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Out of the Clouds, Into Reality

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“No man, for any considerable period, can wear one face to himself and another to the multitude, without finally getting bewildered as to which may be the true.” - Nathaniel Hawthorne

“Solemn prayers, rapturous devotions, are but repeated hypocrisies unless the heart and mind be conformable to them. - William Law

“There are only two kinds of men: the righteous who believe themselves sinners, and the rest, sinners who believe themselves righteous. - Blaise Pascal

“I warn you that there is no connection whatsoever between the human manipulation of our emotions, on the one hand, and, on the other, the confirmation of God’s revealed truth in our beings through the ministry of the Holy Spirit. When in our Christian experience our emotions are raised, it must be the result of what God’s truth is doing for us. If that is not so, it is not properly religious stirring at all. - A.W. Tozer

Out Of The Clouds, Into Reality

One of the most disturbing experiences I have ever encountered in ministry happened in my Pure Life office a few years ago. I doubt if I will ever forget the look on Carl’s face as he burst through my door and threw himself on the floor.
Carl was a very gifted singing evangelist. Over several years, he had developed a regular circuit of churches he ministered in throughout the South. Not only was he a talented singer, but he was also a charismatic preacher. He learned that people like “positive sermons,” so he was always careful to leave congregations feeling good about themselves. People loved Carl’s uplifting personality. No wonder pastors were happy to have him return year after year. For over 20 years he did just that, traveling from church to church, raising his family in a motor home.

At first, Carl was sincere. He originally entered the ministry out of a true desire to serve the Lord. As time went on, however, his dependence on God waned as he unconsciously relied on his own abilities. Carl learned how to look spiritual and impress congregations. People admired him and he knew it.
Eventually, he fell away from God. His Bible study ceased to be for his personal edification and became times to find sermon material. Having long since given up any kind of meaningful prayer life, a corruption took over inside that gradually manifested itself in his preaching. No longer willing to confront sin, Carl pandered a sugarcoated gospel. He considered himself an encourager, someone who makes you glad to be a Christian. In his mind, success was proof of God’s blessing on his life.
Eventually, his weak spiritual condition caught up with him and he had a string of affairs with women in various churches. He came to Pure Life Ministries’ live-in facility when his sin was exposed.

He was there only a few days when he had a life-defining moment out on the prayer trail behind the office. He was walking along when he suddenly had an encounter with God that left him devastated. What happened next will forever be etched in my mind.

Carl lay on the floor of my office screaming. The Lord had just revealed to him, in a way that only God can, that his 20 years of ministry had all been for himself. From the earliest days, he sought glory for himself, not God. He preached congregation-pleasing sermons, not what the Lord told him to preach. He went to places guaranteeing good offerings, not where the Lord directed him to go. In one instant of time, Carl saw that he had used his gifts and abilities for his own selfish gain. He realized that all of his work in ministry was empty and devoid of substance. In that moment, he saw a lifetime of service in the kingdom of God that had produced no fruit, no real results, and no eternal rewards. It was all for nothing. For one moment in a Kentucky hayfield, reality invaded Carl’s make-believe, Pollyanna world. That sobering revelation was the only thing that saved him.
Spiritual Amateurs

Carl is the by-product of a system that has become strongly entrenched within the Church: a form of religion that resembles the real thing but is altered just enough to make it palatable for those unwilling to walk the narrow path of real Christianity. It peddles a counterfeit presentation of the gospel based on feelings rather than faith. This false version of Christianity is promoted by professional pitchmen who, like Carl, have become popular, not because of spiritual maturity, but because they instinctively know how to give people what they want.

Traveling evangelists aren’t alone in propagating this emotionally based faith. Many pastors have built huge churches on the same kind of hype. Pastor Pete will serve as a good illustration of this type of minister. He leads a sprawling, big-city church full of ceaseless, bounding, jubilant activity. Such an atmosphere is a reflection of his own nature. Pete is, and has always been, positive, gregarious, fun loving, and uplifting to be around. When you attend one of his services nearly everything you hear will be positive: sermons about what God wants to do for you, testimonies about what God has done, and a worship service that resembles a Super Bowl victory party.

What’s wrong with that? Am I against Christian enthusiasm? Absolutely not! I agree with those who ask the question, “Why do some believers get hysterical over a football game and yet refuse to show excitement over God?” I believe there is a place for genuine exuberance over our wonderful Savior and what He has done for us.

The problem with Pastor Pete’s church is that when we peek behind the wall of outward exuberance and fluff, there is nothing there! The mature, discerning Christian sadly discovers that this church has no substance. The hope being peddled is not attached to a real knowledge of or dependence upon God, but rather upon a super-inflated climate of enthusiasm that is not allowed to dwindle. Consequently, this man’s greatest fear is not that he could possibly be leading his flock astray, but rather that if he ever allowed the enthusiasm to die, all of his followers would quickly desert him for another church “where God is moving."

The Christian life is not meant to be lived continuously at a fever pitch. Being lost in the exhilaration of God’s love or a mountaintop revelation of what He is like can be wonderfully encouraging in a believer’s spiritual journey. Nevertheless, Christian growth usually comes from fighting through the thick foliage of life’s problems down on the jungle floor, where true godly character is built and where the maturing believer learns what it means to live by faith in God.

