by Mike Ratliff
“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6 ESV)
In 1980 I moved from the Washington, D.C. area to a suburb of Oklahoma City to take a new job. I was 29 years old and thought I was a Christian because of my on again, off again religiosity. I was single and a political liberal. I was also very close to being a libertine. Sometime during that year I remember reading in The Daily Oklahoman newspaper about a Southern Baptist pastor in Oklahoma City who was one of the leaders in a movement in the Southern Baptist Convention to bring in a more moderate stance on theology and Biblical inerrancy. His name was Gene Garrison. He was at that time the pastor of First Baptist Church of Oklahoma City. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak. (Ephesians 6:17-20 ESV)
Ungodly focus is the focus that everyone has except for the Spirit-filled believer. This focus is oriented to self. Believers who are self-focused are either baby Christians or they have succumbed to Satan’s attacks against them. These attacks are designed specifically to render each believer powerless and without a Christlike testimony. He does this with temptations, fiery darts, that are designed to bring believers to be self-satisfied, self-sufficient, and spiritually arrogant. Of course, these are the marks of a Christian who is not humble, but whose pride is in control. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? (Obadiah 1:3 KJV)
Adapted from a sermon by Charles Spurgeon titled “Self-Deceived”
Human pride is incredibly deceitful. It can so deceive its host that he or she may well believe they are the truly humble. It is true of all proud people, for pride is self-deceit. Some reading this may be proud. In fact, it is those who believe they have no pride who are most likely the proudest of all. Those who are proud of their humility are proud indeed. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
God is an expert at cutting through the blindness and hardness in our hearts. In 1995 I was a Deacon at a church in Oklahoma. I had been a Christian about 10 years at that time. I was at a point in my walk at that time that I am actually ashamed to discuss. I was active in Church, but the rest of the time, I functioned almost as an unbeliever. Then on April 19th I had a huge intervention into my life. While I was in my office at Bank of Oklahoma in downtown Oklahoma City, Timothy McVee set off a massive truck bomb just a block or so North of our building all but wiping out the Federal Building. I wrote about my experiences from this in Do Not Grow Weary. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” (Matthew 6:25-34 ESV)
To be honest, I never thought that I would ever end up in the part of the battle that I have found myself. For the first 19 or so years after my salvation, I was just your typical church member who “occasionally” found my faith peeking through into my work week. As I matured, I became a Bible teacher and a Deacon. I did participate in Evangelism Explosion training and used that training as a counselor on Sunday mornings at the altar. However, the rest of the time I was not exactly giving God much of my time. That changed in 2004. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
Our friend Sherry sent me the following piece by H.L. Roush last week. I was in the midst of several battles at that time and as I read it the Spirit encouraged me greatly. There are times that it is as if those mythical creatures from Hell called Harpies are surrounding us, tormenting us, and doing their all to frustrate us. Of course, there is no such thing as Harpies, but there are demonic powers and our enemy who hates us. They do their all to try to rob God of His glory. They cannot touch Him, so they attack the Church and each individual in it who is actively living for God’s glory. These things can cause us to get our eyes off of our Lord and the prize that awaits in eternity. We become distracted in our frustration and this causes us to become self-focused and on the road to defeat. Continue reading
by Mike Ratliff
The Church is undergoing one of the greatest onslaughts that has ever come upon her. This should not bring those who are in Christ into despair though. In fact, we must never forget that Christ will continue to build His Church until it is complete. No, we must not despair, but we must be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves. We must tell the truth to all, but be wise enough to know that anything good that we do that brings glory to God is done by faith, not by our wills or desires or abilities or determination. Continue reading
In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. (2 Timothy 4:1-4)
Instantly Itching ears
There are some obvious places we can go here with this passage of Holy Scripture, but if you have been following my work in Christ here at Apprising Ministries somehow you knew “I’m not going there” as the kids say. The Lord knows that I do give my best—as one God has called to be a pastor-teacher—to follow this command of the Lord. These verses cut to the heart of the subject of “opinions.”
