Why?

BibleAs many of you know, our Big Event is coming up later this month (September 24-28). For those of you who may not know much about our ministry, this is a time for our partners and friends of our ministry to come together for a time of spiritual renewal and celebration. We worship, we hear great teaching, we have meals together, an auction (to raise money for more ministry), and much more.

Maybe you read my blog, and you don’t even understand why preachers do what we do. After all, the Bible even refers to preaching and the message of the cross as foolishness…

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. ~ 1 Corinthains 1:18-25

“Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?” What we in our finite minds think of as wise has little eternal value in the eyes of God. All of the stuff that we cling to as human beings (ie: money, power, fame, etc) has no eternal significance. Remember the very old and equally true saying, “You can’t take it with you”?

The reasons we do what we do are simple: To share the love of Jesus with the world that needs Him. To heal the broken and hurting. To give direction to a society that is adrift with no oars, no sails, and no hope.

We believe in a God of eternal salvation, spiritual and physical healing, and love beyond measure. As believers in Jesus, it is our job to take the light and love we have been given, and spread it wherever we go.

That is why we do what we do.

I hope you will join me on September 24-28 for The Big Event. Click this link for more info. Below are a couple of videos I hope you will take a moment to watch.

Why? – Jalyn’s Story

Why? – Jeff’s Story

Why? – Mission: Dominican Republic

Experience and the Light of Contentment

Through the Looking Glass

As a general rule, how we see and respond to things in life depends on our own experience.

DickensUpon the death of Charles Dickens, Dean Arthur Penrhyn Stanley delivered a memorial eulogy, praising Dickens for showing by his own example that…

“…Even in dealing with the darkest scenes and the most degraded characters, genius could still be clean, and mirth could be innocent”.

Dickens, who had been through a great deal of adversity in his own life, managed to find the bright side of human nature in some of his most famous characters — people who made the best out of bad situations.

The Apostle Paul discussed this mindset in Philippians 4:11 when he said that “I have learned to be content… whatever the circumstances”. Paul understood that, while the circumstances of life may not ideal, contentment is a vertical choice… not a horizontal one.

Circumstances can be an “undeserved” condition, but contentment is always a choice — a choice to follow Jesus… regardless.

Agreement at Work: #ALSIceBucketChallenge

For a couple of months now, I have been mentioning my new book (co-written with my son Ronnie), The Power of Agreement. We have appeared on numerous TV shows, radio programs, and magazine articles discussing how agreement with God and agreement with each other is the key to Kingdom living, and opens the doors of blessing in our lives. God Himself understood the power, positive or negative, that was contained in agreement when He stated (in reference to the building of Tower of Babel)…

If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. ~ Genesis 11:6

Well, unless you have been living on a secluded desert island for the past couple of weeks, you are seeing these principles play out right before your eyes.

Exhibit A: The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge.

imageYou cannot venture onto social media for 2 minutes without seeing a video of someone getting a bucket of icewater dumped on their head. The ALS Icebucket Challenge has become one of the most successful fundraising campaigns in recent memory, raising awareness about the horrors of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also known as Lou Gehrig’s Disease). From July 29 to August 22, the ALS Association has raised more than $50 million through the Challenge. As a point of reference, during the same period last year, they raised approximately $2.2 million. Actors, musicians, prominent business people, and politicians (including former president George W. Bush) have joined the ranks of “the rest of us” and can be seen taking a bucket of icewater over the head, all for the sake of standing in unity for a cure for those afflicted with this awful disease. People from all walks of life, religious persuasions, ethnicities, and social statuses have come into agreement and said this is something we can all get behind.

So what are some other things the church can get behind?

What are those things that, in spite of our differences in theology, we can come together on and make a difference in the world? We may never totally agree on dispensationalism, worship styles, or methods of baptism. But can we set aside our differences about such things to come together on issues that are going to make an eternal difference in the destinies of the people in our communities, countries, and world? What are some things we can choose to agree on, and find agreement with God about, that will affect those around us?

imageAn intriguing question? I’d be curious to hear your thoughts.

Here’s some thoughts from Jesus to help you start the process…

“When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on His right hand, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’

“Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels: for I was hungry and you gave Me no food; I was thirsty and you gave Me no drink;  I was a stranger and you did not take Me in, naked and you did not clothe Me, sick and in prison and you did not visit Me.’

