The Cross and the Ballot

UTDDOA2

This week, we have the great privilege to exercise our rights as Americans and vote to elect our next leaders. As citizens, it is an honor to be able to choose the leadership that will serve our country for the next few years. As Christians, it is a solemn responsibility that none of us should take lightly. Conservative pundit Rush Limbaugh once said…

“This is a frightening statistic…
More people vote in ‘American Idol’ than in any US election.”

Whether Republican, Democrat, Independent, Libertarian, Tea Party, or any other affiliation we may have politically, as citizens of Heaven, we have a responsibility — first and foremost — to make sure that our vote reflects our commitment to Christ. Baseball great Jackie Robinson once said…

“I guess you’d call me an independent, since I’ve never identified myself with one party or another in politics. I always decide my vote by taking as careful a look as I can at the actual candidates and issues themselves,
no matter what the party label.”

With issues like abortion, gay marriage, racism, sexism, environmentalism, support of Israel, religious freedom, and immigration as hot button topics, as Christians, a good question to ask ourselves would be “How would Jesus VOTE?”, and cast our ballot based on His values, regardless of the platform of our party of choice. I recently saw a great quote on social media. It said…

“A lie doesn’t become truth, wrong doesn’t become right, and evil doesn’t become good just because it is accepted by a majority.” ~ Unknown

In an atmosphere of political correctness, many in the church have become swayed by popular opinion and the desire to be “relevant”. While finding some common ground with those we are trying to reach is important, we cannot do so at the expense of our testimony. As Christians, we should strive to be Christ-like. But being like Jesus does not being accepting of that which God calls sin. Being like Jesus means being in the world and not of it. It means having the ability to be honest with those with whom we disagree without compromising our convictions. It means checking our egos, our popularity, and our pride at the door, and following in His steps. It means heeding the call of Christ from Mark 8:34 when He said…

“Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross, and follow Me.”

Sure… it is always much easier to “go with the flow”, than to swim upstream, but as believers in Him, that is our call.

To be righteous… at the expense of being “relevant”.

To stand… when the rest of the world bows to the idol.

To follow the true and living God… even if that path leads us through the lions’ den.

To boldly proclaim “I love Jesus”… when everyone around you is screaming “Crucify Him!”

What will your vote say about you? Will your vote reflect Jesus?

I hope so.

When Legends Come to Life

Halloween is traditionally a time of ghosts, ghouls, and things that go bump in the night. For many, it is a time of parties, costumes, and candy (lots and LOTS of candy). According to Alliance Data Retail Services, Halloween is the fourth most popular holiday that prompts people to spend money, behind Christmas, Thanksgiving, and Easter.

Sleepy Hollow stampWhether it is stories and folklore from the likes of great authors such as Washington Irving or Charles Dickens (The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and A Christmas Carol come to mind), or stories and characters based on actual historical figures that have morphed into legend, there has always been something about stories of suspense and mystery that intrigue people. One such popular Halloween figure is Dracula, who is actually based on Vlad III (Vlad the Impaler), Prince of Wallachia (Romania). A brutal and merciless killer, he preferred to be known as “Dracula”, which means “Son of the Dragon”.

Earlier this year, the movie Noah was released in theaters. While there was much of the story that deviated from the historical account we find in Genesis, one of the elements in the movie that drew an inordinate amount of attention were the Nephilim — if you saw the movie, they were represented by the giant “rock people”. Although the portrayal seemed rather fantastical, the producers of the film attempted to address something that is an often overlooked part of the Genesis account. It is one of those afore-mentioned historical facts that have morphed into legend (if not even cartoonish characters).

