About Steve Loopstra

Rev. Steve Loopstra Director, Your Servant in Christ Ministries Your Servant in Christ Ministries was born out of a heart to help God’s people love Him supremely, and to help them prepare their own hearts, families, churches and communities for the transforming presence of God. Rev. Steve Loopstra also serves as an instructor with The Sentinel Group, based in Monroe, Washington. The Sentinel Group is a Christian research and information agency dedicated to helping the Church pray knowledgeably for end-time global evangelization and enabling communities to discover the pathway to genuine revival and societal transformation.. Steve is ordained with the Christian and Missionary Alliance. He served as an Alliance pastor for over twenty years. Steve, with his wife, Marilou have pastored in California, Iowa and Minnesota. In addition they have served as missionaries in Europe. Steve has helped give leadership to the prayer movement in the Christian and Missionary Alliance, in the Twin Cities area and in national prayer initiatives. Steve served for 11 years at the Executive Director of Prayer Transformation Ministries in Minneapolis, MN. Steve is an author, speaker, and prayer leader locally and nationally, a member of the National Prayer Committee and serves on the Board of Directors of the National Church Prayer Leaders Network. Steve has also led prayer journeys to Mali, West Africa, Muslim N. Africa and Berlin, Germany. Steve leads Pastors Prayer Summits, Concerts of Prayer, and teaches and preaches on prayer and revival in churches and conferences.

Thinking Like God Thinks – When Terrorists Strike at Home

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My last post I began to talk about how I have been challenged with the idea of learning to think the way God thinks. God had challenged me during a day of prayer when I was in Brazil that I needed to learn to think like He thinks. This is an all-encompassing subject, but it has been working on me for some time. And given the recent uproar surrounding the murder of fourteen Americans in San Bernardino, California, and other terrorist attacks, I began to ask, “how would I respond with God’s way of thinking in this situation?”

This is a topic that is far broader than is possible to address in one post here, but I would ask you to prayerfully consider how the following might apply in our current situation in our land. And how the Church needs to rise up and be the Church in these days, not simply in political activism, but as ambassadors of the King of Kings and Ruler of the Universe. Thinking and acting and speaking as God would.

My first reaction would be to realize that at the very outset I must love. The very and maybe sometimes too familiar verse, John 3:16, says, “for God so loved the world…” As perverted, as deranged, and as “radicalized” as these people may be who carry out these acts of terror and murder (yes, let’s call it terror. That is part of the whole purpose of their actions is to put us in a state of terror of the next time) may be, they are still people for whom Jesus hung and died on the cross. They are people for whom Jesus rose from the dead an ascended to the right hand of the Father in heaven. Does my heart break for them in the same way that God’s heart breaks for their “lostness?” If not, then I must start by repenting of the hardness and the waywardness of my own heart. That is not to excuse their actions – never. It is to put God’s perspective on my perception of them as people whom Jesus loves.

Secondly, if I am thinking the way God thinks, I would be outspoken in denouncing sin at every level. Not only the sin of murdering innocent people, but the sin of turning people away from the true and living God to follow the deceptions of demons. Let’s be honest, the desire, the teaching that it is pleasing to any god to behead your enemies, kill and subjugate those who do not believe like you is sin. Yes, that includes anyone who teaches in such a way. I know there is a whole discussion to be had about the Old Testament actions of God’s directions to Israel, but that is for another time. Here, the point is, the people of God must denounce sin. And the sin of those who use these kinds of situations for their own aggrandizement, or gain socially, politically, or financially. This must be done from hearts that have been examined for our own sins first.

Thirdly, if I am thinking the way God thinks, I would be fearless in pointing out the hypocrisy at every level. Hypocrisy in the Church when we are quicker to point out the sins of others than confessing with tears our own sins. We must denounce the hypocrisy of those like our president and other political leaders who use “selective language” for his own purposes. Like John the Baptist calling out Herod, or Jesus speaking plainly to the Pharisees of His own time. Let us ask God for His wisdom to see through the deceptions and call out hypocrisy when it is found.

Fourthly, if I am thinking the way God thinks, I will understand how I need to understand the words of Jesus when He said, “render therefore to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar, and to God the things that are God’s”  (Matthew 22:21). Jesus said that He was about His Father’s business. Jesus chose His battles, whether it was when He was tempted by Satan, or whether he was being tested regarding political issues. I’m not saying that we are not to be involved in politics. We are to be light and salt in every sphere of society. But we must know how to choose our battles with wisdom from Him. We ought also to take a lesson from Jesus here and learn how to answer those trying to trip us up with wise words from eternal truth. We need to speak not from our own political leanings, or even religious prejudices, but from the eternal truth of the Word of God.

