The following is from Jim Denison:
My father's generation was shaped by World War II, and remained loyal to
the nation and institutions they risked their lives to defend.  My
generation (I'm 55) has been shaped by Vietnam, Woodstock and Watergate, and
learned to challenge authority while chasing material prosperity. 
We are consumers, attending church for the benefits it offers us.

My sons' generation has been shaped by academic postmodernism, with its denial of
fixed truth and objective ethics.  They reject absolutes and prize tolerance.  As a
result, 59 percent of young adults who grew up in church have dropped out. 
They cite the church's irrelevance, hypocrisy, and the moral failures of its
leaders.  One-third of young adults who have left the church blame its
"anti-gay" policies.  Many say God is missing and doubts are
prohibited.

How do we get them to come back?  I believe that's the
wrong question.  Rather than measuring success by how many people go to
church, let's measure success by how effectively the church goes to
people.  Jesus didn't wait for his culture to seek him.  Rather, "he
went throughout all Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and casting out
demons" (Mark 1:39).  He met felt need to meet spiritual
need.

Our Lord launched a movement, not an institution.  His church
is an army attacking the gates of hell, not an ark built to weather a
storm.  Nowhere does Jesus tell us to build the church.  If we build
the Kingdom by taking Christ to our culture, he will build his church (Matthew 16:18).

When our skeptical culture sees the
relevance of our faith in the reality of our compassion, they will want what we
have.  If it worked for the first Christians, it will work for us. 
 
 
America’s Greatest Need: A Genuine Spiritual AwakeningMarch 27, 2014 by Del Parkerson


Ever since Harry Truman was president in the 1940’s a day has been set aside each year as a National Day of Prayer. Presidents have traditionally hosted an annual ecumenical service marking the day in the East Room of the White House. President Obama abolished the service.

Atheist groups in our country had long objected to the National Day of Prayer. According to the Los Angeles Times, President Obama “has shown an unusual sensitivity toward atheists.” Our country, of course, has both believers and non-believers in God. Both have a constitutional right to believe as they do.

In recent decades there has been a consistent effort by secularists and atheists to push God out of the public square. They want God’s presence diminished in our national life. Many commentators believe that cultural power in America has already passed to the anti-Christian elite who rule the academy, Hollywood, and the arts. To the degree that this is true, secularism has become America’s state religion.

Today seventeen percent of Americans say they have no religion. Northern New England has passed the Pacific Northwest as the region with the highest percentage of persons who are unaffiliated with a church. As a share of the U.S. adult population, Christians declined from 86 percent in 1990 to 76 percent in 2008. This decline in religious affiliation is not restricted to Christians. Jews who describe themselves as practicing their faith fell from 3.1 million in 1990 to 2.7 million in 2008.

Every nation, every culture needs to be inspired by a body of morals to ultimately survive. Behind that body of morals must be a doctrine we call belief in a Supreme Being. What will ultimately be the result of the increasing rise of secularism in our country? For America’s greatness to continue a satisfactory answer to this question must be found. Former editor Meacham of Newsweek, in an article called “The End of Christian America,” pointed out that the following things have happened in our country since 1960:

  • The U.S. illegitimacy rate has rocketed from 5 percent of all births to 42 percent.
  • African American out-of-wedlock births have increased from 23 percent to 71 percent.
  • Since Roe v. Wade well over 50 million abortions have been performed.
  • Between 1960 and 1990, the teenage suicide rate tripled, then fell slightly, but is still the third leading cause of death of young adults and adolescents aged fifteen to twenty-four.
  • Cheating in sports, scholastics, business, and marriage is pandemic.
  • Violent crime has increased 550 percent, and prison population has increased 700 percent.
These are grim statistics, but they are all true. Cultural degeneration and social decomposition travel down the road together. In the early days of America Yale University Timothy Dwight wrote, “Without religion we may possibly retain the freedom of savages, bears and wolves, but not the freedom of New England.” Can our nation survive freedom from belief in God? Unless the current trend is reversed we will definitely find out.

