Thoughts for Thanksgiving

We are living in difficult and dangerous times – some of the more difficult of my lifetime. In spite of the events going on in our world, however, time marches on, and we once again find the holiday season upon us. As we enter into Thanksgiving this week, I want to take a moment to share with you some short stories of thankfulness.

Dachau StatueCorrie Ten Boom once related this story of thankfulness that happened – of all places – when she was a prisoner in the Ravensbrück concentration camp during World War II.  The barracks where they were locked up by the Germans were horribly infested by fleas. They were praying when she heard her sister Betsy say…

“Father, we want to thank you for these fleas.”

Corrie said, “No, no, no!  I don’t think God wants us to be thankful for these fleas!”

Betsy said, “The Bible says, ‘in all circumstances give thanks.’”  Well, for months their Bible studies had been interrupted and disrupted by their captors, but all of a sudden the German soldiers quit interrupting the Bible study. Subsequently, as a result of the Bible studies, everybody in their barracks was converted to Christ. Eventually, the Germans came and got rid of the fleas.

One day, one of the soldiers they had won to Christ was talking to Corrie, and she asked him, “Why didn’t you interrupt the Bible study?”  His response was, “Because we didn’t want to come in where those fleas were.”

The great poet Maya Angelou actually started out as a voice major in college. She went through a lot of stuff. Coming to the United States from England, she had to leave her child for a season, nearly driving her crazy. She was worried nearly to death about everything going on in her life. She went to a friend who was a counselor (and also a pastor), and said, “I think I’m going to die.”  He looked at her and said…

“What you need to be is thankful.”

Sunlight thru trees-editedShe said, “You’ve got to be kidding. I’m broke. My voice lessons aren’t going well. My child is overseas.  What do I have to be thankful for?”  He said, “Get a yellow pad and begin to write down what you’re thankful for.”  She said, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”  He said, “Why don’t you put down first that you’re able to hear what I’m saying to you when thousands can’t hear.  Write it down.  Write down that you can see, because there are thousands that can’t see. Write down that you can think clearly, because there are thousands who are struggling with mental illness. Write down that you can use your hand and write it down, because there are thousands who cannot use their hand today. Write down that you can walk in this room, that your feet are working. Then begin to look around and see that you are able to breathe, that you are alive, that you have another day to live, that there are some things that you have to hope for, that there are people who love you. Though your daughter is separated from you, you will see her again, and many have lost their loved ones. Write it down.”  Maya Angelou said when that happened, her life was absolutely transformed. When she finished the page, she said laughter, joy and tears were hitting the paper of that yellow pad. If you have ever seen her, you can’t get a frown on her face. There is an attitude of gratitude in her for everything.

NE ChurchThe Christophers are the evangelistic arm of the Catholic Church. The priest that founded this group tells the story of performing a funeral for an American G.I. at the end of World War II. During the funeral, he noticed another G.I. standing across the room. He found out that that G.I. had survived because of the death of the one being buried. The man looked rough, shy, and stood off by himself. The priest watched him and finally walked away. When he walked away, he looked from a distance, and the man walked over to the cross, took out a piece of paper, and wrote a note. He folded the note up, stuck it to the cross, and walked away. Later, the curious priest went back to see the note. Here’s what the note said…

“Dear Joe, Thank you for dying for me. I’m alive because of you.”


What are you thankful for today?

Is it the family and friends you are sharing your meal and life with? Is it your home? Your job? Is it the life you live in a free nation? Is it the church in which you worship?

Hopefully, it is all of the above. It is for me.

But it should also be the unpleasant things of life: Those annoying things we don’t understand that God uses to work His supernatural purposes in our lives, and the lives of those around us.

It should be the circumstances in life that test us, refine us, and mold us – not into the person we wish we were – but into the person that God intended us to be.

But most of all, it should be for a Savior who gave His all so that we could live, and upon whose cross we can post our own declaration…

“Dear Jesus. Thank you for dying for me. I’m alive because of you.”

Happy Thanksgiving!


