bless the jews
rapture secrets

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4480 Jan 6, 2013
Two Possibilities

John’s identity as the Elijah who was to come is the subject of some controversy, but as we’ll see it’s easily proven. More important is how this last prophecy in the Old Testament was written. It reveals two possibilities. One would have Elijah’s appearance cause reconciliation among the families of Israel and prepare them to successfully endure the coming judgment, after which they would enter the promised Kingdom. The other would result in the Lord striking the land with a curse and the End of the Age being delayed.

The key to understanding this is to realize that the judgment accompanying the Day of the Lord is a given. The Israelites would either be prepared, in which case they would have accepted both John and the Messiah he was sent to prepare them for. This would have resulted in the fulfillment of all End Times prophecies and the establishment of God’s Kingdom on Earth.

Or they would reject John and Jesus and the land would be cursed. In that case the End Times judgments would be delayed and the establishment of the Kingdom would be put on hold. Therefore Malachi’s prophecy was like several others we’ve discussed that were given with two possible fulfillments depending on Israel’s response.

Three New Testament passages speak to this issue. The first is in Luke 1:11-17 and tells of the angel Gabriel visiting Zechariah, the man who would become John’s father.
rapture secrets

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4481 Jan 6, 2013
Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him:“Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”

When Gabriel appeared to Zechariah outside the Holy of Holies, He said that John was coming to minister in the spirit and power of Elijah, and used similar language to that ofMalachi 4:5-6. According to Hebrew tradition the mantle that Elijah had worn was stored beneath the incense altar near where Zechariah was standing. He retrieved it and took it home for the time when his son would need it.

The second is John 1:19-23.
Now this was John’s testimony when the Jews of Jerusalem sent priests and Levites to ask him who he was. He did not fail to confess, but confessed freely,“I am not the Christ.

They asked him,“Then who are you? Are you Elijah?”

He said,“I am not.”

“Are you the Prophet?”

He answered,“No.”

Finally they said,“Who are you? Give us an answer to take back to those who sent us. What do you say about yourself?” John replied in the words of Isaiah the prophet,“I am the voice of one calling in the desert,‘Make straight the way for the Lord.’“
rapture secrets

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4482 Jan 6, 2013
Why Did He Say That?
If Gabriel had specifically referred to Elijah in giving his prophecy about John’s life, why did John deny being Elijah when confronted by the priests? Of course he wasn’t the Messiah. Nor was he the prophet promised by Moses in Deut. 18:15, which was also a Messianic prophecy. But why didn’t he admit to being Elijah? Or at least say he was called to minister in the spirit and power of Elijah? Surely Zechariah had told him of the angel’s visit and the information he had imparted concerning the purpose of John’s life.

The fact that he wasn’t literally Elijah (although 2 Kings 2:11 tells us that Elijah went live into heaven) is too simple an answer. He could only have been speaking from the understanding that he would not be accepted as Elijah, knowing in advance that the people would reject his ministry.

The Lord clarified this in the third passage, Matt 17:10-13.
The disciples asked him,“Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?”

Jesus replied,“To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things. But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Then the disciples understood that he was talking to them about John the Baptist.

Just as the Lord would not be accepted as the Messiah, neither would John be accepted as Elijah. Both would have to come again. The proof of this is that the second possibility of Malachi 4:5 ended up being fulfilled. The land was cursed and the prophecies of a kingdom for Israel were put on hold.

Don’t get me wrong. Many people were prepared for the Lord when He came and were reconciled to Him at the cross. But the nation officially rejected him and that’s what matters in the context of the prophecy. Had they officially accepted him, there would have been a national revival and they would have been prepared for their coming King. He would have judged their enemies, and ushered in the long awaited Kingdom.
rapture secrets

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4483 Jan 6, 2013
When they rejected John as Elijah and Jesus as the Messiah the second possibility ofMalachi 4:5 came to pass. The End Times judgment was delayed, Israel’s clock was stopped and the door was opened to the gentiles, who would now precede Israel into the Kingdom. Hear the Lord’s own words on the subject at the end of the Parable of the Tenants.
Jesus said to them,“Have you never read in the Scriptures:”‘The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’?

“Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed.”

When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard Jesus’ parables, they knew he was talking about them. They looked for a way to arrest him, but they were afraid of the crowd because the people held that he was a prophet (Matt 21:42-46).

I Knew That Would Happen
Of course God knew before He created Adam that He would be rejected as Israel’s Messiah, and often spoke through the prophets of bringing salvation to the Gentiles. But His own promises required that Israel have a bona fide offer of the Kingdom to accept or reject. Both John the Baptist (Matt. 3:1-2) and Jesus (Matt. 4:17) presented that offer and both were rejected.