Caesarea By The Sea2

So, who were the Nephilim? Were they real or just figurative characters in the Bible? Let’s take a look…

Now it came to pass, when men began to multiply on the face of the earth, and daughters were born to them, that the sons of God saw the daughters of men, that they were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves of all whom they chose. ~ Genesis 6:1-2 (NKJV)

Here we have the intermarriage of the descendants of Cain and Seth with embodied demons. This produced a race of people called “giants” in the English Bible. They are literally Nephilim, which means “fallen ones”.They occupied the land of Canaan (this view is supported by both Falvius Josephus and Philo Judaeus). These beings produced a subhuman or hybrid race prior to the Flood. These hybrid beings could be the beings that became the ancient mythological gods (see John Fleming’s The Fallen Angel and the Heroes of Mythology and Thomas Horn’s Nephilim Stargates). This race brought vile immorality, crime, terror, and war on the earth. We have a grievous picture of what this means in Numbers 13:32-33…

 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight.” (NKJV)

As we can see, these hybrids were present when the children of Israel entered the land of promise.

David would finally wipe them out (we assume). The human race seems to have experienced this activity before the Flood, and in seizing Canaan during the Exodus. In the last days, this pit will be opened, and the Antichrist will be the seed of Satan born to a woman.

These fallen angels, Nephilim, left their own estate and cohabited with women and produced horror for the earth. These demons disrupted God’s order on earth. This is why the Flood came. It explains the order by God to kill the inhabitants of Canaan. Many of them were not fully human.

For the sake of clarity, it needs to be explained that while this initial population of Nephilim were eliminated by the Flood, the abomination happened again. In Genesis 6:4, we read…

There were giants on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. (NKJV)

This indicates that after the Flood, these fallen angels came again and procreated with “the daughters of men”.

So again… is it just a “story” from the Bible? Could it really have happened?

The wonderful aspect of this is that God’s Word is true, and truth does indeed “spring from the earth”. The subject of the Nephilim is, as some have said, “the elephant in the room” for the archaeological, anthropological, and scientific communities. Here are some interesting facts…

  • In AD 1692, a skeleton was found near Angers, France, of a man measuring seventeen feet, four inches.
  • In 1950, in the Euphrates Valley of Southeast Turkey, several tombs were found containing full skeletons of giants fourteen to sixteen feet tall.
  • Digs in China have uncovered skeletal remains of giants over fifteen feet tall.

But the evidence is not relegated to just skeletal remains…

  • I once visited the Heraklion Archaeological Museum in Crete, and there exists an exhibit of ancient bronze battle-axes from as far back as 1700 BC. This is not that unusual until you consider that the axes are over five feet in length. These are not, as some assert, decorative, but show signs of use in battle.
  • In the Great Orme Copper mine in the coastal town of Llandudno in North Wales, sledgehammers of over sixty pounds have been found. These hammers, used in the mining of copper, would have had handles of approximately nine feet.

You may say, “These are all very interesting stories, but what do they mean to me, for my life today?”

These things, and countless other facts, artifacts, and historical records bear out the truth of the Bible. “The rocks cry out” and declare the truth and glory of God! The psalmist bore witness that Creation itself testifies to the handiwork of God when he wrote…

The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands. ~ Psalm 19:1 (NIV)

If we make the decision to ignore the empirical evidence that supports God’s Word, then we choose to live in ignorance and disbelief. However, if we choose to believe the Bible as truth, then we must believe it in it’s entirety. The same Word that tells stories of floods, giants, angelic visitations, and miracles also gives us this dire warning…

As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. ~ Matthew 24:37 (NIV)

Immorality, crime, terror, war… any of this sounding familiar?

But there is also hope, for the same Word also gives us this promise…

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. ~ John 3:16 (NKJV)

Salvation is here, my friend. His Presence in your life is only a prayer away.

Pastor Ron

 

Much of today’s content was adapted from my book Unexplained Mysteries of Heaven and Earth
(Copyright © 2013 Ron Phillips, published by Charisma House).

Wisdom from the Sidelines

Through the Looking GlassBeing that we are in the heart of football season, I thought I would share with you a quote by the late, great Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys…

I don’t believe in team motivation. I believe in getting a team prepared so it knows it will have the necessary confidence when it steps on a field and be prepared to play a good game.

