Friday, September 30, 2011

There is an 8 in 10 Chance Your Christian Daughter Will Have Sex Before Marriage

Today is another busy day so today will be another quick message, though not a light one.  This week, a study was released showing that 80% of unmarried Christian adults aged 18-29 have had sex before marriage.  This is not all that much lower than the 88% of unbelievers who also had sex before marriage.  First the good news, the study does not discern whether the Christian had sex before or after their conversion of if they grew up in the church or came to Christa at a later age, but the bad news is that probably would only lower the number a few points.  This number should shock parents. I know that even the best parents can have children who rebel, but the fact is the the percentage is so high, that even then this is a shocking number.  What this shows is that by and large parents are failing to ensure their children are brought up in Christ and that those values are not taught and modeled to them.  Ultimately, it is the father who bears the responsibility for the behavior of his family as God gives that responsibility directly to fathers.
And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.  Ephesians 6:4 NKJV
So what is causing our children to fall into sexual sin in such large numbers?  I think that several things to blame.  These are things that I have addressed in previous blogs so let us take this brief message to review those factors that affect our children.

One reason is the influences we allow into their lives.  What television shows and movies do you let them watch?  Even those so-called innocent shows on Disney show teen dating and romance.  Children who watch them learn that dating should be normal at very young ages.  Quite honestly, though, it is not.  Children who have not even gone through puberty should not be dating.  Even when I was in school, I remember at ten years old that friends of mine were already dating.  I am sure it has gotten no better now.  If a child begins dating at such a young age, as he or she gets older they will push the envelope more and more to keep things new and exciting to them, eventually leading to fornication.  Do you allow you children to play sexual video games?  Your 10-year old child should not be playing games rated M or even T.  Video games area not nearly as abstract or crude as they were when we were younger.  Now they are quite graphic and realistic.  Do you send your children to public school?  If so then they are surrounded by that worldly influence all day every day.  If you expect that not to have a strong influence on your child, then (and I mean to put this bluntly and if it offends you then so be it) you are exceedingly ignorant.  What friends do you allow your child to spend time with?  Are they friends you can trust to be positive examples and are their parents positive examples?  If not, then you are allowing your child to again be exposed to negative influence.  I can guarantee that peer pressure is one of the biggest reasons for these shocking statistics.  If you child is in a crowd of worldly friends, your child will grow more worldly.  If your child's friends are having sex, your child be under enormous (and usually irresistible) pressure to do so as well.  The fact is that the message of the world is that sex is a normal part of dating and that there is something wrong with someone who does not have sex before marriage.  If you allow your child to grow up under that kind of influence, then your child will be one of the many who do have  sex before marriage.

The other reason, and even more important one, is your influence.  Even if you bring your child up in the training and admonition of the Lord, do you live it yourselves?  If you model to your children that following God is negotiable depending on the circumstance, then your child will have that same mindset.  If you do not obey, they will not obey.  If you do not live righteously, neither will your children.  This is a proven fact.  Children of abusive parents generally become abusive.  Children of parents who abuse alcohol are more likely to abuse alcohol themselves.  Children with temperamental parents often become temperamental.  Children of sinful parents will be sinful.  Children of parents who compromise their beliefs will learn that whatever lessons their parents teach them are good only when convenient.  Children of worldly parents will be worldly.  This is a truth you can not get around.  If you want your child to be grow up Christian, then you have to model that behavior.  You should not be seeking some worldly or even Christian role model for your children, God has given you that job.  God would not have  given you children if He was not going to empower you to fill that role.  If you are failing in that role, you only have yourself to blame.  Usually, children grow up to be much like their parents.  When you look in the mirror, that is a large part of who your child is going to be.  You really need to ask yourself what kind of role model you are being for your child.

Parents, you are war with Satan for the soul of your child.  God is on your side, but you have to work with God to protect your child.  You can not undermine the work of God by allowing Satan's influence into their lives or by modeling behavior counter to the work that God wants to do.  You are being reckless with the souls of your children and you can not expect God to reward your recklessness or disobedience.  Life is not an auto pilot magic carpet ride where all we need to do is close our eyes and wish bad things not to happen to our children.  Life is a series of choices where we can either follow God, our selves, or the world.  If we willfully steer ourselves into a wall, we learn no lesson if God removes it to prevent us from hitting it.  We only lean when we crash into it.  We only learn when we realize the consequences of our poor decisions.  Please, before learning the hard way, take the time now to submit yourselves, and your children, to the Lord.  Someday your children will be in charge of steering their own lives and they may hit a few walls themselves.  Unfortunately, that can not be prevented.  But I can tell you this, they have a much better chance of making it through safely if you teach and show them how to live under the training and admonition of the Lord.

