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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Why Some Great Churches Are No Longer Great

But Will We??????

Posted By: Thom Raine
President & CEO of Lifeway Christian Resources

The names of the churches stare back at me.

There are 876 churches in all. Most of them have their names written in my books. They are Effective Evangelistic Churches, High Expectation Churches, Standout Churches, and Breakout Churches. Three books were written on these churches. My teams did hundreds of hours of research.

Though quantification of church health is difficult, we attempted to look at health from several perspectives. Evangelistic health. Discipleship health. Doctrinal health. Fellowship health. Worship health.

We know that our measurements are fallible, but we still think we identified some of the greatest churches in America.

But now some of the names stare back at me. Not all of the names. Just some of the names.

From Great to Mediocrity

The names I am seeing right now are churches that are no longer great. They have fallen from the lists. They no longer meet the criteria.

We found some of the fallen churches from statistical follow-up. We found others in consultations, and still others from familiarity with the churches. Some people told us that other great churches had fallen on tough times. And some people even questioned if our studies had validity since those churches had fallen from greatness.

Again, we make no claim of infallibility in our research. But we do believe that our research is sound. The studies that we did, however, were mostly “rear-view mirror” studies. We looked at churches for the past several years to the present. But past accomplishments are no guarantee for future health. Churches can reverse their positive trends.

It’s those churches whose names are staring at me.

Hubris, Denial, and Nostalgia

Of course, the single word question that disturbs me is “Why?” I am tempted to lead another study, this time on fallen churches, but I do have sufficient information for now to see the how the fall begins. I classify the reasons into three words, and they are not mutually exclusive.

Hubris. The word means pride or excessive self-confidence. Here it refers to church leaders who have seen great days at their churches, and who are convinced that their churches are the models for others to emulate. They talk about the methods they used, instead of the biblical principles and passions behind the methods. Since theirs was such an effective church in the past, the leaders see little need to do things differently today.

Denial. I took an entire blog earlier this week to discuss this issue. It’s a characteristic of church leaders of fallen churches. They simply don’t want to face the facts. The church is not as evangelistic as it once was. People are not growing in the Word as in the past. Expectations are lower, and so is morale.

Nostalgia. Most churches have a period in their history that stands out above others. But some churches still live in that period though it’s long past. Nostalgia is fine if it is simply the act of fond memories. Nostalgia is sinful if it keeps the church from moving forward in Great Commission obedience.

What Now?

Where do these churches go now? Is it possible to move from mediocrity to greatness back to mediocrity and then back again to greatness?

Absolutely. All things are possible through God.

The first step is repentance, a confession of any sins of pride or self-sufficiency.

The next step is a reality check. Instead of living off the past of recognitions and accolades, it’s time to have a hard look in the mirror. A church can’t get well if it’s unwilling to admit it’s sick.

Then the church needs to learn its community again. Make no assumptions that the present is like the past. Get accurate information. Live incarnationally. And then contextualize for the new realities, not those of the past.

Finally, move toward radical obedience. This life is too short to play church games. Time is running out fast.

And then, the once great church can, in God’s power, be great again.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

"Let It Come!"

By Chuck Baldwin July 21, 2009

During Patrick Henry's famous "Give me liberty or give me death" speech, he said the following:

"Mr. President, it is natural to man to indulge in the illusions of hope. We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth and listen to the song of that siren, till she transforms us into beasts. Is this the part of wise men, engaged in a great and arduous struggle for liberty? Are we disposed to be of the number of those who, having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not, the things which so nearly concern their temporal salvation? For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it may cost, I am willing to know the whole truth, to know the worst and to provide for it."

Later in his historic speech Henry said, "Three millions of people, armed in the holy cause of liberty, and in such a country as that which we possess, are invincible by any force which our enemy can send against us. Besides, Sir, we shall not fight our battles alone. There is a just God who presides over the destinies of nations, and who will raise up friends to fight our battles for us. The battle, Sir, is not to the strong alone. It is to the vigilant, the active, the brave. Besides, Sir, we have no election. If we were base enough to desire it, it is now too late to retire from the contest. There is no retreat but in submission and slavery! Our chains are forged! Their clanking may be heard on the plains of Boston! The war is inevitable. And let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come!"

