Thursday, May 27, 2010

Tribute to a Faithful Servant

Bob Aumueller met Christ at a Billy Graham crusade meeting in New York City in 1958. He became active in Christian causes focusing on the local church and extending to other evangelism outreaches. He was a tall man at 6’ 4”, and his presence in a room never went unnoticed. He sank very fast from a towering, healthy man into a withered shell, wracked by physical problems, weary of mind and longing for Heaven—a wish granted on May 9.

He and his faithful wife, Arlene, were reliable friends and constant supporters of the Lord’s work. He served on the board of our ministry, Dedication Evangelism, for 29 years.

Bob worked as a civilian with the US Army, but as I read Bob’s obituary, I learned things about his work that I never knew before. He served his country in top secret projects, but he never talked about these, both because they were so secret and also because his humility forbade pompous self-praise. One of the pictures shown at the viewing and at the luncheon following the funeral showed Bob standing in front of a huge military jet with several men, including Dick Cheney, who later became Vice President of the United States.

After retiring from the Army corps of engineers, Bob refused the well-earned relaxation and became associate pastor of his local church. There were special remembrances along the way which encouraged my enthusiasm and reflected a generous spirit of love and concern. I miss him so much and I know his family and church miss him more.

Arlene graciously requested that I say a few words of remembrance at Bob’s funeral where I shared that Bob was a multi-dimensional man. His physical height was obvious and he also stood tall for Christ. His spiritual depth was evident as a student of God’s Word, and his spiritual breadth reached out into Christian ministry.

A man once told me that skeptics of Christianity should come to our funerals for there they would really find out what Christianity is all about. This was true at Bob’s funeral.

As we sang “The Old Rugged Cross,” Arlene played a fabulous piano accompaniment. Bob’s pastor gave a moving tribute to his faith and faithfulness. He presented the Gospel as Bob had received it and gave a direct invitation to those attending to receive Christ if that most important of all life’s decisions was unmade yet.

After I spoke, a family friend shared both humorous and sobering anecdotes from Bob’s life. The open testimony time was stirring beyond words. One testimonial will forever live in my mind: “I’m a military man, and what Bob worked on in research probably saved my life in combat.” Then a teenaged young man stood and said, “I want to serve the Lord just like Bob.”

They said it all. Life is about serving others and even saving the lives of fellow human beings, but, beyond that, sharing the Gospel of Christ is a superior calling, and its effects live on.

I closed my part of Bob’s eulogy by quoting the famed evangelist Dwight L. Moody who, when told he was going to his Heavenly reward, said, “No, the records aren’t all in yet.” Of godly Abel, Hebrews 11:4 says, “By faith [he] offered to God a more excellent sacrifice…through which he obtained witness that he was righteous…; and through it he being dead still speaks.” Bob’s family graciously named our ministry as a recipient of memorial gifts. These are being received and invested in Gospel outreach, and so Bob’s interest in and concern for the Lord’s work continues even after his passing from earth to Heaven.

“Then I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on”’ ‘Yes’ says the Spirit, ‘that they may rest from their labors, and their works follow them.’” (Revelation 14:13)

Thanks, Bob. Your spiritual investments live on.

Dave Virkler

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Earth to Troy

Our church had a kid’s retreat a few weeks ago. Including myself, my wife, my daughter, and her husband, there were 28 that went on the trip to a beautiful spot in the mountainous and wooded terrain in North Jersey. It was called Shiloh Bible Camp and Retreat Center.

It is an amazing facility staffed by gifted godly people. The trip lasted from Friday night through Sunday after noon and included times of Bible study, worship, music, and tons of outdoor activities. The highlight was a Sunday hike to partake of the Lord’s Supper at the top of a mountain over looking a reservoir – one of the most breathtaking scenes I’ve ever witnessed since my skiing days in Colorado ended.

