Baseball and Revival

“Revival is an infusion of new spiritual life imparted by the Holy Spirit to existing parts of Christ’s body.” -Richard Lovelace

In an interview with Christianbook.com in 1999 Richard Lovelace mentioned four aspects of renewal, symbolized by a baseball diamond.

“The Wesleyan quadrilateral, which is like a baseball diamond, has Scripture as its home plate. The first base is tradition. The second base is reason, and the third base is experience. According to Albert Outler in John Wesley, you had to run around that diamond and keep coming back to Scripture. So, it starts with Scripture, followed by tradition, which is orthodox theology. Then reason, that is applying things to what we know now, and experience—that’s the impact of the Holy Spirit in your life. Finally, you come back to Scripture.

Evangelicals are very strong on Scripture, tradition, and reason. Charismatics and Pentecostals have been real strong on experience, to some degree also on Scripture. They have not been at all involved deeply in tradition, and sometimes don’t make enough use of reason. But what I see coming is a balance of all of this.”

Richard F. Lovelace (Th. D., Princeton), professor emeritus of church history at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, is the author of Homosexuality and the Church,The American Pietism of Cotton Mather, Dynamics of Spiritual Life, and Renewal as A Way of life.

Spiritually F.I.T.

spiritual_fitness

Many people choose to react externally to the issues that come at them. Some people choose to react mostly internally.

I am certain that you know that both types of responses are equally opposite to responding by and from the Christ-Life in us [Col. 1:27].

Some external responding leads men to prison, or worse. Some internal responding leads to hospitalization, or worse.

This is because the “I-life,” identified in Scripture as the “flesh” (Gk, sarx – patterns, programming, etc.) can carry us only so far, never far enough. Imagine hitting a home run, proceeding to run the bases, and running out of gas as you cross second base. Face down in the dirt, we understand how weak, though LOUD and determined, the flesh is.

Part of the answer is to cease striving to improve or overcome the “I”  [Phil. 3:3]. That has never worked in human history. You and I are not going to be the ones who prove God wrong.  For all of its potential for relative good, we must abandon the flesh and operating by it.

What then is The Way, the true alternative? And why does the mainstream church not seem to be proclaiming it?

The mainstream church is focused on what we may call “the frontside of the Cross,” hearing, believing and accepting Jesus’ Finished Work for forgiveness and salvation, as in eternal security. New believers are “Heaven-ready!”  But they don’t know how to function down here. They become “saved and stuck,” and for lack of understanding of Christ Jesus living in them, “the backside,” or “the other side of the Cross,” they flounder, fail repeatedly, and continue relying on the flesh in them, that is not them any more.

The Way is a Person. The How-to is Jesus in every believer. He said, “I Am The Way” [John 14:6].

When we panic and freak out because of all that is coming at us, we cry out, “How do I do this, Lord?”  He points to Himself. The Spirit of Christ points us to Christ in us. The New Covenant points to Jesus as our very Life.

In the same way that we came to Christ, believed and received Him, we may now walk in full confidence and dependence on Jesus in us, every minute, every day. We abide/live in Him, He abides/lives in us [John 15:1-8].

Many Bible-teachers focus on methods, many on power or authority, many on doing, activity, and trying harder. But there are some who “got the memo,” more and more who simply point to Jesus in us, as He responds calmly to our cries by pointing to Himself.

Yes, Jesus in His glorified body is with Father on the Throne of Grace in Glory. And, yes, Jesus in His Holy Spirit, is in us, everyday, all the time, never leaving, for us (For), in us (In), and through us (Through), which is HOW we are F-I-T for every good work/everything down here on Earth. And this “other side,” or “the rest of the Gospel” is part of the Finished Work, which makes it also by Grace, not by our “I” work/s [Gal. 2:20].

 “I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish” (Gal. 5:16,17). This inner conflict is a “Great Either/Or,” not a both/and. And our defaulting to the Christ-Life in us, no longer to the flesh/sarx, is easy and light because of a truth about Grace, which most believers have not yet understood, hidden in this crucial passage, and NT passages like it. And here it is: Opposed, even violently opposed, is NOT EQUAL TO. [Through our union with Christ the we have freedom from sin’s authority and the Holy Spirit is omnipotent, Rom. 6:6; 1 John 4:4.]

You will likely need several days or weeks to let this settle in and change your thinking. But I can confidently assure you that if you will embrace it, you will never be stuck again.

Depend on Christ in you as your Life, as your How-to for everything. The joy of the Lord [IN US] is our strength/Life!

by Dan Camp, eEncourager, 9/29/22, Avon, IN
eencourager@aol.com

Personal Prayer Diary

“A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps” (Proverbs 16:9).

