Leave Your Grave Clothes Alone

September 9, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Dan Delzell | 

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, “the dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” (John 11:44)

Imagine how ludicrous it would have been for Lazarus to have taken a few steps and then said, “You know, I think I prefer being wrapped in linen. Put my grave clothes back on me and place that cloth back around my face.”

As ridiculous as that may sound, there are plenty of people today who do something similar. And the folks who just can’t seem to leave their grave clothes alone fall into one of two groups.

The first group involves those who start out wanting to be clothed with Christ, but then quickly go back to wearing their dirty old rags of works righteousness. They relapse into their grave clothes by attempting to earn salvation through their works, even though the prophet Isaiah made it abundantly clear that our good works can never take away our sins: “All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteousness is like filthy rags.” (Isaiah 64:6) Nevertheless, the grave clothes of works righteousness definitely appeal to some people who initially appeared to be on the road to redemption.

We see a prime example of this in the book of Galatians. Paul addressed the “foolish Galatians” (3:1) who “after beginning with the Spirit” began “trying to attain their goal by human effort.” (3:3) (See the article I wrote last week entitled: “Galatians for Catholics, Protestants and Every Christian“)

It is utter foolishness to revert back to your grave clothes once you have experienced new life in Christ. You will never be grounded in the Christian faith if you are determined to keep going back to those death rags. To put it simply, you will need to leave your grave clothes alone if you want to be forgiven of your sins. So go ahead and place complete confidence for salvation in the cross where Christ made the full payment for your sin. After all, your grave clothes cannot take away even one of your sins.

The second group of people who can’t seem to leave their grave clothes alone are those believers who continue to deliberately dabble with sin even though they have been clothed with Christ through faith in the Savior. Christians are not to “put on” the old clothes of disobedience, but are “to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions.” (Titus 2:12)

Paul reminded “the saints in Ephesus:” (Eph. 1:1) “You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds, and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (4:22-24) In other words, leave your grave clothes alone. Those deeds of darkness do nothing to promote your new life in Christ. They only hold you down and keep you from doing God’s will. And if you are not sure how you should be living, then it is time to “find out what pleases the Lord.” (Eph. 5:10) (See the article I wrote last month entitled: “Ephesians for Catholics, Protestants and Every Christian“)

Another lesson in leaving grave clothes behind is found in Paul’s instruction to “the holy and faithful brothers in Colosse:” (Col. 1:2) “Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator.” (3:5-10)

Paul was constantly instructing believers to leave their grave clothes alone. And his message was explicit: “Have nothing to do with the fruitless deeds of darkness, but rather expose them. For it is shameful even to mention what the disobedient do in secret.” (Eph. 5:11,12)

So there you have it: two types of people who refuse to leave their grave clothes alone. But you don’t have to walk on either one of those deadly paths. By God’s grace, you can trust Christ completely for your salvation; and you can “walk in the light.” (1 John 1:7) But you will need to “be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray.” (1 Peter 4:7)

“Be very careful, then, how you live – not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead be filled with the Spirit.” (Eph. 5:15-18)

And so if you find yourself being drawn back to your grave clothes, it is time to move on. The old way of thinking and living won’t cut it any longer. Peter wrote, “As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as He who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do.” (1 Peter 1:14,15)

If you have become sidetracked in your life of discipleship, Christ will forgive you as you turn to Him now in repentance and faith. And the Holy Spirit will empower you to live for the Lord as one “clothed with Christ” (Gal. 3:27) through faith in Jesus.

When Lazarus came out of the tomb, his grave clothes were completely removed. Likewise, God’s message to every believer is full of victory and power: “You were dead in your transgressions and sins” (Eph. 2:1) and have now been “made alive with Christ….it is by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:5) “For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.” (Eph. 5:8)

Your grave clothes have been taken off!

So why in the world would you ever want to become entangled again in those old death rags?

7 Reasons Churches Aren’t Reaching the Lost in Their Own Backyards

September 9, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Greg Stier | 

      For a decade of my life I was privileged to lead a church that was very effective at reaching the lost. Through prayer, hard work and a relentless Gospel focus we experienced strong growth primarily due to new believers being added to our church roles. During that time God taught me many hard and valuable lessons that have stuck with me to this day.
In the nineteen years since being a pastor I’ve been blessed to lead a ministry called Dare 2 Share, a ministry that focuses on equipping teenagers to share the Gospel with their peers. In this time I’ve talked to thousands of youth leaders and preached at many churches, both big and small, across the nation. And I’ve noticed a pattern in these churches…most of them are not effectively reaching the lost with the Gospel in their own communities.

Sure, many of them are effective at other things…teaching God’s Word, taking care of the poor, supporting overseas mission work, creating opportunities for believers to use their spiritual gifts, etc. But most are not truly effective at reaching the lost in their own backyards.

After countless conversations with church leaders and first hand observations of innumerable Sunday morning services I’m convinced there are 7 reasons why this is the case …

1. They’ve lost their “Gospel urgency.”

In the average church there is not a “whatever it takes” mentality when it comes to reaching the lost with the hope of Jesus Christ. There is not a sense of urgency that flows from the reality of hell for those who don’t hear and believe the message of the Gospel.

Sometimes this lack of urgency flows out of a theological construct that causes some church goers to conclude that “it’s all up to God anyway.” Sometimes it flows out of a lack of understanding of the mission and mandate Jesus left for us all in Matthew 28:19 when he commissioned his followers to “go and make disciples of all nations.”

Whatever the reason for this lack of urgency church leaders need to help their congregations hear the call from above (the Great Commission), the whisper from within (compassion) and the scream from beneath (reality of hell) so that the Holy Spirit can re-ignite their peoples’ passion to reach the lost.

2. The leadership doesn’t model it.

As someone once said, “No tears in the eyes of the writer, no tears in the eyes of the reader.” What’s true of writing is true of evangelism in the local church. If the pastor, associate pastor, youth pastor and the rest of the church leadership don’t have broken hearts for the lost and aren’t engaging in Gospel conversations with family, friends, neighbors, baristas, etc. then neither will their congregations.

