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Today, on the 114th anniversary of the home-going of this great man of God, we open up both the history books as well as the biblical record to see the source of Moody’s power and preaching. No one since, not even Billy Graham, has had as much an impact on the world as Moody had. He never wavered, there was not even a whiff of scandal of any kind, even with millions of dollars that passed through his hands. He kept the faith, he finished his course, and has much to teach us still 114 years after he passed off the scene.
Generous people have this in common: they know possessions are temporal. Rather than trying to grasp and collect all they can, they give. When we forget the temporal nature of our possessions, we spend our energy protecting what we have and grasping for more. While the world equates money, prestige, and power to success, Christ reminds us that the world’s success is temporary.
If we listen to the world, we are building on sand which will be washed away. If we listen to Christ, we are secure. He is our Rock. If we pay attention, the temporary nature of possessions is clear: Clothes wear out, computers die, glassware breaks, and coffee spills onto our recently purchased carpet.
The signs are all around us. This world, our possessions, and even our lives on earth are temporary. If we listen to Christ, finding our satisfaction and security in Him, we are set free from our frantic gathering of earthly success and possessions. We live in the truth that Jesus is preparing an eternal home for us that will not fade. When we follow Him and His teaching, we are investing in eternity.
We talk about heaven being so far away. It is within speaking distance to those who belong there. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. Dwight L. Moody
Why winning the battle for teens requires timeless elements
In the last few years, I’ve heard folks in ministry say the battle between good and evil is greater than ever. Many say it’s because we are close to the Lord’s return.
Sadly, however, it’s my observation that few truly understand or wholeheartedly believe this. If they did, they would do more to fight back!
Christians can complain about how bad things are getting in our society, but what are we doing to oppose the forces of Satan, who does whatever it takes to “steal, kill and destroy”? When it comes to our youth in particular, what are we doing to rescue them? The truth is, many believers think they’re doing all they can to reach the lost—especially teens—when in fact they’re simply doing the same things they were doing years ago.
We each have a faith and a calling, and mine stems from a covenant I made with God that if He showed me He was real, I’d do whatever He asked—anytime, anywhere, anything.
He kept His end of the deal. And since my life-changing encounter with God, I’ve vowed to keep mine. Because of this, I now view life as if I were part of the spiritual equivalent to SEAL Team 6. Every day I live with the excitement of my next mission. When I consider the commitment and sacrifice of those real soldiers, I get pumped up knowing that this is my calling—to push myself harder, go further and do more!
By the power of the Holy Spirit, I stand for Jesus in my life, the media and Hollywood. For me, that includes relishing the opportunity to push the limits and go beyond the norm of what I think can be done. In my personal ministry, I often share that a part of my morning prayer is, “Lord, can I punch Satan in the face today and then run?”
I share all of this to dare you to do more, to smash the box of your normal thinking that you are doing all you can.
Back in the “old school” days, those who carried the torch of the gospel all had a similar zeal to do more—evangelists such as Sam Jones, Billy Sunday, D.L. Moody, Billy Graham. They understood what it meant to give everything for the sake of making Christ known. My philosophy, like theirs, is quite simple: The best way to impact this world for God’s glory is to make more Christians.
There is no greater field for a harvest than today’s youth. But equally as important as their conversion is the continual reminder of the knowledge of God’s Word and direction of their path through prayer.
There is no greater satisfaction in this life than the peace that comes with the presence of God’s Spirit. And there is no greater way to acquire this than through God’s Word and prayer, God’s Word and prayer, God’s Word and prayer—developing a lifestyle based on these life-giving elements. Missions work is awesome, but young believers must be continually reminded that it’s only by the Spirit of God leading them that they can know and do His will. They must know that their personal and ongoing relationship with Christ must be their primary focus, surpassing anything else.
In America, the spirit of darkness continues to deceive our Christian youth. Why is that? I’d argue that it’s partly because we have them doing all kinds of other things without the rock-solid foundation of being in His Word every day and spending time with Him in prayer.
Did that just rub you the wrong way and offend you? Pray about it! Whoever you are, wherever you are in your ministry, I beg you to do more.
Take a chance and do more. Create a cool gospel track that turns teens’ heads. Develop an innovative way to minister, or intentionally go after types and groups such as skaters. (A great resource for this is the Livin’ It skate videos.) Get a handful of tickets to a relevant Christian music festival or an Acquire the Fire event. Then go to the mall, skate park or local kid hangout spot and give away these seeds of hope that, God willing, will take root and grow and bless the Lord.
Please know that I make these suggestions because they work. Even if you think these kids won’t relate to you, these tools you pass on to them will. I’ve seen it with my own eyes, and you can make a difference. It’s time to get “old school” and do more!
