Psalm 73

I have been reading a Psalm every day and today I read Psalm 73. I have read it numerous times over the years and have heard multiple sermons on it from a variety of pastors. It is generally titled “Problems with the prosperity of the wicked”. Pastors preach to those in the pews that we should not despair as we see the “wicked” seemingly get away with doing evil, because judgment will ultimately come upon them. This is true of course.

Verses 21 & 22 say, “When my heart was grieved and my spirit embittered, I was senseless and ignorant; I was a brute beast before you.”

During the past 4 years I have had some bitter moments and have fought hard to not allow bitterness to creep in. I cannot say I never felt bitterness at the many pastors who either purposely caused me harm or those who ignorantly acted arrogant and smug. All I can say is that I tried very hard to not act upon that bitterness. While at times I was “senseless and ignorant”, I don’t think I ever became a “brute beast”.

When I read this Psalm and reflect on the sermons I have heard, I realize that many pastors never see themselves in this Psalm as possibly being the ones described in the 1st part of each verse beginning with verse 4; “they have no struggles, they are free from the common burdens to man, pride is their necklace, from their callous hearts come iniquity, they scoff and speak with malice, their mouths lay claim to heaven, and their people turn to them.”

I know this is a hard thing to say, but over the years I have come across way too many arrogant pastors who think it is totally fine to treat those without the title of “pastor” as a lesser human being. They don’t think they are doing any harm. They rationalize arrogant actions such as ignoring anyone they have a disagreement with. They use their authority as “senior pastor” to Lord it over the congregation. Many of these pastors are actually decent folks who are very moral in nearly all aspects, just like the Pharisees. They believe they are doing the right thing when they use their power to “remove” people from “their” church. They say they are “protecting their flock”.

This arrogance is nothing new. In the past those in power would burn their opposition alive, such as happened with Jon Hus. In modern times they don’t do violence. They merely pretend you don’t exist; stop answering your phone calls and e-mails, and just plain ignore you. It’s hurtful and brings scandal upon the church when the people of God do not reconcile and those watching the church see the lack of love. Reconciliation is the heart of the Gospel.

Is there an answer? Yes.Verse 28 says, “But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds.”

The Sovereign Lord is my refuge . . . not pastors.

 

Resume Posting

I have neglected to post here for quite some time. More than a year. Not going to waste time explaining why. But, I am back. In February of 2011 I left the church where I had served at for 12 years. I them began attending a Calvary Chapel. I taught Evangelism Explosion there for 16 months. One year ago this month my wife and I went into the “wilderness” and stopped attending “church” on a regular basis. We have attended a few churches on and off; of which I will write about in the future.

While I have soured on being involved with church, I am not against “the Church”. I still think it is important to meet regularly with other Christians for worship, communion, Bible Study, and prayer (Acts 2:42 – They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer). Because the current church structure is totally focused on “the pastor” it has become weak and ineffective. Many “church attenders” may find that harsh, but we all know it and feel it. It is a “grieving” of the Holy Spirit (Ephesian 4:30).

How do we break out of this cycle? I am not the only one writing about this now, and it is nothing new. Spurgeon, Tozer, and many more men throughout Church History have had to deal with it. Spurgeon called it the “downgrade”. A.W. Tozer wrote for 13 years in Alliance Life.

http://www.spurgeon.org/downgrd.htm

https://www.cmalliance.org/about/history/tozer

 

Why EE is superior!

    I have been doing street evangelism and evangelism training since 1995, nearly 18 years. I was originally trained in Evangelism Explosion (EE), but have been exposed to, studied, and trained in a myriad of other methods. In fact my own method is a hybrid of all I have learned. I have implemented much of “Way of the Master” into the EE format when I witness. I have done Louis Palau, Contagious Christian, F.A.I.T.H. from the SBC, read all the witnessing books when I was taking courses from Moody. I am familiar with the Alpha course, the Q project, My Hope with Billy Graham, etc… I am sure if we looked for books and courses on evangelism we could literally locate thousands of them, and there are many authors writing the same books today, except they are marketing them as new ideas.