Jesus said in Luke 6:40, “The student is not above the teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like their teacher.” Bible studying pastors have Bible studying congregations. Program driven pastors have program driven congregations. Evangelizing pastors have evangelizing congregations.

This begs the question that if someone does not lead people to Christ should they be a church leader at all? To follow Jesus, according to Jesus’ own words in Matthew 4:19 will inevitably result in “fishing for people” (aka “evangelism“). So if we are not fishing for people through evangelism are we really following Jesus? Hmmm…

3. Intercessory prayer is not a true value.

“First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity. This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:1-4

The very first order of business in conducting a church service (according to Paul’s instruction to Timothy anyway) is intercessory prayer for the lost. Why? Because God desires “all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”

Sadly, the average church spends more time in church announcements than intercessory prayer. In some churches the high task of intercessory prayer is relegated to a small group of prayer warriors. In this sense pastors delegate the duty of prayer so they can devote themselves to preaching. But when the church came together in Acts 2:42 “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” And in Acts 6:4 the apostles delegated other duties so that they could devote themselves to “prayer and the ministry of the Word.”

Do you pray for the lost in church staff meetings, corporate meetings and small groups? If you want to increase your gospel urgency then crank up the intercession frequency on your prayer dial.

Most churches don’t have a consistent way for church members to be equipped in effectively engaging Gospel conversations. Or better yet why not do an annual sermon series on how to share your faith? Why not make it part of the fabric of growing in one’s faith just like giving, praying and Bible study? Or why not have ALL your small groups go through a series on evangelism?

5. The Gospel is not relentlessly given.

After visiting a church in our community a few years ago, the pastor of the church (whom I have known for awhile) texted me after the service and asked me to give him an honest evaluation of the church. My text response was this, “Great service! Friendly people. Good sermon. Great worship. The only thing I’d say is that if I was lost when I came in I’d still be lost when I left (because the gospel was not clearly given).”

When you give the gospel consistently in your church meetings then the church members know that any time they bring an unreached person they will hear the gospel. As a pastor I gave the gospel at the end of every sermon and we saw people come to faith weekly. Why? Because people invited friends, family and neighbors to church because they knew that the gospel would be given clearly and consistently.

This can also happen in small groups. As a matter of fact there are specific small group strategies like Alpha and Seeker Small Groups that have resources for churches to start small groups that reach out to the lost.

6. The people in our churches don’t know their neighbors.

I’ve heard the average home in America described as a castle. The driveway is the moat. The garage door is the drawbridge. And most “kings and queens” of their castles come home every night and, when they pull into their garages, close the drawbridge.

What if we really equipped the people of our churches to reach out to the neighbors in their own backyards (literally!)…and next door and across the street! That’s why I love what my buddy Dave Runyan is doing with The Art of Neighboring. He asks the hard-because-its-so-obvious question, “What if Jesus meant that we should love our actual neighbors?” This website has tools for your whole church to start getting to know their neighbors.

From neighborhood block parties to sponsored movie nights in our side yard my family have used some of The Art of Neighboring strategies to get to know our neighbors better. And it all has led to tons of very natural Gospel conversations.

If you want your church to reach the people in your own backyard then unleash the people of your church to get to know their neighbors first!

7. Evangelistic storytelling is not a part of the culture.

In churches that are effective at evangelism stories of changed lives and saved souls are told consistently. These stories inject Gospel urgency into the congregation. And it gives church members a sense that reaching the lost with the hope of Jesus Christ can truly change their church and their community. True stories of disciple multiplication help believers move all this talk about evangelism from the “fiction” shelf of their mental library to the “non fiction” section.

Think about why we love the book of Acts. It’s the stories of changed lives! When we carry on the mission of the early church and share stories along the way then more and more believers get fired up about engaging co-workers, family and friends with the good news of Jesus. What about having a “Missions Moment” in the church service where a story of impact can be told about lives “across the street and around the world” are being changed through the Gospel?

My prayer for every church leader reading this is that he/she can glean some insights to practically apply right away. I’d strongly encourage you to start with prayer. As you pray for the lost in your community God will give you the urgency and strategy you need to make evangelism a true value in your life personally and in your ministry publicly.

To help you along the way download a digital version of my book, Gospelize your Youth Ministry, for free. Although it is written to youth leaders it could have just as easily been written to church leaders. The values and principles in it will help you “gospelize” your entire congregation based on seven powerful values from the book of Acts.

Also, go to Gospeladvancing.org and take a 12 question diagnostic to see what stage of gospelization you are in as a church. Then make use of the tools and training to help you accelerate to the next stage.

It’s time for your church to reach out to the people in your own backyard. It’s time to get fully gospelized. It’s time for you to lead the way.

The Conditions of Unconditional Love

August 23, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Nolan Harkness | 

 

Recently while exchanging texts with another Christian the subject came up of those times when it’s difficult to communicate with someone else. I texted back that I felt the solution was to just invite Jesus into every conversation. It was at that very moment that the most wonderful thing happened.

All of a sudden I felt an overwhelming sense of the Spirit of God and His love. From my perspective at that moment this love I was feeling was certainly undeserved. I felt this overwhelming love for everyone I knew and everyone I was around for the rest of that day. It was a Wednesday night and I went into our pastor’s office before church and excitedly told him about what I was feeling. He smiled because he too had experienced that level of supernatural love from God. I just went about saying to the Lord over and over again; “Lord I am a very wealthy man. Lord, please, how do I walk in this and how can I keep it forever?”

However, it was not the Lord’s will for me to live on that mountaintop; reality eventually set in and my normal day-to-day emotions returned. I share that experience to illustrate that I do understand the love that Paul described when he said; “And to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge” Ephesians 3:19a (KJV)

One of my most used sermons as a revivalist is from 2 Chronicles 7:14 (KJV); “If my people which are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Because of the sermon I did some research on the phrase “If you, then I.” As it turns out, it is a grammatical term. It’s called, believe it or not, a “conditional sentence.” Actually, God’s word is full of conditional sentences. As a matter of fact, there is a condition to every promise in God’s Word! I challenge a reader to show me a promise in the entire Bible without one! Even if a promise only requires faith it is still a conditional promise!

