Pertinent Insights on the Reality of Our Times
by Ravi Zacharias (RZIM Summer 2015 Issue)
“The times in which we live make living out our faith extremely difficult. It would take hours of reflection to make sense of how we ever arrived at this point. The newspaper headlines say it all: Turmoil and death reign in the Middle East; people form long lines outside banks in Greece to lay claim to what depositors thought was theirs; the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States has sent shockwaves around the world; a leading candidate for prime minister in Canada has said that if he is elected he will allow Sharia Law to function in Canada; minority faiths in India are wondering whether they will survive the present oppression; men, women, and children are murdered for their faith in Africa. So goes the litany of woes. And statesman-like leaders are simply not there. As the saying goes, ‘When the tide is low, every shrimp has its own puddle.’ Self-confident rulers pat themselves on their backs while the world is a mess and put Band-Aids on broken bones thinking they have healed what ails us. Like Nero, they are fiddling while Rome burns.
“With all that’s happening, as I travel conversations are not hard to pick up. The downward slide is huge and sensitivities are at their peak, and that combination makes for nervous interactions. Yet, as we arrive at venues to speak the auditoriums are full, often with not enough space for the occasion. The reality of our times is that where people have lived under the blessing of the Judeo-Christian worldview they now want to overthrow all restraint and live in an amoral world; where amorality has ruled and demagogues have been in control, people are now searching for answers and hope.
“Let me give an example of just one country, Romania. My colleague Vlad Criznic did a fantastic job in preparing for our arrival. As we left, Vlad said that in his lifetime he had not seen the kind of response that we all witnessed. I spoke at three different venues, two of them in the beautiful city of Cluj and one in the capital city of Bucharest….
‘For me, the most incredible part of that brief stay was to speak to a gathering of senators and political leaders in Bucharest, in The People’s House. When I finished and prayed for them, several said, ‘This is the first time God has been mentioned in these rooms and the first time a public prayer has been prayed.’ God has a way of bringing people to Himself.
‘In former communist countries and in Islamic countries large crowds gather to hear the gospel. In the West, while there is media hostility and academic hostility, judicial hostility and sometimes even cultural hostility, the incredible truth is that the sizes of the audiences are still very significant. Public statements by extremists everywhere would have you believe that the gospel has had its day. The truth is that many are hearing it in its pristine beauty for the first time.
‘When I gave the invitation on the closing night in Cluj, over 600 came forward, including leading government officers. It was truly a sight to behold. The invitation to follow Jesus is a wonderful privilege to extend. The sight of people responding is awe-inspiring. There are no answers outside of the gospel. You would think that after centuries of contemplation, secular thinkers would come up with better answers. But humanism, with its self-reflecting definitions, ends up bankrupt of moral reasoning, hope, and meaning. That is why the young come to the meetings in such great numbers. They want answers….”
“Christianity is undergoing a paradigm shift of major proportions – a shift from faith to feelings; from fact to fantasy; and from reason to esoteric revelation.” – Ravi Zacharias
The Rejuvenation/Renewal/Restoration of Vital, Biblical Christianity
by Rick Deighton
It is time – way past time for all who name the name of Jesus Christ to commit to a personal and corporate restoration movement – a restoration to the pristine power, purity and pertinence of Biblical truth; a restored deep commitment to the truth of Scripture, to the Word of God as the absolute, inerrant standard of authority, a restored commitment to the faith once for all committed to the saints, a restoration to a commitment to Jesus Christ as Lord – The Way! The Truth! The Life! Anything short of this will not restore our own souls and will not – cannot – rejuvenate our nation!
The Way, the Truth, the Life
Without the Way – there is no going
Without the Truth – there is no knowing
Without the Life – there is no living.
Those who have relegated their faith to the realm of feelings have undermined the truth of the gospel, the authority of the Word of God, and the Lordship of Jesus Christ in their lives. They have no logical reply to the humanistic philosophers of our pagan culture who ask, “How can you be so arrogant as to declare that your way is the only right way?” A true Christian believer, who is ready to give an answer, can boldly and yet humbly reply, “Friend, you have a serious misunderstanding. It is not my way or your way that is the issue for “The way of man is not in himself.” The real issue, my friend, is how can you be so arrogant as to relegate the authority of Almighty God to the category of human opinion? He created the heavens and the earth – He created you and will judge you in the final judgment. He gave His only begotten Son to pay the penalty of your sin. Jesus came to this earth as God in human flesh and gave His blood on the cross to save you from death – eternal destruction. What are you doing about your own guilt? How can you be so arrogant as to reject His blood sacrifice for you?”
