Wednesday, August 1, 2012


A few years after I was born, my Dad met a stranger who was new to our small town. From the beginning, Dad was fascinated with this enchanting newcomer and soon invited him to live with our family. The stranger was quickly accepted and was around from then on. As I grew up, I never questioned his place in my family. In my young mind, he had a special niche.

My parents were complementary instructors: Mom taught me good from evil, and Dad taught me to obey. But the stranger... he was our storyteller. He would keep us spellbound for hours on end with adventures, mysteries and comedies. If I wanted to know anything about politics, history or science, he always knew the answers about the past, understood the present and even seemed able to predict the future!

He took my family to the first major league ball game. He made me laugh, and he made me cry. The stranger never stopped talking, but Dad didn't seem to mind. Sometimes, Mom would get up quietly while the rest of us were shushing each other to listen to what he had to say, and she would go to the kitchen for peace and quiet. (I wonder now if she ever prayed for the stranger to leave.)

Dad ruled our household with certain moral convictions,but the stranger never felt obligated to honor them. Profanity, for example, was not allowed in our home - not from us, our friends or any visitors. Our long time visitor, however, got away with four-letter words that burned my ears and made my dad squirm and my mother blush. My Dad didn't permit the liberal use of alcohol but the stranger encouraged us to try it on a regular basis. He made cigarettes look cool, cigars manly, and pipes distinguished. He talked freely (much too freely!) about sex. His comments were sometimes blatant, sometimes suggestive, and generally embarrassing.. I now know that my early concepts about relation-ships were influenced strongly by the stranger.

Time after time, he opposed the values of my parents, yet he was seldom rebuked ... And NEVER asked to leave. More than fifty years have passed since the stranger moved in with our family. He has blended right in and is not nearly as fascinating as he was at first. Still, if you could walk into my parents' den today, you would still find him sitting over in his corner, waiting for someone to listen to him talk and watch him draw his pictures. His name?.... We just call him 'TV'.

(The average Westerner watches about 12 YEARS of television in his or her lifetime. Yes - 12 YEARS. I wonder what it has done to our generation that we are not even aware of?) -Please comment on this topic at the website below-

Monday, July 2, 2012

City Harvest's founder Kong Hee, four others arrested

SINGAPORE: Five members of City Harvest Church (CHC), including its founder Pastor Kong Hee, have been arrested for alleged criminal breach of trust and falsification of accounts of the church.

The other four members are Tan Ye Peng, Lam Leng Hung, Chew Eng Han and Sharon Tan.

The five were questioned by the Commercial Affairs Department (CAD) on Tuesday.  Kong Hee was seen leaving the Police Cantonment Complex at 4pm. The five will be charged in court on Wednesday.

CAD said it commenced an investigation on 31 May 2010 into certain financial transactions of CHC after receiving information of misuse of church funds.

The Commissioner of Charities (COC) began its inquiry into the charity on the same day under the Charities Act over alleged misconduct and mismanagement of the building fund which had been raised and earmarked for specific purposes.

The COC said financial irregularities of at least S$23 million from the charity's funds had been discovered. These funds were used with the purported intention to finance the music career of Ho Yeow Sun, who is Pastor Kong's wife and co-founder of the church.

The COC found that there was a concerted effort to conceal this movement of funds from the charity's stakeholders, saying it is concerned about the misconduct and mismanagement in the administration of the charity.

With the consent of the Attorney General, the COC has suspended eight persons, including the five arrested on Tuesday, from the exercise of their office or employment as governing board members. The other three are Ho Yeow Sun, Kelvin Teo Meng How and Tan Su Pheng Jacqueline.

All eight have been suspended from their executive memberships in the charity with immediate effect.

The COC said it will also consider taking further courses of action against these individuals in order to protect the charity. This may include the removal of these persons from their office as trustee, governing board members, officers, agents or employees of the charity.

With the suspension, the eight persons will be prohibited from taking part or being involved in managing or representing the charity on any matters, or attending any of the charity's Annual General Meetings, Extraordinary General Meetings and Board Meetings.

Associate Professor Mak Yuen Teen from the National University of Singapore Business School said the misconduct is partly due to poor corporate governance in the organisation.

He said: "If you look at this organisation, you can see that the board was dominated by people who were essentially employees of the church. So, the question therefore is where is the check and balances in place.

"The board was not really independent of the management of the organisation. This case is also complex because you do have a number of individuals who are implicated in this case. So, if you have a number of individuals involved, it can make it a bit more difficult to detect and the risk becomes much higher in terms of governance."

Meanwhile, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Home Affairs Teo Chee Hean has stressed that the charges filed by CAD are against the five individuals from the City Harvest Church regarding the use of church funds. 

He said the charges are not filed against CHC itself and the church is free to continue its church services and activities.

Mr Teo added that CAD carries out investigations when it receives information that a criminal offence may have been committed. 

CAD had previously investigated the National Kidney Foundation and Ren Ci.

As the matter is now before the courts, Mr Teo said the law should be allowed to take its course and the public should avoid speculation or making pre-judgements that may unnecessarily stir up emotions.

Religious charitable organisations Channel NewsAsia spoke with said they hope the public will not abandon the spirit of giving, despite the arrest of some City Harvest Church leaders.

Religious groups said it is important to have integrity and to exercise caution when managing donations or helping people.

Tan Thiam Lye, chairman of the Singapore Taoist Federation, said: "As a religious group, we have to define our roles clearly. For example, in areas like finance and administration - to divide tasks clearly. If you have one person to do all tasks, people will think we are not transparent."
Low Swee Seh, CEO of the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu-Chi Foundation, said that proper procedures are in place before an assessment is made on where donations go to.

He said: "When we help needy families, our whole team visits the family, assesses their situation, income and expenditure. We come back and have two meetings and will discuss if the family really needs our help." - CNA/al/wm/ac



Commissioner of Charities suspends governing board members, trustees, employees, agents and Executive members under the Charities Act.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Why Relational Discipleship Has Become My Priority

by J. Lee Grady

I’d rather invest in a few emerging leaders than preach to crowds of thousands. Here’s why.

Once when I was traveling in India a pastor made a tempting proposal. “If you come to our city, we will stage a big evangelistic campaign and invite thousands,” he said. “You can preach to all of them.” This man assumed I would be intrigued. After all, I could take photos of the big crowds and use them to brag later about how many people made decisions for Christ.

I didn’t accept the offer. Instead I gave the man a second option. “Let me spend three days with a small group of pastors,” I said. “Let me encourage them, and then they can go out and preach at the big meetings. They will do a much better job than I could.”

“Jesus did not mass-produce legions of followers. He hand-carved a few—and they became the pillars of the early church.”
I’m not against mass evangelism. I’m not criticizing people who organize big meetings. But I’m learning that the best way to impact a large number of people is to focus on a few.

This was Jesus’ method of ministry. Most of his conversations in the Gospels were with His small group of handpicked disciples. Even when He did mass meetings, He used them to instruct the people He was mentoring. For 3.5 years He invested in His closest followers in a deeply personal way—not as an instructor but as a friend. Jesus did not mass-produce legions of followers. He hand-carved a few—and they became the pillars of the early church.

Jesus calls us to do ministry His way—by making disciples. Yet in today’s performance-based culture, we think bigger is better. We put all our money and time into splashy events while ignoring relationships. We want the sensational, not the simple. We crave big meetings, bigger platforms, noisy sermons, hyped-up altar calls and instant results. It may look spectacular on opening night, but the show fades fast.

This shallowness is killing us. Christianity in so many parts of the world is a mile wide and an inch deep because we think faith is best transmitted to people by preachers standing behind pulpits. Preaching is certainly important, but without personal discipleship leaders aren't formed and Christians don’t develop true character. If this vital relational aspect is overlooked, our faith becomes programmed, superficial and horribly fake.

