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July 27, 2014

While preparing to meet a high ranking diplomat, a visitor was asked to come in reverently. The instructions included the appropriate attire; how to stand: even his expression. He was not allowed entry unless he followed several specific instructions. The current trend of church-goers feel the opposite about coming to God. It is widely purported that God doesn’t care how you come to worship. American Christianity has replaced reverence for relevance. We’re more concerned about being relevant with our culture than being respectful to the Lord and the things of God, but our God is a holy God.

Isaiah 64 puts his power in full display. Psalm 99 states the Lord reigns, so let the people tremble because of it. Moses had to take his shoes off in the desert because the place where he stood was “holy ground.” The priests entered the Holy place, prepared and in order. So while anyone can come to God in whatever fashion life finds them, our pursuit is to please the Lord of Heaven and earth; not dumb down our coming. If diplomats can demand such things, how much more should the people of God present themselves holy before the Lord? Paul said to lift up holy hands - it matters how we worship. Yes, we can boldly approach the throne, but He is still the King of Righteousness and we must recognize Him as such.

 

July 19, 2014

Jesus said, “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the Harvest that he will send forth laborers into the harvest.” The Great Commission echoes this sentiment: teach the Gospel to the world. Acts 1:8 tells us that the Holy Ghost will give us power to become witnesses. The scripture is replete with this admonition; to reach the lost. However, the modern day church has turned inward, thinking of their own benefit and what they will “get out it.”

 

JFK said it right in his speech: “Ask not what your country will do for you, but ask what you can do for your country.” I am tagging onto his famous line by saying, “Ask not what the church can do for you, but ask what you can do for the church.” Jesus did not say for us to pray for the lost (harvest). He did not indicate that the issue was a sinful world. It was the laborers that was and remain the issue. Few are in the field. The prayer is for the saved that they will become workers in the field of harvest. Home Bible studies are a must for the saint of God. Witnessing to the lost is imperative according to Jesus. Soul-winning in its simplest form is the commandment of the Lord we worship. So I am praying today for the church to become the laborers in the field of our city. It is the commandment of Christ and the purpose of His Church.

July 12, 2014

The old English phrase was probably taken from Saul’s death, “falling on one’s own sword.” The example from the 1382 Wycliffe translation gives us insight referring to a death by one’s own hand rather than to be taken alive. Yet I am interested in another sword the scripture calls the Word of God. The opposite happens when we fall on the Sword of the Lord. Yes, there is a death of the flesh, but there is also a life in the Spirit. The Word is called the Bread; the Rock; and The inspired Word of God.

It is the Sword of the Lord and to fall upon it causes a cutting away of intents and motives contrary to God, but it also brings understanding and wisdom. To fall on the Word is to rest on His promises: to rely on His blessings. There is hope in The Word of our God.

 

Make no mistake; while this Sword gives us direction and purpose, it also removes our fleshly nature, and that process never comes without a fight. Hebrews says that it divides, cuts, and checks every thought. While we need God’s Word in our everyday lives, we must also welcome the outcome of its existence. My prayer for you today is that His Word would be welcomed in your heart and mind: that we would receive the Word with all readiness of mind, knowing that it is working something beautiful in our lives.

June 29, 2014

When Joshua crossed the Jordan on dry ground, he ordered each tribe to gather stones for a monument. He wanted future generations to remember the miracle and the meaning of their crossing. He said, “these stones” shall remind us of God’s covenant. Joshua knew that if the Crossing was forgotten, lost or redefined, then the future would be lost also. Yet years later that meaning was lost and another generation grew up not knowing the significance of God’s work or of the deeds of Joshua.

Today definitions have been changed to fit into our present paradigms. What it means to be free is embattled as those once established principles have morphed into the present culture. For the sake of our coming week I point toward the Flag of the United States of America.

Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reported on the Seal, which held the first meaning: “The colors of the pales are those used; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness and valor, and Blue, perseverance and justice.” These colors were then transferred after 1776 to the flag that flies across our land.

However, internet bloggers now write that White stands for tolerance and peace, Red is for blood, perhaps unwarranted, and Blue stands for the oceans of the world that belong to mother earth and all her creatures.

 

Naturally, many in this hour have lost the meaning of the very things upon which we were built. Our country is in desperate need of an awakening; both spiritually and historically. If we forget what “these stones” mean, then we will lose the value of our own crossing. I am praying for this awakening as we remember, correctly, the cost of this land.

June 15, 2014

Can I preach it again?

Jesus called Lazarus out of the tomb but He did not set him free. The Lord commanded that “they” unloose him and set him free. Jesus could have done all the work by Himself, but He gave that task to the men who were witness to the movement of this former dead man as he appeared before a darkened tomb. The lesson is that Jesus could have, but did not bring Lazarus out, unbound and loose.

Men are called out by the Word of the Lord, but it takes other men, godly men, to unloose our brothers and set them free. Men, fathers, husbands; all represent the strength of the church. Notwithstanding our society is set against the leadership of men; God has ordained us to lead. Even though the classrooms have feminized the student body; there is no substitute for men of integrity and honor who act and live like Men.

