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Staff Picks of Free Sermons and PRO Church Media
I want to read to you the opening story from David Platt's book "The Radical Question" (Multnomah Press).
Imagine a scene that took place in Asia not so long ago:
A room in an ordinary house, dimly lit, all the blinds on the windows closed. Twenty leaders from churches in the region sit quietly in a circle on the floor, their Bibles open. They speak in hushed tones or not at all. Some still glisten with sweat; others' clothes and shoes are noticeably dusty. They have been walking or riding bicycles since early morning when they left distant villages to get here.
Whenever a knock is heard or a suspicious sound drifts in, everyone freezes while a burly tough-looking man gets up to check things out.
These men and woman have gathered in secret, arriving intentionally at different times throughout the day so as not to draw attention. In this country it is illegal for Christians to come together like this. If caught, the people here could lose their land, their jobs, their families, even their lives.
I was in that dimly light room that day, a visitor from America. I huddled next to an interpreter, who helped me understand their stories as they began to share.
The tough-looking man--our "head of security"--was first to speak up. But as he spoke, his intimidating appearance quickly gave way to reveal a tender heart.
"Some of the people in my church have been pulled away by a cult," he said. Tears welled up in his eyes. "We are hurting. I need God's grace to lead my church through these attacks."
The cult that had been preying on his church is known for kidnapping Christians, taking them to isolated locations, and torturing them, my interpreter explained. Many brothers and sisters in the area would never tell the good news again. At least not with words. Their tongues had been cut out.
Justice Scalia, in a Supreme Court decision involving the so-called “separation of church and state” wrote: “Church and state would not be such a difficult subject if religion were, as the Court apparently thinks it to be, some purely personal avocation that can be indulged entirely in secret, like pornography, in the privacy of one’s room.
For most believers it is not that, and has never been. Religious men and women of almost all denominations have felt it necessary to acknowledge and beseech the blessing of God as a people, and not just as individuals, because they believe in the "protection of divine Providence," as the Declaration of Independence put it, not just for individuals but for societies.”
Jim Cymbala, pastor of the Brooklyn Tabernacle says, "You can measure your closeness to the Lord by your attitude toward men and women around you."
A NATIONAL PRAYER OF REPENTANCE
Joe Wright is the pastor of Central Christian Church in Wichita, KS. On January 23, 1996, He was asked to be the guest chaplain for the Kansas State House in Topeka. He prayed a prayer of repentance that was written by Bob Russell, pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville, Kentucky. According to an article in the Kansas City Star from January 24, 1996, his prayer stirred controversy, and one member of the legislative body walked out. Others criticized the prayer.
The controversy didn’t end there. Later that year in the Colorado House, Republican representative Mark Paschall angered lawmakers by using Joe Wright’s prayer as the invocation. Some members there also walked out in protest.
Paul Harvey got a hold of the prayer and read it on his program. He got more requests for copies of it than any other thing he had ever done. Here’s what he prayed:
"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask Your forgiveness and to seek Your direction and guidance. We know Your Word says, "Woe to those who call evil good," but that’s exactly what we have done. We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and inverted our values. We confess that:
We have ridiculed the absolute truth of Your Word and called it pluralism.
We have worshipped other gods and called it multi-culturalism.
We have endorsed perversion and called it an alternative lifestyle.
We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.
We have neglected the needy and called it self-preservation.
We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.
We have killed our unborn and called it a choice.
We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.
We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self-esteem.
We have abused power and called it political savvy.
We have coveted our neighbor’s possessions and called it ambition.
We have polluted the air...
A. Todd Coget
A few years ago the Promise Keeps (which urges tens of thousands of men nationwide to be responsible, self-disciplined, and God-fearing) drew fire from the then president of the National Organization of Women, Patricia Ireland, “Promise Keepers have created a false veneer of men taking responsibility when they really mean men taking charge.”
Pornography Addiction has a deadly progression says Tom Buford a converted porn addict, “Our thanks to Morality In Media for the use of the following information from Healing Sexual and Pornography Addictions by Dr. Victor Cline.”
1. FIRST STEP - ADDICTION - "The first change that happened was an addiction-effect. The porn-consumers got hooked. Once involved in pornographic materials, they kept coming back for more and still more... The pornography provided very exciting and powerful imagery which they frequently recalled to mind and elaborated on in their fantasies."
a. "Once addicted, they could not throw off their dependence on the material by themselves, despite many negative consequences such as divorce, loss of family, and problems with the law (such as sexual assault, harassment or abuse of fellow employees)."
b. "... many of my most intelligent male patients appeared to be most vulnerable—perhaps because they had a greater capacity to fantasize, which heightened the intensity of the experience and made them more susceptible to being conditioned into an addiction."
c. "... It is difficult for non-addicts to comprehend the totally driven nature of a sex addict. When the "wave" hits them, nothing can stand in the way of getting what they want, whether that be pornography accompanied by masturbation, sex from a prostitute, molesting a child, or raping a woman. These men are consumed by their appetite, regardless of the cost or consequences. Their addiction virtually rules their lives."