But one of the unexpected joys of the trip was having our 14-year old nephew Troy along on the trip. That may not seem so odd, even though at times he is, but Troy lives in Chicago. His grandparents actually flew him out for the retreat and his presence was felt throughout the entire weekend – usually in a good way. Just kidding Troy! Uncles can say stuff like that and are even expected to provide regular grief in our family!

This past Sunday, we had a church luncheon retreat review where we showed hundreds of photos taken by my wife. Everything went well and almost everyone that went on the trip came including a good portion of the church family – those that helped fund the trip. But there was one overwhelming thing missing – Troy! He had gone back to his normal life some 750 miles away after the retreat ended.

It was then that my wife said to me, "let’s bring Troy to the party via Skype." I thought she had found some super cheap airline fare. But that would be a stretch, even for her, to fly someone 750 miles for a 2 hour event. It was then that I learned that Skype was computer software that actually allows people to talk and see each other on a computer screen if the PC’s have a camera.

To make a long story short, we installed the Skype software on Saturday night and had Troy’s parents do the same on their end. And before long we were talking and looking at each other live and for free!

The next day, after the lunch and deserts were quickly consumed, we hooked up with Troy on a small netbook computer at church and started the program just after he said hi to all of his new buddies face to face. Our laptop was in the front row allowing him to hear everything being said over the PA system by his aunt. It was a memorable experience as we re-lived the retreat along with the many spiritual blessings and benefits – the lone exception being my pathetic climbing of the steep mountain trail with two destroyed knees both in need of surgical replacement.

Today, I was reflecting on Sunday’s luncheon, especially the ultra-cool Skype/Troy part. It reminded of a verse in 1 John of a coming day when Christians will need no sophisticated software or hi-tech equipment to see the Lord face to face who saved them by dying in their place.

The Apostle John states, "Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure." (1 John 3:2-3)

This is an amazing and miraculous promise. Not only will we see Jesus face to face someday, but we will in some ways, be like Him. I really don’t fully understand that with my average IQ and finite mind. But I do believe that it will somehow and someday occur according to what Scripture promises. What a massive ‘Skype-like" moment that will be.

So Troy, for now we are limited to Skype. And maybe that is a good thing because you would certainly drive me insane if you were here with me every day. But someday we will be together forever, with our sins forgiven, our rough edges all smoothed away, and enjoying the presence of God and His entire family in heaven with no computer software required! See you soon!

Bill Breckenridge

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

A Warning Won't Always Awaken

As many as 19 tornadoes ran through Kansas and into Oklahoma, leveling buildings, flipping cars, and bringing hailstones that resembled softballs in size. Dozens were seriously injured and others killed by the violent storms. That is not at all unusual for that part of the country. Tragically it happens all the time – and often far worse than this past round.

But what was interesting this time was that weather experts had predicted the large coming storms days in advance. Yes – that is days ahead! Not only that, they were almost accurate to within hours of the violent weather. The reason for the precise warnings was the technological advances, particularly the use of supercomputers, that can crunch vast amounts of weather related data and give meteorologists powerful new warning tools long before the funnels ever touch the ground.

Dick Elder, chief meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Wichita, stated after the damage and deaths, "What is disheartening is to tell people for a week that something is going to happen, get warnings out and still have people lose their lives." It was a reminder of the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”

When considering the results of this recent fairly small event, what must it feel like to the Creator God to have given specific warnings to all from the moment the first two people walked the earth - to simply be ignored? He warned the known world through Noah, a ‘preacher of righteousness’, that wrath was around the corner if repentance was ignored. The results of that warning need not be re-told to anyone who has spent even 2-3 months in a primary Sunday school class.

As one travels through the Scriptures, he finds that the Bible is a book of constant warnings. Pilate had his chance. So did Pharaoh, the Pharisees, and millions of common everyday people. That’s the tragic news and overall legacy of the race. The good news is that there is the “Good News”. Yes, God warns and judges. But God also enlightens and saves. He saved those who entered the ark. He preserved those who stood under the blood on the door posts at the Passover. And those who stand at the foot of the cross, through faith are saved and escape through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus Christ.