God has called us to be leaders, protectors, and keepers of our wives, families and the church. We are designed for worship, sacrifice, and open praise. If other men are to be set free, it will be up to us who have the courage to guide and direct them. If our world is to be unloosed from the mountain of addictions and false philosophies, it will be because there are a group of godly men that are willing to engage and confront every vain notion perpetrated against them. We are the backbone of the body and we are commissioned to stand in the face of every evil and every deception.

So I pray today that our church will grow, not just numerically, but spiritually with holy men of God leading the way. This is our collective and individual calling.

June 8, 2014

Can Jesus be saved? It’s an odd question but the fact remains that He may very well be lost to us. His teachings and Gospel delivered by Peter on Pentecost is fading into the scenery of an amenable Christian culture. New books are declaring a revised version of salvation based on intent not on specifics.

Yet Jesus’ resurrection leads us into this new birth experience. He spoke about it to Nicodemus in John 3 and then poured it out in an upper room where 120 people remained to pray. Today Christianity has drifted from those scriptures in search of a more “enlightened” look at doctrine. His Lordship and Headship is now reduced to general themes and self-discovery of personal doctrines. The American church no longer believes in the strict adherence to the scripture; following instead some general concept of the story.

The only way to truly “save” Jesus is for us to follow His commandments. His great commission instructed us to teach and baptize the whole world. While a macro view of the Bible is healthy, the Word has specifics for living and salvation. Jesus gave Peter the Keys to the Kingdom of Heaven and Peter preached those Keys in Acts 2:38, Repent, and be Baptized in Jesus’ name and you shall receive the Promise which is the Holy Ghost! It is the Gospel: Death in Repentance; Burial in Baptism of water in Jesus’ name; and the Resurrection in the Baptism of the Holy Ghost evidenced by speaking in other tongues. The demand on the church and on our lives is to deliver this Gospel. Pentecost is here and if Jesus and His message is to be “saved” we must tell it, live it, and deliver it to our world.

June 1, 2014

Diet is the common theme in this “processed” generation. Both government and farmers alike are focused on food and it’s manufacturing. The basic premise has been whatever people eat is what they become. Trans-fats, processed foods and a host of items now concern nutritionists as related health issues rise. The effects of a poor diet has an exponential cost in many areas of life and the economy.

In the exact fashion the church is witnessing the effects of a non-stop, state-funded educational agenda that promotes an anti-god message. Our children are taught that Faith is private, subjective, and compartmentalized. Schools now teach that Truth is relative and the greatest virtues are openness, tolerance and diversity. The irrelevance of God is waved like a banner at every educational station while the church becomes marginalized. No wonder we are struggling to keep our children focused on righteousness and Truth. We have allowed the state to tell them that science is not in the Bible; history denies God; absolutes are nonexistent. The diet of our children, 5 days a week, 8 hours a day is secularism. They are told over and over: accept Gay, reject God.

Solomon wrote: Prov. 6:10-11 “Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man.” Therefore we must not sleep in this hour. We will become what we take in. I am challenged to watch and pray and seek God’s wisdom. These are the last days and we must be aware of our responsibility and submit our lives to His authority and leading.

 

May 25, 2014

In haste to advance self, mankind has removed God’s requirements from the conversation. To offer God’s requirements afresh seems only fitting considering the environment of our days. God’s law deals in both the mind and heart; both in actions and thought; deed and duty. Grace does not remove us from working our faith, as James so aptly put. We are commanded to be a peculiar people and an holy nation. Pleasing society has become the stumbling block for the Christian. David wrote how the wicked believe that God has no requirements: Ps 10:13 “The wicked renounce God and say that He will not bring us into account, or require anything of us.”  Micah rose to ask the question that demands an immediate action in our lives. Micah 6:8 “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Do justly, love mercy, walk humbly. Take out any one of those three and you will find an unbalanced and troubled life.

God’s requirements are woven through His book. Love your enemies; give and it shall be given you; pray without ceasing; and so much more. Living as if God asks nothing of us is not only foolish but it’s purposefully naive. He will call us into account on that day. God is coming back for a spotless bride, whose garment is not wrinkled or stained by this world or the philosophies that oppose godliness. He’s not coming back for part-time Christians or hearers of the Word only. He’s coming back for a people full of faith; a church that loves His appearing; and a people called by His name who follow His statutes. For this cause I preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified, not self-ambition and personal gain. We are seeking after the requirements of the Lord.

May 18, 2014

Col. 4:12-13 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea and them in Hierapolis.

Epaphras is not a common figure among us. We know him as a member of the church in Colosse and also one who suffered imprisonment with Paul at one time. What comes to the forefront is the spirit of the Intercessor that existed in him. Paul wrote that Epaphras labored fervently in prayer for the saints. Another version says that he “wrestled in prayer on their behalf.” The work of The Intercessor is not always known among the body. It was not until Paul pointed towards Epaphras that we know of his worth.

