Standing Shoulder To Shoulder Together As 
We Fight the Good Fight of Faith
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"Thy Kingdom Come, Thy Will Be Done" is more than a part of  Christ's instruction teaching us how to pray.  It is God's singular agenda to which He is still committed.  It should likewise be ours.  T. Allen Robburts
SHOULDER TO SHOULDER #587 ---- 3/9/09
Title:  "Biblical Revival -- Part Two (Evidences There Is The Need -- 4)
Dear Friend and Fellow Pilgrim Partner:
Today I bring greetings from the home of my brother-in-law, Bill Carson, in beautiful Tucson, AZ where Jo Ann and I are enjoying a time of fellowship and memories during a twelve-day journey through the State.  It will be our privilege on this trip to have visited with family and friends, and to have spoken in one of the churches that has supported our ministry for several years.  Jo Ann wanted to visit family that we've not seen in seven years, and especially to visit with her brother who had lost his wife last year, and also to see her oldest sister who was confined in a care home with Parkinson's Disease. 
Unfortunately, as Jo Ann and I were taking a brief break in Sedona, she received a phone call that the sister she had hoped to see had gone home to be with the Lord just an hour earlier.  So, our trip carries a bit of sadness with it as we participate in a memorial service for her this coming Wednesday.  We return to our home in Missouri Friday night.
+  I'd appreciate your prayer for me.  Last week, just before we left on this trip, I fell off a ladder, landing on a pile of boxes, metal storage cases, and small table.  I don't recall hitting my arm at all, but landed on my back.  However, my right forearm has been very sore and I've had some measure of immobility when moving or twisting it in certain directions.  Also, lifting with my forearm is extremely painful.  Because of the trip, I've been unable to see my doctor, and it looks like at least another week or more before that is possible. 
+  Here's an interesting article about membership declines and growth among various religious groups in the country.  What would your explanation be?
Church yearbook counts fewer Catholics, Southern Baptists
Associated Press - 3/1/2009 4:00:00 AM
A yearbook published by the National Council of Churches says U.S. membership in the Roman Catholic Church and the Southern Baptist Convention declined slightly in 2007.  The Yearbook of American and Canadian Churches says the Roman Catholic Church remained the nation's largest body of believers, with 67 million members. But from 2006 to 2007, it lost almost 400,000 members.  Southern Baptists -- the second largest U.S. church -- reported 16.2 million members, a loss of nearly 40,000 from the year before.
Also reporting declines were the United Church of Christ, the Presbyterian Church (USA), the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, and the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod.  Churches reporting growth include the Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses, Assemblies of God, and the Church of God of Cleveland, Tennessee.
Any thoughts as to why this is happening?
Now on to a continuation of our series on revival:
We began this series by addressing five reasons why I believe revival is needed in the Church today:
    1.  Our own bankrupt condition demands the need for revival.
    2.  The Great Commission cannot logistically or mathematically be fulfilled without revival in the Church.
    3.  The conditions and snares of the world will swallow us up if we are not revived periodically.
    4.  We cannot survive what is ahead for us without revival.  A carnally minded church or person will cave in to what we are going to face.
    5.  Experiencing revival will hasten the return of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Over the past two letters, then, I have specifically discussed three of five crystal-clear evidences that indicate the need for a powerful move of God.  The five evidences are . . . Theological, Historical, Trust in Artificial Successes, Societal Indicators, and Christian Lifestyle.  We've already examined the theological, historical, and societal evidences, so today will conclude by looking at some unreliable things we seem to depend on to gauge supposed successes, and then at the flagrantly compromising way in which many Christians live their lives, violating God's standard but with little or no sense of conviction or shame.
+  Artificial Successes Evidences:  My mind is immediately drawn to three mental pictures when I consider the matter of how the Church seems to so frequently look to visible material things as a means of measuring its success.  First is the early Roman Church that led eventually to the Dark Ages and beyond.  Secondly, the contemporary church culture as we see it displayed before our very eyes not only in America, but around the world.  Finally, we examine Jesus Christ's rebuke to such a church in Laodicea as recorded in Rev 3:14-22.  All three project the fact that, in spite of our best intentions, many followers of Jesus Christ have been deceived in our day by the exact same temptations that Adam and Eve faced in the Garden, and which Jesus victoriously conquered at the Cross . . . that of doing something, having something, or being somebody other than that which God created us to do, have, and be.