As I said, this is a subject that is way beyond one blog on one website, but I think it is time that we as believers in Jesus Christ learn to look at our world through the eyes and with the mind of Christ, with humility, and with God’s truth, but not with concession to cultural or political “trade winds.” What a challenge for us to learn to think like God thinks. Especially in these days.

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Thinking Like God Thinks

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Thinking like God thinks… a few years ago, I had a “day of prayer” on the beach in Joao Pessoa, Brazil. And to answer your question, yes, that is a very easy place to be still and listen to the voice of the Lord. The warm ocean waves lapping over your toes, the warm breeze, and the vast expanse of beach all made it very easy to just quiet my heart and listen. There were many things on my mind… past, present, future. I needed direction and help with decisions I needed to make. At one point as I walked the beach, the Lord spoke very clearly to me and simply said, “you need to learn to think like I think.”

At first the words of Paul came to my memory, “Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 2:5. I am currently doing more of a study of what does that really mean? What does it really mean to think the way God thinks? How do I wrap my puny mind around the thinking process of the creator of the universe? Well, I’m still working on that, and will post more about that here as things progress.

However, there was one thought that came to me recently in the midst of some very difficult and painful circumstances. A situation I never thought would be a part of my life, yet  here it is. Unwanted, unwelcomed, un-enjoyed, but smack dab in my face. How do I react? How do I conduct myself in this situation? How do I think the thoughts that God would have?

When we are in such circumstances, our first and best option is to turn to the Word of God for direction and counsel. I found myself reminding myself of all of who God is to me. He is my savior, my strength, my redeemer, my wisdom, my protector, my shield. So many more I could recount, and then… this thought: “He does not have to remind Himself of Who He Is.”

WOW! He does not have to remind Himself of Who He Is! The depth of that began to seep down into my spirit like golden honey. I, in my struggle to try to understand my circumstances, needed to remind myself who He is. But He never has to do that. He is always totally aware of all of who He is. In every moment, in every circumstance, in every disruption, every trial that comes our way, He is constantly and totally and fully aware of all that he is. He does not have to go and search the concordance to find a character to meet today’s need. He is “I AM” totally and eternally everything I need Him to be.

As I pondered this thought, and brought it before this idea that I need to think like God thinks, WOW!  What a revolution that would be in my life, in our lives, if we could come to that place in our walk and our relationship with Him so that in any situation, every circumstance, we would know who He is for that particular moment.This is profound for my daily walk. This requires not simply a study of theology (the study of God), it requires an intimacy with Him, so that in any circumstance I don’t need to search around, I will know who He is for me at that moment. It takes a knowledge and intimacy born out of time spent together. It brings a familiarity with Him and who He is for every situation. He who goes with me and lives within me desires that I come to such a place in my knowledge of Him that in any given moment I walk in the assurance of His sufficiency for that moment, that challenge, that crisis, that obstacle because the sufficiency is in who He is, and I know Him to that point I no longer have to stop and search… at that moment I know.

May the Lord grant that we come to know Him with that kind of intimacy and purity, that like Him, we will not have to remind myself of who He is, I will simply “know” and walk and rest in the character of who He is.

 

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Turn Your Eyes…

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Turn Your Eyes…

It’s been a long time since my last blog on this site. My life has had maybe more than my share of changes and challenges in the past couple months. I have started some blogs, but then got interrupted, or didn’t want to continue that particular train of thought for various reasons. It did however get me thinking about the truth of an old tune that has been playing in my head lately; “turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.”

So I want to scribble down here some thoughts on “turn your eyes…” Yes, I know, it’s obvious, where we are looking makes a big difference in where we go and how we get there. But what am I turning my eyes to? I have to admit that lately I have been turning my eyes to the circumstances that have been challenging me. To be honest, starting a new life in a new culture with a new language and a new family, and new habits and customs is not exactly the easiest thing in the world to do, and when you are my age, it makes it even more difficult to adapt. Add to that the challenges of an accident that results in a broken leg… I now have a place and eight screws in my right leg, the removal of my gall bladder, double pneumonia and a weakened heart muscle, and a burn on my hand from hot bacon grease. All of that has kept my eyes pretty much focused on my circumstances, I admit. If I were to change that little tune to the other side, it might go something like this: “turn your eyes on circumstances, look at all that is challenging your life, and the things of this world will overwhelm your soul, and you’ll be sure to despair every day.”

Turn your eyes…. Friends have asked me, “what is the Lord saying to you?” and I had to say that in this season, the heavens were bronze, and I was not hearing anything. Once I started a blog entitled, “Insights from the backside of the dessert.” But I thought it might be a little too negative. I was stuck… all I could turn my eyes on were the challenges, the difficulties, the disappointments. Not a good place to be. Not a healthy place to be. The stresses of my new challenges were taking a toll on my physical health resulting in a weakened heart muscle, and another change in my lifestyle.