Pastor Pete only has a superficial understanding of God, so it is all he can offer his congregation. In reality, he can shepherd them no further along the path than he has traveled in his own spiritual life. Since he has always been able to get by on his winsome personality, optimistic outlook, and energetic nature, he has never felt his need for anything deeper in God. Indeed, Pastor Pete learned early that his charismatic gifts made him a “natural-born leader,” nullifying his need to cultivate the godly authority that comes from living in dependence on God. Simply put, Pastor Pete does not need God in order to attract followers.

Pastor Pete’s quick smile and unceasing motion generates enthusiasm in others. A glance below the surface exposes some real problems in his ministry and in his personal life. The pseudo-mountain-top experiences he tries to produce for his followers are conceived out of his own wishful thinking. At some point in his walk with the Lord, Pete may have witnessed awesome manifestations of God’s power in others. However, rather than seeking a genuine, personal experience with God, he is content to have a ministry full of zeal but lacking any real knowledge or spiritual weightiness. It is inevitable that every church service becomes a well choreographed, cheerleading event attempting to keep his congregation (i.e. spectators) electrified in an effort to maintain a high level of crowd-pleasing interest.

Instead of receiving the staples of a healthy spiritual diet, establishing the natural spiritual growth that occurs in a well-fed, maturely pastored congregation, church members receive a constant diet of cotton candy and marshmallow fluff, supplying a temporary burst of energy, but ultimately leaving them sorely malnourished. What else is expected from a man who has spent his entire Christian life omitting the primary elements of a well-balanced diet—the meat of being convicted by God's Word, the vegetables of discipline, the potatoes of sacrifice, the salad of adversity. He likes dessert and imagines that he and others can live on it all of the time. Thus, his church body resembles a drug addict who keeps himself going artificially while in reality starving his body of the proper nutrition needed to promote growth and sustain life.

Pastor Pete’s lack of true, spiritual leadership shows not only in the pulpit, but also in his pastoral counseling. When approached by people needing real answers, Pastor Pete lends a sympathetic ear, gives a cheerful word of encouragement, says a fervent-sounding prayer, and ends with a reassuring slap on the back. Initially, the poor seeker feels uplifted for about 10 minutes before a bewildering sense of hopelessness sets in. Naturally, he has a difficult time understanding how such a word and prayer of encouragement could leave him feeling so confused and hopeless. What this hurting man needs is godly counsel from a pastor who has a sincere concern, truly understands his troubles, and prays with authority.

Unfortunately, a meeting with this pastor would disappoint just about anyone with a real need. Pete does not understand the various dilemmas of life many people face because he does not face his own. Compassion does not well up within him because he relies on sentiment and emotional responses to the pain of others. He offers no spiritual insight because he has never acquired the wisdom that comes to the person who has survived the dark night of the soul. He prays fervently but without power. His prayers are the emotional chatter of a frivolous man, not the God-moving, earnest pleas of an authentic intercessor. He talks about the life of victory, but his idea of what constitutes such a life is nothing but exaggerated statements that contain no spiritual reality. Consequently, the seeker leaves with no answers, no help, and no hope.

Pastor Pete has a very serious problem: his experience with God is extremely shallow. Thus, he remains superficial and immature, with nothing of substance to offer other people.

Faulty Foundation

Carl and Pete are spiritual amateurs who have no business being in positions of spiritual leadership. Since they lack personally meaningful relationships with God, they certainly cannot effectively represent Him to others in need. Moreover, their lack of true concern about other people deadens any possibility of real intercession at the throne of grace on behalf of those they are called to serve. Unfortunately, these two men typify the kind of spiritual leadership that is active in much of the Church.

Ostensibly, the message given by “hype peddlers” such as Carl and Pete is that people should put their faith in God. However, close examination of their teachings reveals that they are really instructing people to base their faith on the faulty foundation of a positive mental attitude rather than on the Rock of Ages. This skewed interpretation of Christianity produces temporary results for those whose mental outlook is buoyant by nature, but leaves the rest of Christendom feeling hopeless and defeated. These pseudo-ministers proclaim an unspoken message that victorious Christians are those who can regularly maintain their enthusiasm. They promote the idea that those who excel in the faith are the ones who can stimulate excitement in others.

The whole mess reminds me of the motivational meetings I was required to periodically attend as a real estate agent. First, leading sales associates offered testimonies of how they landed big contracts through persistent efforts. Next, a company leader gave the troops a stirring talk. The highlight of the get-together came when top salesmen were acknowledged for their efforts. The whole purpose of the meeting was to incite passion in the troops to sell more houses in the upcoming months.

The correlation between the two systems is remarkably similar. The “hype movement” (for lack of a better term) also has its testimonies of victory. Those who know how to inflame a crowd deliver stimulating sermons. Leading adherents to the movement are recognized as powerful men of God. It is easy to see why their methods are so successful at attracting followers. Instead of being humbled by a lack of godly characteristics, people are encouraged to see spirituality in the most optimistic light possible. Paul’s warning that a person should not “...think more highly of himself than he ought to think; but to think so as to have sound judgment...” (Romans 12:3) fall on deaf ears because these followers are encouraged to carry an inflated view of personal piety. Meanwhile, any suggestion that they are exaggerating what they really have in Christ is often viewed as an attack from the devil.

