The body of Christ here in the US is in a sorry mess.
The "cackling revival" continues against all discernment. Clear demonic manifestations are being blamed on the HOLY Spirit. And, as predicted, it is getting worse. Blasphemous visions, denigration of the gifts of the Spirit (especially preaching of the Word), an unwillingness to be tested, and now "barking in the spirit" and "growling in the spirit". Thanks to widespread Biblical illiteracy, participants have no idea how cups, drinks, drunkenness, vomit, and dogs (wolves?) show up as idioms in prophetic scripture.
And of course "faith teaching" is still popular, although it is no faith at all but rather self-delusion. Nowadays, even Baptists think it racy to pick up these demonic E.W. Kenyon doctrines. If you point out that "faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God" you are treated as a spoilsport of some sort. Why everyone knows that faith is belief in belief! What has God to do with it except to endorse what we want?
Eze 8:17 (NIV) He said to me, "Have you seen this, son of man? Is it a trivial matter for the house of Judah to do the detestable things they are doing here?... Look at them putting the branch to their nose!"Not to mention the present "angel craze", complete with "angel only" stores, books, channeling of angels, automatic handwriting, techniques to conjure and attract angels (Michael's favorite color is deep green, we are taught), new "gospels" of spiritual "evolution", etc. This in spite of the clear teaching of scripture.
Col 2:18-19 (NIV) Do not let anyone who delights in... the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what he has seen, and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. He has lost connection with the Head...There is truly a "famine of the Word of the Lord", but not how I had expected it. This famine is self-imposed. It is a clear-cut avoidance of what God has to say about anything. After all, His words have been known to be violent to our sacred cows.
2 Cor 10:4-5 (NIV) The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.
The worst news, however, is that because of the increase of wickedness, the love of many has grown cold, and we have not been immune to this.
The Spirit has left the temple, and who has even noticed?
So we engage ourselves with vapid "socials", or hollow "Bible study" where the goal is to explain away chunks of meat we stumble across as we impress ourselves with how spiritual we are to be reading the Bible. This passes for "church". And the textual gymnastics and human charm applied to error... are at least entertaining to watch--when so highly refined!
Not satisfied, we delve into human relationship engineering, "temperaments", psychology, materialism, fleshly "fellowship", etc. to distract ourselves from God and His dealings.
Moving into a spiritual discussion, even with "believers", requires an extreme effort of will that borders on rudeness. The problem is widespread, and I think that its source is that we "do not have much of anything good to say, and to talk of spiritual things of late is merely to complain, so let's just not get into it."
A single saint of dire need recently asked me "where is our zeal for God?" The answer was all too obvious--"dissipated on everything but God." After all of our voracious seeking after "handsome Assyrians" and "Egyptian studs" (Ezekiel 23), we have little left for our faithful Savior.
Beyond the first waves of the last-days strategy of Satan sweeping us Christians off our feet, for Laura and I there is the age-old problem of 1 Corinthians 7. Since most of our friends here in town are married, God is shuffled off into a little time-slot here and there, and that is about all that can be managed. Time spent with the few married couples who wish to do better than this are occupied principally by asking God for wisdom and a way out, or pretending that the problem doesn't exist. For us, our only reprieve from this lot comes from our continued affiliation with single saints, who still retain a spark of zeal for our Lord.
But your request for news convicts. It is not just "everyone else"; our love has grown cold. We seem to damage lately, not heal, so we have resorted to extreme caution. And we have slipped into this nasty instinct to "get huffy" when people bring up spiritual things along with everyone else. Somehow the air gets thick and our throats get dry. Besides grieving and lamenting, including over our own failures, we have been rather damned-up channels of grace.
Perhaps it is this city, or that we do not belong in it. But on reports, this "Ichabod" problem appears to be widespread.
What passes for "church" lately is so off-the-mark that it is, well, just plain stupid. What does it mean to be instant out of season? What do you do when the Lord is not present? The last time I felt "at church" was a few months ago at your humble group in Israel, where the Word of God pierced through me with a skill borne of trembling before it. But for us here, ritual and going-through-the-motions create a horrible pox on the spirit.
A closing parable comes to mind which I call "THE STREET CALLED WANTON".
I feel spiritually like I do physically as a married man driving through a lusty and brazen red-light district.
I turn my eye one way only to be assailed at the other. After all, I am sexual, and sexually "alive" in a proper sense towards my wife, and so I have all these antennae awakened that pick up the perverted signals. To die to the possibility of temptation would be to die also to the ordinate use of my affection. And yet to think of my pure and lovely wife amongst all this debauchery, and its very grip on me, is not worthy of her!
There is nowhere to "turn", while in this neighborhood, to avoid being sullied.
I try to thank God for protecting me (so far!) in my weakness, and then I get a glimpse of my brother who is not doing so well, and OUCH! My heart begins to go out, but I reign it back for the pain. Why look how many there are, and how badly they are entrapped! The pain would surely kill me to intercede, and to what avail in the day of evil?
And then again, look how close I am to falling prey myself? So I hunker down and try to ride out the storm... or scramble to wake up Messiah!
Thoughts of a pure and holy wife are far from me now, rather I am screaming inside, weeping with weakness and sorrow, waiting for this moment to be over.
We are made for God, and His good pleasure.
Amos 5:18-20 (NIV) "Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord! Why do you long for the day of the Lord? That day will be darkness, not light. It will be as though a man fled from a lion only to meet a bear, as though he entered his house and rested his hand on the wall only to have a snake bite him. Will not the day of the Lord be darkness, not light--pitch-dark, without a ray of brightness?"And this, we know, is just the beginnings of sorrows. Yeshua, at least, has experienced this Himself and can comfort us if He will.
2 Tim 3:1a (NIV) But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.
That is the news. To say we are needy is no false humility, but an abject plea.
Only God can save us now. To that end His glory will be protected this time, we can hope, even from the likes of our historic carnal glory-grabbing and adulterous bent.
"How long, O lord?"
More long-suffering than us, it appears.