Mr. Landry knew what success looked like. As the coach of the Cowboys for 29 years (an NFL record), he led them to the Super Bowl 5 times, winning the Vince Lombardi trophy twice. With a reputation for being calm and in control, he knew that the secret of success was not hyping his team on the day of the game, but preparing them ahead of time through consistent practice and discipline… preparation that would carry them to success on the field.

This is a great lesson for all of us as 21st-century Christians. To survive, thrive, and make a difference in today’s world, it’s not enough to show up at church on Sunday, go through the motions of a spiritual pep-rally, get an ecclesiastical “shot in the arm”, and think that is all there is to the Christian life. Don’t get me wrong… gathering together with our brothers and sisters in Christ is VERY important, but living an overcoming life in Christ is SO much more. It takes personal time in prayer, time in the Word, and time alone with God in worship and meditation. Paul knew, not just the importance of thoughtful and disciplined preparation, but the consequences of failing to adequately prepare when he said…

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. ~ I Corinthians 9:24-27

As you set about a new week of school, work, and play, now is a great time to get into the practice and habit of time in the Word, prayer, and seeking God’s face. Start today, and watch the difference it makes in your attitude and outlook.

A Time To Stand

Sometimes I feel like a man born in the wrong time in history…

BibleThere was a time in this nation when preaching mattered. There was a time when newspapers would print sermons, and preachers would not fail to take stands for Biblical truth. There was a time, not too long ago, when congregations could gather and count on hearing an unapologetic, Bible-based word spoken by a pastor who had spent time on his face before God.

Fast forward to 2014…

Today, we have preachers being harassed and scrutinized by public “servants” (I use that term loosely). Just recently, we have pastors in the Houston area being ordered (via subpoenas) to turn over their sermons, notes, and a host of other types of correspondence for legal review. In Idaho, a couple— both ordained ministers — is facing potential fines and jail time for refusing to perform gay marriages. An Oregon baker was forced to choose between shutting down her business or being fined into bankruptcy for refusing to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple.

I could go on and on… you get the picture.

ConstitutionWhile roughly 77% of the population of the United States claims to be Christian, less than 4% claim to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender*. Yet, in spite of this wide disparity, the silence on this matter by pastors and preachers in our nation is deafening. Our “leadership” in Washington is trampling on the very Constitution they swore to uphold and protect — the one that plainly states in its First Amendment…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In spite of this very guarantee of freedom of speech and worship, the church has allowed itself to be cowed into the corner of silence and insignificance. The pop psychology pablum running off the pulpits in our country is challenging and changing no one. The problem has become that we have confused a crowd for a true church, and popularity for real ministry. We have sacrificed being righteous for being “relevant”, and “speaking the truth in love” for beating around the bush with psycho-babble that never gets to the heart of what is killing our nation and world today.

Where are the voices crying “prepare the way of the LORD“?

Where is the prophetic call to repent?

Where are the Elijahs, the Daniels, the Isaiahs, and the John the Baptists of our day?

With an end-time scenario in the Middle East, and the resurrection of the beast of the Ottoman Empire with its philosophy of genocide toward Jews and Christians, believers in Christ are fast asleep. The horde known as ISIS is sweeping across Syria and Iraq, destroying lives at will. The plague of ebola is sweeping across West Africa, infecting and killing thousands as the numbers continue to rise. Both of these calamities have spilled onto our shores, and while our leaders posture and preen in their attempt to appear effective while basking in their political correctness, the Churches of America fiddle while the nation burns.

It is time for the Church to stand… Stand with the poor. Stand with the persecuted. Stand with the voiceless and oppressed. Stand with those on the front lines of the war for our culture.

At our church — Abba’s House — we have made a decision: We will not be silenced. We will stand on the Word of God. We will stand for traditional marriage. We will stand for Israel, and its right to exist as a nation. We will stand for the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We will stand for America’s Judeo-Christian heritage. We will stand on the FACT that we are still a Christian nation. We will confront Islamic terror with the Truth. We will stand on the battlefield of Spiritual Warfare, ready to fight.

