Archives

5 Reasons You Might Want To Reconsider The Lists You Re-post

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all read them. We’ve all re-posted them.

Yep… me too. Guilty as charged.

Sprout 2THE LISTS. Like God’s promise in Genesis to Abraham about his offspring, social media/internet lists are becoming as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. Lists for every conceivable vocation, location, and 12-step program in 15 easy steps. For someone who is in the ministry (like me), it seems like these lists grow faster than the weeds in my flower beds at home. For ministers and ministry-types, the topics can include (but are certainly not limited to) things like…

10 Things You are Doing Right in Your Ministry.

20 Things You are Doing Wrong in Your Ministry.

22 Things You’d Be Doing Right if Your Weren’t Doing Them Wrong (in Your Ministry).

You get the idea. Can I hear an “amen”?

And while some lists are totally informational and harmless — lists like “10 Things to See on Your Trip to Vermont” or “The 15 Top Dining Spots in Coos Bay, Oregon”, others are less so. Others go to the heart of who we are, not just as organizations, but who God made us as individuals.

So here is my list. It’s short — just 5 points — so here we go…

5 Things You Should Consider Before Re-posting Lists

  1. Who is posting your list of choice? Just because someone has a popular blog or website does not necessarily make them an authority on every given subject. Before you re-post something as Gospel that could have a far reaching effect on someone else’s spirit, make sure it actually IS Gospel. Just because you agree with it does not make it right or accurate, it just means it struck a nerve with you for some reason. There is a good chance that, if you agree with it but it does not line up with the Word of God, you might need to step away from the screen and do a little soul searching yourself. Regardless of the authors “credentials”, you should always do your due diligence before parroting anything. Even experts make mistakes.

    The Bottom Line: Don’t listen to every voice. Choose carefully those you allow to speak into your life and destiny.

  2. Beware the “Guilt-List Post.” I think 20 years from now, we will have an entirely new and thriving area of psychology brought on by psychoses born in the realm of social media. I am seeing more and more where we have gotten to a place in which public statements on social media are taking the place of disagreements that should be handled in private conversations; primary among these are what I would term the “Guilt-List Post“… someone who disagrees with something, and posts a list on social media or a blog to add validity to their argument. For ministry-types, whether it is preaching styles, music tastes, or witnessing ideas, people often re-post lists because they either feel guilty, or are trying to “guilt” someone else into seeing things their way, all because some “expert” says “this is what you are doing wrong”.
    In Isaiah 1, the Bible says…

    “Come now, and let us reason together,”
    Says the Lord,
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
    They shall be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They shall be as wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18

    Social media posting, messaging, and emailing will never be a good substitute for sitting down face to face and reasoning things out with another person. Passive-aggressive chastisement on Facebook is not what Jesus was talking about when He gave us His words in Matthew 18 about how brothers and sisters should deal with disagreement and offense. Unfortunately, it is fast becoming a cheap, ill-used, and misdirected substitute.

    The Bottom Line: Social media posts and emails are breeding grounds for misunderstandings and confusion. Learn the art of conversing and (more importantly) listening.

  3. The Self-Aggrandizement Post. The opposite of the Guilt-List Post is the Self-Aggrandizement Post. This is posting a list to reaffirm what you are doing right, and to let everyone else across the world know what you are doing right as well. While affirmation is fine (and we all need it), I’m not sure posting a subjective list based on one person’s opinion as your basis for success is the best way to go about it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 say it better than any 12-point list…

    A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ~ Matthew 7:18-20

    As someone wiser than me once said…

    A man’s gift makes room for him,
    And brings him before great men. ~ Proverbs 18:16

    In other words, when you let your gifts and talent do the talking, is doesn’t take a lot of words for people to take notice.

    The Bottom Line: Memorize Proverbs 18:16, and remember: “A little humility goes a long way.”

  4. What works for them may not work for you. Celebrating the success of others is great, but one person’s (or organization’s) recipe for success does not necessarily mean it will work for you or yours. While there are some basic, common-sense elements to success that we should all strive to maintain (hard work, diligence, kindness, fiscal responsibility), the fact is that what works in Chattanooga, TN — “the buckle of the Bible-Belt” — might not necessarily work in a place like Oakland, CA. A church in Birmingham, AL that has a thriving bus ministry might not be a great model for a church in Manhattan, KS. There’s an old saying that goes “Bloom where you’re planted.” If you are “planted” in a place that is hard and rocky, you are going to have to get more creative in order to be a success than someone who is “planted” in fertile soil. In fact, you may find that your definition of success is markedly different.

    The Bottom Line: Find your sufficiency in God. Allow Him to define your measure of success.

