Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

As Satan Was Falling

June/Training for Mission

3 June 2010

From the summit of the kingdom of heaven, of the habitation of angels, puffed up by the brilliance of his [own] splendour, by the beauty of his [own] appearance, Lucifer had fallen...

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

And he said to them, "I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven."

- Luke 10.18

The Greek of Jesus' words could be translated, "I was watching Satan fall like lightning from heaven." The disciples had come back from their mission amazed that "even the demons" were subject to them. How could that be? Jesus' answer said it all: He was there when Satan was cast out. He had power over the devil, and He extended that power to His disciples.

Beyond that, Jesus demonstrated His power over the devil during the temptation in the wilderness (Matt. 4.1-11). Here was Jesus, at His weakest, and Satan in all his strength. Yet Jesus dispatched him with ease: "one little word shall fell him!" Later, Jesus explained that He had bound the devil and was plundering his holdings, taking back souls, cultures, and whole societies, and reconciling all things back to God.

Columcille wanted his students to know that God's power was with them; Satan could not harm or impede them when they went in the power of Jesus, obedient to His Word. And go they did - by the hundreds and thousands. Fearless witnesses for Christ from all over Ireland, they re-evangelized almost all of Europe, and the devil could do nothing to stop them.

Where are such witnesses in our day? Where are the pastors who are training their people to go boldly in the Name of Jesus, unafraid of the devil, much less mere men, to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom and liberate lost souls into the Kingdom of light? Why don't our pastors teach, train, and send us for this any more? Do they lack the vision of Columcille?

Or do they lack the confidence in Him Who was watching, as Satan was cast down to earth and, later, bound?

Today in ReVision: Engulfed - We need to pray for the Gulf, and for the President.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Pastors, check yourself out with this little tool.

Pray for us as we finish up our ministry plan for the coming year. More on that later. For now, check out our book store when you can.

And if you want to follow the downfall of Satan, check out each week's installment of Every Thought Captive at the website, where we're charting his defeat in his own words. Current installment: Portent.

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The True Struggle

June 04, 2010

The True Struggle

June/Training for Mission

4 June 2010

The great Dragon, worst of all, terrible and ancient...dragged a third part of the stars with him into the abyss of the infernal places...

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

And another sign appeared in heaven: behold, a great red dragon...His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and cast them to earth.

- Revelation 12.3, 4

Columcille was very wise in preparing men for mission among the various pagan and backslidden Christian populations of Scotland and beyond. He knew that the real struggle was not with local kings, pagan shamans, or compromised priests and bishops. The real struggle is, and always will be, spiritual.

Our enemy is clever, and he knows us very well. While he's not omnipresent, he has plenty of henchmen at his disposal to do his bidding against us. And, while Satan has been bound, so that we can effectively resist and banish him, he's still quite powerful, because he knows just how to approach each of us.

We are vulnerable to temptation and sin; the moment we think we aren't, we're in trouble. We must never forget that our real struggle, our ultimate campaign, is not against atheists, evolutionists, progressives, secularists, Muslims, or any other human actors. We are in a spiritual struggle, and we can only make progress in this fight when we arm ourselves with the right weaponry and engage the enemy in the power of God's Word and Spirit.

This requires daily readiness, constant vigilance, and courage to oppose spiritual forces of wickedness with spiritual power from God's Word. If we ever lose sight of our true enemy, we will end up wasting our energies on fruitless combats. Of course, we must stand up for Truth at every turn, and expose the Lie of our enemy no matter its form. But at the end of the day, let us never forget: our struggle is against spiritual forces of wickedness in high places, and our only hope and power is through God's Word, prayer, and simple obedience.

Today in ReVision: "Comprehensive" - When you hear that word, listen up.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - How you can begin to know more of it, right here, free of charge.

Stop by our book store and see what's available to help you in your walk and your ministry.

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Creator of Stars

June 07, 2010

Creator of Stars

June/Training for Mission

7 June 2010

At the same time that the stars, the lights of the ether were made, the angels all praised the Lord, the Maker of heavenly things...out of love and free will, not simply from inborn nature.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

Give thanks to the Lord of lords...to him who made the great lights, for his steadfast love endures forever.

- Psalm 136.3, 7

I recall once asking a men's group why we should praise the Lord. There was a long silence, then one man spoke up, "Well, I praise the Lord," he said rather meekly, "for all the kind and loving things He does for me each day." "But what if He never did anything kind and loving for you? Would He still be worthy of your praise?" Hmmm.