Opinions are much like noses in our society today, everybody’s got ‘em. Although this passage of Scripture is especially applicable for those of us called to fill the pulpit, it is extremely important for any of us who truly belong to Jesus today as we wallow through this seeker sensitive nightmare of postevangelicalism and the emerging church. And as soon as more true Christians begin to do what these verses instruct us to do, it will serve to clear up a whole slew of huge misconceptions people have about Christianity.
(click here to read this excellent post)
The studies we have done on spiritual warfare, the believer’s armor, the Resurrection, and the marks belonging to genuine Christians have, hopefully, quickened in many of you a deep desire to know our God deeply. Your heart’s desire is to honor and glorify Him because you love Him with your entire being. He has put His truth in you and this love for Him is a product of His good work of sanctification in your heart. You have been awakened to what a miracle your salvation really is and you now have a new perspective that is becoming more and more aligned with God’s. Those who are used by God are called by Him to serve. It is not on their own terms, but His.
Below is a piece by Oswald Chambers that give us insight into the proper perspective believers must have in order to have lives which glorify their Heavenly Father. Enjoy and be blessed. – Mike Ratliff
by Oswald Chambers
Thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ . . . —2 Corinthians 2:14
The proper perspective of a servant of God must not simply be as near to the highest as he can get, but it must be the highest. Be careful that you vigorously maintain God’s perspective, and remember that it must be done every day, little by little. Don’t think on a finite level. No outside power can touch the proper perspective.The proper perspective to maintain is that we are here for only one purpose— to be captives marching in the procession of Christ’s triumphs. We are not on display in God’s showcase— we are here to exhibit only one thing— the “captivity [of our lives] to the obedience of Christ” ( 2 Corinthians 10:5 ). How small all the other perspectives are! For example, the ones that say, “I am standing all alone, battling for Jesus,” or, “I have to maintain the cause of Christ and hold down this fort for Him.” But Paul said, in essence, “I am in the procession of a conqueror, and it doesn’t matter what the difficulties are, for I am always led in triumph.” Is this idea being worked out practically in us? Paul’s secret joy was that God took him as a blatant rebel against Jesus Christ, and made him a captive— and that became his purpose. It was Paul’s joy to be a captive of the Lord, and he had no other interest in heaven or on earth. It is a shameful thing for a Christian to talk about getting the victory. We should belong so completely to the Victor that it is always His victory, and “we are more than conquerors through Him . . .” ( Romans 8:37 ).
“We are to God the fragrance of Christ . . .” ( 2 Corinthians 2:15 ). We are encompassed with the sweet aroma of Jesus, and wherever we go we are a wonderful refreshment to God.
by Mike Ratliff
When Ahab saw Elijah, Ahab said to him, “Is it you, you troubler of Israel?” And he answered, “I have not troubled Israel, but you have, and your father’s house, because you have abandoned the commandments of the LORD and followed the Baals. Now therefore send and gather all Israel to me at Mount Carmel, and the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” (1 Kings 18:17-19 ESV)
There was a time when the English and American cultures were decidedly “Christian.” Those days are long gone. Whatever it is that God is doing through this, the “Remnant” of genuine believers within the visible Church must awaken and become prepared for what is coming. We cannot be complacent any longer. Why? No matter where we turn, we either encounter growing apostasy within the visible Church or neo-pagans, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, or New Agers being included in the “many ways to God.” Atheism is gaining ground all over the Western World.
The Christian world view is no longer prevalent in the West. It is under attack from every direction. What should be astounding to us, however, is that what is replacing it is highly irrational. It claims tolerance yet will not tolerate Christians having a say in anything. Personally, I see these trends as the beginnings of a very hostile environment for the uncompromising Christian. While that may be something we look to with foreboding, I believe it is going to be used by God to cleanse His Church in preparation for the return of her Bridegroom. Continue reading