“Then they also will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to You?’ Then He will answer them, saying, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to Me.’  And these will go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.” ~ Matthew 25:31-46

 

 

 

 

In The Wake of Jihad

On Wednesday, it was announced that American journalist James Foley was brutally beheaded by ISIS Islamic militants in Iraq. Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Mr. Foley, and pray God’s strength and comfort for them during this time.

In the wake of these events, I can stay silent no longer.

Christian          I have done everything I can to contact those in leadership in our nation – the President, the Vice-President, our congressmen and senators — about the murder, the slaughter, and the disgrace that we are allowing to happen, first in Syria, and now in Iraq. It is a national shame, and America will give an account to God for allowing this to happen… and I’m not talking about what has happened in just the past few weeks.

We have sat back in this country and allowed the Islamic caliphate to almost take over. I stated years ago, when the “Arab Spring” started in Tunisia, that they were trying to rebuild the Islamic caliphate. (The Islamic caliphate starts in Tunisia, goes to Egypt, skips Saudi Arabia, then continues to Iraq, Syria, and Turkey — the old Ottoman Empire.) I’ve said for years that the Antichrist is coming out of a revived Ottoman Empire, not a revived Roman Empire. I stated when the “Arab Spring” happened that Hosni Mubarak should never have been overthrown in Egypt; we had a better friend in him than we did in Morsi, who the military in Egypt was forced to overthrow before he destroyed the country. America has stood back and allowed a 20-year friend, who had peace with Israel, to be lied about and run out of office in Egypt. Since 2012, we have watched the same scenario play out in Syria with President Assad.  While he was accused of using chemical weapons on his own people, there is much evidence reported to the contrary (including the testimony of a Syrian guest who visited Abba’s House in 2011). However, since coming into office, the Assad regime has not fired a shot at Israel or America.  The fact is that Syria has not exhibited any aggression toward Israel since 1973. The largest synagogue in the Middle East was in Aleppo, Syria, and was being protected by Assad. Yet, it is the rebels in Syria who were known for telling Christians to “either convert to Islam or die.” There was actually one video making it’s rounds on social media of a “rebel leader” who, while standing over his defeated foe, cut the man open, cut out his heart, and ate it. And THESE were the people we were supposed to be pulling for??? These were the people our government was purportedly supporting against the Assad regime??? Now, as a result, the largest group of Aramaic-speaking Christians — a genealogy of Christians who date back to the time of Christ — have been scattered and slaughtered under our watch.

What we as Americans have allowed to happen with regard to the slaughter of our fellow Christians, not only in Syria and Iraq, but in the Sudan as well — people by the thousands being driven from their homes by Muslims — has got to stop, even if it has to stop at gunpoint. There comes a time that you have to fight for your family, fight for what is right, and fight for what you believe in.

I have been saying for the past couple of years that what we are now seeing in the Middle East was coming. In 2011, I spend four Sunday nights discussing the coming storm of Islam in our world. Now it is coming to pass before our eyes. It’s time for every person reading my blog — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Tea Party, Independent… whoever you are — to speak up and let your voice be heard by the people you elected into political office, and start making a difference. It’s high time for those in our government to stop hiding behind political correctness, start calling these events, and the people involved in them by their proper names, and start using the power of our government, whether it be political, financial, humanitarian, or military, to help these Christians who are being slaughtered “en masse” by Muslims all over the Middle East. When I see rallies being held on our own American soil in support of known-terrorist organizations like Al-Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, and ISIS… we have gone too far. When I see celebrity-types speaking out of defiant ignorance, and slamming our Israeli friends and allies, it is time to put the truth out there.

WE HAVE HAD ENOUGH!

I believe in peace, but even Jesus said, “I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34). In Hebrews 12, Paul says, “You’ve not resisted unto blood” fighting against sin. I am telling you right now, it does not take a PhD or a rocket scientist to figure out that cutting off the heads of children and placing them on poles for public display, raping women and murdering their husbands, and forcing people from their homes and sending them to flee and die of starvation and thirst in the desert — all because they are Christians — is evil. This type of behavior should not and can not be tolerated in the world in which we live. Maybe you don’t agree with me now, but you probably will when they show up on our shores, and force your wives and daughters to wear a burka, and mutilate their bodies in the name of Allah.

It’s time for the church of Jesus Christ in America to WAKE UP!

