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.