For us to experience God’s unconditional love, we must meet the first condition of being “born again.” Jesus said in John 3:3b (KJV): “Except a man be born again he cannot see the Kingdom of Heaven.” From the very beginning, we are confronted with the choice of whether or not to be saved. We are rightly taught that in order to become a member of the family of God, we must be “born again.” We do this by sincerely asking forgiveness of all our sins and asking Jesus by His Spirit to come and live in our heart.

The second condition we are faced with is what we must learn to do, is to be able to communicate with our Heavenly Father after conversion. That condition is the one of learning to pray. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:33(KJV); “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and its righteousness and all these things will be added unto you.” Oops! There’s the third one right away. Not only must we seek the Kingdom in learning to pray, we must seek the Kingdom of God’s righteousness too! Wow, the conditions are piling up quick here folks!

The truth is that the list just goes on and on. We soon realize that embedded in God’s instructions there are many many conditional promises in the Word to the new believer. There are also many more to believers as they mature in the faith.

You might ask why the term “unconditional love” is used so often in the church to describe the love of God. Here is how that all came about. The term “unconditional love” migrated from psychological circles into the church sometime in the 1970s. Someone decided that it was the best translation for the Greek word “agape” which is the word for the type of love God gives. The term took off like a brush fire on a hot windy day. People everywhere began to use the term in their teaching and preaching because it sounded so right and it sounded so good! The term took off like a brush fire on a hot windy day. People everywhere began to use the term in their teaching and preaching because it sounded so right and it sounded so good! However, according to Vine’s Bible Dictionary, the word “agape”, interpreted by so many to mean “unconditional love” means “undeserved love.” Undeserved love is something quite different; it means “merciful love.” Vine explains that most perfect expression of agape love found in scripture is when God gave His only begotten Son for the sins of the world.

In serving our Lord, I have come in contact with believers who have been steeped in the “unconditional love” teachings. I have observed that they often exhibit an attitude, an attitude that corresponds greatly with the narcissism of our self-focused society. The attitude of self-entitlement! This attitude runs directly contrary to the preaching of the cross and of the crucified life. It is my belief that this is the reason why churches who choose to preach a lot of messages using unconditional love as their foundation of truth also tend to eliminate the cross message. To them Jesus is like a gold card with an unlimited spending limit. These followers tend to be lax in their serving and in their morals. Why? It is because they have taken the semantics of the phrase “unconditional love” to the furthest degree and like spoiled children believe they can do whatever they want.

In contrast many of your older Christians have been raised on sound doctrine and still believe in God’s gift of “agape” love, as an undeserved love, a love, which is humbling. They believe that they deserve nothing but hell and got heaven instead. It humbles them to a life of service to the King of Kings. They tend to make very few demands of Him for the here and now. May God likewise open our eyes to solid doctrine and an appreciation for His unfathomable gift of salvation!

Husbands Are to Respect Their Wives, Too

August 23, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Rebekah Hargraves | 

   
(PHOTO: SCOTT WEBB)

Many blog posts, marriage seminars, and entire books have been written on the importance of wives respecting their husbands. After all, Ephesians 5:33 says, “Nevertheless let each one of you in particular so love his own wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Did you know, however, that husbands are called by God to respect their wives, as well? This truly is a road that is to go both ways.

1 Peter 3:7

We see this concept taught by Paul in 1 Peter 3:7 which says, “Husbands, likewise, dwell with them with understanding, giving honor to the wife, as to the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life, that your prayers may not be hindered.” The Greek word translated honor is timē, the literal meaning of which, in this context, is:

  • honour which belongs or is shown to one
  1. of the honour which one has by reason of rank and state of office which he holds
  2. deference, reverence

This is the same Greek word used in the following passages, as well:

“Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” ~1 Timothy 1:17

” Let the elders who rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and doctrine.” ~1 Timothy 5:17

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” ~Hebrews 2:9

Contrary to what some believe, the honor to be shown to women according to 1 Peter 3:7 is not a condescending “there, there” type of fake honor given to an overgrown child (this idea stems from a false perspective on the meaning of the term “weaker vessel“)!

Rather, it is the same as the kind of honor you would give to God, Christ, and ruling elders. This is not to say that you place your relationship with your wife on the same level as your relationship with God. He is to be your number one. It is also not to say that women are to be ruling over their husbands as would a ruling elder or a civil ruler. Marriage is a partnership. It is, however, to illustrate for us the magnitude of the honor, respect, and reverence that is to be shown to women by their husbands.

What This Means for Our Marriages

How could this understanding of the meaning behind the word “honor” in 1 Peter 3:7 change the landscape of Christian marriages in our day? I believe there are at least 3 ways this realization could positively impact marriage, and they are as follows:

Women were not made by God to be subordinate to men in any way, shape, or form. That is not womanhood by God’s design. Women are equal in worth to men, just as important as men, made in the image of God just as man was, and worthy of honor just as men are. This becomes crystal clear when we understand the meaning of the Greek word translated “honor”.

The idea that men are to “rule over”women (even kindly and with love and gentleness) is an unBiblical idea. The only place in all of Scripture where this concept is even set forth is in an incredibly negative light as a result of sin, the fall, and the curse (see Genesis 3:16b – “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”), not as a result of God’s design for relationships between men and women. That becomes clear when we understand the meaning of 1 Peter 3:7.

  • It does away with the practice of explaining away abuse against wives.

Love and Respect

The truth is that, Biblically speaking, both love and respect/reverence are to be shown to each spouse (Ephesians 5:25, Titus 2:4, Ephesians 5:33, and 1 Peter 3:7). That is what makes for a beautiful, fulfilling, impactful, God-honoring marriage! And that is what we should be seeking to live out ourselves and point others to, as well.