I close today with a verse.  Normally when you read this verse, you think of other people and influences.  Today I want you to read it and think of yourself as a parent.  What kind of company are you to your child?
Do not be deceived: "Evil company corrupts good habits." 1 Corinthians 15:33 NKJV

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Real Life Modern Day Martyrdom

This week we learned in the news about an Iranian pastor named Youcef Nadarkhani.  This man has been sentenced to death for his beliefs.  Specifically, he was convicted for apostasy for converting from Islam to Christianity.  He was never a Muslim, but his ancestors were.  According to their law, even if he was never a Muslim, the fact that his ancestors were makes him a defacto Muslim.  He literally could be executed at any time or his sentence could be commuted.  Either way, what he is facing is a kind of persecution we can only have nightmares about as we sit in our comfortable pews in our air conditioned churches.  Our worst problem going to church is usually traffic and our biggest hardship is probably getting up early on a Sunday morning.  As for persecution, well people might make fun of us sometimes.  We have no idea what real persecution is.  We absolutely take for granted the safety that Lord has given us and we often think it is because we are highly favored.  Is that really the case, though? 
And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten [them], they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus [as] the Christ.  Acts 5:40-42 NKJV
We need to ask ourselves if we are truly blessed or if God knows we are too weak to face the persecution faced by Christians in much of the world?  Note the apostles were excited that they were counted "worthy" to suffer for the Lord.  In other words, their suffering was a privilege!  That sounds completely ridiculous, but it is an essential truth we have forgotten.  There is a kind of fellowship with the Lord that can only be experienced by suffering for His name.  Let's look at some Scripture.
Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which [is] from the law, but that which [is] through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead.  Philippians 3:8-11 NKJV

Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ's sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed [are you], for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified.  1 Peter 4:12-14 NKJV

The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs--heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with [Him], that we may also be glorified together.  Romans 8:16-17 NKJV
It is clear in scripture that suffering is a privilege and yet so many of us back down at the slightest hint of any kind of persecution.  So many of us are quiet about what we believe or even succumb to the world so as not to be made fun or to fit in a little better.  So many of us have no idea what real persecution means yet we think we are persecuted.  This pastor is facing death because a judge told him to renounce his faith or die.  We fall like a house of cards if a judge tells us not to pray or pay a small fine or spend a night in jail.  We fear the ACLU and lawsuits more than this man fears being martyred for his faith.  Please do not think it is because we are so favored that we do not face this kind of persecution.  It is because we would not be able to handle it. 

This is also why prosperity preachers make me sick to my stomach.  Churches in countries like Iran face death threats, death, rape, murder, abuse, beatings, loss of property, loss of any hope of employment, and loss of family.  That is only scratching the surface.  Yet despite all of this they hold on to their faith knowing they are laying up treasures in Heaven.  They meet in secret and quietly preach the Gospel hoping to not get caught by the authorities, knowing that every time they share Jesus it could mean their death, or worse, a disappearance into a time of unspeakable torture and abuse.  Prosperity teachers and their fat and lazy followers sit in comfort either in their own homes or in air conditioned half billion dollar cultural centers and watch their pastor wearing the latest fashions on a big screen.  You know, the pastors who live rich and lavishly and who are usually surrounded by body guards lest someone get too close.  And yet, despite all the lavish riches those churches are drowning in, they have the audacity to cry out for even more! They are rich already but they want even more!  They have jobs, but they want the best job!  Their lust for earthly treasures is utterly disgusting and the teachers who egg them on with false promises never made by God will stand before the Lord they pretend to serve one day and give an account for what they did with the resources God allowed them to amass.  I wonder what would happen if persecution should ever come upon those churches.  I wonder if they lost their arenas and stadiums, the the large screens went dark, the luxury cars were repossessed, the pastors had to fly commercial and not even first class, and if they had to wear clothes from Walmart, I wonder what would happen.  I can not say for sure, but I highly suspect they would say or believe whatever they needed to protect that earthly mammon they seem to love so much. 