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight— ” Colossians 1:13-22 (NKJV).
Let’s restore a Biblical understanding of the essentials versus the opinions to the glory of God! What we think is fair or not fair does not matter. What God tells us in His Word does matter!
In Essentials – Unity
In Opinions – Liberty
In All Things – Charity
We desperately need to restore a Biblical understanding of who God is in the perfect balance of His powerful wrath toward sin, yet His compassionate love and grace toward sinners. We need to see Him as the awesome Creator, Who spoke the entire universe into existence by the Word of His power, yet came to us as the gentle Shepherd seeking His lost sheep. Jesus came “to seek and to save that which was lost.” Jesus asked Phillip, “Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Phillip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father, so how can you say ‘Show us the Father?’” John 14:9 Here is one of the many places where Jesus revealed His true nature as God Who condescended (laid aside His glory) to come to us in human flesh to lay down His life as the sinless sacrifice to pay the penalty for our sins. In the same message to Phillip and the rest of the apostles He also promised to come back to them in another form – as the Spirit of Christ – following His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension. Please notice this mind boggling promise: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me, the works that I do he will do also; and greater works than these he will do, because I go to My Father. And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.”John 14:12-18 (NKJV)
If you struggle with understanding how God can be three and yet one, you are not alone. It is natural to struggle with such profound truths – but recognize that just because it is hard to comprehend does not make it false. God created you in His image – and you are also three in one: spirit, soul, and body. Are you capable of fully comprehending that profound concept? (And by the way, are you capable of fully understanding the mysterious workings of a woman’s mind? I have asked Della, “How can I understand you when you often don’t understand yourself?”) Do you know that some individuals came up with the diagnosis that according to the laws of aerodynamics, a bumblebee can’t fly because its wingspan is too short for its body size and weight? Obviously the bumblebee doesn’t worry about their diagnosis! It is also obvious that they were missing some vital piece of information. Almighty God created the bumblebee to fly – that’s why it flies – no matter what anyone thinks about it.
The Power of the Holy Spirit Unleashed
In view of the amazing promises Jesus gave to His apostles the evening before He was crucified, we definitely need a restoration of dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit unleashed in our lives. He is the One Who gives gifts according to His own will, who enables us to win the victories over temptations and to produce the fruit of the Spirit, and Who empowers us to become bold witnesses for Jesus.
Are you longing for the filling of the Spirit that will enable you to love with God’s love and forgive with God’s forgiveness, yet at the same time you fear that it won’t last? Are you tired of a roller-coaster Christianity with its emotionally charged highs and its depressingly deep lows? Do you pant for the presence of God as an exhausted deer pants for the water brooks? Do you really want to walk with God? Do you earnestly desire to live, move, and have your being continually – not spasmodically – in the shadow to the Almighty? Take heart! You can!
Do you want to experience life more abundantly and to be a bold witness for Jesus? Take heart! You can! “Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” Ephesians 5:17-18 (NKJV) “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” 2 Timothy 1:7 (NKJV)
The faith God desires is filled with the consciousness of His presence moment by moment. This relationship produces genuine help and love. True Christianity is not an ice cube of cold intellectualism, nor a vapor of hot emotionalism, nor a bubble of superficial enthusiasm. No! No! No! A thousand times No! The ice will melt, the vapor will vanish, the bubble will break, and when they do, there will be nothing left! That is precisely what has happened to the “faith” of so many deluded souls. True faith is not an ice cube, a vapor, nor a bubble, but a fountain of living water springing up within us and flowing to others in streams of grace and love. Real Christian faith is a combination of intellect, emotion and will. It is based on facts, which are both understood and believed, it loves God with heart, mind, soul and strength, and is fervent in spirit, serving the Lord, and it will stand firm to its commitment and convictions, even when the emotions are worn to a frazzle and the intellect cannot grasp nor understand why things are happening as they are. True faith believes that God has everything under control even when it looks like everything is falling apart!
We walk by faith and not by sight! The Holy Spirit empowers us to put on the whole armor of God so that we will be able to stand against the wiles of the devil, and to stand through the heat and cold, the wind and the rain, the storm and the holocaust, and when the battle is over, still to be standing firm! See Ephesians 6:10-18. Our Father wants us to be steadfast!