 

Sometimes the Most Spiritual Thing You Can Do Is Take a Nap

July 25, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Alex McFarland | Tue 24 Jul 2018 6:47 EDT

Have you ever considered your theology regarding R&R? It may be something we think about often, but Christians should make time to get rest for the body and the soul. Acts 3:19 speaks of “times of refreshing” that accompany (and follow) salvation in Christ. This refers primarily to the state of being in right relationship with God, and that ultimately believers will spend eternity in heaven with Him. But the Greek word most often translated as “refreshing” in English Bibles is a word for “breathing easily” or being “revived with fresh air.”

If you know Christ, reflect for a moment on what a blessed state you enjoy as a born-again person right this moment! Allow your standing in Jesus to lift your heart and fill you with rejoicing! Think of it—you are cleared of guilt before the Father; indwelt, filled, empowered by and sealed with the Holy Spirit of God, and secure in the hand of Jesus Himself (John 10:28). We weren’t saved by works and we aren’t kept by works. But by Jesus’ inexplicable and immeasurable grace toward us, we are now friends of God (c.f., Romans 8:1; Ephesians 2:8; John 15:15).

Hebrews 4:10 speaks of Christians having entered into “God’s rest.” In our world today, it is very hard for Christians to slow down, unplug, calm one’s mind and . . . rest. In reality, resting is a privilege and is, in fact, a discipline much needed in every Christian’s life.

Some might object to a call for rest, reasoning that because the world at this moment is so dark and sinful, Christians should work all that much harder to spread the Gospel. The great minister Vance Havner (very influential in the life of Evangelist Billy Graham) once preached on the stewardship responsibility of getting proper rest. Dr. Havner said that it was right for Christians to plan for times of rest and vacation, and that not to do so was unwise. A lady came up and piously objected, “Well, you know the devil never sleeps! The devil never takes a vacation!” Dr. Havner responded, “Since when am I supposed to be like the devil?”

The great thinker Aquinas spoke on the appropriateness of rest, even giving his inimitable Thomistic “thumbs up” to “sports” and “entertainments.” Of course, in the Middle Ages, St. Thomas wasn’t speaking of the NFL or ESPN. But even then, there was the question of whether or not it was OK for Christians to play games or do things just for pure fun.

Aquinas noted that our main purpose in life was to think on God, experience His presence and to worship our Triune Lord. Aquinas said that because rest and “fun” activities can leave us refreshed and prepared to resume thinking on God all the more effectively, then such things were appropriate.

Aquinas, John Wesley and other Christian leaders (Pat Robertson, for example, in the modern era) have recognized that getting proper rest is both a stewardship issue and a spiritual discipline. Aquinas believed that excesses (think materialism, gluttony, drunkenness, workaholism) were issues of temperance. He said that sins against temperance are among the most disgraceful “because they make us most like the irrational beasts.”

So, let’s re-humanize ourselves by heeding God’s call to rest. For you, that may mean taking a fast from technology (try it—power down your cellphone for 24 hours!). Take a break from bingeing on video games or watching hours of cat videos on YouTube. Be honest about your propensity to busy-ness, or even to work-a-holism. Slow down, meditate on Jesus, quietly read Scripture, listen for the still small voice and ask God for rest.

As a wise, elderly preacher from Kentucky once said to me, “Sometimes the most spiritual thing you can do is take a nap.”

Alex McFarland is a speaker, writer and advocate for Christian apologetics. He serves as director of the Center for Christian Worldview and Apologetics at North Greenville University, a leading Christian college in the United States. He has spoken in hundreds of locations throughout North America and internationally and has preached in more than 1,300 churches.
Engaging views and analysis from outside contri

Keep Heaven on Your Mind

July 10, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Jentezen Franklin | Thu 5 Jul 2018 7:55 EDT

Life can be difficult. At any given time, there are precious people who are strained and stretched to their limit emotionally. There are people struggling with physical pain or pressured by financial difficulties. There are people challenged by disharmony and chaos in their families and their marriages. It’s part of life on earth.

Satan tries to keep us focused on our problems so we forget about our promises. He wants us to live shallow, earth-bound lives. Our enemy wants us to focus on the temporary and lose sight of the eternal, because we become dangerous to his plans when we have eternity in our sight.

He doesn’t want us to remember we are headed for heaven.

The Apostle John wrote these words while marooned on the Isle of Patmos: “After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven. And the first voice which I heard was like a trumpet speaking with me, saying, “Come up here, and I will show you things which must take place after this. Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne set in heaven, and One sat on the throne…” (Revelation 4:1-2)

Alone on the island, God allowed John to see a door. From behind the door, he heard a voice saying, “Come up here.” Come see what heaven’s like. Are you having a bad day, John? Maybe a bad month? Come up here and look at things from heaven’s perspective.

Suddenly, John found himself in heaven. He could peer into paradise. He began to experience the sounds, the sights, the beauty of heaven.

Heaven is a real place. Jesus Himself said in John 14 that heaven was a real place being prepared for all of us to live in. He even said if it wasn’t true, He would tell us.

Believe it—heaven is real.

We’re going to stand on those streets of gold one day. We’re going to hug everyone we love who arrived there before us. We’re going to dance in the presence of Jesus.

It’s real. It’s waiting for us. This world isn’t our final destination. It isn’t our true home. Our home is with our Father in heaven.

If you’ve lost a loved one and you’re suffering through the pain and the grief, think about heaven. Get heaven and eternity on your mind. One glorious day the grave is going to burst wide open and death is going to be swallowed up in victory.

Do you know why we have a generation who doesn’t think purity and holiness matters? It’s because they don’t really believe Jesus is coming back to take us to heaven.

We’re told in 1 John 3:2-3, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.”

When you hear someone say heaven isn’t real, you’re hearing a slanderous lie spread by the father of lies. Satan knows firsthand the majesty and splendor of heaven. Satan doesn’t want anyone to enjoy heaven. He got kicked out of that wonderful place. He’s bitter toward God, bitter toward God’s people, and bitter about heaven.

Don’t believe his lie. Be assured and comforted—heaven is real.