Scriptures speak clearly of Elijah’s return in Rev. 11:3-6 where as one of the two witnesses, he performs miracles unique to the Old Testament Elijah right down to their duration. And of course they also speak clearly of Messiah’s return in ways that cannot be allegorized away or attributed to history.

And so the stage is once again set for the return of Elijah before the great and dreadful Day of the Lord.

But before that can happen, the Church, for whom the door was opened in part by Israel’s rejection of John the Baptist as Elijah, must exit. Hear Paul’s words.
I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:

“The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”(Romans 11:25-29)

As the End of the Age approaches, three supernatural events will combine to bring Israel officially back into God’s forever family. First, God’s “impossible any other way” victory over a coalition of Moslem armies will move them to reinstate their Old Covenant relationship and build a Temple in Israel.(Ezek. 39:28-29) Then Elijah will appear along with Moses and with signs and wonders they’ll prepare Israel to expect their soon Coming King.(Rev 11:3-6) And finally, the Holy Spirit will come to remove their spiritual blinders and soften their hardened hearts to finally receive their Messiah.(Zech 12:10) He’ll judge their enemies and usher in their long awaited Kingdom, just like Malachi said He would. If you listen closely you can almost hear the footsteps of the Messiah. 12-08-12
on behalf

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4484 Jan 6, 2013
~~~~~~There is a currently popular trend in the US where groups of
believers have been offering prayers of repentance on behalf of our country in an effort to stay the hand of God's judgment. But the Lord had Ezekiel tell us this would not accomplish anything. If any nation continues to defy God
by going against His ways, that nation will be judged and the prayers of the
righteous people in it will only benefit themselves. Only those who have
received the mark of God will be rescued.~~~~~~~~
Jesus is come again

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4485 Jan 6, 2013
He Came and He Is Coming Again

Lea Sylvester

Israel is not necessarily the sign of the end-time, but what God has done and is doing in Israel and the nations are the signs we need to consider. God has a set time to deal with every person, place, and thing. Israel's time is now. Your time came when you were enlightened by the Gospel of Jesus Christ and forewarned of the coming Judgment, but many have not heeded the call of repentance.

God has made a way for all to escapse the wrath that is coming to a rebellious world and to stand before the Son of Man, some refer to Him as Jesus Christ, but His name is Yeshua; in righteousness. We are either with Him or against Him: there is no middle of the road. One is either a believer dedicated to the things of the Lord or an unrepentant unbeliever with a complacent or hardened attitude.

“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” II Chronicles 7:14

“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” I Thessalonians 1:9-10

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at first began to be spoken by the Lord (Yeshua), and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him;” Hebrews 2:3

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse, and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns, and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19:11-16

The fine linen is a representation of the righteousness of the saints of God who have washed their garments in the blood of the Lamb. Angels are among this group because they have not sinned and do not need to be cleansed by the redeeming blood of the Lamb. So, we must deduce that these who follow the Lamb on the white horses out of heaven are the resurrected and raptured saints of the ages.

“And to her [the bride of the Messiah] was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.” Revelation 19:8

God has a set time to gather Israel to their rightful land and to judge the nations for their treatment of Israel. The Word of God tells us that the glory of the latter house of Israel will be greater than the former.

“For thus saith the Lord of hosts: Yet once, it is a little while, and I will shake the heavens, and the earth, and the sea, and the dry land; And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the Lord of hosts. The silver is mine, and the gold is mine, saith the Lord of hosts. The glory of this latter house shall be greater than the former, saith the Lord of hosts: and in this place will I give peace, saith the Lord of hosts.” Haggai 2:6-9
Jesus is come again

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4486 Jan 6, 2013
We can see by these Scriptures that the best is yet to come. Issac will have the last laugh of joy. The regathering of the whole house of Israel is picking up momentum as we approach the coming of the Lord. The sings are becoming more evident as some of the lost tribes of the house of Israel are rediscovering themselves through genealogical research and responding to the move of the Holy Spirit in the hearts of God's scattered people. Many of these people are joining themselves to messianic congregations throughout the world. Many Gentile believers who have taken a tour in Israel tell of the same experience when getting off the plane; they feel as if they have come home.

God has a natural, earthly people and a spiritual heavenly people. The heavenly people are those who have washed their robes in the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus or Yeshua ha'Mashiach.

The earthly people are the remaining house of Israel and the nations who survive the time of Jacob's trouble (tribulation), and enter into the one-thousand year reign of the Messiah and the believers. He will sit on the throne and rule from Jerusalem.

Before God does anything He will reveal it to His people who are spiritually in tune with Him. We are not the children of darkness, but the children of light.