Of course, Henry ended his stirring speech with the immortal words, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take, but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"

(The complete text of Patrick Henry's immortal address on March 23, 1775, is found in my giant compilation of great, historic documents called THE FREEDOM DOCUMENTS, which may be ordered exclusively at http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/products.html )

Many people today (including the vast majority of my Christian brethren) are doing exactly what Patrick Henry said many were doing 234 years ago: they prefer to "shut [their] eyes against a painful truth." Just as in 1775, many today, "having eyes, see not, and having ears, hear not."

Serious students of history, however, cannot mistake the similarities between the British Crown in 1775 and the federal government in Washington, D.C., today. In fact, I would argue that federal usurpation's of State sovereignty, personal liberty, and constitutional government are far more egregious today than at any time during the reign of old King George III. Were America's Founding Fathers alive today, they would have waged another war for independence years ago. Compared to the violations of liberty by the federal government in 2009, the abridgments of liberty committed by the Crown in 1775 were minuscule. We should all hang our heads in shame that we have not already exerted our right and responsibility as free people to "throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for [our] future security" (Declaration of Independence, Paragraph 2). Were we as righteous as our forebears, we would have already done so.

If we were writing a Declaration of Independence today, in which we would "let Facts be submitted to a candid world," the examples of federal abuse of power would be so multitudinous it would be difficult to contain them to a single document. The question is not, "Has the current federal government become tyrannical?" The question is, "How long will the States continue to tolerate it?"

For example, within the last couple of months, the States of Montana and Tennessee have each passed their own "Firearms Freedom Act." Briefly stated, the bills provide that any firearms or ammunition that are manufactured, sold, and kept within the State are not subject to federal law or federal regulation. Clearly, Montana and Tennessee have the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution on their side.

Of course, the Constitution doesn't matter to the federal government. On July 16 of this year, BATFE Assistant Director Carson Carroll sent an "Open Letter" to all firearms dealers within the States of Tennessee and Montana, telling them in no uncertain terms, "Federal law supersedes the [Tennessee or Montana] Act, and all provisions of the Gun Control Act and the National Firearms Act, and their corresponding regulations, continue to apply."

You see folks, in the minds of the politicians and bureaucrats in Washington, D.C., there is no such thing as constitutional government. There is no such thing as State autonomy. There is no such thing as balance of power. To the miscreants in Washington, D.C., there is only federal authority. To them, these States United are merely colony-subjects, who must bow to an omnipotent, ubiquitous federal power that knows no limits and no boundaries.

I hope and pray that the Tennessee and Montana governors, State legislatures, and State supreme courts will tell Mr. Carroll "where to go," and will defend their State sovereignties "to the end." And by the same token, I hope and pray that dozens more states will put teeth to their State Sovereignty resolutions and follow the examples of Montana and Tennessee.

Add to the continual usurpation's of State sovereignty the fact that both the Republican and Democratic parties in Washington, D.C., have allowed our once-great free enterprise system to become a giant socialist economy, and the outlook only gets bleaker. This is why Republicans in D.C. have no moral credibility in opposing President Barack Obama's Marxist-style universal health care proposals. Under George W. Bush, the Republican Party expanded socialism in America like no administration in recent history. Now they are going to oppose the Democrat version of socialism? What a joke!

The only difference between the economic policies of the Democrats and Republicans in Washington, D.C., is Democrats want to tax-and-spend America into socialism for the benefit of the Welfare State, while Republicans want to borrow-and-spend America into socialism for the benefit of the Warfare State. Neither party wants to confine Washington, D.C., to the prescribed limits of the U.S. Constitution. And neither party in Washington, D.C., is willing to recognize the constitutional authority and autonomy of the States United.

Given the fact that both parties are hell-bent on destroying constitutional government, dismantling State sovereignty, and trampling individual liberties, it seems painfully obvious to me that a war for State independence is inevitable. Just exactly what that means is unknown at this point, but all of the elements and ingredients that existed in 1775 exist today. In fact, in view of the battle currently taking place between Nashville/Helena and Washington, D.C., the war has--for all intents and purposes--already begun. And unlike many of my Christian brethren who want to "shut [their] eyes against a painful truth," I say with Patrick Henry, "Let it come! I repeat it, Sir, let it come!"

*If you appreciate this column and want to help me distribute these editorial opinions to an ever-growing audience, donations may now be made by credit card, check, or Money Order. Use this link:


© Chuck Baldwin

This column is archived as http://www.chuckbaldwinlive.com/c2009/cbarchive_20090721.html

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Can I Be TOO Serious About Freedom?