Don’t mourn for the cocoon, for the butterfly has flown. This is the sentiment when a Christian dies. While we sorrow over our loss at the death of a Christian, we also rejoice knowing our loved one has entered heaven. Our mourning for the Christian is mixed with hope, and joy.
At Home With the Lord
When a Christian dies the person’s soul is transported into heaven to be with Christ. TheApostle Paul spoke of this in 2 Corinthians 5:1-8:
For we know that when this earthly tent we live in is taken down (that is, when we die and leave this earthly body), we will have a house in heaven, an eternal body made for us by God himself and not by human hands. We grow weary in our present bodies, and we long to put on our heavenly bodies like new clothing … we want to put on our new bodies so that these dying bodies will be swallowed up by life … we know that as long as we live in these bodies we are not at home with the Lord. For we live by believing and not by seeing. Yes, we are fully confident, and we would rather be away from these earthly bodies, for then we will be at home with the Lord.(NLT)
Speaking again to Christians in 1 Thessalonians 4:13, Paul said, “…we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope” (NLT). Because of Jesus Christ who died and was raised to life again, when a Christian dies, we can grieve with the hope of life eternal. We can grieve knowing our loved ones have been “swallowed up by life” in heaven.
American evangelist and pastor Dwight L. Moody (1837-1899) once told his congregation, “Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now.”
When a Christian dies he is greeted by God. Just before the stoning death of Stephen in Acts 7, he gazed into heaven and saw Jesus Christ with God the Father, waiting for him: “Look, I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing in the place of honor at God’s right hand!” (Acts 7:55-56, NLT)
If you are a believer, your last day here will be your birthday in eternity.
Jesus told us there is rejoicing in heaven when one soul is saved: “In the same way, there is joy in the presence of God’s angels when even one sinner repents” (Luke 15:10, NLT). If heaven rejoices over your conversion, how much more will it celebrate your coronation?
Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his faithful servants. (Psalm 116:15, NIV)
Zephaniah 3:17 declares:
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing. (NIV)
The God who takes great delight in us, rejoicing over us with singing, will certainly cheer us across the finish line as we complete our race here on earth. His angels, too, and perhaps even other believers we’ve known will be there to join in the celebration.
On earth friends and family will be grieving the loss of our presence, while in heaven there will be great joy!
Parson of the Church of England Charles Kingsley (1819-1875) said, “It is not darkness you are going to, for God is Light. It is not lonely, for Christ is with you. It is not unknown country, for Christ is there.”
The Eternal Love of God
The Scriptures do not give us a picture of a God who is indifferent and aloof. No, in the story of the Prodigal Son, we see a compassionate father running to embrace his child, overjoyed that the young man has returned home (Luke 15:11-32).
“…He is simply and altogether our friend, our father—our more than friend, father, and mother—our infinite, love-perfect God…He is delicate beyond all that human tenderness can conceive of husband or wife, homely beyond all that human heart can conceive of father or mother.” –Scottish Minister George MacDonald (1824-1905)
The Christian death is our going home to God; our bond of love will never be broken for all eternity.
And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NLT)
When the sun sets for us on earth, the sun will rise for us in heaven.
Only the Beginning
Scottish writer Sir Walter Scott (1771-1832) had it right when he said, “Death—the last sleep? No, it is the final awakening.”
“Think of how powerless death actually is! Rather than rid us of our health, it introduces us to ‘riches eternal.’ In exchange for poor health, death gives us a right to the Tree of Life that is for ‘the healing of the nations’ (Revelation 22:2). Death might temporarily take our friends from us, but only to introduce us to that land in which there are no goodbyes.” —Dr. Erwin W. Lutzer
“Depend upon it, your dying hour will be the best hour you have ever known! Your last moment will be your richest moment, better than the day of your birth will be the day of your death.” —Charles H. Spurgeon.
In The Last Battle, C.S. Lewis gives this description of heaven: “But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world … had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on forever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.”
“For the Christian, death is not the end of adventure but a doorway from a world where dreams and adventures shrink, to a world where dreams and adventures forever expand.” –Randy Alcorn, Heaven.
“At any point in all of eternity, we can say ‘this is just the beginning.’ ” –Anonymous
Perhaps one of the most exciting promises for believers to look forward to in heaven is described in Revelation 21:3-4:
I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” (NLT)
Elaine Morse, a contributor to About.com’s Christianity site, is well-acquainted with loss. After the death of her father and several close relatives and friends, Elaine was prompted to create a website for grieving Christians. Her uplifting poems, verses and printed materials are designed to give comfort and encouragement to hurting families. To contact her or for more information, visitElaine’s Bio Page.