Since these people think they are doing so well spiritually, they do not press into God, consecrate themselves, or deal seriously with the sin of the heart. Having been blinded by spiritual pride about the true condition of their souls, they do not see the need to do such things. They do not see their spiritual lack but see themselves as lacking nothing. In short, there is no need to be concerned about maturing in the faith because they are already at the top!

If Jesus addressed one of these power meetings today, perhaps He would say something along these lines: “Because you say, ‘I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,’ and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked...” (Revelation 3:17) They do not see what they truly are because they are taught not to see.

Coming To God
Jesus once told a story about two men who went into the temple for the purpose of having an audience with God. The first, a religious leader, prayed: “God, I thank Thee that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax-gatherer. I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.”

By today’s outward standards, this man lived a godly life: praying, fasting, tithing, and abstaining from obvious, visible sin. He carefully gave God all the credit for the success he achieved. It is interesting to note that when he purveyed his life, everything he saw about himself was positive! I could see him easily fitting in with those who live in the realm of the hype movement.

The approach of the other man was quite different: “But the tax-gatherer, standing some distance away, was unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’” This man did not march into the throne room of God and demand an audience. In fact, he stood off in the distance, unwilling even to look up at the Lord. Standing in the presence of the King, he was overwhelmed by his own unworthiness. His sins stood out glaringly in his mind as he bowed in the presence of the Holy One. He was sorrowful over his lack of Christ-likeness, ashamed at how little he had done for God. He stood there looking for one thing: mercy.

In today’s upbeat church atmosphere, someone might suggest that this man needs to be reassured about “who he is in Christ,” that he needs to accept God’s love, and learn how to forgive himself. Some might even berate him for his negative attitude, labeling him as someone living a defeated life, a spiritual loser.

It’s interesting how heaven's perspectives can be different from earth’s. Jesus said, “I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself shall be humbled, but he who humbles himself shall be exalted.” (Luke 18:9-14)

The Proper Prognosis

The issue is not so much the way a person prays but whether or not he truly has a clear understanding of his own need. If he sees himself in the proper light, he approaches God with a humble spirit. On the other hand, if he pumps himself up to be something that he isn’t, he will attempt to storm heaven in spiritual arrogance and presumption. The way a person prays flows out of the way he views himself in relation to the Lord.

Prideful people prefer to see themselves in a positive light. Matthew nine provides a fitting example. Jesus was sitting in the home of Matthew the tax collector, surrounded by those considered to be “low-lifes.” As is so often the case today, it is the down-and-outers, the troubled, those given over to outward sin who see their need for His help. The religious leaders standing outside did not feel that same sense of urgency. Like the Pharisee praying in the temple, they were fully confident of their spiritual condition. Nevertheless, Jesus came outside and made one of the most poignant statements found in Scripture: “It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick... I did not come to call the [self] righteous, but sinners.” This statement describes one of the most important characteristics of those who truly walk in victory: their spiritual need keeps them in close proximity to the One who can meet that need.

Some Christians believe that salvation ends the desperate need for God’s involvement in their lives. Now, they can move forward in their journey toward heaven. In reality, maturing believers grow in awareness of the need for God’s constant involvement. Instead of leaving the Lord back at the starting gate, they see Him at the finish line. Realizing the necessity for His help, guidance, correction, and discipline to live victoriously keeps them constantly turning to the Lord.

By contrast, the shallow believer who is not willing to pay the price of pursuing God prefers to invent a godliness of his own imagination. He might try to impress others with what a seeker he is, but the reality of his life with God is that he is quite content to settle for the fake. He is not spiritually healthy; he refuses to acknowledge his sick condition because he is not willing to follow the prescribed treatment needed to correct it. It is much easier to contrive an exaggerated sense of spiritual well-being than to fight for the real thing.

Jesus spoke of a group of people who suffered from this same kind of self-deception. They too imagined that they were walking with God. Judgment Day’s reality exposed something different. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven; but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven,” Jesus said. “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23).

Notice that these people were doing all the right things outwardly: identifying themselves with the name of the Lord, prophesying, casting out demons, and even performing miracles. It shows that a person can have wonderful works, even to the point of somehow tapping into the power of God, and yet still be in terrible trouble. Unlike the evangelist who came into our live-in program, these people did not face reality until it was too late.

The fact of the matter is that until a man comes to grip with his desperate condition before God, he will never be broken, never have a real repentance, and never enjoy the abundance made available to the child of God. Instead, he can fully expect his lot to be one of defeat, emptiness, and a false sense of victory that is based on nothing but hype.

-excerpt from Steve Gallagher’s Book - "Living in Victory"

What People Are Saying

“Because we have embraced the faulty level of the world, our houses are weak, our churches are vulnerable and our families are falling down all around us. Steve Gallagher’s Living in Victory takes us back to the only level we should use to build...the Word of God. ”
Very good post C'nut! This is discerning the difference between religious institution and the Church that Jesus is building. But religious institution is popular for a reason, it doesn't require spiritual rebirth and growth. Someone some time ago warned that there would be a group of people who have a form of Godliness but denying the power.

