YOUR GREATEST HOUR

 

Your greatest hourYour Greatest Hour

 The art of doing what people say can’t be done.

By Mario Murillo

This is the hour of darkness, violence and perplexity.  This is the hour that sneers at hope—ridicules faith—taunts righteousness, and abhors dreams and visions.  The bullhorn of evil is drowns out any call to a just cause or a holy endeavor. It screams to every vessel of God, “You can’t do it—compromise or quit!

Hell is belching out defeatism—a defeatism so complete that its victim—redefines their failure and it becomes success.  

The government calls food stamps, condoms, needles, and methadone salvation for the needy.  The real message is “your highest hope is to live out your days in government slavery.”

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-The White House calls acts of surrender to our enemies, diplomatic solutions.

-The thug culture tells urban youth turning tricks, dealing drugs and looting stores beats honest work.

-Political correctness says “keep saying that Islam is a religion of peace because it will keep Muslims from acts of violence.”

-Moral relativists say you can’t overcome perverse desires—therefore they are natural.

-Church growth models tell pastors it is a win—if you remove the Cross, Blood and hell from your sermons—to get a crowd.  This model indeed herded people into harmless meetings…but by distracting God’s people from revival it helped hasten the moral landslide of America.

Recent history proves compromise is unnecessary.  Between 1965 and 1985, 25 million Americans were converted to Christ.  Ministries like Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, Kathryn Kuhlman, Pat Robertson, and Jerry Faldwell had a combined television audience of 40 million people. The largest arenas and stadiums filled with hungry hearts yearning for a true encounter with God.  Those preachers shifted America toward morality.

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We are constantly being told what we can’t do. America can’t believe in God.  You can’t hold a marriage together.  Christians can’t live in victory.  Students in our Bible School hear that they can’t have miracles and the power of the Holy Spirit.   The list of things that are now impossible grows longer each day.

We hear faith-killing statements everyday: “the day for that is past.  People don’t want to hear it anymore.  There are no resources for that.  You are too young.  You are told old.  You are not educated.  You are overqualified.

Are you sick of hearing that you can’t do great and mighty things?  Does your gut tell you some awesome intervention of God can still happen?  This can also be your greatest hour—the hour you practice the art of doing what others say you cannot do.   Now learn the art!

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1Every visionary that ever lived did what others told them they could not do.   As dark and evil as today is—as daunting as the task may seem—many have faced impossible limits like this before.   In fact, the tortured culture of today was vividly described in this verse: “Those who do wickedly against the covenant he shall corrupt with flattery; but the people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” –Daniel 11:32.   Here are two groups of people: 1.Those corrupted by flattery—seduced into believing that drunkenness and denial was natural.  2. Those that know God and do what their circumstances said they could not do.

This second group shakes off the despair, the religion and the threats of their time by knowing God.  This will take you to the next level.

2. Only you and God know what you can still do in this hour. No matter how many teachers you have, there is no substitute for your private relationship with Jesus.  He alone can tell you how to do the impossible.

Today, there is a core that is being pulled into an intimate knowledge of God.  He is drawing people to Himself—people who refuse to fear and be intimidated by what goes on around them.

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1 Samuel 30: 6 tells us, “Now David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

David knew what the circumstances said.  He could hear the death threats.  What he wanted to hear was the voice of the God he had so passionately loved and served.  His cry is—“I know what life is telling me but what do YOU say?   Even when your life lies at your feet like sputtering rubble—like David’s did, the choice to trust God—to be led by God remains.

God said to David in 1 Samuel 30 verse 8 “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake them and without fail recover all.”  This guidance violated all reason!  It opposed logic…it was what everyone would have told David he could not do.

3.You can know with absolute certainty God wants you to do—and when you know, you will become unstoppable. What are the threats of this time compared to God? Paul said, “If God be for us who can be against us.”   If God has spoken, how can your lack of resources matter?  How will He not provide?  If He says it is doable that settles it.

 

It is clear that the times we live in require wisdom and power that we can’t imagine.  The sheer sophistication of evil can overwhelm us.  Nevertheless there is no excuse to compromise.  No one has the right to tell God that reaching this generation is beyond the power of the Word of God.   We can do things to win America that people say we can’t do!

