Unleash The Greatness Within YOU!

 Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them:
because greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world. ~ 1 John 4:4

  • Born into privilege, “Copperknob” (as he came to be nicknamed because of his red hair) was born into British aristocracy. Spending much of his childhood being raised by people other than his parents, he was independent and rebellious, and although an obviously smart child, made poor grades in school. Suffering from a speech impediment he worked hard to overcome, his life was a series of successes and setbacks.

Sir_Winston_S_ChurchillAfter years of public service, and suffering from a severely damaged reputation, he went into exile. However, with a world in crisis, he returned to the public eye, and became Prime Minister of Great Britain at the age of 65, leading his nation through its darkest hours and on to victory against the Nazi regime. He famously said…

…We shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

He was Winston Churchill.

  • In 1919, while segregation was alive and well in the South, a boy was born to the daughter of a former slave. After the boy’s father left when he was just a few months old, the boy’s mother Mallie moved, with her five children, to California.

Jackie_Robinson_1945As Mallie’s boy grew, he experienced the racial hatred still aflame, even in California, in the 1920’s. However, Mallie’s example of diligence, hard work, and kindness, as well as her faith, lighted the way for her son. Overcoming the hurdles of a racially divided nation, Mallie’s boy worked hard to become a fine athlete, excelling in multiple sports including football, track, basketball, and baseball. Although he had minor brushes with authorities, the Christian values instilled in him by a good mother and other Godly adult role models kept him on the (fairly) “straight and narrow”.

After a period of playing semipro football, as well as serving honorably in the United States Army, “Jackrabbit” — as he came to be nicknamed — accepted an offer to play baseball in the Negro National League. His exceptional ability on the diamond attracted the attention of an older gentleman…

Branch Rickey, the general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers.

“Jackrabbit” Jackie Roosevelt Robinson overcame the obstacles of hatred and racism to become the first African-American to play major league baseball, receiving awards and accolades, a world championship, and the Medal of Freedom (posthumously awarded to him in 1984 by President Ronald Reagan).

We all have untapped potential. We all have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others. It doesn’t matter if you are born into wealth and prestige, or come from humble beginnings — we all have the potential for greatness.

“How is that?” you say.

It just stands to reason that, if He is great and greatly to be praised, and we are made in His image, we have the potential for greatness as well. So what does it take to unleash that greatness? What does it take to tap into that untapped potential?

It takes courage. Venturing into the unknown takes courage. It is no small thing to go into uncharted territory, personally or professionally. Churchill had the weight and fate of Britain on his shoulders. Jackie Robinson was breaking down the wall of racism in professional sports at a time when vitriol and hate against people of color were in full swing. It takes courage to go down a path no one has traveled, where the path is neither clear nor well-lit.

It takes commitment. Although he faced criticism and opposition, Churchill was committed to his nation, and the principles of freedom that Britain stood for. Jackie Robinson had to be committed enough to, not just baseball, but the vision that Branch Rickey had, that he was willing to look beyond the physical and emotional abuse, threats, and ridicule he incurred for the sake of an ideal bigger than he was. Being committed to your calling is vital to see your vision through to the end.

It takes Christ. Sure, there are plenty of people out there with lots of success who do not believe the tenants of Christ. But in the end, only what is done for Christ will last. Only what is done for God will stand the test beyond time, and still matter when the hands of time have stopped.

We are put on this earth for but a moment, compared with the eternity that awaits us… it’s best that we don’t waste that moment. God has called you to something bigger than yourself, but you’ve got to make the decision to get into the game if you are going to make a difference. In the words of Jackie Robinson…

Life is not a spectator sport. If you’re going to spend your whole life in the grandstand just watching what goes on, in my opinion you’re wasting your life.

In 1997, amidst much fanfare, Jackie Robinson’s number 42 was retired from major league baseball.

When eternity looks back on the race you have run, will your number be retired?

Will you fight the good fight of faith?

Will the sound of your accomplishments echo through eternity?

Will you hear the words, “Well done, good and faithful servant“?

Be Excellent!

Looking Glass

Pat Riley, former coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, knows something about excellence. Having won one NBA Championship as a player, and five as a coach (four with the Lakers, and one with the Miami Heat), he had this to say about excellence…

Excellence is the gradual result of always striving to do better.