Those who pray for one another are pivotal to the body. Their voices may not be heard but they are holding back hell and holding up faith. I know that I am personally sustained by the prayers of the saints. I do not stand on my own and I am not self-sufficient in this ministry. We all stand by the Grace of God and through the consistent, fervent prayers of the intercessors who battle fervently in the Spirit.

This Hedge is no trivial matter. It is a life saver. The value of the Intercessor’s prayers cannot be measured by our natural eyes or this physical realm. Yet they are the very elements that add to our stability. Remove them and there is little hope that any of us would survive. We must have an Epaphras working for us and among us; laboring in prayer. The Spirit is still calling for people of great zeal to stand in the gap.

 

April 27, 2014

While reviewing the ever-growing  absentee rate among students, I was reminded how critical it is simply being present. Teachers say that even the most basic information is missed when students are not in class. They also note that textbooks do not provide the learning process that comes via attendance.

Acts 1:26 speaks of the value of being present as the disciples made their case to replace Judas, of the which they said, “he was numbered with us.” They chose Matthias, saying of him that “he was numbered with” them, being present. There is no reference to Matthias’ background; no resume entered or qualifications mentioned, though I’m sure he was qualified. The greater truth is that Matthias was with them. He was numbered with the twelve because he was physically present throughout their ministries and their time with Jesus.

Hebrews tells us not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together, but to do it more as the final days approach. Joshua learned from Moses because he was present with Moses. The disbelief and doubt of Thomas, which has plagued his name for centuries, came about when he was not present when Jesus appeared through a wall. Thomas said, “I won’t believe unless I touch the Lord’s hands and feet.” None of the other disciples made that demand because they were there at the moment of the miracle.

 

Being in this house has the benefit that an audio recording does not have. There is a value like none other when we become first hand witnesses of the power of the Holy Ghost occurring in this house. So I say, Come and go with me to my father’s house.

April 20, 2014

This story is the pivot point of the whole world: when Jesus died on a cross, spent three nights in a borrowed tomb, and rose again on the third day. That moment changed the destiny of every person gracing the earth. The sacrifice of Jesus changed the course of human history. When He rose from the grave. He conquered death for all mankind. To think that Emmanuel, the great Almighty was manifest in the flesh to shed His own blood is a story beyond our telling. Yet, it must be told and retold again and again because it is the moment of our redemption.

We are living testimonies of the goodness of the Lord and of His salvation. His Joy sustains us through every season of life and our Hope comes from the resurrected Savior. Through the baptism of the Holy Ghost, we have risen to walk in newness of life.  Yet all of it came at a price. It was the price of suffering. It came at the cost of pain and anguish. The Lamb of God hadto be slain to pay for the sins of the world. We take special note that Jesuscould not have resurrected until andunless He first felt the sting of death: unless He first felt the coldness of the tomb. C.S. Lewis wrote...

Love's as hard as nails,
Love is nails:
Blunt, thick, hammered through
The medial nerves of One
Who, having made us, knew
The thing He had done,
Seeing (what all that is)
Our cross, and His.

 

Today we rejoice and give praise to Him Who died for our sins and rose from the grave. Jesus! The Resurrected Savior. 

April 13, 2014

It was the formal end to the harvest when families convened in Jerusalem for a time of celebration. They gathered branches from palm, myrtle, and willow trees, wrapping their stems together to make a “waving palm” called lulav. This was joined together with a citrus fruit called an etrog and all four were waved during temple ceremonies. It was with this instrument of praise that the people welcomed Jesus into the streets of Jerusalem shouting, “Hosanna, blessed is he who cometh in the name of the Lord.”

The tradition of Palm Sunday is actually the remnant of the Jewish lulav tradition: It is the unfolding of the hands to worship. For the Hebrews, the moment of lulav literally meant to “unfold the palm leaf.” It meant that they were ready for worship.

It is in order to unfold our hands in worship. Paul wrote “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” 1 Timothy 2:8 It was then and now, appropriate that people would lift hands, unfolded, before the Lord. A clinched fist is defiance. A pointing finger is an accusation, but an open palm is praise. We lift our hands in the sanctuary as an offering to God. We lift our hands in surrender and submission to His will. We lift our hands in honor of His power and holiness. David wrote in Psalm 63 that the process of blessing the Lord must include lifting up hands to the Lord. It’s an open palm of the purest praise. The Lord is here and we must be prepared for worship. Our hands are lifted; our hearts open; and our attention set on Him who comes in the name of the Lord. It’s time for us to experience Palm Sunday.

April 6, 2014

Pivot points occur in all of our lives, though we rarely grasp the gravity of those moments. For some, the turning point came in a church service; for others it was sent by revelation. The scripture speaks of the changes made in the lives of people: Silas became Paul; Sarai became Sarah; Peter entered another understanding at the home of Cornelius.

But my attention is arrested by David’s great passion to build a house for the Lord. And yet, with all of his victories in battle, God prohibited him from building such a holy place because of the trail of blood that followed him. So David gave his vision to Solomon to complete the Temple. David handed Solomon the kingdom, the tools and the men to do the work. But there came a day when Solomon could not rely upon his father’s passion. Solomon had to find it for himself. Thus 2 Chron. 2:1 states that “Solomon determined to build an house for the name of the Lord.” Regardless of his father’s desire, Solomon had to make his own choice.

