrate that breathtaking truth every single day! He who suffered and died and was mocked and derided and was buried in a tomb for three days has resurrected and has shown Himself openly for all to see! And it is the Risen Christ who we adore and praise and worship!


Monday, November 25, 2013

The Sacred and Holy Place of Prayer

Lk.18: And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?

I Thess.5: 17 Pray without ceasing.

I had not planned to post again about prayer but the Spirit would not leave me alone. When I speak of prayer I am always challenged as well as convicted. I have been redeemed for almost 40 years now and I have read through the Scriptures countless times, but I am continually amazed and grateful that I can still see things hidden within the words of this eternal book of treasure that I had not seen in its fullness before. And once again the Holy Spirit has shown me with many infallible proofs that He was the Author of the divine mystery we call the Bible. It is not just interesting and profitable for doctrine and correction and reproof, but in all candor it is our very life.

But when we speak of prayer let us all be honest before our Father and admit we need to be continually challenged and exhorted because we fall short in our prayer lives. We have much more Bible knowledge than we do experiential knowledge about the fathomless glory available to us in what we call “the prayer closet”. That phrase is taken from the lips of our Lord and they are symbols for time alone with God in prayer. What power have I surrendered because I could have prayed more in my Christian walk? We can study the Scriptures and uncover eternal truths that boggle the mind. And well we should. But I believe that when we drench our lives and our knowledge of Scripture in prayer the Spirit unlocks the depths and profound glory contained in those truths. This is not some geometry book. This is the Word of God which is eternal. spirit, powerful, absolute, and while all men are liars it stands alone as the power of Almighty God!

“I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach”.

Now who said those words? It was none other than he who some refer to as the prince of preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon. What was he saying? Let me be honesty here. I am no Calvinist for sure, but I have wept openly just reading some sermons from Spurgeon’s library. I have had to pause and put the book down when I have read one of his messages on the cross because I literally fell on may face and wept before my Savior. God has given him such a mighty gift and he used it to God’s glory.

But now he says he would rather teach men to pray. Even Spurgeon recognized what power there is in prayer. Look at verse 8 of Luke chapter 11. The Lord asks “Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” But in this context Christ is not speaking of sound doctrine or Biblical purity, although the Scriptures clearly teach that as well. But Jesus speaks about being faithfully relentless in prayer, and then He asks about what faith He will find upon His return. Stop and meditate on that for a moment! And let us make those words personal. Will our own prayer lives reflect the faith that Jesus is looking for?

That, my friends, is a penetrating and disarming thought. I would venture to say that the depth and quality of a believer’s walk is not found in how much theology he knows or how much doctrine he can recite. I suggest that the measure of a believer’s faithfulness is most accurately reflected in his prayer closet. And if we all would hold ourselves to that standard then what kind of repentance would that entail?

We were born into an evangelical system which minimized prayer while giving it lip service and sanctioning it for the opening and closing of gatherings. It has become a formality which is relegated to men who can put together spiritually sounding sentences without much stumbling. Is that honest enough? We have become quite adept at planning what we think is God’s will, carrying that planning out ourselves, and offering a few prayers along the way that ask for God’s blessing in our endeavors. But once we have a good idea, and once we have thought about how to achieve that idea, we proceed with great confidence and enthusiasm. And as I said, prayer is an appendage.

But if we are to believe the teachings of Jesus concerning prayer than there is an incredible reservoir of power that is available to those who would seek the face of God with great sacrifice of our own time and talents and most of all our own opinions. If we are willing to drain ourselves of our own ideas and opinions and our own wills, then we can proceed to the throne of grace. But the Lord will not be a rubber stamp to the ways of men. And God will not incline His ear to convenient prayers that are little more than passionless and redundant speeches designed for the ears of men rather than the ear of God.

Oh the glory and gift of prayer! The church has lost the reality of prayer and it has made prayer bow to our busy schedules and our need for constant entertainment. How many in this next generation will even understand the concept of a prayer closet? How many will have ever attended an all night prayer meeting? How many church members have a legitimate prayer life that rises higher than a five minute “give me” list? The preachers today play golf and go out to lunch and speak on the phone and think of new advertisements and manage their portfolios and go on date nights and prepare messages, but how much time is spent in deep and searching prayer which results in brokenness, humility, and a profound sense of complete dependence upon the Spirit of God?