People who rest on their laurels or believe their own press seldom achieve little more than fleeting success. Those who reach a point at which they become satisfied with their past accomplishments, and rest on past glory are usually left on the shoulder on the highway of progress, and soon become spectators of this Great Race we call Life. Those who spend their lives working for the applause of others are foreign to the loneliness of what it means to be a pioneer, or are unfamiliar with the solitude that comes from being on the cutting edge.

It’s the NBA star who was once the 12-year-old kid, shooting countless free-throws in his driveway.

It’s the inventor who went through hundreds (or thousands) of failed designs before he found the one that worked.

It’s the musician who practiced for thousands of hours in an empty room before playing the first note in a concert before thousands.

It’s the medical professional, who spent lonely years studying what it means to hold life in their hands.

As Christians, we are held to a higher standard…

      Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 3:12-14

      And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.. ~ Colossians 3:23-25

Paul shows us that his goal was to keep moving forward, that there is a prize that awaits those who diligently follow after Jesus. Paul makes it clear that excellence is a constant journey that is only achieved by continually moving forward. As believers in Christ, our excellence should be evident to all, for it stands to echo into eternity.

The great Vince Lombardi once said…

Perfection is not attainable, but if we chase perfection we can catch excellence.

If perfection is our goal, than excellence is within reach.

However, if “good enough” is our standard of success, then we will survive in a nondescript existence of mediocrity and obscurity.

I just think the King of Glory is worthy of more than that… don’t you?

Leviathan and the Land of Confusion

Leviathan 1In 1986, the rock band Genesis had a Top 10 hit with a song entitled Land of Confusion. The song was a jab at some of the world events and politics of the ’80’s, describing the world’s political and social climate as a “land of confusion”.

Well, here we are now in 2015, and the recent and current events and threats we are experiencing now makes 1986 look like some sort of Utopia. So why are we living in a land of such confusion? Why can our leaders not recognize the immediate threat of Islam and Islamic groups like ISIS? Why does our government fight so hard for the rights of Islamic groups, while trampling the rights of Christians into the dust? Why do we embrace our enemies, while we ridicule and shun our allies? Why is it ok to espouse every left-wing, left-field politically-correct ideology that comes down the road while ignoring the freedoms of others, the law of the land, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States? Why are the very people (and liberal media) who are so quick to jump on the “separation of church (religion) and state” bandwagon, whenever a Christian is involved, silent while we are being force-fed Islamic ideology in schools and in the public square?

I’ll tell you why… Leviathan.

Leviathan is first mentioned in the Bible, in the Book of Job…

May those curse it who curse the day,
Those who are ready to arouse Leviathan. ~ Job 3:8

“Can you draw out Leviathan with a hook,
Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?
  Can you put a reed through his nose,
Or pierce his jaw with a hook?
  Will he make many supplications to you?
Will he speak softly to you?
  Will he make a covenant with you?
Will you take him as a servant forever?
  Will you play with him as with a bird,
Or will you leash him for your maidens?
  Will your companions make a banquet of him?
Will they apportion him among the merchants?” ~ Job 41:1-6

Hundreds of years later, he is mentioned again by the prophet Isaiah…

In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong,
Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
Leviathan that twisted serpent;
And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea. ~ Isaiah 27:1

Although we don’t know exactly what species Leviathan was, Brow-Driver-Briggs Hebrew Lexicon says that this is a dragon not unlike a dinosaur. Some believe it was possibly a crocodile.

Whatever Leviathan is, in the Bible, it is symbolic of evil.

In the spiritual realm, it is a giant spirit that blocks the flow of God’s purpose, power, and prosperity in the lives of God’s people. The name Leviathan literally means “to twist”. This demonic force twists everything to hinder the flow of God. Just like a crocodile hides in the mud, or just under the surface of the water, waiting to attack, so the Leviathan spirit tries to hide where the Word of God and the flow of God’s spirit are moving among people. Just as the crocodile attacks suddenly after waiting patiently for hours and hours on end, grabbing its prey and twisting it under the muddy waters until it drowns, so the Leviathan spirit goes unnoticed and unobserved until it strikes, twisting its victim until the damage is done, and they are buried in an abyss of darkness and confusion. He stays hidden until he is exposed by God.