For those who claim they have not been adequately warned, even on a biblical level, they need to consider their defense from what Romans chapter one teaches.

Verses 18 –23 in particular make it as plain as did the forecasters about the coming storms in Kansas. “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man — and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things.” The description in Romans 3:11-18 makes the issue sound even worse in more graphically brutal language.

But for those who somehow resist suppressing that obvious spiritual truth, and eventually grasp the true solution to deal with the God’s fair warning of unimaginable judgement, it is the later chapters in Romans that can explain how to reverse divine judgement and renew their hearts and their eternal future.

“For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness. What fruit did you have then in the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death. But now having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God, you have your fruit to holiness, and the end, everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:20-23)

Bill Breckenridge

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Here We Go Again - Another New Judge

She is U.S. Solicitor General. But if President Obama gets his way, she will become the third woman on the Supreme Court. Not only would the former Harvard graduate and dean be just the fourth woman to ever hold a position on the top bench, she would be the youngest justice ever as well – a significant fact with a position that lasts for life.

Obama called Elena Kagan, "one of the nation's foremost legal minds," and spoke of her "openness to a broad array of viewpoints" and her "fair mindedness." The Commander in Chief also stated concerning the 50-year old Kagan, "She embodies the same excellence, independence and passion for the law," as the retiring Judge Stevens. And yet she would be the first justice without judicial experience in almost 40 years. That means that Kagan’s paper trail would be quite thin and therefore harder to scrutinize than certain other candidates. Kagan served in then Clinton White House and the President introduced her as his friend.

Republicans have shown no signs in advance that they would try to prevent a vote on Kagan, but they are certain to grill her in confirmation hearings over her experience and what few legal writings can be located from her razor-thin paper trail from her Harvard days. The Senate should confirm Ms. Kagan before Labor Day.

It is beyond interesting, if not often extremely troubling, that one of the greatest advantages to being confirmed to one of the most influential life-altering positions in the nation is to have as little known as possible about a candidate's views as possible. Those who have been around for a while will remember well what can happen to a candidate who dares to write honestly and openly about what he or she feels to be constitutionally proper. One word alone will resurrect that concept – Bork.

Just imagine what would occur if the Judge and Creator of all the earth made decisions on matters of guilt, innocence and heaven or hell based on having as little data as possible?

"Openness to a broad array of viewpoints" is the last thing God will consider when all someday stand before His great and eternal court. He will not need a paper trail because every thought and act ever committed will be at His divine disposal. And all that will matter to each ‘candidate’ for eternity will be decided by their legal representation as written about in 1 John 2:1-2. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” This verse teaches that Jesus Christ paid the price for the sins of the entire world. But only those He personally represents from faith can claim and take advantage of His flawless defense. (!John 5:12)

When comparing the supreme Creator/Judge of the universe and those who fill the bench of America’s highest court, there is not much at all in common with one major exception. Earthly Supreme Court justices, and all those they impact, all share life-long positions. Their souls will live on forever – regardless what was their status in life. The only question when that life comes to an end, will become where they reside forever according to the final decision rendered by the ultimate Judge being based on their faith, or lack of faith, in His Savior Son.

Bill Breckenridge

Friday, May 7, 2010

But We Caught Fish

Fishing is a wonderful personal pastime that I often dream of but have little time to do. Last Friday was the exception to the rule. My college-age grandson Daniel knows where to go and how to catch fish. He invited me to accompany him on his regular weekly adventure onto one of northern New Jersey’s pristine reservoirs. In a departure from focusing on the headlines, allow me to share the story.

We arrived at Split Rock Reservoir at 7 AM on a cloudless day, carried the aluminum rowboat down the steep rustic launch, loaded the gear, including an electric trolling motor and three heavy-duty 12-volt car batteries, and shoved off from the rocks lining the shore.