I Need A Preacher

I Need A Preacher

French flag

“French Flag” Photo courtesy of François Schnell, Flickr

The news from Paris that spread throughout Europe and across the Atlantic on Friday, November 13th, is still inconceivable, and yet the most horrific truth is that we are only temporarily stunned. We are growing accustomed to a cycle of terrorism while expecting the next attack and watching as our children’s dystopian future materializes. Just two weeks prior to the attacks in Paris, Metrojet Flight 9268 operated by Russian airline Kogalymavia, crashed in the northern Sinai on its way to St. Petersburg, killing 224 people. It is accepted world-wide that the plane crash, like the murderous terrorist attacks in Paris, was a cowardice act of terrorism. Making matters worse, these are two attacks in a month during a fifteen-year timespan that has seen some of the world’s bloodiest terrorism.

We are appalled by the pointless loss of human life, and we find terrorism grotesque while watching people of France suffer needlessly at the hands of brainwashed demonized murderers. We search deep inside our minds for a solution that will put an end to the collective fear and restore order. Possible solutions or quick fixes are easy to find on any news channel or blog post, and opinions vary depending on one’s cultural or political background. But we live in the most divisive time in recent memory. One person’s solution is offensive to another. This disunity exposes our weakness and again the headlines read, “Terrorist attack!” Which city is next?

But when the rhetoric ends and the voices of both corporate and social media — along with political leaders and political hopefuls — fade, we are left to our own thoughts. Many times, we accept begrudgingly the horrifying complexity of a broken humanity and the contradictory, dysfunctional systems it continues to create. Instead of solutions, we are faced with more questions.  As one continues to reflect upon the tragic events in Paris, and the unthinkable terrorist attacks over the past fifteen years, all solutions from a human perspective are short-lived in our minds. It is as if gravity itself pulls any lasting and authentic solutions into a black hole, ripping from us our hope of a peaceful prosperity. How do we make sense of a world that seems to be slipping into a reality in which terrorism is normal?

As Christians, we know right from wrong. As Christians, we know the end of the story. As Christians, we are to rise above these worldly sorrows because we realize that these events are the result of a cursed world, and that we are only saved because of the work of Jesus Christ. But the juxtaposition of our faith in Christ with the reality of what we are experiencing in the world is gut-wrenching, and often so very confusing.

Eighty-nine of the people who were killed during the terrorist attacks were watching a rock concert at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris. Someone in the crowd captured the rock band’s response to the gunfire, and we notice the drummer dive to the ground in fear for his life, and the guitarist standing for a moment in shock before taking shelter. Another camera, in an alley beside the theatre, reveals dozens of people leaving from what seemed to be an emergency exit while gunshots and explosions are heard coming from the inside. Seconds later, people are seen dragging out lifeless victims covered in blood. One can see a man hopping on one leg, as he flees for his life — obviously in agonizing pain — while looking over his shoulder in fear that he is being pursued by these monsters. A few more seconds pass and, on the small road in the narrow alley behind the famous Bataclan Theatre, the camera captures dark blood stains continuing to expand in every direction covering the alley. I say to myself, “this is real,” and my mind processes this new reality one frame at a time.

“This is the new normal,” I whisper to myself.

I think of my wife, my kids, and my church. My mind begins to race with anxiety and fear, realizing all the while that I am not supposed to respond like this. “I’m a child of God, what’s wrong with me?”

Friends, I need a preacher.

Here in the Southern parts of the United States, pastors are often referred to as “Preacher man,” or sometimes simplified to just “Preacher.”  I believe that the office of pastor is a high calling. The pastor is not only responsible for sheep, but must also confront evil head on. The commitment and price one pays to live the life of a pastor is high, but a pastor must be willing to stand up for what is right, and declare the name of Jesus Christ even when our faith is shaken to its foundations. We live in a day when men and woman are ashamed of the Gospel, living as spiritual cowards. A pastor must see through the political correctness of society and be able to identify the real enemy, and remind us of our only champion — Jesus Christ. The pastor does this in such a way that the forefront of his message is always the Gospel of Christ, and yet the pastor must be willing to face the public and private consequences for not mincing words, and for taking a stand against evil. We need fewer politicians, but more preachers.

How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, except they be sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things! But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. ~ Romans 10:14-17

I need a preacher. You need a preacher. Preachers aren’t perfect, but they are called to declare a bold message. This nation needs a preacher, and every place where there are human beings on this planet needs a preacher. We need a preacher to declare the mighty and powerful truth that is the Word of God. We need the preacher who stands up when the darkness of evil, pain, and hopelessness begins encamping about the church to remind us of our place in Christ, our hope in Christ, and our future in Christ. Even preachers need a preacher. I need a preacher.