What our country desperately needs is a genuine spiritual awakening. This will not happen until our pulpits come aflame with the Word of God that calls for sincere repentance of sin and commitment to a holy life. This places a tremendous responsibility upon the shoulders of those whom God has called to preach His Word. A good text with which they might begin to call for spiritual renewal is found in 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

 
 
We don’t follow a system of manmade do’s and don’ts.  We follow the gospel, and the biblical driven freedom that is found in Christ.

Hebrews 4:12-16 (HCSB)
12  For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.
13  No creature is hidden from Him, but all things are naked and exposed to the eyes of Him to whom we must give an account.
14  Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens—Jesus the Son of God—let us hold fast to the confession.
15  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tested in every way as we are, yet without sin.
16  Therefore let us approach the throne of grace with boldness, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us at the proper time. 

 
 
The world around us longs for community, and the false sense of connectedness created by Twitter and Facebook won't fill the void. We need robust, life-on-life, in-the-trenches community. God didn't merely "text us," after all. He came. He walked with us, wept with us, rejoiced with us, and loved us in spite of ourselves. If we're embodying this self-giving posture in our churches, then, it'll draw the lonely world to us like a magnet. If this isn't the reality you experience at church, though, you're not alone.

The local church is messy. We've all experienced hurt and disappointment in it. And the head of the church understands, for he knows better than anyone the costliness of living in community. He entered this messy and broken world, and it killed him.

For us to embrace real community will entail crucifixion, too. It'll mean dying to our desires, our preferences, our expectations. But on the other side of crucifixion, there's resurrection. We die to self now in order to enjoy true life forever (Matt. 16:25).

So let's radically love the brother in Sunday school who drives us crazy. Let's invite into our homes the awkward sister no one else approaches. Let's walk into the sanctuary seeking to engage the visitor in conversation. Let's go beyond sports and weather and politics to discuss how the gospel intersects with our lives, our marriages, our families. The more this interaction happens in our churches, the more we will be drawn into the lavish love of the triune God.--David Lookabill

 
 
N. T. Wright:

It is the fact of a new family that declares to Caesar that he doesn’t run
the show any more, because Jesus Christ runs it instead.

 It is the fact of a new, single, united family that tells the powers of the
world that Israel’s God is God, that Jesus is Lord and Caesar is not.

 As long as we continue to collude with things that no Paulinist should ever
collude with – fragmentation, petty squabbles, divisions over this or that small
point of doctrine – the powers can fold their arms and watch us having our
little fun while they still run the show. But when there actually is one body,
one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism (Eph 4), then the powers
are called into account, and they will know it.

 Something new has happened, and the gates of hell shall not prevail
against it.


 And there’s a cost, the cost of being different.

 That’s why we have the challenge of marriage in Ephesians 5, in which the
coming together of male and female – and what a challenge that always has been,
and still is – symbolizes once more the coming together of Jew and Gentile,
which symbolizes again the coming together of heaven and earth.

 That is why it’s so important that in our generation we struggle again for
the sanctity and vitality of marriage, not for the sake of maintaining a few
outmoded ethical concepts and taboos, but because this is built deep into
creation itself, now to be renewed in Christ and the Spirit."



 
 
Lord of immortality,
before whom angels bow
and archangels veil their
faces,
enable me to serve You
with reverence and godly fear.
You who
are Spirit and require truth in the inward parts,
help me to worship You in
spirit and in truth.
You who are righteous,
let me not harbor sin in my
heart,
or indulge a worldly temper,
or seek satisfaction in things that
perish.
Expel from my mind all sinful fear and shame,
so that with firmness and
courage
I may confess the Redeemer before men,
go forth with Him hearing
His reproach,
be zealous with His knowledge,
be filled with His
wisdom,
walk with His circumspection,
ask counsel of Him in all
things,
repair to the Scriptures for His orders,
stay my mind on His
peace,
knowing that nothing can befall me
without His permission,
appointment and administration.
 - Puritan Prayer

 
 
Great day of worship yesterday with quite a few visitors.  I am so thankful for God's servants at MHBC.  I am asking God to burden our hearts, in praying for a harvest.  It's not about what we can do.  It's about living a life set apart for His glory.