There are more ideas and tactics discovered with the help of the Bible—ideas that will reveal God’s will to the masses—push back the power of Satan—and do more good for this generation than all of the learning of philosophers and politicians combined.

There is unlimited authority and strength available through the Holy Spirit.  Do you really think He won’t show you what to do about your church, your career, your problems and your needs?  It for these matters that Jesus sent Him to us!

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4. Know when to start. When you know God, and you know what He wants you to do then you must start.  You must set the time.  You must take that first step to do what you know you are supposed to do.  He may only give you a first step…but when you take that step you will know what the next step is.

Finally: The greatest vessels of God appear in times of calamity and confusion. This day of trouble is your opportunity to be your best, to be more than you ever imagined you could be.

To do what others say you can’t do is the most eloquent act of defiance against fear: The moment you decide to stand, fight and build you will release the power of the Holy Spirit.  Unknown reserves of courage will well up within you!

Never forget that this will all soon be over:  In heaven, you will only regret what you did not leave on the field of battle.  It is the steps untaken, and the challenges avoided that will haunt you.

This will all soon be over.  The threat that seems so big now will look so puny there.   So let me ask you…what are you saving your courage for?  What are you withholding your talent, resources and dreams for?   Surely they are all for such a time as this.  This is your greatest hour—the hour that you did what others said you could not do.

 

Now I want to invite you to a convention that will help turn America around!

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We three voices agree.  A supernatural intervention unlike anything we have seen in history must come or America is finished.  The church in America has been struck by an iceberg.  Over one thousand preachers a month are leaving the ministry defeated by the open hostility of our culture and the draining effect of lukewarm believers.  We cannot go on this way.  We must rise and face the challenge of a godless America.

This convention will confront the threat against the American Church head on.  We have brushed aside all of the frills and distractions you may associate with religious conventions.  Our focus is for you to receive fresh fire and direction.

The Living Proof World Convention will be held at New Life Church   March 3- 4- 5 New Life Church 10800 Hammerly Blvd, Houston, TX 77043   church Phone (713) 932-1479  

DIRECT CONVENTION LINE:  (775) 432 1665

There is no registration fee for the convention but you must register.  Do not delay click the link below 

Click on the link below to register right now!

http://mariomurillo.org/living-proof-world-convention/

If you have any further questions please call us at  775 432 1665

 

Why American Pastors will not unify against Obama. Here’s what would happen if they did.

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Why American Pastors will not unify against Obama.  Here’s what would happen if they did.

By Mario Murillo

Every day someone asks me “Mario, we hear your message warning America but what can we do?”   Here is something so doable—it is a vexation of epic proportions that we do not do it.  You deserve to know why we will not do it.

We have 400,000 ministers in America who—if they spoke out as one voice—could reverse our moral landslide almost overnight.  Think of that!  We could end the insanity of the White House before the weekend.

Every Sunday they speak to the largest voting bloc in America: 40+ Million.  They have a captive audience.  They could do it—without even being political—just by being Biblical.

Half a million pulpits thundering truth at the same time would be the death of the secular progressive agenda.  Waking up the sleeping giant and arming them with truth would cut off the air supply of the God-haters.

There is too much at stake for me to try to save reputation and avoid controversy.  Let me say it plainly: It is time for a non-violent revolution; a firewall against the onslaught of evil.  This is the only way this nation will be spared.

Satan has done a number on our Christian colleges, seminaries and denominations. The enemy has sent a neutralizing counterfeit in the seeker model.  He has used fear to paralyze prophetic preaching.  He has used false doctrine to deceive many into immorality.  He has used seduction to create widespread compromise.

No way will I be like Elijah did in the cave.    I don’t believe I am the only one left—there are thousands of true men and women of God in our nation who are faithfully preaching the word and opposing the godless agenda.    However, there are not nearly enough and time is running out.

It is a hair-pulling irony that the greatest threat America has ever face is also the most curable threat.  So why won’t they unify against Obama?  Here are the reasons listed in order of importance.