So many of us are so weak and most of us do not even know it.  We fail to receive the blessings in suffering for the Lord because we crumble at the slightest semblance of persecution.  We need to stand for our faith no matter what some judge says and no matter what kind of insults people may throw at us.  Perhaps as we show some backbone and stand in this minor oppression we will be counted worthy for the joy of real persecution.  I am not saying we should seek after persecution, but we should face it and stand up to it should it ever come.  Trust me, if you stand firm in your faith, persecution will find you.  The idea of finding joy in persecution may seem utterly foreign to us, but that is only our flesh speaking.  The Word of God calls is a privilege and a joy.  Believing that takes real faith, and living it tests that faith like no other test can.  One day, if things continue as they are, that test may very well come our way.  I wonder if our faith will be found true or if the facade of false faith with burn revealing just how wretched, poor, blind, and naked we really are. 
My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials  James 1:2 NKJV

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Sheep Follow Shepherds

Poor leaders make for weak churches.  That is a truth that many churches and even denominations in America are learning right now.  Far too many people who have no business being a pastor are leading churches, shepherding their sheep right over a cliff.  I am not talking about the error of women pastors or the complete insanity of homosexual pastors, but just men doing a work they are unqualified or unwilling to do.  I am not even talking about the apostate teachers such as Joseph Prince or Creflo dollar who teach an entirely different Gospel, though some of these pastors borrow heavily from their errors.  Pastors have a very important and unique role in the church. Their calling is a high one and their responsibilities are endless.  It is not a job one can do if they are not fully committed to doing that work.  They are not only part of the body, but they are leaders of that body.  Their vision is the church's vision.  Their doctrine is the church's doctrine.  Their commitment to Christ is the church's commitment to Christ.  I say that because sheep follow shepherds, many times even when they should not.  There is some fault to the flock as many will flock to a teacher who suits their fleshly desires.  Ultimately, though, a pastor (as a teacher) is held to a very high standard and when he stands before God, he will have to give an account to all that he did with that charge.  I think a good place to start is the job qualifications.
This [is] a faithful saying: If a man desires the position of a bishop, he desires a good work. A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, temperate, sober-minded, of good behavior, hospitable, able to teach; not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, but gentle, not quarrelsome, not covetous; one who rules his own house well, having [his] children in submission with all reverence (for if a man does not know how to rule his own house, how will he take care of the church of God?); not a novice, lest being puffed up with pride he fall into the [same] condemnation as the devil. Moreover he must have a good testimony among those who are outside, lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. 1 Timothy 3:1-7 NKJV
The first thing I noticed was that being a bishop (or church leader) is a good "work."  It is not a position, it is a job.  This means that being a pastor means you have to be committed to doing the work associated with that job.  I know that in many smaller churches, the pastor must also work outside the church to support himself.  That, in and of itself, is not a problem.  The problem is when that job takes precedence over the church.  Do you see that job merely as a means to support your main role as a pastor?  If not, then there is a problem.  If you find yourself missing more and more pastoral responsibilities because of that job, then there is a problem.  If that job calls you away from the church family you are supposed to leading, then there is a problem. If you are not fully committed to do the work of a pastor, then there is a problem.

Next we seem some important personality traits.  A pastor must be blameless, that is not living in sin.  He can not be a polygamist, which is not really an issue in America today.  He must be temperate, meaning he should not be given to excess whether it be in material things like money or emotional things like anger.  He must be hospitable, meaning anyone should be able to approach him with questions or concerns and he certainly can not be aloof or distant.  He must be able to teach, as a large part of his job is to be the teacher to the church.  He must not be given to wine, meaning he should not drink. He should not be violent.  He can not be greedy for money.  He can not be quarrelsome, meaning he is not known to engage in arguments of feuds.  He can not be covetous, meaning he should be happy with what the Lord provides for him. 

