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Category — Relationship with God

The Dam Holding Back Revival

There is a “dam,” an obstruction, a powerful fortification barring revival in our churches and in our country. Unless we bring down this “dam,” its restraining force will continue to hold back the flood waters of spiritual cleansing and renewal for which all true followers of Christ thirst and pray.

Revival, or sweeping spiritual renewal, always exhibits the following two characteristics. First, revival always begins with the church (i.e., with those who claim to know Christ). Second, revival always results from a sharper consciousness of our sin, which evokes godly sorrow and true repentance (turning away from sin).

What is this “dam” holding back the flood waters of revival in our churches? Abortion. One third of our church family has at some time or another participated in an abortion.[1] And Life Services estimates that only five percent of those men and women have ever seriously dealt with this weighty matter in their lives.

Before you cut me off, my purpose is not to ostracize or make an example of these individuals. I know that many took part in one or more abortions before they came to Christ, but many others since declaring Christ as Lord. Eighteen percent of women who abort their children identify themselves as Evangelicals or born-again Christians.[2] True, the grace and mercy extended to us through the blood of Christ is more than sufficient to cover these or any other sins. The problem is that we’ve never dealt with our sins of abortion and we as a church continue to abort our children.

Why am I singling out this sin? First, because it is so pervasive. When I initially heard that one in three men and women in our Evangelical congregations has had one or more abortions, I didn’t believe it. But when I tested the statistic in my own church I found it to be accurate. A second reason I am singling out this sin is because it is so detestable to God.

Abortion is detestable to God for two reasons. First, because “Do not commit murder” is one of only Ten Commandments He gave us to live by. Yet we have brazenly redefined murder in order to excuse and rationalize taking the life of an unborn child. In God’s vernacular, “We have despised His Word.”

Equally detestable is the second reason. Due to our own self-centered lusts, pleasures, or desires we destroy the life of an innocent, unborn child. We are guilty of shedding innocent blood. Jesus declared the devil a liar and a murderer. Abortion is the devil’s work and many of us have become his accomplices.

Randy Alcorn asserts, “There are demonic forces behind child-killing. Abortion is Satan’s attempt to kill God in effigy by destroying the little ones created in God’s image. We are not dealing here with ‘one more social issue,’ but a unique and focused evil in which Satan has deeply vested interests.”[3]

The Bible says, “Whoever conceals their sins does not prosper, but the one who confesses and renounces them finds mercy.” (Proverbs 28:13 NIV) Of all the sins plaguing the church abortion is not only most prevalent, but also the one most concealed. Understandably, those who have participated in abortion feel the weight of their shame and guilt and fear being exposed. Yet, it is precisely that—exposure and confession that will begin the healing process. “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” (James 5:16 NIV)

What other life-altering sin affects a full third of us? Do you see why dealing with abortion in our churches is so vital for revival to occur? Imagine what would happen if one third of your church experienced the refreshment of Christ’s mercy, grace and abundant forgiveness and unconditional love and acceptance from their brothers and sisters in Christ. Such confession and repentance would break down the “dam” that has been holding back revival for the past 40 years and wash over the other two-thirds of our congregations.

Consider that forty years ago, when our country dove headlong into abortion at Roe v. Wade, our last great revival known as the “Jesus People Movement” began to die along with our unborn children.

We must not be deceived into thinking that we need only wait for spiritual revival to come and solve the abortion problem. It is our responsibility to draw near to God by dealing with our sin and guilt, so that he is free to come near and bless us. Revival is likely not to precede, but to follow our coming to terms with child-killing:

‘Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Grieve, mourn and wail. Change your laughter to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up. (James 4:8-10 NIV)[4]

 

©2014 Rob Fischer



[1] Facts on Induced Abortion in the United States, Guttmacher Institute: “At least half of American women will experience an unintended pregnancy by age 45, ad, at current rates, about one-third will have had an abortion.” May 2010, www.guttmacher.org. See also: http://etb-political.blogspot.com/2012/03/christians-have-as-many-abortions-as.html and http://www.charismanews.com/opinion/40519-why-do-so-many-churchgoers-have-abortions.

[2] Randy Alcorn, ProLife Answers to ProChoice Arguments, (Sisters, OR: Multomah Publishers, 2000), p. 293.

[3] Randy Alcorn, pp. 295-296.

[4] Randy Alcorn, p. 295.

January 6, 2014   Comments Off on The Dam Holding Back Revival

Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (5)

In the past few posts, we’ve been considering Psalm 23 as a Model for Living. There are at least four values in this Psalm by which David patterned his life. This post brings us to the fourth and final value.

At the close of Psalm 23, David stuns us with a novel thought. He writes, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Notice all the ways David sites in which the Lord graciously served him. This particular value recognizes, “It’s not about my service for God, but about His service for me!”

This is a difficult value for many of us to swallow. We may feel like we “owe” God big-time. Obviously, we do owe Him our lives and everything He gives us to enjoy. But we do not “owe” Him in the sense that we can pay Him back or even attempt to do so. Why? Because salvation (complete forgiveness and restored relationship with Him) is God’s gracious gift to us. To even suggest that we should try to pay Him back is foolish and would diminish the magnitude of His free gift. God is not the beneficiary of our beneficence; we are the beneficiaries of His. [Read more →]

November 8, 2012   Comments Off on Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (5)

Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (4)

In the previous three posts, I’ve introduced the idea that Psalm 23 serves as a Model for Living. We’re looking at four values from that Psalm by which David patterned his life. This post brings us to the third value.