  5. What has God told you to do? This really is the heart of the matter: What is the revelation God has given YOU? What is the call of God on YOUR life or the life of your organization? Many times in the Bible (and throughout history, for that matter), we have seen God reveal Himself in unusual ways, and give individuals or groups an unusual call or command. For example:

    Moses parted the Red Sea simply by lifting his staff and stretching out his hand.

    The children of Israel leveled the walls of Jericho with a shout and the sound of trumpets.

    A kid named David took out a giant warrior named Goliath with a single stone.

    John The Baptist subsisted on a diet of locusts and wild honey.

    In the end, while advice is good and good advice should always be considered, nothing can replace the calling of God for you. It might look unusual. It might be unconventional. It might be what the “experts” call crazy. However, if it truly is from God, then you can rest assured that, even if it seems chaotic or way out of the norm, He will be in the middle of it to guide your hand every step of the way.

    The Bottom Line: No ten-step plan to success will ever make you as successful as the single plan of God for your life and circumstances.

So be encouraged if you are a work in progress. If you have a true word from God, He is going to make a way in whatever wilderness you find yourself.

And if you don’t have that word yet, just remember what God said in Jeremiah 29:13…

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Living smart in a smartphone world.

Creación_de_Adám hands

There is an old adage…

“You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

The problem is, we live in a time of sound-bite-driven and movie-trailer-style culture. We want to be able to wrap up our assessments of others into nice, neat packages, put a bow on them, and divide life into “simple” categories. We want to define others by how they fit into our agenda, without the messiness or benefit of personal relationship. We have become “experts” at the 30-Second Evaluation, without considering the years (and moments) leading up to that evaluation. We don’t often take into account the bad morning (of history of events leading up to that bad morning) before we pass judgment. We look to the surface of appearance and circumstance without considering the depth of another person’s experience, psyche, or soul.

So how do we remedy this as a society? How do we regain the decency and humanity we have lost in our social-media-driven, sit-com addicted culture? Here’s three ideas that may be a good place for you and me to start…

WWJD?

It sounds a little simplistic, and a bit of a throwback to the ’90’s (remember the WWJD bracelets?), but there’s a lot of truth in that little acronym. “What would Jesus do?” is a legitimate question, especially for anyone who calls himself or herself a follower of His. So, when it comes to relationships, what is the example He sets for us? How did Jesus treat those close to Him? We find in the Gospels many examples of how He responded to people in various situations.

 

  • judasAfter Peter denied Him, He gave Him another chance without throwing His failure up in His face (John 21).
  • When the woman accused of adultery was brought before Him, He offered her mercy, then with a simple question, shined a light on the hypocrisy of her accusers (John 8).
  • He wept at the loss of a friend (John 11), lovingly corrected Martha over her frustration with Mary (Luke 10), and used the Truth as a defense in the light of criticism.
  • He quietly dismissed Judas from the upper room and Last Supper without calling attention to his imminent betrayal.

So how does Jesus see those around you; the odd, disagreeable, quirky, and unpleasant? In the face of the misfortune of another, would Jesus break out His camera phone and put that misfortune on public display, or would He pick that person up and become an agent of healing?

ACTION STEP: Before you react to another person, make the decision to ask yourself how Jesus would respond in that situation. Better yet… ask Him.

Open your eyes.

In the “ME” culture in which we live, it’s easy to pass by and not notice the suffering of those around us. When we are surrounded on every side by voices that are telling us to “look out for #1”, we must make a conscious effort to get out from in front of the mirror, get our noses out of our smart phones, and stop staring at the ground. We must notice what is going on around us, the beauty of God’s creation, and the needs of others at the end of our reach. It’s amazing, for a society as connected and “caught on camera” as we are, that we have become as blind to the needs of others as we have. Jesus didn’t wait for someone to come into the synagogue to be healed or ministered to. He hit the streets, visited the homes of “publicans and sinners”, and made Himself available to the masses. His life was the antithesis of the self-preservation mindset we see today.

 

ACTION STEP: Commit a couple of times a day (for starters) that, when you go into a public place, you are going to turn off your ringer, put up your cellphone, and take notice of those around you, looking for a way to be of assistance to someone else.

Listen.