In the 10th chapter of Acts, Peter enters the house of Cornelius who greets Peter with honor by bowing to him. But Peter explains to Cornelius that he’s just a man. Cornelius honors this man of God the only way he knows how. He needed a preacher. Cornelius was given a Word of the Lord, and God knew Cornelius, but Cornelius needed a preacher to lead him and his house through the process of being connected to the church through the baptism of the Holy Ghost. As Peter began to preach, the Holy Ghost filled the place. Cornelius needed a preacher.

There are more people who need to hear about Jesus Christ, and know His blessings and eternal life. Here in America, the entire political structure is a mess. We no longer know who to believe. Politicians lie, and the media lies more. Some of the first posts on YouTube after the Paris attacks were posted by people who believed that the entire Paris event was staged, also known as a “black flag operation.” We call them conspiracy theorists, or tinfoil hat-wearing fools. Yet, some of the most popular YouTube channels with millions of subscribers state that nothing we see in the news is actually real, and we’re all being manipulated by the media. People have invented conspiracy theories for a long time. Twenty years ago the world would have considered these ideas silly, but now millions of people no longer believe their government’s official statements, even concerning these gruesome terrorist attacks. Over the past three years, millions and millions of people are no longer watching news from network news channels or websites. They watch self-proclaiming “truth-experts” claiming to know what’s really going on in the world. While there are some valuable independent news sources online, including insightful YouTube channels, isn’t it strange to anyone that anti-Semitism has come to dominate independent YouTube news from all over the world?  We need a preacher.

The church isn’t much better. While churches are caving to social pressure to accept that which is ungodly, other churches who are preaching against sin are considered fanatics. We need a preacher to remind us that there is a standard. We need a preacher to remind us that we can “do all things through Christ who strengthens us.” (Philippians 4:13)

When the tidal wave of despair raced across the Atlantic carrying the news of hostages, explosions, and the cries of children, I needed a preacher. We all needed a preacher, and for many in this moment of sadness we share with our brothers and sisters in France, one such preacher is Dr. Robert Jeffress, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church, Dallas, TX.

Dr. Jeffress first acknowledged from his pulpit in Dallas that our hearts and prayers should focus on the victims of the tragic event in Paris, but he didn’t stop there. Dr. Jeffress said…

“I believe it is time to put aside political correctness.”

As a Holy Ghost filled man of God, Dr. Jeffress stated that political correctness is hindering truth, and that it is the leading contributor to normalizing bloodshed and violence. Then, pointing his finger and looking straight into the camera, with no regard for his or his family’s safety, Dr. Jeffress — the preacher — identified the problem with no apology: “The evil religion of radical Islam.”

How could he declare this? How could he be so bold?

Because he knew someone needed to tell the truth. He knew we needed a preacher. I needed a preacher.

If Dr. Jeffress stopped after blaming a particular religion, then he is nothing more than a religious figure, and in today’s paradigm, one could also assume that he is a pseudo-political figure, simply stating ideas from his perspective. In other words, there are Buddhists who dislike radical Islam, and there are Muslims that hate radical Islam. But Dr. Jeffress does not stop by blaming a religion. Dr. Jeffress declares that the Islamic religion is not an alternate way to God, but rather it is a Satanic campaign. Dr. Jeffress does this by comparing Jesus’ statements concerning Satan to the terrorists that attacked Paris and their agenda, demonstrating the similarities between the Islamic agenda and Satan’s agenda….

The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy. ~ John 10:10

Dr. Jeffress identifies the Islamic belief structure as the culprit of terrorism, and speaking through the webs of lies and deceit spun by a politically correct media, he addressed the truth about what is actually in the Quran, rather than the lies that are made up about the Quran. Dr. Jeffress does so by comparing the New Testament to the Quran, reminding us that nowhere in the New Testament are Christians told to kill other people, while Muslims are instructed to kill infidels in at least thirty-five places in the Quran. Then Dr. Jeffress compares Mohammed to Christ, and in doing so, the Gospel of Jesus Christ begins to unfold in his message. The preacher always points us to Christ, not his own agenda or personal crusade. The preacher always reminds us of God’s truth when we are surrounded by humanity’s lies. Dr. Jeffress is a preacher for when I need a preacher, when the world needs a preacher, and when our country needs a preacher.