Next, we learn something interesting.  We learn that the qualifications for being a pastor go beyond his own life. We learn that his family's behavior also matters.  I realize that even the best parents can have some bad apples, but what we see here is a pattern of bad family behavior.  Do his children respect him and his rule?  Is he capable of ruling his family and what is the fruit of that headship?  Is he leading a godly household or is he leading a worldly household?  If a man has a family known for poorly behaved or even apostate children, how can this man lead an entire church family?  How a man rules in his own family is a good guide to how he will rule the church.  That is not my opinion, that is the Word of God.

The description ends with a couple of more qualifications.  He must not be a novice, meaning there has to be some distance to his walk with God.  A brand new Christian should not be a pastor, but only one whose faith was time tested.  Someone who lacks maturity will tend to grow prideful if given a position of much authority.  The last is that he must have a good testimony outside the church.  This means that he has to have a good reputation as a good upstanding man. He needs to be a man of good moral character. 

This is not the job, this is merely the set of qualifications where one can be considered for the job.  If a man meets these standards, then there are other things he must be in order to effectively lead the church.  The first is that he must be a part of the body.  I do not mean that he must be elevated from within the body, I just mean that as the pastor, he must be a part of the church body.  What I mean is that he can not see himself as or be seen as separate from the church that he leads.  That is his church family and he must spend time with them.  I know in big churches that becomes more difficult (which is why I believe that churches can get too large), but he must be approachable and friendly.  He must be a part of church events.  He must spend time with church members and he must know his flock.  A pastor who does not know the people he leads will never be a really effective leader. 

A pastor is responsible for the vision of the church.  This implies that a pastor has to have a vision and that vision should be from God.  This also implies that a pastor must share that vision with the church.  If a pastor has no vision or shares no vision, then the church has no drive.  It continues on in neutral week after week with no growth and little to no witness to the community.  The pastor must receive the vision from God for that church and lead the church in achieving that vision.  The church needs to know what the focus is in terms of time and resources.  The pastor must also be a part of that work.  A pastor can not just sit there and tell the church the vision the Lord has given him and send them out to do it while he either goes to work at another job or just sits back and watches.  A pastor must be part of the work or that vision will never catch on with the flock. 

A pastor is also responsible for the doctrine of the church. I sometimes think that many pastors do not know the power they hold in this area.  I see so many people who parrot things that pastors said that are glaringly wrong.  People, by and large, do not do their own due diligence to search the scriptures to make sure what the pastor is saying is true.  Even ones that invite correction are rarely corrected and, from what I have heard, even when they are it is usually from someone with some off-the-wall doctrine looking for justification or argument.  Church members will believe what the pastor teaches.  That is why his doctrine must be solid.  If his doctrine is shaky, then the whole foundation of the church will be shaky.   A pastor must have good doctrine and adequately teach that doctrine to the church. 

A pastor is also an example to the church.  It is how he is as a husband, father, leader, person, friend, member of the community, etc that will be an example that others in the church will follow.  If he continually fails in these areas then so will the church.  I am not talking about a pastor who fails in some area from time to time, but I am talking about one who is willfully living in sinful behavior.  If he is a drunk or an abuser.  If he is temperamental or violent.  Another example is if he uses foul language.  Any and all of these things will be examples that the rest of the church will follow.  He must be the example of righteousness in the church, and be humble and repentant in those times when he is not.  As the leader, the people will follow his example for good or for bad.  He must be a good example.

We have seen that being a pastor is quite a job.  This does not even include the plethora of emergencies that he gets called upon for prayer and for ministry.  This does not include the burden for all the souls under his responsibility that I am sure he feels.  A pastor is a job that you can not be half committed to.  It is not just something you do, but it defines who you are.  People look at you differently when you have that title.  Pastors who are not ready for this kind of commitment have no business being behind the pulpit.  They are doing their church a disservice and leading their flock to nowhere.  Even if a pastor works outside the church, that work must be a means of provision and not a career he sinks his life into.  Church must always come first.  If a pastor is not committed, neither will the church be.  Why should the church care about something that is seemingly not important to their leader?  Just as a shepherd actively leads his sheep so must a pastor actively lead his church.  Just as a shepherd is responsible for the well being of the sheep under his care, so is the pastor responsible before God for the spiritual well being of his church.  It is not a job but a calling.  It is not a position of pride, but a position of responsibility.  Pastors must take their roles seriously or step out of the way to allow God to raise up another who is willing to make that commitment.  Sadly, there are many pastors who are in a position they were never called to have and not qualified to fill.  For them, if they remain unwilling, unqualified, and/or incapable of doing that work, the best thing they can do for their church is to step down and allow God to raise up another who is called, willing, and qualified to fill that important role.
I charge [you] therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom: Preach the word! Be ready in season [and] out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, [because] they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn [their] ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.  2 Timothy 4:1-4 NKJV

