iGen 0

There is a new book out called iGen by Jean M. Twenge. It is a fascinating read, with some very interesting insights to the “I” Generation; those born between 1995-2012. By the way, the internet was born in 1995 as well, meaning that the iGen’ers have never known a time without the internet. I will not go into all the things she brings out about this generation, but one of the things that jumps out at me is just how lonely they are, even though they have all these “I” devices. In her chapter on religion she makes the following statement.

“Religion will survive, but it will be a flexible, open, equal religion that gives people a sense of belonging and meaning and that reaches less than half of Americans. It is unclear where iGen’ers will find community interaction to replace religion. Perhaps they won’t find it at all, content to rely on their social media network, with deleterious impacts on their mental health. Or perhaps iGen’ers will affiliate with others who share their interests rather than building community through religion. Either way, the structure of American community will fundamentally change.”

The call for change in the church has been around through the Genx’ers and the millennials, so I am not surprised by the call for change. Also, the call to compromise the message has been around for many years as well. Although I am not surprised by the call for change, I am disappointed that church leaders continue to tell the church to change or be left behind. This change does not lead to transformed lives, it leads to heresy and so for over twenty years the Word of God has been compromised under the banner of reaching the next generation, doctrine has been laughed at as being out-of-date, biblical principles are seen as a barrier to progress, being Pentecostal is seen as offensive and in many church services the Holy Spirit has been escorted out of the building. What are the results? A postmodern church that is completely void of the miracle working power of the Holy Spirit.

I heard a briefing a few years ago where it was identified that the church has not shown significant growth in over fifteen years. The speaker detailed how the answer to overcome that was to plant more churches. I wanted to stand and shout, “How about giving the Holy Spirit a try!”

We will never change enough to accommodate what every generation demands be changed in order to satisfy them. Our only hope and the only hope for the church, in the coming years, is to welcome the Holy Spirit back into our churches and submit to His will for our lives. “I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.” (Rev. 3:20 & 22 MEV)

Come Holy Spirit We Need Thee!

Do Not Miss God 0

The sooner we realize that we are not capable of making our own decisions the better off we will be. When I make my own decision, and insist on my own way, I always end up upside down-confused and often defeated.

Several years ago, I found myself dissatisfied with the church I was attending and with the job I was working at. I felt like no one was recognizing my talents and abilities. Our girls were living out of state and they were looking to move to Portland. I saw where there was a job opening in Vancouver Washington that would have been a promotion, so I applied. I was one of six called in for an interview. I was called back in for a second interview, and a few days later I was called back in for a third interview. The last interview was with the lady who was the boss and doing the hiring. During those interviews, we both acknowledged we were Christians and some of the conversation revolted around our shared faith. I just knew that the job was going to be mine.

A few days later she called me and said, “John I know I should be hiring you for the job. Your skill and knowledge are better than anyone else we have interviewed for this position. You are my first choice, but the spirit of God is telling me NO!” To say I was disappointed is an understatement. What did I need to do to show God and the world I deserved a break?

Two weeks later our Senior Pastor and Youth Pastor resigned to move to other ministries within just a few days of each other. I was asked to be the Interim Pastor and for 9 months worked to help my church. A year later I was invited to be the pastor of Oakville Assembly of God and almost 10 years ago Han and I became the pastors of Angle Lake Neighborhood Church.

If I would have had my way, I do not know if I would even be in ministry and I know I would have missed God. Your flesh will make the wrong turns in life. You will go with the easiest course of life and the most attractive. Those ways may not be the best. Allow God to make the choice for you; you will be much happier and in His will!

The Spirit of Offense 1

Several years ago, while on active duty in the Army stationed in Germany, we went on a bus tour of Munich and the Black Forest. As part of the tour we were going to the Dachau Concentration Camp. Our tour guide for the Munich and Black Forest part of the tour was an elderly Germany man who we all liked. He was funny and full of great information. However, as we approached Dachau, he had the driver of the bus stop in town and he came to the front of the Bus and said, “I am not going into the Concentration Camp. It is a dark blot on Germany history and I can no longer bear to enter the place. I will wait for you here until you return.”

As we entered the Concentration Camp, there was a dark cloud that hung over the place. There was no laughter, no joking, and no rushing to the different buildings. There was just the soft sound of crying as you walked around the different buildings and saw the pictures on the walls of medical experiments that were just torture.  There were no words as you looked at the gas chambers and the furnaces where hundreds of people died.