Yes, nations need a preacher too. Dr. Jeffress makes it clear that nations have a different set of responsibilities than the individual. “Government is never called upon to turn the other cheek,” Dr. Jeffress preached. “The government, according to the Word of God, is to protect its citizens.” France needs a preacher. We need a preacher.

When a man or woman is on death’s bed, they often cry out for the preacher. Drug addicts, thieves, and murderers need preachers. But your neighbor needs a preacher as well. The clerk in the store you visit almost daily needs a preacher. Your barber needs a preacher, and your doctor and lawyer need a preacher. Is God speaking to your heart? Not only do you need a preacher, but there are times you need to be the preacher. You need to be able to carry on the good fight when those around you are in despair. There are times you need to be the first hand someone shakes when they enter church for the first time, Better yet, maybe they are shaking your hand as your enter their home to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the first time.

While we do not know what tomorrow will bring, we know that we need Christ for every breath of hope we aspire to obtain, and we need a preacher pointing us to Christ, reminding us of our blessed hope. I know that right now in this very second, there is a preacher somewhere in France who may feel forgotten, and that the whole ministry has been a joke. If that is you, you need to know that you were born for such a time as this! You need to stand up and declare…

Il ya de l’espoir dans le Christ Jésus.

I declare revival to come forth in every corner of France from the ashes of this horrendous tragedy.

I believe and declare that it will begin with a preacher.

Vive La France!

This blog post is from the blog of my son, Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr. You can check out and follow his blog by clicking HERE.


Recently, Paulette and I had the opportunity, along with pastors from around the nation, to share some thoughts regarding the upcoming movie Risen. Over the past several years, faith-based films have become more and more prevalent in the theaters, and lives are being introduced to the message of the love and hope we have in Jesus through the medium of film. We are seeing Christians come together, and through God-inspired creativity, begin take back the “mountain of media”. We are honored to be a part of this exciting featurette, and encourage you to invite your friends, and see Risen when it comes to theaters in February.

Watch the Risen featurette here…

Watch the Risen trailer here…

There Was A Time When…

red ryderEvery Christmas season, Americans have countless opportunities to view the holiday classic, A Christmas Story. Who can forget the adventures of Ralphie, his family and friends, and his trusty “official Red Ryder, carbine action, two-hundred shot range model air rifle“. Many of Ralphie’s experiences ring true, for those of us who grew up in the 50’s and 60’s (and even the 70’s). The sights and sounds, the camaraderie of friends relegated to playing in the great outdoors… who would be best friends one day, fighting the next, and back to “buddydom” the very next day. Many of us can relate to having friends like Flick or Schwartz…

And many can relate to having a Scut Farkus in our lives as well.

In Ralphie’s life, Scut Farkus (and his “little toadie” Grover Dill) were the community bullies, bullying Ralphie and his friends until one day Ralphie had had enough, and in a moment of pure rage, turns the tables on the bullying Farkus. From that point on, Scut and Dill never pick on Ralphie or his friends again, proving the belief that, for most bullies, all they need to back down is for someone to stand up to them.

While I don’t condone senseless violence, watching that movie reminds me that there was a time when friends stood up for friends, when right and wrong were simple choices, and the world (much like the television of the 60’s) was black-and-white.

I remember that there was a time when…

  • A person’s first reaction to seeing another person in distress was the lend a helping hand. It is maddening these days to see videos posted online and on the news of an individual being taunted, bullied, picked on, or beaten down with no one coming to that person’s aid, but to look and see a dozen people standing by — all with cell phones — videotaping the altercation. Romans 14:7 reminds us that “none of us lives to himself“. In his classic, My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers wrote…

If you allow physical selfishness, mental carelessness, moral insensitivity, or spiritual weakness, everyone in contact with you will suffer.

And friend, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that our culture is suffering.

