The Value of Stillness

Through The Looking Glass2

With the success of his new movie, American Sniper, I thought I would share a little thought from director Clint Eastwood. He once conveyed this little anecdote…

“My old drama coach used to say, ‘Don’t just do something… stand there.’”

In our society today, we are addicted to noise. Everywhere we go, our auditory senses are being constantly assaulted to the point that, for most of us, silence makes us uncomfortable.

What is it about being still that bothers us so much?

What is it about silence that scares us to death?

In Psalms, God gives us a command…

“Be STILL… and know that I am God”. ~Psalm 46:10

Could it be that, in the silence of stillness, we face God on His terms? Is it that, without distractions, all of our mental “hiding places” are stripped away, and we have to be honest about our need for Him?

Are you looking for a fresh revelation of God in your life?

Don’t just do something….

Stand there.

Stand still.

And listen for His voice.

 

Hope for a “Lost” Generation

MLK Lives QuoteOne has only to watch the news for a few minutes to realize we, as a “civilized people”, are in great peril. As the world focuses on the threats facing our world on a broad scale (terrorism, radical Islam, North Korea, Russia, etc.), the unravelling of the fabric of our society on a local level flies “under the radar.” The seeming collusion of a left-wing media and liberal Hollywood have created the “talking points” of what is acceptable and politically correct, and what will not be tolerated.

While cities like Detroit, St. Louis, and Memphis are besieged by violence, we are told that the greatest threat facing us is “climate change”.

While escalating terror attacks against our allies across the globe are marginalized by our leaders, accusations of racism and anti-police rhetoric are carelessly bandied about by those in authority – with deadly consequences.

While more and more over-reaching regulations are proposed in the name of “public safety,” common sense and “unpopular” laws have become the casualties of those who would try to fundamentally change the core Judeo-Christian values of our nation.

LL ArmThese actions do not take place without consequences — intentional or not. The underlying message being sent is that lives (black, white, or otherwise) don’t matter, that morality is subjective, and that, if one disagrees with certain laws, it is acceptable to ignore and/or violate those laws as long as “diversity” is the goal.

I – for one – have not given up on America. However, in order for us to see a brighter future, we must return to the faith of our past. The Church must draw a “line in the sand” and take a stand for truth and righteousness. It is time that we stop living cowed in the corner of society, and honestly, passionately, and intelligently speak life into this culture of decay and death. Here are a few common-sense ways we can start that conversation…

Stop mis-labeling the problem.

If a person goes into the hospital with all of the symptoms of appendicitis, referring to that person’s condition as an ear infection will do little to treat the problem, and could possibly cost them their life. When we fail to properly label what is wrong with society, we do nothing to cure its ills, and run the risk of doing irreparable damage to the conscience of our Nation. As believers, we stand on the unchangeable, living Word of God. In 1 Peter 3:14-16, the apostle Peter admonishes us…

But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed.

Calling “sin” by its proper name is not politically correct in our society, but is necessary in diagnosing what is ailing us.

Abortion is not a “woman’s choice”… it’s sin.
Homosexuality is not an “alternate lifestyle”… it’s sin.
Adultery is not an “open lifestyle”… it’s sin.
Pornography is not “adult entertainment”… it’s sin.
Political corruption is not “the price of doing business”… it’s sin.

It’s not my label, or your label… it’s God’s definition. He made the rules, and He set the standards. As believers in Christ, we must be honest and faithful to His Word. However, we must also be sure to go beyond just pointing out the problems; we must share the reason for our hope, and offer a solution… the love of Jesus that has the power to change hearts, heal minds, and save souls.

Parents: Anyone can be your child’s friend; only YOU can be your child’s parent.

We have a generation rising that has the potential for either great good or great harm. While I do see good and decent young people being raised up, I also see a lot who are reckless, thoughtless, and out-of-control. There was recently a case in Texas of a 16-year old young man who got drunk, got behind the wheel of a pickup truck, and killed four people (also injuring two others). During his trial, a witness was put on the stand who testified that the boy was the victim of affluenza — which could be defined as “being the product of wealthy, privileged parents who never set limits or boundaries.” This tragic story can be repeated over and over again… parents who set no boundaries for children who grow into young people with no concern for right and wrong, and no regard for the consequences of their thoughtless and careless acts.