1 Peter 1:16 (HCSB) 
16  for it is written, Be holy, because I am holy. 

May the Father set many apart for Himself.  May people see Jesus at MHBC, and may Jesus draw them to Himself.
 
 
Loving His Word

I love what Carl Trueman states: “Once we have turned
away from the notion of the one divine, holy author of an authoritative and
ultimately unified biblical revelation, we have lost the foundation upon which
we can build our theology in any coherent, unified way; and that move is a
profoundly profane one. Once God  has, in effect, been prevented from speaking to us, we lose our ability to speak
about him.   Thus, this loss  of a doctrine of scripture involves the downplaying, if not the ignoring, of the
voice of the awesome and holy God; and such a move can only be made when we lose
sight of God himself.”

2 Timothy 3:16-17 (HCSB)
16  All Scripture is inspired by God and
is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in
righteousness, 17  so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work. 

Psalm
119:105 (HCSB) 

 Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light on my path. 

Matthew 4:4 (HCSB) 
  But He answered, “It is written: Man must not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth
of God.”

Joshua 1:8 (HCSB)
This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you
are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything
written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do. 

Romans 15:4 (HCSB) 
 For whatever was written in the past was written for our
instruction, so that we may have hope through endurance and through the
encouragement from the Scriptures.

Hebrews 4:12 (HCSB) 

For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating
as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to
  judge the ideas and thoughts of the heart.

1 Timothy 4:13 (HCSB) 
 
Until I come, give your attention to public reading, exhortation, and teaching.

1 Peter 2:2 (HCSB) 
Like newborn infants, desire the pure spiritual milk, so that
you may grow by it for ⌊your⌋ salvation,

Psalm 119:10-11 (HCSB) 
 I have sought You with all my heart; don’t let
me wander from Your commands.  
  I have treasured Your word in my heart so that
I may not sin against You.

Psalm 1:2 (HCSB) 
Instead, his delight is in the LORD’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night.

2 Timothy 2:15 (HCSB)
15  Be  diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who doesn’t need to be
ashamed, correctly teaching the word of truth. 



 
 
 
 
Colossians 2:11-14 (HCSB)
11  You were also circumcised in Him with a circumcision not done with hands, by putting off the body of flesh, in the circumcision of the Messiah.
12  Having been buried with Him in baptism, you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
13  And when you were dead in trespasses and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive with Him and forgave us all our trespasses.
14  He erased the certificate of debt, with its obligations, that was against us and opposed to us, and has taken it out of the way by nailing it to the cross.

Not a trace of judgment remains to be held against the forgiven.  Your forgiveness is eternally complete.  We who were once dead and guilty are now alive and free in Christ. Therefore, live a life in the power of the Spirit, completely abandoned to one who saved your life, not out of duty, but driven by His amazing love!

 
 
God You are an amazing God.  Please forgive me for making you too small.  May MHBC hunger for a big God.  May we cry out to You on behalf of our community. 

Psalm 72:5-7 (HCSB) 
May he continue while the sun endures and as long as the moon, throughout all generations. May he be like rain that falls  on the cut grass, like spring showers that water  the earth.  May the righteous flourish in his days and prosperity abound until the moon is no more. 

Father, You gave Moses very specific instructions for the nation of Israel, as he sought to lead them. I am seeking the same from you, as I seek to lead MHBC. You alone are enough!  Empower me to love them like Christ Himself.  May the care of Your sheep's soul be my primary concern.  Eternity is at stake!