    But I am here to tell you that EE training is Superior. Why? The difference is that EE is a discipleship ministry and not just an evangelism class. The “class” portion is a minor part of EE training. The real training is actually doing visitation and watching and learning from the evangelist. Each week the trainees participate as much as they want to and as much as they are able. EE training removes the FEAR and gradually adds on knowledge and confidence. A ‘class” never accomplishes this. If you have attended what someone called EE training and you did not leave the building every week and actually “go out” and do “on the job” (OJT) training, then you did not do EE. You did a class. A class on evangelism is merely another Bible Study. You gain knowledge, but it is rarely applied in the real world. You want to be trained? You want the FEAR of witnessing to go away in a matter of weeks? You want to be able to start a conversation at any time with anyone and never worry about whether or not you have the right answer to anything they counter with?If so, the EE training is for you.

Why don’t older Christians evangelize?

    Today I met with a fellow brother and we discussed why many congregations are no longer interested in evangelism, especially older congregations who have a history of 30, 40, 50 years or more. They still talk about evangelism. They love the Lord. They love Bible Study. But it seems their love for lost people has waned. What’s wrong?

    We concluded that the problem is that many of these congregations have had a multitude of well meaning pastors who “preached” about evangelism endlessly, yet never modeled it. They cajoled the gongregation to invite their friends and neighbors to church, and yet the pastor was never able to get his friends and neighbors to come. The pastor would hold revival meetings and even use church money to pay for a prominent pastor who has become a traveling preacher now callling himself an evangelist to come from distant parts to give the congregation a message on the need for evangelism, and yet nobody actaully went and did it. Pastors would come and go and retire and yet nobody was ever trained and equipped to actually share the Gospel. Those that were able to seek out training and become equipped and would actually do evangelism would soon find themselves feeling like a fish out of water; fellow Christians looking at them strangely and not being very excited when they told stories about going out and sharing the gospel with people in the park, at the mall, or at a family gathering.

    The problem is pastors and churches do not equip the saints for good works. They preach to them and convince themselves that sermons are equipping. Jesus didn’t just preach and teach with words. He spoke with ACTION. He modeled ministry. He didn’t hang a sign up in Nazareth and tell the disciples to go get some people to hear him preach. He was on the move constantly. Sermons alone will never equip Christians to reach the lost with the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It must be modeled. Sermons can make converts, but they willl never produce disciples. D.James Kennedy said, “Evangelism must be CAUGHT, not taught”. But if the pastor doesn’t do it the people won’t catch it. Most pastors don’t so most Christians don’t either, and the next thing they know is they have invested 25 years of their life and money into a church and a couple of pastors and they have never been trained to share the gospel. It’s a shame.

Christ Together? Part 1

I received this from a friend informing me of a meeting to be held next month. It sounds interesting. I desire to see Christians uniting together for evangelism. It all “sounds” good. The ad says, “The Whole Church Bringing the Whole Gospel to the Whole Nation”. What Christian doesn’t want that? Before I jump I want a few terms defined:

What do they mean by “The Whole Church”? Does this include Roman Catholics, Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, etc…  I think they mean Evangelicals, because they do provide a statement of faith of sorts called “our beliefs” at the website; http://christtogetherchicago.org/   The statement is a little LITE for my tastes, such as “Though God created us to live in a harmonious relationship with him, we turned away from him.”   I mean, that is one way of putting it. The real story is a bit more drastic and very serious. Because of SIN, Adam and Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden; seperated from the Presence of God. Adam comitted a serious TRANSGRESSION. It was not merely a “turning away”. They make it all sound so harmless and vanilla. I mean why would a loving God send people to the Lake of Fire with Satan and his fellow demons merely for “turning away”?

The next question I would ask is what do they mean by “the Whole Gospel”? Since they advocate the use of the Alpha Course as a way for churches to do evangelism I have my concerns. The Alpha Course is designed to be ecumenical and multi-denominational. It all sounds so good. Here is one site I found that is very balanced in it’s discussion of the positives and negatives of the Alpha Course; http://standupforthetruth.com/2012/12/what-is-the-alpha-course/. If Dan Weyerhauser and the others are partnering with Roman Catholics then they are watering down the Gospel, which as Paul says in Galatians 1:7a – “which is really no gospel at all”.

I have a whole host of questions I would like to ask these “leaders”.  I will attempt to go to them privately (Galatians 2:2), but since I am firm in my freedom I will not give in to them (Galatians 2:5). They are well known pastors with large followings and have made names for themselves among the famous; I saw a few of them at a Louis Palau event on stage with him. “As for those who seemed to be important – whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not judge by external appearance” (Galatians 2:6).