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, for as much as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 (KJV)
The Rock of Gibraltar will someday melt with fervent heat and vanish away, but Almighty God wants to form YOU into a ROCK that will abide forever (as He did Peter). He wants you to be strong and of good courage, not in your own strength, but by His grace and the power of the Holy Spirit. Will you yield to His sustaining hand? If you fear God, you have nothing else to fear!
“If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31 (NKJV)
“He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” 1 John 4:4 (NKJV)
“This is the victory that has overcome the world – our faith.” 1 John 5:4 (NKJV)
There is an old hymn, written by a woman with crippling arthritis who was in constant pain and completely dependent on help from others, that expresses the essence of our dependence on the power of the Holy Spirit and the presence of the Father in our lives. Following are some pertinent words from that hymn.
“He Giveth More Grace”
by Annie Johnson Flint – (1866-1932)
“He giveth more grace as our burdens grow greater,
He sendeth more strength as our labors increase;
To added afflictions He addeth His mercy,
To multiplied trials He multiplies peace.
When we have exhausted our store of endurance,
When our strength has failed ere the day is half done,
When we reach the end of our hoarded resources
Our Father’s full giving is only begun.
His love has no limits, His grace has no measure,
His power no boundary known unto men;
For out of His infinite riches in Jesus
He giveth, and giveth, and giveth again.”
Now consider carefully these powerfully pertinent words penned by Paul:
“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” Ephesians 3:14-21 (NKJV)
1. Pray to be ready! Ready for Jesus to return and ready to give an answer for your hope. The apostle Peter wrote: “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” 1 Peter 3:15.
Our book, “Ready to Give an Answer”, is based on this exhortation and is designed to help prepare believers to be bold witnesses for Jesus. We have plenty of copies on hand since the 4th printing in English, so if you will commit to read it and share with someone I will give it to you. Let us know.
2. Pray for us to have God’s wisdom and leading in preparing More than Conquerors in Cultural Clashes for the 2nd printing – this time to be published by Westbow Press, a branch of both Thomas Nelson and Zondervan. It is supposed to go out to 38,000 booksellers plus electronically. Pray for impact, conversions, and spiritual awakenings as a result. What you read as the lead article in this issue of our prayer letter is an addition to the 2nd printing.
You can have a copy of More than Conquerors in Cultural Clashes for an offering of any amount to Overseas Outreach.
3. Pray for my coming mission trip to Ukraine and Germany. I plan to leave from Boise on September 17 and return on November 2 – 6 ½ weeks. Please pray for effective outreach and encouragement as well as health and safety for Della and for me, but especially for our dedicated co-workers in Ukraine and Germany.
4. Pray for the refugees. I knew there were thousands, but Ruslan & Sharyn Borodin informed us that there are now over 1 ½ million refugees inside Ukraine. Most are destitute and many are open and searching for hope and truth. Several of our co-workers are reaching out to help the refugees in spite of their complicated problems of constant danger, devaluation of their currency and high inflation even on basic necessities. If you want to designate a donation to help the refugees and those who are reaching out to them, please send it soon and designate clearly. Della will label it and I will take it to them, our Lord willing.
5. Pray for conversion for Volodya Lipov and praise God for his heightened interest in his soul and God’s Word. He was one of my first two students in English and Bible when I came to Kharkiv in the spring of 2002. He would come to church occasionally when I was back in town and came to The Man and the Christian Worldview Symposium in May of 2008. Later he gave me copy of his book on economics. He is one of those in “the tribes of intellectuals” in the former Soviet Union nations who are among the least reached people groups in the world. Here is a copy of a recent message from Zhenya Molodchy: “Greetings in the name of our Lord Jesus! I am back home from working in Austria. I had a good experience translating for David Roadcup, one of the co-founders of Promise Keepers movement in the states. Now I am back, preached at CLC on Sunday and preached in one of the strictest prisons in Kharkiv area today. It took me two hours waiting to get to the audience. But the personnel of the prison was glad for the way sermon came out. We continue to meet with Volodya Lipov on Sundays. I see the enthusiasm in him. I pray he makes a decision for baptism soon. Natalia Shelkovaya also visited our Sunday meetings but it was only once so far. We need to pray for her commitment. We look forward for your visit to Ukraine in September. How is your schedule is coming up?”