I’ve changed my priorities as I have grasped this truth. I’m not as interested in flashy conferences or huge crowds as I am in making an indelible mark on people who can then disciple others. And as the Lord has shifted my paradigm, I have become more intentional about making discipleship a part of my daily life. I’ve done this by following what I call the Five “I’s” of Discipleship:

1. Identify. Jesus prayed carefully before selecting those who would travel with Him. Paul selected people like Timothy, Silas, Aquilla and Priscilla to be his ministry companions. Who are you called to disciple? God connects people in discipleship relationships.

2. Invest. Don’t look at discipleship as a program. It must flow out of love and genuine friendship. It is a precious investment of your time into a younger Christian. Paul told the Thessalonians: “We were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us” (
1 Thess. 2:8, NASB).

3. Include. One of the ways I disciple young men is by taking them with me on ministry trips. I would have fewer hassles if I traveled alone, but my privacy is not that precious. In the last couple of years I’ve invited emerging leaders such as Jason, Steven, Vitaly, Khuram, Donnie, Felipe, Lyndle and Ryan to accompany me to various events. Investing in a disciple, to me, has become more exciting than preaching to a multitude!

4. Instruct. Jesus didn't lecture his disciples; He artfully wove His teaching into the events of daily life—a storm, the death of a friend or an encounter with a needy beggar. His teaching flowed out of His relationship with His companions. Discipleship does not have to happen in a classroom setting. It can happen at a doughnut shop, during a bike ride or in a car. Expect “teaching moments” to flow naturally when you are spending time with those you are mentoring.

5. Intercede. Paul told Timothy that he constantly remembered him in his prayers “night and day” (
2 Tim. 1:3). The most effective discipleship occurs when the discipler invests time in prayer for those he or she is mentoring. After some of my young disciples gave me an iPad last year, I decided to return the favor by using it to help me pray for them. I now have a “visual prayer list” with photos of the people I intercede for regularly.

Floyd McClung, a former leader of Youth With a Mission who now lives in South Africa, says he wishes he had spent more of his time making disciples when he was younger. He recently wrote: “I've been blessed to do many things: books, conferences, television, etc. But that’s nothing compared to pouring into others and seeing them go for it.”

Leaders all around the world are coming to this same conclusion. They recognize that today’s fatherless generation is looking for more than the hottest music, the coolest stage lighting or the hippest techno-pastor. They just want authentic role models who will spend time with them.

J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of
The Mordecai Project. He is ministering in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this week. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

JOHN WESLEY - Revivalist!

-David Smithers.

On March 9th, 1791, when John Wesley was carried to his grave, he left behind him a good library of books, a well-worn clergyman's gown, and a much abused reputation. But also, an England moved to the very depths and a Church thrilled through and through with an awakened spiritual life. John Wesley was a man who truly possessed both apostolic vision and gifts, but most importantly he was a man who lived in view of eternity. "Consumed by the thought of the shortness of time, the great work to be done, and the need for haste in doing it, on he marched, preaching, pleading, warning and guiding . . ."

John Wesley was a man mighty in faith and prayer. Time and again people possessed with devils were brought to him and in answer to prayer the demons were cast out. Not only were evil spirits cast out, but the sick were healed as well. As Wesley preached, the power of God often came upon his listeners, and hundreds would fall under the power of the Holy Spirit. Then, in answer, to prayer their souls and bodies were healed. A physician became offended at the cries of many who fell under the power of God. He attended Wesley's meeting and a lady he knew fell under the power. "Great drops of sweat ran down her face, and all her bones shook. But when both her soul and body were healed in a moment he
acknowledged the finger of God."

On another occasion when Wesley was traveling the preaching circuit, his horse suddenly became lame. With no one near to offer help, he stopped and prayed. "Immediately the horse's lameness was gone."

Wesley pleaded with men to repent and by faith make peace with God or suffer in an everlasting hell. People who had entertained false hopes of salvation had their religious masks torn away by his plain preaching. Wesley believed that those who failed to warn the sinner and backslider, themselves stood under the judgement of Christ. He was determined to declare the whole counsel of God, offering the love of God in Christ and giving warning of the dreadful consequences of rejecting the gospel. Wesley wrote, "Before I can preach love and grace, I must preach sin, law and judgement."

John Wesley, as well as the other early Methodist preachers, was both a bold advocate and a living example of sanctification. Wesley preached with unceasing zeal that complete holiness was the primary fruit of a vibrant faith in Christ. Counseling another minister, Wesley wrote, ". . .till you press believers to expect full salvation from sin, you must not look for any revival."

If John Wesley were to make an anonymous visit to the Methodists of today, it is doubtful whether many of it's churches would welcome him. They would most likely resent his fervent zeal and enthusiasm.

When he was eighty-three he made a note that he was regretful that he could not write more than fifteen hours a day without hurting his eyes. Wesley faithfully preached almost up to the very day he died. Truly his vigor and zeal in old age were the reward of his faithful stewardship of time. He seemed to consider every thought, word and deed in light of eternity.

"Amid all his arduous labors, his innumerable engagements, his coming and going, Wesley lived a hidden life of intimacy with God. When worn out with overwork he often found new strength in answer to prayer." It was Wesley's strict habit to daily spend one hour in prayer in the morning, and then another hour in the evening. John Wesley shook the world by his preaching because he first shook heaven and hell with his praying. His preaching had a sense of eternal urgency because he had touched eternity on his knees.


Friday, May 18, 2012

5 Reasons Why Not All Young Adults Leave the Church

Joe McKeever

Recently, 20-year-old Bailey, a student at a local college, heard her professor of comparative religion tell the class, "The Christian faith uses terms like sanctification, justification, and propitiation. But church members have no idea what these terms mean."

Bailey raised her hand and said, "Professor, they do in my church."

A few days later, this same prof, who seems to be making a career of misrepresenting believers, told the class, "There are 66 books in the Christian Bible. But only the professionals can name them all."

Bailey said, "Sir, in my church, even the children can name the books of the Bible."

I'm a member of Bailey's church and she's right. Our pastor, in fact, is nearing the end of a series of Sunday morning sermons in which he preached one message per book of the Bible. Next Sunday, he preaches on Hebrews.

Bailey demonstrates why not everyone raised in the church strays or drops out altogether when they reach young adulthood.

A stat often quoted from Lifeway Research -- the study was done in 2007, so it's slightly dated -- says 2/3 of all young adults raised in the church will stop attending services between the ages of 18 and 22. Most will never return.

In the study, asked about their withdrawal, dropouts said they were too busy, churches too irrelevant, Christians too judgmental, leaders too hypocritical, and denominations too political.

I suspect the dropouts omitted one huge factor for their non-attendance in church: the heart is a rebel. The temptation to renege on life's commitments -- even those we feel strongest about -- is continually present, not always complicated, and ever a concern for even the most faithful of believers.

I'm not challenging the statistics. However, I know a great many people who emerged from the church's youth program into full adulthood without missing a Sunday of worship and Bible study.

From all I know and have observed, here is why they stayed.

Five reasons why many young people raised in the church never drop out:


Now, those with a personal relationship with a particular church or youth group or student minister cannot be counted on to stay.

Only those who have internalized the gospel message, who have settled once and for all that Jesus Christ is alive and within them and that He hears their prayers and is intimately concerned about the minutest details of their lives, only these can be counted on to hang tough through these difficult years of transition and growth.