Family mealIn Proverbs 22:6, we read…

Train up a child in the way he should go,
And when he is old he will not depart from it.

That’s pretty good advice from the person considered to be the wisest man who ever lived. Parents need to stop delegating God-given responsibility of raising their children to schools, recreation centers, and churches, and start being the voices of wisdom, protection, instruction, and discipline that God intended them to be.

Church: Start being salt and light again.

Over these past many decades, the Church has become known more for what we are against than what we are for. In the ’50’s and ’60’s, we took stands against things like technology, only to later discover it was neither good nor evil, but actually had great value in the spreading of the Gospel. While the Cold War raged in the ’70’s, and we seemed on the brink of nuclear catastrophe, the Church was more concerned about the length of men’s hair, the length of women’s skirts, the “Ju-ju beat” in contemporary Christian music, and a plethora of other things that did little to bring souls into the Kingdom, and even less to open up a dialogue with a world on the fast-track to Hell. One thing (of many) I respect about Rev. Billy Graham, and now his son Franklin, is that, when confronted with a question about a social issue, political controversy, or cultural hot-topic, he always steers the conversation back to the Cross of Christ, and mankind’s need for a Savior.

Jesus called us to be salt and light in Matthew 5:13-16…

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.
You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”

Do I think we should be like the world, and participate in sin for the sake of getting along and finding common ground? By no means. But we must be very careful in rightly-dividing the Word of God so as not to turn our personal preferences into God’s providence. We must let the world see the love of Christ in us, and be known for the God we love, Who changes lives, and not just be known for the petty and insignificant things we are against. Being a Christian will always put us at odds with a world that hates Him. However, the love of Christ in us — shown in practical ways — is what will silence the critics, bring healing and love to those who have lost all hope, and open the ears and hearts of the hungry, hurting, and desperate.

Remember that All Lives Matter.

All Lives MatterIn the wake of the tragic stories of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, the mantra “Black Lives Matter” spread like wildfire. The fact is that ALL lives matter. But how can we say with any conviction that any lives matter when we have allowed the wholesale slaughter of the innocent in our nation? How can we be so hypocritical as to bemoan the tragic deaths of a handful of individuals when, from 1973 to January of 2014, estimates of the number of aborted children have topped 50 million? To put it into perspective, this would be the equivalent of wiping out the populations of the following states combined: Kentucky, Oregon, Oklahoma, Connecticut, Iowa, Mississippi, Arkansas, Utah, Kansas, Nevada, New Mexico, Nebraska, West Virginia, Idaho, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Montana, Delaware, South Dakota, North Dakota, Alaska, Vermont, and Wyoming.

We must stop sending these mixed messages. If all lives matter, then we must put an end to this hypocrisy by putting an end to the holocaust of abortion in our nation. Then, and only then, can we put a serious emphasis on the value of ALL lives, and begin to heal the racial and gender rifts that are tearing our nation apart.

 There was a popular show on television called “Lost“, in which the characters were survivors of a plane crash on a remote island. As the series progressed, however, the level of danger and peril grew, and the island was more than it appeared to be on the surface. As I look into our society, I see a generation that is lost in the deception of self-interest, unaware of an enemy that is operating below the surface, feeding the fires of an ideology and mindset that are putting us as a nation more and more at odds with a Holy God. It’s time for the Church to step up and be the voice of truth, compassion, and hope that our world is crying out for.Blessed

When Life’s Not Fair

Through The Looking Glass2

American comedian Groucho Marx once said…

“The secret of life is honesty and fair dealing. If you can fake that, you’ve got it made.”

We’re all familiar with the saying that “life is not fair”, and most of us have probably experienced that reality…

What is fair about working your whole life, only to find your retirement has vanished?

What is fair about training hard for a sport, only to suffer a career-ending injury?