I believe that when we minimize and marginalize prayer we openly express an incredible amount of self righteousness. In fact, it smacks of humanism even though we claim to be against the humanist movement. But let me tip toe a little further into an even darker place. When the church has so little regard for prayer it reveals a spirit…of…atheism. Yes, I said it. What would become of a relationship in which the bride to be studies her betrothed, buys him fishing gear, sometimes brags about him to others, and supports him, but never speaks with him? They go out to dinner and he inclines his ear but she never speaks to him. She speaks to the waitress; she speaks to her friends; she speaks to her fellow workers; she talks on the phone; she speaks about her upcoming wedding; she speaks to her dog; but she speaks so little to him that even when and if she does speak to her fiancé she uses the same redundant and antiseptic words over and over again. And when her husband to be requests time with her she is always busy with everything and everyone else that she has no time for him.

What kind of relationship would that represent? Can that be described as passion or romance? Well we are a bride and we have a Bridegroom who has provided us with an open channel of communication to Him and He beckons and even longs to commune with us.
Song of Solomon 1: Draw me, we will run after thee: the king hath brought me into his chambers: we will be glad and rejoice in thee, we will remember thy love more than wine: the upright love thee.

Please allow the Lord to open the eyes of our understanding and see just how profoundly intimate is a time of prayer. It is like being allowed into the chamber of the King and communing with Him with awe and reverence but with an eternal love which passes all understanding. Even though our God is greater and more powerful than the human mind can imagine, He is not some Wizard of Oz who attempts to use His august power to keep His subjects aloof and far away. This King…this Lord…this Almighty Sovereign and Creator of all there is has opened His chambers to us by the power of His own shed blood, and far from holding His sufferings over our head and using them against us, which would have been what we deserved, He beckons us with a love and grace that should drive us to His presence without a thought of sacrificing our earthly time.

Just given the privilege to look at Him would be an amazing act of grace. Just given the privilege of touching His garment would be an amazing act of grace. Just knowing Him is an amazing act of grace. But our Redeemer not only suffered and died to redeem us from the eternal consequences of our sin, but He has flung the doors to His presence wide open accompanied with all kinds of wonderful and precious promises which he Himself will prove for our sake and His glory.

Prayer, at its finest and most sacred essence is a sacred mystery of love and worship between a Father God and his child.

Fasting and Prayer


Lost Truths

Matt.17: 14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a certain man, kneeling down to him, and saying,
15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is lunatick, and sore vexed: for ofttimes he falleth into the fire, and oft into the water.
16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him.
17 Then Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I suffer you? bring him hither to me.
18 And Jesus rebuked the devil; and he departed out of him: and the child was cured from that very hour.
19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast him out?
20 And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.
21 Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting.

Acts 10: 30 And Cornelius said, Four days ago I was fasting until this hour; and at the ninth hour I prayed in my house, and, behold, a man stood before me in bright clothing,
31 And said, Cornelius, thy prayer is heard, and thine alms are had in remembrance in the sight of God.

Acts 14: 23 And when they had ordained them elders in every church, and had prayed with fasting, they commended them to the Lord, on whom they believed.

I Cor.7: The wife hath not power of her own body, but the husband: and likewise also the husband hath not power of his own body, but the wife.
Defraud ye not one the other, except it be with consent for a time, that ye may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again, that Satan tempt you not for your incontinency.

II Cor.6: But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,
In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;
By pureness, by knowledge, by long suffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned,

II Cor.11: 26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
27 In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.
28 Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.

In you do not believe that prayer with fasting along with a surrendered life can move God on behalf of that believer then you might as well forget about fasting and prayer. In fact I have yet to meet someone in these days who practices fasting and prayer but who believes prayer is only attempting to align one’s self to what God will already do. But if you believe in the mystery of prayer than can change some things and can see God answer that prayer with actions, then you will be interested in this post. 

Lk.11: And he said unto them, Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves;
For a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him?
And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not: the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give thee.
I say unto you, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.

This teaching from our Lord gives us some insight as to how God views authentic and pure sacrifice by one of His children. So many who wield God’s sovereignty as if they completely understood all its mysteries also contend that nothing changes God’s mind about something and that regardless of how you sacrifice yourself in prayer it does not matter. You could, they say, fast and pray for three days straight but God is completely unimpressed and will not respond to your requests unless your request just happens to coincide with what He was going to do already. Not only is that fatalism, but it is completely undermined by the preponderance of Scripture.