I recall reading years ago where Dick Van Dyke told how his children, then in their teens, had become active in a thriving church youth program. However, when their student minister left, the program fell apart and the kids dropped out. Van Dyke asked, with good reason, "What good did that youth minister do? He won the kids only to himself. When he left, they did too."

Those who know the Lord personally are more likely to stay.


Young adults like Bailey who grow up with strong roots in the doctrines of the Bible cannot be easily pulled off course by errant professors or pleasure-seeking friends.

This "solid foundation" is no mystery and does not have to be complicated. It's simply the result of discipling young believers, teaching them, in the words of our Lord, "to observe all the things that I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20).

And this, we must point out, is the most basic assignment of any church, a part of the very Great Commission itself. The church which converts youngsters to Christ without discipling them is disobeying its Lord's instructions.


No group on the planet is as vulnerable to peer influence as young people. While this is generally viewed as a negative, it can be made to work for us. Young people reach their friends for Christ. (In contrast, churches with no youth at all find it nearly impossible to begin a ministry to them.)

On the dock where fishermen unload and sell their morning's catch, observers often note that a bucket of crabs will be left unattended and without a cover. Ask the fisherman and he will show you something fascinating about crabs. Every time one tries to climb out of the bucket, the others pull him back. That's peer influence.

As a college sophomore, I was reached by a church with a strong youth ministry. In a matter of days, I went from knowing hardly anyone in the city to having a hundred friends my age. We did everything together - Sunday School, mission trips, church banquets, after church socials. Nothing locks a young person into church like having a strong battery of friends who also love the Lord and are committed to His church.


Once or twice during those college years, when professors or my reading material caused me to question my Christian faith, the Scriptures, and even the existence of God, nothing pulled me back from the brink like looking around at the sharp men and women in my church who were devoutly following Jesus Christ. Before I learned how to study the evidence for the faith myself, these were my proofs that God is real and Christ is alive and the gospel is true.

In fact, as I compared the Christian men and women I knew with the typical miserable atheistic philosophy major or the professor who prided himself on his agnosticism, there was no question which I would prefer to model my life after.

The older adults in church usually have no clue that the next generation is checking them out, but they are. They're looking to see who's authentic, whether you have brought your brains into the Christian life or checked them at the door, and what your manner of life says about your faith in Jesus Christ.


Young adults are not stupid. They can see the church has problems.

However, as they think the matter through, they frequently come to the same conclusion as the Apostle Peter. When our Lord noticed the crowd leaving because they'd found His teachings difficult, Jesus said to the disciples, "Well, how about you? Will you go away too?"

Simon Peter said,"Lord, where would we go? You have the words of eternal life" (John 6:66-68).

It's not as though the universe has presented us with a cafeteria of choices for life and eternity. Jesus said, "No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).

That one fact more than anything else may account for believers through the ages hanging tough with the Lord's church when times were hard, temptations strong, questions proliferated, and the enemy was active.

Dr. Joe McKeever is a preacher, cartoonist, and the Director of Missions for the Baptist Association of Greater New Orleans. Visit him at Used with permission.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Seven Steps to 'Sex-cess'

Live in a sex-charged culture, without getting zapped!

Jim is in my office one Saturday morning crying over the lust, guilt and terrible sexual choices that are destroying his life. I don't know whether to empathize with his pain or kick his butt for going to sleep on his watch!

I remind him that the battle for sexual integrity demands constant vigilance. It's a wrestling match with Satan, and any time you let your guard down, you get body-slammed.

Our society so bombards us with sex. With our male fascination for visual stimulation and our often-adolescent mindsets, this is very disconcerting.

It is easy to empathize with the early church father, Origen, who made himself a eunuch in a desperate step to achieve greater purity. But, God has also given us a wonderful gift in being sexually alive with exciting potential for deep, passionate intimacy.

The following are practical skills, actually disciplines, men need to practice as they grow up into sexual maturity and intimacy. "For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline" (
2 Tim. 1:7, NIV).

1. Bring Sexual Secrets Into the LightSeveral years ago, I can remember having trouble keeping my thought life disciplined around a certain woman who would occasionally cross my path. There was no inappropriate interaction, but I did not like the way she could ring my sexual chimes without even trying.

I finally told a friend of mine about her—the way I had coached others to confess their secret struggles. How interesting that the next time I saw this woman the sexual pull was gone.

Wow! Isn't it amazing how Satan's system thrives in darkness and secrecy? It is exciting to practice the discipline of bringing a secret into the light of day and to actually experience its power disappearing.

"Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret. But everything exposed by the light becomes visible" (
Eph. 5:11-13).

What a dynamic concept God created with His emphasis on confession and walking in the light. An important part of this discipline is seeking out appropriate confessors, groups and accountability buddies.

Wives cannot be in that role alone. We need male buddies to help us bring our secrets into the light.

2. Practice Pre-Zone ChoicesIn sexual addiction there is an interesting concept of being in "the zone." This is when sexual temptation and lustful desire have headed down the slippery slope and already given birth to sinfully following through on a behavior.

It would take a team of wild horses to stop you once you reach the acting-out zone. "But each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin" (
James 1:14-15).

Carl stated the car had a mind of its own and turned into the parking lot of the convenience store that sells dirty magazines. Of course the car couldn't be stopped, Carl was already in the zone by the time he got near the store. The time for decisions was earlier.

That morning he could have called a friend for help. He could have called his wife before he left work. But he failed to make any of these pre-zone choices to preserve his sexual integrity.

Christian men often get angry with God and complain that He allowed sexual temptation that they couldn't stand up under (see
1 Cor. 10:13). No, we simply did not make a series of healthy choices until it was too late.

God didn't fail us. We failed to take the first choices He gave to keep us from sinning. The quicker you begin making decisions about sexual temptation, the more God can intervene.

3. Discipline Fantasies and Sexual Surges
Men usually think they are more highly sexed than their wives are. It is true that most men think about sex more and are more visually specific as they zoom in on female bodies. But I don't think it is higher testosterone or our sexual natures that make us more sexually aroused; it is our poor self-discipline of the environmental sexual cues.

Controlling sexual cues is an interesting discipline. It involves several ways of applying the wisdom of "take captive every thought" (
2 Cor. 10:5) and "the eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light'" (Matt. 6:22).

Practicing the following really helps:

Don't close your eyes or give free rent. When seeing or hearing a sexual cue (for example, a guy in the locker room talking about a sexually charged movie he saw) keep from closing your eyes and visualizing or fantasizing about the sexual image.

You can't always avoid the sexual stimulation, but when a thought or visual cue comes into your mind, you can choose not to give it lodging rent-free. God gives us the ability to switch topics in our minds.

Direct your vision and practice the "one-second" rule. Try to discipline your vision to look at women's faces or see their bodies in a general way—don't do the elevator routine as your eyes roam up and down, stopping at favorite floors.

When seeing specific visual cues (for example, a tight sweater), do not allow your gaze to linger and further sexualize the cue. Move your eyes and mind on.

Do not run with cues. Noticing the cute runner may be natural. Following up that cue by almost driving off the road trying to check her out in the rearview mirror is a step into dangerous territory.

Now you're thinking, Wow, what a build! You are off and running in your mind as you take one cue and build it into seven. Choose to stop with one cue.

4. Work Inside OutDo you sometimes believe God doesn't hold up His part of the bargain with changing our sexual behaviors? You try so desperately to uphold the right sexual behavior and yet always seem to slip.

Quit trying to work outside in. Instead, start with God working His deeper changes in your heart and creating true freedom and redemption.

Real sexual integrity is not about what you aren't doing; it is about what you are doing. You may have stopped masturbation but haven't dealt with the deeper heart lust issues. Go deeper than the behavior.