2. SECOND STEP – ESCALATION- "The second phase was an escalation-effect. With the passage of time, the addicted person required rougher, more explicit, more deviant... sexual material to get their "highs" and "sexual turn-ons." It was reminiscent of individuals afflicted with drug addictions. Over time there is nearly always an increasing need for more of the stimulant to get the same initial effect."
a. "... Their addiction and escalation were mainly due to the powerful sexual imagery in their minds, implanted there by the exposure to pornography."
3. THIRD PHASE – DESENSITIZATION - "The third phase was desensitization. Material (in books, magazines, or films/videos) which was originally perceived as shocking, taboo-breaking, illegal, repulsive, or immoral, in time came to be seen as acceptable and commonplace. The sexual activity depicted in the pornography (no matter how anti-social or deviant) became legitimized. There was an increasing sense that "everybody does it" and this gave them permission to also do it, even though the activity was possibly illegal and contrary to their previous moral beliefs and personal standards."
4. FOURTH PHASE - ACTING OUT SEXUALLY - "The fourth phase was an increasing tendency to act out sexually the behaviors viewed in the pornography, including compulsive promiscuity, exhibitionism, group sex, voyeurism, frequenting massage parlors, having sex with minor children, rape, and inflicting pain on themselves or a partner during sex. This behavior frequently grew into a sexual addiction which they found themselves locked into and unable to change or reverse—no matter what the negative consequences were in their life."
Sermon Central Staff
I like the way songwriter and worship leader, Brian Doerksen, puts it. He says, "Becoming a worshipper means becoming a warrior... And by toning that down...we have sent men and women away from the church in droves. It's time to call them back," Doerksen says, "as worshiping warriors." That is as "warriors who are surrendered to God, warriors who know that their authority comes because they are under authority, warriors willing to wait even when everyone else is rushing ahead, or [warriors willing to] act decisively...in obedience" to their commanding officer, Jesus Christ, even when everybody else is lagging behind in disobedience.
(Brian Doerksen, Make Love, David C. Cook, 2009. From a sermon by C. Philip Green, Take a Risk, 5/25/2012)
Philip Yancey, in his book "Reaching for the Invisible God" describes the way God get’s blamed for things in this way.
"When Princess Diana died in an automobile accident, a minister was interviewed and was asked the question “How can God allow such a terrible tragedy?” And I loved his response. He said, “Could it have had something to do with a drunk driver going ninety miles an hour in a narrow tunnel? Just How, exactly, was God involved.”
Years ago, boxer, Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, killed a Korean opponent with a hard right hand to the head. At the press conference after the Korean’s death, Mancini said, “sometimes I wonder why God does the things he does.”
In a letter to Dr. Dobson, a young woman asked this anguished question, “Four years ago, I was dating a man and became pregnant. I was devastated. I asked God, “Why have you allowed this to happen to me?”
Susan Smith, the south Carolina mother a couple years ago who pushed her two sons into a lake to drown and then blamed a fictional car-jacker for the deed, wrote in her confession: “I dropped to the lowest point when I allowed my children to go down that ramp into the water without me. I took off running and screaming, ‘Oh God! Oh God, no! What have I done? Why did you let this happen?”
Now the quest...
C. S. Lewis once said: "it is easier to be enthusiastic about humanity with a capital "H" than it is to love individual men and women, especially those who are uninteresting, … exasperating, depraved, or otherwise unattractive. Loving everybody in general may be an excuse for loving nobody in particular."
Think how many temptations you and I face in an ordinary day. Staying in bed late - the temptation to laziness. Growling at the breakfast table - the temptation to unkindness. Arguing over who should change the baby this time - the temptation to selfishness. Starting work 10 minutes late - the temptation to slothfulness. Losing your temper when a co-worker crashes your computer - the temptation to impatience. Flirting with that good-looking woman, taking a second look at the good-looking man - the temptation to lust. Refusing to speak to a person who has hurt you - the temptation to malice. Repeating a juicy story of your neighbor’s misfortune - the temptation to gossip. Lying awake at night thinking sensual thoughts - the temptation to impurity. Taking your anger out on the children after a hard day - the temptation to cruelty. Going out the eat when you can’t afford it - the temptation to self-indulgence. Having a second helping and then a third - the temptation to gluttony. Firing off a hasty letter to a friend who hurt you - the temptation to revenge.