Then there’s the other old song; “Where could I go, oh, where could I go? Seeking a refuge for my sould?” “Where could I go but to the Lord?” Hebrews 12:1- 2 says:Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne

OK, Lord, I am turning my eyes to you, I want to look full in your wonderful face, because I know you are beautiful, and merciful and gracious, and in your face I find the acceptance and love that you proved on Calvary. I want you to perfect my faith because I am not able to do that myself. I do not have the power. I turn my eyes to you who are in heaven, and I await the day when I will be able to look into your face in person. You have to help me because I cannot keep my eyes on you without your power and your help. It’s too easy for me to turn my eyes back again on my circumstances. Help me to strip away everything that hinders me from turning my eyes upon you, and looking full in your wonderful face. I’m looking, Lord, and I am fascinated. I’m looking, Lord and that is enough for this moment because that it all I have.

 

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The Inconvenience of Brokenness

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The Inconvenience of Brokenness

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 I was reminded recently how inconvenient the Biblical teaching of brokenness really is. In many Christian teachings, it is much easier to talk about verses such as Romans 8:37, Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us, or Philippians 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. But if the subject of brokenness comes up, the topic seems to be quickly diverted to all we can conquer through Christ. To talk about our weakness and frailty doesn’t seem very victorious. It’s much more encouraging to talk about how we will overcome and win the battles and vanquish every foe. Now, don’t get me wrong. There is a valid place for all of this teaching, but these teaching of conquering and victory must be understood in the light of what the Bible teaches about brokenness.

Part of the problem with this thinking is a lack of understanding of how God views brokenness. You see, to God, brokenness is never weakness. Some Christian teaching and the views of the world around us would have us believe that being in a place of brokenness is a place of weakness and vulnerability. Our response is that we need to get out of this place and pull ourselves up by our bootstraps and get going. And to be perfectly honest, at least some of what results from the teaching of overcoming and more than conquerors is nothing more than Christianized self-effort. And that is abhorrent to God. It is a glorification of our own self will, self efforts, and self talk. So we need to understand the Biblical principle behind this idea of brokenness.

Perhaps not surprisingly, most Christians acknowledge the importance of brokenness but do everything they can to avoid the experience of it. There is a fundamental teaching about brokenness that helps us to understand it’s importance in the economy of God. That is simply, brokenness brings us to the place to complete and total dependence upon God. And that is God’s gracious purpose, because when we are completely and totally dependent upon God, then He is free to fulfill in us, all the destiny that He purposed for us before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4). There is an interesting cycle of brokenness and strength that is found in Philippians 4: 11 – 13. We are used to quoting verse 13, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,” but that comes in the context of Paul saying that he has learned how to be content in any circumstance. How did Paul come to that place? To be able to be content whether starving or having plenty? This is understood in light of chapter 3 where Paul says he puts no confidence in the flesh, and considers all his fleshly advantages to be as garbage. The one thing that is of utmost importance to Paul is to know Christ (Philippians 3:10).

Allow me to give this simple insight into “brokenness.” I have read several posts where people do not agree with the idea of “brokenness” and when I read them I realize that there is a misunderstanding of what this brokenness really is, and how it works. So here is my humble attempt.

Brokenness is being in that place where we have come to realize the total emptiness, and abhorrence to God of our fleshly efforts to please and serve our Most Holy God (John 15:5). Brokenness is the state of being more and more totally dependent upon the power of God to work in and through us for His purposes (Colossians 1:29). Brokenness is constantly on guard against the subtle influences of the flesh and when it realizes that fleshly attitudes, or efforts have begun to influence our total trust in God, there is immediate repentance and turning from the flesh to God (I Corinthians 15:31).

Brokenness can occur in times of trial, where God is testing us as He did Israel, to see what is in us, and Brokenness is an ongoing attitude of dependence upon God alone for our power, wisdom,  and service for Him. Think of this, take an unbroken clay jar and put a light inside, cover the top and how much light will shine through? NONE
Take that same jar,break it and then glue it together again, but the light inside, cover the top and light will shine through each of those broken places.

The flesh rebels against brokenness, the Spirit of God guides us into brokenness because brokenness is the place of usefulness and blessing, and God’s loving presence. Let us learn to embrace brokenness (James 4:10).

Finally, I leave you with this illustration that has touched my heart many times over the years…

THE TALE OF THE WILLOW

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Once upon a time in the heart of the western kingdom, there was a beautiful garden. There in the cool of the day, the Master was wont to walk. Of all the dwellers in his garden, the most beautiful and beloved was a noble bamboo tree. Year after year the bamboo grew more noble and gracious, conscious of his masters love and watchful delight.