Monitor 1One of the things that drives me crazy about politics is when, in a debate or interview, someone won’t answer a direct question. It is as though they have paid no attention to the question, and simply use their response as an opportunity to change the subject, and advance their own agenda. In the Bible, the apostle James encourages us to be “quick to listen and slow to speak…” (James 1:19). Too often, instead of really listening to what someone else is saying, we are simply working on formulating a pithy or intellectual response while they are talking. We are HEARING, but not truly LISTENING. Really listening requires undivided attention, focusing on the person who is speaking, and if they are in front of you (ie: not on the phone), observing facial expression and body language. There was a time not long ago when we were NOT connected 24/7; NOT constantly looking at Facebook and Snapchat, and NOT at the instant beck-and-call of every email or phone call. And you know what? We survived! We probably had a better quality of life, and definitely had better interpersonal relationship skills. Honestly, short of some sort of personal or dire emergency, when you are having a conversation, there should be nothing more important at that moment than the person sitting across from you with whom you are conversing.

A group of ministry friends of mine were having dinner with the pastor of a church where they were ministering; five or six men sitting in a restaurant conversing over a meal. About three-quarters of the way through the meal, the pastor looked up and exclaimed, “I just want to point out something. As we have been sitting here, the thing I have noticed is the way John (one of the guys at the table) has engaged everyone here. He has been listening to everyone, and has made it a point to draw every person here at the table into the conversation. That is a rare and wonderful ability.” In pointing out this observation about John, the pastor revealed that he, too, had been listening and observing, and had taken an interest in all of the men at the table. He was right… these days, that is a rare ability. Too often, we simply use our silence as the time in which we formulate our next opportunity to say something seemingly wise or clever.

ACTION STEP: The next time you sit down for a meeting, dinner, or just a conversation, encourage those you are with to turn off their phones, and put them in a place to the side, out of sight and mind. Whatever it is, it can wait. Commit to being a better listener.

We are made in God’s image, and it is the nature of God to want communion and fellowship with us, His creation. We all need someone to confide in, someone to talk to, and someone to listen to. It preserves our humanity. It makes us (and others) less lonely. It improves the quality of our lives and the lives of those around us.

For those of us who are believers in Christ, I am reminded of this saying…

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

So, I encourage you… saddle up, head out, go forth, and reconnect with the world around you. See others the way Jesus does, and take the time to draw them into your circle.

By drawing them into your circle, you might find them drawn into His heart.

 

Pastor Ron

The Lost Art of Reading Billboards

Motel SignBillboards have long been a fixture across the landscape of our country. Just drive down nearly any state highway or interstate, and you will be witness to massive advertisements for any number of businesses, products, services, or causes. From ads for fast food to political candidates to massive marriage proposals, people use billboards to communicate any number of products and ideas.

And in my 70 years on this earth, I don’t ever recall a single time I passed a billboard and witnessed an individual standing on the side of the road, screaming at that billboard while waving a picket sign. A billboard must meet certain community standards in order to be erected in the first place. I see any number of billboards on a daily basis that are advertising something I don’t necessarily agree (or disagree) with.

When I see these, I do what all normal people do… I just keep driving. I don’t stop and scream at the billboard. I stay in my car, maintain my speed, and have probably forgotten about it within a mile.

Wouldn’t it be great if people viewed what they see on the internet and social media the same way they view billboards?

It never ceases to amaze me, the time and energy people put into running something down that they disagree with on the web. In a letter he wrote in 1946, Albert Einstein said something almost prophetic…

“I believe that the abominable deterioration of ethical standards stems primarily from the mechanization and depersonalization of our lives — a disastrous byproduct of science and technology. Nostra Culpa (our fault)!”

Even in 1946 — long before home computers, digital technology, and the internet — Einstein saw technology “depersonalizing” our lives as individuals, and the way we interact with each other. Today we witness people say and do things on the internet — and when I say ‘internet’, I am including social media — that they would never have done even 25 years ago. We see “digital courage” on display on a regular basis; people hiding behind a computer screen, espousing their particular brand of hatred and vitriol from the safety of their bedroom… things they would never dream of saying to another person’s face.

Recently, our church had what we called All American Day. Our church has a long history of patriotic events, dating back over 30 years. I love this country, and I am thankful for the grace God has shown us over the last nearly 250 years. I believe the blessings of God on our nation are worth celebrating. This year, we invited former presidential candidate Governor Mike Huckabee to be our guest speaker. Subsequently, we did a little advertising on social media to promote the event. The text of the ad read…

Governor Mike Huckabee will be speaking this Sunday at Abba’s House in Hixson! Join us for patriotic music and an inspiring message by Gov. Huckabee! The service begins at 10:30am. Abba’s House is located at 5208 Hixson Pike.

No political agenda. No partisanship. No campaigning for a candidate. A former governor, who happens to be a Christian, was speaking about our nation.