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Fear of losing non-profit status. In the 1950’s, Lyndon Johnson caused the church to make a deal with the devil. The deal is known as the 501C3 designation.  Frustrated by pastors who were telling their people not to vote for him, Johnson introduced legislation that silenced the church.  In exchange for IRS status, churches agreed not to endorse political candidates.  The church did not need this designation because they were already tax exempt in the Constitution.

It makes no sense to say you fear losing your status.  Unless we speak out, churches will be illegal.  What use will your nonprofit status be to you when you are an underground church?

Lifestyle: 50% of all preachers who were polled said that if there was another way for them to make money they would leave the ministry. That means that for many preachers the ministry is just a paycheck.

If speaking out against Obama will cost them tithers, if standing for marriage and the unborn will offend some, they will not risk losing their lifestyle.

Racism: In a spirit-filled church, during the memorial to the Gospel legend Andrae Crouch—who did more than anyone before him to cross racial lines with Gospel music—Stevie Wonder said, “The only reason that people have rejected Obama’s policies of inclusion is because he is black.”

Not only was this breathtakingly inappropriate—think about what he is saying:  If you disagree with Obama you are racist—and that statement, my friend, is truly racist.

Ignorance of Scripture: Preachers today do not know the Bible. Many no longer believe it is the inspired Word of God.  They say nothing about hell, The Cross, The Blood or the Second Coming of Christ.  They get their sermons from motivational speakers and secular music lyrics.  They do not pray and search the scriptures.  They search for buzz words.

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They cannot protect the flock of God from atheists and secular humanists because they have no ammunition from the Word of God.

Ignorance of America and revival: Many do not value revival because they do not know how God worked in our history. They do not understand that past moral awakenings have rescued the United States from certain doom.  Ignorance of revival is why they do not see it is life and death.

Apathy: Two extremes create apathy; one is self-sufficiency and the other is total discouragement. When ministers have too much or too little, they say, “What is the use in trying anymore?” One has given up because they don’t need the drama. The other has given up because they believe it is hopeless.

Even though the causes are totally opposite, the result is the same:  A nation dies because leaders cannot muster the necessary outrage to take appropriate action.

Competition: Many preachers do not see their fellow ministers as brothers in arms. They see them as competition.  They see them as predators of their people.  Wanting the biggest church has blinded them to the fact that we are all in the same army; that we are on the same side.  Some preachers actually relish the idea that their competitor is losing members and suffering loss.

Make no mistake.  I am not anti-church and I am especially not anti-pastor.  I am loyal to my fellow preachers.  I am committed to the local church…but we must unify and speak out.

Millions of American Christians need marching orders not another breathy chat about how special they are.   If you really believed they were special you would equip them for special ops! 

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So here is the bottom line:  If the guilty parties refuse to repent of all of these excuses— it will cost us the nation.

Yes we can wipe out the insanity of the White House in no time if we would stand together.  If we do not, we will be remembered as the worst preachers in American History.

Proof Verses:

“But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, ‘Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.’”- Acts 5:19, 20.

“A muddied spring or a polluted well— that’s what a righteous person is who compromises with the wicked.”  Proverbs 25:26

“That they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me.”  John 17:21

“Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech.”  2 Corinthians 3: 12

“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. 20 For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” Matthew 18:19,20

This man

This man

“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” –Dr. Martin Luther King. 

Today we see the opposite of Dr. King’s dream.  We cannot judge the character of Barrack Obama because of the color of his skin.  You are not allowed to judge his character. 

In this final blog on Barrack Obama I will address his character, explain why this is my last blog on Obama and in the process issue a solemn warning to the Church of Jesus Christ in the United States.

In 2007 I began warning people about this man and laid out in glaring detail the calamity that is now our reality.  Many rejected me as a veritable madman for saying that one day America would look exactly the way she looks right now.  We are divided, we are poor, we are hated in the world and we are about to lose forever our power to get back everything that Obama stole from our children’s future.

In 2011, the blogs began.  No one but God knows the price that I have paid for writing these blogs.  When I began, not one preacher that I knew was willing to publicly oppose Barack Obama. 