It seems that the criteria which Jesus identified as a standard of measuring both the spiritual condition and the effectiveness of the ministry of the church is very different from what we generally use for such evaluation.  We tend to concentrate on size, denominational identity, facilities, leadership recognition, numerical statistics, growth, and the like.  If we, however, would take a moment to think that through, we could easily agree that some of the most carnal, shallow, and worldly churches are also at times some of the largest and fastest growing.  The Church has unfortunately discovered that people generally seek pleasure and comfort before they seek truth.
The poll noted earlier illustrates our tendency to measure spiritual vitality by means other than simple Biblical standards of measurement.  Whereas Jesus used criteria such as love, ministry, prayer, surrender, obedience, and the like. we find ourselves often caught in the trap of comparisons, calculations, and catchy phrases.  This is certainly nothing new.  Paul, for example, had some very strong words to say to one of the earliest churches to have been planted following the Great Persecution in Jerusalem, . . . namely the church in Corinth.  After only a few introductory remarks of greeting and affirmation in his first letter to them, he then weighs in on their worldly condition and their need for a fresh move of repentance and abandonment to the presence and power of the Christ they professed to love and follow.  Look at what he has to say ----
"I thank my God always concerning you, for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift, awaiting eagerly the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ, who shall also confirm you to the end, blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor 1:4-8)

He continues, "Now I exhort you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all agree, and there be no divisions among you, but you be made complete in the same mind and in the same judgment.   For I have been informed concerning you, my brethren, by Chloe's people, that there are quarrels among you.  Now I mean this, that each one of you is saying, 'I am of Paul,' and 'I of Apollos,' and 'I of Cephas,' and 'I of Christ.'  Has Christ been divided?  Paul was not crucified for you, was he?  Or were you baptized in the name of Paul?" (I Cor 1:10-13).
Moving on to the third chapter following his description of his own ministry, He tells them they are actually conducting themselves as unconverted people (3:1-3), and then spends the rest of his letter correcting them and clarifying things regarding ten different matters.  Even though they failed to recognize it, this early infant church was still being guided by the world system around it out of which it had been birthed, and was looking at outward evidences to validate its supposed successes when, in actual reality and practice, they were shallow, immature, and desperately in need of a renewing that would radically change their values, their attitudes, and their behavior.
Compare Paul's instructions to the Corinthian to other churches such as the Church at Colossae and at Ephesus; it's a far different tone Paul expresses as he commends them for their maturity, their insight, and their abandoned obedience to Christ.
Take a look at the scripture to which I referred earlier . . . Rev 3:14-22.  Many people believe that the description of the "Seven Churches" in Asia Minor were actually sequencial eras of time leading from the early Church days to the condition of the Church just before Christ's return.  Others believe it related to the specific churches that existed at the time of John's Revelation.  Others feel that those seven churches are representative of the primary types of churches that exist today.  Regardless of who is correct, there is little doubt that the characteristics of the Laodicean Church certainly fit the condition we see today in much of the Church.  Look at what the Lord Himself says:
"And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this: 'I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I would that you were cold or hot.  So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.  Because you say, "I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing," and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire, that you may become rich, and white garments, that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes, that you may see. 
"Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; be zealous therefore, and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will dine with him, and he with Me.  He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.' " (Rev 3:14-22).
Several remarks help us understand the spiritual deadness of this Church, so characteristic of many churches in our day.  It seems that most of them expose the fact that this group of people failed to recognize some things that were true while, at the same time, they concluded some things that were not true.
First, they had apparently forgotten that God knows the real truth about them, no matter how hard they try to cover it up with a "form of godliness" (3:15).  Second, they failed to see their own true condition, and thought everything was great when it wasn't (3:15-17).  They thought they were vibrant and on fire when in fact they were a bland tepid condition that caused both sides to wonder who they really were . . . neither hot nor cold, but only luke warm.  They thought they were spiritual rich, when in fact, they were spiritually bankrupt (3:17).  They thought they looked great when in actuality they were a naked embarrassment to the things of God (3:17).  They thought they had everything figured out and saw things in reality, when the truth was they were spiritually blind and walking in total darkness (3:17).
The Lord's admonition was simple and precise . . . come to the refining fires, come to the cleansing blood, come to the covering righteousness, and come to the healing touch of the One Who is to rightfully be your One and Only First Love.  The Savior concludes with a reassuring commitment, . . .  "I rebuke those I love" . . . , and an impassioned offer, . . . "Repent!  Here I am at the door, wanting in.  Open the door!  I'll come in to stay.  I'll change you." (3:19-20).