We are blessed to have the example of the saints that stand before us, but ultimately our decision to build a house for God depends on us. Individually we must be determined to build a place for Him in our lives. No one will enter heaven riding on the coattails of their parents, teachers or preachers: this is a personal matter. Each one must be determined to build God’s House. It is the pivot point of our whole lives.

March 30, 2014

Many loved Jesus for the things that He did for them. His miracles could not be explained away by the Pharisees and His exploits were noised abroad throughout the whole region. Thousands came to hear Him teach and reveal the Old Testament scripture. Others sat stunned in silence as He offered parables, new teachings; explaining the hinge of the Law and of the prophets. Yet there were an equal part that hated Him. They despised His revelations, miracles and His clear opposition to that of the ruling religious class. There were non-believers casually shrugging off the Lord’s admonitions. Not everyone loved Him. Most did not wash His feet. When His doctrine became too challenging for them, they defiantly walked away in disgust.

Regardless of what side you take, there will always be those who take the opposing side. If we believe that accommodating worldliness will garnish more friends and create an easier existence, we are fooling ourselves. It is always better to stand for righteousness even if you are the only one standing. You may be alienated from your friends and family, but Truth is higher than relationships.

Remember, to retain the purity of holiness and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, will cost us something. We must stand firm on the Word of God; believe in the only saving Name, Jesus; and love this Holy Way regardless of who accepts or rejects it. We are the people of God and the salt of this earth. Some will love this teaching and others will shrug it off as another outdated and irrelevant Message, but God’s Word is true for every age and we are people of the Book and of His Name.

March 23, 2014

And God said, “It is not good for man to be alone.” Evidenced by the Bible itself, marriage and family are institutions created by God. The home is the essential image of a family; husband, wife, and children. This is both fundamental and rudimentary to life, nations and peoples in every age. When the family unit, commonly called The Nuclear Family, is disrupted or reinterpreted, there is chaos at every level. The manipulation or interference with this divine structure causes a ripple affect economically, educationally, and emotionally.

Today we are in a revolution of God’s first institution. For those of us with biblical understanding we call this rebellion. The broader term is defined as the “devolving of the family structure.” According to the most recent data, barely half of U.S. adults are married (a record low) and one in three children live without a father. For the first time, half of Americans approve of same-sex marriage. All of this means that the function and operation of the Church is urgent and pressing.

Going through religious rituals each weekend is not saving our communities. We must be engaged; standing for truth, teaching the scripture in our homes and inviting a conversation for the express purpose of promoting God’s established Truth.

However, it seems that the “saved” are seeking to be served rather than teach. Church members around the country are noted as seeking a church that meets their needs. Yet fewer are engaged in scripture, prayer, fasting and witnessing. Much to our own demise, we’ve become consumers of the spiritual experience. In the end, religion might survive, but true conversion will die. Rituals might be maintained, but transformations of the mind and a return to godly principles will fade.

It is with little doubt that the Holy Spirit is making a demand on our lives that cannot be ignored. We are at a crossroads of eternal life and it is time for everyone to fulfill the mission. Yet this message is often difficult to relay. David saw the issue of his day and was forced to make a case to his own brothers. David asked, “Is there not a cause?”, but the real question is this: Why did David have to make a case to fight the battle? His brothers had become faithless; hopeless and lacked vision. King Saul had recoiled in the face of the giant and his giant-issue.

There is a Cause and it is worth fighting. The souls of people are at stake and we must be about our Father’s business. The giant-issue of our day is a corrupt society which wars against biblical truth. This warfare is both spiritual and urgent. Not only must we teach our children, but we also must be a witness to the world, our city and everyone we know; reaching, teaching, serving, baptizing.

 

March 16, 2014

Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life.” Solomon’s words mirror the admonition of Jesus: “..out of abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” Paul spoke of it concerning the renewal of our mind and taught the church how to think (whatsoever things are lovely, pure, of a good report: think on these things).  Positive thoughts produce a thankful spirit, but a negative spirit is a poison that corrupts our worship. Bitterness never stays isolated: it is a root that affects others. A wounded person wounds people; a bitter person transfers their bitter feelings. One begets the next.  Yet we know that trials are common to us all, but it’s how we respond to those hurts that separate us. While some suffer, others rejoice. While some become calloused and cold, others choose to remain tender. No one can make you lose faith; it’s a choice. No one can make you backslide; it is your decision. If we can guard our heart and rehearse words of joy, I know that we can live a positive and holy life. If we can remember the many miracles, victories and blessings given by God, I know we can make it through every storm of life.

 

March 9, 2014

Panic is common among people. The medical field depicts its effects in that the adrenaline gland swells; the heart rate dramatically increases and nerve endings are sent rapid signals from the brain. There are other anatomical occurrences. Panic is accompanied by psychological aspects: doubt, fear, irrational behavior, and more.

