Overcoming (Spiritual) Weapons of Destruction
Northpoint’s Pastoral Assistant, Tamene Menna, and I have been reading together a new book called, Old Paths, New Power, in which the author, Daniel Henderson, calls for lifting up the tried and true path to transformation: prayer and proclamation. In the first chapter, Henderson writes:
“For every Gospel [motivated] action there is an opposite and devious demonic reaction. We see this in the book of Acts. It appears in church history. We experience it in our personal journeys. The Gospel revolution began when the Spirit empowered the resurrection witness on the day of Pentecost. Thousands were converted, baptized, and enfolded in a matter of hours. In the following days, thousands more would convert. … Multiplying masses became part of the believing assembly of Christ followers.
But Satan did not roll over. He reloaded. In Acts 4, he attacked via persecution. In Acts 5 the enemy attacked through corruption, motivating Ananias and Sapphira to lie about their giving. Later in Acts 5 another wave of persecution struck. This time the apostles were arrested, threatened and beaten. Then, in Acts 6, a more subtle snare emerged as the enemy sought to promote division and distraction. Disunion between the Greek and Hebrew-speaking believers arose over the neglect of the Greek widows. The apostles were required to address the administrative breakdown that could lead to a breakup. So the Acts 6 resurgence (“But we will devote ourselves to prayer and the ministry of the word”) arose in the midst of relentless spiritual counterattack. … Let’s be honest. The spiritual awakening in Acts 6 seems a distant cry from modern-day environment of church as we know it. And church as we know it is not working. …
The sifting has begun and the shifting of our paradigms is approaching. We know that persecution is a paramount reality in today’s world. Open Doors, an excellent ministry that exists to serve persecuted Christians around the world, warns that each month 322 Christians are killed for their faith, 215 churches and Christian properties are destroyed, and 772 forms of violence are committed against Christians (such as beatings, abductions, rapes, arrests, and forced marriages). To think that America is immune [to such persecution] is naïve and the precursor to dangerous apathy. Across the United States, cities in every state are becoming more “post-Christian.” An increasing number of religiously unaffiliated, a steady drop in church attendance, the recent Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage, and the growing tension over religious freedoms all point to a larger secularizing trend sweeping across the nation. During a conversation at a recent dinner, a friend who works for a variety of national and state political candidates, said, ‘Daniel, your grandchildren will be the first generation to grow up in a society where being a Christian and being an American is no longer compatible.’
I believe a sifting is coming. This is a reality that will separate true Gospel ministry from empty, socially acceptable Christian religion. A result could very well be the shedding of all things superficial and peripheral. This may well mark the return to very basic, Spirit-dependent, prayer-energized, and Gospel-propelled ministry, irrespective of programs, budgets, and facilities. … The best preparation for the future sifting is a return to the realities that gave the early church leaders a transcendent faith and an extraordinary impact … a ministry sustained by a fullness of the Holy Spirit via humble, enduring prayer.”
I think Daniel Henderson is on to something. As you’ve heard me say before, nothing of any substance will be accomplished apart from prayer. With that in mind, please join me for an all-church prayer gathering on Thursday, September 21, at 7:00 p.m. in Heritage Hall. We will join together for one hour in prayer, and bring before the Lord our new ministry year, our nation and our world, and trust that God will do more than we ask or think.
With grateful dependence,