“I the LORD have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. To open the blind eyes, to bring out the prisoners from the prison, and them that sit in darkness out of the prison house. I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. Behold, the former things are come to pass, and new things do I declare before they spring forth I tell you of them. Sing unto the LORD a new song, and his praise from the end of the earth, ye that go down to the sea, and all that is therein; the isles and the inhabitations thereof.” Isaiah 42:6-10
“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear; that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.” John 16:13

In Isaiah 42:9, the Lord said “Before they spring forth I will tell you. In John 16:13, the Lord said the Spirit of Truth (the Holy Spirit) would show us things to come. And in I Thessalonians 5:4, the Word tells us that day shall not overtake us as a thief.
Doomsday Revisited

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4488 Jan 6, 2013
Doomsday Revisited

By Pete Rose

Well, doomsday, "the end of the world", has come and gone and we're still here. The world didn't explode, the rapture didn't happen, the poles didn't shift, nothing out of the ordinary happened, and everything pretty much continues as it did before all the hoopla came about. We gullible humans are so quick to seize onto any little rumor or sensation and blow it up out of all proportion, like a balloon. Well, the balloon has popped and we're back right where we were before it all started.

But there is a time of calamity coming which the Lord Jesus described as being like nothing that had ever been before and will never be again in its severity [Matthew 24:4-12]. "Birth pangs" doesn't apply just to the pre-tribulation period, it continues all the way through the tribulation.
The terrible earthquakes and tsunamis in the Pacific, hurricane Katrina and super storm Sandy, and the general increase in other calamities this new century so far are all just gathering storm clouds compared to what is coming.

The tribulation starts off almost gently with the appearance of the antichrist and his supposed solution to all the earth's problems [Revelation 6:2]. Sometime shortly before this comes the rapture, and this will doubtless create the perfect "crisis" the antichrist needs to make his grand debut.

This antichrist, the devil Satan in the flesh, will confirm a peace treaty with Israel for seven years, the temple will be rebuilt, possibly before this time, and the Jewish ritual sacrifices resumed [Daniel 9:27].

But all will not be hunky-dory during this time. God begins pouring out his wrath with wars, famines, earthquakes, asteroids crashing into the earth, and great meteor showers during this time. At the mid point of the seven years the antichrist will break his treaty with Israel, stop the sacrifices, set up his image (the abomination of desolation) in the temple, require a mark of allegiance (666) upon all without which no one will be able to buy or sell, and turn into a tyrant who will make Antiochus Epiphanes look like a saint by comparison [Matthew 24:15-22, Revelation 13:11-18].

Meantime the plagues continue to ramp up. More, and more severe earthquakes. Malignant sores which afflict all who take the mark of the beast. Demonic hybrid scorpion locusts, with stings so severe men will want to die but will be unable to [Revelation 9:1-11].
megathrust earthquake

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4491 Jan 6, 2013
The tremor and slip this summer was "one of the biggest ETS events yet monitored," the seismic network reported in its blog. And that had the experts "ever so slightly nervous."

"We thought we knew the pattern pretty well, that it would start down in the south Puget Sound, spread out for a couple of weeks, mainly going north under the Vancouver Island," Vidale told KPLU in October. "This time broke the pattern ... It started in the north and came south. It is also the biggest episode we've seen yet."

Clues to the big one?

"These are adding stress to the area where we expect damaging earthquakes to occur," said Stanford University geophysics professor Paul Segall, "... so what does that mean? What do you do from a practical standpoint?"

When the ETS was first discovered, officials in Canada sent out earthquake warnings when one fired up because they worried these events signaled a potential quake. After a string of false alarms and new mysteries, they've stopped the practice.

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4493 Jan 6, 2013
Aromatherapy benefits are numerous in this promising alternative method that is rising in popularity every year. These marvelous healing benefits are still continuously being recorded and tested, with the calming effects of aromatherapy being at the forefront of its benefits.
How Does Aromatherapy Work? What is Aromatherapy?

With the help of essential oils or volatile liquid plant substances plus other aromatic compounds, mixed and blended in numerous aromatherapy recipes, aromatherapy appeals to and affects an individual's health and mood.

This has been backed by quite a number of research studies that reveal how aromatherapy works, indicating that certain aromas stimulate the brain waves that in turn change the effects of certain conditions.

When understanding the effects of aromatherapy, it is important to understand that there are two ways the body can absorb the essential oils. One is through inhaling, which affects more the mood and behavior as it stimulates the nasal cavity's nerve cells that excite the brain, which transmits positive emotions and feeling to the rest of the body.

Also, the components of the oils get drawn to the lungs where it gets mixed with the oxygen that also gets diluted in the bloodstream.
Another way the essential oils get in the body is through skin absorption. This is why it is popularly used in massages, as the oils easily penetrate the skin layers and then enter the bloodstream, in turn providing the body with physical therapeutic benefits.