A troll along the eastern shore got me a nice bass, the first of seven respectable fish including bass and pickerel. Daniel managed to outfish me nine to seven. At lunchtime, we sat on one of the several picturesque islands located in the two and a half-mile long lake. Nesting Canadian geese and various other waterfowl made the day a valuable nature study in addition to landing the fighting fish.

Since no gas motors are allowed on the reservoir, the three car batteries naturally divided the day into a timely recreational triad: one to motor down the lake, one for the day’s fishing, and one to churn our way back to the launch site.

Battery number two outlasted our expectations, and we were heading slowing windward up the west coast in late afternoon when the electric motor stopped abruptly. Daniel identified the problem as a burned out switch, which meant human power alone would get us to the launch well over a quarter of a mile away.

Daniel had rigged a convenient and back-saving set of floorboards across the boat seats, which is wonderful for standing and fishing but which makes conventional rowing impossible. So, we each took a hefty oar and began rowing, standing and paddling like canoeists but laboring hopelessly against the water and the wind, which had whipped up earlier in the afternoon.

Exhausted but longing for home, Daniel volunteered to go overboard and tow the boat along the shoreline walking in a couple of feet of water. This was ideal for me as the passenger, but overhanging branches came straight toward me at eye level. Several branches were successfully diverted from poking me in the eye until one brushed my face. In a flash, it caught my glasses and ripped them from my face before I had a chance to even grab them. They were gone! And they weren’t in the boat!

Peering earnestly out into the water some feet deeper than his boat-towing depth, Daniel said, “I can see them. Let me try to hook them with my spinner rig.” And he did. My glasses and the clip-on sunshades were still intact. I put them on, even peering through wisps of seaweed, grateful to see clearly again. And Daniel trudged on.

“We can get out closer than where we left,” Daniel proposed. “I’ll go and drive the van over while you unload stuff from the boat.” It was closer, but it was a lot longer distance to the roadway and much steeper and now so very hot in the blazing sun. He left, and I began carrying things up the slope, sweating as I went up and down and swatting tiny black flies that inflicted a severe and lingering itch. The van arrived, and we finished emptying the boat, and then inched the 12-foot rowboat up the steep slope.

What a time! We hadn’t planned on all the post-fishing stress, and I suppose in retrospect it makes for a great recovery and a great story.

My point in all this? As we were heading home in the air-conditioned van, I glanced through my weed-streaked glasses over at Daniel, who was still wet from the waist down, and we agreed on one thing: “But we caught fish!” That was why we went, and we had achieved our purpose. The other stuff was incidental and, therefore, tolerable.

Fishing in the ancient time of Jesus was troublesome, too, but men’s physical nourishment and livelihoods depended on it. Bad weather on Galilee often threatened fishermen’s lives. Nets broke and had to be untangled and mended. The work was backbreaking and tiring, and sometimes it was done in the hours of darkness. Once, some of Jesus’ disciples had fished all night without catching any fish and then had to throw the net another time on the other side of the boat at Jesus’ command (John 21:6).

But it was all worth it even beyond commercial purposes because the grueling hardships taught them spiritual truth. The obstacles would be great, the road rough, the climb steep, and the detractors many, but they would catch fish—not merely the finned variety but the faith species who would come to the Savior through their message of the death and resurrection of the Master Fisherman who commissioned them by Galilee’s shores for global waters. As Priscilla J. Owens wrote, “Climb the steeps and cross the waves, Onward! ’tis our Lord’s command—Jesus saves! Jesus saves!”

“But we caught fish!” I can hear even now as I write this and even scratch a few bug bites. Spiritual fishing is always good as Christ promised. “Follow Me and I will make you fishers of men” (Matthew 4:19). “From now on you will catch men” (Luke 5:10). On the promise of Christ, the success of the Christian mission has always hung.

Years ago, I wrote in the flyleaf of my Bible, “Facing the hardships of this ministry is worth healing the heartaches of this world.” The most important words of the fishermen are not the descriptions of obstacles but the fish that were caught.

