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Far too many people today have a consumer mentality when it comes to the church and even to worship.  This takes on the attitude of, “Preacher, say something that will make me laugh and make me feel better.” “Choir, sing a song that will inspire me.”  “Church, what will you do for me?”

Worship, of course, is not primarily for us but for God.  God alone is worthy of the full attention and adoration of our hearts and minds.  He alone is worthy to be praised and glorified.  However, even though our worship is to be God-centered and not man or self-centered, there are many blessings that we do receive when we truly worship the Lord.  I want to remind us of three of those blessings as we think about the power of true worship.

True worship is a powerful…

-Way of comfort and encouragement:

From Job to David to Jesus Himself, we see throughout Scripture the comfort, hope and encouragement that came to those who worshiped the Lord in spirit and in truth.  Job fell to the ground and worshiped after he received bad news after bad news.  As long as his focus remained on the Lord, Job received the strength and hope he needed to go through trials that you and I would never wish on anyone.  Through all of his heartache, Job still declared, “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”  Yes, he later turned to self-pity and questioning God, but when the Lord reminded Job of His sovereign power and majesty in chapters thirty-eight through forty-one; Job regained the perspective of Heaven, confessed, repented and once again worshiped.  God then blessed Job even more than before.

Over and over again we read of David making the choice to rejoice, even in the midst of severe loss and affliction.  We need to learn from David.  There may be times when we do not feel like praising God, but David said, “I will praise Him; I will bless the Lord.”  The amazing thing is, the more we choose to worship and praise God, the more we begin to feel like it.  Worship begins to turn my attention and focus from myself, other people, my problems and my situation, and it focuses on God. Worship reminds me of who God is, what God has done for me in the past, the power and promises of God, and what God can do for me again if I will trust Him.

Even Jesus found renewed strength, comfort and encouragement from times of prayer and worship.  These included His time of temptation in the wilderness, His personal declarations of praise that we read throughout the Gospels, and even the night of despair in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Many Bible scholars believe the traditional Passover song that was sung by Jesus and the disciples in the Upper Room on the night of His betrayal and arrest was Psalm 118.  I want to encourage you to read it and see how it applies to what Jesus was about to endure and how it would have given Him strength, comfort and hope.

True God-centered worship may not immediately change your circumstances, but it will change you.  In the next article, we will look at further truths about the power of worship.

In Christ’s service,

Allen

One of my favorite things to do is to sit on my Mom and Dad’s front porch with them and just talk.  Their front porch overlooks a little pond and there is almost always a breeze that blows across that porch, even during the summer months.  It can get hot and dry out in the yard, but on that porch there is shade, a cool breeze, and communion and fellowship with my mother and father.  Telephones, email, Facebook, etc., are all nice to have, but nothing can replace being on that porch in person with my Mom and Dad.

The same is true in our relationship with God.  We can find ourselves in dry desert places along the way, but the time we spend with our Heavenly Father in prayer, His word and in worship of Him is like spending time on God’s front porch.  We can enjoy sweet fellowship with Him while the Holy Spirit blows across our soul like a cool, refreshing breeze.  Daily time alone with God is vital to our sanity, peace of mind, and overall physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being.  If time alone with God in prayer, worship, and His Word is not a priority for you, then that definitely needs to change.  Your Lord is waiting for you on His front porch, desiring to spend time with you, His child.

Along those lines, Lisa and I are trying to prepare for our last little birdie to fly the coop.  Many of you have been in this same position in your lives.  We bring up our children in the nurture, fear, and admonition of the Lord, by the grace of God prepare them as best we can, and then send them out for them to live out God’s purposes for their lives.  However, as many of you know, it still isn’t easy when the time comes for us to release them to fly away on their own.

Our Wynken left the nest years ago.  He has three chickadees of his own.  It is very satisfying to see how God is using him and his family.  Blynken and her hubbie are about to fly even further away as they begin a new adventure in ministry.  We have been blessed to have Nod with us for a good long while, but she too is about to be married and leave the home nest.  We know that we are very blessed by God with our family.  Wynken is our laughter, Blynken is our song and Nod is our sunshine.  In tribute to one of our favorite episodes of The Andy Griffith Show, yes, the old home cage is starting to look empty, but as we watch our offspring take flight, discover and live out God’s purposes for their lives; the cage may be starting to look empty, but the trees sure are beginning to sound nice and full.