This was the emotional state of the Children of Israel when they were trapped between the impassible Red Sea and the advancing armies of Egypt. Dust clouds were rising in the distance detailing their impending death. Panic. In that moment many wished that they had never left Egypt. Four decades of slavery were suddenly embraced and Moses’ leadership was questioned. Men of influence spoke out against their leader as people wished to have died in chains rather than by the sword. Satan uses panic to make us question God’s intent. The enemy plays upon our human instinct and logic. When we fall into panic mode we question our faith, God’s deliverance, and spiritual leadership. When we succumb to these irrational feelings, we are subject to the enemy’s subtle and not so subtle messages. Fear becomes our faith in the enemy as we believe in his power over us, but the Word says that with every temptation, God provides a way of escape. He has parted many waters for many people and made a way out of every dilemma. So when we are caught in that moment and the facts speak to our demise, we must know that God can be trusted and His plan is perfect. God has not given us the spirit of fear but of Power, and of Love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7)

February 23, 2014

News. Information about people, places, events, the world, weather, markets, etc.  I give you Ray Nagin who a decade ago decried the government’s slow response on Katrina. He’s now on trial for corruption. Or how about more killings at malls, schools or gas stations. The Ukraine is on fire as protestors huddle against police. An actor named Hoffman overdosed and died. Someone won yet another sporting event - take your pick. Then there’s the polar vortex dumping snow on the northeast even as the west suffers from a drought. Greece, Spain, Italy are among but several failing economies as China plays havoc on Taiwan and other nations. I could offer you a thousand more headlines from the EPA to the NSA but in the end neither of us would be helped.

Information overload has reached its peak. We know more bits of information about more subjects while knowing almost nothing at all in depth. Sound bites have flooded our thinking. Recently I was in a place where my phone/internet did not work, by default, I went “dark.” It means no news, no reports, no current events. The outcome was reflection and conversation. God had more room to speak and I found it refreshing to listen. It makes me wonder if this smaller world connection, (via satellite and internet) where the issues of foreign lands are as attainable as our own city’s, has helped us. I wonder if it’s not just a ploy by the enemy to sabotage our time and I haven’t even begun to call into question time lost on social media. At the end of each week we may know a little more about the world but what about our time with God? Greater still, how much time have we lost in fulfilling the Great Commission?

Sure we now know about the animal tragedies of Sochi: we know that al-Assad won’t negotiate with John Kerry in Syria, but did we pray? Did we share the Gospel with someone who is lost? Did we visit someone who needs deliverance or encouragement? Furthermore, what about the Book? Have we discovered the considerations of the Psalmist who four times wrote “thy word”? Psa. 119:9-17 Thy word cleanses. Thy word guards. Thy word cannot be forgotten. Thy word brings life.

News. It’s like a soap opera. It’ll be there tomorrow with a similar story line, but our time is limited. It is the one priceless commodity that cannot be stored or returned. Our time in prayer and in His Word is more vital than any bit of news we might gather. Our time in Worship must not be in comparison/contrast with anything else. Nothing should rank above our knowledge of Him from Whom all blessings flow. To know about trivia or facts, statistics or analysis is a thief to the knowledge of Jesus Christ. I’m pausing now to meditate on Paul’s admonition to “...think on these things: Phil. 4:8 - Whatsoever things are true, honest, just, pure, lovely, of good report… I want to know Him.

February 9, 2014

Esther was young when she became the queen of Persia. The scripture leaves little doubt that she was oblivious to the coming danger surrounding her and the Jewish people. Haman was plotting to kill all the Jews; seeking also to hang Mordecai, Esther’s uncle, in the process. Mordecai however knew of the impending danger. He was aware of the deeds of evil men and the charged atmosphere that existed. So he prayed in the streets. He tore his clothes and put on sackcloth and ashes. He wept aloud before the gates of the king’s palace.

Esther, still unaware of the brewing trouble, sent new clothes to Mordecai in an attempt to save her the embarrassment. It was then that Mordecai relayed to Esther the moments to come. He said that her position was for a greater purpose and not for her own pleasure; that she was made the queen to be an intercessor. He said, “who knows but that you are here for such a time as this.”

God has placed you in this house for Such a Time as this. God has brought us to this hour in history; in this generation; in this city, for Such a Time as This. We are not here on accident. This moment and our church is not by coincidence. God has ordained our coming together for a higher calling and His divine purpose. We are here to save the lost and to be saved ourselves.  We are here to be a City set on a hill that cannot be hid. We are here to reach for the hurting and the wounded.

We must not think this is a casual meeting. It’s more than just a common gathering. This is no less than God’s Church uniting in the Holy Spirit to worship the Lord; receive the Word, and prepare to win every spiritual victory.

February 2, 2014

Hidden in the glamour of biblical power-players is a man named Ezra. He’s not well known among American congregations though his self-titled book is found in the Old Testament. His name literally means “help” and that is what he did in life. Ezra was a priest, scribe and leader among the Jewish remnant. He led many people back to Jerusalem from Persia to rebuild the Temple. He was a humble man; always encouraging the people to commit to God and pressing them to live holy before the Lord.