How is masturbation affecting you and your relationships? Are you lusting, lazy, avoiding intimacy, feeding an addiction? Go deep into God's character and the heart of issues, and work inside out.

We will make better choices as God helps us b ecome appalled at how shallow, ugly, stupid and tragically destructive sexual sins are.
Psalm 97:10 says, "Let those who love the Lord hate evil."

When we lust after another woman or are tempted to have an affair, we can better understand the damage we're causing by imagining instead an evil we could never see ourselves doing--such as taking a tire iron from our cars and bashing our wives with it.

This may seem over-the-top. But we each need to recognize just how cruel and mean God sees our sinful fantasies and actions.

5. Meet Nonsexual Needs Nonsexually
I recently asked my men's group: "It's Friday afternoon, and you got off work early. The wife and kids are not home, and you have time to relax and enjoy. How many of you might think of something sexual as a part of that recreation?"

All of them admitted that it would cross their minds.

We brainstormed on what were they really desiring at the end of an exhausting week: diversion, a chance to let down and play, and maybe some adventure and excitement. Sex can accomplish this, but we started listing alternatives: wandering around Home Depot, playing video games, biking or shooting hoops.

Men long for connection, meaningful physical touch and consolation when stressed. False sexual intimacy can seem helpful, but this shallow substitute can never become the real thing. One of my friends, Mark Laaser, keeps saying that the antidote to lust is good male friendships.

Letting God help us meet our needs, sexual and nonsexual, wisely and appropriately, is a critical discipline for sexual integrity.

We often think that we need sex when we are really searching for something else.

6. Quit Window-Shopping
We can summarize God's plan for our sexuality quite simply: Every Adam courageously waits for and erotically connects only with his Eve—all other women are his sisters.
1 Timothy 5:2 tells us to treat "older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity."

A female client of mine recently asked why Christian men do so much window-shopping of women. She stated: "If they are godly men, why are they sizing up women for mental or sexual relationships? Aren't we sisters?" I couldn't agree more.

I fondly think of a pastor friend of mine, who upon seeing an attractive woman says to himself, "Thank you, Lord, for this woman." And then he adds: "But this isn't my woman, Lord. Thank you for mine."

7. Practice 3-D Sexuality
God teaches us that sexuality is three-dimensional. It can never be just a body thing (see
1 Cor. 6:13-19) but naturally involves our soul and spirit.

When you are at a mall and notice an attractive woman, look at her face and notice if she is tired.

Observe the packages she is carrying and think, I bet she's a great mom. Make the woman a person and give her a life.

Body: Look at less common but very feminine features such as hands, smile and ways of gesturing. Let her body communicate her heart, not just her sexuality.

Soul: Honor the needs of her mind and heart for respect and affirmation, not lust. She is very precious to God. Would you want someone looking at your daughter the way you are looking at her?

Spirit: Remember that she wants someone special in her life to connect with—and this is not you!

One of my clients, after seeing a great body and struggling with lust, starts praying for that woman that she will truly know Christ. Giving her a spirit gets him back on track.

Godly disciplines are not easy or natural. Keep practicing because it's a no-brainer choice. Do we want pain, guilt and failed intimacy, or do we want the fruit of the Spirit with love, joy and peace?

"No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it" (
Heb. 12:11). It's time to vigilantly protect your sexual integrity.

Dr. Doug Rosenau is a licensed psychologist and certified sex therapist in the Atlanta area (

Friday, May 11, 2012

Healing Your Broken Heart

Has your heart ever been broken? I’m not talking here about romance—the usual cause of a “broken heart.” I’m talking about the crushing wounds in life from which we all struggle to recover. It may be one incident, or it could be many.

Maybe you have repressed the memory of those hurts. Maybe you have given up hope that healing could ever come. My sense as I write is that the Lord wants to say to all of us, “The time for healing has come.” May this letter help in that process!

One of Jesus’ Main Purposes

For many years, I have been profoundly impacted by Jesus’ announcement at the synagogue in Nazareth. The record of Luke 4:16–30 makes it clear that when Jesus stepped up that morning to read, He very deliberately selected a specific Messianic passage from the scroll of the prophet Isaiah that was handed to Him. The section Jesus chose (what we know as Isaiah 61) specifically outlined what the Messiah would accomplish: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted” (verse 18, NKJV).

The first task listed for the Messiah after the preaching of the Gospel was the healing of the brokenhearted. Many other passages affirm the Lord’s deep concern for hearts that have been torn up by the rigors of life. Psalm 147:3 says: “He [the Lord] heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” In Psalm 34:18, David promises: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those whose spirits are crushed” (NLT).

Jesus Knew Heartbreak

Jesus not only healed heartbreak; He experienced the depths of this emotion Himself. One of the Messianic passages, Isaiah 53:3, tells us that our Lord Jesus would be “…despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” He was no stranger to the heart injury you and I have suffered. In another Messianic verse, the Suffering Servant confesses: “Reproach has broken my heart, and I am full of heaviness; I looked for someone to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none” (Psalm 69:20).

When Jesus took a few of His disciples to pray with Him at Gethsemane, these were His words: “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me” (Matthew 26:38, nlt). Heightening His heartbreak, the disciples fell asleep instead of standing with Jesus in His time of agony.

What’s more, it is commonly held that Jesus actually died on the cross of a broken heart. When the Roman soldier pierced His side with a lance (John 19:34), the blood and water that poured out were proof positive that the heart of Jesus had ripped apart in the process of crucifixion. Our loving Savior knew what it was like to have a broken heart. And that’s why He can help us deal with that same condition.

Life Beats Us Up

Brokenheartedness is a reality we have to face in this life. It happens. I watched one of the people nearest and dearest to me struggle with a wounded heart over the awful betrayal of a friend. The injury was never truly “bound up” and healed, and that dear one died with—or from—a broken heart.

Few hearts in modern, stressful society are safe from such attacks. Sadly, some of our worst wounds come from fellow Christians. Jesus warned us that in these pressured end times, we would see many disturbing events, including “…men’s hearts failing them from fear and the expectation of those things which are coming on the earth.” Those aggressive, invasive, abusive conditions take their toll on your heart.

An article in the European Journal of Heart Failure caught my attention because of its title: “Did Jesus die of a ‘broken heart’?” Discussing our stressful times, the author says, “During the last decade, a strange syndrome of extensive reversible cardiac dysfunction precipitated by acute emotional or physical stress has been increasingly recognized. The syndrome has various names, including stress-induced cardio­myopathy (SIC)…. In some patients, SIC may lead literally to heart rupture (and death).” The stark reality of brokenheartedness!

Now let’s focus on the healing the Messiah can bring to us.

Derek’s Unique Perspective

Derek Prince taught eloquently on principles related to healing for broken hearts. Here is what he said in the book, Declaring God’s Word:

In Psalm 147:2–3, we read, “The Lord builds up Jerusalem; he gathers the exiles of Israel. He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (NIV). Those are beautiful words, but the most exciting thing about them is that they are being fulfilled in this generation, in our lifetime. I have seen the outworking of those words living in Jewish Jerusalem in May 1948, when the State of Israel was reborn after two thousand years. Today, the Lord is building up Jerusalem. He is gathering the exiles of Israel. He is healing the brokenhearted and binding up their wounds.

That is good news for all who will turn to God. It is good news for God’s people, Israel. It is also good news for the church of Jesus Christ because the same God who is gathering Israel is gathering the church back to Himself, bringing us into our inheritance, healing our wounds, and binding up our broken hearts.

There is an ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit that is very special—a ministry to the brokenhearted. It is a ministry to those whose hearts are wounded. If you carry a wound inside you, turn to God and say, “God, this is a time of restoration. It is a time of regathering. You are healing the brokenhearted. You are binding up their wounds. Lord, You know the wound I have carried so long in my heart. Will You heal me?”