2023_planner

One of the skills spiritual leaders need is an effective way of planning and prayer. The Annual Personal Prayer Diary (YWAM Publishers) is a unique tool that could be a great benefit to one’s personal and ministry life. Described:

Join a powerful prayer chain that extends around the globe! Thousands of Christians worldwide use the Personal Prayer Diary and Daily Planner to organize their schedules, journal their prayer times and Bible reading, and systematically pray for the nations – all in one easy-to-use format…

The Personal Prayer Diary and Daily Planner is designed to assist you in integrating three vital areas of your daily life: Intercessory prayer, Bible reading and meditation, and planning your daily, weekly, monthly, and annual schedules.

The 2023 edition is rich with current, well researched prayer suggestions. Join thousands of others who are intentionally praying for these internationally focused needs. Be encouraged as you journal your own prayer life and answers. Enjoy monthly and daily prayer suggestions, relevant Christian teaching, and an annual Bible reading schedule.

A collection of relevant Christian teaching…

  • Monthly articles …
  • Daily thematic prayer guide…
  • Bible meditation and memorization guide…
  • Weekly guide to praying for the nations…
  • Calendars for planning your day, week, and year…
  • Personal notes and contacts…
  • Reference helps…

As you use the Personal Prayer Diary and Daily Planner, you will be encouraged and emboldened in the knowledge that you are one of thousands of Christians using this diary worldwide who are united in vital intercession.

See the full description, colors and ordering information here.

Avoiding Pastoral Burnout

Barna has been publishing the results of their research on The State of Pastors. They examined how many pastors are at risk of burnout, relational breakdown or spiritual problems.

Burnout & Breakdown: Barna’s Risk Metric for Pastors

Dr. Archibald Hart wrote on the challenges of burnout and stress...their similarities and differences. For example,

  • Burnout is a defense mechanism characterized by disengagement. Stress is characterized by over engagement.
  • In burnout, the emotions become shut down. In stress, the emotions become overactive.
  • Burnout can best be understood as a loss of ideals and hope. Stress can best be understood as a loss of fuel and momentum.
  • Burnout may never kill you, but your long life may not seem worth living. Stress may kill you permanently and you won’t have enough time to finish what you started.[1]

Spiritual renewal can provide love, forgiveness, wisdom and strength to avoid burnout. A devotional writer observed,

“Our Father is going to teach us, mainly through personal failure, that the life we live is the life of our Lord Jesus alone. The Christian life is not our living a life like Christ, or our trying to be Christ-like, nor is it Christ giving us the power to live a life like His; but it is Christ Himself living His own life through us; ‘no longer I, but Christ.’“

“The end of Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection was to prepare and form a holy nature and frame for us in Himself, to be communicated to us by union and fellowship with Him; and not to be able to produce in ourselves the first originals of such a holy nature by our own endeavors.”

“The believer’s true education is in the growth of Christ within. The Church’s real ministry is not multitudinous public services, so-called, but the forming of the Lord Jesus Christ in the lives of His people; the reproduction of Christ; epistles made alive by the Holy Spirit, to be seen and read of all men.” -C.A.F.

Mark McKeehan, Executive Director of Grace Fellowship International, is reaching out to pastors, offering encouragement, mentoring and grace-based resources. You are welcome to contact him: mark@gracefellowshipinternational.com


[1] Excerpted from Coping with Depression in the Ministry and Other Helping Professions. New York, NY: W. Publishing Group, 1984 (cited in Lifeline to Hope Training Manual, Hope for the Heart).

Body Life Through Christ

Miles Stanford observed, “One hears much today about body life, with its emphasis upon New Testament gathering, rather than Christ-centered growth. The Body is meant to manifest the Head, and that necessitates spiritual members.”

T. Austin-Sparks counseled pastors,

Where there is no Cross there is no life, and no ministry of life. The object of suffering is that there may be a full and abundant ministry. . . . We are not to invite trouble, nor by austerity to ill-treat our bodies. The Holy Spirit Himself takes responsibility for our experience, leading us in paths where we encounter, in body, heart, or spirit, that measure of ‘the dying of Jesus’ that will mean enrichment of our ministry.

There are many today who seem to think that it is all or largely a matter of the order, technique, and form, and if we are to return to the ‘New Testament’ form or order of churches all would be well. The fact is that, while certain things characterize the N.T. churches, the Word does not give us a complete pattern according to which churches are to be formed!