I have been told on a number of occasions by friends and associates that I need to “Chill Out”! These folks contend that I am too serious about the “political situation” in our nation and indeed, in the world. These folks are correct in their presumption that I am VERY serious about our local, national and international socio-political situation. Am I TOO serious??? I think not. I do not believe that one can be TOO serious when the freedom of an entire nation is in jeopardy. Make no mistake about it,,, THE FREEDOM AND LIBERTIES WE ENJOY IN THIS CONSTITUTIONAL REPUBLIC ARE IN JEOPARDY! If you are not aware of this fact, you must have been living on some other planet for the last several years. Can we do something about that situation? Yes we can.

This is not a new problem, but certainly one that has escalated in intensity over the past eight and a half years. I have recently coined a quote which I believe summarizes the problem and cries out for action.

“The NWO (New World Order) is the ultimate goal of those who conspire to control the world and ALL else is just a smoke screen or a diversionary tactic!” The smoke screens and diversionary tactics are the thing which we as Americans must be aware of and wary of. Most political experts and strategists agree that very little if anything happens accidentally in the world of politics and international affairs. Sometimes it is not the ‘what’ that is as important as the ‘why’, when we look at world and national events. We need to develop a mindset that questions every political action (and inaction) as to WHO will benefit (or lose) by virtue of the action. Sometimes, but not always, it as simple as following the money. If some individual or special interest group tends to profit greatly from an action, it may be purely an incident motivated by monetary greed . In most cases however, I find that the trail leads to a far more serious motivation and greed than that of money,,, THAT MOTIVE IS POWER AND CONTROL.

Historians tell us that there has been a group of Globalists who have sought to achieve a One World Government since before the United States became a Nation. They embody both the hunger for power and money. Truth is, they see nothing wrong with this since they feel that they were born for this purpose and are entitled, yea even destined to be the “controllers” of the world. These men are sometimes referred to as the “puppet masters” or the “shadow government”. They seldom, if ever aspire to hold public office, but rather prefer to control those who hold such offices (either elective or appointive) in order to achieve their overall objective(s). I prefer to call these power brokers the “Insiders”, a name coined by Robert Welch, the founder of one of the oldest and most politically and historically well educated conservative groups of the twentieth and twenty first centuries.

It is obvious that we as individuals cannot overpower those mega-millionaires who conspire to control the entire world. The best we can hope to do is raise the awareness of the public to the seriousness of their plan. If we can educate and activate a small but dedicated percentage of the people to rise up and speak out against this power hungry throng of Insiders, we can turn the tide. The dark, underhanded tactics of such men (groups) will not withstand exposure to the bright light of public opinion. We MUST Educate and inform ourselves and others in order to expose this treasonous plot (some dare call it Conspiracy) to rule America and the world.

This brings me back to my original point;I do not believe that one can be TOO serious when the freedom of an entire nation is in jeopardy. When Washington, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, Monroe and others were forming this great Constitutional Republic, do you suppose they had nay sayers and detractors who thought that they were “too serious” about what they were doing? Possibly so, but I would tend to believe that the rank and file American at that time was so dedicated to the cause of escaping the dictatorial powers of a King, that they were glad to serve and to support and to do WHATEVER it took to achieve freedom. My greatest fear is that today the complacent American has abandoned that fierce love of freedom and liberty that his forefathers had. It is very distressing to try to educate and activate people who either (A) no longer care about their freedom or (B) believe that “everything will turn out OK” without their effort.

I DO NOT KNOW HOW TO RAISE THE RED FLAG ANY HIGHER OR SHOUT THE ALARM ANY LOUDER!!!! WE ARE HEADED OVER THE CLIFF TOWARD CERFDOM AND SLAVERY! If we as free Americans don’t act soon, we will pass a point of no return. We have lost more freedom and incurred more debt since January 20, 2009 than at ALL other times in the history of our nation combined. As one physicist put it, we are rapidly reaching CRITICAL MASS. That is when the chain reaction occurs which cannot be stopped that will lead our Nation and even the World into a planned One World Government or New World Order, which has been carefully orchestrated over many years. IT IS ALL ABOUT POWER AND CONTROL!