Amazed and Grateful to God,

Allen

Romania 2016

First of all, Lisa and I want to thank all of you for your love, prayers, encouragement, and support.  The work of the AMEN Ministry is possible because of God’s grace and your partnership in the Gospel.

In November we led a team of seventeen volunteers to northwest Romania. Ten of the seventeen were on their very first mission trip.  Part of the joy and blessing we receive is watching others experience their first overseas mission trip.  It was very evident that people were praying.  Once again, the Lord answered every prayer we were praying for our trip.

We were able to share the Gospel with over seven hundred people in the medical clinics and evangelistic services.  Sixty-seven people prayed to receive Christ!  In addition, two others publicly committed to believer’s baptism, which is a huge step of courage in many of these villages.

God showed Himself so strong in one village in particular.  Pastor Mihai had shared with me that the believers were facing great opposition from the established state-sponsored church.  He was concerned that there would be little response because of the fear and intimidation.  We saw the greatest response of the week in that village!  The medical clinic was the best attended and I was able to share the gospel and an invitation to the clinic with a group of parents, teachers and students in the public school.  Greater is He that is in us than he that is in the world!

Because of God’s people giving so generously, we were able to leave a much needed supply of children’s vitamins and antibiotics with the House of Hope.  Also, we were able to leave medicine with the state orphanage in that region.

Of course, one of our team’s biggest blessings was getting to spend time with the children at the House of Hope.  Our team members absolutely fell in love with all the children.  God used our team to be a witness to the lost and an encouragement to the believers in the churches.

Everyone who went with us wants to go back.  Someone recently asked me, “What impressed you the most while you were in Romania?” My answer was, “Our team!”  It always amazes me how God puts together the exact group of people that we need.

There are other opportunities for 2017.  One of those is for the support of a young man who will be helping Bro. Mihai pastor two of the seven churches he oversees.  This young man will not receive a salary, but his transportation costs from the Baptist college in Bucharest to the Satu Mare area will be $100 a week.  ($400 a month) We already have one church that has committed to $100 a month for this need.  It is a tremendous help for Pastor Mihai and for the churches in Halmeu and Baba Novac.  Perhaps you or your church could help with the rest?  I want to remind you that the AMEN Ministry is still a FULL-TIME ministry with ongoing needs and commitments.  God is so faithful and again, we are so thankful to Him and to all of you.

May you and your family have a Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

In Christ’s service,

Allen

Psalm 72:19

Now and Then

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor…” Hebrews 2:9

There are those who say the study of, preaching of, and conversations about Bible prophecy are useless.  I am especially saddened by so many younger pastors and preachers who, either by personal choice or influence from seminary professors, have been convinced that Bible prophecy is a waste of time.  One of the reasons they have been given is that we need to focus more on the problems of the here and now and let God worry about the future.  Another reason there is such a lack of emphasis on Bible prophecy from certain quarters within the church is because of the growing popularity of what is known as replacement theology.  Many are teaching that the Church has replaced Israel.  This simply is not true.  The Church is the Bride of Christ, comprised of all true believers, Jew and Gentile, but God also still has a plan and a purpose for Israel.

The need, as is true of most things in life and ministry, is balance.  A pastor should not teach and preach exclusively about Bible prophecy, but neither should a pastor completely neglect it.  If he does, he will have to leave out much of the Bible!  One of the main purposes of the preaching and teaching of Bible prophecy is to give us a fervency and an urgency for the here and now.  The needs and trials faced within the lives of individuals, couples, families, churches, and a nation need to be viewed and addressed within the context of the now and the then.  The motivation for life and for the way we live our lives needs to be with the perspective of the now and the then.  What do I mean by this?

Pastor and author, A.W. Tozer, can help us understand how to live our lives thinking of the now and the then.  Consider his words based on the verse quoted above from Hebrews 2:

“We see not all things under Him, but we see Jesus.  God has put all things in subjection under His feet.  For in that He put all in subjection under Him, He left nothing that is not put under Him.  We do not see it all done yet, but we have faith, and we see Jesus, who for a little while was made lower than angels in order that He might suffer death.  We see Him crowned with glory and honor at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  And when He comes back again, He will put all things under His feet.