What is fair about a loved one being killed by the carelessness of someone else on the highway?

But here is probably the greatest injustice of all…

What is fair about being the only sinless person to ever walk the face of the earth, yet having to die to save the guilty?

As Christians, Jesus made two promises we can cling to when times get hard:

Promise #1… “In this world you will have trouble”.

Promise #2… “I have overcome the world.”

The Enemy at the Gate

Landscape#1Some years ago on a large Kansas farm, a parent left a gate open while in a hurry to do a chore. The child that was playing in the fenced yard wandered off and was lost in the great wheat field. They searched for days and finally found the child dead from exposure. The parent cried out, “I left the gate open, I left the gate open.”

So, dads and moms, are you leaving the gates open for your children? In an attempt to be the “cool parent”, are you putting your kids in harm’s way in a culture that is decidedly not “kid friendly”? Has your desire to be your child’s “buddy” left them without a parent?

In a society where anything (and everything) goes, parents have to be more diligent than ever with regard to the safety and well-being of their children. There is an enemy waiting for the gate of love and protection to be left unattended. At every turn, whether on the street, in the classroom, or on the Internet, 21st century children are faced with peril and temptation. One has just to watch the news for a few minutes to hear stories about children being abused, neglected, abducted, or killed. With online porn, online predators, and sex trafficking being just a few of the dangers out there, it is enough to make you want to build a wall around your home, station armed-guards on the perimeter, and not let them leave until they are safely into their 30’s.

However, that’s not the way life works.
It’s also not the way God intended for the family to function.

God makes it clear in His word that He has better plans for us than that. In 1 Timothy 1:7, Paul writes…

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

Living in fear and anxiety is living life in the absence of faith. We have been given a Spirit of “power, of love, and of a sound mind”… it is already at our disposal if we are children of the Most High. Operating as a Spirit-controlled family is how God wants you to live.

Do you want to know how to have a Spirit-controlled home? Do you want to know what steps you can take to put the enemy to flight in the life of your family? Do you want your home to be a habitation of the Holy Spirit… a habitation of peace, safety, and tranquility?

Last night, I shared my thoughts about how you and your family can function as a Spirit-controlled family. Click this link and join me now in the worship center of Abba’s House for this crucial word.

 

 

In the Shadow of Terror

Last week, terror attacks in the beautiful city of Paris, France brought to the forefront the fact that Islamic-driven terror is still alive and well in the world. With the deaths of over a dozen people in three days of attacks, Paris was left reeling, and leaders from around the globe converged on the city as a show of solidarity with the people of France. While shock and sadness still remain, some see this as yet another wake-up call in a battle against this destructive ideology. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and a city and nation in mourning.

As new leadership is beginning in our own halls of Congress, it is time for us to lift our voices and demand leadership on the subject of Islamic terrorism and jihad.

Over a year ago, I posted a blog entitled “The Buck Stops Here“, in which I talked about the infiltration of Islamic ideology in the highest levels of our own government, and some steps we can take to combat this enemy. I would like to share that blog once again today…

The Buck Stops Here

(Original post date: 10/2013)

Well, this seems to be the $17 trillion dollar question:

“What is going on in Washington?”

FlagIt is disturbing to witness the dismantling of our nation right before our eyes. What we are seeing taking place in Washington right now is nothing short of tragic. There is confusion, division, and unfortunately, deception.

LOTS of deception.

Mystery surrounds the “dismissal” of nearly 200 high-ranking military officers for reasons that range from “questionable” to “absurd”. Scandals continue to plague the NSA, the IRS, the State Department, the Pentagon, the Justice Department, and the White House. Questions go unanswered concerning the Benghazi attack, the mistreatment of our allies, and the assault on our Constitution. And as the inexcusable deception related to Obamacare is unfolding before our eyes, the influence and positioning of Muslims in seats of governmental power is slipping “under the radar”… unnoticed, unchecked, and unhindered.

To say “I am alarmed” by the Islamic infiltration of our government at some of the highest levels would be a gross understatement.

