Monday, July 27, 2009

50 People Every Christian Should Know

I have just finished reading an amazing book. It is called, "50 People Every Christian Should Know".

And if there was ever a book that lived up to its title, it is this book.

It tells us the stories of men and women of God who lived a life of devotion to God. The stories present a brief biography of each person, and it doesn't sweep any issues that may have raised questions or controversy concerning the people portrayed.

While many of these are well known to most beleivers, such as: C.H. Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards, Oswald Chambers, D. L. Moody, A.W. Tozer and a few others, there are many that I have never heard of before.

The book has educated me on such preachers of days gone by such as: William Culbertson, Henry Drummond, R.A. Torrey, W.E. Sangster, Alva Jay McClain, William Whitting Borden and so many others.

Three things that seem to be repeated often in each of the individuals stories is this: obstacles that had to be overcome (poverty, physical disabilities, and lack of education), as well as much time spent in prayer, and much time spent in Bible study.

It also appeared that many of these preachers preached much more than we do today. I read of several of these men who preached five, six, seven times each week or more. It also seemed as though most of them were prolific writers. In fact the author, Warren Wiersbe gives you a critique of the books that each of these saints of old has written, and which ones are the best ones to purchase. If you bought all of the ones reccomened by Wiersbe, well, let me just say that I would probably have to get a second job!

What impacted me the most thought wss the amount of time spent in prayer and study of the Word. One of the preachers in the book is stated to put in 60 hours of study for each message he preached. That is amazing. When you also realzie that they did their study often by candlelight and without any of our modern day aides such as comptuters, computer programs, several different translations of the Scriptures and various other helps, it makes me wonder about many of our preachers today, including myself.

What would happen if I spent 4 or 5 hours per day in study of the word....each day? What would happen if I prayed daily for several hours?
What difference would it make in my spiritual life?
What difference whould it make in the spiriutal life of the church that I pastor?
What difference would it make in my family?
What difference would it make to my neighbors?
What difference would it make to my country?

Is this what may be missing in the church in the USA today?

Could this be the secret to revival in our country?

Have we sold out Jesus, not for thirty pieces of silver as Judas did, but for our favorite tv show?

Have we fallen asleep, not while our Lord is praying in the garden of Gethsemane, but while He weeps for the lost in this country and we are too tired to personally share the gospel because of late hours on the internet?

And that leads me to the last thing I want to share about the men and women portrayed in this book: they were passionate about sharing the gospel to the lost.

We need to be the kind of people who, if the Lord does not come back soon, and they write a new book, of the 2nd 50 people every Christian should know, that you and I are listed in that book....not for personal fame and glory, no....may we never ever seek for attention on us, but for the glory of God, for the sake of future generations, to inspire those who come after us to live their lives in a passionate pursuit of the Lord, in leading the lost to salvation and to leave a legacy of faith, long after we are gone.

I'm off to bed now, planning on rising early...time in prayer, and time in the Word...maybe you will join me?

Pastor Dave

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Prostitution In The Church

I found this while doing some blog surfing and thought I would share it here. I foundit on this blog:, but it is not by the author of that blog. The author of the article is David Ryser. This is a very thought provoking article. Read on.

The Question that Changed My Life

By David Ryser

A number of years ago, I had the privilege of teaching at a school of ministry. My students were hungry for God, and I was constantly searching for ways to challenge them to fall more in love with Jesus and to become voices for revival in the Church. I came across a quote attributed most often to Rev. Sam Pascoe. It is a short version of the history of Christianity, and it goes like this: Christianity started in Palestine as a fellowship; it moved to Greece and became a philosophy; it moved to Italy and became an institution; it moved to Europe and became a culture; it came to America and became an enterprise. Some of the students were only 18 or 19 years old--barely out of diapers--and I wanted them to understand and appreciate the import of the last line, so I clarified it by adding, "An enterprise. That's a business." After a few moments Martha, the youngest student in the class, raised her hand. I could not imagine what her question might be. I thought the little vignette was self-explanatory, and that I had performed it brilliantly. Nevertheless, I acknowledged Martha's raised hand, "Yes, Martha." She asked such a simple question, "A business? But isn't it supposed to be a body?" I could not envision where this line of questioning was going, and the only response I could think of was, "Yes." She continued, "But when a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?"