Next, let's explore the many beneficial effects of aromatherapy.

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4494 Jan 6, 2013
Aromatherapy Benefits

The most popular beneficial effect of aromatherapy is in relieving stress and calming down tensed moods, behaviors, and bodies. Thus, using aromatherapy for sleep is very effective as well as easing stressful situations. This is due to the fact that the scents and essential oils affect the body so that cortisol, the primary hormone that causes stress, is decreased.

This is why aromatherapy sessions are so popular at spas and wellness centers. Aromatherapy along with massage are two of the best ways to unwind and de-stress. In turn, these sessions help people to relax their muscles, aid in blood circulation, reduce fatigue, anxiety, depression, and increase alertness and energy.

More aromatherapy benefits include helping the body fight off infections and inflammation, reduce fatigue, and also stimulate the immune system.
Thus, aromatherapy is now being used as an alternative complement to the treatment of cancer patients. With various methods, it aids in alleviating conditions of these patients.

Aromatherapy Home Recipes

If you're looking to enjoy aromatherapy benefits in your own home, you can create a relaxing environment yourself with the following aromatherapy home recipes:

Burn a tea light under an aromatherapy diffuser or plug in an aromatherapy electric diffuser. The burning of the flame in itself is highly soothing, but then the rich aroma of the essential oils will surely get you to relax as you sit back and breathe deeply, trying to set aside the cares of the day.

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4495 Jan 6, 2013
Experiment with your homemade aromatherapy by using just one essential oil at a time, then trying your own combinations as you get more accustomed to the benefits of each and the scents you like the best.

Aromatherapy rose is a popular favorite as well as lavender, bergamot, peppermint, and cinnamon scents.
Aromatherapy inhalers are small versions of a diffuser, something you can carry with you for use when you are feeling most stressed. You can purchase one of the ready-made aromatherapy inhalers, or you can make one yourself using a tiny bottle with your favorite soothing essential oil.

Another homemade aromatherapy option is to saturate a cotton ball with your favorite essential oil and tuck it in a zip-lock back or small sealable container to keep handy when needed.

You can also use 10-20 drops of essential oil in a warm bath. Then use special aromatherapy body lotion or oil after your bath.

This will allow you the benefit of aromatherapy while bathing and then the lingering scent left on your body even hours later, making for a very relaxing night's sleep if done before bedtime. You can purchase lotions and oils professionally crafted, or you can make your own using unscented lotion or body oil and a few drops of your favorite oil. Test a small spot of skin for sensitivity before using on a large area.

Specific Aromatherapy Herbs With More Aromatherapy Home Recipes

What must first be noted is that not all oils are intended for aromatherapy. Some, such as fragrant oils, are just mainly chemically blended oils that are just used for their scent, with no other benefits whatsoever.

Aromatherapy oils are way different, as they are specially crafted for their health benefits.

To help you avoid confusion, here is a short list of some essential oils and aromatherapy benefits you can enjoy:
Lavender. For use against stress, insomnia, and migraines. Blend with Roman chamomile and carrier oil to enhance calmness and relaxation.

Clary sage. For stress, coughing, asthma, dysmenorrhea, sore throat, and fatigue.

Rosemary. For stress, muscle pain, cold hands and feet, and low blood pressure. Mix with bergamot, and you'll have an energizing blend.

Ylang-ylang, bay laurel, and other more masculine scents. For stress, rheumatism, skin rashes, and stomach problems. A blend of ylang ylang with bergamot and jasmine is a perfect aromatherapy recipe for calming anger.

Tea tree. For a number of infections, especially ringworm and athlete's foot, treating skin blemishes, and boosting of the immune system.

Aromatherapy Cautions & Reminders

Although these oils promise tons of aromatherapy benefits, you must still remember that some of them can be detrimental to certain conditions. If you have a medical condition, please consult with a health practitioner before utilizing extensively.
are you called

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4496 Jan 7, 2013
Are you called?

Has God called you to ministry? Though all Christians are called to serve the cause of Christ, God calls certain persons to serve the Church as pastors and other ministers.

Writing to young Timothy, the Apostle Paul confirmed that if a man aspires to be a pastor,“it is a fine work he aspires to do.”[I Timothy 3:1, NASB] Likewise, it is a high honor to be called of God into the ministry of the Church. How do you know if God is calling you?

by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

The Inward Call

First, there is an inward call. Through his Spirit, God speaks to those persons he has called to serve as pastors and ministers of his Church. The great Reformer Martin Luther described this inward call as “God’s voice heard by faith.” Those whom God has called know this call by a sense of leading, purpose and growing commitment.

This sense of compulsion should prompt the believer to consider whether God may be calling him to the ministry. Has God gifted you with the fervent desire to preach? Has he equipped you with the gifts necessary for ministry? Do you love God’s Word and feel called to teach? Spurgeon warned those who sought his counsel not to preach if they could help it.“But,” Spurgeon continued,“if he cannot help it, and he must preach or die, then he is the man.” That sense of urgent commission is one of the central marks of an authentic call.Charles Spurgeon identified the first sign of God’s call to the ministry as “an intense, all-absorbing desire for the work.” Those called by God sense a growing compulsion to preach and teach the Word, and to minister to the people of God.