For myself, with God’s help, I want to live for that time.  I want my money to live for that time.  I want my talents, whatever they may be, to live for that time.  I want my time to be given for that hour when He comes back again.  I do not want to divide my time and live for the earth while this is approaching.  I believe with all my heart that God has put all things under His feet, and one of these days, He is coming back to take His power and to reign.  May God grant that you and I be ready.”

In every relationship, in our stewardship, in every temptation, in every opportunity, we need to live our lives with the perspective of the now and the then.  Everyday we need to realize that the return of Christ, whatever day that may be, is one day closer than ever before.  We need to remember that we will stand before Him and give an account of the now.  This mindset should affect who we are, how we live everyday, and have an impact on basically everything we do.  We are to live our lives to the fullest, everyday, enjoying the life God has given us, but always with the then in view.  If you live your life with the firm belief that Jesus truly could return at any moment, it will change your life.

On one final point, so many pastors and churches bemoan the fact that they are not seeing as many people come to faith in Christ as they once did and that their churches are not baptizing as many people as they once did, and that their church members do not have the burden for evangelism that they need to have; for them I have a reminder.  Revelation 19:10 has a powerful word for us concerning the now and then.  John wrote, “For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”  John and the Lord are telling us, the whole point of prophecy, the spirit of prophecy is to testify of Jesus.  When a person and a church get a passion for the return of Christ, they will get a passion to see people come to faith in Christ.  The then has everything to do with the now.

Maranatha!

Allen

 

 

Several years ago, I was asked to preach in a revival meeting in a rural Baptist church in west Alabama.  The pastor, a good friend of mine, asked me if I could sing one night.  I told him I would be glad to.

On the night I was scheduled to sing, I told the church’s soundman that I needed to set up the song with a brief introduction.  Just before I finished the introduction, I told him that I would motion subtly to him and that would be his cue to start the song.

When the time came for me to sing, I began to tell the story behind the song.  Near the end of the introduction I motioned ever so slightly toward the soundman so he could begin the soundtrack.  The sound booth in this particular church was in a very bad location.  It was behind the choir loft and over to one side.  The booth had a large window that was not tinted or even one-way glass.  It was just a large pane of clear glass.  Everyone in the church could see everything that was going on in the sound booth.

I thought to myself, “Surely, he saw me motion for him to start the music.”  However, there was no sound of music coming from the speakers.  I hated to be so obvious, but I turned around to see what the problem was.  When I turned around I saw the problem.  The whole church could see the problem.  The sound booth had a telephone in it and apparently the soundman decided the introduction to my song would be a convenient time to make a phone call.  I motioned toward him again.  This time it was not subtle or slight.  He then made a motion to me.  He held up the index finger of his right hand as if to say, “Just a minute preacher, I’m busy.”

I couldn’t believe it!  I didn’t know whether to get mad or laugh.  After a few more seconds, he finished his phone call, hung up, and started my soundtrack.  I sang the song, but I still couldn’t believe what had just happened.

That makes me wonder how God feels about us sometimes.  He has a word He wants us to hear, or an assignment He wants us to fulfill and we hold up our hand and say, “Just a minute Lord, I’m busy.”  Oh, we say it more with our attitudes than we actually verbalize it, but you know that it happens.

The God of the universe desires to speak to us and use us for His glory and we tell Him either by attitude, word, or lack of response that we are too busy to listen and obey.  Oh, what blessings and precious time of communion with the Lord we miss when we think we are so busy.

It is an amazing thing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wants to have anything at all to do with us, but thankfully, He does.  I suggest that when He signals to us that He wants our attention, we hang up everything else we may be doing and simply say, “Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”

Allen

Everywhere you look there is unrest.  I don’t know if there is a single nation in the world that is satisfied with their leaders.  Three primary traits that seem to characterize so many world leaders are corruption, cowardice, and compromise.  This, of course, is not true of all world leaders, but sadly, it is true of many.  I read only this morning of one European nation that has been trying to choose a leader for its government for forty days with, so far, no success.  The United States may face a similar situation with our presidential election.  While there are some who are totally enthusiastic about their favorite candidate; most of the people I know are very discouraged with the choices we have.