I found Ezra in the New Testament; though he is not listed by name. Again he is hidden among the more desirable things. I Corinthians calls out 9 spiritual gifts, describing them in detail, but then there are other gifts like that of admin-istration and guidance. Then tucked away in the scripture is the Gift of Helps. There he is: Ezra - still needed; still important to any and all people.

I know that we are drawn to those 9 spiritual gifts, but no people have ever survived without the Gift of Help. Someone must be a helper. Someone must walk alongside those who are weary in mind; who battle the enemy and the issues of life. Without Ezra the Jewish people would not have made it back to Jerusalem. He wept over them when they married the heathens. He cried over them when they embraced their pagan gods. Yet, he also stood by them when a campaign of accusations rose to paralyze their efforts. Ezra was a constant help. You could count on him. He was there, ready to lead, guide and stand.

I pray that those who read this word will seek to be a help in the church. Through every trial we need the blessing of someone endowed with the Gift of Help.

January 26, 2014

Perhaps there’s no need to be spiritually inclined to notice how aggressive the spirit of this age has become. Even religious entities promote the blending of scriptural concepts with current culture. While dismissing convictions they usher in human rationale. Because of this, there is less distinction between the Church and the world. The word is called Syncretism and it has exploded across our country.

While history has always heard a cacophony of voices against the doctrine of Jesus Christ and the Bible, I find it more brazen than ever before as men lead congregations into worldly acceptance. I thought we were suppose to come out of the world; not figure out how to fit into the world. I read of a holy God that would not accept the sacrifice of Cain; that God’s way was the only way. I thought that condemnation was contingent upon the Way we walk; that the only way to be free was to walk after the Spirit and not after the flesh. Paul said to be carnally minded is death, but I suppose his wording is far too strong for our common sensibilities.

The Holy Spirit is calling out for dedicated people who embrace obedience to the Word. The Spirit is seeking for true believers and followers that will present a clear sound to a confused and bewildered world. We must become a City set on a hill that cannot be hid. Without being arrogant it must be said: We are part of The Church and we must reach the world or they will not be saved. We are Children of the Light and we must shine in this dark world.

January 19, 2014

Edmund Burke was known as the father of modern conservatism; his work being done primarily in the late 1700’s. Among the many facets of his public life, he was an advocate for protestant objectors. At that time there was gross discrimination taking place among the districts and beyond. Of his quotes and thoughts, I seem to return to these words concerning the care of people. Burke said, “ All that is necessary for evil to triumph is that good men do nothing.” But his lesser known thought is perhaps just as powerful and pertinent to this hour. He wrote, “Nothing is so fatal to religion than indifference.”

Every generation must decide for themselves how they shall entreat one another. For those who believe that God is the Creator of all men, then it is imperative that we rise together to do something.

Paul dealt with these issues among the early churches. There were factions and infractions. There were divisions and dividers which provoked the apostle to teach about the Body of Jesus Christ.  All are a part of His body, he wrote. None are insignificant; none are without merit. All are one in Christ. Today, I point you toward fervent love for all people and warn you against indifference. I point toward the scripture’s call for unity and caution you away from building personal kingdoms.

God is looking for churches with enough compassion to reach every soul in this city with the Gospel. I am actively praying that New Life will be found humble enough, passionate enough and gracious enough to receive the hundreds of lost people who are being overtaken by evil.

January 12, 2014

Maybe we are not so far removed from the days of Daniel who was a man of great prayer and devotion to the One true God of Israel. The king at the time was convinced by deceitful men to make decrees forbidding prayer to God as they sought to entrap and imprison Daniel. The laws of the land became contrary to godly devotion and Daniel’s monotheistic beliefs. The government had made it illegal and punishable by death to seek the God of Israel in prayer. Yet Daniel did not waver from his pattern: he continued to do what he knew was right.

Daniel even opened his windows so that there was never any doubt as who he was and what his life was about. Even in spite of the laws and decrees, he was a man of prayer and he stood for what he believed and it cost him. He also knew that God was able to deliver him out of the mouth of the lion. He knew the den of lions was no match for the Lord God Almighty.

Prayer was Daniel’s portion. Prayer is the key to conquering every foe. If we do not pray then we will have no power.  Prayer-less people are a powerless people. Prayer changes things: it shatters the walls of hell and it opens the windows of Heaven.

I encourage you to take part in prayer and especially this month’s Prayer 300 commitment. If we pray, our land will be healed; our families will be mended; our homes will be whole and our city will feel its affect. If we seek His face then we will know His perfect Will for our lives and we will have the authority of the Lord on our side. No law or decree can change us and no outside force can deter us. We must be people of Prayer.

 
December 22, 2013

Luke begins his self-titled book with the account of Zacharias, the soon-to-be father of John the Baptist. The Scripture tells us that when the Archangel Gabriel appeared to him, he was “troubled and fear fell upon him.” The moment was so intense that it stunned Zacharias and he shook under the weight of the angelic revelation. That powerful appearance of this supernatural being should have been sufficient for Zacharias to receive whatever message was being delivered. Yet after hearing the prophecy of a child to be born to him and Elisabeth, Zacharias asked for a sign. It seems clear that with some contempt Gabriel answered him saying, “I stand in the presence of God.” - “and you want a sign?”