I knew what this man was the first time I laid eyes on him.  He set off a universal alarm in my spirit that forced me to change the way I relate to politicians.  With Obama’s arrival a misty blanket of deception fell over the nation.   Suddenly, the American public was dull to common sense and lost their ability to state the obvious.  

Look into this man’s eyes and what do you see?   You see a sinister pathological smugness and indifference to truth.  He does not even attempt to put a spin on his debacles; he simply changes the subject and then orders us to consider only what he says next.  

Obama does and says things on a daily basis that would end anyone else’s career. He slept through the murders of innocent Americans in Benghazi.  He used the NSA to spy on Americans. He turned the IRS into a tool for his reelection. Because of this and ten thousand other crimes, he makes Richard Nixon look like Dudley Do-Right.

The media put a force field around him.  It never confronts him about his lies or wonders about what he does in secret.  No meaningful questions are permitted.  Any line of questioning that would undermine his messianic narrative is taboo. No wonder this man believes he is accountable to no one. 

He is laying the groundwork for a world without America.  What is America?  America is a firewall against tyranny.  North Korea, Russia, China and Iran cannot take over the world until America is weak.  This man Obama has, in 6 short years, weakened America more than all previous presidents combined.   

He has crushed us under debt, he has us at each other’s throats, and he promotes thugs and demotes righteous leaders.  The White House is staffed with all of the competence and wisdom of a banana republic.

I will not be surprised if this man tries to invent a civil disorder just so he can stay in office.

However, I believe that his ability to lie, cheat, steal and injure with impunity is also fueled by the supernatural.

That misty blanket of deception that came on America is supernatural. 

The widespread silence of American pastors is supernatural. 

The moral grogginess of Americans is as if we’ve all been drugged supernaturally.

It is supernatural that the church cannot come together to answer the threat of this man. 

It is supernatural that the church cannot galvanize against this man for the way he has turned on Israel in such an insulting and demeaning way.  This alone proves his Antichrist spirit.

It is supernatural how Americans are not outraged by Obama’s preference for Islam.  

It is supernatural that America can turn a blind eye to the world wide martyrdom of Christians.  This man could not even call the 21 Coptic Christians who were beheaded, Christians.

It is supernatural that for the first time in our history the 3 most popular American pastors refuse to preach on repentance, the Cross, the Blood, the inerrancy of the Bible and the existence of hell.

It is supernatural that there are those who continue to support Barrack Obama and yet call themselves Christians. Since the teachings of Christ and the policies of this man are in perfect opposition to each other, why do they bother to call themselves Christians?   Only the supernatural allows you to host such a contradiction in your mind.

It is the supernatural spirit of Antichrist that has allowed the illogical, the absurd and the inconceivable to feel normal.

And it is the supernatural power of God that has released me from writing about this man.  When I began no one stood with me. Now many voices are speaking out.  I pass this baton gladly.

Oh don’t think for a minute that I will stop exposing sin.  I will now turn my attention to the public that is deceived and groping in darkness.  I will preach revival and repentance like never before.

My energy will now go to preaching about the higher power that darkness cannot stand.  I will however, remain a loving irritant in the side of pastors.  

America can be brought out of this coma.  God can send a divine desperation into the hearts of millions.  That is now my unswerving mission…not this man.

Editor’s note:  please feel free to repost this blog!  Please provide a link to this site.

P.S. When you think of  the 21 who were martyred by Islamic Terrorists what kind of Christians are they?  Here is a worship service.

HOW CELEBRITY, CONSUMERISM & COMPETITION ARE KILLING THE CHURCH

HOW CELEBRITY, CONSUMERISM & COMPETITION ARE KILLING THE CHURCH

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Obituary for the American Church

by Mike Breen

From time to time I will have the people I’m discipling write out their own pastoral obituary. I ask them to write out how our enemy would take them out, rendering them unable to serve their family and communities. As you can imagine, the answers vary, but always serves as a really helpful exercise as they are forced to confront issues of character, etc.

