The Care and Feeding of the Heart: Prophetic Words of Warning, Hope, and Encouragement—Part 2

WarningSignsGood day race-runners for Christ (Acts 20:24; 1 Corinthians 9:26; Hebrews 12:4; 2 Timothy 4:7)! Grab a place at The Training Table. I’m famished. How about you?

Please recall how in Part 1 of this vitally important two-part but multi-faceted series I offered the three main causes for the chaos our culture and, to one degree or another, every living being within it is experiencing.

Level-Setting… Before Leveling Claims and Offering Comforts
Prior to reminding you of the three reasons today’s culture is decaying at such a rapid rate, as well as offer six ways God’s people can show up in the most God-loving, self-loving, and other-loving way (Matthew 22:36-40), please consider something  that is the most important of all to remember:

The Bible describes the entire world’s past, present, and future population of human beings as being divided into ONLY two worldviews, two groups, two races, two “classes of humanity”—said in various ways. Please pay close attention to this, dear friends: If you believe it to be True, praise God as His Word resonates with your Spirit and re-commit as a witness of the Truth wherever God leads you.

“Whoever is not with me is against me, and whoever does not gather [draw others to God] with me scatters [draw others away from God] (Matthew 12:30—parenthesis added; Romans 2:17-29; Galatians 2:12-16; 1 John 2:4; 22; 5:10; Revelation 21:8).

In the entire world, from beginning to end, there are, a) those who are with Jesus, and there are, b) those who are against Jesus.  That is the only designation that matters to God.

This is why one of Jesus Christ’s most identifying [as being the very Son of God], loving, truthful, compelling, polarizing, and redemptive statement ever goes like this:

A Love So Committed: Not Peace, but a Sword
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 10:34-39).

Nothing matters more to God than whether or not any human being who ever lived accepts His Son for Who He claims to be. Nothing. (Daniel 7:13-14; Matthew 27:43; Mark 14:61-62; Luke 22:66-70; John 14:7-10; 30, 37-38; 14:11; 17:3-12, and more, including 1,200+ OT prophesies concerning the same.)

God loves everyone the same—even those who don’t love Him.  “God so loved the WORLD that [note the caveat:] WHOSOEVER WOULD BELIEVE IN HIM shall have eternal life” (John 3:16—parenthesis added).

God has NO “favorites”—SO MUCH SO that He in His love and truth He will allow any human being who insists on NOT believing in Him [by electing grace, through repentance, in faith, justified, sanctified, and preserved until Jesus returns] to be separated from Him for all eternity: That’s called helland being completely cut-off from God in every way for all eternity is far, far worse than fire, brimstone, and pointy-headed, licorice-red devils wielding pitchforks, or coal shovels.

I am reminding you of this most merciful plan of redemption from God because it’s absolutely pivotal as to whether the message below—or any message concerning God’s True Truth vs. worldly ways—takes a hold for the disciple of Jesus Christ, or not: It makes all the difference if we read this as a saved, Spirit-filled, obedient, gracious and urgent new creation… or not.

Make your salvation sure today by, a) recalling when you repented of your “capital S” Sin (inherited from Adam), and “small s” sins (by any/all disobedience against God, self, and neighbor), and beseech Christ as your sufficient and atoning sacrifice for all past, present, and future (S)sin to come into your life as first your Savior (having been forgiven, covered by His blood, and granted salvation) and then your Lord (having committed to a life of discipleship, growth, service); or b) doing the above for the very first time.

Can you recall when you were saved—as an adult, aware of your sin, aware of God’s holiness, aware of your utter unacceptability before God, and aware of your need for a Savior and Lord of your life? If God were to ask you, “Why should I allow you into My heaven?” how would you respond?

Please consider: If, as you read this and you take umbrage, or you are offended by my loving and truthful inquiry, there’s a pretty good likelihood you have not been saved as yet. If, on the other hand, you read this and can say, “Yes! Praise God: I can mark that sudden or gradual change of heart in my life whereby I saw my sin and dire need of a Savior and Lord and I can now say… “YES!” praise God He has mercifully saved me and is transforming my life over time…” then you have likely been saved. You know that God’s grace in Christ granted you a new family (John 1:12) and no more shame (Romans 8:1)!

Please don’t go another day in your life without taking any/all steps necessary to make your salvation sure (Psalm 103:13; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8; 10:9; Ephesians 2:18; 3:11-12).

It doesn’t happen when we’re baptized as infants; it doesn’t happen if we’re not as bad as Hitler or as good as Mother Teresa; it doesn’t happen if we work our fingers to the bone for God and others while feeling like crud while not getting it just right; it doesn’t happen because God’s so loving He can’t stand to have anyone go to hell; it doesn’t happen because all roads lead to a form of god that grades on the sort of curve we all dreamed of as fifth-graders (which I flunked); it doesn’t happen because its God’s job to forgive no matter what; it doesn’t happen because there is no god at all except in our own imagination…

It happens because the God of the Bible alone has made a way, dear friends!