God appeared to Moses in a burning bush that would not be consumed. God’s audible voice spoke through the flame and yet when He called Moses to lead the people out of Egypt, Moses demanded more signs that God would be with him.

For some, an angelic host; God’s spoken Word, or any other witness is insufficient without further proof or evidence. I wonder if we are yet convinced of His power and majesty; or do we need some other sign to establish His divine authority in our lives?

If an angel is not enough for Zacharias then nothing would ever suffice. We must not follow that example. One word from God must be enough. I pray that we rest on that sure word of Prophecy and know that God’s preached Word is more than sufficient to sustain our faith. Jesus came and that is enough to last for eternity.

December 15, 2013
 
Luke 2:1-4 It might come as a surprise to some who are not familiar with the story, but Joseph left Nazareth of Galilee because of a census that Caesar Augustus was conducting throughout the Roman empire concerning taxation. Mary and Joseph were not running from danger at that time. Joseph had to return to Bethlehem because that was his point of origin. The scripture says that Joseph was of the lineage of David, and while they were there, Mary gave birth to Jesus. This fulfilled the prophecy of the Old Testament that the Messiah would come from the House of David, the tribe of Judah, and would be born in House of Bread: Bethlehem.

What strikes a cord is how quickly things transitioned for Mary and Joseph. What seemed like a routine trip to conduct personal business was actually a divine order fulfilling the prophetic word given centuries prior. They were under the king’s decree and were simply doing what every other citizen and associate of Rome was doing.

We don’t always know how God orchestrates our lives. We might think that what we are doing is routine when it might actually be God’s divine order for our lives. The true Christian may never really go about a normal day. We are the body of Christ on the earth and our steps are ordered of the Lord. This means that basic duties easily turn into a life-changing experience or a chance to change the heart of some lost soul. We are on a mission even when we are unaware. I pray that God would use us for His Glory and that we would be aware of the daily potential, in all things, to be a witness of God’s power and Spirit.
 
December 8, 2013

When Jesus was born, the Bible says that a host of angels were in attendance. Shepherds came to worship and to see the Christ in a manger, and when they saw Him, they made it known abroad. Luke 2:19 “But Mary kept all these things, and pondered them in her heart.” While others spread the news, Mary was silent.

The only time in the Bible that the word “success” is mentioned is found in Joshua 1:8. If you meditate in the Word day and night, then you will have good success. David also points to this meditation on the things of God. He said that the Word was his meditation and it was like honey to his soul.

There are many things that should be told; miracles of healing and restoration. I believe very strongly in speaking our testimony in order to lift the faith of others, but there are times when our strength comes from Mary’s example.

We must keep the wonders of God and ponder them in our heart. We must meditate on them and allow God’s work to give us strength. Of all the many things that we think about each day, I believe that our strength comes from pondering, meditating, and dwelling on the wonders of God. Paul said, If there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things. Our days offer a plethora of commentaries; news reports; world conditions; economic tragedies, and more. While those things might be important, they do not add spiritual strength to our lives. They might even distract us from the leading of the Holy Spirit. So I urge you to think about the Lord in your day and dwell in His Word and wonder. It will be your strength and joy in every season.

 

December 1, 2013
 
Motivation is a hot selling item in the business world and the church alike. People love to be motivated by powerful thoughts and relatable ideas. Many have made careers out of the smorgasbord of human concepts. But Jesus stood up to say that the only real foundation comes from doing and not just hearing. He deemphasized the  listener’s ability to grasp concepts and He promoted actions. In fact, Jesus said that the man who “hears these sayings and doeth them is like a wise man” who builds his house upon a rock.
 
To simply know and not build is to be caught without safety. To understand the truth and not live the truth is a tragedy all its own that bears weight in eternity. We were not called to simply have the Light but we were called to shine that Light to all men. Jesus said that the Church was built to make disciples of all men. He called His disciples to be “fishers of men.” My great concern is that we know so much but use so little of what we know. That “wise man” of Matthew 7 is compared to a “foolish man” who hears these sayings “and doeth them not.” When the rains descended, and they will come, the foolish man finds peril because of his lack of doing.
 
I am urging you today to put the Word of God into practice. Put actions on your faith; practice the mission which is none other than the Great Commission. Teach a Bible study. Pray and fast. Exercise the Fruit of the Spirit. Spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We are countable for what we know and what we do. Like the talents the master gave, we must work this message in the field of Harvest.

November 24, 2013

Thanksgiving has its roots dating back some 450 years in the Reformation movement while our American tradition is crafted from a poorly written document in the early 1600’s at Plymouth. Both however, took pause to give thanks for the harvest and the preceding years’ blessing. Now in this new century, we have narrowed the focus to food, shopping, and football. Harvests’ thanksgiving is obscure if present at all. Few have knowledge of the meaning of a “harvest” unless they work in the field.