2Timothy 3:1-5
The Dangers of the Last Days
1*You should also know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. 2*For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. 3*They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control; they will be cruel and have no interest in what is good. 4*They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. 5*They will act as if they are religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. You must stay away from people like that.

Again a great post Sister Coconut!
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What is your vision?
- From Leonard Ravenhill’s last meeting

How easy it is to sit and clap our hands and tap our feet and sing, "My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness..." But, what about when you come to the third stanza?
When all around my soul gives way
When your whole life... your wife is raped in front of your eyes... you have no life... no church... everything goes ... you are dragged through the town. That is what is happening over there this very hour as we are here. I don't think we value our privileges as we ought. Paul talks about redeeming the time, buying back the opportunity. Of the things we waste, we certainly waste time. The word that has been very much on my mind these past two or three weeks is in Ephesians.

Ephesians 2:7 "But in the ages to come ... "
How often do we preach on that? I think there is a danger of something I call "The Peril of the Immediate." We are living in the framework of the immediate. We live there as much as other men. We are not supposed to. We are to live as men branded for eternity.
"In the ages to come... "
Look at Elijah. Elijah was told to hide in the cave. He goes in there for three whole years! Most of us can't stand three hours without turning on a radio or TV. Try three days, try three weeks, cutting yourself off from everything external, everything worldly that has been labeled and poisoned by the world systems. We need to think and get things straight.

We live too much in this world. We're earthbound. How many of us know someone who is eternity conscious? What America needs is somebody who will go through every church in the country and preach for a week on eternity:
Preach one day on the Judgment Seat of Christ.
Preach one day on the Judgment of believers.
Preach one day on the Marriage Supper of the Lamb.
The last word of Jesus was not "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel" - that was for the eleven disciples.
The last word of Jesus is in Revelations: Repent, repent, repent.
What is Jesus coming for? A bride.
The Word of God says He is coming for a bride without spot or wrinkle or any such thing.
Do you think the church is that today?
What does Jesus say about the church?
That she is poor, wretched, naked, blind and pitiful.

I certainly believe with all my heart we are not eternity conscious, we live for the everyday. We ought to live with eternity’s values in view. Those people were excited - and us?
The more I read the Word of God the more it pierces my heart. It makes me stop and think and meditate. I meditate now more on eternity than I ever have in all my life. Our people are not eternity conscious. Do you think a person who is ready for eternity would miss a prayer meeting? I don't know of anywhere on Earth where there is more freedom than in a prayer meeting where God anoints those who pray and you almost, as it were, rub shoulders with God.
Again I say, when Ahab was breathing down the neck of Elijah, and Jezebel was digging a pit for his feet, do you ever think he thought for a moment he'd stand on the Mountain of Transfiguration with Moses and Jesus?
Apparently Moses could see through the space in time... he could see and he endured. "He chose to suffer."

Suppose you were a twenty year old or a thirty year old in Bosnia or one of these other countries today. You wouldn't have a home to go home to.

Some of these young men today come into my office and say,
"These are wonderful days to be alive".
Sure they are - you go from an air conditioned home,
to an air conditioned car, to an air conditioned church,
where you collect a copious offering and go home to rejoice in the Lord.
What about those who get nothing?

Paul gets to a place where he says, "I have nothing, yet I possess all things." Paul goes through all sorts of cleansing. He did not end up in Romans 7 "it is sin that dwelleth in me." He ended up in Galatians 2:20, "Not I, but Christ liveth in me." That is the ultimate in the Christian life. I don't care how many tongues we have or how many miracles we were able to perform. The word of God says again, "Christ liveth in me." The life I now live in this mortal body is Christ controlled.
People say that in the Old Testament Christ was with them but not in them. But Peter doesn't say that! Christ was in them. Do you think a man could go and pray and say on behalf of the rotten nation he lived in, "Lord kill me," again, he also says, "Take my life. I don't care. I'm not bothered by living."

I want to be so God possessed.
Of course, some say that's fanaticism.
People get weary of hearing about all the trouble in Bosnia
but they can't wait to hear what is going on with the baseball strike.
And I'm talking about men in ministry, I mean preachers.
They rush out from church Sunday morning for home and go watch
baseball or football.
So they are trying to serve two masters.
No man can do that; you can only serve one master.

The more I read this word I find Christ didn't come to just take me to the cross - as Paul says in Romans 6, you can be crucified with Him. But I think the most amazing thing Jesus said is, "The prince of this world cometh and findeth nothing in Me." He wastes his time tempting Jesus!
He had come through forty days of relentless temptation and trials, after that He was put out of the synagogue, and after that He is being put out all the time.
He was born outside - we sing, "Jesus was born in a manger".
He was buried outside - because He would defile the city it if they buried Him
He is still outside - the church.
Isn't it amazing? In the book of Revelation Jesus is still outside the church standing and knocking, trying to get in. How many churches would He have to say that of today?
We must allow God to be in complete control of us with no ambitions of our own, with no concern but to glorify the Father. There's not much time left. As I said last night, "Believer, we are not in the last days - we are in the last of the last days! In Hebrews 1 it says, "God, Who in sundry times and in divers manners spake, hath in these last days spoken by His Son…" that was 2,000 years ago. As for reading the Book of Revelations, it speaks of things that will shortly come to pass. Dr. Tozer used to say to me very often that we were in the last chapter of Revelations.