The purpose of fishing is to catch fish. Everything else is incidental. It is true on the lakes of life and the seas of evangelism.

Dave Virkler

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

World’s Oldest Person Dies At Age 114

Her home until just one week before what would have been her 115th birthday was Okinawa, Japan. And before her death in a care facility on Sunday, Kama Chinen was privileged to see parts of three centuries.

She was born in May of 1895, according to the Gerontology Research Group, which tracks individuals of extremely old age. Because of privacy issues, the family decided to keep the details of her passing to themselves.

Japan has more than 40,000 of the world's centenarians – those who have reached age 100 or more. For some reason, many are from the southern Okinawa region with over 86% of them being women according to an annual report released in September. The United Nations is predicting that Japan's 100-year old population will reach nearly 1 million by the year 2059.

The first thing that enters many people’s minds, as it surely does mine, is the thought of what someone living in three centuries has been able to see. It is hard to fathom the staggering changes in just the last 2 decades much less what 115 years of human progress has brought. What must it have been like to be exposed to 19th century technology versus seeing what is today just commonplace? What must it have been like to see the introduction of the computer or the advancement in transportation on the ground and in the air – not to mention the medical miracles now in place? Then there was also the painful and unpleasant experiences that someone this age lived to witness.

But as amazing as Kama Chinen’s life must have been, including all she was able to see, the only important question now is, what is she seeing right today?

When she took her last breath on earth, was she immediately escorted to heaven according to Paul's words in 2 Corinthians 5:7-8? “For we walk by faith, not by sight. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.”

The only other option would be the opposite and terrible one as spoken about in Luke chapter 16. He begins by writing in verse 23, “And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. "Then he cried and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us." (Luke 18:23-26)

When anyone dies, regardless of how long they lived, the only issue at that fateful moment is that ‘gulf’ mentioned in Like 16:26. That gulf represents the separation of sinful man from his holy Creator. Ephesians 2:14 describes it in a different form. “For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation." There is a great spiritual barrier at birth between all ever born and the God who created them. Sin began with the disobedience of the very first two people on earth and its dreadful effects have remained constant and deadly until this very moment.

When the human soul is separated from its fleshly body, the issue becomes whether or not it has been made spiritually fit through faith and thus able to be transferred into the presence of a holy and just God. The Bible promises that the Creator will rightly judge every individual as inferred by the question asked in Genesis 18:25. “Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?" But the Bible assures that all individuals are born sinners and in need of forgiveness and a change of heart to qualify for heaven.

That supernatural assistance is spelled out in 1 John 2. There, the apostle writes using a legal type of word to reference man’s only Savior. “My little children, these things I write to you, so that you may not sin. And if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins.” (1John 2:1-2) Propitiation carries the basic idea of appeasement, or satisfaction, specifically towards God. It literally means 'to make favorable,' and specifically includes the idea of dealing with God’s wrath against sinners. It literally means 'to make pious' and implies either the removal or cleansing of sin.

Birthdays are always special occasions and few will live to see 114 of them. But the only birthday that really matters, and lasts forever, is the spiritual one described by Jesus in John 3:3. “Jesus answered and said to him, "Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God."

A few verses later He repeated the concept just to make sure there was no confusion or uncertainty. “Do not marvel that I said to you, 'You must be born again." (John 3:6-7)

Bill Breckenridge

Monday, May 3, 2010

The Modern Church – A Pretty Picture?

The director of LifeWay Research is encouraged by the 15% of ‘Millennials’ that appear to be deeply committed Christian believers. That may be interesting data. But what about the rest?

Cathy Lynn Grossman of USA TODAY says of the other “72%" that they are just more spiritual than religious. Thom Rainer, president of LifeWay Christian Resources sites that a new research file reveals that most young adults today don't pray, don't worship and don't read the Bible. They just claim to be ‘more spiritual than religious.’ It’s not fully clear what that all means, but it does reveal that many of these self-proclaimed Christians are either mushy in their beliefs or Christians in name only. Rainer says, "Most are just indifferent. The more precisely you try to measure their Christianity, the fewer you find committed to the faith.” He also states that “If this trend continues, the Millennial generation will see churches closing as quickly as GM dealerships.”