One day the master himself drew near to contemplate his beloved tree, and bamboo in a passion of adoration bowed his great head to the ground. The master spoke: “Bamboo, I would us you.” It seemed the day of days had come. The day for which the tree had been made! Bamboos voice came low, “Master, I am ready, use me as you wish.”

Bamboo, the master voice was grave, “I must take you and cut you down.” “Cut me down! Me whom you, master have made the most beautiful in your entire garden, cut me down? Not that, not that! Use me for your joy, oh master, but do not cut me down!”

The Masters voice grew graver still, “If I do not cut you down then I cannot use you.” The garden grew still. Wind held his breath. Bamboo slowly bent his glorious head. There came a whisper, “Master, If you cannot use me unless you cut me down, then do your will and cut.”

“Beloved bamboo, I must cut your leaves and branches from you also.”  “Master, spare me! Lay my beauty in the dust, but would you take from me my leave and branches also?” “Unless I cut them away, I cannot use you.” The sun hid its face. A butterfly glided fearfully away, and bamboo shivered in expectancy, whispering low, “Master, cut away.” “Bamboo, I would divide you in two and cut out your heart, for if I do not, I cannot use you!”

Then Bamboo bowed low to the ground. “Then master, cut and divide.”

So did the master of the garden cut down bamboo, and hack off his branches, and strip off his leaves and branches and cut him in two and cut out his heart. Then he carried him to where there was a spring of fresh sparkling water in the midst of the masters dry fields. Putting one end of broken bamboo into the spring and the other into the water channel of his field, the master gently laid down his beloved tree.

And the spring sang, “Welcome!” and the clear sparkling waters raced joyously down the channel of

Bamboos torn body into the waiting fields. Then the rice was planted. And the days went by and the shoots grew, and the harvest came.

In that day, Bamboo, once so glorious, was truly put to use in his brokenness and humility. For in his beauty, he had life abundant for himself, but in his brokenness, he became a channel of abundant life to his master’s world.

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Give Thanks with Me…. Dar Graças Comigo

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(clique aqui para uma versão em Português)

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The day was January 3, 1969

I was in the Air Force with orders for Vietnam. My life up to that day had been increasingly filled with drugs and alcohol abuse. I had been watching my life slip farther and farther away, but I had no power to stop the slide.

My friend from High School, Mark McPherson had written to me about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and my response was, “I’m glad you found something that works for you, but that’s not my thing,”  But January 3, 1969 found me headed for his house in San Jose, California… just for a quick visit. I was on my way home to my parent’s house in Palos Verdes, in Southern California. I was planning only about a ten minute visit. After all, we didn’t have that much in common any more. He had his faith, I had my drugs, and booze. I was coming from a time with friends in Sacramento, California where I was on drugs or alcohol most of the time.

All I had was Mark’s address in San Jose. I had no map, so at the first San Jose exit off the freeway, I pulled into a gas station to ask directions. To my amazement, when I asked how to get to that address, the attendant said, “oh, that’s easy! Just go to the next light, take a left turn, take another left turn and you are there.”  I thought that was rather strange… little did I know I was being set up by the God of the universe! Mark told me years later that when he saw me walking up to his house, the Lord spoke t him and said, “Don’t let him leave until he knows where he is going.”

That planned ten minutes ended being the entire day. Mark was faithful to what the Lord spoke to him, and faithfully witnessed the love of God to me over and over again. We had lunch together, and he talked about a personal relationship with God. All through the afternoon. Over dinner, he faithfully answered my questions and continued to share about a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ, and His death on the cross for me.

That night, about eight in the evening, while waiting to see a movie, sitting in my 1969 Triumph Spitfire,  spitfire1he asked me the ultimate question… “Are you ready?” I said yes, and prayed right there, asked the Lord to forgive my sins and make me a new person in Christ. There was no big flash of light, but the lifting of the burdens on my heart was immediate and profound. The desires for drugs and alcohol were immediately gone, and never returned.

My time in Vietnam turned out to be a time of rapid spiritual growth thanks to the img080ministry of then, Overseas Christian Servicemen’s Centers, now called Cadence International. I was baptized in April of 1969 in the South China Sea off the coast of Nha Trang, Vietnam.

vietnam-baptismEach year, on January 3, I take time to remember the power of a faithful witness, THANKS AGAIN, MARK! and the power of God to transform a life. This year, 2013 marks my 45th spiritual birthday, and I am eternally grateful to God for His grace and mercy, and how over these past 45 years, He has been faithful in every way. I would never go back, and count myself among those most blessed by God’s amazing love. I have never doubted for a moment since that night that I have a personal relationship with Him. Since that day 45 years ago, my only desire has been to serve Him in whatever way He has directed me.  As Pastor, Bible Teacher, Prayer Ministry leader, I have only one desire.. that on that day when I stand before Him,

I will hear the words, “Well done, Steve! Enter into the joy of your Lord.”

