Tag Archives: repentance

Braking Revival

What is the single biggest hindrance to revival?

If you said “sin” then you just earned a star.  Sin will put the brakes on a movement of God in no time at all.  Inasmuch as the scriptures show when God is active and His people are responsive to His activity, we can also see how sin and folly can quench God’s activity among His people.

One of greatest example of this comes to us from Numbers 13.  This passage is very familiar to us.  God was ready to fulfill His promise to Abraham to give the nation the land.  They had sojourned in Egypt long enough.  They had been beneficiaries of God’s miraculous provision and guidance.  It was time to make their entrance into Canaan.  If the stage was ever set for revival, it must have been set for the day that the nation of Israel entered into the land that God had promised.  An Academy Award-winning Hollywood screenwriter couldn’t have set a better stage.

200 or more years enslaved in Egypt.  A year at Mt. Sinai, making spiritual preparations to take the land.  God’s steadfast guidance through the presence of the cloud and the fire.  God’s faithful provision through manna and quail.  It was time for this story to culminate in a victorious march into Canaan and the undying worship and adoration of God’s people.

But…

The devilish duo of disbelief and distrust distracted the nation.  The giants are too tall!  The cities are too fortified!  Our enemies are too powerful!  Instead of God’s people taking hold of God’s promises at the epitome of a miraculous journey of faith, they flopped. Sin won.  The nation took door #3, which guaranteed them 40 years of struggles, a couple of million funerals, and the nation NEVER fully possessed the land that God had promised. If that’s not a lesson on the significance of sin, I don’t know what is.

So here we find ourselves, waiting for revival, praying for a fresh move of the Spirit of God.  Now would be a good time to take a long hard look at sin.  You may think that your sin is private and that no one will ever know.  You may think that your sin is insignificant and that it will never affect anyone but you.  But we must remember that God doesn’t grade sin like we do.  I’m sure the 10 spies found their fears justified.  The giants were tall.  The cities were fortified.  The enemies were powerful. But the daunting circumstances were no match for the faithful promises of God.

Your sin matters and it matters to your church.  Revival begins soon.  Would you join me as we pray that God would reveal the sin in our hearts from which we need to repent.  There may be forgiveness that needs to be granted.  There may be bitterness that needs to be uprooted.  There may be secret sins that no one knows about but you and God.  Would you ask God to purge those sins from your heart so that you may be prepared to take hold of the promises that God has for you.

Repentance is a prerequisite for revival.  Today is a GREAT day to start!

Revive Us Again!

Pastor Brian

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Indebted to the Ceiling

There is one doctor who is a household name.  No, I am not talking about Dr. Phil, or even Dr. Spock.  You could very quickly recall his name if someone in your home began to choke on a foreign object.  You would quickly spring into action, most likely performing what we know as the Heimlich Maneuver.  Though I have never had to be the administrator, nor the recipient of this “maneuver,” if administered correctly, it is supposedly an effective way of clearing the airway of a choking victim.  What is interesting about the Heimlich Maneuver is that it is named after Cincinnati physician, Dr. Henry Heimlich.  The “maneuver” was first advocated by Heimlich in 1974.  Prior to this, the application of back blows was the acceptable practice for clearing obstructed airways.  However, this method often caused foreign objects to drop deeper in the airway, worsening the situation.  Since 1974, countless choking victims have been saved thanks to the Heimlich Maneuver.

However, if you ask Henry’s son, Peter, he will tell you that the Heimlich Maneuver should actually be called the Patrick Maneuver, claiming that his father stole the procedure from colleague, Edward Patrick.  Peter claims that the only maneuver his father can take credit for is maneuvering his own reputation.  In fact, Dr. Heimlich’s latest medical crusade is HIV research.  In a highly controversial procedure, known as Malariotherapy, HIV patients are injected with malaria-infected blood.  This highly dangerous procedure has been widely criticized by the established medical community as a deadly course of treatment.  It is no wonder that these procedures have primarily been conducted in Ethiopia and other developing nations, outside the oversight of governing bodies.  Dr. Heimlich has taken his crusade to Hollywood, raising millions of dollars for his controversial research on the fame of his last name.  Peter claims that all of his father’s medical accomplishments have been proven to be quack medicine or stolen from colleagues.