More and more and more we should be the light in this dark world. You may not know what a wonderful privilege you have of being an example to young men.
Show them
you’re not tied up with money,
you’re not tied up with position,
you’re not tied up trying to be the best preacher in your denomination.
Live close to God day by day.
"The Spirit beareth witness."
John Wesley preached on that more than anyone else. I've never heard anyone preach on Romans 8:16, "the Spirit beareth witness with our spirit." In the Acts of the apostles it says the same thing: We're witnesses, so is the Holy Ghost.
We don't need outward acknowledgments. We don't need outward labels.
When I think of what it means in Jude, "Praying in the Holy Ghost," it means more than just tongues, it means the Holy Ghost running in me. If I'm filled with the Holy Ghost then what grieves the Holy Ghost will grieve me. It's not all joy and excitement.

Did the disciples ask the Lord "teach us to preach"? No. They heard the sermon on the mount, the greatest sermon ever preached birthed but
They never said, "Lord teach us to preach."
Jesus sang a hymn and went into Gethsemene, I think He sang often, but
They never said, "Lord teach us to sing."
They never said, "Lord teach us to laugh." No. They said,


I'm not saying everyone gets to that level - but I believe the greatest thing we can do is pray. Every time I pray, I don't want God to make me popular, I don't want to have the biggest church in town. - Jesus never had the fastest growing church, in fact His church went down and down until one day there were only eleven and He said, "Will you go away also?" - I don't think we should pray for God to take people out, I'm saying this, you ought to get near to the heart of God.

I trust that God will give you that privilege of travail
that very few people have had.
Paul had it. I don't think a day goes by that I don't think of Paul travailing in birth. Look at his theological background. Look at the epistle to the Romans, look at his epistle to the Ephesians and yet with all that he is still craving that he may get near to the heart of God. "I could wish myself accursed... my own death." I don't think you have to die a martyr's death to be a martyr.
You can be a living sacrifice,
you can die to advantages,
you can die to temptations,
you can die to privileges,
you can die to all those things that don't add to spiritual life, that don't add to spiritual vision, that don't add to spiritual understanding.
When God works in me, He is so altogether different from the theological concept I once had...

Don't live in the immediate. Remember, Moses saw Jesus in the distance.
I see Jesus coming to rule on the Earth. Not to die, not to be pushed around, but He's coming to rule the Earth. The Word of God says at least some will reign with Him. Who? Who reigns with Him?
The overcomers,
overcoming temptation,
overcoming the world,
overcoming our own desires,
being completely God controlled.

I thank God for what He has done in my life. He hasn't stopped and He won't stop. The Word of God say, "We shall all appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ." And, "Will not the Judge of all the Earth do right? " That is going to be awful, but if I didn't believe that I think I would go insane.
Who is going to account for all the bloody massacre in Rwanda today?
All the wars of the Earth,
all the Generals, the Kings of England the Presidents of the United
States, are going to stand before God.
When He takes all the masks off and uncovers everything.
Everybody - every preacher will stand before the God.
This is the final reckoning day, I want to live with eternity’s values in view.
If we judge ourselves in the light of God's Word we need not fear the
If we walk in the light as He is in the light... that's all He asks of us, to walk
in the light.
And this is what I desire:
That you would get more vision than I've ever had.
More power than I've ever had.
More understanding than I've ever had.

God help us. This is the most difficult period in human history. Never have there been so many nations upside down. The World is like a ship caught in a storm:
it has no anchor,
it has no compass,
it has no chart.
I believe, brethren, you will live to see many from Washington begging the Church of Jesus Christ to bring deliverance. They have ignored it, laughed at it, they have scorned it, but they will come to a place they are so politically helpless, so financially helpless, so morally helpless they will have to call on God. He is the only sure answer.

One fellow said, "I just finished three years in Seminary." I asked him,
"Did anyone ever preach a sermon on eternity?"... "No."
"Did you ever hear a sermon on the judgment seat of Christ?"... "No."
"Did anyone preach a sermon on "The Bride of Christ?"... "No."
The man burst into tears. I said,
"In God's name, why do you go to seminary? To learn how to bury the dead?"

There is an eternity in front of us! There is a world that now is in more rebellion than ever! "As in the days of Noah" they rebelled against God. For 100 years Noah never preached a new message, he preached repentance, he preached righteousness. Alexander White used to say, "You can preach divine healing, you can preach prophecy, you can preach anything, but you can't preach righteousness; people won't have it."
I still hope God will pour out His Spirit on all flesh. Let Him pour out His Spirit, not our man-made thing. We laugh and watch TV all night. When the burden of the Holy Ghost takes hold of you, you taste what happens in revival. I think revival preaching is open heart surgery. The other preaching isn't a semblance of the message.

I'm trying to say that as bad as it is, and we are living in the most critical hour in human history, God hasn't given up. He's still not willing that any should perish. He still loves men and women. I want to be in that place where I can bear the birth pains.

For years I finished every night of prayer meeting the same way. I would say, "O Lord, don't say to me on that great day, ‘Ravenhill, I had many things to say to you but you could not bear them.’"