And the invisible finger of God, the Holy Spirit, will reach down where no surgeon can reach and touch that wounded place in your life to bring you healing and restoration.

Time for His Healing

Do you believe that the Lord, by His Holy Spirit, can touch any broken area of your heart? Do you want to respond as Derek directed? The time has come for us to place our hearts in the Lord’s capable hands, and according to Isaiah 42:3, we can be assured of His tenderness: “A bruised reed He will not break, and smoking flax He will not quench.” Jesus knows how to bring the healing we so desperately need.

Are you ready to ask for it now? If so, please pray the following prayer with me:

Dear Jesus, I come to You with a heart which has been wounded by the stresses and attacks of life. I have experienced some specific inci­dents of injury that need Your healing touch. [If certain events come to mind, take a few moments to be specific as you pray.] Please, Lord, come into these secret, injured places of my heart and bring Your complete healing and restoration.

I affirm that You are the one sent by the Father to heal the broken­hearted. You are fully able to heal every injury to my heart and soul, no matter how severe. I place my heart in Your hands for healing and strengthening as You prepare me for Your future plans for me.

One more matter, Lord. Rather than hardening my heart against any possible future wounds, I choose instead to soften my heart before You. I trust You, Lord Jesus, and I proclaim the promise in Philippians 4:7: that You will guard my heart and my mind by the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding.

Thank You, Lord, for healing my broken heart.

Moving Forward

This may be one of those God-appointed moments in your life when the Lord provides a breakthrough that changes things forever. We encourage you to move confidently from this point onward, knowing that the Lord has fulfilled His promise to heal and restore your heart and soul. As a result of what you have prayed, you can depend upon Him to move in your life in even more dynamic ways than He has in the past.

We hope you will allow us to partner with you in that process. Our greatest joy is to provide encouragement for you in the form of materials, prayer support and personal contact. Along those lines, please make sure to download our free offer, an amazing message by Derek called “Healing for Wounded Soldiers.” It is solid teaching on the topic covered in this letter that will add a significant component to the step you have already taken. We are happy to make it available to you.

Partnering Together

Do you know how grateful we are to be connected with you? We thank the Lord for you—for your prayers for us, your generous financial support, and your regular communication with us. We truly could not do this work without your help. It is your friendship and support that enable us to extend the teaching legacy of Derek Prince to people throughout the United States and around the world.

Thank you again for all that you do. Please keep us informed about the progress you are making as you follow the Lord in wholeness and freedom.

Isn’t it wonderful to know that your heart is safe in the hands of Jesus? What a great joy to be walking together, serving Jesus our Messiah, the one sent from the Father to heal the brokenhearted!

All the best,

Dick Leggatt
President, DPM - USA

P.S. Please stay in touch with us. We love to hear from you, especially with testimonies of what the Lord is doing in your life. Don’t forget to download Derek’s message, “Healing for Wounded Soldiers.” We know it will augment the process you have begun today.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

What If Jesus Was Your Boss?

Leonard Davidson Charisma Channels - Women

Once as I sat on a 737 getting ready to leave the gate at the airport, my window seat looked directly down at the luggage loading area. A large tractor had pulled the string of carts up to a long conveyor belt that ran into the belly of the plane. A worker (I will call him “Larry the luggage guy”) stood with a scanner in his hand. As his “helper luggage guy” placed each piece of luggage on the belt that was slowly moving into the plane, “Larry” electronically scanned the tag that had been placed on the suitcase at check-in.

Wow, I thought. What a great way to keep track of our bags. A bag is placed on the belt, scanned and moves up the conveyor. Next bag … scanned … up the conveyor. Bag after bag. Someone had actually created a marvelous system to prevent “lost” luggage (the airlines will always tell you it is not lost; they just do not know exactly where it is).

Suddenly, someone else standing at another vehicle hollered for “Larry.” He was laughing about something. Larry laid his scanner down and walked over to Mr. Comedian. “Helper” guy seemed to not even notice. He just continued to dutifully place the bags on the belt that wasstill moving into the plane. Bag after bag was moving up the conveyer belt, but NOT being scanned.

Several minutes later, “Larry” walked back over, picked up the scanner, and started back in like nothing had happened. Only now, about every third bag, he would turn around to his not so funny friend and laugh again—and miss a bag.

While I was stunned at the “I couldn’t care less” attitude shown by “Larry,” at least now I knew why several years ago, my wife and I landed in Aruba at precisely the same time that our suitcase landed in Detroit. “Larry the luggage guy” must have been on duty that day.

The wisest man who ever lived, Solomon, instructed us in Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (NIV, emphasis added). In Colossians chapter 3, the great apostle Paul admonishes believers: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men … It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (vv. 23-24, NASB, emphasis added). Now, there is a work ethic that should be posted in every work place in America. You are working not for a boss, but for the Lord Jesus Christ.

What would happen if everything we did—every day—we did as if Jesus was standing there, and He was the one who had given us a task to perform? Would we approach the job differently? Would we be watching the clock so we could “punch out,” or count the days with a TGIF attitude? Probably not.

A few years ago I was with the best-selling author Andy Andrews, who said, “I believe thateverything we do matters.” Check out that attitude. No matter what you are doing every day, it matters. No job is “moderately” important.

For those of us who call ourselves Christians, every minute of every day should be lived with the mental concept that everything we do matters to Him, and we are simply living every day to please Him. We should realize that all of our positions—whether leadership, staff or even the janitor—make a difference in the kingdom of God.

This week as you journey in your Christ walk, determine to have a new attitude. Have a “can-do” attitude. Have an “I work for Jesus” attitude. Decide that you will not do your job to just “get by” and receive a paycheck. Work as if it matters—because it does. Work as if you are important—because you are. Work as if Jesus was standing and watching—because He is.

If you can develop this mental thought pattern, you can “whistle while you work.” Your job will never be drudgery. The days will fly by. Your soul will be light. You will have a smile on your face. Your heart will have a song in it. And what you do, while you may not see it, will matter toHim—and ultimately to the kingdom of God. I promise.

Integrity Begins at Home

Mary A. Steelman Charisma Channels - Women

Have you ever been treated unethically in a business transaction? Have you ever been grieved by the lack of integrity in a pastor, evangelist or other minister? Sadly, we live in an age in which leaders in both the secular and the spiritual arenas seem to be making up their own sets of rules about how to conduct their businesses, their ministries and their lives.

We may not be able to do much about the current leadership in these arenas other than pray. But if you’re a parent, you can have a positive impact on the next generation. How? By instituting ethics training in your home. This is where it begins. Parents have the God-given responsibility to guide and instruct their children – the future business and spiritual leaders of our nation.

Where do we go to find appropriate foundational truths that lay the groundwork for ethics and morals? How can we purposefully and systematically train our children and ourselves to do the right thing, even when it hurts? Joyce Meyer, Christian speaker and author, states in one of her teachings on integrity, “True integrity is doing the right thing even when no one else is looking.” Isn’t that what we want in our children and ourselves?

For those who hold to the Judeo-Christian faith, such principles are found throughout the Bible, particularly in the psalms and proverbs. The implementation of these teachings along with other training tools will lay the groundwork for integrity in the home and the lives of your children. “Teach your children to choose the right path, and when they are older, they will remain upon it” (Prov. 22:6, NLT). This is a wonderful promise given to parents, but it carries with it the responsibility to take the time to teach and train the children entrusted to our care.

We must win the battle for the hearts of our children because the heart is the soil in which the seeds of truth, honesty and honor – or the seeds of greed, fraud and deception – are planted. Seeds in the heart can be likened to the seeds planted by a farmer in the ground. He plants … cultivates … waters … protects – and finally reaps a superb harvest.

