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Posts Tagged ‘revival’

So young people are leaving the church: a disastrous omen for the future of Christianity.  We must do something.  Something different than what we have been doing.  Because the church is failing this generation. 

 

It is common to point to the pizza and games youth-group-without-accountability-or-education program as the culprit for the apostasy of college students.  Church should not be about entertainment, say the pious parents who with the next breath criticize the musicians on the praise team and complain that the worship style at their congregation doesn’t suit their tastes.  Perhaps we are not sheltering youth enough.  Maybe they need more authority figures, a connection with the whole church, including their parents. 

 

Some on the conservative side of the question point to the content of what we teach young people.  Survey after survey reveals that teens don’t know the basics of Christian theology, and certainly aren’t decision-making from a Christian worldview.  These kids have no foundation to abandon, Christian leaders rightly argue.  They’re hungry for answers.  And when we don’t equip them in the realm of apologetics, high school and college professors have little difficulty refuting the shallow traditional faith of their students. 

 

Maybe the church is too legalistic, parents and pastors suffocating kids with expectations of holiness, that ever-imposing scale of good deeds versus bad deeds on which to measure God’s favor and wrath.  When at last free of the oppressive constraints, these young adults bust out with a liberal longing for pleasure, enjoying an affirming group of friends that encourages them to stop stifling their own feelings.  So we the church ought to offer more grace, somehow imparting to the up-and-coming generations the relationship aspect of Christianity.  Like so many who have been in the church for decades, these teenagers just want to know that God is love, and He wants to be your friend, to give you your best life now. 

 

“These are the leaders of the future,” is quoted, by some with hope, by others with dark foreboding.  But our model of ministry leaves a wide gap between involvement in youth ministry and being incorporated with the rest of the congregation.  Smaller churches have no college ministry.  Even those with college ministries have merely moved the disconnect to a later date.  Those in the club of grown ups are unwilling to speak to or invest in the younger individuals – let alone take their advice – trying to move into life and faith that is overwhelming without examples.  There is truth to the protest that kids are irreverent and disrespectful and self-absorbed.  But listen to what we’re saying.  Those are the kids.  What toddler have you met who knows anything different than irreverence and selfishness?  Yet the older people attempt to train them, not fight them.  Church has failed to welcome the post-education demographic; can we be surprised they leave?

 

Yet maybe that is exactly what the young adults ought to do: leave.  An institution so divided and impotent as the evangelical church, so lacking in love or substance, is more likely to inspire bitter memories of religious hypocrisy and to shore up doubt in the power of a God mostly ignored in the actual workings of the organization.  I will say more: perhaps the adults should leave, and the young parents who feel they ought to raise their children in Sunday school should never come back.  Christians should take on the personal responsibility of living a communal faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: embracing grace as a gift both received and distributed; trust in the power and authority of the Creator God of the Resurrection; loving, serving, and discipling their fellow children of God; humbling themselves before the voice of God coming through Scripture, teachers, and youths; pursuing fellowship with God and with each other; and living out a life so different from the world that those exposed have no doubt that only the miracle of God could give such abundant life! 

 

And just maybe when we see such a symptom of desperate unwell in our churches, we should repent, falling on our faces before the Lord of Wisdom, desiring His healing and direction rather than the empty programs and various solutions proffered by man. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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“One may steal your thunder, but the lightning is always God’s.” – my family (a collaborative quote, in which we were stealing each other’s thunder)

Several weeks ago – this post is way behind, so sorry – my brother gathered a group of our friends who, along with others of our acquaintance, have independently sensed the call to do something with our knowledge and fellowship.  We are so good at parties, but we lose focus.  So many of us have been wondering where God wants us to act.  My brother gathered us to pray and share Scripture, seeking God for where He wants us to serve, why, how, who, etc.  It must be a God thing, or it is nothing. 

