Men of God…we are under attack.
If you are paying attention at all you already know this but let me restate it.
Men of God…we are under attack!
I am going to say some things in this post that will not sit easily on the shoulders of men and might rankle a few women as well. But I can’t help that. This has been brewing in my heart for months now and I cannot remain silent. The hour is tragic. The fuse is lit. The wolf of sin is at the door and the door is weak on its hinges. To remain silent, or to temper my words with the coolant of Christian political correctness would be to betray my calling from God and it would only serve to render my bones -already wounded from trying to hold fire- more fire damaged and burnt than they are now. I can’t abide another day or night like that. I can’t sit in silence while the country I love slides headlong into a morass of wickedness and toward a showdown with the face of evil that she is wholly unprepared for.
Nor can I sit idly while the Church I love and am part of wanders like a flock of sheep without a shepherd and stuffed to obesity with straw and weeds.
*(I speak here of the Church as a body…not the church I attend personally. In fact if there is a clarion call existing in this deaf Body at all right now it exists in churches such as I attend and amongst men who seek God as soberly as my own pastor does)
Two great dangers are present as I write this tonight. The danger to America’s freedom and her Christian heritage and –as a direct result of that danger --the danger to the evangelization of the world and the spread of the Gospel. America is the last bastion of religious freedom, and from her come the vast majority of evangelistic efforts to the world. Should she fall completely, the great Gospel voice of the last 150 years would go silent.
I have been through a pruning process these last 2 months…in fact it’s a process that really had it’s genesis in a simple verse I read in October 2005 that began a process of fire-burnt purifying and wound it’s way through financial and professional collapse, brokenness, and the slow, often painful restoration of the vision God had for my life when I was 16, and the reissuance of the call He had on my life and never revoked.
I cannot sit silent another day.
Men of God…again I emphasize…Men of God; it is time for you and me to Man up, and bow down.
Throughout history, from the earliest days of the forefather of our Faith, Abraham, until this hour, God has called on men to pray. Pray in times of abundance and pray in times of famine and drought. Pray when the church is growing uninhibited and pray when she faces attacks so vicious and violent as to snuff her out altogether if that were, indeed, possible.
There have been moments in history when she has faced danger like she faces now; I know this to be true. But in my lifetime –and I turned 49 just last Friday- she has not seen such an attack of such violence or such insidiousness.
I grew up under the great threat of Communism, at the very height of the Cold War.
I spent my earliest years in solemn dread, fearing the overtaking of this country by the Great Red Menace. It would come, they warned, and it will start with the Christians. They will raid our churches and kill our pastors and then they will force us, under pain of death, to renounce our faith or die. They will kill our children and burn our churches. That’s what I was told. I was told this because it was true in other countries. And throughout their history, the Stalins and Marx’s and Lenins and Maos of the world had stated that this was their intention.
Through men of faith and the stirring of the saints of God, the Red menace was repelled and finally broken. In other lands at least. The evil was overcome because men of God were willing to Man-up and bow down.
In the seventies and eighties there were voices calling for revival and repentance. Voices that took it upon themselves to shout from the rooftops and the hillsides that our laziness and sinfulness had removed us from any place of favor with God. And while I would disagree with their claims that America was any “special” country in God’s world plan and enjoyed any special favoritism from God Almighty, I would agree with their assessment of the solution.