The angels praised the Lord because they saw in Him the perfection of beauty, power, wisdom, and steadfast love, in the face of which they simply could not keep silent. It's interesting to note that, in Columcille's understanding, the creation of the spiritual realm was all completed before the first material creatures were called into existence. The Scriptures do not mention the creation of the angels, except, perhaps in the broad-brush reference to the "hosts" God created during this period (Gen. 2.1).

He Who created the stars, which caused all ancient peoples to wonder and fear, and He Whom the angels praised out of a free will, is certainly worthy of the praise and devotion of those men Columcille was preparing for mission. He mentions in this stanza that the angels sang their praise to God; this is one reason poetry and singing were so important to Celtic Christians: they felt that proper praise should be artfully given with the whole mind, heart, and body. Music and poetry made this possible.

The Creator of the stars is worthy of our praise, not because of what He does for us, but because of Who He is. And the more we draw close to Him, day by day, and come to know Him as He is, the more we, like the angels, will find ourselves living in praise of Him. The Lord inhabits the praises of His people, as even the suffering Savior knew (Ps. 22.3). Let us therefore praise Him with angels, praise Him with poetry and song.

Today in ReVision: On Schedule - The recovery is proceeding just as the President planned.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Pastors, check out your own faithfulness, and discover some ways you can improve. It's free.

Our book store is open for business. Keep watching as we are preparing some new resources to help you in your walk with the Lord.

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Bundled

June 08, 2010

Bundled

June/Training for Mission

8 June 2010

Frail men would be stupefied with fear at the horror of their faces and the sound of their flight, not being able with bodily vision to behold those things which are now tied in bundles in the knotted bonds of dungeons.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment...

- 1 Peter 2.4

Columcille is referring to the binding of Satan and his angels, the restraint imposed on them by the Lord Jesus Christ through the Word of God. He continues to set the stage properly for the call to mission. The prospect of being sent out into pagan lands must have been somewhat intimidating, but Columcille wanted them to be sure they knew that nothing could stand in their way when they went in the Name of Jesus.

Jesus bound the devil at the temptation in the wilderness, and reflected on this event in his answer to the religious leaders of the day in Matthew 12.22-29. With Satan bound, his holdings - the souls and cultures of men - were wide open to be plundered by the servants of the Lord. Columcille could send his disciples out in the confidence that, while the devil had not been rendered entirely harmless (1 Pet. 5.8), those who go in the faith of Jesus and trusting in His Word have nothing to fear.

And what about us? Does the prospect of talking with others about our Lord Jesus Christ fill us with excitement or dread? Do we fear men and shy away from bringing the Gospel up for their consideration? If so, the devil has already accomplished all he could ever hope to achieve with us.

The devil is bound and bundled. Why should we allow ourselves to be? Why should we be restrained in our speech, our witness, and challenge to others to consider the claims of Jesus Christ? We are free in the Lord and His Spirit, imbued with power from on high to be witnesses for Jesus Christ. Let's not get our roles confused: the devil is bound and bundled; we are free and filled with power to make the Name of Jesus known and to proclaim the glory of His Kingdom!

Today in ReVision: On Schedule - The economic recovery is proceeding apace, or so the President would have us believe.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Download it for free and evaluate your ministry at present.

In the book store you'll find a growing raft of resources to help you know the fullness of your liberty in Christ.

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Whom to Fear

June 09, 2010

Whom to Fear

June/Training for Mission

9 June 2010

Plucked from the midmost place, he was hurled down by the Lord...so that men should not...commit fornication before the eyes of all.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

And now, Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you, but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him...

- Deuteronomy 10.12

We don't hear much talk these days about fearing the Lord. Even though God requires it of us. Now if God requires that we fear Him, and links fearing Him with walking in His ways, loving Him, and serving Him, don't you think that His servants who minister His Word should spend a little more time instructing the rest of us in the hows and whys of this important affection?

Columcille taught his monks to fear the Lord. As the Lord had lashed out in fury against the rebellion of Satan, and cast him from his lofty place to the depths of the abyss, so God can bring rebellious sinners under the pains of His discipline. So great is His love for us that He will not simply sit by and allow us to ruin our lives and the lives of others with unacknowledged sin. He will bear down on us unpleasantly, until we repent (Heb. 12.1-11).

If we fear the devil we will be timid in the ways of the Lord. If we fear the Lord we will walk in His favor and strength, and nothing and no one will be able to stand against us as we carry the banner of the Kingdom into every area of our lives. If we fear men we will not fear God; if we fear God we will love men and so persuade them to fear and love the Lord as well.