The External Call

Second, there is the external call. Baptists believe that God uses the congregation to “call out the called” to ministry. The congregation must evaluate and affirm the calling and gifts of the believer who feels called to the ministry. As a family of faith, the congregation should recognize and celebrate the gifts of ministry given to its members, and take responsibility to encourage those whom God has called to respond to that call with joy and submission.

These days, many persons think of careers rather than callings. The biblical challenge to “consider your call” should be extended from the call to salvation to the call to the ministry. John Newton, famous for writing “Amazing Grace,” once remarked that “None but He who made the world can make a Minister of the Gospel.” Only God can call a true minister, and only he can grant the minister the gifts necessary for service. But the great promise of Scripture is that God does call ministers, and presents these servants as gifts to the Church.

One key issue here is a common misunderstanding about the will of God. Some models of evangelical piety imply that God’s will is something difficult for us to accept. We sometimes confuse this further by talking about “surrendering” to the will of God. As Paul makes clear in Romans 12:2, the will of God is good, worthy of eager acceptance, and perfect. Those called by God to preach will be given a desire to preach as well as the gifts of preaching. Beyond this, the God-called preacher will feel the same compulsion as the great Apostle, who said,“Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel!”(1 Corinthians 9:16, ESV)

Consider your calling. Do you sense that God is calling you to ministry, whether as pastor or another servant of the Church? Do you burn with a compulsion to proclaim the Word, share the Gospel, and care for God’s flock? Has this call been confirmed and encouraged by those Christians who know you best?

God still calls … has he called you?
clothing matters

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4497 Jan 7, 2013
Clothing Matters: What We Wear to Church

Why what we put on may be more important than we think.

The so-called "worship wars" of recent years may have produced a winner. Many congregations remain divided between traditional and contemporary styles, but in most places the contemporary appears to have gained the upper hand.

What's more, our worship services have become increasingly relaxed and informal affairs. You can see it in what we wear. Church for today's worshipers is not a dress-up event. Whatever is clean and comfortable seems sufficient. Christian students in particular have been taught by their seniors — or has it been the reverse?— that when it comes to church, attire doesn't much matter. They understand there is nothing particularly spiritual about a dress or a coat and tie. God is scarcely impressed by such things. "People look at the outward appearance," we are reminded, "but the LORD looks at the heart" (1 Sam. 16:7).

I do not intend to wade into the broader debate over worship styles; that's a different discussion. In any case, I'm content with either traditional or contemporary if they're done well. But I do wish to raise a question about this last notion: namely, that when it comes to public worship, our clothing doesn't matter. This common assumption, it seems to me, deserves more scrutiny than it typically receives.

Over the last several generations, American attire in general has lurched dramatically toward the informal. A feature that quickly dates an old photograph, for instance, is the men wearing fedoras; most today wouldn't know where to find one. Those who are old enough can remember when travelers got spiffed up to board an airplane. Today's travelers think nothing of flying in duds they might wear to the gym. Or consider the rise of the term "business casual." In most parts of the country, though not all, even the corporate setting has grown less formal.

These changes are part of a broad shift toward the convenient and comfortable. It's a shift we see on display every week in our worship services. In many churches casual wear is de rigueur. It's easy to imagine how one might look over-dressed there, but less easy, short of immodesty, to imagine being under-dressed. Jeans or shorts, tee shirts or tank tops, flip-flops or sandals: these draw scarcely any attention, while full dresses or a suit and tie appear strangely out of place. Relaxed, even rumpled informality is in; suiting up in our "Sunday best" is out. The question I want to raise here is, What should we make of this shift in worship attire?

Many seem convinced it's a good thing, because, again, it's the heart that counts. Yet precisely for this reason—because it's the heart that counts—I want to suggest that what we wear in our public worship may matter more than we think. To grasp this connection, let us draw on some helpful insights from the field of communication.

Verbal and Nonverbal

Verbal behavior refers to all those ways we use language to communicate: speaking, writing, sign language, etc. Nonverbal behavior focuses on all those ways we communicate without words: facial expression, gesture, posture, eye behavior, vocal inflection ("paralanguage"), our use of space ("proxemics"), or touch behavior. Some experts estimate that in our everyday relationships only a small percentage of what we communicate is conveyed via verbal channels. The rest is conveyed nonverbally.

Of special interest here is that avenue of nonverbal communication we will call physical appearance and dress. Here are seven observations drawn from the literature on this aspect of our human interaction:
clothing matters

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4498 Jan 7, 2013
Why what we put on may be more important than we think.