I invite you to give thanks with me to God for His love, and mercy and grace that sent His Son to die on the cross for you and me, rose from the dead to conquer death, and ascended to heaven, and one day He will return for us.  If you do not have a personal relationship God in this way, feel free to contact me, I’d love to share with you how Jesus can transform your life, and give you a personal relationship that is for all eternity.

Thanks for sharing this Spiritual Birthday with me….  The Adventure Continues….

…till next time…

 

 

 

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Lessons from my Accident – part 1

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On Sunday, October 27th, in our church, I opened the prayer time by running down the isle of the church saying, “The Word of God is Running!” based upon 2 Thess. 3:1, Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you.

 

On Tuesday, October 29th, as I was riding my bicycle home, I was struck by a hit and run motorcycle driver. The accident left me with a severely fractured tibia, and assorted contusions and bruising. I was taken to the local trauma hospital here in Joao Pessoa, Brazil.

What follows are some reflections on things the Lord has been speaking to me about this incident, and lessons for myself and all of us.

WHY?

It is the most common response, and the least answered question in times of tragedy and pain… “why?”  Because God made us as rational beings, with reasoning powers, our first tendency when faced with overwhelming circumstances is to ask why. What caused this to happen to me? Or my loved one? Did they do something wrong? Is this a result of some sin or poor choice?  The best response to these kinds of question is found in the incident with the man born blind in John 9:1-5. Jesus response to the question of why by the disciples was to point them to the work of God, and the power of God at work in the man’s life.

Certainly being hit by a motorcycle and fracturing my tibia and being laid up for weeks of recovery was not something I ever thought would happen to me.

head - smAnd, to be honest there were those times when I asked that unanswerable question of why. Why now? Why me? Why here in a foreign country so far from everything familiar? What’s happening to my life?

But in the midst of the confusion and the tragedy, God was showing that He was in the midst of the situation. My fiancé, Crizelania was on the scene almost immediately, and became my life giving advocate. The pastor of the church was there to help and to advocate at the hospital, members of the church  became involved and were touched by how God was working in the midst of this difficulty.

kika2-smPersonal stories were written on the hearts of those who got close to our experiences. God was showing up and working, and as Jesus said to His disciples… so the power of God might be seen in him.

This saga is not yet finished. God has spoken to our hearts that He can use this for His glory on into the future. When I came to Brazil, it was with the call of Psalm 71:17-21 on my life. Verses 17 – 18 say: O God, you have taught me from my earliest childhood, and I constantly tell others about the wonderful things you do. Now that I am old and gray, do not abandon me, O God. Let me proclaim your power to this new generation, your mighty miracles to all who come after me.

One of the things the Lord spoke to me after the accident as I was reviewing this call on this season of my life, was that God reserves the right to decide HOW that will be fulfilled. His calling is still in effect, and He can decide how he wants to demonstrate that power in and through us. Our part is to be a willing vessel.

I do not know if,  in the Lord’s presence He will explain to us the “why’s” of our lives. But I suspect that when we are there in His presence, we will no longer have a need to understand why, because He will be all the answer we need.

’till next time…

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A Response to the Current State of American Affairs…

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A Response to the Current State of American Affairs…

manI have been, as many of your have been, watching the current horrific actions of our national leaders centering around the partial government shutdown and the debate over raising the debt limit. I have been appalled at the petty actions to hurt the American people, and American Veterans by denying access, and even arresting those who cross barriers to national monuments, and denying people access to their own homes or businesses if they happen to be on federal lands.

I have to confess my total outrage and disgust at the pettiness that is being shown on so many levels, and on many different sides of our society today.

My heart is broken for our society in these days, where at a school in Washington State, balls are banned from the playground because they might harm students, and the NSA spying issues, the lack of leadership and the list can go on, and on.

I have to confess also, that I have found myself being caught up into a sense of hopelessness for a time… a negativity that we have seen the last gasps of our great republic. I had thoughts that I have lived to see the descent of The United States of America into a form of government that was never intended by our founding fathers, and that most of us so not want, but have not stood up to defend.

But God…

Those are the words that I was reminded of out of that pit of hopeless thinking. I was reminded that this is a perfect time, and a perfect opportunity for the church to respond in an appropriate manner… in the manner that has, in the past brought great awakenings to our country.

I think many American Christians today are not aware of the writings and teachings of the revival historian Dr. J. Edwin Orr.