WHEWWW Amen Sister !!! Wow talk about some meat on the table !!! I really really want to soak this up !! Not just put on the "mask" and say amen I want it to be real ! Hallelujah HE is real !!!!

I wonder how many will pass this up? Whoa ! Thank you sister ! Please please keep posting the meat ! I might have to chew on it for a while because I am yet a babe but Hallelujah !!! I love it !!!!!
The Church began in the Spirit; now She is operating in the flesh. There is no pillar of fire over the sanctuary. There are no preachers who can hold the hell-bound spell-bound. I am not sure that it can be proved that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. It can be proved that the Church is fiddling while the world is burning! The one reason that we do not have revival today is that we are content to live without it.

O for a generation of believers who can honestly say,
"The Zeal of Thine house hath eaten me up."

Quoted from article "Zeal- Love Ablaze" by Leonard Ravenhill

I miss brother Leonard and his uncompromising presentation of God's thoughts and His Word. Sure don't hear many at all preaching this kind of word. But then Leonard Ravenhill never cared to be popular with men, like so many of the ministers today. Thanks Coconut for the meat.
I have not read many of Ravenhills messages...now I think i`ve been missing out, thank you Bobbie and jf for those edifying messages!
Reading this deeply rich thread and replies makes me feel like the most blessed person on the planet. The posts here entrench the way in which I am nourished from my own church. All The Bible, all Jesus, all the time - nothing out of context; the unsearchability of our Lord's sacrifice; His death and resurrection beyond compare to anything in history; our impoverishment without Him; we cannot even love without Him; the need to surrender everything to Christ; the need for the real weight and substance of the Gospel to shake up the church; the cruciality of zeal to speak Christ; uncompromising loyalty to God; to be given to Him 100% in thought, speech, and action.

How is it that I am surrounded by such fire for our Lord? Only by the grace of God, and everything else pales. For whatever seem life's hardships, that Christ has provided me a church home of such strong example and witness is extraordinary. I pray multitudes will be so blessed with the igniting fire of the Holy Spirit in churches throughout the world.

"To me, who am less than the least of all the saints, this grace was given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God Who created alll things through Jesus Christ; to the intent that now the manifold wisdom of God might be made known by the church to the principalities and powers in the heavenly places, according to the eternal puppose which He accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord, in Whom we have boldness and access with confidence through faith in Him." (Ephesians 3:8-12)
Sadly, Pastor Pete almost perfectly exemplifies the pastor of the church that I just left a little over 3 weeks ago. I pray that he will see himself and his ministry in the true Light of God. It is encouraging that the evangelist, Bro. Carl, did come to a place where he could see where he was missing God completely. It is sad that some churches are just houses of religion.

But, praise God, Jesus is the builder and the Cornerstone of his real church, and He's coming for us soon.
"But, praise God, Jesus is the builder and the Cornerstone of his real church, and He's coming for us soon."

Amen and glory to God!
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!
Coconut said:
"But, praise God, Jesus is the builder and the Cornerstone of his real church, and He's coming for us soon."
Amen and glory to God!
Even so come quickly Lord Jesus!
That's right, please hurry Jesus, I'm homesick.
Cotton Candy Religion

Religion has gotten popular! It’s sweeping the country!! Juke boxes grind out the latest popular hymns!

Movie magazines carry news of religious activities of the movie stars! More money is coming into religious treasures than ever before. Great new church buildings are being built. A greater percentage of folks belong to churches than ever before in history! Tremendous evangelistic campaigns are regularly held and thousands are in attendance and great numbers of decisions are recorded.

Quite regularly the current best-seller is a book on religion. The newspapers and magazines carry regular columns by religious writers. The radio and television carry religious programs! Religious Universities, Colleges, High Schools, and Elementary Schools are growing by leaps and bounds!
Religion is booming! The cry of “Revival” is heard over and over!!

Religion is back — by popular demand! The tragedy is that it has been diluted, streamlined, whooped up, condensed, smoothed out, made palatable enough to meet what the public demands in a religion. Instead of meeting the demands of God, religion has been changed to meet the demands of the public!!

In the haste to get everybody aboard the “bandwagon” a “carnival” spirit has developed. The bands are playing, the flags are flying, and everyone is invited to a hayride of happiness — a religious romp! Popcorn, peanuts, and paper hats.

Appearances had been deceiving. Thus it is with our modern “cotton candy” boom in religion! It’s big and beautiful until you really try to get your teeth into it and dissolves into nothing.

It could also be compared to “bubble gum” — it makes a fine showing until it breaks and leaves behind a sticky mess!!

The popularity that religion enjoys has been purchased at a terrific price. The desire to please man has supplanted the desire to please God. Today’s religion is designed to satisfy the carnal appetites of carnal Christians and the unregenerate. “What do I get out of it” is the approach made to this religion. When the services are entertaining and make the participants “feel good” they are stamped as successful. The world’s methods and manner are as in the business world. Finances and figures have been made the test. A lot of people and a lot of money are interpreted as the sure blessing of God. It is considered sacrilege to question the doctrine or the ethics of anyone who has been successful in gathering a large crowd and abundant cash!

In view of the seeming boom in religion it would be well to consider what has happened to the gospel!!