In his book about heaven, D. L. Moody writes, “Somebody has said that getting riches brings care; keeping them brings trouble; abusing them brings guilt; and losing them brings sorrow. It’s a great mistake to make so much of riches as we do.”
As followers of Christ, we need God’s wisdom in our approach to money. We need to view our checkbooks, bank accounts, and paychecks exactly as He does. He knows we have bills to pay. He knows we need to provide for our families and store up for rainy days. He also knows the brevity of life and the uselessness of money beyond the grave. The most valuable things are those He provides free of charge, like air to breathe and sunlight to bathe our faces. The Lord knows how to provide for us in every condition.
The tentacles of greed wrap themselves around us when we substitute our wisdom for God‘s as it relates to money. May the Lord Jesus give us His wisdom as we remember that nothing we have belongs to us. We belong to Him, and all we have is His.
My mother’s cakes and pies were so delicious that, in her younger days, friends urged her to open her own dessert shop. Unfortunately, Mom didn’t have any daughters—only four boys—but she still recruited us to roll out the dough, faces covered in flour.
She would put the dough half way up the side of the pans, pop them in the oven, and then we’d watch the cakes and breads rise as their mouthwatering aromas wafted through the house.
The yeast that made Mom’s bread rise is the same yeast that Jesus had in mind when he warned the disciples to guard themselves against the teaching (didache) of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Jesus said, “Be on your guard against the yeast of the Pharisees and Sadducees” (Matthew 16:6).
The Pharisees were like the legalists of today; the Sadducees like the cultural Christians of today.
Yeast, which means “bubble, boil, foam,” is a fungus that, when worked into bread, converts fermentable sugars in the dough into carbon dioxide bubbles that form into gas pockets.
Here’s the problem: Bad teaching is like “a little yeast that works its way through the whole batch of dough” (Galatians 5:9). The problem is that it gets stuck in our brains, like the gas pockets from yeast. That’s why Jesus warned his disciples, then and now, that we need to guard against the yeast—like influence of any teaching, however microscopic, that distorts the gospel of Jesus.
Finney’s eyes could bore a hole through any veneer of self-sufficiency or pride. He preached sin and repentance. In his own words, “My object was to bring them to renounce themselves and their all, and give themselves and all they possess to Christ.” An estimated 500,000 people were converted by his preaching, when America’s total population was only 23,000,000. That would be like 6,500,000 converts today.
Finney, a stern, sobering figure, said, “It is of great importance that the sinner should be made to feel his guilt, and not left to the impression that he is unfortunate. I think this is a very prevailing fault, particularly with printed books on the subject. They are calculated to make the sinner think more of his sorrows than of his sins, and feel that his state is rather unfortunate than criminal.”
Finney was all about the sin of it!
D. L. Moody, no doubt influenced by Finney, started his career with much the same approach. During his first trip to England, he met a young preacher, Henry Moorhouse, who came to Chicago and preached in Moody’s church while Moody was away on business.
When he returned home, Moody asked his wife how the young Englishman got along.
“They liked him very much,” she said, and then Moody wanted to know, “Well, did you like him?”
“Yes, very much, although he preaches a little differently from you.”
“How is that?” asked Moody.
“Well,” said his wife, “he tells the worst of sinners that God loves them.”
“Then he is wrong,” said Moody.
At that, his wife simply said she thought Moody would approve when he heard for himself. And that he did. That night the church was packed, everyone brought their Bibles, and Moorhouse went through the Bible proving God’s love.
Moody said, “I never knew up to that time that God loved us so much. This heart of mine began to thaw out; I could not keep back the tears. It was like news from a far country: I just drank it in… I used to preach that God was behind the sinner with a double-edged sword ready to hew him down. I have got done with that. I preach now that God is behind him with love, and he is running away from the God of love.”3
Moody’s career saw hundreds of thousands of converts, and millions more inspired in their walks with God.
So which is it? Are you a desperate sinner who needs to repent, dangling by a slender thread over the fires of hell? Or are you a much loved child running away from the love of Father who delights in you?
On a plain reading of the Bible, there is no doubt that both are true. And virtually every distortion of the “good news of the kingdom of God” is a corruption of the “both/and” of these two great ideas: sin and grace.
The Legalistic Approach
In my ministry, I regularly meet people crippled by legalistic upbringing. The “tells” are always the same. They’ve been pounded about sin, shamed for not obeying “the rules,” guilted for not performing, been made to feel they are an embarrassment to God, and convinced, “I am not worthy.”
It’s bad teaching, much like the yeast of the Pharisees–the legalists of their day.