It is clear that these passages bear a striking resemblance to much of today's Church.  Most of us have depended on false measurements to determine our level of success and spiritual maturity.  Perhaps these false indicators of success or spirituality can be categorized with words such as Purpose, Possessions, Power, and Motives.  You see, it's not as much about actions and forms and structures as it is about heart attitude.  It's about where the heart has placed its allegiance and devotion.  Unfortunately, too much of the church has affections that are graphically misplaced.  Sometimes it's impossible to discern the Church from the world around it.
Lifestyle Evidences:  Unfortunately, and certainly heart-breaking to our Lord Jesus Christ, many of us do more than just struggle with periodic temptations to stray.  Some of us have become too comfortable with our surroundings.  Like the Children of Israel in Babylon, we've even hung our harps on the willows of this world, content to at least endure, and perhaps even feast on the luxuries of religious Babylon while still clinging to the past awareness of what it used to be like . . . and should be again.
Tragically, much of the Church is in such a spiritually bankrupt condition that it has adopted the world's values as not only something to be tolerated, but even to be acceptable . . . and practiced.  We've renamed things, categorized things, justified things, excused things, and rationalized things so much that it's almost impossible to find any kind of a "sin" anymore.  Lying and cheating are commonplace, undependability and broken promises are overlooked as insignificant, disobedience to God's Word is expected, crude talk and vulgarity are seen as the norm and as unimportant to God, biblical stewardship is treated as a good idea for some, but only an option that you can either take or leave, neglect of the poor, widows, and orphans are excused with the confidence that others will do it, common Christian civility between fellow believers is seen as an exception and a luxury, gossip and backbiting go unrebuked, . . . the list goes on and on . . . and there seems to be no heart to deal with any of it.
So, is it unreasonable to think that the Church needs a genuine awakening and spiritual shake-up?  I believe it's a need of the highest order.
Yesterday, another brother-in-law, also named Bill, preached in the church services where he and his wife are members.  Bill was a successful Christian business man who had already reached retirement age when God called him to preach.  He and Jo Ann's sister, Dot, have ministered across America, living in their travel trailer for months at a time.  For the past fourteen years he served as the pastor of a vacation mobile home park church which they started.  Yesterday was my first opportunity to hear him preach.  He spoke on the subject, "Why Do You Love Jesus?", based on John 21:15-19.  In the course of the message, he referred to Paul's admonition in Romans 12:9 as to how our love for Christ must be genuine.
As is often the case when I am listening to another preacher, I tend to read the surrounding text.  As I read through the rest of that chapter, I realized I was actually reviewing what the proper lifestyle of a follower of Christ should be like.  Beginning with verse nine, we see (depending on how you punctuate it) as many as thirty distinct admonitions as to how we are to conduct ourselves . . . not as an ideal, but as a practical way of life.  Look at what Paul says:
"Let love be without hypocrisy. (12:9)
"Abhor what is evil; (12:9)
"Cling to what is good.  (12:9)
"Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; (12:10)
"Give preference to one another in honor; (12:10)
"Don't lag behind in diligence, (12:11)
"Be fervent in spirit, (12:11)
"Serve the Lord; (12:11)
"Rejoice in hope, (12:12)
"Persevere in tribulation, (12:12)
"Be devoted to prayer, (12:12)
"Contribute to the needs of the saints, (12:13)
"Practice hospitality. (12:13)
"Bless those who persecute you; bless and curse not. (12:14)
"Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. (12:15)
"Be of the same mind toward one another; (12:16)
"Do not be haughty in mind, (12:16)
"Associate with the lowly. (12:16)
"Do not be wise in your own estimation. (12:16)
"Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. (12:17)
"Respect what is right in the sight of all men. (12:17)
"If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men. (12:18
"Never take your own revenge, beloved, (12:19)
"Leave room for the wrath of God, (12:19).
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; (12:20)
"Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (12:21)
. . . and, the list continues on into the next chapter.  Paul not only addressed these issues with the believers in Rome, but in similar fashion to virtually every church and church leader to whom he wrote.  And, isn't it ironic, that these very instructions from the greatest of the apostles, pulsate with the very teachings of Jesus Himself as He taught kingdom principles to His disciples and onlookers through the Sermon on the Mount, the Beatitudes, and the kingdom parables.  This is not just coincidental.  That should be a clue that something is amiss, and something is critically important.
What Jesus is trying to tell us is that a believer is expected to live a life that is different . . . a life that will cause an unbeliever to take notice, Not because of what he claims to believe, but rather in how he lives out his life on a practical level every day.