It comes down, then, to whom you will fear. Whom do you fear right now, this moment, as you think of the day ahead? The devil? He is bound and bundled. The people to whom you've been sent as a witness? All they can do is kill you - but they probably won't. The Lord? Fear the Lord and no devil and no man can keep you from your mission. Fear the Lord, and rejoice in Him!

Today in ReVision: Good as New - No, Better! - Ken Salazar must have a miracle up his sleeve.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Get a copy of this free brochure and give it to your pastor. He'll thank you for it.

Just a reminder that we depend on your gifts to keep our ministry going. Go to the website, www.MyParuchia.com, and click on the donate button, or send your tax-exempt contribution to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 100 Lamplighter Ct., Hamilton, VA 20158. And thanks for standing with us.

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Ruler of Kings

June 10, 2010

Ruler of Kings

June/Training for Mission

10 June 2010

The frail, oppressive, and fleeting glory of the kings of the present world is laid low by God's will.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator

"Listen to me, you who know righteousness, the people in whose heart is my law; fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings."

- Isaiah 51.7

Let's remember that Columcille, who wrote the poem, Altus Prosator, for the monks under his care on the island of Iona, was in the business of mission, and of training men to take the Gospel to faraway places. In those days petty rulers owned all the land, and if you wanted to set up a preaching station, you had to have the approval of the local authority. Many a Celtic missionary was subjected to red martyrdom by kings who didn't like what they heard.

At this point in his poem, Columcille has effectively nullified the devil's terror over his trainees. Now he wants to assure them that they have nothing to fear from the kings of the earth. The God they serve, and Whose Kingdom they are going forth to announce, rules the kings of the earth and brings them low when they try to oppose His will. Yes, some may know hardship in the process of advancing the Kingdom; however, ultimately the God Who made all things and bound the devil will flex His power over the oppressors of men as well.

When you think of initiating a conversation with someone in your Personal Mission Field, a conversation that you intend to direct toward the Gospel - how does that make you feel? Hesitant? Filled with trepidation? Fearful? The God Who rules the kings of the earth rules the hearts and minds of the people to whom He has sent us. He is readying many of them for the Good News of His Kingdom and His Son. And He has commissioned us to the task.

"Fear not the reproach of man, nor be dismayed at their revilings." What can they do to us that is so fearful it would prevent us from telling them the Good News of Jesus?

Today in ReVision: Good as New - No, Better!

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry

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Sovereign

June 11, 2010

Sovereign

June/Training

11 June 2010

By the divine powers of the great God the globe of the earth is suspended, and the circle of the great abyss set, held up by God, by the mighty hand of the Omnipotent.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.

- Hebrews 1.3

Once the meaning and implications of the sovereignty of God and Jesus Christ begin to become real to you, your faith will change forever. You think you know the love of Christ, because you feel forgiven and you know He looks down on you with favor. Indeed. But if that's all you know of the love of Christ, it's no wonder your prayer life is so paltry.

Even as you take mild offense at that last sentence, the Lord upholds the photons of light streaming off the computer screen into your eyes, where, by His continuous sovereignty, He translates light into electricity and chemistry, speeding it along the neurons of your brain where, by some miracle of spiritual existence, meaning comes through. Every breath you take, every molecule and atom of your body, of the chair in which you're seated and the room around you is there, and remains there, because Jesus holds it in place. He loves you that much.

And even when you aren't thinking about Him, He never takes His eye off you, never withdraws His personal attention to all your needs, never fails to dispatch His angels to guard you or to direct His Spirit in how to guide you. He is with you always, sovereignly and lovingly doing all things well and working all things together for your good. If you love Him.

He is sovereign. Don't fret the small stuff. Don't worry about the unknown. Don't lose sight of His mission and purpose for you. He is sovereign and He will never fail you nor forsake you. With that message burned into the depths of their souls, young Irish monks felt fires of love igniting for Jesus, and they went by the thousands into unknown cultures and lands to declare the message that Jesus is sovereign, and that He loves us.

If only that message would work for us.

Today in ReVision: Count on It - The churches will be there to help in the Gulf.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Get a copy for your pastor. Will he thank you? He should.

And stop by the book store. Come on in, we have some very useful resources and more coming on line soon.

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The Tree of Life

June 14, 2010

The Tree of Life

June/Training for Mission

14 June 2010

We read in the most noble opening of Genesis that Paradise was planted by the Lord in the beginning, from whose spring the four rivers flow, and in whose flowering midst is the tree of life whose leaves, bringing health to the peoples, do not fall, and whose fertile delights cannot be told.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

...also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.