It is time for those in our government to stop playing “political chess” with every two-bit dictatorship around the world, and stirring up the pot of political unrest in these places, overthrowing leaders who are less-than-perfect, and creating political vacuums that are being filled with the horrors of Islamic ideology. It’s time for the people of our great nation to demand more from their leadership than empty promises from empty suits. It’s time to start holding leaders accountable for the words they speak. It’s time for the people of America to start having an attention span that lasts longer than the last worthless sound-bite, and start demanding truth, accountability, justice, and righteousness from those in the seats of power in Washington D.C., and every capital building in every state across this great land. It’s time for the Church to be the Church, come together in unity, and be the force that has the ability to change the world with the most powerful weapon in the universe… the love of Jesus.

This link is to a video recorded on the floor of the Iraqi parliament on August 5, 2014. It is approximately three minutes long… please watch.

We cannot sit and do nothing any longer. We must take a stand against evil at home and abroad. We must pray fervently. We must all contact our representatives and leaders and demand more from them. Demand the truth be told. Demand action be taken. Demand that this country, firmly established and founded upon Judeo-Christian values, take a stand against the tyranny of Islam that is being perpetrated across the deserts of the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and is slowly seeping into the fabric of our great nation. While I am all for religious freedom, what I will not stand by silently and watch is for a political ideology that masks itself as a religion to invade our nation, and steal the hope of a better future from the rising generation.

May God bless America, protect our Christian brothers and sisters abroad, and grant peace to Jerusalem, all of Israel, and the Middle East.

Pastor Ron

 

To write the President of the USA:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Phone Numbers for the White House:
Comments: 202-456-1111

Switchboard: 202-456-1414

FAX: 202-456-2461

Send E-Mail:

President Barack Obama:
president@whitehouse.gov

Vice President Joe Biden:
vice.president@whitehouse.gov

To contact your member of Congress, please visit… http://www.contactingthecongress.org/

For Whom The Bell Tolls: Chico, Mork, and an Expendable Life

Looking Glass

One can hardly watch television, surf the internet, or drive down the street without seeing some form of advertising for the new movie The Expendables 3. A popular movie franchise that began in 2010, The Expendables movies feature casts of popular action stars (I hesitate to say, of “yesteryear”) including Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford, Mel Gibson, and many others. The premise is that this group of mercenaries are hired to do the dangerous jobs others can’t, for government agencies that “can’t be involved”, and should they fail in their quest, it’s an acceptable risk — after all — these guys are all “expendable”. Who’s going to miss them? They have no families, few friends, and no real “roots” to speak of.

While these movies may not delve deeply into the psychology of “expendability”, it poses and interesting question:

Who among us is expendable?

Is our value as an individual measured in awards, accolades, the number of Facebook “friends” we have, or the size of the contact list in our iPhones? Is our worth to society determined by our popularity, our job status, or the number of people who will or won’t miss us when we are gone?

A week ago today, we learned of the tragic suicide of actor Robin Williams, who had incredible success in his career. Yet, the success, the awards, and the love of so many people could not still the struggles within him.

In 1977, the young star of the popular television show Chico and the Man died from a self-inflicted, single gunshot wound to the head. While struggling with depression, drugs, and personal problems, Freddie Prinze (22) was at the height of his fame when he took his own life.

Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. Considered by some to be one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, Hemingway committed suicide in 1961 after battling alcoholism and health problems for years.

So if these men (and many other celebrities like them) could not find peace and contentment in their vast successes — making the decision to end their own lives — what about the rest of us?

What makes us not expendable?

It’s simple… the words of Jesus. In Matthew 25, Jesus is talking to His disciples when He tells them a parable, and says to them…

… ‘I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me.’

“Then the righteous will answer Him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You?  Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?’ And the King will answer and say to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me.’ ~ verses 35-40

“The least of these, My brethren.” Societal stature didn’t mean a hill of beans to Jesus. He placed GREAT value on the individual, and considered the way we treated those society considers “the least” as a personal statement of how we treat Him. He views each individual — each member of His creation — as a personal extension of Himself…

“… Inasmuch as you did it to the least of these, My brethren, you did it to Me.”

Jesus sees the person inside. He sees the potential. He sees the diamond-in-the-rough. He sees the Kingdom-heir, just waiting to step into the promise and future available to all of us who put our trust in Him.