Parents are planters who have a wonderful opportunity to sow into their children a sense of identity and destiny based on a genuine code of ethics. Their planting places a hedge of knowledge and protection that will, over time, reap a harvest of integrity and virtue. It is this hedge that will protect the leader, later in life, at those very critical moments when, faced with tough choices, he must ask, “What is the right thing to do?”

We live in a visually stimulated culture that inundates our children with information to discourage honesty and virtue. If a child does not have a foundation of values and beliefs, it will be difficult for him to discern right from wrong. In his book “Kingdom Education,” Dr. Glen Schultz, a Christian educator, says, “At the foundation of a person’s life we find his beliefs. These beliefs shape his values, and his values drive his actions.” Obviously, parents are concerned about what their kids might be tempted to do, but of greater concern should be what their children believe because that will determine their behavior, attitudes and eventually the choices they make in life.

Proverbs 20:11 says, “Even children are known by the way they act, whether their conduct is pure and right.” Teaching a moral and ethical code of conduct is a process that begins at birth and continues throughout the life of your children.

Webster defines “integrity” as “virtue tested and approved; uprightness of character; honesty; complete and undivided.” One way we teach it to our children is by example. They need to see honor and integrity exemplified in a practical way in the home. We should find ways to be transparent and let our families know when it is a struggle to make the right choices to be honest and truthful.

As parents, we must first have the spiritual insight ourselves before we will be able to guide our children into this type of wisdom. We are encouraged in Psalm 139 to ask of the Lord: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life” (vv. 23-24). The Scriptures give clear guidelines and instruction to both parents and children for success in outlining and following the path of integrity.

Other than teaching by example, there are many ways to implement good training in the home – the bedrock that will shape your child’s behavior in the ensuing years. Every couple should have their own unique plan based on scriptural values and insights and consistently put this plan into practice. Remember: The future corporate and spiritual state of our nation lies in your hands!

Adapted from Rise of the New Ethics Class by Stephen G. Austin with Mary Steelman, published by Charisma House.

Discipleship Is Not a Dirty Word by J. Lee Grady

Reclaiming the process of discipleship will require a total overhaul of how we do church.
I get funny looks from some charismatic Christians when I tell them I believe God is calling us back to radical discipleship. Those in the over-50 crowd—people who lived through the charismatic movement of the 1970s—are likely to have a bad taste in their mouths when it comes to the dreaded “D word.”
That’s because the so-called Discipleship Movement (also known as the Shepherding Movement) turned a vital biblical principle into a weapon and abused people with it. Churches that embraced the warped doctrines of shepherding required believers to get permission from their pastors before they bought cars, got pregnant or moved to a new city. Immature leaders became dictators, church members became their loyal minions, and the Holy Spirit’s fire was snuffed out because of a pervasive spirit of control.
"Reclaiming this process of discipleship is going to require a total overhaul of how we do church. Do we really want to produce mature disciples who have the character of Jesus and are able to do His works? Or are we content with shallow believers and shallow faith?”
I don’t ever want to live through that again. I know countless people who are still licking their wounds from the spiritual abuse they suffered while attending hyper-controlling churches in the 1970s and ‘80s. Some of them still cannot trust a pastor today; others walked away from God because leaders misused their authority—all in the name of “discipleship.”
Yet I’m still convinced that relational discipleship—a strategy Jesus and the apostle Paul modeled for us—is as vital as ever. If anything the pendulum has now swung dangerously in the opposite direction. In today’s free-wheeling, come-as-you-are, pick-what-you-want, whatever-floats-your-boat Christianity, we make no demands and enforce no standards. We’re just happy to get warm rumps in seats. As long as people file in and out of the pews and we do the Sunday drill, we think we’ve accomplished something.
But Jesus did not command us to go therefore and attract crowds. He called us to make disciples (see Matt. 28:19), and that cannot be done exclusively in once-a-week meetings, no matter how many times the preacher can get the people to shout or wave handkerchiefs. If we don’t take immature Christians through a discipleship process (which is best done in small groups or one-on-one gatherings), people will end up in a perpetual state of immaturity.
David Kinnaman, author of the excellent book unChristian, articulated the problem this way: “Most people in America, when they are exposed to the Christian faith, are not being transformed. They take one step into the door, and the journey ends. They are not being allowed, encouraged, or equipped to love or to think like Christ. Yet in many ways a focus on spiritual formation fits what a new generation is really seeking. Transformation is a process, a journey, not a one-time decision.”
Reclaiming this process of discipleship is going to require a total overhaul of how we do church. Do we really want to produce mature disciples who have the character of Jesus and are able to do His works? Or are we content with shallow believers and shallow faith?
A friend of mine had to face this question while he was pastoring in Florida. As a young father, he had a habit of putting his infant son in a car seat and driving him around his neighborhood at night in order to lull him to sleep. Once during this ritual the Holy Spirit spoke to this pastor rather bluntly. He said: “This is what you are doing in your church. You are just driving babies around.”
My friend came under conviction. He realized he had fallen into the trap of entertaining his congregation with events and programs, even though the people were not growing spiritually. He was actually content to keep them in infancy. As long as they filled their seats each Sunday, and paid their tithes, he was happy. Yet no one was growing, and they certainly were not producing fruit by reaching others for Christ.
How can we make this paradigm shift in to discipleship? How can we add “the D word” back into our vocabulary?
  • Churches must stop exclusively focusing on big events and get people involved in small groups, where personal ministry can take place.
  • We must stop treating people like numbers and get back to valuing relationships.
  • Leaders must reject the celebrity preacher model and start investing their lives in individuals.
When we stand before Christ and He evaluates our ministries, He will not be asking us how many people sat in our pews, watched our TV programs, gave in our telethons or filled out response cards. He is not going to evaluate us based on how many people fell under the power of God or how many healings we counted in each service. He will ask how many faithful disciples we made.I pray we will make this our priority.
J. Lee Grady is the former editor of Charisma and the director of The Mordecai Project. You can follow him on Twitter at leegrady. His latest book is 10 Lies Men Believe (Charisma House).

Friday, May 4, 2012

Is the Entitlement Mentality a By-Product of Western "Christianity"?

The Elijah Challenge

In the conservative political movement today in America, there is much talk---as there should be---against the mentality of entitlement. According to this mentality, certain people are entitled or have the right to benefits like welfare of various kinds from the government. Our thesis in this article is that this mentality is actually an unwitting by-product of western “Christianity.” By this we are referring to the predominant religion of western countries in North America and Europe.

Christianity, especially in Protestant countries, gave birth to a popular emphasis on what is called “grace.” People are given the right to become children of God (John 1:12) by believing on the name of Jesus Christ. In this way they are entitled to eternal life and God’s blessings. Christ did everything for us when He died on the cross for our sins. All we need to do is to say the “sinner’s prayer” from our hearts and we become the recipients of God’s grace. By grace through faith---not by works---God’s blessings become ours. This includes earthly blessings as well. Since it is by grace and not by works, it is all free. Just believe. We are His beloved children, and He gives it all to us freely through Christ Jesus who paid the price on our behalf. (And as one recent TV commercial exclaimed, "Free is GOOD!")

Up with “grace” and down with “works”

This has become standard fare within much of evangelical Christianity today. “Grace” has been exalted, and “works” have been downgraded to the point of becoming distasteful and to be avoided in polite Christian company. How has this come about? In reacting to the erroneous Roman Catholic tradition of salvation by dead works before the Reformation, the Church went to the opposite extreme of exalting “grace” and denying the importance of works in the lives of the followers of Christ.