The room went dead silent. For several seconds no one moved or spoke. We were stunned, afraid to make a sound because the presence of God had flooded into the room, and we knew we were on holy ground. All I could think in those sacred moments was, "Wow, I wish I'd thought of that." I didn't dare express that thought aloud. God had taken over the class.

Martha's question changed my life. For six months, I thought about her question at least once every day. "When a body becomes a business, isn't that a prostitute?" There is only one answer to her question. The answer is "Yes." The American Church, tragically, is heavily populated by people who do not love God. How can we love Him? We don't even know Him; and I mean really know Him.

What do I mean when I say "really know Him?" Our understanding of knowing and knowledge stems from our western culture (which is based in ancient Greek philosophical thought). We believe we have knowledge (and, by extension, wisdom) when we have collected information. A collection of information is not the same thing as knowledge, especially in the culture of the Bible (which is an eastern, non-Greek, culture). In the eastern culture, all knowledge is experiential. In western/Greek culture, we argue from premise to conclusion without regard for experience--or so we think. An example might be helpful here. Let us suppose a question based upon the following two premises: First, that wheat does not grow in a cold climate and second, that England has a cold climate. The question: Does wheat grow in England? The vast majority of people from the western/Greek culture would answer, "No. If wheat does not grow in a cold climate and if England has a cold climate, then it follows that wheat does not grow in England." In the eastern culture, the answer to the same question, based on the same premises, most likely would be, "I don't know. I've never been to England." We laugh at this thinking, but when I posed the same question to my friends from England, their answer was, "Yes, of course wheat grows in England. We're from there, and we know wheat grows there." They overcame their cultural way of thinking because of their life experience. Experience trumps information when it comes to knowledge.

A similar problem exists with our concept of belief. We say we believe something (or someone) apart from personal experience. This definition of belief is not extended to our stockbroker, however. Again, allow me to explain. Suppose my stockbroker phones me and says, "I have a hot tip on a stock that is going to triple in price within the next week. I want your permission to transfer $10,000 from your cash account and buy this stock." That's a lot of money for me, so I ask, "Do you really believe this stock will triple in price, and so quickly?" He/she answers, I sure do." I say, "That sounds great! How exciting! So how much of your own money have you invested in this stock?" He/she answers, "None." Does my stockbroker believe? Truly believe? I don't think so, and suddenly I don't believe, either. How can we be so discerning in the things of this world, especially when they involve money, and so indiscriminate when it comes to spiritual things? The fact is, we do not know or believe apart from experience. The Bible was written to people who would not understand the concepts of knowledge, belief, and faith apart from experience. I suspect God thinks this way also.

So I stand by my statement that most American Christians do not know God--much less love Him. The root of this condition originates in how we came to God. Most of us came to Him because of what we were told He would do for us. We were promised that He would bless us in life and take us to heaven after death. We married Him for His money, and we don't care if He lives or dies as long as we can get His stuff. We have made the Kingdom of God into a business, merchandising His anointing. This should not be. We are commanded to love God, and are called to be the Bride of Christ--that's pretty intimate stuff. We are supposed to be His lovers. How can we love someone we don't even know? And even if we do know someone, is that a guarantee that we truly love them? Are we lovers or prostitutes?

I was pondering Martha's question again one day, and considered the question, "What's the difference between a lover and a prostitute?" I realized that both do many of the same things, but a lover does what she does because she loves. A prostitute pretends to love, but only as long as you pay. Then I asked the question, "What would happen if God stopped paying me?"