Isn’t it interesting that the guy known for saving the lives of choking victims may himself be choking?  In Mark 4, Jesus spoke of the risk of sowing good seed in thorny ground.  While the seed may germinate and grow, Jesus said that those plants are choked by the “worries of this age, the seduction of wealth, and the desires for other things.”  Who knows if anyone has ever shared the gospel with Dr. Heimlich, but if his son’s criticism is right, there may be a lot of thorns in his life that would keep the gospel from bearing fruit.

What about your life?  Are there thorns in your life that are keeping the gospel from bearing fruit?  Is your lifeline being choked by worries, wealth, and other distractions?  Truth be told, if a plant is worth saving, the only course of action to rescue that plant that is being choked by thorns is the bloody process of removing the thorns.

Jesus knows a little something about thorns.  He knows something about blood too.  All those sinful thorns in my life, they have been pulled by a bloody hand, and trampled on by a bloody foot.  So when my fruit is diminished because I am being choked by my thorns, I would do well to look at the crown placed upon my Lord’s head during his passion – a crown made of the very thing that threatens my fruitfulness – a crown of thorns.  Why I ever allow thorns in my life I may never know, but I am so grateful for a God who has provided the maneuver to keep me from choking in my own thorns.

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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Unforgiven

Is there a sin that puts us beyond forgiveness? Jesus says there is in Mark 3!

The 2007 book, Amish Grace: How Forgiveness Transcended Tragedy, the following story is recalled.

On Monday morning, October 2, 2006, a gunman entered a one-room Amish school in Nickel Mines, Pennsylvania. In front of twenty-five horrified pupils, thirty-two-year-old Charles Roberts ordered the boys and the teacher to leave. After tying the legs of the ten remaining girls, Roberts prepared to shoot them execution style. The oldest hostage, a thirteen-year-old, begged Roberts to “shoot me first and let the little ones go.” Refusing her offer, he opened fire on all of them, killing five and leaving the others critically wounded. He then shot himself as police stormed the building. His motivation? “I’m angry at God for taking my little daughter,” he told the children before the massacre.

In such a tragedy, one often wonders how families can respond with anything but rage.  In this case, the families of the Amish children murdered handled things differently.  After leaving the funerals for their own children, many of the Amish families attended the funeral for the killer.  In fact, Amish families accounted for half of Roberts’ funeral guests.  The Amish even established a support fund to provide for the family of the killer.

One could easily understand a different response.  As a parent, I can’t imagine how I would respond to someone who hurt my children.  Rage, anger, hatred, – who knows what else?  But the Amish in our story remind us that though Roberts’ was a cold-blooded murderer, he was not beyond forgiveness.  No doubt, he most likely died far from the grace of God. But, given the opportunity even God would have forgiven him for his sins.  Roberts was not beyond forgiveness.

But what about someone who is beyond even the forgiveness of God?  We know all sorts of sinners have received God’s forgiveness – murderers, adulterers, fornicators, thieves, liars, and preachers.  What kind of person might be beyond God’s forgiveness?  Jesus answers this question for us in Mark 3:29 – “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is guilty of an eternal sin.”

Even the most casual reading of this verse is enough to strike fear into the reader’s heart.  Who could be so vile that he could “never have forgiveness” or be “guilty of an eternal sin?”  In order to understand what this means, we must first understand a critical component of forgiveness.  Scripture makes it very clear that repentance is necessary for forgiveness (see Mark 1:4, 14-15).  In other words, you don’t get forgiveness without repentance.  In Mark 3:28, Jesus said that all blasphemies would be forgiven.  But like all sin, this forgiveness is conditioned upon legitimate repentance.

In the case of this unforgivable sin – blasphemy against the third person of the Trinity is blasphemy against the One who works in our hearts to bring us to repentance.  The Holy Spirit is the “hands-on” presence of God.  If we reject the Spirit, then we have literally rejected the One who lead us to repentance.  This is why blasphemy against the Spirit is such a dangerous deed.  Any sin that takes away our ability to repent, takes away our condition of forgiveness – and therefore, we are in the predicament of being sinful and unforgivable.

As a Christian, knowing that there is a sin that so belittles the Holy Spirit, makes me want to flee as far from all sin as possible.  I once had a preacher tell me that if I was worried about the unforgivable sin, then I had not committed it.  But simply knowing of its existence should strike fear in all of our hearts and compel us closer to the cross, making us eager repenters.

In Christ,

Pastor Brian

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