This teaching from Luke in essence states that the friend who was asleep (representing God) is not primarily moved by his friend’s unfortunate circumstance, but he rises from his bed and gives his friend the bread he seeks because he is impacted by that friend’s shameless boldness. His friend was risking waking up the entire family and being refused or even rebuked, but because he was desperate enough he knocked on that door in the middle of the night. You see, the teaching highlights the risk the man took at the expense of being turned down and rebuked and his friend was moved by it. The word translated “importunity” is ἀναίδεια (anaideia) in the Greek and it literally means shamelessly bold.

So what are we to learn spiritually and personally from this parable? It is obvious that Jesus is teaching us that God does honor and take into consideration sacrifice, self denial, fasting, and uncommon prayer. It does not mean that we can manipulate God, but it also means that God is not some aloof Being who has already decided what He is going to do and is sitting back and watching it unfold without any regard to prayer. It means that if you are willing to be relentless in your prayer, and if you seek and ask and knock with a boldness that reflects your desperation, well God does take that into account. But make no mistake, this is still a great mystery about which none of us have all the answers.

Now to return to the first verses the question that should come to mind is “Where has fasting gone within the evangelical community?”. Why do we hear so little about fasting to say nothing of its practice? But before we delve into those questions let us examine what fasting is and what it is supposed to do for and to us. Fasting in Biblical parlance is not eating food for a certain amount of time which usually would include eating. Now if that is part of a diet than it has no spiritual value. But if you purpose in your heart not to eat from sun up to sun down because you are seeking something spiritual then that is Biblical fasting. Most times it does not include not drinking water.

But fasting is supposed to bring the body and the mind into sharper focus as it pertains to the things of the Spirit. It must be accompanied by an increase in prayer and time spent in God’s Word. And it has been my experience that when you deny your body that kind of natural desire you can experience a much greater awareness of God’s power and presence. This does not guarantee anything, but it does afford you an opportunity to experience a change of heart and a mind that is more receptive to the teaching and leading of the Holy Spirit.

And as evidenced by the parable in Luke chapter 11, it can also manifest your shameless boldness and willingness to sacrifice to God. I realize that these are the days when God has been made to carve out some convenient space in our lives. Any suggestion about fasting and some elongated time in prayer just doesn’t seem to fit in this post modern era. But underneath all of our reasons why we cannot fast and pray is unbelief pure and simple. The church no longer believes in prayer or any kind of sacrifice and self denial. Smooth talking preachers have made the path wide and easy and some have taught a doctrine which makes prayer little more than an attempt to connect to what is already set in stone for the future. So prayer itself has been relegated to the closet of the evangelical church.

But how do we actually learn how to pray or to fast? I suggest that this is one classroom where the practiced is how we learn. Do you desire to learn how to pray? Then pray. Do you desire to learn how fasting can increase your spiritual awareness? Then fast. The doing is the learning. And there are many deep mysteries within these spiritual sacrifices that cannot be translated into human words. You see, God will not allow His sacred mysteries to be shopped around like Tupperware. You can read books on prayer and fasting and you can blogs like this about them. But until you give yourself wholly to them you will only gain some nebulous head knowledge that does no good.

But here is a practical challenge. Take one month and pray at least one hour every day. I know it sounds a little legalistic but do it by faith. And if the Spirit is ministering to you after one hour then continue in prayer that day until you know you have been released. Depending upon your medical limitations I suggest you begin by fasting one day a week.

But what do I pray?”, you ask. You should pray that God will help you forgive everyone and anyone completely. Go ahead and worship your Lord. But I suggest you pray what you’re your heart speaks, but most of all pray that God will reveal Jesus more clearly and that He will mold your life into that perfect image. Yes you can make your petitions known unto God, but many times in prayer I have found my requests seem to fade in the glory of His presence. But make no mistake. Prayer is spiritual labor and you will not walk immediately into a tangible glory. But if are determined to touch the hem of His garment you will.

Mk.2: 18 And the disciples of John and of the Pharisees used to fast: and they come and say unto him, Why do the disciples of John and of the Pharisees fast, but thy disciples fast not?
19 And Jesus said unto them, Can the children of the bridechamber fast, while the bridegroom is with them? as long as they have the bridegroom with them, they cannot fast.
20 But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

Can our Lord have made it any clearer about His will in this matter?
The single most deficiency in the church and in the lives of believers is prayer. It is time for genuine repentance.