The wearing of clothing is exclusively a human characteristic. We share many attributes with other creatures, but the inclination to clothe ourselves is not one of them. Those who know the account of Adam and Eve will understand why this is so. There is a moral and even spiritual dimension to human clothing.

Our clothes serve a variety of practical, social, and cultural functions. Protection and modesty spring first to mind, but our clothes do far more. We sometimes dress to conceal or deceive. More often our clothes serve to reveal. We use clothing for decoration, for sexual attraction, for self-expression and self-assertion. By our attire we display our gender, our religion, our occupation, our social position, or causes with which we identify (e.g., sports jerseys). Our apparel may express our group membership or our role in society (e.g., company or police uniforms). Many dress to impress, while others choose the reverse: they express their rejection by intentionally flouting accepted clothing norms

Our clothing is one of our most elemental forms of communication. Long before our voice is heard, our clothes are transmitting multiple messages. From our attire, others immediately read not only such things as our sex, age, national identity, socio-economic status, and social position, but also our mood, our attitudes, our personality, our interests, and our values.

We constantly make judgments about one another on the basis of clothing. Common wisdom has it that you can't judge a book by its cover. But this is only partly true; we regularly read one another's covering. What's more, we're better at it than we think. Research suggests that if you stand someone before an audience of strangers and ask them to draw inferences merely on the basis of what they see, the audience's inferences will tend toward consensus, and those inferences will tend to be more or less accurate. Why should this be?

We spend our lives making judgments based on appearance and then testing those judgments in our subsequent relationships. In this way, we become rather adept at the process. Judgments based on appearance are scarcely infallible, of course, and we are wise to hold them tentatively. But it's almost impossible to avoid making them in the first place.
Because our clothing is one of the fundamental ways we communicate with others, what we wear is never a purely personal matter. Our attire exerts a social influence on those around us. One famous study, for example, discovered that unwitting subjects were significantly more willing to jaywalk when following individuals wearing "high status" clothing than when following individuals wearing "low status" clothing. What we wear can shape patterns of communication around us, depending on what messages people are picking up. Consider, for example, the varied cues we send by the way we dress: "I want people to notice me." "I'm very confident." "I want to hide." "I care only about comfort." "I want to look seductive." "I repudiate you and your expectations."

How we dress not only affects others; it also affects us. This dynamic is often circular: how we feel influences the clothes we put on, and the clothes we put on in turn shape how we feel. Changes of clothes can generate a change of mood; the soldier feels different in his uniform than he does in street clothes. In some settings our choice of attire can make or break us. If we like the way we look for a job interview, for instance, it will tend to strengthen our confidence. We feel better about our chances, as reflected in improved posture, more fluent speech, more dynamic gestures. On the other hand, inappropriate dress can sap our confidence. We have all experienced the uncomfortable effects of feeling under-dressed in a particular social setting.
clothing matters

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4499 Jan 7, 2013
Much of the social meaning of our clothing is contextual. The appropriateness of our dress is often dictated by the situation. Dress that would send a given message in one setting might send a very different message in another. Picture, for example, a young woman dressed in hiking boots, sweatshirt, and shorts. Around a campfire the message might be, merely, "I'm ready for the trail." Choosing that same outfit for her aunt's funeral would say something rather different. Regional variations and issues of local dress loom large. Times change, values change, situations change; what was proper ten years ago may not be proper today, or vice versa.

All of the above is why we should not conclude too quickly that because God looks on the heart, what we wear to church doesn't matter. Our internal and external states cannot be so easily disentangled. The fact is, when it comes to how we clothe ourselves, our external appearance is often an expression of our internal state. Thus our worship attire may matter more than we think.

The Meaning of Worship

What is worship, after all? It's the act of acknowledging and praising God as God; indeed, as our God. It is the adoring response of grateful creatures to their Maker.

In worship we come before God with awe and reverence, focusing on him in loving contemplation, celebrating him for who he is and what he has done. We willingly bow before him in surrender, delighting in the privilege of extolling his worthiness. In worship we join our small voices with the celestial choirs in a grand chorus magnifying the Creator and declaring his excellencies: his purity, his power, his beauty, his grace, his mercy, his love.

From the beginning, God has called his people to public worship. It's everywhere in the Bible, and with good reason: our corporate worship pleases God. What's more, we need it as well. Everyone who has ever built a campfire knows how quickly lone embers cool and die. But gather those embers and they create a furnace effect that burns hot. Corporate worship is designed to generate that furnace effect in God's people. Those around us warm our spirits, encourage our faith, and hold us up when we're faltering. As Martin Luther famously put it, "At home, in my own house, there is no warmth or vigor in me, but in the church when the multitude is gathered together, a fire is kindled in my heart and it breaks its way through."