What little gospel is preached is of such a shallow, frothy nature that it would bring a snort of disgust from such a one as the Apostle Paul. The strong message of the gospel has been so diluted as hardly to be recognizable. Sickeningly cheap, sentimental appeals are made for sickeningly cheap, sentimental decisions! What has happened to the sledge hammer messages concerning the hideous corruption of sin?

Has the day of identifying the sinner past? Today it is advertised so that no one will be offended at the preaching of the gospel!! What a change! What a come down!! The gospel has always offended! It offends Satan! It offends the guilty sinner and either brings him to repentance or hardens his heart! It offends the carnal Christian!!! It offends the false teachers and their followers! It offends the promoters of sin and sinful pleasure! In today’s gospel the question of sin is dealt with in such generalities that it is almost impossible to determine who is guilty!

Repentance has become a forgotten doctrine confined to the yellowing pages of neglected articles of faith. What used to mean “Godly Sorrow” doesn’t even involve mild embarrassment today! The crowds have never responded very well to true repentance so modern religion by popular demand has discarded it. Faith has been reduced to a mere head consent, a hand shake, and a card signed.

Today’s gospel has been watered down so thin it has lost the miracle working power of regeneration and is producing a shallow, casual, unregenerated religion.

Contrary to the popular idea that we are in the midst of revival stand some undeniable facts that show we are in the midst of a time of apostasy!!! There is a great “falling away!"
First of all consider the moral condition of our country. The figures have been published so many times they do not need to be reprinted here. Crime is at an all time high!! Juvenile delinquency increases every year!! Divorce rates climb every year. Jail houses, penitentiaries and detention homes are packed to overflowing!!

Drunkenness and dope addicts mounts with each passing day! Illegitimate births and abortions increase ever year. Murder, rape, suicide, robbery, scream the headlines of our papers!! Sex mad and whiskey soaked! The nation reels down the path of the pursuit of Pleasure!! Check the material in the popular books, songs, radio and television shows, movies, etc. and get a glimpse of what appeals to America. True revival will check the flood tides of sin!! This has not happened in today’s so-called revival!!

It is not producing hatred for sin and love of righteousness!! It does not demand that Christians live a separated dedicated life to God.

Second, consider the rapid rise and growth of a multitude of cults and false religions. This is not revival!!

Real revival brings men and women a love for the truth. The entire revealed truth of God is not declared in the Gospel of today so the “converts” wander off after whatever religion suits their particular fancy. The keynote today is compromise. Everybody is to forget their “petty doctrinal differences” and join hands in a “great compromise.” In the midst of this kind of atmosphere false cults and religions are booming!

Modernism marches on!!!

Third, consider the shallow carnal Christian today’s so-called “revival” produces, indeed, if it produces any Christians. May God help us to return to a gospel that glorifies God, antagonizes Satan, squelches sin, convicts sinners, produces repentance, routs false teachers, abolishes false religions, promotes sound doctrine, and brings about the miracle of regeneration that makes a hell bound sinner into a new creature in Christ Jesus.

- Bro. Norman Wells

Mat 24:37 And as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of man. Because as in those days before the overflowing of the waters, they were feasting and taking wives and getting married, till the day when Noah went into the ark, And they had no care till the waters came and took them all away; so will be the coming of the Son of man.
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Earnest Christians everywhere express concern over the apparent lack of vital piety in the contemporary American church. In no place or time has the church been so successful in garnering property, privilege, and popularity as the evangelical church in America. Evangelicals receive Grammy awards, appear on the New York Times bestseller list, and frequent the Oval Office. Yet, never since the Dark Ages has the church been so ineffectual and dissolute.
This impotence manifests itself in many ways, but perhaps most dramatically in the moral decadence increasingly found among professors of religion. For example, Ralph Earle, Jr. and Mark Laasar report that “a recent Leadership Journal survey indicated that almost one-third of all pastors struggle with Internet pornography” (The Pornography Trap, 5-6). Other studies reflect little distance between the church and the world regarding such issues as divorce and pre-marital sex. While evangelicals confess different beliefs, they lead lives that hardly differ from those of nonbelievers, recently prompting the conclusion in a secular newsmagazine: “Their distinctive faith aside, evangelicals are acting more and more like the rest of us” (U.S. News and World Report, May 3, 2004, 59).

While serious saints react with appropriate dismay to these evidences of encroaching worldliness in the church world at large, we need to look a bit closer to home. Here we find some of the roots of this drift already at work among us. Although many holiness people have stood staunchly against the flood of filth purveyed by popular media over the last century, it appears that a breach in the dike of holy discernment is ever-widening.

Many who once shared a commitment to living careful, godly lives have modified or forsaken altogether their erstwhile conscientious lifestyle, now regularly devouring a diet of filth that they would have once found nauseous. What led to this tragic backsliding? How can it be prevented in others?

Answers to these questions may be found, at least in part, by considering the spiritual effect of indulgences that at first glance may seem harmless and trivial. It has often been demonstrated in history and observed in scripture that apparently insignificant practices, regardless of their purported innocence, can lead to monumental problems: “little foxes…spoil the vines.”

Of particular concern is a trend that has mushroomed among Christians during the last couple of decades—that of consuming light—albeit religious—novels, self-help books, and other frothy amusements and “info-tainment.” At first glance, this may seem positive, as evangelicals now have their own alternatives to Steven King, John Grisham, and Harlequin romances. However, there are several troubling elements to this development.