As we look at the world through the lens of God’s Word, we can see how the world is being primed for the Antichrist.  Scripture tells us that in the last days the nations will clamor for a strong leader who will seem to have all the answers for the world’s greatest problems.  Out of a sea of unrest and political, religious, and economic turmoil, the devil will call out his false messiah.  He will first step onto the world stage as a man of peace, but after a period of time, the Antichrist’s true satanic nature will become manifest.  We can see how much of the world is ready to receive a charismatic leader who will appeal to the “best” in mankind.

Even though this man may already be somewhere in the world, waiting in the wings to make his appearance, we are never told in Scripture to look for the Antichrist.  More than ever before, those of us who know Jesus Christ need to have our eyes fixed on Him. (Hebrews 12:2)  Those of us who know the True Christ need to be growing in His Word, growing in prayer, and sharing the Gospel with those who, if they don’t know Christ, will fall for the lies of the Antichrist.

Now is not the time to be a politically correct, cultural Christian.  Now is not the time to be playing church.  The True Church of Jesus Christ needs to be salt and light in a world that needs to see Jesus in us.  No, we are not to look for or be anxious about the Antichrist, but while the world is being primed for him, we need to be looking to, looking for, and lifting up JESUS CHRIST as the true Hope of the world.

*Church sign I saw the other day:(Keep in mind the symbols of our two major political parties in America)      “If you’re tired of the elephant and the donkey; turn to the Lamb!”

As we consider the current state of things in America and around the world, a sense of pessimism and despair can certainly fall over us.  There are many desperate and deadly situations around the world.  Also, the current choices for president of the United States have left most of us wondering, “Where have all the truly godly leaders gone?  Are there any out there at all?  Has it ever been this bad before?”

Believe it or not the answer is, “Yes, it has been this bad before and even worse.”  In the 1940’s the entire world was at war.  Depending on which source you read, the number of people who died as a direct result of World War II ranges anywhere from sixty to eighty million.  That is a staggering number!  It has been over seventy years since WWII ended, and it really is impossible for our generation to comprehend the magnitude of those years.

In 1968, America was in the process of electing a new president.  We were greatly divided as a nation.  We were divided over race, poverty, the drug and sexual revolutions, and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both assassinated.  Riots were common place in the streets and on college campuses.  How in the world did this country survive the sixties?

The good news is that during these two traumatic decades and immediately following, there were two great movements of God.  The years of World War II and following saw the rise of many great ministries and evangelical leaders.  People in America and Great Britain turned to God in desperate times of fasting and prayer.  God molded and raised up men like Billy Graham, Stephen Olford, Leonard Ravenhill, Warren Wiersbe, and Rees Howells as well as others.  These men were shaped by the challenges of their day.  Many new and anointed ministries came out of the decade of the forties and the early fifties.  Rees Howells, for example, had a powerful ministry of intercessory prayer during the war years that saw many specific and miraculous answers to prayer in some of Britain’s darkest hours.  Following the war, churches saw record numbers of baptisms and church attendance soared.  Also, God blessed and prospered America in many ways.

Of course, in the latter part of the sixties and early seventies, God sent a wave of revival across America that became known as “The Jesus Movement.”  Lives were radically changed, young people were on fire for Christ and those of us who were older children or teenagers at the time were affected for life.  God brought a glorious good out of those truly troubled times.

Yes, it looks pretty bad right now, but it has been bad before.  Will we wring our hands and give up?  Will we just sit around on our blessed assurance and hope that Jesus hurries up and raptures us out of this mess?  Or, will we hold on until the harvest comes?(Galatians 6:9)  Will we repent and desperately, fervently seek God like never before?  We could be on the verge of the next great move of God.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it.  I want me, my family and my church to be a part of what God wants to do.  How about you?

There was one other time I would like to remind you of when the world was in a dark place just before God did something amazing.  Isaiah put it this way, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Is. 9:2)  Matthew tells us that Jesus and His ministry on earth were the fulfillment of this prophecy.  It is important to note that immediately following Matthew’s quotation of this verse he records the words of Jesus that need to be heard again today, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Let us pray and believe that God’s people will repent and that a mighty revival of God is at hand.  Two verses after Jesus’ call to repent He issued another call, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  While we pray for revival let us also go with Christ after the lost like never before. He has left us with a mission to fulfill and a message to proclaim.  He is our only Hope in these times and for all of time.

In Christ’s service,

Allen