We were never a “Christian nation”. Not in the sense that some people thought we were and some still do. We never recognized Christianity as an official religion. What we were was a nation founded by Christian men. And make no mistake…they weren’t “Deists” or Enlightened Liberal theologians or Kantian philosophers. They were Born-again, CHRISTIAN men who believed in the Bible as their ultimate authority and moral code. They designed a country that openly promoted no religion but that was designed to favor Christianity. They designed a Constitution that protected the free exercise of THAT Faith, and all faiths, because they believed that Christianity, when practiced well and faithfully, would win over the hearts of any other religion. They were willing to bet that an active, Spirit-lead life of Christian Discipleship would be so attractive, so comely, so powerful, that they built-in the allowance for free exercise of other religions too. They never wanted a Christian-only State. Not by law. They wanted that by volume…by sheer numbers. They saw the power of the Gospel, when exercised properly, as the ultimate overpowering force. They saw the beauty of a life lived in accordance with the Sermon on the Mount and in the image of Christ as the greatest draw to mankind that could be. They wanted a land where Church discipline would be far more frequent and agreeable than courts of law. They wanted to create a land where Christianity would change hearts. A country populated by an overwhelming majority of Spirit lead believers would…by sheer numbers…do right more frequently than wrong.
These Godly men also understood that God keeps his promises and His promises kept with individual believers would affect an entire nation if the majority in that nation were believers. They believed that when Jesus said “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Luke 6:45) it could be extrapolated from an individual to a nation. That if the abundance, the overwhelming majority of that nation was adherents to a Christian Faith and observant of His laws and of man-made laws based on His Word…that the land would be blessed. They would be blessed not because we had achieved special status with God, but because God never breaks a promise, and if anyone, whether an individual or a nation lives according to His promises and words, the benefit of those promises would be theirs. And thus America grew in a remarkably short time to preeminence in the world. Because she was blessed. Not because she was especially favored as a nation, for God only ever promised that to one nation. But because she was populated to a majority with believers and with godly men of prayer.
Because in the infancy of this nation men knew how to Man-up, and bow down.
Make no mistake; our founders were men of prayer.
Said Washington at his Inaugural Address: “...it would be peculiarly improper to omit, in this first official act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the universe, who presides in the councils of nations and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that His benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the people of the United States a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes....”
In his Thanksgiving Decree 1789: “And also that we may then unite in most humbly offering our prayers and supplications to the great Lord and Ruler of Nations, and beseech him to pardon our national and other transgressions...to promote the knowledge and practice of the true religion and virtue....”
From Washington’s personal prayer journal; 24 pages scrawled in his Field notebook:"SUNDAY MORNING....Almighty God, and most merciful Father, who didst command the children of Israel to offer a daily sacrifice to Thee, that thereby they might glorify and praise Thee for Thy protection both night and day, receive O Lord, my morning sacrifice which I now offer up to thee; "I yield Thee humble and hearty thanks, that Thou hast preserved me from the dangers of the night past and brought me to the Light of this day, and the comfort thereof, a day which is consecrated to Thine own service and for Thine own honour. "Let my heart therefore gracious God be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works but wait on Thee, and discharge those weighty duties Thou required of me: and since Thou art a God of pure eyes, and will be sanctified in all who draw nearer to Thee, who dost not regard the sacrifice of fools, nor hear sinners who tread in Thy courts, pardon I beseech Thee, my sins, remove them from Thy presence, as far as the east is from the west, and accept of me for the merits of Thy son Jesus Christ, that when I come into Thy temple and compass Thine altar, my prayer may come before Thee as incense, and as I desire Thou wouldst hear me calling upon Thee in my prayers, so give me peace to hear the calling on me in Thy word, that it may be wisdom, righteousness, reconciliation and peace to the saving of my soul in the day of the Lord Jesus. "Grant that I may hear it with reverence, receive it with meekness, mingle it with faith, and that it may accomplish in me gracious God, the good work for which Thou hast sent it. "Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God and guide this day and forever for His sake, who lay down in the grave and arose again for us, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen."
From Daniel Webster: “"If religious books are not widely circulated among the masses in this country, I do not know what is going to become of us as a nation. If truth be not diffused, error will be; If God and His Word are not known and received, the devil and his works will gain the ascendancy, If the evangelical volume does not reach every hamlet, the pages of a corrupt and licentious literature will; If the power of the Gospel is not felt throughout the length and breadth of the land, anarchy and misrule, degradation and misery, corruption and darkness will reign without mitigation or end."