It sounds like I am judging. I am not. I am very concerned though, as I am with nearly all of the visible church. In the quest for Unity the natural tendency is “compromise”. While I always extend Grace to fellow believers I am firm on where I stand and will discuss the Truth in Love for as long as it takes. Stay tuned. There will be a part 2 and possible part 3 to this ongoing saga.

The New GalatiaU

    Dear Friends

I stopped posting for awhile because I am in the process of revamping GalatiaU. I have no problems with the posts of either the “Cleansing Word” or “Possessing the Treasure”. I am thankful to both John & Mike for allowing me to re-post their Bible commentary. I have decided to move forward and make GalatiaU what I had originally envisioned; a site that teaches people how the share the gospel, and also a site that informs you about the progress of the University of Galatia which I am also moving forward with. During the next couple of months I am going to delete much of the old posts and links and replace them with items that are evangelism specific.

The University of Galatia will be a multi-site evangelism training apparatus. I am in the process of seaking partners here in Lake County who are interested in this endeavor. Everyone talks about Evangelism but so many never want to do it. A lady once told D.L. Mooduy that she didn’t like the way he did evangelism. He asked her how she did it. She said she didn’t. He replied, “I like my way of doing evanglism better than yours” (paraphrase).

Many of the churches (pastors) don’t seem to want to do personal evangelism. They prefer preaching from the pulpit (bring your friends to church to hear me) or encouraging talking to strangers on the internet. I oppose neither of those. But even if we do those we should never neglect personal face to face evangelism that leads to opportunites to actually make disciples that add to the local family of believers.  That’s all for now.

Mid East Update

Recently several events in the Middle East have taken place that should be putting students of prophecy  on high alert.

In Syria, the opposition is fragmenting as newly arrived Taliban fighters from Afghanistan have joined with alQaeda in what looks like an attempt to hijack the rebellion against the Assad government. In the short term this means the Syrian opposition is focused more on the infighting among its own factions than on defeating the government forces.  The Taliban and alQaeda alliance seems to be gaining the upper hand, which means any hope for a “moderate Muslim” government to replace Assad is quickly evaporating. 

A report that Israel is considering going it alone in an effort to put a halt to Iran’s nuclear arms development is also in the news.  According to high ranking officials, Israel is concerned that because of North Korean help Iran is about to cross Prime Minister Natanyahu’s famous red line, and could be only months away from having a “nuclear device”.  According to them that means a warhead or bomb is less than a year away.  These officials are saying that something must be done before the end of 2013 to stop Iran.  It has been reported that a majority of Israel’s security cabinet is now prepared to vote for war with or without help from others.

Accordingly, Israeli officials have begun preparing the world to expect some kind of action against Iran later this year.  PM Netanyahu pledged on national television that he will not wait until it’s too late to act.  

Also, upon learning that Russia had agreed to supply Syria with advanced anti-ship and anti-air missile  systems, PM Netanyahu met with Russian Pres. Putin on May 14 in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the transaction. Netanyahu reportedly told Putin that Israel would destroy these systems if they arrived  in Syria. Putin responded that if they did Russia would retaliate.   

A few days earlier, Israel had secretly destroyed a shipment of Iranian arms meant for Hizbollah in an  air strike near Damascus.  Upon learning from Washington that Israel was responsible, Syrian, Iranian, and Hizbollah officials said another such attack would bring an immediate reprisal. 

Then on July 5 air strikes against an arms depot in Latakia, a port city in Syria, destroyed another big cache of arms, supplied mostly by Russia.  Of the three arsenals destroyed, one contained components of the very weapons systems Netanyahu and Putin had discussed in May. Another held advanced weapons the Russians knew were intended for use by Hizbollah.

As with the previous raid, neither Syrian nor Russian radar detected the attacking aircraft so it was not known from whence they came.  But once again, the US disclosed to the media that the attack had  been carried out by Israel. 

The question now is how and when Russia, Iran, Syria, and Hizbullah will make good on their threats to immediately respond to these Israeli attacks.

Why Did You Do That?

You might ask why the US would let the world know it was the Israelis who pulled off these two daring  strikes. Well, it looks like this was Pres. Obama’s way of telling Israel not to try going it alone against Iran, and especially not to “cozy up” to any other Middle Eastern countries in the process.