- Revelation 22.2

This excerpt demonstrates both the poetical power and theological acumen of Columcille. In one stanza he collapses all of history - creation to new creation - and all of Scripture - Genesis 1, 2 to Revelation 22 - into a single idea, organized around the Tree of Life. This is the way God sees creation, time, history, and His redemptive economy - collapsed into a solid, rhythmic space where all His decrees come to pass in His way and time.

Note too the change in verb tenses - from "was" in the first part of the stanza to "do not fall" and "cannot be told" (present tenses) at the end. Columcille has brought all of God's original design for the creation forward to the present, along with all the future hope of the new heavens and new earth. This emphasizes the certainty of what God has promised and will do.

Imagine how such a way of thinking of the whole of history would have encouraged and emboldened a young recruit preparing to go off on mission! God's will is perfect and sure! What He has ordained cannot fail! And we are commissioned and privileged to carry this glorious Good News to the world! No wonder those thousands of young people didn't fail!

Friends, our vision is simply too small. We tend to see the life of faith only in terms of what's in it for us; how is trusting Jesus going to help me today? But the faith of Christ is a faith for all times, all people, all healing, and all fruitfulness. We are the ambassadors of that faith to the world, beginning in our own Personal Mission Fields. Let us be encouraged by the example of our forebears and the certainty of God's Word to go in Jesus' Name with the greatest news anyone could ever hope to hear!

To whom will you take this Good News today?

Today in ReVision: The False Hope of Politics - Meanwhile, no change in government will heal what ails this nation.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Pastor, make some copies of this for your pastor friends, and sit down and discuss it together.

Get your copy of The Legacy of Patrick and discover how the Celtic revival can enlarge your vision for the life of faith.

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The Prophet and His Law

June/Training for Mission

15 June 2010

Who has ascended Mount Sinai to speak with the Lord...save Moses, judge of the people of Israel?

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

"The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers - it is to him you shall listen..."

- Deuteronomy 18.15

Only one stanza of Altus Prosator deals with events on earth - this one. The focus is on the giving of the Law and the authority of Moses, an authority ultimately passed down to Jesus, Who perfectly fulfilled the Law - for our redemption (Matt. 5.17-19) - and Who prescribed the Law as the way to love God and men (Matt. 22.34-40).

It's almost as if Columcille is saying to his disciples, "When it comes to things here on earth, all you have to know is, pursue holiness in the fear of God." This is the essence of Kingdom-seeking. We pursue holiness by resting in Jesus' finished work. He alone provides the righteousness we need to be acceptable to God.

But we also pursue holiness by walking in the steps of Jesus (1 Jn. 2.1-6), learning from His Spirit (Ezek. 36.26, 27), and finding in the Law not a burden to break us but a luminous path of liberty and life (Lev. 18.1-5). And when we find that, by the grace of God alone, we are actually able to keep the Law in the power of the Spirit, we will be quick to acknowledge that it is "not unto us, not unto us, O Lord, but to Your own Name be glory!" (Ps. 115.1)

Christians are called to holiness; the Law of God is holy (Rom. 7.12) and the Holy Spirit teaches us by that law (Jn. 16.8-11). We cannot take up the mission to which we are called without underscoring and infusing all our conversation, works, and relationships with the holiness and love of God's Law. This is the foundation of mission, as of all the Christian life. If we listen to Jesus, the Prophet Moses foresaw, we will obey and teach the Law as central to our calling to follow Him.

Today in ReVision: The False Hope of Politics

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry

Get a copy of John Nunnikhoven's Voices Together and start learning to pray the psalms, as the saints of old did. Go to the book store today.

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In the Meantime

June 16, 2010

In the Meantime

June/Training for Mission

16 June 2010

When Christ, the most exalted Lord, descends from heaven, the most glorious sign of the Cross, and the banner, will shine forth. And when the two chief luminaries are covered up, the stars will fall to the earth like fruits from a fig-tree, the whole expanse of the world will be like the blaze of a furnace: then multitudes will hide themselves in caverns of the mountains.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming day of God...

- 2 Peter 3.11, 12

Christianity is a way of life lived with a view to the end. We have been given advanced notice of the way things work out and what will be the final disposition of all things. Awaiting the world is a time of judgment before God Almighty, in which only they will escape uncondemned who have trusted in the righteousness of Jesus Christ and confirmed that trust by loving and serving Him.

As for the rest, well, hiding in caverns and calling the mountains to cover them will do no good. The end of unrepentant sinners, Celtic Christians were taught, is too horrible to consider. Everyone must be given fair warning of the coming judgment and pleaded with to turn to Jesus while they can. And our lives must be of such virtue, self-denial, and service that people see in us a reality they cannot explain other than by the Word we urge them to receive for themselves.