While I am thankful for the spiritual harvest that the Lord has brought to our lives, I am burdened by the loss of the meaning of Thanksgiving. It has become about individualism and personal pursuits, but we must remember that this coming week is a time to consider that God has blessed us and our nation. Irrespective of our status, God has given us another year of spiritual and financial blessing. Most of the world lives on less than one dollar a day and see food and shelter as privileges. America is blessed beyond our comprehension. Sometimes it takes a broader worldview to recognize how much we have to be thankful for. Even to have this House of Worship is a gift that we did not deserve but God made it  possible and it is for His Glory.

 

I pray that we will all pause to thank God for the harvest in our lives. This is a day that the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it. We will be thankful and bless His Name.

November 17, 2013

I Kings 18 concludes with three verses that separated a parched, dry ground and empty skies from a torrential rain fall where dark clouds and mighty winds raged. Elijah heard the sound of an abundance of rain after a three and a half year drought that he invoked. Three small and almost minor verses changed the entire countryside. The dust was thick and the green foliage had turned to a wilting brown. Lifeless-ness had overtaken them because where there is no water there is no life. But when the prophet spoke the word and heard what only he could, heaven broke loose and the sound of an abundance was followed by a real and tangible blessing: Rain! It filled the sky. It manifest itself in a way that caused them to run for shelter. Elijah even told the king that he aught to leave the mountain before the rain stopped him.
 
I submit to you today that regardless of the spiritual drought of doubt, fear or trial, God can open up the Heavens for you. I have seen it happen in the lives of too many people to doubt this message. In a matter of days the thing that bound you and hindered your walk can vanish: the trial that lasted too long can be closed and strength can emerge.
 
I am praying today that the sound of abundance of rain falls in this house and in our lives. I am praying that every parched ground will be saturated with the blessings that can only come from above. Let it rain; let it rain; let it rain.

November 10, 2013

Psalm 33:16-17a, “There is no king saved by the multitude of an host; a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. An horse is a vain thing for safety;”

The psalmist is direct as he speaks to the failing resources of men. The “king” is in reference to a man who has many friends and yet no one can save him but the Lord. It means that human relationships falter in the day of need.

The “mighty man” is that person who is self-sufficient. He or she considers themselves independent; not needing anyone to support them because they rely upon their own strength. But they too cannot be delivered by their own accord. Personal strength will fail; it has failed time and again.

And finally the scripture refers to the “horse.” In those days, any army with horses were considered superior to the enemy. The horse was the embodiment of military might and power. The horse was borrowed strength. It gave preeminence and dominance over the enemy. So a man with the “horse” meant protection and might. But we read that even then, the horse is a vain thing for safety. All the resources that we might gather; intellect, gifts, materials, pale in the light of the Power of God. Nothing compares to having the Holy Ghost in our lives. Nothing comes close to knowing Him from Whom all blessings flow. He is the Source of our strength, hope, and protection. So put away your trust in these temporal things. It is Jesus and only Jesus!

 

November 3, 2013

John 11 depicts the plot to kill Jesus. The chief priests and Pharisees needed Him dead if they were going to save their failing image. Jesus was a threat to their money, lifestyle, and power. But more than that, He was exposing them and they hated Him for it. Long before the veil in the Temple was rent, the Master had pulled down the curtain on these wicked men. They knew it and believed that if they killed this man from Galilee it would restore order and forever mask their indiscretions. But keeping Jesus alive meant that they would come face to face with their own sin. Jesus causes people to see their flaws, sins, and hearts. He exposes the flesh so that we can be redeemed. He provokes us to confess and repent and then to recognize Him as Lord and Savior.

Not much has changed in 2,000 years. People are still trying to put Jesus away. His Holiness is an affront to the carnal man. His Glory causes a conflict in the hierarchy of mankind: He is Lord of all. No one can truly approach Jesus without dealing with Him in some way. His mere presence demands an answer; whether that answer is worship or denial. To worship Him means to denounce everything else and to deny Him means to kill Him. There is no in-between position. Either we are submissive to His will; obedient to His Word; or we are joining in those who “took counsel together for to put him to death.” I have come to worship Him. I pray that you will join me.

October 27, 2013

In a day when fundamentals are the object of ridicule and mockery, I am continually reminded of the importance of the Doctrine which was first delivered to the saints. Acts 4 reveals this issue as the religious council commanded Peter and John not to preach or teach in the name of Jesus. Yet through punishment, threats, belittlement and intimidations, the disciples preached on. They rejected the commands of carnal men. They knew the Truth and they knew His Name and they would be silent. Still their culture was against them. The religious community railed against their doctrine. They were called “ignorant and unlearned.” They suffered persecution and were thrown out of the elite community centers. Nevertheless they held fast to the baptism of water and Spirit and to the Mighty God in Christ. Even more, the early church dealt with their own worldly culture. They were commissioned to “come out from the world and be separate” and they did just that.

So regardless of the mood of the culture and irrespective of the allowances of men, we are bound to this faith. The Holy Ghost is real and speaking in other tongues is a the initial sign. There is no other name whereby we must be saved other than Jesus’ name. (Acts 4:12) And as the world becomes more corrupt, we are yet contending for the faith and running from the rudiments of man’s design. I am preaching what I am practicing and I am practicing what I’m preaching.