"Do not neglect the gathering of yourselves together," says the writer to the Hebrews (10:25). We come to faith as individuals, but Christ places us instantly into his body, and we require that body for the purposes of worship. There are aspects of worship we cannot fulfill alone. The Lord's Table, for example, belongs to the community; celebrate it when you "come together," says the apostle (1 Cor. 11:18, 33). So also baptism, corporate prayer, the public reading of Scripture, the teaching of Scripture, the corporate confession of sin: all these and more are designed for corporate worship.

Worship Pointers

So what sort of clothing might befit such an exalted occasion? Observers in the gallery of the United States Supreme Court are forbidden to wear hats. Out of respect for the importance of what's taking place there, the Court's firm rule for visitors is, "Inappropriate clothing may not be worn." If this is so for a merely human institution, what might be suitable attire for God-honoring worship?
clothing matters

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4500 Jan 7, 2013
In the Old Testament, the place of worship and everything about it was considered holy. Worshipers were taught to approach that "sacred space" with awe and reverence. Today, God's people, both individually and corporately, do not visit that sacred space; they constitute that sacred space. Paul instructed the Athenians that God does not live in temples made by human hands (Acts 17:24), but his point was not that God has no earthly dwelling place. God dwells in a temple made with his own hands; he dwells within his people. Their bodies have quite literally become his earthly abode (1 Cor. 3:16–17).
Casual Worship

The question for us, then, is this: When we gather for worship, does this sacred event generate within us any similar sense of "awe and reverence"? As Richard Foster says, when the early believers in Acts met for worship,

they were keenly aware that the veil had been ripped in two and like Moses and Aaron they were entering the Holy of Holies. No intermediaries were needed. They were coming into the awful, glorious, gracious Presence of the living God. They gathered with anticipation, knowing that Christ was present among them and would teach them and touch them with His living power.(Celebration of Discipline, p. 141)

Is this how we come to worship?

A perceptive observer of our contemporary church scene might be forgiven for scratching her head over such a question, wondering whether we have grown oblivious to the significance of our own gathering. How often, she might ask us, do you prepare for Sunday as if it mattered, guarding, for example, Saturday nights so as to be fresh and focused the next morning? How come our pre-service gathering so often sounds more like a bowling alley than a people meeting to offer themselves anew to their God? How is it we are we so susceptible to the lure of personality and entertainment up front, obscuring the God-centered purpose for which we have met? How prevalent is the notion that we can worship just as well at home, or on the golf course, or before a TV screen—or perhaps forfeit worship altogether due to inconvenient weather, the priority of other things, or who may be preaching that week?

I recall hearing one pastor, for example, exhorting members of his summer congregation to join their "no-commitment choir." All it requires, he said, is to show up a little early on Sunday morning. This pastor is a good man with a good church, but also with a common blind spot: he saw no problem in appealing to such low motives in his people, much less bringing God such a substandard, it-will-cost-you-nothing musical offering. Is there anything in the Scriptures to suggest that our inferior worship offerings waft toward heaven with a sweet aroma, "a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God?" (Phil. 4:18)? As one contemporary observer put it, "Too many of us today have got it backwards: we worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship."

What's going on here? Could it be that our delight in the security of our standing before God—that is, that all who have "put on" Christ (Gal. 3:27) stand fully accepted in him—has blinded us to a different issue: the acceptability of our worship offerings? It would be the cheapest of what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" to suppose that because we are secure in Christ, whatever we bring to God in worship, however inferior or mediocre, pleases him (Eph. 5:10).
clothing matters

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4501 Jan 7, 2013
Not just anything will do when we come before God. He is still honored by what is holy, what is our best, what is sacrificial. The kingdom to which we have come, says the writer to the Hebrews, requires us to "offer to God acceptable worship with reverence and awe," because "our 'God is a consuming fire'" (Heb. 12:28–29, emphasis added). A blasé, casual attitude toward worship may indicate that we have failed to grasp this important point, a sign of our being more conformed to this world" than so transformed in our minds that by testing we are able to discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect" (Rom. 12:2, emphasis added).

Worship Attire

And what of our worship attire? We deceive ourselves when we breezily claim that God does not care what we wear to church. God cares about our hearts, and what we wear is often an expression of our hearts. So what does our relaxed worship attire say about us?

A bride would be insulted if we cared so little as to show up for her lovely wedding in cut-offs and sneakers. Instead, we "dress up" for her wedding to express our regard for her and the significance of the event. What, then, are we saying when we see no need to treat our corporate worship with similar or even greater regard?