The Leviathan spirit will not live in covenant, making it the most dangerous of spiritual enemies that I can think of. Where this spirit is present and working, covenant relationships are broken, marriages are destroyed, business partnerships crumble, friendships dissolve, and churches implode.

As we go through 2015, we are seeing the Leviathan spirit permeating our society like never before, through…

  • An unprecedented assault on the freedoms of Christians by the politically correct “thought-police” of the homosexual lobby. Our freedom to peacefully disagree with this unGodly “alternative lifestyle” is being trumped by a militant LGBT agenda that labels anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin a “bigot” or “intolerant”. To take a stand against the wave of acceptance of same-sex marriage could cost a person their job, business, and livelihood (not to mention the threats of bodily harm and death that are growing increasingly more common). This intolerance of Christians has become so obvious that many thinking, peaceful people in the homosexual community have actually spoken out publicly against it, bemoaning the intolerance that the LGBT crowd is exhibiting toward Christians.
  • The continuing assault on motherhood. A twisted form of feminism through the media appears to empower women innocently, but in reality, women are shunning the responsibility of child-rearing in the name of “freedom”. Women are escaping motherhood altogether through the diabolical and barbaric practice of abortion, or simply giving their kids to ex-husbands or grandparents to raise. Through the examples of many women idolized in pop-culture, the idea of what it means to be a woman, wife, and mother is being twisted and confused.
  • The orphan generation. The previous generation has often been labelled “fatherless” because of the millions of deadbeat fathers who walked away from the responsibilities of father and family. We can only assume that this next generation has the potential of being orphaned — fatherless and motherless — spiritual orphans who can understandably be the the easiest prey for demonic forces.
  • The continuing assault against our schools. Even after prayer was taken from school and a misunderstood interpretation of the separation of church and state was implemented, parents could rest assured, knowing that our children would be taught basic freedoms and values that made this country great. However, even in the Bible Belt (Southern United States), the precedent has now been set that includes teaching homosexuality as a normal, alternative lifestyle. Furthermore, as Christians, our right to disagree with this line of “education” has been stripped away. The great minds that once led in academia now live in fear of being ostracized and ridiculed by the media, or losing government funding, if they disagree.
    Leviathan twists historical records, interjects twisted testimonials from professing homosexuals, and distorts community support until schools are buried beneath waves of so-called “tolerance”. It is pretty obvious that Leviathan is alive and well as test scores continue to plummet, and our students are graduating less educated now than at any time in history.
  • The insanity of the acceptance of Islam and Sharia Law in America. As we watch the Middle East and Africa go up in flames, we have politicians who are becoming increasingly accepting of bringing the beliefs and practices of Islam to America. Even as Islamic terror attacks are being perpetrated in our own country, the chants of “tolerance”, “diversity”, and “coexistence” are regurgitated by liberals whose battle cry seems to be, “Can’t we all just get along (with anyone who is not a Christian)?” However, these people fail to realize one big problem: You cannot co-exist with someone who is trying to kill you!

I could go on, but you get the picture. Confusion is rampant in our nation, and the spirit of Leviathan is alive and well.

So what are we to do? How do we defeat this diabolical enemy?

In that day the Lord with His severe sword, great and strong,
Will punish Leviathan the fleeing serpent,
Leviathan that twisted serpent;
And He will slay the reptile that is in the sea. ~ Isaiah 27:1

Leviathan 2Leviathan is defeated with the sword of the Lord, which is severe, great, and strong. The Lord’s sword is the Word and Spirit, as we in Ephesians 6:17…

“…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

We also find in Hebrews that the sword is discerning.

For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. ~ Hebrews 4:12-13

This sword helps you recognize Leviathan; you cannot without the Holy Spirit and the Word. When the church is determined to let Jesus speak, this sword will operate and Leviathan will flee!

What must we do?

Realize our pride is from the enemy. Look at this scripture about Leviathan…

He beholds every high thing; He is king over all the children of pride.” ~ Job 41:34

Leviathan is king of all pride. Pride keeps us away from God. Pride causes us to be offended easily. Pride causes us to fall. Pride keeps us from God’s plan.

An old pastor I once knew…

….was in a restaurant having lunch one day. As he was about to eat, he noticed a man sitting at the bar of the restaurant alone. The old pastor began to be prompted by the Holy Spirit to share Jesus’ love with the man. However, even as pastors sometimes do, he tried to shrug off the Spirit’s prompting, citing the usual excuses (pride, schedule, etc) we all make for not witnessing to others. Finally, when he could bear the conviction no more, he walked up to the counter next to the man.