Imagine yourself there.

Imagine seeing your friends who love Jesus. They’re running to you in this beautiful place. You’re hugging each other and walking together in awe. You have a powerful new body! There’s no sickness, no sadness, no death. You’re talking and laughing.

Then you see someone approaching. It’s Jesus Himself walking toward you with a smile on His face. You fall down to your knees, but He pulls you up and holds you close. He whispers to you, “Welcome home.”

The old things of the earth are gone. Everything is new. You feel God’s love and His peace permeating this place. You are completely and totally at home, and deeply satisfied. It’s the place you always looked for on earth but never really found. And you know that this marvelous place made every trial, every heartache, every pain you experienced on earth totally worth it.

Take comfort in how Paul explains it to the Corinthians: “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)

I’m not telling you a fairy tale. This is what the Bible clearly teaches. We need to stand on it. If you’re having a bad day, come up here. You’re invited. Keep heaven on your mind..

If you’re going through something bleak on earth, come up here and you’ll see a whole new perspective.

Whether things are going well or falling apart, come up here.

One day you’ll truly be home forever—because heaven is real.

3 Ways Churches Think They Are Known in Their Community

July 10, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Thom S. Rainer | Sun 8 Jul 2018 9:10 EDT

Usually when I ask a question on social media, I expect a decent number of responses. Church leaders and members are typically gracious to me and share their opinions readily.

But when I asked a question about the reputation of their churches in the community, I was inundated with responses. Many wanted to share the good and the bad. Perhaps the most intriguing facet of the study was the three distinct groups in which the responses fell.

The question was simple: “What is your church known for in its community?”

Within a few minutes of my post, many responses came forth. After I read and added all of them, I saw three patterns emerge.

1. About one-half of the churches are known for ministries that require the community to come to the church itself. Great preaching. Incredible worship services. A friendly church. Great events at the church. How our members care for one another. You get the picture. These are all great responses, but they require the community to come to the church. If community members do not set foot on the church’s campus, they will never know about the ministries of the church. For the majority of the churches, the idea of community ministry is “you come to us.”

2. About one-fourth of the churches cited great ministries in and to the community. Partnering with schools in the community. Serving the community with food and clothes. Medical and dental ministries. Ministries to families, parents, and children in the community. The list goes on and on. It was exciting to read how many churches demonstrate their love for their community by actually going into the community.

3. About one-fourth of the churches said they were known for negative reasons. Preacher-eater churches. Congregational fights and splits. Legalism. Unfriendliness. One church leader said his church was known for two murders that occurred a few years apart on the church site. Ouch.

The social media poll did encourage me in many ways. Many of our churches are doing an incredible job connecting with and ministering to the communities in which they are located. And though I am certainly glad to see many church members excited about what is taking place on their church campuses, I fear many members think that community ministry means, “Y’all come to us, and we will minister to you.”

Of course, I am concerned, but not necessarily surprised, about the negative perceptions of some churches in the community. I pray those churches will begin to make a positive impact in the locations where they serve.

What is your church known for in the community? What are your members actually doing in the community and for the community?

The Army of God: A Great Awakening Coming

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Justin Steckbauer , | Jun 17, 2018 4:37 PM

There is hope. We will rise up. Great awakening is coming. Don’t think it, know it. We see great struggle, brokenness, and strife. But we don’t look upon the world, we look upon Jesus Christ, our glorious risen savior. Therefore we have great hope. Claim this hope as your own. Let it fire your spirit, and blaze to life the pits of your soul, and consume your heart, and fill your muscles with strength.

There is a roaring in the cities. There is a sinister revival taking place across the nations. The black onyx is rising. And it feels as if we are swimming in the flood waters. If we look at this dark river, spreading like locusts, exploding outward like clouds of mosquitoes to destroy all that is good in the world then we feel hopeless. If we look at that, and when we look at that, and stare at it, the strength drains from our muscles. The blood drains from our appendages. And our faces turn grey and white.

So we must not look upon the world with an endless gaze, we must look upon Jesus with an endless gaze. We must practice the presence of God. Because there is so much struggle and strife and polarization around us. We must constantly keep our mind stayed on Him.

As it says in the word: “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you! Trust in the Lord always, for the Lord God is the eternal Rock.” -Isaiah 26:3-4 New Living Translation (NLT)

Fix your thoughts on Jesus. Listen to me, there is great sin around you everywhere. Sin threatens from every angle. And we must be clean of it. If we are soiled in the sin of the world when Jesus returns, then we won’t share in eternal life with Him. So we must live a radically different lifestyle, a lifestyle of true holiness.

Sin is everywhere. It’s as if we are in pure robes, walking across a muddy field. And we must be ever so careful to avoid being soiled by the world. We have our defenses up, and those defenses are fortified and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. We are able to resist temptations of all kinds in the power of Christ.

And we are being sanctified in so many ways, so that our minds become foreign to the world. And the things of the world no longer interest us. And thus temptation comes, and finds an environment foreign to it’s nature. And it cannot prosper. Our minds, hearts, souls, and all our strength is fortified by God, as we seek Him and study His word.

This takes practice, and a daily lifestyle of repentance. And of peace, and love, and longsuffering. This is not easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. If someone told you it would be prosperity and wealth, they lied to you. This is a hard journey. And God sees all things. If we live a double life, acting one way in public and another in private, God sees. And he will hold us accountable.

Sometimes I see how people are living and I wonder at it: Don’t they realize, don’t they understand, don’t they know that one day they will be face to face with Jesus himself? And when I’m thinking of this, I’m thinking of pastors. And they don’t care, it seems. Don’t they think God is real? Then why be a pastor? And if they do believe God is real, don’t they realize that they will be judged, and condemned, if they don’t repent of watching pornography, of affairs on their husbands or wives, and other sins of the flesh?

Maybe it seems far away or less than real. But it is quite real. It will be a real experience. We’ll live through the judgment, moment by moment, and we’ll be conscious in eternity, day by day, forever, wherever we spend it. Yet we choose filthy little sins in this life, and give up eternal glory?