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Long Road of Learning Patience

Today I am going to write about something that I know very little about.  Well, I know about it, I just do not like it.  I do not like it because I am terrible about it.  I am terrible about it because I do not like to wait.  I do not like to wait because this self thing deep down inside me refuses to recognize its own death.  If you are getting antsy waiting for me to make it to my subject for today, then you struggle just as I do in this one area.  The thing I am talking about today is patience. 
 Rest in the LORD, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, Because of the man who brings wicked schemes to pass. Cease from anger, and forsake wrath; Do not fret--[it] only [causes] harm. For evildoers shall be cut off; But those who wait on the LORD, They shall inherit the earth.  Psalm 37:7-9 NKJV
I look at a passage like that and realize that there just about zero part of it that I get right.  It is so hard for me to rest in the Lord.  I always feel the need to be doing, working, achieving the goal that I am seeking after.  As for waiting, I can't stand it when there is a slow-up in the EZ-Pass lane on the Parkway.  I hate any kind of line really.  Waiting to me is an absolute waste of time.  As for fretting when things are not moving fast enough for me, I could probably win a gold medal if it were an Olympic event.  Just ask my wife, she knows.  As for fretting because others (especially unbelievers or worldly believers) are leapfrogging over myself on their way to the same goal, I will admit that I even struggle with that.  It is not so much a matter of envy.  I do not want what they have, I want what I always wanted but have not gotten yet.  Of course fretting leads to anger.  I will not say I am downright angry shaking my fists mad, but I do feel some anger well up inside me from time to time.  And that is who I am, an unrepentant impatient man.  I will be the first to admit that I am scared to pray for patience because I do not know how well I will take to the training. 

The Lord, however, has other plans.  While I may not want to learn patience, the Lord sure does seem to like to teach me about it.  There are so many things in life that I felt so sure of that I just seem to be waiting for.  There is my move north, with the weather getting colder and Winter just around the corner, I am cringing the reality of repeating last year's nightmarish winter commute. I say that as we wait for the home the Lord has for us and the buyer the Lord has for us in the home we are in.  There is my desire for children, but that work is going on a year with nothing.  There is a job needed for my wife when we do move north, but so far only an inadequate job and a "position filled" notice have been the fruits of that endeavor.  Then there is the long days at my job, a job I no longer find any joy in.  I am thankful that God is providing for my family through my job, but to be completely honest, it has become a real struggle.  At one time I had so much excitement and enthusiasm for all of these things, now I am about ready to just give up.  I have been in a long period of waiting and we all know how poorly I deal with waiting.

What I have done was to make myself an illustration for the church, and not in a good way.  We read the Bible and the excitement that the church had for the Lord's return.  They truly lived like the Lord could return at any moment.  They lived in constant anticipation and excitement for the Lord's return.  This is just like me when my wife and I first prayed about having children and moving.  There was so much excitement and anticipation and it seemed like any day now things could happen.  For me, it was a few months.  For the church it was about two thousand years.  But what happens when you start out with all that excitement and nothing happens, discouragement begins to set in.  You begin to wonder if this thing you once looked forward to will ever happen or if the Lord has changed His mind.  You also begin to question whether or not you had it right to begin with.  You see, the message of the Lord's return is a message of patience.  We are told not grow weary in waiting, we are told to keep oil for our lamps, we are told to overcome until His return, and we are warned that many will challenge whether the Lord will return or not.  We are told that for the Lord a thousand years is as a day and a day is as a thousand years meaning that what we consider to be a long time, is really not even relevant to God.  God acts in His time not our own.  And despite all that, we are told to eagerly await His return.  The Father knew that the Lord's return will be a long time coming from our perspective.  If so, there would not have been all the admonitions to be also be at the ready and eager, but also to wait patiently for the Lord's return.  He said all of that to keep us from getting discouraged, should we take the time to listen and understand. 