He was making a reference to Saudi Arabia. It turns out that the King of Saudi Arabia and former Egyptian Pres. Mubarak are close friends. When the Obama administration was instrumental in Mubarak’s ouster in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood a year ago, it upset the Saudi King and he determined to get even for the shabby way in which his friend was being treated.  His chance came when the Egyptian Army decided to throw the Brotherhood out of office last month.  He sent a high ranking subordinate to help the Egyptian Army plan and execute the overthrow. 

When Obama officials saw they couldn’t dissuade the Egyptian Army from acting, they threatened to “review” the $1.2 billion in annual aid that was the army’s primary source of income.  The Saudi King immediately offered to cover any shortfall, and in a single day transferred $8 billion in cash into the army’s account.  When you add gasoline credits and cash contributions from other Arab countries the total assistance came to $12 billion. The Egyptians were thus emboldened to ask the US whether they really wanted to jeopardize losing Egypt as an ally by making such a threat. So much for Obama’s power play.

The Brotherhood, of which Hamas is part, has begun to retaliate against the Egyptian army, using the Sinai desert as it’s battleground. This presents a threat to Israel because whenever Muslim forces are at odds, one side or the other will usually attack Israel. So in a move that’s surprising to say the least, Israel has been helping the Egyptian army with intelligence and drone support and has given permission for the Egyptians to move tanks and soldiers into the Sinai.  In return the Egyptian army has cut off the Sinai supply routes and for the first time in recent memory most of the hundreds of smuggling tunnels that connect the Sinai with Gaza have been blocked.

The Obama administration is afraid that Saudi Arabia, Egypt and some other Arab states are setting up an independent block of Sunni Muslims to oppose the Shiites.  They are concerned that Israel will turn to this block for help in taking out their common enemy, Shiite Iran.  Tipping off the Russians is Obama’s way of telling Israel, “If you want to go your own way, we can go our own way too, and you won’t like outcome.”   

War In The Sinai

As you read this, the Egyptian Army has begun a campaign to clear the Sinai of Bedouin and Palestinian fighters who have joined with the Brotherhood in their attempt to regain control of Egypt.  Israeli forces along the Egyptian and Gaza borders are on high alert and their drones and sattelites are scouring the area from above to provide Egypt with real time battlefield intelligence. 

Having had its bluff on the aid issue successfully called, the US has stationed two amphibious helicopter carriers nearby with 2,600 US Marines aboard to make sure Suez Canal traffic isn’t disrupted, and is also supplying the Egyptian Army with sattelite intelligence on troop movements in the Sinai. Egypt has vowed not to end this campaign until the Sinai has been cleared of the Brotherhood and its allies.

Looking Ahead

Let’s summarize what we could be looking at in the second half of 2013.  Israeli leaders are concerned that there are few if any real alternatives to attacking Iran, who with North Korea’s assistance, is about to cross the red line.  They’re are running out of hope that war with Iran later this year can be avoided.

Iran and Syria have made no secret of their willingness to arm Hizbollah with the latest weaponry. Now Russia has been discovered doing the same thing.  Israel’s preventive attacks against these efforts has brought promises of swift retaliation from everyone involved.  This would most likely be done through Hizbollah with Russia, Iran and Syria coordinating an attack on Israel’s northern border by Hizbollah forces.  

It’s hard to believe that Russia will let Israel’s destruction of its weaponry go unanswered, especially after Putin promised to retaliate.  Iran could see this as a chance to pre-empt Israel’s clear intention to destroy their nuclear program by attacking first.  And it’s obvious that  Hizbollah has been looking for the go ahead to open a northern front against Israel. Syria will also benefit from this, because it will distract the rebel forces from their goal of bringing down the government. Islamic “freedom fighters” in Syria will not miss the chance to strike a blow against Israel. 

In the south, Israel’s cooperation with the Egyptian Army against the Brotherhood and its allies could easily provide the rationale for an attack on Israel’s southern border by the several Islamist groups in Gaza. Having the Israelis working with the Egyptian Army against the Brotherhood and its allies presents an intolerable situation that will have to be addressed.