It is our conviction that this mindset has led to the entitlement mentality we see in western political structures today. By virtue of simply being residents of a country, people in certain categories are deemed entitled to government benefits which they receive for free. In some states in America, one can even be an illegal alien and still receive such benefits. Essentially, the government has taken the place of the God who it is said promises and provides all good things now and later to His people “for free” and apart from any good works. The mistaken belief that everything from God is free is further compounded when we think that the government can take the place of God.

Enter Karl Marx

It may be no coincidence that the philosopher Karl Marx would later grow up in the very country and environment where the Protestant Reformation under Martin Luther changed the course of Western Civilization. It was Luther of course who questioned and protested the Roman Catholic tradition of dead works not rooted in faith. His Reformation would give birth to Protestant Christianity and later, evangelicalism. Karl Marx of course would spawn the theory behind Communism. And Communism is the logical result of the liberalism which is so fashionable today among intellectual, political, and Hollywood elites in America. Could the ideas of Karl Marx have been incubated in the environment of everything-is-free “grace” prevalent in 19th Century Germany after the Reformation?

The desire of liberal politicians for redistribution of wealth today is derived from the Marxist tenet “from each according to his ability, to each according to his need.” Interestingly, this sounds suspiciously like the Biblical expression “from everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” However, there is one crucial difference between the two. The first is fallible man’s misguided desire to create his own utopia on earth by government fiat. The second statement was made by Jesus in Luke 12:48 referring to what would take place not on earth, but in the next age at the judgment seat of Christ.

In Acts 2:44-45, “all the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.” However, this was done voluntarily and cheerfully by the believers as they were led by God. It was not forced upon them by government decree---through the imposition of heavy taxes resulting in the redistribution of wealth.

Christianity without Christ gives rise to contemporary liberalism

We have argued that one consequence of liberalism is the mentality in which the “poor and disadvantaged” are with little accountability entitled to government benefits at the expense of taxpayers. And given human nature, liberalism has now become little more than a means by which politicians remain in power by securing the votes of their beneficiaries---the poor and disadvantaged. The compassion taught in Scripture has become a pretext and cover for unbridled lust for power and wealth by ideologues. This is true not only in America, but in openly Communist countries as well.

Therefore Scripture which is twisted can become a deadly weapon in the hands of the enemy. “Christianity”, “compassion”, and “tolerance”---when devoid of the lordship of Jesus Christ, when devoid of his teaching on sin and devoid of personal responsibility and accountability---become the philosophy we call liberalism. "Tolerance" then becomes a license for any and every kind of moral perversion devised by man's sinful nature. Therefore liberalism is likely the eventual result of a distorted teaching on the true grace of God. By this we mean that believers are unconditionally entitled to God’s love and blessings because of what Christ did on the cross for them. No good works (other than tithing of course) or obedience or holiness are required for God’s blessings. This is what is often taught. It is not difficult to see how this teaching can evolve into a mentality of entitlement for a society.

Unfortunately, there are flaws in this teaching. It contradicts Scripture.

The importance of good works according Scripture

To emphasize the importance of grace, we like to quote Paul’s teaching in Ephesians 2.

Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast.

However, “works” in verse 9 refers specifically to “works of the Old Testament law,” and not to good works done in obedience to God’s New Testament commands.

Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a person is justified by faith apart from the works of the law.

That the importance of “good works”’ in obedience to God’s commands following salvation cannot be diminished is evident in Ephesians 2:10.

Ephesians 2:10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

New Testament Scripture also clearly teaches rewards for obedience and good works. According to 1 Corinthians, our reward (or loss of reward) in the next age---apart from salvation and in addition to it---will be determined by our performance and the quality of our works in this life.

1 Corinthians 3:12 If anyone builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, 13 their work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each person’s work. 14 If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. 15 If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.

2 Corinthians 5:9 So we make it our goal to please him, whether we are at home in the body or away from it. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad.

These scriptures represent only a small sample of the many injunctions in the New Testament urging believers to live lives pleasing to the Lord. It is a constantly recurring theme.

The benefits of good works in this life

There are moreover benefits to be reaped even in this life for obedience which leads to fruitfulness. In John, Jesus teaches us:

John 15:16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.

When the Lord chooses and appoints us and we obediently go and bear lasting fruit for him, the Father will give us whatever we ask in the name of Jesus. This is a benefit for disciples who work fruitfully for the kingdom of God. Such “good work” also includes a personal life of holiness as well. Scripture commands us not only to do good works, but also to be good.

1 Peter 1:15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; 16 for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.”

Even the love of Jesus and the love of the Father are conditional upon obedience to His commands.

John 14:21 Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them." ...23 Jesus replied, "Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.

God's conditional love toward obedient believers should not be confused with the love of God as taught in John 3:16 where God demonstrated His love for sinners through the one-time sacrifice of His Son on the cross. If sinners reject that love, they will eventually suffer God's wrath.

The consequences of scriptural truth distorted

We are in the Last Days. It is time for the Church to return Scripture, and to re-discover the biblical balance between true grace and good works. True grace will result in good works and personal holiness in the life of a believer. Scriptural truth distorted by the enemy has resulted in disastrous consequences for the world. We submit that he has used it to plant the seed of the entitlement and welfare mentality which has in part led to the multi-trillion-dollar deficit now threatening the financial solvency of the United States.

Scriptural truth can save. Scriptural truth distorted and perverted can kill and destroy. It is essential that we divide the Word of God correctly.

Jude 4 For certain individuals whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into a license for immorality…

Romans 6:1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means!

Where’s God’s Grace in the Messages to the Seven Churches of Revelation?

by William Lau - TEC

Grace in the End Times

During this age of “grace” in which we live, most servants of God in an effort to distance themselves from the legalistic works of the law bend over backwards to avoid “ministering condemnation” by teaching instead about the free gift of God’s love, comfort and blessing.

Many believers feel that we are now in the last days preceding the Second Coming of the Messiah. More and more we are studying Revelation in an effort to understand better what will happen. Let us here focus on Jesus’ words to the Seven Churches in Chapters 2 and 3 to better understand the role of grace in the Church during these last days.

"To the angel of the church in Ephesus write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand and walks among the seven golden lampstands. I know your deeds, your hard work and your perseverance. I know that you cannot tolerate wicked people, that you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them false. You have persevered and have endured hardships for my name, and have not grown weary. Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken the love you had at first. Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place. But you have this in your favor: You hate the practices of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Today in the church grace is commonly taught in contradistinction to works. Unfortunately, the theme of this kind of grace is not evident in the Lord’s words to the church in Ephesus. Instead he in fact commends them for their “deeds, hard work, and perseverance.” To make matters worse for us, he then rebukes them harshly for forsaking their first love and tells them to consider how far they have backslidden. He commands them to repent. He threatens to remove their lampstand from its place if they do not. Whatever this action may mean, it is clearly not good for the church people. (What foolhardy minister would dare preach such a message of condemnation today?) But thankfully Jesus then relents a bit by commending them for their hate of the practices of the Nicolaitans. Overall, we can conclude that the message of popular grace heard so often today is not present in the Lord’s message to the Ephesian church.

"To the angel of the church in Smyrna write:
These are the words of him who is the First and the Last, who died and came to life again. I know your afflictions and your poverty--yet you are rich! I know about the slander of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan. Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor's crown. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. The one who is victorious will not be hurt at all by the second death.