  • Freedom of speech, good or bad, was a basic right. Freedom of speech is a double-edged sword. The same right that allows a Christian to unashamedly share the love of Jesus also allows people to espouse some pretty offensive things — words of hate, negativity, profanity, etc. It is a simple right, guaranteed by our Constitution. Yet recently, the story came out that a university police department is encouraging students to turn people in for “hateful and/or hurtful speech”. One problem (of many) with such a rule is this: Who defines what constitutes “hateful or hurtful” speech? To a non-believer, the idea that they face an eternity in Hell, devoid of the presence of God might be considered “hurtful speech”. Sometimes the truth — regarding things of faith or not — hurts. The Bible says that, to someone who lives a life of spiritual disobedience, Jesus is considered “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense” (see 1 Peter 2:1-8). Does a person’s right — under any circumstances — to not having their feelings hurt trump another person’s right to free speech, guaranteed under the First Amendment of the Constitution? Whether we like it or not, starting down that path is a slippery slope to totalitarianism.
  • Police officers were respected in our communities, and supported by our leaders. Over the last few years, we have seen an increase in violence against police as a result of misleading stories and irresponsible reporting in the media, and lack of support of leadership in government. When criminals are afforded the assumption of “innocent until proven guilty” but police are not, we are on a dangerous path to societal rebellion and anarchy. When police have to go into hiding simply because they either did their job or protected themselves (or both), we are in danger of becoming a completely lawless society. In Romans 13:2-3, Paul writes…

Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.

  • IMG_1905Men were men, women were women, and society knew the difference. The LGBT agenda has
    permeated every facet of our society. From local gyms where “transgender” individuals are allowed in opposite-sex dressing rooms (and those who object have their memberships revoked), to school systems where “transgender” students are (considered) being allowed into opposite-sex locker rooms… the lines of decency and propriety are rapidly disappearing…When a young girl is subjected to awkwardness and embarrassment in a locker room because a boy is in there who claims to “identify” as a female;

    When a national magazine selects a man who dresses up like a woman to be their “Woman of the Year”;

    When a group of black-robed justices defy the God-ordained institution of marriage —

    Such things bring to mind the warning of the prophet Isaiah…

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness;
Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! ~ Isaiah 5:20

  • The world knew we were Christians by our love. While it is vitally important to stand for what is right, we as Christians have become known more for what we are against than what we are for. Oftentimes, instead of focusing on the Great Commission, we brow-beat a secular world over things that amount to no more than a diversion they don’t understand. We are inconsistent in our priorities, which sends a confusing signal to a culture watching us through a “microscope lens”. Consistency in the message of Christ matters, otherwise we seem disingenuous at best. For instance, IF I am going to boycott a secular organization, it should probably be less over the color of their “holiday” cups and more over their support of abortion groups like Planned Parenthood.

CoffeeWith all of the mayhem that is going on in the world, we are seeing an unprecedented assault on Christians in our lifetime. Things may never return to “the good old days”, but there is definitely room and opportunity for improvement. Regardless of how we are accepted in today’s society, one thing is certain: We won’t change the minds of people in our culture until God changes their hearts, and what God will use to change their hearts is a Body of Christ that operates in righteousness, walks in unity, and talks in truth and love.

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect. ~ 1 Peter 3:15

Love is the language that all people understand, because love is the language of God. He IS love, and as creatures created in His image, love is our native language. For some, it may be deep and buried, but it is there…

And it is our responsibility and opportunity to try to find it.

Is this the End of Days?

Fear1I felt at this time, with recent decisions coming from Washington D.C., that I needed to say something about the enemies rising against the American people.

Several weeks ago, Russian troops moved into Syria to take on ISIS. Now the decision has been made to move American troops into the region. After the announcement was made, several senators expressed their concern that, not only did the administration not know what they were doing, they don’t know who they are fighting. To make matters even more volatile, the Russians have moved their tactical nuclear weapons into the Middle East. Russian President Vladimir Putin has declared to the head of the Russian Orthodox Church his intention to destroy ISIS, promising to first warn every one else to get out of the way.

Iwo JimaUnfortunately, since 14 of our top military commanders have been fired in the last 18 months, as Senator Lindsay Graham expressed, it seems that those making the decisions in Washington don’t know what they are doing. But what else should we expect? When you have a bunch of progressive liberals in control who don’t believe in God, they have no understanding or idea of how to deal with a religious situation.