I for one, do not choose to be controlled by a group of arrogant, wealthy, potbellied bankers who are on a self anointed, self appointed power trip. Perhaps they are appointed by satan himself, but that is all the more reason to come against their diabolical plot. Am I TOO Serious??? I think not, but I assure all who will listen that I do not want to be placed in the same concentration camp with those Pseudo-Americans who deliberately choose to do nothing (to fiddle while Rome burns). I believe that would be a very painful and short lived event. I am asking EVERY American to adopt the attitude and determination of William Wallace (Brave Heart) who, with his last tortured breath cried,,, FREEEEDOMMMM!!!

Join the cause to help save our once great nation. Call me at 251-656-2363 or E-Mail me at woody@commtotal.com . Join our Facebook Group God Bless America! (Alabama). We ARE all in this together whether we like it or not. If each of us does something, a few will not have to do everything. Think about your personal pride and your national pride. If you are a Christian or a Jew, think about your Godly duty. If you have a family, think about the kind of world you are leaving for your kids and grand kids. I implore you,,, PLEASE get involved in some way to help save America today.

By: Woody Wood

God Bless America! (Alabama)

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Fed Hunt for Guns, House to House

I will be very interested to see your comments on this article. Always keep in mind that:

"The NWO (New World Order) is the ultimate goal of those who conspire to control the world and ALL else is just a smoke screen or a diversionary tactic!"

Federal agents hunt for guns, one house at a time

By DANE SCHILLER Copyright 2009 Houston Chronicle

June 30, 2009, 9:36PM

In front of a run-down shack in north Houston, federal agents step from a government sedan into 102-degree heat and face a critical question: How can the woman living here buy four high-end handguns in one day?

The house is worth $35,000. A screen dangles by a wall-unit air conditioner. Porch swing slats are smashed, the smattering of grass is flattened by cars and burned yellow by sun.

“I’ll do the talking on this one,” agent Tim Sloan, of South Carolina, told partner Brian Tumiel, of New York.

Success on the front lines of a government blitz on gunrunners supplying Mexican drug cartels with Houston weaponry hinges on logging heavy miles and knocking on countless doors. Dozens of agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives — sent here from around the country — are needed to follow what ATF acting director Kenneth Melson described as a “massive number of investigative leads.”

All told, Mexican officials in 2008 asked federal agents to trace the origins of more than 7,500 firearms recovered at crime scenes in Mexico. Most of them were traced back to Texas, California and Arizona.

Among other things, the agents are combing neighborhoods and asking people about suspicious purchases as well as seeking explanations as to how their guns ended up used in murders, kidnappings and other crimes in Mexico.

“Ever turning up the heat on cartels, our law enforcement and military partners in the government of Mexico have been working more closely with the ATF by sharing information and intelligence,” Melson said Tuesday during a firearms-trafficking summit in New Mexico.

Firearms dealers visited

The ATF recently dispatched 100 veteran agents to its Houston division, which reaches to the border.

The mission is especially challenging because, officials say, that while Houston is the number one point of origin for weapons traced back to the United States from Mexico, the government can’t compile databases on gun owners under federal law.

Agents instead review firearms dealers’ records in person.

People who are legally in the United States and have clean criminal records, but are facing economic problems are often recruited by traffickers to buy weapons on their behalf in order to shield themselves from scrutiny.

Knocks at the door of the shack that looked to be the definition of hard times went unanswered.

“I am out of here,” Sloan said a few moments later, as a pit bull lazily sauntered from the back yard. “I don’t like pit bulls walking up behind me.”

Best information source

On second thought, Sloan switched to Spanish and interviewed a neighbor.

The neighbor said the woman left a month ago after a fight with her husband or boyfriend, who still lived there with what she called “other degenerates.”

“An angry ex-girlfriend or wife is the best person in the world, the greatest source of information,” Sloan said.

The night before, the duo were in a stakeout where they watched a weapons sale.

They also combined efforts with the Drug Enforcement Administration for an aircraft to stealthily follow traffickers to the border.

On this day, agents weren’t wearing raid jackets or combat boots and weren’t armed with warrants.

Guns were hidden under civilian shirts.

Another tip took agents on a 30-minute drive from the shack to a sprawling home with a pool in the back and an American flag out front.

It turned out two handguns, of a type drug gangsters prefer, were bought by a pastor for target practice.

Some stories, they say, are hard to believe.

The lamest so far came from a police officer: He said he bought a few military-style rifles, left them in his car and — on the same night — forgot to lock a door. He couldn’t explain why he didn’t file a police report or why he visited Mexico the day after the alleged theft.