And the very absence of these qualities is further indication of just how desperately the Church needs a reviving touch from God, . . . beginning with those of us who are identified as leaders in our churches.
Because of the comments of a longtime friend, I am re-evaluating the appropriateness of the word, "Revival" . . . a word which, incidentally, Jesus never used, and which cannot be found in the New Testament.  My friend's contention is that "revival" is not what is really needed, but rather it is the release of the very life of Christ in our lives in ways that transform the way we think and the way we live.  So, is it possible that what we're really talking about here is the need for the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ to once again submit itself totally and without revocation to its Head, Christ Himself?  As my friend says, "Nobody acts like Jesus quite like Jesus."
And that's what the Church needs to experience . . . and what the world needs to see.
We have the evidence of theology, of history, of false and faulty measurements of success, of societal conditions, and of the lifestyles of contemporary Christian conduct.
Some will have read today's letter through the cloud of intellectual boredom; others will read it as an ideal impossible to realize.  Some, though, may find it to be a probing exercise that motivates them to take notice . . . and then take action.  I hope you are the latter type.
Oh, how a fresh touch from God is needed!  Oh, how desperately we need to allow Christ to return to His rightful rule as Lord and Master!  If that happens, the world will take notice.
In His Bond, By His Grace, and For His Kingdom,
Bob Tolliver -- Romans 1:11
Copyright March, 2009
Life Unlimited Ministries for our city-wide prayer strategy.
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It's our desire to provide you links to helpful resources.  However, the contents of these sites do not necessarily represent the views we personally hold.  These are sites we have found helpful in the past for various topics, and want you to know about them.  Use at your own discretion.
Websites Crucial For Today:
Consider these special websites that are particularly important in light of world conditions.
Resources and News from balanced and Family Friendly Perspectives: -- an excellent news website giving you more thorough news reporting. for daily world news without a liberal, godless bias. -- an outstanding resource for anyone wanting to become or help raise up a great leader. -- excellent on-line encyclopedia on almost every topic, usually unbiased. -- to pray for troops in Iraq. -- Tools for understanding and responding to America's moral decay.
Resources on Middle East, Israel, Bible Prophecy: -- one of the most COMPREHENSIVE HISTORIES of Israel I've ever seen, written from a Jewish Perspective.  A Profound resource for those interested. -- excellent website on Israel -- excellent website on Israel -- excellent website on Israel, especially evidences of God's supernatural intervention -- current events as relating to Bible prophecy -- excellent source of articles on Israel and Bible prophecy and other topics -- strategic newsletter, reports, resources, particularly on Bible Prophecy excellent Jewish sources on Hebrew language, Jewish history, beliefs, practices. -- an excellent site on Christian relationship to Israel. American Jewish historical society. Israel today news and resources.  Jerusalem Post newspaper. Jonathan Burness ministry with excellent info and resources good Jewish culture/beliefs source good source for those supporting Israel exceptional sour of information on Israel, ancient and modern comprehensive site on Jewish history including famed "Crash Course In Jewish History" hundreds of excellent photos, old and new, of Israel and her people. another great source of pictures. a sobering source of anti-Semitic photos. martyrs and heroes of the Holocaust excellent historic and contemporary information on Israel
Helpful General Resources -- Great source for information on Christian apologetics. for access to over 3900 downloadable audio sermons.  Exceptional site. an excellent general source for quality Bible study tools and other things.  Links to other great sites. a great site for video on creation and evolution. a super source for Christian extreme sports witness to youth an excellent source for dealing with evolution and creation a great site for video on creation, evolution, and apologetics a good site with links for many resources. for great Bible resources and downloads.  Exceptional site. ---- one of the best free download Bible study sites I've ever seen! for new and fresh evangelism & discipleship materials. -- a great source for resources for language ministries. ---- one of the best Creation websites I've ever seen. ---- for excellent brief words of encouragement from
    one of America's premier evangelical writers/thinkers. ---- A world-wide network for praying together. ---- excellent resources on revival, prayer, missions. ---- resources on prayer, evangelism, etc. ---- resources on prayer & missions ---- resources on world-wide prayer ---- resources on world-wide prayer ---- "National Pastors' Prayer Network" newsletter.  ~  
     email: phil@....  Register your PPG: . ---- "Life Action Outreach".
Valuable Resources on Islam: filled with testimonies and resources. ---- fantastic website on ISLAM (amazing testimonies and excellent resources) ---- excellent resources of facts, testimonies, and tools ---- source of testimonies and resources ---- resources ---- Bibles 

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