The bottom line is this may just be too good an opportunity for Israel’s enemies to pass up.  If there’s any such thing as a perfect storm in Middle East warfare, The one that’s brewing now could be it. You can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 07-20-13   

written by: Jack Kelly

Whoops

    Recently this blog had an error that I did not catch. During the process of repairing it all of the posts since June 7th 2013 were deleted. Most of them were from the Cleansing Word or Possessing the Treasure. To retrieve any posts from PTT you can go to the link and retrieve them from his archives http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/. If you are interested in retrieving the missing posts (Psalm 23-39) for the Cleansing Word you can request them from pastorjohncclv@comcast.net.  I am not planning on re-posting any missing articles. Sorry for any inconvenience.

Others May, You Cannot

  • by G. D. Watson

    If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. Matthew 16:24-25

    If God has called you to be truly like Jesus in all your spirit, He will draw you into a life of crucifixion and humility. He will put on you such demands of obedience that you will not be allowed to follow other Christians. In many ways, He seems to let other good people do things which He will not let you do.

    Others who seem to be very religious and useful may push themselves, pull wires, and scheme to carry out their plans, but you cannot. If you attempt it, you will meet with such failure and rebuke from the Lord as to make you sorely penitent.

    Others can brag about themselves, their work, their successes, their writings, but the Holy Spirit will not allow you to do any such thing. If you begin to do so, He will lead you into some deep mortification that will make you despise yourself and all your good works.

    Others will be allowed to succeed in making great sums of money, or having a legacy left to them, or in having luxuries, but God may supply you only on a day-to-day basis, because He wants you to have something far better than gold, a helpless dependence on Him and His unseen treasury.

    The Lord may let others be honored and put forward while keeping you hidden in obscurity because He wants to produce some choice, fragrant fruit for His coming glory, which can only be produced in the shade.

    God may let others be great, but keep you small. He will let others do a work for Him and get the credit, but He will make you work and toil without knowing how much you are doing. Then, to make your work still more precious, He will let others get the credit for the work which you have done; this to teach you the message of the Cross, humility, and something of the value of being cloaked with His nature.

    The Holy Spirit will put a strict watch on you, and with a jealous love rebuke you for careless words and feelings, or for wasting your time, which other Christians never seem distressed over.

    So make up your mind that God is an infinite Sovereign and has a right to do as He pleases with His own, and that He may not explain to you a thousand things which may puzzle your reason in His dealings with you.

    God will take you at your word. If you absolutely sell yourself to be His slave, He will wrap you up in a jealous love and let other people say and do many things that you cannot. Settle it forever; you are to deal directly with the Holy Spirit, He is to have the privilege of tying your tongue or chaining your hand or closing your eyes in ways which others are not dealt with. However, know this great secret of the Kingdom: When you are so completely possessed with the Living God that you are, in your secret heart, pleased and delighted over this peculiar, personal, private, jealous guardianship and management of the Holy Spirit over your life, you will have found the vestibule of heaven, the high calling of God.

Taking a Pause

    Since Feb. of 2012 I have been training Matt and Theresa in EE Discipleship Training at Calvary Chapel Lake Villa. It has been a joy and a struggle. The spiritaul warfare that has surrounded the ministry is intense. Because of that I feel the need to take a step back, PRAY, and re-evaluate. Until I get some issues in order and have a more firm prayer life with serious committed prayer partners I feel the need to pause for a moment. Sometimes, because God has been gracious enough to equip me with knowledge on how to share the basic gospel message in a way that people can understand, I can tend to lean on my own strength. This is not the first time I have attempted to start Evangelism Training in a church or organization. Counting the time spent with the LCBA evangelism Booth, this is actually the 5th time in 17 years that I have been involved in an attempt to implement an evangelism training ministry. Because this is not my “first rodeo” I am very sensitive and aware when spiritual warfare begins to get intense. Without going into details I can say that it has gotten intense and that if I do not step back, PRAY, and re-evaluate, some serious damage could happen that I want to avoid. Satan does not want Christians doing evangelism. He especially wants to stop any Evangelism training that equips the saints.  Sometimes it is more prudent to step back and get reinforcements before one advances further.

    I am not going to stop sharing the gospel or handing out gospel tracts. I am merely pausing in doing EE discipleship training on a specific night of the week. I am praying and planning on starting back up in September 2013. I just need a few months to pause. Please pray for me and the direction this training ministry should take in the future.