The church in Smyrna is only two of the seven churches which Jesus does not rebuke and command to repent. The Lord commends them for their afflictions and their poverty. Then he informs them that they are going to suffer painful persecution, even to the point of death, for his name’s sake. After that they will receive the victor’s crown, signifying authority to reign with him in the next age. They will not be hurt by the second death. We note that even toward this faithful church Jesus’ words did not smack of the grace about which we hear so often today---the grace for comfort, material prosperity, and "effortless success" in this life. Rather it was the grace to endure afflictions, poverty, slander, persecution, and even death for the Lord's sake.

"To the angel of the church in Pergamum write:
These are the words of him who has the sharp, double-edged sword. I know where you live--where Satan has his throne. Yet you remain true to my name. You did not renounce your faith in me, not even in the days of Antipas, my faithful witness, who was put to death in your city--where Satan lives. Nevertheless, I have a few things against you: There are some among you who hold to the teaching of Balaam, who taught Balak to entice the Israelites to sin so that they ate food sacrificed to idols and committed sexual immorality. Likewise, you also have those who hold to the teaching of the Nicolaitans. Repent therefore! Otherwise, I will soon come to you and will fight against them with the sword of my mouth. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who is victorious, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give that person a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to the one who receives it.

This church was also commended for not renouncing their faith in Christ even during times of persecution. Jesus then rebukes them for tolerating those who held to the teaching Balaam---something to this author sounding much like contemporary prosperity teaching. He also rebukes them for holding the teaching of the Nicolaitans which created a wall of separation between the authority-wielding professional clergy and the common lay people under them. He commands them to repent. Failing that, he threatened even to fight against them. Where’s the grace in this message? We find the grace of God in their enduring the persecution and not renouncing their faith. This contrasts starkly with the grace popularly taught today for "effortless success" in this world.

"To the angel of the church in Thyatira write:
These are the words of the Son of God, whose eyes are like blazing fire and whose feet are like burnished bronze. I know your deeds, your love and faith, your service and perseverance, and that you are now doing more than you did at first. Nevertheless, I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan's so-called deep secrets, 'I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.' To the one who is victorious and does my will to the end, I will give authority over the nations-- that one 'will rule them with an iron scepter and will dash them to pieces like pottery'--just as I have received authority from my Father. I will also give that one the morning star. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Again Jesus begins his message with a bit of comforting good news first, commending them for their deeds, love, faith, service, and perseverance. But then comes a heavy dose of bad news which clearly outweighs the good. Very severely he rebukes some of them for tolerating the teaching of Jezebel, a teaching I believe found today in contemporary Christianity. He threatens those who accept her teaching with intense suffering and even death. This is clearly condemnation for those who refuse to repent. To top it off, he assures the believers in this church that he will repay each of them according to their deeds---whether good or bad. Where’s the free gift of grace as popularly taught here? But the Lord ends his message with a wonderful promise: those who are victorious by doing his will to the end will receive authority over the nations in the next age. This is not the popular message of grace here, but rather the fact that eternal reward is related to obedience and good works in this life. Bad works and deeds may mean loss of eternal reward.

"To the angel of the church in Sardis write:
These are the words of him who holds the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you. Yet you have a few people in Sardis who have not soiled their clothes. They will walk with me, dressed in white, for they are worthy. The one who is victorious will, like them, be dressed in white. I will never blot out the name of that person from the book of life, but will acknowledge that name before my Father and his angels. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Contrary to his usual custom, the Lord does not begin his message here with any comforting good news. Rather he labels them outright as “dead.” He rebukes them for their unfinished deeds and calls them to repent. The mention of his “coming like a thief” here is a clear reference to his Second Coming. He ends the message by comforting the worthy and victorious ones in the church who have not soiled their clothes by doing his will obediently. Their names will never be blotted out from the book of life. The very strong implication here is that some people will in fact have their names blotted out by not repenting and not doing his will. (Whatever "blotted out" may mean, it is clearly to be avoided.) Again, where’s the “grace”? Aren’t we saved by grace forever through faith and not by works so that no one can boast?

"To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write:
These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open. I know your deeds. See, I have placed before you an open door that no one can shut. I know that you have little strength, yet you have kept my word and have not denied my name. I will make those who are of the synagogue of Satan, who claim to be Jews though they are not, but are liars--I will make them come and fall down at your feet and acknowledge that I have loved you. Since you have kept my command to endure patiently, I will also keep you from the hour of trial that is going to come on the whole world to test the inhabitants of the earth. I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown. The one who is victorious I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will they leave it. I will write on them the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on them my new name. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

The church in Philadelphia is the only church from among the seven to which Jesus actually says “I have loved you.” By contrast, five of the seven churches suffer his rebuke. But there is no hint of rebuke or call to repentance to the church in Philadelphia. Why? Because they have kept his word and his command by their “deeds.” If they hold on to what they have, they will receive their crown of authority to reign with him. The only caveat here is that they must still finish their race successfully. So where’s the “grace” and the “completed work of Christ on the cross” which assures us of our salvation no matter what as long as we have repeated the sinner’s prayer? James answers this nagging question unambiguously: "faith without works is dead."

"To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:
These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God's creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, 'I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.' But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see. Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches." (Rev 2:1-3:22)

If we consider the seven churches to reflect the Church down through the ages in a chronological sense, then the church in Laodicea would be the affluent and comfortable church in the end times. In contrast to his words to the first six churches, there is no commending of this church at all anywhere to alleviate his scathing rebuke. He hates their lukewarm deeds. He does say that he loves them, but not because of their obedience. Rather, he rebukes them so harshly precisely because of his merciful love for them. That is certainly the grace of God. Despite their wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked state before him, he loves them. This, however, is not the kind of grace in which we should want to excel. If repentance is not forthcoming there will be severe consequences, something made abundantly clear by Christ’s earlier warnings to the other churches. Once again Jesus concludes his message by reminding them of the eternal reward awaiting those who are victorious in their lives on earth by their obedience to him and carrying out his commands in Scripture, including the Great Commission.

So where's the salvation?
It may be worthwhile to note that Jesus speaks little of “salvation” in his messages to the seven churches. Rather he concentrates on the crown of authority and the right to sit on his throne given to those who finish the race victoriously by obeying his will in their deeds. Although there would appear to be a definite difference between salvation by grace and eternal reward by works according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 3:12-15, that difference is blurred here---perhaps deliberately so. Perhaps the Lord Jesus Christ is not looking for those who believe simply as an “insurance policy” just in case the gospel happens to be true, and so only want to do the minimum just to be saved. Such people are not interested in eternal reward or reigning with Christ in the next age. His messages to the seven churches perhaps deliberately blur the distinction between salvation and eternal reward in order to weed out such lukewarm believers, and also to wake up those who have been put to sleep by the popular message of grace. When Christ returns, many such believers may be asleep and not ready to stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:10).

So where's the grace?
The real message of grace is implicit in Christ’s words to the seven churches. How so? Those whom he commended for their obedience had clearly learned to excel in the grace of obeying God’s commands which included patient endurance of suffering, persecution, and even poverty. Furthermore, the authority to reign which obedient and victorious believers will receive in the next age will be far out of proportion to their good works of obedience in this life. In the Lord’s Parable of the Minas, the first servant received authority over ten cities---clearly far out of proportion to the ten minas he earned, worth only something over US$2,000 today.

"The first one came and said, 'Sir, your mina has earned ten more.' "'Well done, my good servant!' his master replied. 'Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.' (Luke 19:16-17)

There goes the real grace of God during these last days. Will the Church dare to preach this kind of grace and risk losing the Sunday crowds and their generous offerings? Jesus was often wary of the crowds, knowing what was in their hearts. He preferred instead to concentrate on his disciples, preparing them for the great responsibility of fulfilling the Great Commission after his departure. And this is the grace we ought to teach to prepare disciples today to fulfill the Great Commission during these days preceding the great and terrible Day of the Lord.