Last year for a few months I attended a young adult Bible study and worship time in which I sensed that most of us were passionately eager to serve God, to have a part in His work, but He hadn’t told us where to go.  He has been building faith in a young generation, like armies in waiting.  And we gathered to wait on Him, to encourage our readiness, and to seek God’s marching orders.  Some days I think there are so many causes, that I wonder why it’s difficult to find mine.  And then I remember that God has us waiting.  Until God speaks, I can wait. 

Karen Hancock’s allegory, Arena, is a vivid description of Christian living.  At one point all those “saved” are waiting, studying and training, in a well-provisioned safe haven.  They must wait for the exact moment at which God will give them a sign to move out and cross the enemy-infested lands to the portal to home.  If they leave too early or too late, they will run across lines and camps of enemies and be lost.  So they wait.  So we wait. 

But we believe God is at work.  Over Memorial Day Weekend I attended the New Attitude Conference in Louisville, KY.  Put on by Sovereign Grace and featuring Josh Harris, Eric Simmons, Mark Dever, Al Mohler, CJ Mahaney, and John Piper as speakers, the young adult conference attracted 3,000 soldiers in waiting.  I was surprised, though I shouldn’t have been, to find most of them as directionless as me.  Ok, most of them had college degree or career goals, but spiritually we weren’t sure where God wanted us.  Some of us, in the midst of waiting, felt like the fight to keep heads above water while treading was all we could do.  Maintaining a devotional and prayer life, passionately worshiping God and memorizing His Word were high orders. 

Then John Piper spoke on William Tyndale, who most certainly had a calling and was not about to waste his life.  He translated the whole New Testament and several Old Testament books into English for the first time.  And he wrote books and campaigned for the Bible to be printed in the common tongue and made available to the people – at the risk and cost of his own life.  The challenge went out and resonated with the three thousand in attendance. 

Why does it resonate?  Because God is at work, in the grassroots, you might say, reviving our faith in a big God.  Twenty-something Christians, though comparatively immature in our marriage and childbearing rates and economic productivity, are getting excited about the truth, about a God bigger than themselves.  Rejecting the shallow self-help and entertainment-driven church culture, they are reading up on Jonathan Edwards and getting excited about William Tyndale, singing theology-rich God-centered worship songs like Chris Tomlin’s How Great is Our God, or Isaac Watts’ hymns. 

This is the subject of Young, Restless, and Reformed.  Collin Hansen took a tour of the country to find out about this multi-rooted movement of ‘young Calvinists.’  He did a great job of filling pages with information about theology, denominations, organizations, authors, and what’s so exciting to us about God’s sovereignty.  Grace, a consistent description of the world, a God worth worshiping – we have lots of answers, lots of paths that are bringing us to become part of the revival of Calvinism in the West.  Why is God doing this?  We wait to see. 

Not only are our discoveries and conversions to Calvinism different; the lifestyles and trappings in which we couch our belief in the sovereignty of God also run a spectrum, which Collin Hansen (a writer for Christianity Today) describes with excellence: from liturgical and traditional presbyterians to charismatic and modern Mark Driscoll and CJ Mahaney.  Then there’s the unusual mix of Baptists and Calvinism (which for the moment describes me, though I find myself pretty much in pieces of everything).  On of the most interesting parts of Young, Restless, and Reformed to me was the chapter on the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Al Mohler’s Calvinist makeover of the college.  So that’s why my friends at Elect Exiles are Election-affirming and Baptist.  I’m from a church that, in my observation, has been more typical of 20th century S. Baptists: in between Calvinism and Arminianism and reluctant to debate the issue.  The tides are turning.  I’ll confess belief in a big, sovereign God was a prerequisite for me to vote for our current pastor. 

This is a book I will recommend to pretty much everyone.  The only disappointment I had was that the chapter on New Attitude, titled “Forget Reinvention,” didn’t say much about the conference.  If you want to know about that, the New Attitude website has plenty of info to get you hyped about next year.  I read the book in a few days, and told everyone I know about the book for the next several weeks.  Read it, talk about it, and be encouraged by all the others God is calling.  Keep waiting. 