In a speech called, “The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening,” Dr. Orr describes the conditions in the colonies prior to the First Great Awakening. This is what  he writes:

Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards; they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were daily occurrence. What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennox, Massachusetts in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Provost quit functioning; he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment. The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire averred, and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.”

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole of the student body. They took a poll at Princeton, as much more evangelical place; they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College, and they put on anti-Christian plays at Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burned it in a public bonfire.

Christians were so few on campus in the 1790’s that they met in secret like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

In case this is thought to be the hysteria of the moment, Kenneth Scott Latourette, the great church historian, wrote: “It seems as if Christianity was about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.” The churches had their backs to the wall, [highlights mine] seeming as if they were about to be wiped out. How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer.

Dr. Orr goes on to describve how people began to gather in concerted gatherings of prayer, and in response to concerted, humble, desperate prayer, God responded with what we now call the First Great Awakening.

The Word of God is always true in every fluctuation of society, and when He says:

Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and prayer and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land2 Chronicles 7:14

It is a promise we can count on today…

Are things terrible in our country today? Yes, on many levels. Does any of this catch God by surprise? Not at all! Is any of this beyond His ability to bring revival and transformation to our country? Not in the least.

The question is, what will my response be? What will our response be? Will we wring our hands in fear? or will we pound our fists in anger? or will we get on our knees and humble ourselves and confess that we as the people of God have been part of the problem? Will we cry out to Him in concerted, humble, desperate prayer? Or will we hold on to our own sins and pride, blame everyone else, and watch thigns continue to crumble before our eyes?

I am not claiming to be a prophet, but I know the Scriptures are true, and I know the testimony of history. If we will respond as God directs us, He will be faithful to answer us, as surely as the sun rises in the morning (Hosea 6:1-3).

Now is the time for the church to unite in humble, desperate,  united prayer for our nation. Turn off CNN, and Fox News, yes and even Facebook, and gather in prayer with other believers and petition God for the salvation of our nation. It is not too late. The Lord awaits our response.

This is my plea to believers wherever you are…start now… Dont’ let up until He answers with power in  your life, in your family, in  your city, in our nation…

praying man

Cry out for mercy, for revival, for transformation.

Even so, Come! Lord Jesus!

Humbly submitted,

Steve Loopstra

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A response to the current state of American affairs…

A response to the current state of American affairs….

I have been, as many of you have been, watching the current horrific actions of our national leaders centering around the partial government shutdown, and the debate over raising the debt limit.  I have been appalled at the petty actions to hurt the American people by denying access, and even arresting those who cross barriers to national monuments, and denying people access to their own homes if they happen to be on federal land.

I have to confess my total outrage and disgust at the pettiness that is being shown on so many levels.

My heart is broken for our society in these days, where at a school in Washington state, balls are banned because they might harm students, and the NSA spying issues, the lack of leadership, and the list can go on and on .

I have to confess too, that I found myself being caught up on a sense of hopelessness for a time… a negativity that we have seen the last gasps of our great republic.  I had thoughts that I would live to see the descent of The United States of America into a form of government none of us wanted, but none of us stood up to protest.

But God…

Those are the words that I was reminded of out of that pit of hopeless thinking.  I was reminded that this is a perfect time, a perfect opportunity for the church to respond in the appropriate manner, in the manner that has, in the past brought great Awakenings to our country,

I think many Americans today are not aware of the writings and teachings of the revival historian, Dr. J. Edwin Orr.

In a speech called “The Role of Prayer in Spiritual Awakening,” Dr. Orr describes the conditions in the colonies prior to the First Great Awaking. This is what he writes:

 Not many people realize that in the wake of the American Revolution there was a moral slump. Drunkenness became epidemic. Out of a population of five million, 300,000 were confirmed drunkards: they were burying fifteen thousand of them each year. Profanity was of the most shocking kind. For the first time in the history of the American settlement, women were afraid to go out at night for fear of assault. Bank robberies were a daily occurrence. What about the churches? The Methodists were losing more members than they were gaining. The Baptists said that they had their most wintry season. The Presbyterians in general assembly deplored the nation’s ungodliness. In a typical Congregational church, the Rev. Samuel Shepherd of Lennox, Massachusetts in sixteen years had not taken one young person into fellowship. The Lutherans were so languishing that they discussed uniting with Episcopalians who were even worse off. The Protestant Episcopal Bishop of New York, Bishop Samuel Provost, quit functioning: he had confirmed no one for so long that he decided he was out of work, so he took up other employment. The Chief Justice of the United States, John Marshall, wrote to the Bishop of Virginia, James Madison, that the Church “was too far gone ever to be redeemed.” Voltaire averred, and Tom Paine echoed, “Christianity will be forgotten in thirty years.”