And when asked what was the “Greatest thought ever to pass through your mind” Webster replied: “My accountability to God”
Hear Webster again; “If we abide by the principles taught in the Bible, our country will go on prospering and to prosper; but if we and our posterity neglect its instruction and authority, no man can tell how sudden a catastrophe may overwhelm us and bury all our glory in profound obscurity."
Noah Webster, the founder of Education in the United States said this about the influence of Christianity in Government; "In my view, the Christian religion is the most important and one of the first things in which all children, under a free government ought to be instructed....No truth is more evident to my mind than that the Christian religion must be the basis of any government intended to secure the rights and privileges of a free people."
John Q. Adams had this to say about the intertwined nature of Christianity and our Republic, on Independence Day 1837; "Why is it that, next to the birthday of the Savior of the World, your most joyous and most venerated festival returns on this day. Is it not that, in the chain of human events, the birthday of the nation is indissolubly linked with the birthday of the Savior? That it forms a leading event in the Progress of the Gospel dispensation? Is it not that the Declaration of Independence first organized the social compact on the foundation of the Redeemer's mission upon earth? That it laid the cornerstone of human government upon the first precepts of Christianity and gave to the world the first irrevocable pledge of the fulfillment of the prophecies announced directly from Heaven at the birth of the Saviour and predicted by the greatest of the Hebrew prophets 600 years before."
Again said Washington as he endorsed the first National day of Fasting and Prayer ordered held on May 6, 1780; “The Honorable the Congress having recommended it to the United States to set apart Thursday the 6th of May next to be observed as a day of fasting, humiliation and prayer, to acknowledge the gracious interpositions of Providence; to deprecate [to pray or entreat that a present evil may be removed] deserved punishment for our Sins and Ingratitude, to unitedly implore the Protection of Heaven; Success to our Arms and the Arms of our Ally: The Commander in Chief enjoins a religious observance of said day and directs the Chaplains to prepare discourses proper for the occasion; strictly forbidding all recreations and unnecessary labor.”
Our country was birthed by godly Christian men who knew how to Man-up and Bow down. They knew it’s survival would depend on men who prayed fervently and regularly. Men who knew how to Man-up and bow down.
Men of God reading this article, this hour is no less tragic and no less grave. Our situation is no less sober than when our Founders lay all on the altar of personal prosperity and comfort and risked everything because they had often heard from God. Our country was began by men who knew how to Man-up and bow down,
The scriptures are full of commands for men to pray. Calls to prayer in times of trial and difficulty. In times of drought and harvest. In times of national repentance. The oft-quoted and oft-misquoted II Chronicles 7:14 holds a vital Biblical principle. In its right context this verse was a promise to the people of Israel at the dedication of the Temple. Starting at verse 13 we read: “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people, 14 if my people, who 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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.
In deference to proper exegesis this promise was actually made to the people of Israel when it was given. But when viewed under the overlay of Galatians 3:29 “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” We are right and proper in appropriating the principle for the Church at large and specifically for the Church in America. To remain honest I must say that this is not a promise made to America. But it is a promise made to all of God’s people and should those people make a majority in a land then the promised healing would directly affect that nation. And so in that light it is right and proper to call upon the truth and principle of this verse, apply it to ourselves as the Church and the Bride of Christ in America and hope expectantly for the promised revival and healing. But first we must do our part. We must humble ourselves, pray and seek His face. We must Man-up and bow down!
It is interesting to me that God delineates between prayer and seeking His face. Why?
Prayer is oftentimes a mechanical or liturgical practice. Sometimes memorized and sometimes repetitive. But seeking His face…crying out to a Holy God until that Holy God turns to face us. Grabbing hold of the hem of his garment and refusing to let go until he finally places us in the cleft of the rock, covers us with His hand so as not to consume us with his holiness, and passes by us close enough to change our visage. Seeking His face is risky; in fact to the flesh it is deadly. It requires a denouncement of comfort, and resolution of denial of self. It means that my head might have to refuse the bed even though I am weary. I may spend nights in the closet alone instead of amongst friends in laughter and light company. It requires a sacrifice of self so as to show the Holy One of Israel Himself that I am serious when I seek Him and resolute in my desire. It means I must Man-up…and bow down!
