10 STEPS TO THE DECAY OF A NATION

Isaiah 3:1-24

This is not only true of a nation, but also of a church:

  1. Removal of great leadership (vs. 1-3).
  2. Elevation of incompetent leaders (v. 4).
  3. Selfishness (v. 5a).
  4. Disrespect of elders (v. 5b).
  5. Affluent people neglecting their civil duties (vs. 6-7).
  6. Opposition to God (v. 8).
  7. Flagrant immorality (vs. 9-11).
  8. Loss of strong masculine leadership (vs. 12, 25; 4:1).
  9. Social injustice (vs. 14-15).
  10. Emphasis on a woman’s physical beauty and outward adornments over inner beauty (vs. 16-24).

“A Personal Relationship With Jesus?”

I recently listened to a sermon and heard the preacher say something that really got me to thinking about the clichés we use at church.  The cliché he mentioned was “a personal relationship with Jesus.” This cliché has become the most widely used metaphor to encapsulate a person’s faith in Christ.  People are invited to have “a personal relationship with Jesus.” However, this phrase is not found in the Bible.

The problem with this cliché is it frames the gospel in terms of a woman’s deepest desire—to have personal relationship with a man who loves her unconditionally. While it may charm a woman—it does very little for a man.

Women are all about relationships. They watch romantic movies and read books about relationships. While most men appreciate a good relationship, they are more concerned about mission. They watch movies and read books about a man pulling off a dangerous mission.  Men are most involved when they’re on a mission, and that mission is succeeding. Relationships rise and fall based on emotions.  Mission is about achievement and purpose.  Relationships are about being.  Mission are about doing.

By speaking of the gospel in terms of a “relationship” we are engaging the senses of women.  Extensive use of this terminology may explain why most church services are less attractive to men today.  It is a proven fact that more women attend church today than men.

Where did the phrase “a personal relationship with Jesus” come from?  According to a Google search, it first occurred in a book titled Rest By The Way, in 1881.   You will not find it in the sermons of Moody, Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, etc.  It did not come into widespread use until the late 1960’s, which was the same time when male attendance at church began to fall off.

Just visit most Christian bookstores today and look around. The decor, trinkets, music, figurines, merchandise appeal mainly to women.  There is not much to motivate a man.  Even most of the books have the female consumer in mind. In fact, look who most of the customers are!

I believe the constant use of saying “have a personal relationship with Jesus” has attributed to much of the spiritual immaturity among believers today.

I am not saying it is wrong to use the expression, “a personal relationship with Jesus.” It depends who you are trying to appeal to.  While I appreciate ladies who attend church, I want to see more men serving God at church.  Therefore, by God’s grace, I will do more to emphasize MISSION over “a personal relationship with Jesus.”

How about it men? God has given us a job to do. Let’s get with it!

SPIRITUAL TRAINING

“…herein do I exercise myself…” — Acts 24:26

For most people if they want to be successful in some pursuit they must receive a certain amount of training. To be a successful teacher, parent, pianist, pastor, soul winner, mechanic, engineer, pilot, manager, athlete, etc. requires some training in that field.

The same is true in your Christian life. When you were first saved you were a “babe in Christ” that needed training to be a successful Christian. The training process is called discipleship, involves four things:

First, we have a “training manual.” It is the Bible (2 Tim. 3:16-17). The Bible gives us all the information we need to live the Christian life. The reason some Christians are not successful is they have not been reading their “training manual.” As the cliché says, “When all else fails, read the instructions.”

Second, there is the “classroom” where we learn along with other classmates from an experienced teacher (Eph. 4:11-16). This classroom is the local church.

Third, is our “training ground” is the world in which we live (John 17:6-18). God has placed us in an environment where we learn to exercise what we’ve learned in our “training manual” and in the “classroom.”

Fourth, the Holy Spirit is our “coach” (John 14:26). He helps us to put into practice what we are learning. He is with us to correct (convict) us when we do the wrong thing and encourage us when we do the right thing.

How is your spiritual training going? Are you growing in your work for the Lord? Let’s take advantage of these four training resources God has provided for us to accomplish what He has called us to do for His glory!

Glorifying God?

Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God. —1 Corinthians 10:31

I recently heard an evangelist make this profound statement: “It is God who decides if or when He is glorified.”  What a heavy and convicting truth!

Consider King Saul.  Saul probably thought he was glorifying God by sparing the best of the sheep and oxen at Amalek to offer to God as a sacrifice.  However, God was not well pleased!

I wonder about those times I think my actions glorify God, when actually I may be glorifying myself.  It is not up to me to decide if what I’m doing glorifies God (Jer. 17:9).  Maybe God is being glorified and maybe He isn’t. Only God can decide which.

I hope I’m wrong, but I fear some of what we do “to the glory of God,” may be tainted with self. I think we all might guilty of this from time-to-time (including myself!).  For God to be truly glorified, He must get ALL the glory (Isa. 48:11).

I wonder how many think they are glorifying God, when their underlying motive is self-serving.  A wife seeks to win her lost husband to the Lord, but is she doing it “that the Father may be glorified”or that her husband might be easier to live with (John 14:13)?  An unemployed person prays for a job. When God answers, who gets the glory?  A preacher preaches a stirring sermon, but who gets the glory when the service is dismissed?

God help us to sincerely seek to glorify God in all we do, without any thought of self.

Who Are You?

“Whom do men say that I the Son of Man am?” —Matthew 16:13

This question shows Jesus was interested in what people believed about Him.  People’s opinion about who Jesus is was a concern He had.  And people’s opinion of who you are should be a concern to you also.

You may be able recall the first time you met your employer… your spouse… your pastor… your best friend… your neighbor… or a co-worker.   At first, you were not completely at ease in their presence.  Most likely it took some time to get to know them before you were more comfortable around them.  On the other hand, perhaps the more you got to know them and found out some of their quirks and character flaws, the less you wanted to be around them. The old adage sometimes applies, “familiarity breeds contempt.” But it doesn’t have to apply.  I can truthfully say the more familiar I’ve become with certain people, the more I desire their fellowship.

As people get to know you, they form an opinion about who you are.  I hope as people get to know me, and they may be asked, “Who is Al Hughes?” they would answer:  ”

Who do people say YOU are?

Leading from Redemption to Spiritual growth…