“So Pastor Ron… why are you bringing this up now?”

I’m glad you asked.

In Ezekiel 38:1-9, it says…

 Now the word of the Lord came to me, saying, “Son of man, set your face against Gog, of the land of Magog, the prince of Rosh (Russia), Meshech, and Tubal, and prophesy against him, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord God: Behold, I am against you, O Gog, the prince of Rosh, Meshech, and Tubal. I will turn you around, put hooks into your jaws, and lead you out, with all your army, horses, and horsemen, all splendidly clothed, a great company with bucklers and shields, all of them handling swords. Persia, Ethiopia, and Libya are with them, all of them with shield and helmet; Gomer and all its troops; the house of Togarmah from the far north and all its troops—many people are with you.

   “Prepare yourself and be ready, you and all your companies that are gathered about you; and be a guard for them. After many days you will be visited. In the latter years you will come into the land of those brought back from the sword and gathered from many people on the mountains of Israel, which had long been desolate; they were brought out of the nations, and now all of them dwell safely. You will ascend, coming like a storm, covering the land like a cloud, you and all your troops and many peoples with you.”

(Just for a little clarification… Rosh is Russia. Meshech and Tubal are Turkey. Persia is Iran. Those brought back from the sword is referring to the Jewish people.)

What we are currently witnessing is the beginning of a setup of the End Times.

Listen to Isaiah 46:10…

Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things that are not yet done,
Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand,
And I will do all My pleasure…”

Please understand that I’m not trying to scare you. What I AM trying to do is to let you know that God’s got this! He has it all under control. Nothing that is going on is catching Him by surprise. When it seems to us that the world is out of control, we can rest assured that He has it under control.

Coptic ChristiansThe rebels in Syria that the Russians are fighting are the same as ISIS. Even though Russia will one day turn, right now they are on the right side of this conflict, and the U.S. is on the wrong side. If you look at any video of ISIS fighters, they are not carrying Syrian or Russian weapons… they are carrying U.S. weapons — the ones we gave them.

In my most recent book, The Hiram Code, I discuss not just what is going to happen during these turbulent times, but how you can have favor in spite of what is going on. When every nation was rising up against Israel, King Hiram was smart enough to embrace Israel. As a result, he became the wealthiest ruler in the world, with an empire that lasted 300 years — even longer than Israel.

So what do we do?

Prayer2We can pray.

We can trust God.

We can keep living our lives, and sharing the love of Christ with the world .

What we don’t have to do is live in fear and hopelessness. We don’t have to sit around, wringing our hands and waiting for those in Washington to start making good decisions. We have God’s Word. We know what has been declared from Heaven, and we need to get our lives positioned in accordance with His will. We need to live our lives for the glory of God.

Let It Go.

CSLContemplate, if you will, this quote by the late C.S. Lewis…

“Everyone thinks forgiveness is a lovely idea until they have something to forgive.”

Why do we find forgiveness to be such a difficult thing? Does it come from our need to be right? Is it born of our desire to “one-up” someone who has wronged us? What is it about a lack of forgiveness that makes us feel superior?

A friend once said that, “It was easy for me to be unforgiving until I was the one needing forgiveness”. In Matthew 18, Jesus is painfully clear what judgment awaits the person who does not forgive “from the heart”.

Unforgiveness is like being locked in a prison cell, with the keys sitting within your reach. Forgiveness unlocks the doors, and sets ALL of the prisoners free.

Is holding on to unforgiveness against the one who has wronged you worth sacrificing true joy?

Let it go, and find the freedom God has waiting for you.

Making The Monster

"Frankenstein's monster (Boris Karloff)" by Universal Studios - Dr. Macro. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

“Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff)” by Universal Studios – Dr. Macro. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

I thought this week, since most Americans are in some way, form, or fashion recognizing Halloween this Saturday, I would talk a little about… Monsters.

Well, one monster in particular…

Frankenstein’s monster.

Since it first appeared in 1818, Mary Shelley’s classic monster story Frankenstein has undergone dozens of re-tellings, from the horrifying to the comical. The common version is of a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who robs body parts from various cadavers with the intention of re-animating dead tissue. When faced with the hideousness of the monster he brings to life, he rejects it, only for the monster to embark upon a murderous rampage, killing those closest to Victor, including his beloved fiancée. But even as Victor pursues the monster to remote regions of the world, he is unable to kill his creation.