I look around the city in which we live, and see nearly 1,000 churches constantly swapping members, while 230,000 souls won’t darken the doorstep of our houses of worship. Yet, I have a deep conviction that there are 7,000 in our county who have not bowed their knees to Baal, and that remnant will arise, cross over the barriers, and end the indifference. I believe that God is going to show up and awaken our cold and callous hearts once again.

Some of you reading this, for one reason or another, are no longer in church. If you are in the Chattanooga / North Georgia area, and are looking for a church that preaches the Word of God unreservedly, I invite you to visit us at Abba’s House. I’d love to meet you. We are a truth ministry that operates in grace and mercy. If you have stumbled along the way, and are looking for a place to call home, you can visit us and find welcome and restoration. If you are living out of town, I encourage you to find a church that stands on the truth of God’s Word, and get plugged in. If you can’t find one, you can join us online at www.abbashouse.com for our online streaming during worship times.

The time for complacency is long-since past. It is time that we once again believe that we are, without question – “One nation under God”.

 

http://www.npr.org/2011/06/08/137057974/-institute-of-medicine-finds-lgbt-health-research-gaps-in-us

Fighting the Ghosts of Unforgiveness

Wallace SwordThe 2005 movie The Kingdom of Heaven illustrates an important lesson about forgiveness. As the inhabitants of the city prepare to defend Jerusalem from the onslaught of the Muslim army led by Salahadeen, the hero of the movie, Balian, makes this observation…

We fight over an offense we did not give, against those who were not alive to be offended.

How many times has this very scenario been repeated throughout history? How many wars have been started over an offense that can no longer be remembered? How many times have lives been destroyed because someone took up the offense of another person?

The Bible says in Proverbs 17:9 that…

He who covers a transgression seeks love,
But he who repeats a matter separates friends.

We as Christians are called — not to take up the offense of others — but to “deny ourselves, take up our crosses, and follow Jesus” (Matthew 16:24). We are called to be living sacrifices in a world in which sacrifice is rare. As I once heard someone say…

The problem with living sacrifices is they keep crawling off the altar.

Sometimes, it feels better to “pick up our sword”  than to lay down our pride. But it could be your “soft answer turning away wrath” that brings peace to a situation, and heals a transgression through an act of love.

How can you be that voice of forgiveness, love, and reconciliation today?

No Expiration Date on Favor

Recently, at every turn, we are faced with stories meant to incite fear and worry.

ISIS.

Islam.

Ebola.

Political correctness run amok.

Healthcare.

Climate change.

It’s easy to get bogged down in gloom, despair, and depression with so much negativity right now.

That being said, let’s all pause, take a deep breath, and go back to the well of God’s mercy and grace. Today, I want to share with you something I shared back in 2013. It is truth that is just as real, and just as pertinent today as it was then, and I hope it encourages you today to trust in the favor God has for you as one of His favorite children.

got favor?

Gas GaugeIn May of 2002, I was preaching a crusade in Nigeria. After about a week of wonderful meetings, it was time to once again climb aboard a plane and head back across the Atlantic. As we were about to leave, we were praying with our host pastor, Dr. Nick Ezeh, and rejoicing in what God had done in the meetings. After saying our goodbyes, we turned and walked into the terminal only to be confronted by these disturbing words on the flight schedule screen:

Flight #— to Lagos: CANCELLED

Now, in the U.S., this is not really a huge issue. When a flight is cancelled, most of the time, there is another flight within hours. However, since we were in Calabar, Nigeria, and not Cleveland, Ohio, this was not the case. If we missed our connection in Lagos, the next available flight was FOUR DAYS LATER!

At this point, our team shifted into overdrive, trying desperately to speak to someone who might have a solution to our dilemma. We quickly discovered that there was a flight to Lagos from another town called Port Harcourt. The flight was scheduled to leave in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Great, right? Except for one small problem…

Port Harcourt was 3½ hours away.