Maybe you have low self-esteem… Jesus says you are highly-esteemed.

Maybe you feel expendable at your job, an insignificant part of the corporate machine… Jesus sees you as an individual of great worth and value.

Maybe your family, friends, or church have made you feel insignificant and unimportant… If you had been the only one, Jesus still would have come to this earth to save you — He thinks you are THAT important.

So if you are looking for acceptance and significance, look no further than the open arms of Jesus. He is waiting for YOU.

Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. ~ Matthew 11:28

You are NOT expendable… You are loved.

Pastor Ron

When The Laughter Goes Silent

This week, our nation lost two greats in the entertainment industry. On Tuesday, iconic actress Lauren Bacall passed away at the age of 89 after reportedly suffering a major stroke. The wife of legendary actor Humphrey Bogart, Ms. Bacall appeared in dozens of movies and television shows. Having outlived her husband by over 50 years, she lived a long life beyond the grief of loss, and went on to be an award-winning actress, known for her cynical humor and her straightforward personality. She once said…

I figure if I have my health, can pay the rent, and I have my friends, I call it ‘content.’

Robin WilliamsBut while the news of Ms. Bacall’s death was being announced, the world was still reeling from the shock of the news, just the day before, of the death of actor Robin Williams. At the age of 63, leaving a loving family, devoted friends, and a successful career including several movies currently in production, Mr. Williams committed suicide in his home just outside of San Francisco. As the news was confirmed of the manner of his death, a collective “why???” went up from the general public. Known not just for his talent as both a funnyman and a dramatic actor, Mr. Williams was, by all accounts, a kind and generous person as well. Testimony after testimony — of family, friends, and complete strangers — over the past few days bears this out. Friends and co-workers went on talk shows and discussed what a kind person he was. Strangers on social media posted pictures from meeting him on the street, and talked about how gracious he was. An entertainment icon, an Academy Award-Winning actor, a genuine humanitarian (as evidenced by his multiple trips in support of our troops overseas, as well as work for charities like St. Judes Children’s Hospital)… what makes a person with that kind of success choose to end their own life?

A 2011 CDC report states that suicide is the #2 cause of death in Americans aged 15-34, and the #3 cause in adults ages 35-44. While no case is exactly the same, the reasons for suicide are often related to personal loss, depression, financial stress, and family issues. In the case of Mr. Williams, struggles with substance abuse, career issues, and severe depression were cited as possible contributing factors in his death.

So how do we go forward, as a society, and stem the tide of the plague of suicide in our nation? What can we as individuals and Christians do to stop this tragedy from touching those close to us, in our circles of influence?

First of all, we need to open our eyes. As believers in Christ, we make it a point to say that “we are in the world, but not of it”. For many, however, being “not of it” tends to make us mentally disconnect from what is going on around us. Although He came as the King of Heaven, Jesus was keenly aware of the pain and suffering going on around Him. Jesus reached out to the needs in the world as He encountered them: He fed the hungry, He healed the sick, He raised the dead. He ministered to the big crowds, but He also dealt with people one-on-one, sometime in the secretive dead-of-night (see John 3 – story of Nicodemus). Just as Jesus did, we must take notice of those around us, and be proactive when confronted with need. It is the example of Jesus that offers hope to those in need of it.

We must listen without judging. One person’s minor irritation is another person’s major crisis. Without the knowledge of where another person has been, we cannot assume to know exactly what they are feeling. So many times, we want to give advice without knowing all of the facts. Take the time to listen — REALLY LISTEN — to what someone is saying, and make it a point to listen, not just to what they are saying, but to how they are saying it. Learn to read between the lines. Love, manifested in genuine concern, has a way of bringing pain to the surface.

A friend of mine had a brother who committed suicide when he was younger. He shared with me that, while he knew his brother was having some problems, he didn’t know to what extent. As it turned out, there was more going on in his brother’s life than he knew, because he would share one thing with one person, and another with someone else. It wasn’t until after he passed away that friends and family members put all the pieces together, and began to comprehend the extent of his sorrow and pain. Take the time to sit down, share a cup of coffee (or 10), and just listen. Sometimes, that very act lets a person in pain know that they are not alone. Sometimes, a soft touch and kind word can give that person the resolve to live another day. Former talk-show host Phil Donahue once made a very true observation…

Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

Finally, we must see people for who they are. We are all unique creations of the Creator. We all have extreme value in the eyes of God. We are all challenged in different areas, and the problem of depression is no less real than diabetes, heart disease, or cancer. Sometimes depression can be the result of wrong choices we make in everyday life. Sometimes, it can be the result of a chemical imbalance. As a minister who has dealt for years in Spiritual Warfare, I know that some types of depression are demonic at their root, whether handed down through generations (generational curses), or demonic doors of depression that are opened through one’s own actions. Regardless of the reason and just like any disease, depression (and mental illness) must be properly diagnosed in order to be dealt with. Individuals suffering from depression must know they have people who love them standing beside them, caring and not critical. They must be encouraged to get the help they need, whether physical, psychological, or spiritual (or oftentimes, a combination).

I encourage all of you reading this today: Be the light of the love of Jesus in another person’s life. Love the misunderstood. Reach out to the “unlovable”. Learn to recognize pain in the eyes of those around you. If someone needs to talk, be that ear. If they need to cry, be that shoulder. If they need more help than you can give, be that companion that accompanies them to the pastor or counselor who can help. Make it a point to make every person you come into contact with know, beyond a shadow of doubt, that they are not alone in this world.

“I used to think the worst thing in life was to end up all alone. It’s not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone.” ~ Robin Williams

With One Voice

Christian

As we wake to a new day, our Christian brothers and sisters in places like Iraq, Syria, Iran, and elsewhere in the Middle East are living in fear and terror, their very lives being threatened. As we see the events unfolding in Iraq as ISIS marches across the nation, pillaging and slaughtering at will, we think back to the last presidential election, when we were led to believe that Al-Qaeda was all but destroyed. We now face an enemy that, although affiliated with Al-Qaeda, was apparently “kicked-out” because Al-Qaeda considered them “too radical”. Scarier still is the fact that, while the Taliban has an operating budget of approximately $70 million, and Al-Qaeda had a budget (prior to 9-11) of about $30 million, some estimates put the ISIS bankroll at approximately $500 million. Some would even say that the ISIS army has grown to a size larger than the armies of some legitimate countries.

A Pew Research poll in 2013 found that over 75% of Americans claim to be Christians, while only an estimated 0.6% claim to be Muslim. If this is the case, why is the Christian voice not being heard? Why are Christians constantly being mis-characterized, turned into caricatures, and ignored? Why are our leaders marginalizing the plight of Christians in the world, and acting (if at all) too little, too late?

As you read this, approximately 300,000 Christians in Iraq are fleeing for their lives. As you enjoy your morning coffee, American Pastor Saeed Abedini still sits in an Iranian jail cell. While liberals will invoke “the children” to pass everything from gun control to healthcare to global warming legislation, what about Pastor Abedini’s children? Will their recent video appeal to our President go unanswered? What about the children in Iraq, who are being beheaded by this barbaric horde that is razing Iraq at this very moment?

As I said last week, our leadership in Washington D.C. cannot sit idly by and allow this persecution, genocide, and chaos to continue. I am asking all of my friends who follow this blog to help me spread the word. It is time for our nation to rise up and demand that our leaders stop sitting on their hands and start doing more to protect our Middle Eastern brothers and sisters in Christ who are trapped by these barbaric terrorist groups and regimes.

So, please consider doing three things today…

1) Pray. Pray for the supernatural safety and protection of our Christian family throughout these troubled places in the world.

2) Share. Help us spread the word by sharing this blog post with your friends and family. Encourage them to do the same.

3) Speak up. Let your voice be heard. It is time to hold our leaders accountable for both their actions as well as their inaction. Contact our leaders, and let them know you expect more from them.

Below is a number of ways you can make your voice heard. Please consider calling or emailing President Obama and/or your members of Congress, and demand that the United States do more in this crisis. It is time for the Body of Christ to come together in unity, and stand firmly against the forces of darkness that threaten our nation and our world. It is time for the light of Jesus to shine brightly… unwavering and unapologetic.

To write the President of the USA:

The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500

Phone Numbers for the White House:
Comments: 202-456-1111

Switchboard: 202-456-1414

FAX: 202-456-2461

Send E-Mail:

President Barack Obama:
president@whitehouse.gov

Vice President Joe Biden:
vice.president@whitehouse.gov

To contact your member of Congress, please visit… http://www.contactingthecongress.org/