Yes, we do. And let me tell you, and myself something: A few months ago, I was doing the same thing. With a little sin I liked to engage in. And I realized the realities of heaven and hell, but I comforted myself that God wouldn’t send me to hell, I’m special, God won’t punish me, or look on my sins, His grace is too much for that. But we’re called to repent. And so I was just playing games. Sinning, repenting, sinning repenting. And it’s amazing how I could lie to myself.

“Sin does not leap upon us fully armed. It steals in through a look, a swift, silent suggestion or imagination, but love and loyalty to Jesus will make you watchful and swift to rise up and cast out the subtle enemy. Do this and you shall live, and live victoriously.”-Samuel Logan Brengle

Once again we come back to it: The grace of God comes in and saves me from yet another sin that entangles and enslaves my eternal soul. It’s such a dangerous situation and we come at these sins and struggles with only weakness. Yet in weakness God brings great strength, and sin is overcome and holiness becomes a lifestyle, a lifestyle of lowly service, of love, and of thinking of others greater than ourselves. It’s beautiful and emotionally shocking in beautiful ways.

The trials are great. There is no questioning that. It’s so painful at times. Sometimes I end the day and I lay down in bed and feel like my soul was a punching bag that whole day, for people and their problems. And often because of my own failings. But the pain is real. The ache of the soul is so real.

Sometimes we need the pain, and the struggle, and the sorrow, and the difficulty that won’t end, and the broken part of you that won’t heal. It drives us toward God, closer and closer to him. We struggle with that. But the truth is that without the pain, and the strife, and the struggle, we would probably never return to God. We’d become prideful, and we wouldn’t return to the shepherd. We’d hike off on our own, and come to ruin.

But we do return, because of much sorrow. And we are wounded soldiers, wounded healers going into the field. I suppose to the world that seems like great weakness. In my mind it feels like great weakness. In fact, honestly it is weakness. It’s complete vulnerability and weakness.

And then you’ll be amazed by how God takes that total weakness, and it explodes into victory. But I don’t want to phrase it in a way that God makes it ‘possible.’ Or that God gives us the ability to have the victory, though that does happen. But more so God does it himself, through our obedience. God declares victory and it becomes true.

Gideon’s army didn’t need 100,000 to overcome the enemy. He only needed 300. But let’s be real, God could’ve done it with 3. Or 0.

What’s interesting is that when God’s angel first communicated to Gideon, he found him in total weakness. He was hiding, trying to reap his crops in a cellar. And God called him what he wasn’t yet, but would soon become: “Hail mighty warrior of God!” Gideon was hiding in terror, but God declared victory over him before the saga had even begun.

God delights to work through people who are truly yielded to him. So we must truly yield ourselves to him. Gideon had hidden faith within him, a radical faith that was daring to say: I can’t see how Lord, but I believe you will do the impossible. So how can we grow in our faith? It’s simple, but requires a daily method of life. It requires self-discipline, a God-ordered life.

America Needs Revival but It Must Start With Me

The Time Is Truly Ripe for a Revival
The ways to do it haven’t changed. Pray everyday, 30 min-2 hours a day. Set a goal, do it. (‘But I don’t want to be legalistic!’ Please, stop using that as an excuse to be spiritually lazy. God sees your heart, and He knows the truth.) Fast and pray from two or three meals a day, once or twice a week. Or more. Attend a good church community weekly, and attend small group/Bible study. And read the Bible each day, 2-4 chapters a day. Practice silence and solitude.

These practices haven’t changed in two thousand years. It’s just hard to do it. But, just do it. And if you can’t, because most of us can’t, then ask God. Go down on your knees before God and ask Him simply saying: “Lord, help me to read my Bible. Help me to pray for an hour a day. Please Lord make it possible!” And believe. And he will make the impossible possible. That’s where the battle starts though. It starts in you and me.

We can’t fight the battle if we are full of sin, lazy, and don’t practice the disciplines and church community. It starts internally, with you and me fighting ourselves. Greater is the man who conquers himself than he who conquers a city. Proverbs 16:32 (GNT) “It is better to be patient than powerful. It is better to win control over yourself than over whole cities.”

So then, let us suppose that we do this. Let’s say that, perhaps 1,000 of us born again Christians do this. We really get free from all sin, and we really dedicate ourselves to holy living, in the most humble, meek, and loving way. And what if 10,000 Christians do that? What if 100,000 Christians do that, and keep living that way day by day and year by year? What if one million Christians did that worldwide? And what if 2.1 billion Christians worldwide, the general entirety of the church universal, did that? We’d see a great awakening like the world has never seen! A global great awakening! Could you imagine that? I can see it now. Believe for it.

The body of Christ is in need of great internal transformation, and a transformation that manifests itself externally to the glory of God and to the sort of great awakening that we all hope and long for.

The church really needs us to be evangelists, apostles, and disciplers. The church needs us to be evangelist equippers, to send out evangelists into the world to win people to Christ. The church needs us to be disciple equippers, to equip church members to disciple the church body toward holiness and spiritual disciplines. The church needs us to be apostles, embracing boldness, daring, and unconventional means and concepts to expand the kingdom of God into new terrain.

And as we discussed, to be able to do this effectively, we have to practice daily spiritual disciplines, diligent study of scripture and personally study various sub-disciplines of wisdom. We must also be willing to endure great struggle and difficulty. No great things done in the Spirit can be done easily.

So what would all this look like practically? This would look like a sincere body of believers in the church pressing out into the community and inwardly toward discipleship holiness. I see it as evangelism being “baked into” every ministry in the church to develop a culture of evangelism, and groups that go out weekly to talk to people door to door and on the streets and at events.

Just as important would be discipleship groups that closely resemble Wesley’s class and band meetings. These meetings would be weekly, and would encourage frank discussions regarding struggles, sin, righteousness, good deeds, and proclamation of the gospel related themes in small groups. Imagine the possibilities. I am just beginning to imagine it.