For one, there is the issue of substitution. The consumption of “fluff” takes away time for substantial reading and other activities that promote devotion and theological reflection. Even at its best, the chaff foisted by today’s religious publishers on an unsuspecting, entertainment-oriented Christian public (in addition to threatening Bible reading itself) stifles interaction with the writings of Milton, Bunyan, C.S. Lewis, and contemporary writers who produce literature worthy of the name.

Rest assured that this is not a diatribe against reading for entertainment altogether, but an appeal for discernment in choosing spiritually helpful works and for balance in one’s reading habits. An occasional “light” read may help rest the mind, but a steady flow of such reading may paralyze the mind and starve the soul. Although everyone needs “intervals of diversion from business,” as John Wesley expressed it, this is to provide a brief respite for rejuvenation—not permanent preoccupation with fleeting pleasures. As with eating, so with reading—while infrequent desserts add zest to life, making sweets the staple of your diet will rob you of vital nutrients and ultimately prove fatal.

In other words, the substitution of the shallow for the significant contributes to a deeper danger inherent in imbibing frothy religious entertainment—that of becoming immersed in superficiality. Not only are superior writings and activities slighted, but deep spirituality itself may be hindered. The focus is not on divine activity or spiritual growth but on temporal excitement and fulfillment. A search for deeper truths illustrated by the plot or reflected in character development results in frustration. The spiritual point becomes clear to perceptive readers—there is no point! It is like Wes Tracy’s description of many contemporary Christians: “‘Way down deep’ they are ‘all surface.’” Moreover, excessive absorption of such material is bound to produce the same kind of people.

As if this harm were not enough, some of the frivolous religious fiction and other literary chaff so popular today goes even further in the subversion of the cause and spirit of biblical Christianity. Many of these works apparently take their cues from secular fiction, then project a religious veneer over the surface. In this thinly-veiled guise, they actually promote unscriptural ideals and behavior. For instance, supposedly devout characters foster attitudes and engage in activities contrary to the Bible, such as dating or even marrying unbelievers. Other books exploit and distort biblical concepts, prostituting such glorious realities as spiritual warfare and end-time prophecy with sensational story lines that go so far as to glamorize violence and sensuality.

Ultimately, this spate of religious fluff and foam may have another insidious impact on those who ingest it. It can serve as a subtle avenue of seduction away from godliness, luring its consumers to desire outright the fodder of the world. After repeated exposure to worldly enticements under religious pretext, some readers will eventually succumb to temptation and finally embrace openly sinful literature and entertainment. For they have whetted their appetite for a diet of filth by feeding on a preparatory diet of froth.

While some may stop short of this tragic outcome, how many have already allowed religious chaff to substitute for substantial soul food, short circuit their spiritual growth, and even subvert their allegiance to Christ? How many holiness people who would never think of bringing a television into their homes have found a subtle substitute in light religious reading? How many have moved from this reading to such corrupt communication as the moral sewage flooding the “information super-highway”?

Our bookshelves reflect our predicament. Even within holiness parsonages, religious romance and adventure stories have crowded out the holiness classics by J.B. Chapman, A.M. Hills, and G.A. McLaughlin. If the maxim is even partially correct that “you are what you read,” one cannot help but wonder what the holiness movement will be in the not-too-distant future.

Those who would dismiss these concerns as the anxieties of an alarmist should bear in mind that, while not as immediate, the final consequence of a constant diet of cotton candy and cream puffs proves to be just as deadly as one of arsenic and cyanide. May our readers avoid the fate resulting, not just from feeding on filth, but from feasting on foam and froth.

-The Rev. Wallace Thornton

Mark 8:34 Jesus then told the crowd and the disciples to come closer, and he said: If any of you want to be my followers, you must forget about yourself. You must take up your cross and follow me.
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Repentance has become a forgotten doctrine confined to the yellowing pages of neglected articles of faith. What used to mean “Godly Sorrow” doesn’t even involve mild embarrassment today! The crowds have never responded very well to true repentance so modern religion by popular demand has discarded it. Faith has been reduced to a mere head consent, a hand shake, and a card signed.
Real revival brings men and women a love for the truth. The entire revealed truth of God is not declared in the Gospel of today so the “converts” wander off after whatever religion suits their particular fancy. The keynote today is compromise. Everybody is to forget their “petty doctrinal differences” and join hands in a “great compromise.” In the midst of this kind of atmosphere false cults and religions are booming!
Third, consider the shallow carnal Christian today’s so-called “revival” produces, indeed, if it produces any Christians. May God help us to return to a gospel that glorifies God, antagonizes Satan, squelches sin, convicts sinners, produces repentance, routs false teachers, abolishes false religions, promotes sound doctrine, and brings about the miracle of regeneration that makes a hell bound sinner into a new creature in Christ Jesus.
Some may choose to be in denial, but this is NOT opinion, it is REALITY.
Please be brave and honest enough to judge the tree by it's fruit, as long as we deny the reality of our true condition, there appears no need to change.

This is not a negative message, this a life changing, course altering message that leads to Life.

Thanks Coconut.
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