“Excuse me”, the old pastor said. “May I tell you something?”

“Sure,” came the reply.

“I just wanted to tell you that God loves you and sent His only Son Jesus to die for your sins. Could I tell you how to be saved?”

To his astonishment, the man looked at him and replied, “Sir… I’ve been sitting here waiting for you.”

Friends, there is a world waiting…

They are looking for love. They are looking for guidance. They are looking for someone to trust and follow. There is a lot of confusion and deception going on today, and the spirit of Leviathan is alive and well. I have traveled the world and have seen the hunger in the eyes of people who have joined a “religion”, if for no other reason, because they were looking for something bigger than themselves… something that would give them answers; however, all it did was leave them more confused and misguided.

When we as Christians abdicate our responsibility because of fear, we kick open the door to an enemy that is more than willing to send people looking for answers on a wild-goose-chase in the Land of Confusion.

As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures. You therefore, beloved, since you know this beforehand, beware lest you also fall from your own steadfastness, being led away with the error of the wicked; but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen. ~ 2 Peter 3:16-18

One final thought…

Notice these words – twist, destruction, fall, led away – all are the work of Leviathan. How do we defeat him? You just read the answer…

Grow…through scripture.

Grow…in grace (love and forgiveness).

Grow…in knowledge (intimacy with Jesus).

It’s time to lead the captives out of the Land of Confusion and into the marvelous light of God’s love!

Of Mice and Kings

Through the Looking Glass

Mickey Mouse is, arguably, one of the most recognizable figures in American pop culture. A multi-billion dollar industry has been built around this animated character. While describing the creation of this iconic rodent, Walt Disney said…

Mickey Mouse popped out of my mind onto a drawing pad on a train ride from Manhattan to Hollywood at a time when the business fortunes of my brother Roy and myself were at their lowest ebb: Disaster seemed right around the corner.

Disaster always seemed right around the corner for David. Whether running from a jealous king who was trying to pin him to the wall with a spear, or running from a son trying to steal his throne, David seemed to travel from one disaster to the next. Yet king David is remembered as the greatest in Israel’s history… a man after God’s own heart.

Maybe you have been through the wringer. Maybe you are going through it as you are reading this.

Don’t give up.

Hold onto faith, and trust in God’s timing, goodness, and faithfulness.

It could be that your comeback is right around the corner.

Conflict, Chaos, and A Losing Record

Burning EarthSaudi Arabia (which is ancient Medina) has extended the war against ISIS rebels in Yemen. In the meantime, our leadership in America is waltzing us into a world war and no one in Washington gets it.

Look at the record…

  •  War in Iraq. After achieving victory, things are now a total disaster with Iran (Persia) gaining ground.
  • Libya. Civil war, total chaos – the murder of our Ambassador Chris Stevens and others – takeover by ISIS is imminent.
  • Egypt. Our government, including Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, supported the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamist government in ushering in the “Arab Spring”. Outraged Egyptians overthrew this radical Islamic government and installed a moderate leader. Our government now fails to support this newly elected leader.
  • Syria. What was ancient Phoenicia – a peaceful and beautiful country torn apart by ISIS, as we purportedly supported rebels against the government of Bashir Assad, providing the weapons which ISIS is now using to kill, maim, rape, and behead Christians, moderate Muslims, Jews, and American citizens.ISIS flag
  • Jordan. Opens fire on ISIS in Syria and our government refuses to send weapon support, effectively abandoning King Hussein.
  • Ukraine. As the communist-leaning government of Russia invades, President Putin laughs at the protests of our leadership.
  • Secretary of State John Kerry. As our porous borders are open and our enemies are flooding in as we speak, this man believes global warming is the greatest threat to world peace. He recently stated that global warming refugees could overflow our nation.
  • ISIS in America. With 70 known locations where possible Islamic extremists are operating in our nation, will disaster have to strike to awaken us again? Our President may be doing what he thinks is right, but it has all ended in disaster.
  • Iran (Persia). I believe Iran will have a nuclear device in 2 years if we sign the proposed treaty with them. Our president claimed, “If Iran cheats, we will know…” Hopefully, the tell-tale sign won’t be a mushroom cloud in the Middle East.
  • Israel. In what many would characterize as a childish and reckless move, President Obama exposes the details of Israel’s nuclear program as an excuse to let Iran continue their centrifuge program. To add insult to injury, our President openly shows his disdain for the Prime Minister of Israel while embracing radical extreme Islamists in the White House.