David reminds us that as God’s children, we bear our heavenly Father’s name. He “guides us” or “leads us” in “paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” This value states that we glorify and represent the Lord well as we follow Him in paths of righteousness, or in right-living.

The apostle Paul reminds us, “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light (for the fruit of the light consists in all goodness, righteousness and truth and find out what pleases the Lord.” (Ephesians 5:8-10) We are to live in a manner consistent with our heritage—we are the Lord’s children. We bear His name. [Read more →]

October 5, 2012   Comments Off on Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (4)

Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (3)

A couple of posts ago, I introduced the idea of looking at Psalm 23 as a model for living and suggested that David reveals four values by which he conducted his life.

The second value that David gives us for living he expresses like this, “He leads me…” That is, “The Lord is the one who is leading me, which means that I follow Him!” Many of us go through life making and following our own feeble plans. We may long for God’s approval and presence with us in our plans, but we’re asking Him to join us—or follow us— as it were. “Lord, bless my plans!”

I know of no better way to ensure God’s presence with us than by following Him! It’s no coincidence that the Lord Jesus said in John 10, “I am the good Shepherd. My sheep hear my voice and they follow me.” And by the way, following Jesus is precisely what it means to be His disciple. So the value here is, “He leads I follow.”

© 2012 Rob Fischer

October 2, 2012   Comments Off on Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (3)

Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (2)

In my last post, I introduced the idea of looking at Psalm 23 as a model for living and suggested that David reveals four values by which he conducted his life. Following is the first value.

First, David shares with us, “I find my ultimate satisfaction in the Lord” (period!) Now, David worded this a bit differently. He said, “Because the Lord is my shepherd, I have everything I need!” The “quiet waters” and “green grass” that God gives me—those are just a bonus! But the real reward and riches are in knowing Him! “I find my satisfaction in the Lord.”

The apostle Paul expressed the same thing when he declared, “I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things.” (Philippians 3:8) [Read more →]

September 26, 2012   Comments Off on Psalm 23: A Model for Living! (2)

Psalm 23: A Model for Living!

Psalm 23 is no doubt the most well-known Psalm from the Bible. But I’m going to ask us to set aside our familiarity with it for a few minutes, and to consider it with a fresh perspective as a model for living.

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” (Psalm 23 NIV) [Read more →]

September 24, 2012   Comments Off on Psalm 23: A Model for Living!

26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 21-26)

21. Small groups provide a way for us to be involved in something greater than ourselves! This past Christmas a small group rallied around a family that was hurting financially due to an onslaught of medical bills. This small group gave generously to provide a Christmas for this family! The noteworthy thing about this incident is that the majority of the small group members had never met this needy family. Small groups truly do give us opportunities to be a part of something bigger than ourselves!

22. Small groups cultivate an environment in which the Lord is present with us! Jesus said in Matthew 18:20, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” When the Twin Towers came down in the awful terrorist attack on the US in 2001, my wife and I met a couple of days later with our small group of young single adults. With the emotions of this horrible tragedy still raw in our minds and hearts, we gathered together that evening to worship and pray to the One who could make sense of it all. We spent the evening simply worshiping God, praying for the victims and their families and for our nation. The sense of God’s presence among us was overwhelming. [Read more →]

March 9, 2012   Comments Off on 26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 21-26)

26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 16-20)

16. Small groups are like the “mud room” in the farm house! Come as you are! A small group must be a safe place to be transparent and honest. In the small group we cry and laugh together. As long as we live behind a facade before others, we will not grow in Christ and we cannot help others grow in Christ. James said, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other.” (James 5:16)

17. Small groups provide us with the accountability that we desperately need! A few years ago, I was leading a men’s small group over the lunch hour. One of our guys (I’ll call him Kent) came in late and was noticeably troubled. We greeted Kent and I asked him what was wrong. He blurted out that he had just had a fight with his wife. I asked him if he had reconciled with her, to which he answered no. He explained what their argument was over and it was crystal clear to all of us that Kent was being extremely unreasonable and unloving toward his wife. Playfully, we told him to get back home and make things right with his wife and to let us know how things went. To Kent’s credit, he did! Kent was grateful for our tough love for him (and so was his wife!). [Read more →]

February 27, 2012   Comments Off on 26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 16-20)

26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 6-10)

6. Small groups help fulfill Christ’s design for us to be part of His family. We read about that in Ephesians 2:19-21. We can be a part of a large church, but we may not experience family unless we’re part of a small group.

7. Small groups follow Jesus’ example with His twelve disciples! Jesus chose twelve men…that they might be with Him…(Mark 3:14)Jesus spent time with many others too, but he focused on the twelve. There is a limit to the number of people we can impact deeply with our lives. Small groups provide a great environment in which to influence and impact a few deeply. [Read more →]

February 4, 2012   Comments Off on 26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 6-10)

26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 1-5)

1. Small groups are biblical! See Acts 2:46 (NLT) “They worshiped together at the Temple each day, met in homes for the Lord’s Supper, and shared their meals with great joy and generosity.”

2. Small groups meet our God-designed need for relationship! God created us for relationship with Him and with others. Small groups can provide an ideal environment for us to cultivate deep, lasting relationships.

3. Small groups enable us to stay small as the church grows larger! While large churches enjoy many advantages, they also struggle with how to provide meaningful, caring relationships. Small groups offer a great solution to this challenge. And even smaller churches need small groups! [Read more →]

January 23, 2012   Comments Off on 26 Great Reasons to Join a Small Group! (Reasons 1-5)