Praying for our church in times of challenge.
Madison Ortiz lays out our prayers for the church. Judgement begins in the house of the Master. Judges are ruling in favor of churches. We have access to the authority of Jesus. A church is a beacon of light. We are a city set on hill.
“You are the light of the world. A city situated on a hill cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and puts it under a basket, but rather on a lampstand, and it gives light for all who are in the house.” ~Jesus | Matthew 5
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I heard recently, in a conversation with a great man of God, a very strong and shocking statement come out of his mouth: “The Church is in an awful condition.”
To many people, the church is nothing more than a series of meeting to attend. Nothing is expected, and usually nothing happens. How many people there are in the church who don’t even believe in Christianity, much less believe in the living Lord Jesus Christ! And they surely don’t see the validity of basing their life-style[s] on the demands of the Word of God.
Another tack. . . . How do the young people today react when they get the news that the church approves of homosexual lifestyles? Or what answer do they get when they ask the church, “Where do you stand on abortion?” We know of a few churches that not only speak out forcibly against abortion, but whose members are taking into their homes young women who have decided against abortion. Then there is the matter of money. Jesus said, “the LOVE of money is the root of all evil”. What kind of vibes is the church sending off [in regard] to the use of money, or their need of money? Frankly, I am amazed at the enormity of the church’s cry for money and, at the same time, the almost total absence of any teaching or training of her young people about what God expects from them in the use of their money.
Go to a dead church, and someone will ask, “Where are all the young people?” Well, I can truthfully say that I find them by the thousands in newly formed churches, which are attempting to correct all the things that I have mentioned in this letter – plus a lot more! Even in Africa where we were ministering to people who were mostly contacted by folks from churches which had been booted out of a denomination – most of the people were less than 30 years old. And I just had a letter from that part of the world saying how dead the church is. Well, when the Bible comes alive to those young people who heard the word and saw the many miracles, the CHURCH which Jesus is building will start a fire on that dark continent! Africa is coming alive in the things of God, because a new generation of young Christian is being prepared.
We are being asked to help start a TRAINING situation in a group of new churches in Zambia. It will be based on training young African families in 1) Bible Study; 2) Personal Discipline; and 3) Learning a Trade. Leadership for the churches of that nation will come out of that kind of preparation. It will not come from bringing these young men to America to be put through the existing kind of seminary training.
Jesus said, “I have come that they might have LIFE – abundantly!” (emphasis mine). Not only did He bring life for the church, but He made it clear that His Life would be available only THROUGH the church. Paul told the church at Thessalonica that they were to be a model for other bodies in that part of the world. “You know how we lived among you for your sake. You became imitators of us and of the Lord; in spite of severe suffering you welcomed the message with the joy given by the Holy Spirit, and so you became a model to all the believers in Macedonia and Achaia, (and) your faith in God has become known EVERYWHERE!” (1 Thessalonians 1:7, emphasis mine).
May it be so in your church, wherever you are, or whatever your label.
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Volume 5, No.3, May 1985.
The first thing to look at is the church’s leadership. Paul’s guidelines for the church’s leadership is found primarily in the letter to the Ephesians church. In the fourth chapter beginning with verse eleven, he outlines the major roles of leadership: “It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service.”
Most churches are absolutely afraid to talk about “apostles”, since, they say, “the apostolic age came to an end with the close of the New Testament era”. But from some of the things we see in the church today, it looks more like the “pastoral” age has come to an end. Very few denominations today prepare their ministers for real pastoral functions. Pastoring is a whole lot more difficult [of] a work than preaching. Pastoring requires personal involvement. Preaching doesn’t. Pastoring hours are 24 per day. Preaching hours, including some study time, is far less demanding. In many other cases, the church is so limited financially that the man dubbed “pastor” has to double over in several other areas of responsibility, reducing greatly his opportunity for pastoring.
Jesus said, “Go and make disciples“. A disciple is one who seeks to emulate his teacher in every way, so that the multiplying factor may be carried forward. But the church makes very little provision for discipling, either in the local scene or in the broader system of denominationalism. The Lord’s example was to select a small group of a dozen men and give a great part of His life to them. That’s how leaders are developed. You cannot take men into a classroom situation and make . . . disciples [of them]. The area of learning must be seen as out in the field where the action is.
One of the most serious things wrong with the church today is its almost total lack of anything to attract the youth of today. Here is where the leaders of tomorrow’s church must come from. Since the normal socio-family life of today is not conducive to the development of well-disciplined lifestyles, the church must find a way to train its future leaders for the spiritual warfare that lies just ahead for the victorious church. Having worked through a dozen years of our “Disciplined Life in Christ”[now Heroes Semester] training program at [CTCI], we are quite knowledgeable of today’s young adult segment of the church. We know how very much they appreciate disciplines and lifestyles that establish peace and order in their lives. And it is a well-proven fact that the training must be on a very practical basis. It must be based on daily living, in the family, with peers, in situations that call for immediate action.
Today’s young people, in the main, want to learn the things that most of their fathers are not showing them. They want to replace the intangibles of the educational systems with reality. They want to de-politicize the controlling factors of life as it is lived in our nation. They want to learn how to work. Simply speaking, “How do you hold down a job? How do you, by the sweat of your brow, earn a promotion? How do I fulfill the ambitions that are in my heart? I want to be able to establish myself, to . . . have personal satisfaction out of knowing that I can accomplish some things on my own. . .” These are all questions that need answers for today’s Christian youth. The church must equip herself to provide this kind of work day preparation for the disciples the Lord is calling for.
I could name several large, successful organizations that are training young folks in the disciplines of service and witness. And we can be thankful for them. But why doesn’t the church recognize this is the Lord’s call on her? And where else but in the church (or at home) [should] they learn how to pray? Or how to give help to others seeking a new life? Or dealing with all the false religious goings-on in the world today? And where else should they see signs and miracles as the work of the Holy Spirit, but in the church? And healings or casting out of demon spirits?
From Jay Fesperman’s “Letters of Exhortation”, Volume 5, No.3, May 1985.
“For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the Church. Nevertheless, let each one of you in particular love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.“ — Ephesians 5:31-33
What a high calling marriage is! The first command God gives to man following the creation of woman is to leave mother and father and cleave to his wife (Genesis 2:24). Adam did not have earthly parents, which makes this scripture, written in the beginning, even more extraordinary and weighty.