The Three Big Rocks… And Tons of Repercussions!
1) Rampant secularization—shorthand: No God (Romans 1:18-32); all/only this world (Job 12:7-25); no shame (Psalm 14:1); humanism acted out as hedonism, existentialism, and stoicism (Book of Ecclesiastes).

2) Rampant pluralization—shorthand: No True Truth (Romans 1:18); permitting, celebrating the impossible, illogical (Proverbs 18:2); relativistic thinking, judging, living (Judges 21:25); worldliness, political correctness rules (Romans 12:2); idolatry, disrespect, and forgetfulness in all things (Jeremiah 2).

3) Rampant privatization—shorthand: Living a compartmentalized, bifurcated, secretive, hypocritical, multiple-personality life—as a being created by God to live a holistic, integrated, communal, free-within-boundaries life (Proverbs 26:23-26; Matthew 6:24; Luke 12:2; Romans 2:1-5; 12:2).

As professor David Wells notes, “God has been evacuated from the center of our collective life, pushed to the edges of our public square to become an irrelevance to how our world does its business. Marxism rested on a theoretical atheism; our secularized world rests on a practical atheism in the public domain, though one that coexists with private religiosity.”(“This Unique Moment: The Changing of the Guard and What It Means For Christians Today,” Modern Reformation, Sept./Oct. Vol. 4, No. 5, 1995, 10)

Taken separately or understood as a whole, these “cultural plate tectonics of our day” have been shifting, straining, buckling and building one on top of the other for decades.

Of the mind-boggling array of consequences we are now in a cultural free fall from that I have written about for decades, “The Law of Sowing and Reaping. RE: Our Youth: A Harvest of Poor Stewardship and Heartbreak” is one example that should literally take our breath away, Beloved friends.

Nothing big, systemic ever occurs out of nowhere. And nothing THIS BIG and so THOROUHGLY ACCULTURATED, assimilated, institutionalized is going to be diminished or moderated, 1) in the very near future or, 2) without a widespread intervention direct from God: A Revival or Jesus’ Return. No worldly institution can cure the many woes that it created in and for itself (1 John 3:1).

So, “how now shall we live?” (Chuck Colson, Nancy Pearcy)

Six Solutions… Tons of Challenges with Joy!
The ministry of Feast of the Heart uses as its Vision and Mission a statement by Francis Schaeffer taken from “Death in the City” (See: above reasons for the death…). Schaeffer’s three main arguments for what is needed to bring God’s people [and civilization] back from the brink are referenced and expounded below.

We will use these issues articulated by Schaeffer to build a case for how born-again, sold-out, on-fire-for-Christ, race-running, salty and lighting the Way, Truth, Life… Disciples should, 1) know well the three main problems above and, 2) show up to help stem the darkness and decay created by it.

1a) Reformation is first required… refers to a restoration of pure doctrine; reformation speaks to a return to the teachings of Scripture; God’s True Truth and Love—as manifest in the Bible, properly interpreted, preached, and taught, needs to be restored by His Church SO THAT the light (pure doctrine, truth) and salt (to stem decay) of the world can be restored.

1b) God cannot be more clear, more robust, and more practical as He has said, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and is profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete,equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17; Psalm 119).

Making, growing, and sending… a true, trained-up, and tested disciple is the reason the church exists. God has completely equipped, but won’t prevent our lukewarm, self-indulgent neglect if we chose to do so.

2a) Revival is second, begun by the Spirit… refers to a restoration in the Christian’s personal life by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit; revival speaks of a personal life brought into its proper relationship to the Holy Spirit SO THAT once regeneration has begun, sanctification, maturity, and conformity to the person, power, and purpose of CHRIST will set a course for Constructive Revolution in, through, and by YOU!

2b) The Spiritual Blessings in Christ are the result of the Holy Spirit within a new creation and the basis for regeneration and revival; it is a great blotch on the church that the person and work of the Holy Spirit is little-known in our day; we must devote ourselves to diving into anything and everything the third person of the Trinity brings separately yet in unity with the Father and the Son to effect God’s most marvelous and awesome Plan of Redemption.

Otherwise revival, awakening, reconciliation, restoration… recouping the heart, the spirit, and the culture will not occur.

The great moments of church history have come when these two restorations have simultaneously come into action SO THAT the church has returned to a pure doctrine and the lives of Christians in the church have known the power of the Holy Spirit. There cannot be true revival unless there has been reformation; and reformation is not complete without revival.