A pretty far-fetched tale, right?

Or IS it…

The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit. ~ Proverbs 18:21

While we may not be digging up graves in the middle of the night, we in the church have been inadvertently creating monsters for a long time. While Jesus came to offer us life and freedom, through our own words, we create monsters out of the very people He came to save.

Don’t believe me? Let me ask you…

When was the last time you called someone “stupid”?





“That’s pretty harsh, Pastor. I don’t call people those kinds of things.”

Ok. How about…





While people often do things or act in ways that we may not agree with, does that always constitute who they are as a person?

What about you? Just because you have a bad day, or a traumatic experience, should you be relegated to playing that role for the rest of your life? Sure, there are moments that define us, and there are actions and events we cannot change. However, for the most part, the majority of the things that we experience are moments in time that are soon forgotten, not life-defining events. The fact is, we never know what a person is truly going through at any given time.

Is that person who sits in front of you at church, that you call unfriendly, simply a person with a quiet or shy personality?

Is the child or teenager that you see as unruly actually a victim of abuse or neglect, and simply needing positive attention?

Is that difficult person merely more passionate or committed to the task than you are? Does that person simply have a different definition of success, or “set the bar higher” than the average person?

Does that weirdo raising his hands during worship simply love Jesus more than you do?

I’ll be the first to admit: Friendships and relationships take effort, and getting outside of our circle of influence requires us to step into the unknown and often uncomfortable places. Honestly, in many cases, it is not that a person is __________ (insert negative adjective here). It’s that we’re too lazy to take the time to find out who that person really is. It’s just easier to slap a label on someone than it is to learn what makes them tick. The problem with that is that words have power, and the more a disparaging word is spoken over a person, the more they begin to believe that is who they are. I have counseled good people who have gotten derailed from their true identity because they began to believe a lie that was spoken over them. Yes, we are responsible for our own actions and attitudes, and I am not giving a pass to bad behavior. However, when a person is beaten over the head with words of worthlessness and defeat, it doesn’t take long before those words hit their target (the mind), and they begin to believe a lie. Once that happens, the “monster” comes to life.

Seldom did Jesus use labels…

When He did, it was often in criticism of the religious establishment (see Matthew 12:34). However, for the average “sinner”, His words were life and grace…

Jesus didn’t call Peter a loser or coward after he denied knowing Him in His hour of need. His forgiveness was not only obvious… it was unspoken. He never mentioned the incident (see John 18 & John 21).

Jesus didn’t call the woman caught in adultery a cheater or whore. He challenged those attacking her, and when they backed down, He sent her on her way, unharmed and forgiven (see John 8).

When Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the tree, He didn’t call him a crook or a swindler (he was a tax-collector… an occupation disdained by most people). He simply said, “Come down Zacchaeus… I’m coming to your house.” That encounter became a life-changing experience for Zacchaeus and his whole house (see Luke 19).

So what can you do?

What are those words that you have spoken over someone that have been a curse instead of a blessing?

What was that hurtful thing you said that you don’t think you can come back from?

What were those disparaging remarks that you wish you hadn’t said?

Not sure where to start? If you are guilty of creating a “monster” through your words,  two simple words can start the process of restoration…

I’m sorry.

Ask forgiveness of the person you hurt through your words.

Ask forgiveness from the Father, Whose blood-bought creation you wounded with your words.

Learn to make your first reaction and response to those around you words of life, health, and peace.

Maybe YOU are the monster you created…

Maybe you have spoken curses and negativity over your own life, and are wondering why you are the way you are — why you have low self-esteem. Start now by confessing to your Heavenly Father that you are not those things, that you are who HE says you are (overcomer, victorious, child of the King, etc.), and begin to walk in your true identity.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.
It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire,
and is itself set on fire by hell. ~ James 3:6

We can use our tongues for evil or for good.

We can use our tongues to speak life or to speak death.

If you choose to speak life, you are speaking the language of Heaven — the fountain that flows from the throne of God and brings blessing to the soul, and health to the heart.

However, if you choose to speak words of negativity and death, don’t be too surprised by the misery that comes from the “monsters” you help to create.

Choose LIFE.