There is great hope for the future. We don’t have to feel lost and upset. We don’t have to look at the world and feel weak and troubled. We can look at Jesus and feel His total empowerment. But it starts with me, individually as a person, and then it can spread out to others. But it starts with us, internally, and then must burst forth externally. And I really, truly believe it will. This is just the beginning.

A new time is coming. God is doing a new thing in the body of Christ. I really believe that. I know it’s coming. A time is coming when the army of God will have victory after victory. We will rally, for Christ, for the lost, and we will spread the gospel anew to this generation.

It only takes one. It only takes a handful of people who are willing to step forward, in these endless tens of thousands of luke-warm churches and say no! Christ will have ALL there is of me! I reject this uniform standard of mediocrity! I reject luke-warm Christianity! I reject living with one foot in the church and one foot in the world! I reject being content to live in daily sin!

I radically believe that Christ can and will make me holy as He is holy. Believe. Step forward. Reject that halfway standard, even if 80% of the church is living in it. Give it all to Him. Step beyond the lukewarm church, which is simply a wide road to hell, and step into the fullness of Jesus Christ, the fullness of repentance, the fullness of submission to Him, and the fullness of the true Christian life of radical missional devotion to our Lord Jesus Christ.

Justin Steckbauer is the founder of Lifestyleofpeace.com. He is a graduate magna cum laude from Liberty University, currently holding an associates degree in Interdisciplinary Studies and a bachelors degree in the study of Religion. He is currently a graduate student at Olivet Nazarene University working on a masters degree in the study of Ministry. He is a cadet in training at the Salvation Army College for Officer’s training (CFOT) as well.

7 Reasons to Take Your Kids Out to Share the Gospel

June 22, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Greg Stier | Mon 18 Jun 2018 7:46 EDT

“Day after day, in the temple courtsand from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.” Acts 5:42

There’s something extraordinarily Biblical about Christians intentionally sharing the Gospel with others. From the bold early believers at the beginning of the church (Acts 4:31) to the Gospel proclaiming 144,000 Jewish evangelists at the end of time (Revelation 7), believers sharing the Good News with unbelievers is the norm, not the exception in Scripture.

It can be (and should be) the norm again today.

Over the last four decades I have witnessed again and again the power and impact of youth leaders taking teenagers out to intentionally share the Good News of Jesus with others. Now, I’m not talking about teenagers standing on a corner sign twirling a repent sign or passing out Gospel tracts like a Black Jack dealer in Vegas.

Churches That Help Parents Are ‘Growing Young’ Instead of Growing Old, Says Family Ministry Prof.

When I talk about “taking teenagers out” to share the Gospel I’m referring to taking them to a public place where other teenagers may be hanging out (think shopping mall, city center, main strip, etc.) And what do they do when they get there? They pray for and look for people, usually other teenagers, they can begin a conversation with in a natural way.

In John 4 Jesus engaged in “cold turkey” evangelism with a complete stranger (the woman at the well), but he did it in a very relational way. We can equip our teenagers to do the same.

At Dare 2 Share we teach teenagers to Ask-Admire-Admit. We teach them to ask questions and get to know someone personally. Along the way they try to find out what that person’s spiritual background is. They try to find areas of their belief system they can admire (like Paul did in Acts 17:22,23 with the men of the Areopagus.) And, finally, they admit the reason they’re a Christian is that they are so messed up they needed Jesus to save them.

This type of approach keeps it from becoming a presentation and makes it more of a conversation. It also opens up the opportunity for the Christian teenagers to share their own stories and the Gospel story in a more natural, engaging way.

So, with this as a backdrop, here are 7 reasons why you should consider taking your teenagers out to share their faith once a month or so:

1. It will help your teenagers grow in their faith.

Evangelism accelerates the discipleship process because it forces teenagers to put a bit of their social equity on the altar. When they share the Gospel with another teenager there is a chance they could be mocked. This risk fuels growth.

When Abraham put Isaac on the altar James reminds us that his, “his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete” (James 2:22.) Abraham’s faith was matured by his being willing to sacrifice what meant most to him … Isaac.

What means most to many of our teenagers is how they are perceived by other teenagers. When they share the Gospel with their peers, even in a shopping mall, they are putting this on the altar. This step of boldness can help their faith and actions work together to produce a more complete and robust faith.

2. It will accelerate their relational evangelism efforts.

For the last 25+ years of training teenagers to share the Gospel via Dare 2 Share I have seen this proven again and again. If teenagers can jump the high hurdle of sharing the Gospel with a complete stranger it gives them confidence to jump the even higher hurdle of sharing the Gospel with a friend.

When teenagers come back from an outreach experience they are pumped and excited. This is the prime time to challenge them to share this same message of hope with their friends.

For most teenagers engaging in an evangelistic conversation with their own classmates, teammates and friends is way harder than approaching a stranger in the shopping mall or on the street. Why? Because, when it comes to sharing Jesus with their close friends, they can lose more than just face, they can lose a friendship completely!

Sharing the Gospel with strangers enables them to gain evangelistic confidence. It helps give them the faith-sharing momentum they need to share Jesus with their friends.

3. It will give your teenagers Gospel fluency.

When I was a teenager our youth leader took us out every week to share our faith. On Friday nights we would gather together at someone’s house, pray for boldness, clarity and opportunities, and then disperse to local shopping malls and gathering places to engage others in Gospel conversations.

I would venture to say that, after years of doing this, the majority of us who shared our faith weekly had more Gospel fluency than the average seminary trained pastor. Why? Because there is nothing that will help you know the Gospel like sharing the Gospel with those who are unbelieving or skeptical.

The articulation of the Gospel leads to a deeper understanding of the Gospel. As Paul reminds us all in Philemon 6, “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith so that you may know every good thing you have in Christ Jesus.”

I’ll never forget sharing my faith in middle school at a local shopping mall to two high school aged teenagers. As I shared the Gospel I vividly remember thinking to myself, “I believe this stuff. I really believe it!” Sharing the Gospel message verbally steeled it and sealed it in my soul.