The hour does not call for women of faith to rise up. Here is where my pen might cause me to be cleaved from the hearts of some friends. Is there wrong in praying women? NO! Not by any means. But make no mistake; God’s way is for Men to lead. Deborah was appointed Judge over Israel because no good man could be found. The Church fathers set the bar high for men to reach. Women of faith and prayer are wonderful, blessed, approved, necessary and honorable. But God commanded Men to take the lead. Ephesians 5 22-33 defines the hierarchy of leadership in the home and it begins with Men who hear from God.
I Timothy clearly defines the requirements for Church leadership and it begins and ends with Men. Men devoted to a life lived circumspectly and centered on earnest, beseeching prayer. Paul defined the leaders of a church as men who would Man-up…and bow down.
James implores Men of God, where healing is needed to act on faith and anoint the sick one. His words are specific in James 5:16 “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.” Powerful men pray powerfully! Effective men of faith have learned to pray effectively. Men of God know that to be first, one must be last. To be visible as a leader one must disappear into the prayer closet.
Leonard Ravenhill, perhaps the most eloquent voice on the matter of revival in the last 100 years has this to say; “The ugly fact is that the altar fires are either out or burning very low. The prayer meeting is dead or dying. By our attitude to prayer we tell God that what was begun in the Spirit we can finish in the flesh.”
Have we become so very comfortable in our living that we have no desire for the discomfort of seeking His face? Has our Faith become a snuggly blanket that replaces the camel-skin garment of the Prophet?
Men of God…it is the ultimate act of Christian Manhood to be a man of prayer. To be known as a man of prayer. To desire that reputation. It is hard work. It requires sacrifice. It makes us uncomfortable and breaks our will. It is man’s work.
Man-up…and bow down!
Ravenhill said; “Though it is wonderful indeed when God lays hold of a man…earth can know one greater wonder—when a man lays ahold of God.”
We want Elijah’s Mantle but not his sackcloth. We want to sit in Jesus glory, but not in His isolation and lonely prayer. We seek the glorious manifestations but never the invisible battle of the prayer closet. We hear preachers of the Word faith world gloriously telling us to pick up our sword but never admonish us to wrestle in obscurity until God breaks loose on us.
Men of God this nation…and thereby this world…cries out for us to stand tall, stiffen our backbone until it becomes as strong as a saw-log, clearly define our orders and drop to our knees.
God’s voice rings just as true today as it did in the year that King Uzziah died and Isaiah beheld what few men ever have. In Isaiah 6 the Prophet cried “Woe unto me for I am a man of unclean lips and I live amongst a people of unclean lips and my eyes have seen the glory of the Lord!”
Isaiah decried his own sin and God’s amazing response was not to banish Isaiah for his sinfulness but to respond to his desperate pleading by taking a coal from the very altar of Heaven and touching the Prophet and making him clean…clean so that he might continue his intercession for his people.
Ezekiel saw the broken down spiritual walls of the Israelites and his heart was rent. Through Him God warned his people, in Ezekiel 22: 30 “I looked for a man among them who would build of the wall of righteousness and stand before me in the gap on behalf of the nation so that I would not have to destroy it…but I found none!”
God seeks for a man to stay His hand! He cries out for one man with knees bent and heart broken to persuade Him to relent. He desires someone to change His mind! But he found none for Israel…and I fear He will soon say “But I found none” for America as well.
Unless we men of God get right, get serious, become real men again and become men of prayer.
Men of God…for the sake of our nation and through our nation for the sake of Billions who race toward hell at blinding speed with only the Gospel message able to stop their descent I beg you…I challenge you as I challenge myself…
Man-up…and Bow down!