If we left immediately, we would have a fifteen minute margin of error. If we hit traffic, had any mechanical issues, or were in any other way delayed, chances were good that we would not make our connection, and would have to get comfortable for a four-day layover. Our team quickly gathered all of our gear, and got back into the vehicles for the long ride to Port Harcourt.

Now, one thing about Nigeria is that twice a year they shut down all of the oil refineries for a week or two for scheduled maintenance, thus creating shortages, rationing, and gas station shutdowns all over the country. It just so happened that that shutdown fell during our visit. The whole time we were there, we witnessed lines at gas stations that made the U.S. gas lines of the 1970’s look like the express line at Wal-Mart. About an hour into our drive, I glanced down at the gas gauge of our borrowed vehicle, and noticed that the needle was below empty. Our driver, a very nice Nigerian gentleman by the name of A.G. Bright didn’t seem too concerned. I leaned forward and asked him if the gauge was broken.

“No, my brother,” he answered, “but God will provide, for we prayed for mercy on this journey. Also, you and Dr. Ezeh are God’s men… He will surely see us through.”

It is difficult to admit this, but my faithless soul was not comforted. As we drove on, my mind was filled with visions of our stranded team, standing by our vehicles in the middle of the sweltering Nigerian jungle, or worse, being taken captive by rebels or robbers.

As my mind raced through the worst possible of scenarios, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of singing. Mr. Bright had started singing praises to God, and was quickly being joined by others in the vehicle. As the praises went up from our SUV, my faithless heart still continued to fret, expecting our engine to come to a grinding halt at any second. However, after another HOUR of unrelenting driving, we came to a crossroads, with a gas station that stood like an oasis at the intersection. As we pulled in, we questioned whether or not it was even open, since it was without the massive lines we had witnessed everywhere else. Upon discovering that it was open, we soon found out from the proprietor that the station had been closed for a week due to the fuel shortage, but that he had just received a shipment, and was actually re-opening his station AS WE PULLED UP!

A smiling A.G. Bright looked at me and said, “See, Pastor Phillips… God always takes care of His servants. You are in favor with God!”

Now here we are today, and we face challenges like never before. Turmoil in our financial markets, uncertainty and unrest about the state of our nation politically, and chaos and disquiet in various hot-spots around the globe make it difficult to have faith. Yet having the favor of God is not dependent upon who is king, prime minister or president. The favor of God does not hinge on “bull markets” or diversified portfolios. The favor of God is not even affected by our immediate circumstances… our job, our family, or even our gas gauge. The favor of God is about His goodness and His faithfulness. We receive God’s favor, not because we are good, but because HE is good.

Driving down those dirty, pot-hole infested roads of Nigeria that day, Mr. Bright became a shining example of how we get ahold of that favor.

Mr. Bright prayed… He prayed a prayer that said, “God, here is what I am expecting, and no one will be more surprised than me if You don’t come through.” (Contrast this with the prayer that many of us pray: “God, here is my need, and I will be shocked if You actually answer me.”)

Mr. Bright walked by faith… He put his proverbial “money where his mouth was”. He had no choice but to move forward by faith, and he did it with gusto, literally driving into the unknown with nothing but a belief that God is true to His word and to His children.

Mr. Bright worshipped… He didn’t sit there and fret about the gas gauge. He opened his mouthand declared God’s goodness and faithfulness in advance.

What a powerful lesson! I want to be like Mr. Bright. I want to be the one who walks in favor, stands in favor, and lives in favor! I want to be the one whose life is centered in His presence, and in the blessing that God gave Moses for the children of Israel…

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

(Numbers 6:24-27)

That is the kind of favor I want.

How about you?

Pastor Ron

Jalyn’s Story: Healing In The House

Do you need healing in your body? Do you know someone who does?

How does a young girl with a broken back run three miles?

With all of the talk of viruses, syndromes, infections, and the like, there’s no doubt that our nation is overrun by sickness. Think about it… What is one of the most divisive topics in our nation for the past few years?

Healthcare.

I want to share with you this story of a miraculous healing that happened not long ago at Abba’s House. If you need healing, this story is for you.