You see, taking the same exercise I’ve used with pastors, for the past year I’ve been thinking how the enemy would/might be trying to take down the American church. Now what I’ve noticed is that the original temptations Jesus faced (which can best be boiled down to Appetite, Affirmation and Ambition) are somehow warped and insinuated into the culture.

As each culture is distinct and different, a smart enemy would come at each culture in subtle ways, tempting them in ways they don’t see or expect, and with things that would look different from culture to culture.

For instance, the issues the European church deal with are actually quite different than the ones the American church is dealing with – even though often times they are put under the same broad umbrella of “Western Church.” Sure, there are some similarities, but the attack is different. More nuanced.

But those original temptations of Appetite, Affirmation and Ambition are slowly insinuating themselves into everything we call CHURCH. We just often don’t recognize it or see it.

And so this is how, if our enemy gets his way, the American church could be taken out:

A culture of CELEBRITY (affirmation)

A culture of CONSUMERISM (appetite)

A culture of COMPETITION (ambition)

The original temptations of Appetite, Affirmation and Ambition are creeping into everything we call CHURCH.

CELEBRITY

The idea of celebrity is deeply woven into American culture and values. All you have to do is look at the ridiculous nature of Reality TV and you see how Americans are constantly craving celebrity (either to be a celebrity or to find the next celebrity and stalk their every move).

Now there is nothing dark or sinister about “celebrity” in and of itself. You can’t find an argument that says Jesus wasn’t a huge celebrity in his day.

(continued…)

However, there is a difference between being famous and being significant. If Jesus was famous, it’s because he was doing something significant. The problem with many pastors is they make decisions, develop personas and define success from the lens of what will make them a celebrity/famous (even if they don’t know it or see that they are doing this).

So in American church culture, it’s pretty easy to become a celebrity: Grow a HUGE church. Now all in all, it’s not terribly difficult to grow to be a giant church if you have the right tools at your disposal – but that doesn’t mean the ends justify the means of getting there.

For instance, though Jesus was a celebrity in his day, he was willing to say things that ran people off in droves. In fact, the book of Mark chronicles the way (from about the mid-point of the book on) how people left Jesus to where, at the end, virtually no one was left. NO ONE wants to be associated with him for fear of the consequences.

That’s a Charlie Sheen-esque flameout (obviously without the character issues!). That’s not something you see too often in American churches.

I suspect it’s because riven deeply into the American psyche is the desire to be a celebrity. And American pastors are very susceptible to this. Many subtle things happen in people who desire to this kind of celebrity status:

* They can disengage community and isolate themselves, setting themselves up for moral failure.

* They can make decisions that are numbers driven and not always Kingdom driven.

* They can skew to a shallow understanding of the Gospel as opposed to a holistic one that leads people to discipleship.

* They can put the good of their church (their personal Kingdom) over the good of God’s Kingdom.

Question: In what ways are your decisions made by a subtle undercurrent of ambition and a hope for celebrity?

CONSUMERISM

We live in a culture that revolves around consuming. Every TV commercial, every store, every credit card company, every bank, every TV show or movie, every piece of clothing, car or product, every website, every restaurant every everything is tailored to fit your desires, needs or personal preference.

We are easily infuriated when things don’t happen exactly as we want them. We exist in a place that implicitly says this: “We are here to serve you and meet your every whim and desire. Let us take care of you.” What’s more, it’s never enough.

We live in a culture that revolves around consuming.(continued…)

Eventually the house or the car get older and we want new ones. The clothes aren’t as fashionable and we want something more in style. That restaurant is getting boring, we must find another. Our favorite TV show is wearing thin, so the search begins for the next favorite. And on and on and on.

This is how we are wired to think in the United States. And it is all backed up by this rationale: You’re worth it. You deserve to have what you want, how you want it, when you want it. And for the most part, the church plays the exact same game.

We do as best we can to provide as comfortable an experience as humanly possible, using every means at our disposal to attract them in (and then keep them in). So we tailor what we do around their wants and desires. That’s Marketing 101, right? The problem is at the end of the day, the only thing that Jesus is counting is disciples.

That’s it.

He doesn’t seem to care too much about converts, attendance, budgets or buildings. It’s about disciples. And, by nature, disciples are producers, not consumers.