"Give unto the LORD the glory due his name," says the psalmist; "worship the LORD in the beauty of his holiness" (Ps. 29:2). Surely the "holiness" of our public worship should influence how we dress for the occasion. There is nothing remotely "casual" about the worship taking place in heaven, where appropriate clothing seems to matter (Rev. 7:9–12). What internal disposition are we revealing when we dress no differently for church than we do for a trip to the mall or hanging out with friends around a barbeque grill? Could it be that our casual dress, chosen merely for our own comfort and convenience (that which "cost me nothing"), is a reflection of an equally casual, can't-be-bothered ("what a nuisance this is!") attitude toward worship itself?

Concern for Others

What about those around us? What message is my choice of clothing sending them as we gather for worship?

A few years back a championship team of women's lacrosse players was invited to the White House for a private meeting with the President. When a group photo of the meeting went public, it created quite a stir: Several of the women in the front row were seen to be wearing flip-flops. Their defenders argued that the women should be able to wear whatever they like, that offending grown-ups is a rite of passage for the young, or that the flip-flops were less a statement of rebellion than a desire for comfort. Critics argued that wearing such informal footwear was insulting to the office of the President. Said one, "You would hope that when you were going to meet the commander-in-chief, it was special enough to get dressed up for." This debate went on for days in the blogosphere. But whatever one may think of flip-flops in the Oval Office, the greater significance of this dust-up was that it took place at all. Like it or not, those around us are constantly reading our appearance. Our clothing choices bear inevitable social implications.

Can Christians who gather for worship afford to ignore what their church attire may be saying to those around them? "Let each of you look not only to his own interests," says the apostle, "but also to the interests of others" (Phil. 2:3–4, ESV). We are to be "love one another with brotherly affection," outdoing one another "in showing honor" (Rom. 12:10). Does our choice of clothing communicate to others that this gathering is an important occasion, thereby encouraging them to see it as important as well? Or does it send them in the opposite direction?
clothing matters

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4502 Jan 7, 2013
Perhaps the best way to think of our church attire is to place it in the context of the spiritual disciplines. As Dallas Willard says, "One of the greatest deceptions in the practice of the Christian religion is the idea that all that really matters is our internal feelings, ideas, beliefs, and intentions" (The Spirit of the Disciplines, p. 152). The classical spiritual disciplines—for example, prayer, fasting, service, and worship—are about bringing the internal and external together. Says Willard, we must "guard against the view of spirituality as something 'wholly inward' or something to be kept just between the individual and God." The inward and the outward are not "two separate things, but one unified process in which those who are alive in God are caught up in their embodied, socialized totality" (pp. 77–78).

We express this embodied totality in corporate worship through our shared symbols, rites, and rituals; through our posture and gestures as we bow, kneel, or lift our hands; through our actions when we stand or sit in unison or pour out our hearts musically in congregational song. And our clothing belongs on this list. By it we express to God and those around us what this occasion means to us. This is why, when we come to church, our clothing matters.

Duane Litfin served for 17 years as president of Wheaton College. He is the author of the forthcoming Word versus Deed: Resetting the Scales to a Biblical Balance (Crossway, April).
presence of God

Seri Kembangan, Malaysia

#4505 Jan 7, 2013
God’s presence is like a magnet. My greatest joy doesn’t come when I stand behind a pulpit and speak at a church or conference. My greatest joy comes when I walk through a busy mall or airport, and someone who does not know me comes up to me and says,“Would you pray for me?” Or,“Can I talk to you about something? I know I need to talk to you.” That tells me God is with me to an extent that people who do not know Him can recognize Him in me.

.......... If you are going to move in the prophetic, then you must be willing to be made a fool for Christ. Does that sound familiar? Have you ever done something that you thought you heard God tell you to do? You must be willing to make mistakes.

You will learn what not to do through experience. That is the price..........

......prophet speaks for the Lord not the people; Don’t tell people what they want to hear. Don’t try and be liked by everyone all the time. I know there are schools of prophetic that are teaching people to always say good stuff especially in the church setting but that don’t mean its right. It doesn’t matter what famous prophetic leader is teaching you to do it don’t fall into that trap. The Bible is full of so called prophets who told people what they wanted to hear and God did not approve. Yes, God does have good messages and yes sometimes God wants to bless people and promote but if that is all your messages are about you have to wonder. Are you really speaking for God or for man?

Prophets carry a great sense of spiritual authority.

They enjoy rooting out, pulling down and destroying all spiritual opposition that gets in the way of the plans and purpose of God.

We need to listen to what the Holy Spirit is saying to the Church, not just what the Spirit hath said.

We need the freshness of prophetic revelation, that life-giving rhema that comes through the prophet’s gift.

Without that refreshing we die a boring religious death and are not spiritually relatable to our generation.

We all need the prophetic voice to come into the earth that we might have a “living Word” imparted into our lives.

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