His findings and fears were also confirmed by the answers from a phone survey in August.*65% rarely or never pray with others.*38% almost never pray by themselves either.*65% rarely or never attend worship services.*67% don't read the Bible or sacred texts.*Many are unsure Jesus is the only path to heaven: Half say yes and the other half say no!

These findings parallel a 2007 study of teens and young people in February by the Pew Forum On Religion & Public Life. The statistics were equally troubling showing that young adults are dropping out of church at an alarming rate. This age group claims to believe in Christ and that they will probably go to heaven. But over 2/3 never mentioned faith, religion or spirituality when asked what was really important in life. Half do not attend church even once weekly. Then too, 36% rarely, or never, read the Bible. Also, a shocking 60% stated that it is not their responsibility to share the views of their faith with others.

Then on top of these disappointing statistics, a recent LifeWay study reported, “Seven in ten Protestants ages 18 to 30, who went to church regularly in high school, said they quit attending at all by age 23. The organization also learned that 34% of this group had not returned, even sporadically, by age 30.”

It is true that entrance to heaven comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. (Ephesians 2:8-9) But it is equally is true that the local church, as an organization, was instituted by God for the good and grounding of His own people. When someone is called out of the world by faith, they are immediately called into finding a local church where then can serve and expand the knowledge of their fragile new faith. That concept is stated clearly in Hebrews 10:24-25. The author writes, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” It is hard to love, help, motivate, or stir up people that you barely know or rarely see.

The churches addressed in New Testament times were always in various physical locations attended by the specific people there. An example would be Paul’s mentioning of such a church in Romans 16:5. He wrote, “Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house.”

Again, attending a local church has never been the requirement for salvation. Forgiveness of sin is all about personal faith and trust in Christ. (John 3:16) But the local church is the instrument of God design and meant to help believers grow, worship, serve, and share their faith with others. Colossians chapter three puts it this way. “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord." (Colossians 3:15-16)

Scripture also gives very specific qualifications for those who would be leaders in a local body of believers. (1Timothy 3:1-7) In addition, the Bible describes repeatedly the variety of spiritual gifts given to Christians that are to be used effectively in the context of a local church setting. To not attend, or to not use a God-given gift, is to negatively impact a local church ministry and leave a gap there that others must then try to fill. This too is serious business in God's mind.

Whether one labels himself as ‘spiritual’ or ‘religious’ it is fully meaningless if one is ‘Christ-less’. According to 1 John 5:11-12 it is all about, and only about, personally knowing Jesus Christ. “And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.” That is not at all unclear and should not take some great level of theological knowledge to grasp.

And when someone is in God’s family by faith, then regular communion with Him in the form of prayer, becomes highly significant as 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 reminds. ”Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you."

It is true that when someone is a new believer it is extremely difficult to become more 'spiritual or religious' without fellowshipping with and serving others of the faith and spending adequate quality time in God’s word. The importance of knowing the Scriptures well cannot be understated. In John 14:23 Jesus said, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. And in John 17:17-18 He declared, "Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.” You cannot be sanctified by, or even impacted by, what you do not value enough to learn anything about! Perhaps the best description of the purpose and power of Biblical truth is stated in the second letter to Timothy. “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

America is in a serious spiritual decline and one that will surely strip the nation of her greatness in every imaginable area unless a serious revival occurs. And a revival in America will require the same precise thing as it would for any nation that has lost sight of God’s goodness and His saving grace. It is a principle often read, talked about, and preached on - but rarely really acted upon. If that was not true, then most things would be vastly better and the nation's decline not as sudden nor so very serious.

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:13-14)

Bill Breckenridge