3a)  Constructive Revolution… refers to the necessary combination of reformation and revival that should be revolutionary in our day; revolutionary in our individual lives as Christians; God uses constructive revolution—not in the world’s ways—to radically transform the world. The Bible is clear of how God treats those who treat the virtual person, power, and process of the Trinity indwelling the Christian as less [far less many times] that it actually is: “So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth” (Revelation 3:16)! A description which is purposely graphic, clear, and distasteful…

3b) May we be those who know the reality of both reformation and revival, SO THAT this poor, dark world may have an exhibition of a portion of The Church returned to both pure doctrine, the Spirit-filled life, and “little Christ’s” (Luther) as constructive revolutionaries unafraid to infiltrate every realm of this fast-fading… rampantly secularized, pluralized, and privatized culture God has providentially placed us in to glorify Him and bless others each and every day (Psalm 95:7-8)!

Hang in for a very significant and reinforcing quote as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote in a Letter from the Birmingham Jail, 1963… Yes 1963… And even earlier from Dietrich Bonhoeffer as well: The cost of discipleship is high yet supremely rewarding; the cost of neglecting discipleship is equally worth your close consideration.

But it’s what the Western church needs today more than anytime in history.

NOTE: This is a period of time when the seeds of rampant secularization, pluralization, and privatization—that were planted even further back than The Enlightenment Era—began to take root, “pop through the cultural soil”, rear their ugly heads, and flourish in many, many ways.

Please, as you read Dr. King’s heart and words, ask yourself how far have we progressed since his day?

“There was a time when the church was very powerful—in the time when the early Christians rejoiced at being deemed worthy to suffer for what they believe.

In those days the church was not merely a thermometer that recorded the ideas and principles of popular opinion; it was a thermostat that transformed the mores of society. Whenever the early Christians entered into a town, the people in power became disturbed and immediately sought to convict the Christians for being “disturbers of the peace” and “outside agitators”.

But the Christians pressed on, in the conviction that they were a colony of heaven called to obey God rather than man. Small in number, they were big in commitment. They were too God-intoxicated to be intimidated. By their effort and example they brought an end to such ancient evils as infanticide, gladiatorial contests, the neglect of the diseased and poor, among other things.

Things are different now. So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with an uncertain sound. So often it is an arch-defender of the status quo. Far from being a disturbed by the presence of the church, the power structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silence and often even its vocal sanction of things that are worldly.

The judgment of God is upon the church as never before. If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authority and authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the 20th century. Every day I meet young people whose disappointment with the church has turned into outright disgust.

I hope the church as a whole will meet the challenge of this decisive hour. But even if the church does not come to the aid of justice, I have no despair about the future. Let us hope all that the dark clouds of racial prejudice will soon pass away and the deep fog of misunderstanding will be lifted from our fear-drenched communities, and in some not-too-distant tomorrow the radiant stars of love and brotherhood will shine over our great nation with all their scintillating beauty.”

AMEN! And AMEN! [Honestly, it’s Dr. King’s heart, words, and deeds like these that make me cringe when he’s referenced by so many contemporary political, social justice, equal rights-related folk who don’t actually know or believe one wit of what he lived and died for… It’s sickening to hear his name taken in vanity.]

Christian, Please Not Be Cheapen Free Grace: Be About Discipleship at Any Cost!
In his renowned and more-relevant-than-ever book, The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer [as a rarity of the faith in standing up for Christ, he was martyred by Nazi Germany] lamented in 1937, “The price we are having to pay today in the shape of the collapse of the organized church is only the inevitable consequence of our policy of making grace available to all at too low a cost. We gave away the Word and sacraments wholesale, we baptized, confirmed, and absolved a whole nation without condition. Our humanitarian sentiment made us give that which was holy to the scornful and unbelieving…. But the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way was hardly ever heard.

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”

The spiritual, costly, and yet utterly joy-filled disciplines of prayer, worship, Bible study, service, and stewardship must be recouped in order to help Christians mature in their faith. Please do whatever it takes to closely scrutinize and ramp-up these sorts of disciplines. Take a close look at the list of Resources below, Beloved. Consider not “taking a vacation from church/spiritual life” this summer and commit to a few things that will DEEPEN, GROW, SPREAD your faith—against the growing assault of rampant secularism, pluralism, and privatization of our culture.

Love and truth to all y’all! Thanks so much for supping with us today. I know it’s been a plateful.

Please chew your food well; please digest and ingest it intentionally; please commit to sharing any ways your Father God—by the Spirit and in Christ’s atoning sacrifice for you—has touched your heart, moving you in the direction of your calling as one Reformed, Revitalized, and sent out as a Constructive Revolutionary!


A Gospel Movement

Personal Conversion and Growth

Community Formation

Social Justice

Cultural Renewal

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