Is it just me, or are all of these things unsettling to the rest of you? I believe that all of us should contact our senators and congressmen (or women) to ask that they rise up and put a stop to this insanity. You can find contact information for your representatives here.

Still … none of this has caught God by surprise.

Do not keep silent, O God!
Do not hold Your peace,
And do not be still, O God!
For behold, Your enemies make a tumult;
And those who hate You have lifted up their head.
They have taken crafty counsel against Your people,
And consulted together against Your sheltered ones.
They have said, “Come, and let us cut them off from being a nation,
That the name of Israel may be remembered no more. ~ Psalm 83:1-4

Could we be on the verge of a Psalms 83 war? Are our leaders re-positioning our nation, putting us at odds with God in relation to our support (or lack thereof) of Israel?

The important thing now is for all of us to get on our knees and pray to God for the future of America and safety and peace of Israel.

 

 

The Perils of Living Life in the Middle of the Road

Through The Looking Glass2

Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher made a very profound observation…

Standing in the middle-of-the-road is very dangerous; you get knocked down by the traffic from both sides.

Sometimes compromise is inevitable: In business, politics, and life in general, there’s a whole lot of give-and-take. However, there is a huge difference between compromising on a preference, and compromising on a principle. Personal preferences can change over time, but the principles by which we live are what define us. People who attempt to make everyone happy usually find themselves worn down by people on both sides of the argument.

In their attempt to please everyone, eventually they find that they have pleased no one, and have sacrificed their integrity and credibility along the way.

When it comes to sin and righteousness, the Bible is very clear on where we as Christians should stand. If we find that where we are standing does not line up with the truth of God’s Word, rest assured… we are the ones standing in the wrong place.

He’s Alive!

Vietnam Wall

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to Him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that You are the Christ, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.” ~ John 11:25-27

It was the fall of 1965…

I was a Freshman at Clarke Memorial College in Newton, Mississippi, and was studying for the ministry at this junior college preparing to go the next year to Samford University. It was the height of the Vietnam War and I had just heard another high school classmate had been killed in that far-away place. This guy was more than just a classmate though… he was a friend. During my last 2 years in High School, there were daily postings of our young classmates that perished in Vietnam.

The next spring I was preaching on Easter Sunday at a church without a pastor. The auditorium was jammed with over 250 people, and I rose to bring a message of hope. As I preached on the text from John 11:25-27, I saw, in the back of the room, a young man in uniform. The more I looked at him, the more familiar he seemed. However, my vision was about as bad then as it is now, and without my glasses (trying to look cool), I could not quite make him out.

VietnamMemorialAt the invitation and altar call, he started down the aisle. As he drew closer, his face became more and more familiar. It was my friend that had been reported killed in action. Come to find out, he was actually MIA, made it out of the war alive, and made it home.

Before he got to me I cried out, “YOU’RE ALIVE — YOU’RE ALIVE!!!” The emotion I felt as this young man seemingly walked out of the grave overcame me. Joy overwhelmed the whole congregation!

I think we must have felt, in a small way, what that first week after Easter must have been like!

In a small way, I understand how the disciples must have felt. Having lost the One they loved — their Teacher, Master, and Friend — all hope seemed lost.

But on that first Easter morning, all creation must have resounded with joy at the news, when the words were first proclaimed…

He’s Alive!

On Easter, we celebrate our risen Lord. We remember the sacrifice He made, and the victory He won. We come together as believers, from every nation and tongue, to proclaim the Good News the angel told the disciples on that day… HE IS RISEN!

As we celebrate our risen Lord this coming Sunday, I hope that you will find a house of worship and join with brothers and sisters of faith in joyful adoration of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

If you are in the Chattanooga area, I’d like to personally invite you to join us at Abba’s House. Our service begins at 10:30.

Maybe you are shut-in, and can’t get to a church. At Abba’s House, we live-stream our services, so you can tune in and be a part. Visit abbashouse.com/live to join our worship service online.

From our house to yours… Happy Easter!

HE IS RISEN!!!