Monday, March 21, 2011
5:27 PM | By Pastor Harold Warner
It was back in July, 2009 that I made the decision to jump in. We’re living in the information age, and technology has made available numerous communication tools that can be especially useful to us who are “truth bringers.” Along with my main forum of preaching in the public assembly I thought I would make use of the Pastor’s Corner on our church’s website to write a blog. Now, almost two years later I thought I’d do a reset of the title and the goal of this endeavor, it surely can’t hurt. For those who have been following it for a while, this is a helpful reminder, and for new people this is an opportunity to be a part.
OK, now that I’ve got that out of my system, I’m not talking about basketball but loving God and Christian living. Specifically, the purpose of this blog is the Bible’s call to thinking Biblically, or the goal of helping us have a “Christian mind.” A Christian mind is not about being religious or going to church services. It’s all about having God’s mind (“let this mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus”), and to think God’s thoughts about things. In the final analysis the important thing is always “What does God think or say? What is the will of God in this situation or concerning this matter?” This is what should shape our thinking, our world view, our attitudes and our decisions.
We are called to “walk in the Spirit” and the enabler has to do with our minds, keeping our heads in the game. (Rom.8:6-8) “So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God's laws, and it never will. That's why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.” Similarly, the dynamic process of Christian growth and maturity involves what the Bible describes as “putting off the old man” (the life of sin) and “putting on the new man” (new life in Christ). There is a tiny verse inserted right in the middle that tells us how this takes place and what the outcome is to be. It says, “And be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” (Eph.4:23) The Amplified version puts it this way, “And be constantly renewed in the spirit of your mind [having a fresh mental and spiritual attitude].” It’s not about getting degrees or mere intellectualism, it’s about using the means God has given us to know Him, love Him, and serve Him and people. Thinking Biblically is one of those means. To love God “with all...your mind.”
This facet is profoundly important in the last days. In (1Pet.4:7-11) the Apostle Peter tells us that we are living a very dramatic moment in history when he announces, “The end of all things is at hand.” The Message paraphrase puts it this way, “everything in the world is about to be wrapped up.” While we don’t know the exact time, and God’s measurement of time is different than ours, but he tells us that we are living in the terminal generation. That fact and knowledge does not lead to sensationalism or disengaged living. No, the Bible’s teaching on eschatology (last things/end times) leads to a mentally, emotionally, relationally, and spiritually well-grounded life. Bible prophecy doesn’t lead to fanciful speculation but to being fully-engaged and embracing our calling in Christ and His church. This includes the practice of prayer, the priority of love, the exercise of hospitality, and using the gifts we have for the glory of God and the building up of the church. Peter says this is how to invest our lives and live well in the last days. He gives us a last days plan! Years ago, I preached a series of four sermons from this text called, “Triumphant Living in the Terminal Generation.”
It’s significant that the starting point for triumphant living is in our MINDS. “But the end of all things is at hand; therefore be sober and watch unto prayer.” He’s talking about the necessity of keeping our heads in the game! Listen to different translations of this verse: “therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers” (ESV); “therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray” (NIV); “therefore be earnest, thoughtful men of prayer” (LB); “be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer” (NASU); “keep sound minded and self-restrained and alert therefore for [the practice of] prayer.” (AMP) To love God and be disciplined and effective in our prayers starts in our minds! It’s the same as the last days exhortation that Paul gave to Timothy (2Tim.4:5) “As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” We’re called, especially in the leadership arena, to KEEP OUR HEADS, WHEN EVERYONE ELSE IS LOSING THEIRS!
The Pastor and author, John Piper, has just published a book called, “Think” - the Life of the Mind and the Love of God. He clarifies his aim by saying, “This book is a plea to embrace serious thinking as a means of loving God and people. It is a plea to reject either-or-thinking when it comes to head and heart, thinking and feeling, reason and faith, theology and doxology, mental labor and the ministry of love. It is a plea to see thinking as a necessary, God-ordained means of knowing God. Thinking is one of the important ways that we put the fuel of knowledge on the fires of worship and service to the world.” The purpose is as simple as it is profound: the more we see of his surpassing greatness and knowledge and wisdom and power and justice and wrath and mercy and patience and goodness and grace and love, the more we will treasure him. Biblical thinking is a God-given means to that end. Let me give you the recommendations of other respected men of God that confirms the importance of this spiritual discipline:
-“This book promises to shepherd a generation about the Christian commitment of the life of the mind”
-“John Piper offers much wise advice on the importance of Christian thinking as a way of loving God with our minds and as part of delighting in God above all things.”
-“Do you ever wish you could feel more deeply about things you know are true? Has it been a while since you were moved to tears at the thought of Christ’s death for your sins? It’s not mysterious: those who feel deeply about the Gospel are those who think deeply about the Gospel......If you want to feel profoundly, think carefully.”
-“An essential dimension of Christian discipleship is the life of the mind, and this may well be the most neglected Christian responsibility of our times God has made us intelligible creatures, and he has given us the stewardship of intellectual faculties that should drive us to think in ways that bring him greatest glory.”
R. Albert Mohler Jr.
-“Thinking—the alert, meticulous, probing, logical, critical use of the mind— will be a highway either to godliness or to its opposite, depending on how it is done.”
-“Those who are skittish when it comes to rigorous study, deep thinking, and theological precision have wanted us to believe that our problem is the mind, when in fact it’s the flesh. The problem isn’t knowledge, it’s pride.”
-“Some Christians don’t think nearly enough; others are prone to think in the wrong way. I warmly commend John Piper’s appeal to all believers to be diligent in engaging our minds and to do so with ‘God-honoring humility and Christ-loving passion.”