Why do the Germany people allow this reminder of such ugliness to remain a part of their history? Why don’t they tear the place down and build something beautiful in its place? Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel had this to say about Dachau, “It is important to work every day for a better future, and to remain aware of Germany’s everlasting responsibility for the horrors of the past. We will not forget. We will remember, for the sake of the victims, for our sake and for the sake of future generations.”

As a student of the Bible, I am always amazed at why God allows the ugliness of the past to be shown in His Holy Word. Why remind us of those things that are offensive and that we would just as soon forget? Because history is important to our future. Just as we must learn from our mistakes, we must also learn from our successes.

Today there are those who are offended by our history and because of that they desire to remove all traces of that history; the good, the bad and the ugly. The answer is not to remove history, but to understand what is taking place and find the cure for the offense.

I have said this before, let me say it again. For those Christians trying to fix the world by benefiting humanity, protesting, shouting, or just being angry; please understand. All the problems of the world are the symptoms of just one thing; sin. God’s Word gives no commission to the church to fix the problems of the world.

Yes, we are to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and heal the sick, but we will never hate bigotry enough, never have enough money to cure poverty, or have the right political party in office to set things right.

The answer to all the world’s problems is and always has been, Jesus Christ!

Jesus said,

Luke 17:1

 “It is impossible except that offenses will come. But woe to him through whom they come!

MEV

We can be assured that offenses will come, but the question is, “How will we respond to the offense?” The Greek word for offense is skandalon. It refers to the part of a trap to which the bait was attached. The word signifies laying a trap in someone’s way. In the New Testament, it often describes an entrapment used by the enemy. Offense is a tool of the devil to bring people into captivity.

There are many people in the church today that are in a state of offense, but the enemy keeps the person blinded by pride. Pride will keep you from admitting your true condition. Pride keeps you from dealing with truth. It distorts your vision. You will never change if you think everything is fine. Pride hardens your heart and dims the eyes of understanding. It keeps you from the change of heart-repentance-which will set you free.

Tearing down historical monuments, covering them up, or removing them is not the answer to the problems. Trying to change the past by removing or changing history will not help our true condition.

Jesus gave us the cure to the spirit of offense,

 

Revelation 3:14-22

14 “To the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write:

“The Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says these things: 15 I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were cold or hot. 16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spit you out of My mouth. 17 For you say, ‘I am rich, and have stored up goods, and have need of nothing,’ yet do not realize that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked. 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may be rich, and white garments, that you may be dressed, that the shame of your nakedness may not appear, and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. 19 “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. Therefore be zealous and repent. 20 Listen! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in and dine with him, and he with Me. 21 “To him who overcomes will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

MEV

In order to break free from the deception of the devil, we must buy God’s gold; by surrendering ourselves to Him completely. Refined gold is soft and pliable, free from corrosion or other substances. It is when gold is mixed with other metals that it becomes hard, less pliable, and more corrosive. This is called an alloy. The higher the percentage of foreign metals, the harder the gold becomes, the lower the percentage of alloy, the softer and more flexible.

A pure heart is like pure gold-soft, tender, and pliable. The hard heart is full of the deceitfulness of sin! If we do not deal with an offense, it will produce more fruit of sin, such as bitterness, anger and resentment.

The first step in refining gold is grinding it into a powder and mixing it in a substance called flux. Then the mixture is placed in a furnace and melted by intense heat. The alloys and impurities are drawn to the flux and rise to the surface. The gold remains at the bottom. The impurities are removed yielding a purer metal.

1 Peter 1:6-7

6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now, if for a little while, you have had to suffer various trials, 7 in order that the genuineness of your faith, which is more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tried by fire, may be found to result in praise, glory, and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ,

MEV

God refines us through affliction, trials, and tribulations. It is through these things that the heat separates impurities such as unforgiveness, strafe, bitterness, anger, envy and such from the character of God in our lives.

Often when we are offended, we see ourselves as victims and blame those who have hurt us. We justify our bitterness, unforgiveness, anger, envy and resentment as they surface. Let go of your pride today, call out to the risen Savior and ask Him to heal you from your sins and be set free.

What our nation and the church needs today is revival. We must stop with all the political correctness and social gospel that is trying to fix the problems of the world and seek a revival where the power of the Holy Spirit will transform the heart of the world.

Come Holy Spirit, We Need Thee!