Take the liberal arts colleges at that time. A poll taken at Harvard had discovered not one believer in the whole of the student body. They took a poll at Princeton, a much more evangelical place: they discovered only two believers in the student body, and only five that did not belong to the filthy speech movement of that day. Students rioted. They held a mock communion at Williams College; and they put on anti-Christian plays at

Dartmouth. They burned down the Nassau Hall at Princeton. They forced the resignation of the president of Harvard. They took a Bible out of a local Presbyterian church in New Jersey, and burned it in a public bonfire.

Christians were so few on campus in the 1790s that they met in secret, like a communist cell, and kept their minutes in code so that no one would know.

In case this is thought to be the hysteria of the moment, Kenneth Scott Latourette, the great church historian, wrote: “It seemed as if Christianity were about to be ushered out of the affairs of men.” The churches had their backs to the wall, [highlights mine] seeming as if they were about to be wiped out. How did the situation change? It came through a concert of prayer

Dr. Orr goes on to describe how people began to gather in concerted gatherings of prayer, and in response to concerted, humble, desperate prayer, God responded with what we now call the First Great Awakening.

The Word of God is always true in every fluctuation of society, and when He says,
Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 2 Chronicles 7:14 (NLT)

It is a promise we can count on.

Are things terrible in our country right now? Yes, on many levels. Does any of this catch God by surprise? Not at all. Is any of this beyond His ability to bring revival and transformation? Not in the least.

The question is, what will my response be? What will our response be? Will be wring our hands in fear, or pound our fists in anger, or will be get on our knees and humble ourselves and confess that we as the people of God have been part of the problem? Will be cry out to him in concerted, humble, desperate prayer? Or will we hold on to our own sins and pride and watch things continue to crumble before us?

I am not a prophet, but I know the Scriptures are true, and I know the testimony of history. If we will respond as God directs us, He will be faithful to answer us.

Now is the time for the church to unite in humble desperate prayer for our nation. Turn off Fox News, and CNN, yes, and even Facebook, and gather in prayer with other believers and petition God for the salvation of our nation. It is not too late. The Lord awaits our response.

This is my plea to believers wherever  you are… start now…. Don’t let up until He answers with power in your life, in your family, in your city, in our nation.

Even so, Come! Lord Jesus…in revival power.

humbly submitted,

Steve Loopstra

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Some Personal Thoughts on Saving and Spending…. It’s NOT what you think

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Some Personal Thoughts on Saving and Spending…. It’s NOT what you think

piggy bankI’ve been thinking a lot lately about the subject of saving and spending. Most people my age (65, and very happy to be here!!) are looking at collecting Social Security, dipping into the 401K and enjoying the retirement life. Granted, today’s economy makes it a lot more difficult than it was when my parents retired, but that is sort of the normal “season of life” thing that you do when you get to be my age.

But I told you this is not what you think… sure, I’m starting to make plans to utilize my Social Security and retirement ( a very, very small plan), but that is not what I have in mind when I talk here about saving and spending. You see, Jesus used this kind of terminology in Matthew 16:25; Mark 8:35; Luke 9:24 and 17:33.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?  –  Matthew 16:24-26 (NKJV)

In all three gospel accounts, Jesus is not talking about money but our lives. He is talking about what we spend our lives on; whether we have a mentality to hold on to our lives – saving, or spend our lives for Him and the Gospel.

Jesus makes it very clear that if we have a mentality to hold on to our lives, we lose. If we spend our lives, we win. So, I want to share with you what I have been thinking about saving and spending in this context.

I have been in ministry in some form or another for nearly 40 years. I am 65 years old. There are those who would say that at this age, I would deserve to settle back a bit, retire, and enjoy a more laid back lifestyle. Ministry? Sure in some less demanding form… part time ministry, and more time fishing, or painting, and taking it easy. I have thought about that. And I know friends who have at this point in life been on many varied points on this scale. Some have retired from ministry and are enjoying the fruit of their retirement. Others, some variation of continued ministry and retirement. Sounds nice, I have to admit. And don’t get me wrong… there is nothing wrong with that, I’m not criticizing anyone. I’m reflecting to you my own thoughts.

That would be what I call the “saving” aspect of my meditations. Now, here is the “spending” aspect, and how I have been thinking. Jesus tells us of another aspect of this that have been an exceptionally strong motivation for me in my ministry and life. It is found in Matthew 25: 14-29 and Luke 19:11-27 in what is known as the parable of the faithful stewards.