As we reset the blog’s purpose remember the statement: “Sow a though, reap an action. So an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a lifestyle. Sow a lifestyle, reap a destiny. Sow a destiny, reap an eternity.” It all begins with you and I keeping our heads in the game! That’s my posture moving forward. To quote one of the ancient church fathers, Augustine, “I count myself one of the number of those who write as they learn and learn as they write.” Join me in this al-important endeavor.
8:23 AM | By Pastor Harold Warner
OK, you guessed it. I grew up during the 60's. How do you know? The song, man...the Beatles singing, “You say you want a revolution, Well, you know...We all want to change the world.” The downside of making references to old songs in your sermons is that they tend to stick in your mind (is there anyone that can pray for me and cast it out?!).
The acceleration of world events that are related to Bible prophecy is pretty intense today. Jesus said it would be “the beginning of sorrows” or like a woman in labor pains: the closer it comes to giving birth the labor pains come with increasing frequency and intensity. Right now: turmoil (revolution) in the Middle East, the horrible devastation for the earthquake in Japan and the subsequent tsunami (and the threat of nuclear meltdown). Oh, and who needs to be reminded of the continued effects of the global economic crisis. In America our debt is a paltry $14 trillion dollars (not million, or even billion, but trillion). Jesus said “when you see these things begin to come to pass, then lift up your head (straighten up) and look up, for your redemption draws near.” It definitely feels like that in our world today! People are asking and feeling, “what in the world is going on?”
Case in point: the nations in turmoil. Jesus points to this when He said, “and upon earth distress of nations with perplexity.” (Lk.21:25) It started in January with Tunisia and the toppling of that authoritative regime. Then most notably in February in Egypt, where Hosni Mubarak who had been an autocratic leader for more than three decades was forced to step down. The fact that it happened is not really surprising, but the speed in which it happened is stunning. Right now those same shock waves are being felt in Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and other places. Much of this is being encouraged and fueled by Iran that seeks the overthrow of the secular or moderate Arab leaders in the region. It is a very volatile international crisis, perhaps the most volatile since 9/11 and no one know where it is headed or the final outcome. As Christians, we’re called to look at and view the news of world events through “spiritual eyes,” and not just the quick, sound bite presentation that the mainstream media puts out today. The threat of a radical Islamic takeover in these countries is a very real possibility, and one that should be of great concern to all of us since it would have global implications. One of the best and most informative articles that I read in this regard is “Seeking Democracy, Heading for Caliphate” by Shira Sorko-Ram from www.maozisrael.org. They also have this ten minute video entitled “Is Egypt The Next Iran” that brilliantly puts things in precise perspective in our confused world.
The events that transpired in Egypt have been dubbed “The Egyptian Revolution.” In America, since the American Revolution is so much a part of who we are as a people, we often have an unreasoning love affair with the word democracy. All we have to do is hear the word democracy, and whatever is going on is good. Democracy does not exist in a vacuum; there must be real spiritual foundations on which it rests. You are naive to think that you can force feed that to a nation or situation where it isn’t part of their history or culture. The truth is that no one knows the final or full outcome of these events: whether it will be a true and productive revolution that brings stability, prosperity and the hopes of a better future, or it ends up being a “revolt” that is hijacked by other forces leading to a worse outcome. This is why we need to “pray for the peace of Jerusalem” as well as events happening in many of her neighbors in the Middle East.
The word “revolution” is what captured my thinking in all of this, and specifically the spiritual possibilities for change that are now present (how long that window will be there, no one knows). Years ago I remember hearing a man preach who said something that’s never left me. He said, “All truth is parallel” or, events taking place in the natural realm have their spiritual parallel or possibility. That’s why I was taken with the whole truth and possibility of “Spiritual Revolution” that would move America and the nations of the world! The reality is, that possibility resides in the DNA of the church and followers of Jesus Christ. (Acts 17:6b) declared, “these that have turned the world upside down have come here also.” I believe it was the Berkley translation that said “these world revolutionaries have come here.” It points to the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to bring true transformation, and to topple from our lives the things that have oppressed and held us in bondage. Hallelujah, there is another Lord, Jesus Christ! The Beatles can sing but, we’re not just saying we want to change the world,...we are working to try to redeem, restore and renew the world through our labors, our prayers, our investments, and our availability to God’s purposes.
In Egypt, what we witnessed was the convergence of 3 factors that together made up the “perfect storm” of revolution! Think about these, and specifically, how they can be harnessed to see the advancing of the kingdom of God today!
1. The large population of young people. In the Arab world today, there are over 100 million
people between the ages of 15-29.
2. Widespread poverty and unemployment that results in a lack of opportunity and breeds a
spirit of discontentment. The status quo is no longer acceptable.
3. The availability of social media that enabled communication, connection and coordination.
There were other factors, of course, but these three were very instrumental in the affairs of that nation. Do you know what I am seeing in all this? I see the same possibilities for the church and for us to labor together to make a difference. We have a lot of young people in our churches, and if they will be moved by God and not simply accept and live for the status quo, they can be real difference-makers. If we will work and have as our primary goal to always communicate the Good News of Jesus, to stay connected to each other, and to coordinate our efforts, I believe that God can help us to see a new wave of revival in our generation. Here’s the promise I am holding to and praying, “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.” (Acts 2:17, 18)
Yours for revival today!
P.S. The full sermon, “You Say You Want A Revolution” can be accessed at our website www.thedoorcfc.com. Also, much thanks to Greg Mitchell for some of the background material of that message.
- Tucson, AZ, United States
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