To God be all glory,

Lisa of Longbourn

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I went to the rally today.  In the morning we were outside the projected facility, a really beat up building presently, surrounded by wire fences with barbed wire on top.  The area is under development, so maybe when the fence was build there was a need to protect property.  Anway, we marched, prayed, and protested.  My experience marching was holding the hand of a little boy whose mother brought him and his two brothers.  Before today I had never met them.  The rally was an informative kick-off to future efforts.  Speakers included Keith, Will, Eric Scheidler from Illinois, Joe Scheidler also from Illinois, and a lawyer named Tom. 

After lunch we moved inside (side note: earlier this week sleet and snow and freezing weather were predicted for today, but the actual weather was a chilly, clear morning – rain came way after the rally) and heard again the history of this Planned Parenthood facility, and its sister facility with sister tactics in Aurora, Illinois.  Mostly for me it was a time to figure out who these leaders are, what they’re about, and what they’ll continue to do. 

Keith, who is always a quiet person, showed real emotion, between excitement for the turnout, enthusiasm for the cause, and appreciation for leaders of the pro-life movement.  And he quite often was heart to say, “Praise God.”  Will was softspoken and direct, like Gandalf veiling his potency in a thin cloak.  A few weeks ago I heard him answer a neighbor of a contractor who complained he was tired of our protests, “Forty years and 50 million lives!  We’re tired of babies being murdered!”  I am fully aware that my quote has not the slightest hint of the fervor with which it was originally spoken.  Eric told us about the ongoing efforts in Illinois, and how God providentially had the people in place to respond to the last-minute call to forestall Planned Parenthood’s opening there.  Joe gave the Christian admonition to carry on in faith (relying on God), hope (that there are real victories being won through our willingness to be involved and outspoken), and love (for the babies, obviously, and also for our “enemies,” whose souls are at stake.   

Tom the lawyer talked about first amendment rights, testifying of the progressively improving standing pro-life groups have in court.  He advised to always do what a police officer says, even if there isn’t a law.  If our rights are clearly intentionally violated, then we can meet with an officer’s superiors or write letters or if the offense is very direct, we can call a lawyer.  A lot of these people have been in jail.  Sometimes I think of that as civil disobedience, with which I disagree.  The Bible teaches to obey the ordinances of man.  But apparently most of these people weren’t breaking ordinances; they were making authorities uncomfortable, so they arrested them without charges. 

Anyway, I signed the petition (’cause we’re not allowed to sign the ones that we’re circulating) defining person as beginning at fertilization.  Some of the speakers had pretty direct ways of backing pro-choice people into a corner to admit that a baby in the womb is still a living human being.  They report that the abortionists have admitted that they know they are destroying life.  But they don’t tell the women that, because abortion is a business. 

The plans in Colorado are:

1.  Pressure contractors (particularly Weitz Company) through phone calls, emails, and neighborhood protests to cease construction on the Planned Parenthood mega-clinic. 

2.  Increase city, state, and neighborhood awareness of the facility and the dishonest practices employed by Planned Parenthood. 

3.  Preach to those who are working on the building, praying they will, when educated about the project, turn away. 

4.  Define person in the Colorado constitution as beginning at fertilization (collect signatures for the petitions, campaign for the ballot measure). 

5.  Continue to intercede outside of abortion clinics. 

Reported by one of the speakers today was the statistic that the average age of an abortionist in the US today is 65 years, because no new med students want the kind of stigmatized life the abortionists face – a direct result of pro-life protesting.  If there is no abortionist available, even if it is legal, women will not be able to kill their babies.  If there is no facility available, no babies will be murdered either.  The little protests count.  They’re building. 

Pray that the pro-life people of Colorado will be able to expose the lies and greed and ruthlessness of Planned Parenthood and that the facility would be halted and never opened.  Pray that the Christians would stand up for what the Bible clearly teaches.  Pray that the people would understand what abortion is, and reject the practice as barbarous child-sacrifice.  Pray that God will send a revival, using His ambassadors who are surrendered to His service, to Colorado: millions need to experience God’s saving grace for their lives. 

To God be all glory,
Lisa of Longbourn

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