Yet most of our churches are built around feeding consumers. I’d argue 90% of the church’s time, energy and resources are linked to this. But the issue is this: The means you use to attract people to you are usually the means you must use to keep them. In other words, if you use consumerism to attract them to your church, it often means you must continue using it to keep them or else they will find another church who will meet their “needs.” And yet, that consumer mentality is antithetical to the Gospel and to the call of Discipleship.

Disciples aren’t consumers, they are producers. Jesus cared about disciples more than anything else.

The means you use to attract people to you are usually the means you must use to keep them.

Question: In what ways is your church community using consumerism as the means to draw people to a Gospel that is, in and of itself, anti-consumerism?

COMPETITION

You will never find a more hyper-competitive culture than you do in the United States. As a foreigner living in this land, I can attest to that with the utmost respect. Americans love to win, they love the struggle of the journey and love holding up the gold medal of victory. Now don’t hear me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with being competitive, it’s just how competition has become warped and twisted within our culture. And it’s that, at least in the church, we are competitive about the wrong things.

Much of the American church finds itself competing with the church down the road. “Are we bigger than them? Do we have more influence than them? Do we have the best/biggest youth group in town? Do people like to get married in our church building? Do people like our church better than theirs? ”

The fact of the matter is that there is a battle, we do have an enemy and we should be competitive – but against our enemy! What we haven’t seen is how crafty he is. This seems to be the alliance he has struck with the American church: “I’ll let a good chunk of your churches grow, just not at the expense of my territory.”

Disciples aren’t consumers, they are producers. Jesus cared about disciples more than anything else.FREE eBook, Simple Ways To Be Missional, when you sign up for our FREE email updates. Enter your email address below to download your free eBook:

And so what happens? 96% of church growth is due to transfer growth and not churches striking into the heart of our enemy’s territory. We’ll consider it a win because we have the new service or program that is growing – but that growth is mainly from people coming from other churches. That’s not a win! That’s a staggering loss.

Furthermore, for many pastors, we don’t think we’ve won until we’ve won AND someone else has lost. Seriously?! For sure, we have an enemy and we should be competitive, but we should be competing against our enemy, knowing that the final battle has already been won, and not competing against our own team members.

(continued…)

So gifted and skilled is our enemy, so conniving is he, that he has convinced us that beating the people on our own team is victory while he stands back and laughs, rarely having to ever engage in conflict, protecting his territory. He is beating us with a slight of hand, with a clever distraction, turning us against ourselves. Question: In what ways are you competing (both in actuality or simply in your mind) against people who are on your own team?

In all honesty, it isn’t that the American church will ever truly die or cease to exist. It will always be there. But it is entirely possible that if these three critical issues aren’t addressed and dealt with, it will be a hallow shell that is spiritually listless.

If we think through Celebrity, Consumerism and Competition, the anti-body against all of these is sacrifice. Learning to lay down what builds us up and giving to others instead. Learning to serve, rather than to be served. Looking for anonymity rather than celebrity. To build a culture of producers rather than a consumers.

To live in a vibrant, sacrificial community fighting a real enemy rather than competing against the same community God has given us to fight WITH rather than AGAINST. It’s about sacrificing what we want for the glory of God and the advancement of his Kingdom, regardless of our advancement or desires.

Clearly this is what Paul was getting after in Philippians 2:6-11 when describing the attitude of Jesus as taking on the attitude of a servant, willing to sacrifice all acclaim and equality with God. It was a willingness to set aside and sacrifice celebrity, consumerism and competition at the altar of the incarnation.

Fifty years ago, as these three subtle threads were being woven into the American church, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., serving as a prophetic voice, said this:

If today’s church does not recapture the sacrificial spirit of the early church, it will lose its authenticity, forfeit the loyalty of millions, and be dismissed as an irrelevant social club with no meaning for the twentieth century.

We are now into the second decade of the 21st century and we find ourselves still, for the most part, refusing to sacrifice what we want for what God is asking of us and his Church. Will we have the courage to sacrifice as Christ sacrificed? Will we do the things that cost us so that his Kingdom may advance?