Consider, if you will, this case…

Many of you remember the moral scandal that brought down New York Congressman Anthony Weiner. What you may not know is that his wife Huma Mahmood Abedin, a Muslim, worked for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, serving as Deputy Chief of Staff. While Ms. Abedin was working for Hillary Clinton, she was simultaneously working for a journal promoting Islamic supremacist ideology founded by Al-Qaeda financier Abdullah Omar Nasseef. Her parents support and worked for the terrorist organization led by Sheik Yusuf-al-Qaradawi, the notorious Muslim Brotherhood jurist, who has issued fatwas calling for the killing of American military personnel and suicide bombings in Israel.

In light of these facts, how in the world did Huma Abedin get the kind of high-level security clearance she would have to have in order to work in the State Department, and with unfettered access to the Secretary of State of the United States of America?

Why has nothing been done about Muslim extremists? Why do the questions about Benghazi go unanswered? Why has this administration repeatedly and recklessly chosen to align itself with terrorist organizations such as the Muslim Brotherhood – at the risk of irreparably damaging our relationship with our #1 Middle-Eastern ally, Israel?

After 9-11, one would think that a long, hard look would be taken before appointing anyone remotely tied to Islam to a high-level government post. However, this administration has chosen to openly welcome Islamists into the upper echelons of U.S. power. Consider these…

Arif Alikhan – Assistant Secretary for Policy Development for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Mohammed Elibiary – Homeland Security Adviser.

Rashad Hussain – Special Envoy to the (OIC) Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Salam al-Marayati – Obama Adviser and  founder of Muslim Public Affairs Council and its current executive director.

Imam Mohamed Magid – Obama’s Sharia Czar, Islamic Society of North America.

Eboo Patel – Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships.

So, what can we do? What must we do?

We must pray. We must commit ourselves to prayer and fasting for this nation to return to God. We must encourage our friends to do the same. This has gone far beyond “politics as usual”. This battle has long since crossed into the spiritual realm with the very soul of our nation at stake. We must heed the words of 2 Chronicles 7:14, humble ourselves before the Lord, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wickedness. Then, and only then, will we see the healing of our land.

We must stand for truth. We ARE still a nation under God. No amount of history revisionism can change our Judeo-Christian heritage and foundation. It is time for the church to once again be the church, and stop cowering in the corner of society, fearful of offending hand-picked, government-approved special interest groups dedicated to immorality, ungodliness, and the dumbing-down of Biblical values. It is time for the Billy Sundays, the D. L. Moodys, and the Jonathan Edwards of this generation to arise!

We must stand with Israel. While this administration has done its level best to marginalize and insult our best friend and closest ally in the Middle East, WE THE PEOPLE must never lose sight of the promise that God made to Abraham thousands of years ago when HE promised to “bless those that bless you.” We must pray for Israel, support it in any way we can, and never fail to hold accountable those in our government who fail to do so.

We must communicate with our representatives. It is high time that our elected officials be reminded that they are our representatives, not our rulers; that they were sent to the state house to serve the people, not to enslave the people. Whether Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Liberal, Conservative, or anywhere in between, these people must be held accountable for the decisions they make on behalf of the people, and understand that failure to act in the best interest of the people will result in their removal by the people.

buckstopsherefrontsmallPresident Harry S. Truman famously had a sign on his desk in the White House that read, “The Buck Stops Here”. It is time for our representatives to stop kicking the can of responsibility down the road to future generations and stand up for what is “true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, and praiseworthy” (Philippians 4).

As I have said before, May America bless God once again!

3 Steps to Un-breaking Your New Year’s Resolutions

Ok… we’re now 8 days into the New Year. For most of us, the decorations of the season are packed up for another year, our regular work and school schedules have resumed, and life has returned to some semblance of “normal.”

So how are those New Year’s resolutions working out for you?

Sunlight thru trees-editedSome studies show that almost 90% of people that make resolutions fail to keep them, with over 20% of resolutions being broken within the first week. So what do you do when you made a resolution in the spirit of the season, and now it seems impossible to keep? How do you deal with the broken promises of a year so new that you are still having to white-out all of the times you habitually write “2014” on correspondence and checks?