His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.’ – Matthew 25:23 (NKJV)

One thing in these parables is branded into my heart, mind, and soul. I want to hear on that day (Romans 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10), from the lips of the Lord Jesus Christ, those words; Well done, Steve!! Enter into the joy of  your Lord.  No other reward could be as sweet. No effort too much in order to hear those words from my Lord Jesus.

judgment seatHere I am in Brazil. A crazy adventure that the Lord actually invited me on, in December of 2011 in what I would describe as a dream or vision. Even here, people ask me if I am going to retire. Well, yes and no. I will draw the monies that are mine in order to live here, and hopefully some support from those who believe in this ministry, but that is only a means to an end.

I want to spend my life. I want to spend my life on others. I want to spend my life pouring into others whatever little the Lord can allow me to spend so that they will love the Lord more, desire to serve Him more, and that they might here those words, “Well done.” I do not know how long the Lord will give me here on this earth. None of us know that for sure. My wife’s life was cut short, but she is now enjoying the joys of heaven. I am here, and I want to spend my life giving into the lives of others, so that on that day, I will know those precious words of my Lord Jesus. It looks at this point, that that kind of spending may take a very radical look. A kind of spending that most people would not expect at my age, or maybe understand. I have thought and prayed a lot about this. I could take a different road. But I believe the Lord would have me choose the “road less traveled.” The road to spend myself into the lives of others.

path of life2It will not be easy. It is not the “norm,” but then again… when have I ever done anything according to the “norm?” It will be demanding and tiring at times. But I actually get excited thinking about being able to pour my life into others in a way that could affect them for eternity. My guess is that you will be hearing more about this in the months to come.

Have you given much thought to this subject of saving and spending? Have you considered allowing the Lord to use you to spend your life for others, and shunning saving the last years for yourself? The Lord has a plan for each of our lives, and we need to discover what that is, but the words of Jesus echo through my being, and I long to hear them on that day, Well done, Steve!! Enter into the joy of your Lord.   May God guide you as you pray about and consider saving and spending.

“till next time…

 

 

 

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Wanted: Theolgians

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Wanted:  Theologians

As you read this title, you might be thinking of excluding yourself. After all, you are not a theologian. That is someone who has gone to seminary, and studied for years and is an expert in religion.

theologians

But wait… before you leave the room. Let me remind you of who we are REALLY looking for here.

The Webster online Dictionary defines Theologian this way: one who specializes in Theology

They further define Theology as: the study of God and of God’s relation to the world

A Theologian, simply put, is someone who studies the nature and character of God  and how He relates to this world and it’s people. Theology is simply, the study of God.

Does that sound a bit like the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10 – 11? that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead (NKJV).

We need theologians in the church… NO! I am not saying everyone needs to go to seminary… please no!!  But, I am saying we need more people who give themselves over diligently to the study of the nature, character, and ways of God. We need people who are growing in their knowledge of God.

bible fire

We do not need people who are studied in religious systems and theological debates. We need people who are growing in a personal knowledge of the Living God!

Why? Why is this important for you? What difference does it make? Friend, it makes all the difference in the world!  And here is why:

If you are not a theologian, a person who is growing and learning the person and character of God, you will not know how to handle the challenges, and storms of life. You will be tossed about as a dingy in a hurricane. You will be left to try to figure things out by your own perception, and that is a sure formula for failure, depression and wrong thinking.

I HATE using myself as an illustration here, but for the sake of this point, I am going to use my own experience to make the point. Two years ago, my wife, Marilou was in a hospital in the Seattle, Washington area, and finally being given the news from an oncologist that she had stage 4 cancer of the pancreas that had spread to the liver. There was no cure, no treatment except to relieve pain. The doctor said we had, at the outside, two to three months. Thirteen days later, she left this life.

My experience is not unique. Many people have travelled that road. I know of a friend whose wife died in a similar fashion. His response was to retreat into his home, avoid contact with others, gain weight and start drinking to mask the pain.

But if we are a theologian, one who knows and seeks to understand the character of God, we will know that our God is a God who gives strength, hope, and a future to those who grieve. I sure did, and continue to grieve the loss of my wife. But because I am convinced that God is who He says He is in His Word, I decided I would step out into the new territory of His character. He invited me on a new adventure, and today I am experiencing new dimensions of Him that I would never had known if I had not decided many years ago to be a theologian.

Are you a theologian? Are you actively seeking to learn more and experience more of the character and personhood of God? Is your life dedicated, as Paul’s was, to “know him?”

glory to godBecoming a theologian will prepare you to be able to weather, and be victorious over any circumstance that this life may throw your way. And you and I both know this life on earth can be difficult. I urge you to decide today to become a theologian. It’s the greatest decision you can make because you will find in Him, a treasure trove of grace, and love, and mercy, and hope, and so much more that you can apply to your everyday life.

 The church, and this world needs more theologians!

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