Rick Warren Preaches First Sermon Since His Son’s Suicide

Rick Warren Preaches First Sermon Since His Son’s Suicide

Almost four months after their son committed suicide, Pastor Rick Warren and his wife Kay addressed their congregation for the first time, promising to remove the stigma of mental illness from the church

Rick Warren, Pastor, Saddleback Church (
STAN HONDA / AFP / GETTY IMAGES

Rick Warren has preached thousands upon thousands of sermons, but this message was different. The last time he had stood the pulpit at his Saddleback Church in southern California was on Easter, seventeen Sundays ago — and five days before his youngest son, Matthew, 27, shot and killed himself, ending a lifelong struggle with mental illness. On Saturday night, for the first time since their son’s death, Rick and his wife Kay returned to their 20,000-member congregation. Together they faced the question tens of thousands of Christians have been asking: how are they — two of the world’s most famous Christians — able to hope in God in the midst of their despair?

Thousands of parishioners packed the auditorium and three overflow tents on Saturday for the first of Saddleback’s five weekend worship services. A dozen local pastors all sat in the front row in a show of support for the Warrens, along with Roma Downey and Mark Burnett, producers of the hit television series, The Bible. When Rick and Kay walked hand-in-hand on stage, the crowd stood to their feet in appreciation and applause. Kay began to cry, and Rick kissed her on the forehead as he too grew teary.  “Love you too,” he told the audience. He paused for just a few moments, and then he began to preach.

First he thanked his staff, his church, and, the hundreds of people who have supported them over the last four months. Above all, he thanked the Warrens’ other two children, Amy and Josh, who, he said, had loved Matthew and “talked him off the ledge” time and time again. “They really are my heroes,” he said, voice breaking.

The Warrens spoke honestly about their spiritual struggles with Matthew’s mental illness. “For 27 years, I prayed every day of my life for God to heal my son’s mental illness. It was the number one prayer of my life,” Rick preached. “It just didn’t make sense why this prayer was not being answered.” Kay spoke of how she couldn’t even read certain Scripture passages about hope for months after Matthew’s death.

Rick and Kay shared publicly for the first time about how they found out that Matthew had died. On the morning of April 5, both of them had a sense of foreboding that Matthew was not doing well. At 10 am, Rick was at the doctor’s office. He had just been diagnosed with double pneumonia, and so he decided to ask his brother-in-law to give the upcoming sermon, entitled, “What to do on the worst day of your life.” At home, Kay put on her necklace that said, “Choose Joy.” Neither of them could shake the feeling that something was wrong, so the two of them went to Matthew’s house to check on him. His truck was in the driveway, but the house door was locked, and no one was answering. They wept together as they waited for the police to arrive. Then their worst fears were confirmed.

In the four months that followed, the Warrens have drawn comfort from the community of faith, both ancient and new. They have treasured old Biblical passages from the prophet Isaiah — “When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown” — and from the Apostle Paul — “God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others.” Friends and family have also held them close. “I am in this family of spiritual redwoods,” Rick said. “Satan picked the wrong team to pick on.”

Ultimately, they both hold to the hope that God is with people during their times of trouble, and that God will raise the dead. Matthew’s body was buried in brokenness, Kay said, but will be raised in strength. Rick reminded everyone that heaven is coming. He quoted the book of Revelation: “Then God will wipe away every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away.”

Rick then made a promise: Saddleback’s next big ministry push will be to remove the stigma associated with mental illness in the church. “Your illness is not your identity, your chemistry is not your character,” he told people struggling with mental illness. To their families, he said, “We are here for you, and we are in this together.”  There is hope for the future: “God wants to take your greatest loss and turn it into your greatest life message.”

For the next six Sundays, Rick will preach a sermon series entitled, “How To Get Through What You’re Going Through.” He will devote a message to each of the six stages of grief: shock, sorrow, struggle, surrender, sanctification, and service. A larger program to address the specifics of mental illness has yet to be revealed, but it will be similar, Rick said, to the way their church has helped to tackle the HIV crisis.