Here are three simple things to remember when it comes to dealing with those well-intended — yet possibly already-broken — resolutions…

Realize what is at stake.

While some resolutions are made for our personal betterment (lose weight, stop smoking, etc.), and some resolutions affect those around us and our relationships (spend more time with your kids, be a better friend), still others have an impact on our relationship with our Heavenly Father (read the Bible more, spend more time in prayer, give up “hidden sins”). Regardless of where your resolutions fall, it is important to realize what the consequences are of not keeping them. I say this not as a way of encouraging you to beat yourself up for broken promises, but simply to get honest about your own situation.

A friend of mine had a heart-attack a couple of years ago. He has spent the last couple of years working out regularly and getting healthy. He says, “People think I love working out. I hate it! However, I hate being dead more.” The decision to live healthier (lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more) will only contribute to your well-being in a positive way. Giving up unhealthy habits can help you live longer, and operate in a better frame of mind. Decisions such as better money or time management can go a long way to giving you more peace of mind…

Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s.
~ 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Spending more time with family and friends, being a better co-worker, helping others more, or volunteering more of our time to charitable endeavors can strengthen those relationships, as well as personally give us more of a positive outlook on life, and contribute to our own well-being…

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. ~ Ecclesiastes 4:9-10

NO time spent drawing closer to the Father is wasted time. Spending time in His Word, in prayer and meditation, and in worship only serve to create a lifestyle of abiding in His presence. Giving up secret sins such as lust, greed, and dishonesty, etc. should not be just “insignificant resolutions” — they are imperative for living the Spirit-filled life. Remember, the concept of sowing and reaping has both positive and negative connotations…

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. ~ Galatians 6:7-8

Stop making excuses.

Anything worth doing requires some degree of sacrifice. Stop looking for a way to avoid the unpleasantness of the process, suck it up, and get about the business of walking the narrow path that is going to move you forward as a person to a better place. The path of least-resistance is probably the path that got you where you are now — looking for (and needing) change.

Maybe you made your resolution in the midst of the euphoria of New Years?

So what???

If it is a resolution worth keeping, it doesn’t really matter why you made it. YOU DID! Now it’s time to show what you’re made of, Who you trust, and stick to it.

Remember: Failure isn’t final.

Most resolutions — like life itself — are a process. If you made a resolution to lose weight, gaining a pound or two on the Fourth of July weekend is not the end of the world. The year isn’t over, and you still have 5 months to lose what you gained and more. If you were going to spend more time with your family, but work is already demanding more of your time than you anticipated, start now managing your time and resources to stop the cycle, and keep your promise. Too many people stumble in their goal for the perfect “resolution record”, and throw up their hands in defeat the first time they trip along the way. Stop looking at the stumbling blocks, and start looking at the finish line. Set a goal, and keep your eyes on it, not the moments of weakness along the journey.

Do you not know that those who run in a race all run, but one receives the prize? Run in such a way that you may obtain it. And everyone who competes for the prize is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a perishable crown, but we for an imperishable crown. Therefore I run thus: not with uncertainty. Thus I fight: not as one who beats the air. But I discipline my body and bring it into subjection, lest, when I have preached to others, I myself should become disqualified. ~ 1 Corinthians 9:24-27

Trust in your Heavenly Father, and start NOW in making this year’s resolutions a success. Have faith in the One who “began the good work in you.”

Pastor Ron

How To Make the Best of a New Year

“It was the best of times… it was the worst of times”.

With these words, Charles Dickens begins his timeless classic, A Tale of Two Cities. Although it was written in 1859, this opening sentence sounds a lot like our world today.

We see turmoil in other countries…

We see political and social unrest right here at home…

We see an economy filled with uncertainty…

NE ChurchBut through it all, we have hope. Hope – not in an ideology, politicians, or financial markets. We have hope in a God who is bigger than any challenges we face, and mightier than the forces of darkness that are trying to tear this world apart.

Because of that, we can find joy in the future, and anticipation for a wonderful New Year.