This is how Celtic missionaries were trained. They knew every day was fraught with urgency and opportunities to persuade lost souls to find shelter and new life in Jesus Christ. The remarkable lives of the Celtic missionaries - both in terms of their daily disciplines and their service to others - made their message one to be carefully considered. And multitudes did.

What manner of people ought we to be, knowing what we know about the outcome of all history and the final estate of men? Do we love God enough to represent His message and lifestyle to the world? Do we love our neighbors enough to plead with them to repent and believe the Gospel? A time of judgment is coming; in the meantime, let us live like those who know this is so.

Today in ReVision: Oiling Along - The President's speech was smooth, but troubling.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Here's a little tool to evaluate your ministry, pastor. And it's free.

We thank those of you who have contributed to our ministry and visited our book store. May the Lord's blessings be with you in all things.

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Hindrance to Faith

June 17, 2010

Hindrance to Faith

June/Training for Mission

17 June 2010

The wrathful zeal of fire will consume the enemy, who do not wish to believe that Christ came from God the Father.

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

"I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me."

- John 17.20, 21

Three of the defining features of the Christianity that flourished during the Celtic revival (ca. 430-790 AD) are their powerful commitment to the spiritual life, their devotion to mission, and their strong communal bond. They understood the value of working hard, all day long, at their relationship with Christ - to see Him in His glory, commune with Him in prayer, and sink their roots in Him through His Word. They risked their lives over and over to reach pagan peoples with the Gospel. And they built and maintained strong communities of co-laborers and friends in service to others.

So what do you think? Were Columcille's words in this stanza just an accident? Or did he deliberately choose that phrasing - "Christ came from God the Father" - to pull those three facets of Celtic Christianity into a focus for his disciples? That phrase captures the importance of union with Christ and God, of unity in the community of the brethren, and of mission to the lost world in a brilliant and memorable way. Those preparing for mission would have gotten the point and understood that Columcille was underscoring all three of these aspects of the life of faith as crucial to their success.

It's no wonder we're so poor at evangelism and at winning people to Christ these days. Most Christians have a fairly superficial relationship with the Lord; I watch their eyes glaze over in complete unknowing as I talk to them about engaging God in His glory as our highest calling in life. Most churches have nothing to do with any other churches in their community, thus offering a hindrance to the credibility of the Gospel. And most believers haven't talked about their faith with anybody outside the church in years - for whatever reason. We have very little burden for mission.

What is the greatest hindrance to evangelism and belief? We are. We are, friends; and until we face up and 'fess up on this, nothing's going to change and the lost will just continue on their merry way to the consuming fire of the Lord.

Today in ReVision: Oiling Along - How'd the President do in his speech the other night? Well...

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Download a free copy for your pastor. If he won't take it, take it for him.

Tonight we pray for revival. Write me if you like to join us, and I'll send you the call-in information and prayer sheet.

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Love not the World

June 18, 2010

Love not the World

June/Training for Mission

18 June 2010

Who can satisfy God in the last times, when the noble rules of truth have been changed, save for those who scorn this present world?

- Columcille, Altus Prosator (Irish, 6th century)

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

- 1 John 2.15

Celtic missionaries lived an austere life. In the first generations, at least, they took nothing from the world, but learned to live off the generous supply of their faithful God and the work of their own hands. Initially a missionary might go off by himself and build a little hut in the woods. There he could live off the land while he learned to trust God and praise Him with greater frequency and consistency, and began to build bridges with whatever people might be living around him.

He might then be joined by a few disciples, and they would acquire property - often as a gift from some friendly ruler - which they would then develop for agriculture, living, and worship. As the community grew, so did their industry and their outreach. They rejected the comforts of the court and refused the lavish gifts often proffered to gain their favor. They lived simply but powerfully, and many came to Christ through their efforts.

They did not love the world, and, as a result, the love of God shone mightily in and through them. And what about us? Would those who know us say that we do not love the world? That we are so manifestly focused on pleasing our heavenly Father that nothing this world might offer to entice us away from Him has any allure whatsoever?

The way to keep from loving the world is to love God more. This means prayer, solitude, contemplation, observing His glory in the world around, and talking with others about Him as though He were, indeed, just the best thing in your life. When we know God truly, we will love nothing more. And then we will be ready to be used for His glory.

Today in ReVision: What They Really Think - South Carolina Democrats just can't get it right.

This Week's Download: Faithfulness in Ministry - Evaluate your own ministry, free of charge.

Visit our book store and check out the resource there. More to come later this summer.

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