Then, as the service closed, Rick joined the worship team in singing a favorite evangelical hymn, “Blessed be Your Name.” He lifted his Bible high above his head and declared boldly to the God he serves: “You give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be your name.”

Read more: http://swampland.time.com/2013/07/28/rick-warren-preaches-first-sermon-since-his-sons-suicide/#ixzz2aNwonQs6

First Take: Vitriol infests Warren family grief.

First Take: Vitriol infests Warren family grief

Cathy Lynn Grossman, USA TODAY10:02a.m. EDT April 7, 2013

Thousands are responding to Pastor Rick Warren’s grief with compassion but others use the moment to attack him and his Christian message.

Pastor Rick Warren, the best-known name in American evangelism after Rev. Billy Graham, lost his 27-year-old son, Matthew, to suicide this week.

Uncounted strangers have joined the 20,000 congregants who worship at the megachurch network “Pastor Rick” built in Southern California, Warren’s nearly 1 million Twitter followers and hundreds of thousands of Facebook followers in flooding social media with consolation and prayer.

But a shocking number are taking this moment of media attention to lash out at Warren on the digital tom-toms. The attacks are aimed at him personally and at his Christian message

Some unbelievers want to assure Rick and Kay Warren, his wife and Matthew’s bereaved mother, that there’s no heaven where they’ll meet their son again.

 You can find, among hundreds of comments on USA TODAY’s news story on Matthew’s death, comments such as the Cincinnati poster who says, “Either there is no God, or God doesn’t listen to Rick Warren, despite all the money Rick has made off of selling false hope to desperate people.” In another comment, the same poster counsels Warren to “abandon primitive superstitions and accept the universe for what it is — a place that is utterly indifferent to us.”

Some rush to add pain to the Warrens’ world because, in their view, he did not show sufficient compassion for the unremitting pain suffered by gay youths rejected by parents and peers. They were outraged when Warren took a political stand for Prop 8, which overturned legal same-sex marriage in California in 2008 and is now before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Others have appointed themselves 140-character theologians in a debate over whether someone once saved can lose his or her salvation if suicide is against God’s law. These posters, rather than waiting for Judgment Day, have ruled for hell.

But Bruce Kwiatkowski of the University of Toledo posted on Facebook: “I appreciate what Pastor Ronald Cole said about the subject of Christian suicide. He said the Lord will say, ‘We weren’t expecting you yet…’ ”

John Schuurman observed on Facebook that celebrity culture makes everyone “fair game” and the anonymity afforded by social media that allows people to “send out hate flames without any consequence.”

There are, however, people who won’t let the vitriol unleashed on social media infect the little corners of the world under their own name.

John H. Armstrong fought back on Facebook, saying, “I just blocked someone that I do not know from my wall for saying that Rick Warren’s son went to hell. What is it with people being so sure that they know God’s final judgment? I fear for people like this. This man added that Rick Warren was being judged for being a ‘false prophet.’ Pathetic, cruel and reckless all come to mind. If I’ve seen the evidence of a false prophet this comes close.”

A day ago, Warren tweeted to his 943,000+ followers: “We pray ‘Thy WILL be done on earth AS IT IS IN HEAVEN’ since in heaven God’s Will is done #always On earth, it’s done rarely.”

Mario’s note:  Disgusting, inhuman, unimaginable and enraging that anyone can possibly attack Rick and Kay Warren as they cope with the ultimate loss.  The report you just read shows how far we have fallen as a species.  It can be so disheartening to hear such hatred.   Even on our Facebook page, a preacher no less, called this “God’s judgment for teaching the heresy of the Purpose Driven Life.”  I could not block such theological filth fast enough.

How strange for believers to join in this unspeakable cruelty with atheists.  Yet it shows me how much fanatical religion and atheism can have in common.  Neither one has a code of ethics, just an amoral, kneejerk reaction to anything they find disagreeable.  In both cases the hurt in their words is sociopathic in its indifference.  In both cases the message is “nobody cares about your problem.”

Thank God that the tidal wave of support and love for the Warrens far outweighs the cruel unfeeling statements of a few misguided individuals but their existence and their gall in saying such vile things is a tragic commentary on our times.