And so the same thing that God warned the church about on a large scale is exactly what I am struggling with on a small scale.  And just like the church, God is doing a work in me.  You see, my impatience is not something to brag about.  I write this today in all humility as impatience show that my self is refusing to recognize its own death and I am complicit in that crime.  The problem is that while my self may never believe itself to be dead, it must be dead to the new man that I am in Christ.  I entertain my old self every time I act out in impatience.  Impatience is all about getting what I want when I want it, which is usually right away.  What it is not is a surrendering of myself to God to accept and rejoice in what He wants for me.  More than that it is accepting what He wants for me when He decides I should have it.  My position can not be for God to give me what I want when I want it, but for me to be in submission and surrender to God accepting His plan for my life.  I have to remember that God knows best no matter how much I think that I do.  I do not know the end from the beginning, but God does.  I have to constantly remind myself of it.  I have to constantly remind myself that God knows best.  Finally, I have to remember that the Lord will always fulfill His promises and I also have to remember that fulfillment comes in His time. 

Patience is a hard thing to learn and anyone else who struggles in that area knows exactly what I mean.  The first thing we need to do is realize that it is a problem.  We should be waiting on the Lord and recognize that the Lord does not wait on us.  He may serve us our needs but He is not our servant.  We are His servants and must submit ourselves to His will for our lives.  Jesus said it best when He said it to Paul "It [is] hard for you to kick against the goads."  We serve nothing but our own frustration when we fight against the Lord.  His yoke may be easy, but it is still upon our necks.  We need to stay at the Lord's pace.  When we look ahead in frustration, what we need to do is to look back to see how far we have come and how many times the Lord has come though for us in the past.  Then we need to look at where we are now because we might be missing much of what the Lord is doing now.  For me, I look in the past to that time when I thought I would never meet a wife, but now I have the best wife.  I look at now and even though we do not have a home, a buyer, or a child, my wife and I have been blessed tremendously and I have paid down a great amount of debt.  I see what the Lord has done and I see what the Lord has doing and slowly but surely I am learning to trust in what He will do. 

Does this mean that I or anyone else who struggles with patience can take these methods and suddenly live in perfect patience?  Unfortunately, patience is a process.  It is something we learn over time and not something we can just switch on.  Just like most other things in life, it takes diligent practice.  I can learn the notes of a piano and how to read music in a couple of hours, but that does not make me a virtuoso.  Knowing how to play the piano is easy, learning to actually do it is a lifelong process involving practice and dedication.  Patience is the same way.  What makes patience even more difficult to master is that it takes patience to learn patience.  But as we learn to be patient, learning to be more patient will become easier and easier.  First we must recognize the problem and ask God to begin that long process. 

We can take this lesson on patience on a small scale and apply it to the larger scale of the church itself.  The church is growing weary in waiting and more and more fall away from the truth.  Many still in the church are living each day like it is the last, but not in a good way.  I fear that so many will be left wanting for oil when the Lord returns.  We see a world getting worse and worse and it becoming harder and harder to live as a Christian.  We must look to the past to see how every prophesy that was ever supposed to come to be has come to be.  We need to look at the here and now to see all the work God is doing in the world today.  If we can see that the Lord always has come through in the past, we can rest in the faith that He will continue to come through in the future.  We can have faith that He will return and we must live as though that day can be today.  From our perspective, He may not have come quickly, but I can assure you that He will come suddenly, as a thief in the night.  When He returns, will you be ready?  Will your lamps be trimmed and full of oil?  Will you be glad to see the Lord or will you be ashamed?  Most importantly, if Jesus came today, will He come as your savior or as your judge?  Will you be taken with Him or will you be left here to feel the wrath of God in the Great Tribulation?  Take heart, the Lord will always fulfill His promises. 
To the Chief Musician. A Psalm of David. I waited patiently for the LORD; And He inclined to me, And heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit, Out of the miry clay, And set my feet upon a rock, [And] established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth--Praise to our God; Many will see [it] and fear, And will trust in the LORD.
Blessed [is] that man who makes the LORD his trust, And does not respect the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.
Many, O LORD my God, [are] Your wonderful works [Which] You have done; And Your thoughts toward us Cannot be recounted to You in order; [If] I would declare and speak [of them], They are more than can be numbered.  Psalm 40:1-5 NKJV