There is no blueprint for churches in the N.T., and to try to form such churches is only to create another system which may be as legal, sectarian and dead as others. Churches, like the Church, are organisms which spring out of life, which life itself springs out of the Cross of Christ wrought into the very being of believers. Unless believers are crucified people, there can be no true expression of the Church.

Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me” (Luke 9:23; cf Gal. 2:20).

(See the free online publications of T.A.S. at www.Austin-sparks.net )

The Message of Galatians for Today

One of the main causes of lukewarm pastorates and churches is the attempt progress in sanctification by self-effort.

Although it is obvious that the epistle to the Galatians refutes the heresy that the works of the Mosaic law are necessary to become a child of God (Gal 1:6-9; 3:23-29), it is not as apparent that it also teaches sanctification by grace through faith, enabled by the Holy Spirit (Gal. 2:20,21;3:1-3; 5:56,22,23). This latter aspect of the gospel is vital and liberating.

This discovery led to the development of The Sonship Course by Dr. Jack Miller of Serge Ministries.

But preaching Galatians verse by verse can come across as culturally remote and merely academic. For a sermon series that unpacks the message of Galatians with an exemplary blend of exposition, illustration and application, see the “Be Free” series preached by the pastors at Bayside Chapel in Barnegat, New Jersey. www.Baysidechapel.org

Pietism’s Timeless Testimony

Philipp Jakob Spener, (1635-1705), was a German theologian, author, and a leading figure in German Pietism, a movement among 17th- and 18th-century Protestants. He stressed personal improvement and upright conduct as the most important manifestations of Christian faith.

Spener’s major work was Pia Desideria (1675; “Pious Desires”). That work outlined Pietism’s basic program and earned Spener a reputation throughout Germany as the spokesman for the movement.

The third section comprises the six proposals for correcting conditions within the church. These six, in abbreviated form, are:

  1. That “thought should be given to a more extensive use of the word of God among us.”
  2. That there be “the establishment and diligent exercise of the spiritual priesthood.”
  3. That “the people must have impressed upon them and must accustom themselves to believing that it is by no means enough to have knowledge of the Christian faith, for Christianity consists rather of practice.”
  4. That “we must beware how we conduct ourselves in religious controversies with unbelievers and heretics …. We must remind ourselves of our duty to the erring.
  5. That both integrity of life and sound education which includes spiritual development be considered necessary when calling persons to be pastors.
  6. That sermons be so prepared by all that their purpose (faith and its fruits) may be achieved in the hearers to the greatest possible degree.”

Whatever one’s denominational background, these principles are vital for church renewal. Baptist scholar, Alvin Reid, gives a summary of relevant lessons in this video.

Sources:

Encyclopaedia Britannica
pietisten.org/iii/3/spener.html
Christianity Today, “Philipp Jakob Spener” (Apr 26, 2019).
Malcom McDow and Alvin Reid, Firefall 2.0: How God has Shaped History Through Revivals

All Sufficient Grace

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).


Ten thousand enemies cannot stop a Christian, cannot even slow him down, if he meets them in an attitude of complete trust in God.  They will become to him like the atmosphere that resists the airplane, but which because the plane’s designer knew how to take advantage of that resistance, actually lifts the plane aloft and holds it there for a journey of 2,000 miles.  What would have been an enemy to the plane becomes a helpful servant to aid it on its way …If this should seem like a bit of theorizing, remember that always the greatest Christians have come out of hard times and tough situations. 

Tribulations actually worked for their spiritual perfection in that they taught them to trust not in themselves but in the Lord who raised the dead.  They learned that the enemy could not block their progress unless they surrendered to the urgings of the flesh and begin to complain.  And slowly, they learned to stop complaining and start praising.  It is that simple — and it works. 

Lord, I pray for Your grace to work within me that I might allow the trials to lift me aloft rather than press me down.  Amen.

Tozer on Christian Leadership: A 366-Day Devotional, Complied by Ron Eggert, Christian Publications, Inc., 2001; December 9

A Seminary Professor Finds Peace

In his book, They Found the Secret (Zondervan), former Chancellor of Wheaton College, Dr. V. Raymond Edmond, noticed a pattern in the lives of 20 Christian leaders. After their wholehearted commitment to God (Romans 12:1,2), their came a season of weariness– an awareness of their inability to live victoriously. Then there was a grace awakening related to their union with Christ that gave them increased peace, joy, and fruitfulness.

Dr. John Best, had a similar breakthrough while teaching New Testament Greek at Dallas Seminary. He recounts his spiritual journey in this video. His testimony and others are in the book, Exchanged Lives! (available on Amazon Kindle as an ebook).