The unsaved see believers as hypocritical, and no different than themselves. Here’s how to live an authentic faith that stands out from “normal” American Christianity.
I hesitated to accept the gospel in college because of the behavior of people who claimed they were Christians. They were not much different than me. Their language, actions and behaviors weren’t so special that I viewed what they had as a better life. Why would I want what they had? What was so special or different about it?
When it comes to our culture, it’s more of the same. The music industry feeds our youth with profanity and sex, but then those same musicians stand up and thank “the man upstairs” at awards ceremonies. Our sports heroes party, use performance-enhancing drugs and get into fights, but then they kneel down and thank God the moment they score a touchdown.
What is the world supposed to think of this? Would the real Christians please stand up?
The numbers are in. Pastor Ted can see the report on the top of his desk. His stomach clinches as he walks across the room, picking up the report.
There are times when the numbers haunt us. It might be the budget, or attendance numbers. Every week there is a part of us that lives and dies by the numbers.
Then there are the times when we just give up. We might be so underwater that we can’t see light, or our numbers are so depressing that we let go. We decide to acknowledge that God is in control and just trust.
Why is it that we have to be at the end of our rope before we really learn to trust? In those times when things are going sort of well, we pick back up the stress and forget to leave the numbers on God’s lap.
There is a scripture that baffled me for years: “Then David prayed, I have sinned badly in what I have just done, substituting statistics for trust; forgive my sin—I’ve been really stupid.” 1 Chronicles 21:8. This is the Message version, and it helps a lot. You see, David took a census of Israel’s fighting men. He focused on the numbers.
“If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed!” (Rom. 8:33-34 CEV)
Most of us spend our entire lives trying to earn acceptance. We want to earn it from our parents, peers, partners in life, from people we respect, maybe even from people we envy. The drive to be accepted is a deep drive that can influence the kind of clothes you wear, the kind of car you drive, the kind of house you buy, and even the career you choose.
Remember how, as a kid, you wanted so badly to be in the in-crowd that someone would say to you, “I dare you to do this” and suggest something that was either stupid or that put your personal safety at risk. But you did it anyway, because your desire to be accepted overruled the desire for safety.
Evangelist Reinhard Bonnke took his soul-saving mission to Vero Beach, Fla. this weekend during a two-day Gospel Fest.
An outdoor tent set up at the Vero Beach Airport drew at least 5,000 worshippers from across the country hungry to hear the simple gospel Bonnke preaches—and sit under the anointing of the evangelist who has invited multiplied millions of souls into the kingdom.
“Every time I take the microphone I have one burning desire in my soul …” Bonnke told the crowd on Saturday night. “To see hell empty and heaven full!”
Bonnke is best known for his crusades in Africa and for his cry, “All Africa shall be saved!” More than 55 million Africans came to Christ under his ministry from 2000 to 2009 alone. During the Saturday night Gospel Fest the evangelist was focused on lost souls in America. Bonnke declared, “All America shall be saved!”
Does having a ‘tight’ worship team really matter to God?
All of us have had moments when one person’s simple, passionate worship touched us at the core of our being. Likewise, we’ve all been in services when the best musicians and the most polished worship team didn’t even begin to bring us into worship. I believe that blending anointing with musical excellence should always be our quest. In the everyday world, however, passionate and skillful worship leaders are not always in abundance, and at times we find ourselves having to choose between one and the other.
Most pastors agree that powerful worship should be high on the priority list of any service. Moreover, I believe every leader desires the atmosphere that pure worship creates. We’ve all experienced those moments during a meeting when no one knows what to do because God has made Himself known and you hear the whispers of His people responding to Him.