6. Pray for Ed Davis and his family as he prepares to start his studies at Boise Bible College soon, after graduating from high school twenty years ago, drifting from Christ, living life his way, experiencing terrible accidents and hard knocks and coming home to Jesus, Whose arms are open to returning prodigals. I plan to share more of Ed’s story next month. He is one of the two younger men God has given me opportunity to mentor.
7. Pray for the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in the Body of Christ in order to evangelize the world. In His magnificent prayer the evening before He was crucified, Jesus prayed for Himself, for His apostles – and for us! Here is a small portion of that prayer: “Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth….that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.” John 17:17, 21 (NKJV).
8. Pray for genuine revival in the churches in America and in Ukraine – and deep spiritual awakening in both of these countries which spreads around the world.
Prayer Requests for Northwest Science Museum from Stan Lutz, our Museum Curator
1. Praise for the donations of the last few months.
2. Praise for the volunteers who have stepped forward the last few weeks.
3. Please pray – for the several opportunities to expand our museum. Pray for God’s guidance to the right location.
4. Pray for the fundraisers that they will be successful in their endeavors.
5. Pray for the BSU Outreach, September 14th & 15th.
6. Pray for the Peru Outreach, November 29 – December 5.
7. Pray for the board members – for wisdom, direction, discernment, health and protection from Satan’s attacks.
8. Pray for guidance and God’s direction for the next step.
P.S. Praise God for the many visitors at the Vision Center in the last few months.
From Our Mailbox
“Dear Rick & Della,
“I just want you to know how much I appreciate your newsletters – the updates on the Vision Center and the Northwest Science Museum. And I’m happy, Rick, to hear that your book, ‘More Than Conquerors in Cultural Clashes’ is to be republished. It is sorely needed in this day and age. Your thoughts on the Supreme Court decisions reflect my own dismay and sadness – that 5 judges have the power to turn our country upside down.
I appreciate your thoughts on the gay issues and also the suggestions from the Family Research Council…..
My thoughts and prayers are with you both.
“Thank you for your ministry and for passing my T&S Bulletin along to your readers. By the way, I am transitioning from the publication being on a subscription basis to being free to all who wish to receive it. If you want to pass that information along at any time, I would appreciate it.
Blessings on you and yours!
Note: The Times & the Scriptures Bulletin is “A Christian citizenship curriculum for developing people with an understanding of the times, to know what America ought to do (cf. First Chronicles 12:32).” To receive it regularly, send your request to firstname.lastname@example.org . It’s a great way to keep up with current events, and it gives some perspectives that you will not get from the liberal media.
“…..God is looking for us to Stand Firm in our Faith! That will be a different look for each of us. Some are called to be Apostles, Prophets, Evangelists, Pastors and Teachers, to build up the body!! Some will be called to be Prisoners for Jesus, others to go into remote areas, some to the cities, some to encourage, some to introduce others to Jesus. But we are all called to be a Voice of Faith for Jesus.
All For Christ, Al Cinnamon”
The Secret of Contentment
by Fanny Crosby (at age 8)
“How many blessings I enjoy that other people don’t;
To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot nor I won’t.”
“The Lord brings the counsel of the nations to nothing;
He makes the plans of the peoples of no effect.
The counsel of the Lord stands forever,
The plans of His heard to all generations.
Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.
The people He has chosen as His own inheritance.” Psalm 33:10-12 (NKJV)
“I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:14 (NKJV)
Yours & His,
Rick & Della
On the Lighter Side It’s a Crazy World!
Let’s see if I understand how the world works lately…
If a man cuts his finger off while slicing salami at work, he blames the restaurant.
If you smoke three packs a day for 40 years and die of lung cancer, your family blames the tobacco company.
If your neighbor crashes into a tree while driving home drunk, he blames the bartender.
If your friend is shot by a deranged madman, you blame the gun manufacturer.
And if a crazed person breaks into the cockpit and tries to kill the pilot at 35,000 feet, and the passengers kill him instead, the mother of the crazed deceased blames the airline.
I must have lived too long to understand the world as it is anymore.
So, if I die while parked in front of this computer,
I want you to blame Bill Gates…okay?
Cute Kid’s Quote:
“Dear God, I didn’t think orange went with purple until I saw the sunset you made on Tuesday night. That was really cool. – Tom”