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Are you in need of peace? Are you in need of hope? Are you in need of healing? Are you in need of purpose? Are you in need of protection? Are you in need of answers?

Have you been searching for help? Have you been searching for someone who cares? Have you been searching for relief? Have you been searching for significance?

Have you struggled with guilt? Have you struggled with shame? Have you struggled with addictions? Have you struggled with insecurity? Have you struggled with depression?

Where is one to go to get help, find answers, be safe, or live a life with purpose? Where can one go to be healed, to be cared for, or to feel important? Where can one go to be free? Where can one go to release burdens and baggage? Where can one go to know hope?

The world we live in today offers so many answers does it not?? Try this, do that, use this, go here, go there, search inside, think big, take this, join here, create happiness, be you, play this, embrace that, give this, give that, improve this, develop that, serve here, serve there, vote for him, vote for her, read this, read that… oh for goodness sake, the list is never ending!
One major problem to what the world offers is that it is just so convincing! How could we not try “it”?! “It” comes with a guarantee and with high ratings. “It” obviously worked for someone else, so “it” must be able to work for me, right??

The truth is – nothing the world has to offer could ever satisfy the deepest longings of the heart and soul. “It” may work temporarily, but never lasting.

“I’m convinced that human beings instinctively seek two things. We long for meaning, a sense that our life somehow matters to the world around us. And we long for community, a sense of being loved” (Philip Yancey, Vanishing Grace, 32).

I need you to know that THERE IS A PLACE you can find peace, hope, healing, purpose, protection, answers, help, care, relief, significance, freedom, mercy, grace, freedom, love, and so much more!

All of these things and more can be found in Jesus Christ. He is the place you can run to! He is the place you can cry out for! He is the place you can search for! He is the place to find life!

In John 14 Jesus spoke to His disciples and told them to not let their hearts be troubled and to trust in God and in Himself. He also advised them that He was about to leave and prepare a place for them where He will be. Then He added: “You know the way to the place where I am going” (italics mine). Thomas replied honestly, seeking answers, “Lord we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way” (verse 5)? Just like Thomas, we, too, doubt the easiness of knowing God. We, too, doubt the simplicity of finding Him. We, too, doubt what we have already been taught. We, too, doubt what is directly in front of us.

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
It is Him! It is Jesus Himself! He is near. He can hear your prayer. He can answer your prayer. He is with you!

Never forget what Paul wrote to remind the church in Philippi, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
In Christ Jesus all your needs will be met! Halleluiah!

I’m NOT suggesting you run to the nearest church or knock on the door of the nearest Christian or get baptized. Those are follow up activities.

Please do not mistake the church for God. Please do not mistake a Christian for Jesus. Please do not mistake an act of worship as salvation.

There is a place to find lasting good news – it is found in the One and Only Jesus Christ.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1: 1-4, 14).

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Something Beth Moore once said about the criteria to which she would write about something was that, “If it is interesting to her, she hopes it will be interesting to someone else”. That is exactly my criteria today.

My eyes have been opened just a little bit more, and my mind has been stretched tremendously as I read Total Truth: Liberating Christianity from It’s Cultural Captivity, by Nancy Pearcy. Couldn’t put the book down, nor did I want to return it to the library. Pearcy is a scholar of Francis Schaeffer and specializes in the subject of Christian worldview. Even though I couldn’t understand about 30% of the book, I still appreciated her writing style…as I didn’t come away feeling stupid, she made me want to learn more.

What I have been anxious to share with you is a portion of her historical research and findings during the First and Second Great Awakenings concerning churches and evangelicalism. I hope you think it to be as fascinating as I did! Pearcy writes:

“So when you think of the frontier, think Dodge City. As Finke and Stark write, you should picture ‘towns filled with male drifters, gamblers, confidence tricksters, whores, and saloon keepers, and without churches, schools, or respectable women.'” 

“The question facing the Christian churches, then was how do you make an effective religious appeal to such uncivilized, rough-hewn people? How do you bring religion to Dodge City? And the answer is that you do exactly what the Methodists and Baptists did in the revival movements: You grab people by the throat with an intense emotional experience to persuade them of the power of the supernatural – then you tell them to stop drinking, stop shooting each other, and live straight.”

“This kind of intense emotional conversion experience is exactly what the camp meetings of the First and Second Great Awakenings aimed to produce. No profound teaching, no high church ceremonies, no theological subtleties, no solemn hymns. Instead the revivalists used simple, vernacular language and catchy folk tunes, delivered with lively theatrics to catch people’s attention and move their emotions. Evangelical preachers broke with the older patten of using sermons to instruct, and began to use their sermons to press hearers to a point of crisis, in order to produce a conversion experience. Instead of talking about a gradual growth in faith through participation in a church, evangelicals began to treat a one-time conversion event as the only sufficient basis for claiming to be a Christian.”

Next, Pearcy writes about the “bad news” concerning these types of camp meetings:

“First, the focus on an intense conversion experience was highly effective in bringing people to faith. But it also tended to redefine religion in terms of emotion; while contributing to a neglect of theology and doctrine and the whole cognitive element of belief. This tendency does enormous damage by reinforcing a conception of Christianity as a noncognitive upper-story experience. Second, the use of vernacular language and simple folk songs was highly effective in reaching ordinary people. But the revivalists often went much further practically wearing their ignorance on their sleeves, as though being theologically educated equated with being spiritually dead. One of their favorite themes was poking fun at the educated clergy ‘back east’. Finally, revivalism led to a new model of leadership. The pastor was no longer a teacher who instructs a covenanted congregation, but a celebrity who is able to inspire mass audiences.”

As Pearcy studied and wrote about Christian worldview, questions arose as to why this was such a difficult message to communicate. She explains, “What are the mental barriers people have against worldview thinking? Why have evangelicals accepted a largely privatized faith? I began digging into books on evangelicalism and as I identified various paradigms from the past, all the pieces fell into place. Many of the trends we confront today were characteristic of the evangelical movement right from the  beginning , and if we trace them down from colonial times, they come alive as never before. Often we do not recognize patterns even in our own thinking unless we gain some outside vantage point, just as fish can’t tell you what water is, because it is all the fish has ever known. Getting a historical perspective is like going up high for an aerial shot, and as we look down through the scope of time we can detect various trends unfolding gradually, which makes them much easier to recognize – and gives us insight into our own time as well. After all, we are heirs to more than 200 years of American history, and these inherited habits of thought shape our ideas and practices today.”

Wow!! So good…

Lord, open my spiritual eyes to see my life from Your perspective. Reveal to me ways/sins/attitudes that I have in which I don’t even recognize as being harmful to myself, my walk with You, and to my family. Open our spiritual eyes as the Body of Christ to reveal ways/programs/attitudes that would hinder the Kingdom of Light. May You be glorified!

Amen.

Jennifer Johnson

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"To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father—to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen." -Revelations 1:5b-6

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