I also regularly meet people crippled by licentious upbringing. The “tells” are just as revealing. They’ve been taught the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man—that man is basically good, life is a raw deal, “You’re really a good person,” and you “deserve” better.
This too is bad teaching, like the yeast of the Sadducees—the licentious of their day.
The error is: Grace without sin = license.
The Grace-Based Approach
The only really happy Christians I meet are the ones 1) convinced and “feel” that God delights in them and, 2) keenly aware that their hearts are, as Jeremiah said, “desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).
This is good teaching: God’s grace for man’s sin.
The principle is: Grace for sin = liberty
So there you have it: legalism, license, and liberty.
What Does This Mean to You?
First, you will suffer if you buy into even a microscopic change to the teachings of Jesus. Guard yourself against the “yeast-like” influence of any teaching that distorts God’s love or man’s sin. Any teaching that short-shifts God’s amazing love is a “legalistic” corruption of the gospel, and will grind people down. Any teaching that leaves out sin will lead to the “licentiousness” that turns them into the lukewarm Christians that grieve Jesus.
You may be more wired to start with sin. Your approach might be characterized as, “Sin that needs grace.” I get that—we need to repent. That works, but if that’s you, be careful to always make the transition from sin to the solution—God’s love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness. Moody was right about the power of God’s love to draw us in.
You may be more wired to start with grace. Your approach might be characterized as, “Grace for sin.” That works too, and if that’s you, be careful not to make light of sin. Finney was right. We do need to help people understand that the problem the gospel solves is not merely that they are unfortunate, but sinners who need a Savior. That goes for long time Christians too. Everyday we need to humbly repent and renew ourselves in surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.
Second, if you have been “yeasted,” find a church that preaches the “whole” gospel. And if you are prone to self-deprecation, consider a church more wired to start with God’s love. But if you are prone to self-aggrandizement, consider a church more wired to start with man’s sin.
Third, protect yourself by knowing what keeps you in right relationship with God and right relationship with others—whether church, small groups, private mediations, or lunch with a friend.
Protect yourself from the yeast of bad teaching. Don’t let it get stuck in your brain. Guard against any teaching that distorts the gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus.
Pat Morleyis the Founder and CEO of Man in the Mirror. After building one of Florida’s 100 largest privately held companies, in 1991, he founded Man in the Mirror, a non-profit organization to help men find meaning and purpose in life. Dr. Morley is the bestselling author of The Man in the Mirror, No Man Left Behind, Dad in the Mirror, and A Man’s Guide to the Spiritual Disciplines.
Many Christians have heard of Moody Bible Institute, some by meeting a worker trained at the school, others by listening to its radio broadcasts, still others by reading its magazine or some book issued by Moody Press. The noble enterprise we know as Moody Bible Institute is linked with all those things. But Moody Institute itself was the offspring of an organization formed on this day, February 5, 1887 under the name Chicago Evangelization Society. That day also happened to be Moody’s50th birthday.In addition to its other work, the Institute has trained thousands of Christian leaders whose impact has been felt across the world. Emma Dryer, a Moody associate, who had been principal of the Illinois State Normal University, saw the need for the school before he did. After the Chicago Fire, she not only helped those who had lost everything, but developed Bible lessons which she taught to Chicago women. Dryer urged Moody to set up an institution to conduct this same sort of work on a larger scale. When he did not act, she and several others went to their knees in prayer.
Moody’s daily experiences confirmed the need for a Bible training institute. People crowded forward in response to his preaching, desperate to learn how they might be freed of their sins and find peace. He could not personally speak to each person, and it was hard to find counselors to assist everyone who needed instruction. In 1886 the subject of a training school came up in a meeting. Moody addressed those present, saying, “I tell you what I want, and what I have on my heart, I believe we have got to have gap-men: men to stand between the laity and the ministers; men who are trained to do city mission work. Take men that have the gifts and train them for the work of reaching the people.” Emma Dryer’s persistence, backed by the Holy Spirit, had prevailed!
At first the institute was primarily interested in evangelistic work. In May it held a series of training classes known as “May Institute.” One of Moody’s ushers, John Morrison, pointed to a vacant lot and urged Moody to begin praying for it that a school might be built there. Seeing the success of the 1889 May Institute, Moody trustees purchased the lot Morrison had pointed to, and three neighboring houses. The institute opened with eighty students. Moody died in 1899. The following year, the institute was renamed Moody Bible Institute in his honor. Evangelist Reuben A. Torrey developed a program of practical ministries and established a resident faculty and correspondence courses. Succeeding leaders added other ministries, including the Moody Institute of Science.