Communicating the Gospel makes the Good News more meaningful to us. In the articulation of it we are reminded of it’s power and preciousness … and so are our teens.

4. It will energize the story-telling time in your youth group meetings.

If you want to have your youth group/small group meetings super-charged then include a story-telling time section during your program. Have the teenagers who have been sharing Jesus with strangers and friends share their stories in youth group.

When teenagers “Take 5 for The Cause” and share stories (good, bad or ugly) of their outreach experiences it supercharges the youth meeting. It breaks down the invisible wall of faith and action and raises the bar for the type of Christianity that does more than fill in blanks on a sermon outline.

5. It will fuel a hunger for learning God’s Word.

We teach teenagers to say “I don’t know but I’ll try to find out” as a kind of get-out-of-jail free card when they are asked a question they don’t have the answer to while sharing the Gospel. This motivates teenagers to study God’s Word for themselves to learn the answers.

If teenagers are regularly engaging atheists, Mormons, Buddhists, Muslims and more in spiritual discussions they’ll be getting asked difficult questions from time to time. This can spur a hunger and thirst for God’s Word like never before.

Wouldn’t it be great if your teenagers were grilling you with questions like, “How do we know the Bible is true?”, “How can we be sure Jesus rose physically from the grave?”and “Just exactly what is the Trinity and why do we believe in it?”

Your teenagers will ask these types of questions if they are actively sharing the Gospel with strangers and friends. You’ll discover them diving into God’s Word personally and passionately as a natural result of being engaged in evangelism.

6. It will motivate your teenagers to pray.

Just last week I went to a local shopping mall/casino in Johannesburg South Africa with about 150 mostly South African teenagers. The excitement was palpable as we engaged others in Gospel conversations.

And we didn’t even have to remind the teenagers or adult leaders to pray. Why? Because all of us were praying for confidence and clarity (myself included) as we shared the message of Jesus to others.

Evangelism can be scary … some would say downright terrifying. But it’s that very fear that forces us and our teenagers to pray and proclaim in utter dependence on the Holy Spirit.

In Matthew 10 when Jesus sent his disciples on a “fishing trip” for lost souls he told them, “…at that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” Matthew 10:19,20. Evangelism, especially in the face of opposition, helps our teenagers stay fully dependent on the indwelling Holy Spirit through prayer.

7. It will help you and your adult leaders model evangelism.

One of the great benefits of taking your teenagers and adult leaders out to share the Gospel is that teenagers are able to witness their adult leaders witness. Teens will follow what the adults model. In Luke 6:40 Jesus emphasized this when he told his mostly-teenaged disciples, “No student is above their teacher but when they are fully trained they will be like their teacher.”

If we want our teenagers to share the Gospel with friends and strangers but we never do then maybe what we need is a mirror and not a bullhorn.

And I believe it’s good if teens sometimes witness adult leaders train wreck in evangelism. It helps them realize that they are not alone and that sometimes adults make mistakes or get slammed for sharing the Good News.

By the way, if you have adults who aren’t willing to share their faith, share this passage with them and let the Holy Spirit use it to convict. John 12:42,43 tells us, “Yet at the same time many even among the leaders believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they would not openly acknowledge their faith for fear they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human praise more than praise from God.”

Challenge them not to be like these early Jewish believers who didn’t openly acknowledge their faith because of the fear of being ostracized. Encourage them to boldly open their mouths and make known the mystery of the Gospel to friends and strangers alike (Ephesians 6:19.) When your teenagers see you and your adult leaders share their faith they are motivated to do the same.

Consider taking your teenagers out once a month or so to share the Gospel. I believe it will give your group a Gospel momentum, help them grow deeper in their faith and accelerate their relational evangelism efforts in ways you never imagined.

Eddie Long’s Successor at Georgia Megachurch, Bishop Stephen A Davis, Resigns

June 8, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

 

By Samuel Smith , CP Reporter | 

 

Bishop Stephen A. Davis, who took over as senior pastor at New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Lithonia, Georgia, following the death of controversial longtime pastor Eddie Long in January 2017, has resigned.

According to the megachurch, Davis stepped down to concentrate on the New Birth ministry he founded in Birmingham, Alabama, which was formerly the Refiners House Church before becoming part of the New Birth expansion in 2010.

The resignation was accepted by the church’s board of directors.

“I love my New Birth family both in Birmingham and Stonecrest. However, at this time my wife, my children and the New Birth Birmingham family need my full attention,” Davis said in a statement Wednesday. “We will remain a[t] New Birth Church in Birmingham and maintain our relationships with New Birth Stonecrest Congregation.”

According to a press release sent by the church, Davis’ 16 months as senior pastor “allowed the New Birth ministry to continue moving forward following Bishop Long’s transition.”

The church expressed its gratitude for Davis for guiding the congregation with “heartfelt dedication and commitment.”

Long died last year of cancer at 63. He had faced multiple allegations that stemmed from lawsuits brought by men who accused Long of having sexual relationships with them as teenage members of his congregation. Although Long never publicly discussed the accusations, he settled with four of his accusers in 2011.

Davis’ resignation comes after rumors swirled in February that he had resigned and that there was a financial dispute between Davis and Long’s oldest son, Edward.

Michelle Porter, Davis’ executive administrator, shot down those rumors as false.

New Birth Board Chairman Thomas W. Dortch Jr. told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that all the travel required for Davis to keep up with his responsibilities was taking a toll. Dortch said that there was a “strain on Bishop Davis from having to come back and forth from Birmingham to Atlanta weekly while maintaining his other churches — one in Birmingham and one in Tuscaloosa.

Dortch said that the travel “became a major challenge for him.”

No information was provided on who will assume Davis’ position at New Birth Lithonia.

In Long’s book, The Untold Story: The Story of Adversity, Pain & Resilience, he claimed that New Birth had more than 25,000 members at one point in his career. But that number dwindled as he faced the allegations of sexual abuse. As previously reported, the church membership dropped to between 8,000 to 10,000 in 2016.

 

« Previous PageNext Page »