For the next several months, I allowed God to search me to uncover my motives for loving and serving Him. Was I really a true lover of God? What would happen if He stopped blessing me? What if He never did another thing for me? Would I still love Him? Please understand, I believe in the promises and blessings of God. The issue here is not whether God blesses His children; the issue is the condition of my heart. Why do I serve Him? Are His blessings in my life the gifts of a loving Father, or are they a wage that I have earned or a bribe/payment to love Him? Do I love God without any conditions? It took several months to work through these questions. Even now I wonder if my desire to love God is always matched by my attitude and behavior. I still catch myself being disappointed with God and angry that He has not met some perceived need in my life. I suspect this is something which is never fully resolved, but I want more than anything else to be a true lover of God.

So what is it going to be? Which are we, lover or prostitute? There are no prostitutes in heaven, or in the Kingdom of God for that matter, but there are plenty of former prostitutes in both places. Take it from a recovering prostitute when I say there is no substitute for unconditional, intimate relationship with God. And I mean there is no palatable substitute available to us (take another look at Matthew 7:21-23 sometime). We must choose.

Dr. David Ryser

Questions, questions, questions.

I put my faith and trust in Jesus when I was ten years old. After a ten year period of prodigal living, beginning around the age of fifteen, and ending around the age of twenty-five, I have been following Jesus now for almost 27 years.

During this time I have studied the Bible much (not as much as I should have), and shared my faith as often as possible. By studying and sharing over the years I have come up with more questions than answers.

Don't misunderstand me. I still believe. I trust the Word of God and I trust in Jesus as my Savior, and I trust that God will keep me.

But the Bible has a lot of stuff in it. A lot.

And the more I learn, the more I realize that I don't know.

The more answers I find, the more questions I have.

So, I thought I'd share some with you. Maybe one of my readers out there have had the same questions. Maybe somebody has an answer for one or more of the questions. Or maybe it will help someone else who has questions to not feel so alone and not be afraid to ask the questions. I have asked many fellow pastors some of these questions and have received every kind of response you can think of, from, "I never thought of that before?", to "You think too much.", but have not gotten an answer to any of these here goes.

In Genesis when the serpent talks to Eve she doesn't freak out. Could animals talk back then? Or could only serpents talk? Was this a "special" serpent that the devil took over? Why did God curse the serpent by saying it would crawl on it's belly if the serpent was posessed by the devil? The first part of the verse seems directed at the serpent as an animal, while verse 15 is a prophecy of Christ being born of the seed of a woman (virgin birth) and the devil crushing his heel (Calvary) and then Christ crushing the head of the serpent (the resurrection), so is the whole thing a spiritual event, or a physical event? Does this mean that snakes used to have feet and legs?

Here's another one: When the serpent questioned Eve about the forbidden fruit, she says in verse 2 that God told them " must not touch it, or you will die." But in the Genesis account we only find God telling them not to eat it, but nothing about touching it. I know that when my children added to the truth, we called that lying. If so, does that mean that Eve sinned before she ate the fruit?

Now, jump forward to verses 22-24 in the 3rd chapter of Genesis we find this:

"And the LORD God said, "The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life."

So what is this tree of life? Is it a literal tree with fruit that would give you eternal life, but in an ever decaying body? Sort of like a fountain of youth, only without the youth? And how does this connect to what we find in these verses in the book of Revelation:

Revelation 2:7
He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.

Revelation 22:2
down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

Revelation 22:14
"Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city.

Revelation 22:19
And if anyone takes words away from this book of prophecy, God will take away from him his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.

Is this the same tree of life found in Genesis, only transplanted? Is this a real tree, or is it to be taken figuratively? I want you all to know that I DO BELIEVE that salvation is by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, and yet this sound as thought this tree of life has something to do with our eternal life.

Ok, that's enought questions for one post. Let me know what you think. And remember, if you're a follower of Christ, I'm on your side. I'm one of you. I believe...but I also KNOW that if you read your Bible, you're going to have questions. These are some of mine. What do you think?

Still following Jesus,
Pastor Dave