What ensued over the next few days was a series of ill-informed, uneducated, judgmental, and even vile posts by people who disagreed with or disliked the idea Governor Huckabee was speaking at our church. While there were many posts that were positive and/or neutral, many crossed the line into absurdity and profanity that we would not even allow on the page. People launched into uninformed and unfounded personal attacks on Governor Huckabee. Others launched into attacks on President Trump. Still others became “Constitutional scholars”, and launched into arguments about the First Amendment, separation of church and state, and the Johnson Amendment (calling into question our church’s tax-exempt status).  I even had one person who proceeded to attack a speaker who spoke at our church several years ago (in an event that was not even sponsored by our church) who has no affiliation to politics, Mike Huckabee, or President Trump.

But what was probably the most disheartening were the attacks commentors made on other commentors, calling them childish and profane names, and belittling total strangers for being hopeful about our nation and our future.

Now normally I don’t respond to comments and criticisms, particularly on my blog. This “conversation”, however, goes to a bigger issue: Decency. I am used to criticism; I’m a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, so in a world that is hostile to Him, it comes with the territory. What gets me, though, is the way people instantly become experts about everything they disagree with, which amplifies the idea that, as a believer in Jesus Christ, trying to “fit in” in such a world is not possible.

Here are a few fast facts pertaining to these posts…

  • Former-governor Huckabee is no longer a political candidate. The fact is, before he was Governor Mike Huckabee, he was Pastor Mike Huckabee. More than a decade before he entered politics, he was the pastor of Immanuel Baptist Church. One of his former bosses, evangelist James Robison, once said of him…

“His convictions shape his character and his character will shape his policies. His whole life has been shaped by moral absolutes.”

  • The Johnson Amendment (regarding political speech from a pulpit), has to do with the endorsement of a political candidate. Since Mr. Huckabee is neither (at this writing) a political candidate nor endorsing one, this really was a non-issue. In fact, all one has to do is a simple YouTube search, and you will find a variety of politicians (and candidates) who have spoken in churches, from Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, to Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and President Donald Trump.
  • There were several comments about the First Amendment and “separation of church and state.” The fact is that the term “separation of church and state” is not in the First Amendment, or in the Constitution at all for that matter. The phrase separation of church and state came from a letter written by Thomas Jefferson to the Baptist Association of Danbury Connecticut. The actual text of the First Amendment of the Constitution reads as follows…

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.

Jefferson quote 1

While the First Amendment was never meant to keep the Church out of the State, but in fact, to keep the State out of the Church, liberal interpretations of the First Amendment, combined with a mis-interpretation (lack of context) of Jefferson’s words have led us to where we are today. The fact is, Jefferson’s own writings (as well as the writings of many of the founding fathers) bear witness to not only his belief in God, and to his belief that our liberties as a nation are a gift from God. Does it really stand to reason that we should eliminate, from our public life, the very God credited with making our public life, as we know it, possible?

 

“God who gave us life gave us liberty. Can the liberties of a nation be secure when we have removed a conviction that these liberties are the gift of God?”
~ Thomas Jefferson

 

  • In the social media posts, the word “hypocrite” was bandied about quite a bit. The fact of the matter is, hypocrisy is, by definition, the practice of claiming to have moral standards or beliefs to which one’s own behavior does not conform. The fact is, nearly everyone exhibits hypocrisy in some form or fashion (if you claim to be a law-abiding citizen, yet you speed, you are, by definition a hypocrite)Monitor 4But here again, for the believer in Christ, fighting against the labels the world attempts to put on us is an untenable position; if we stand unwavering on the tenants of Scripture, particularly with regard to issues of morality, we are labelled “intolerant, bigots, homophobic, judgmental,” etc. But the same people who use such terms to describe people who stand on their Christian moral standards and beliefs are as equally unforgiving of any Christian who appears hypocritical in any way, form, or fashion. Essentially the argument is, “You are going to criticize me if my Christian belief system is counter to your political, social, or moral ideology (ie: if I am NOT a hypocrite), but you are going to criticize me for being a hypocrite if I don’t live my life perfectly in keeping with what I claim to believe.” Are you seeing the absurdity here, in trying to please those who you are never going to please?

I could go on for days, but I would like to bring this all back to the bigger issue I alluded to…

Decency.

While there will always be critics and naysayers, regardless of the topic, there should be an understanding that such “dialogue” is not the acceptable norm. There should be a way, in civil society, that we can “disagree without being disagreeable”, and respond to each other with dignity and respect. It seems that the more tech-saavy we become, the less decent we act. We should be able to have public discourse without the need to go to verbal war. We should be able to have honest debate without vitriolic hate. In the Bible, James implores the believer…

So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath; for the wrath of man does not produce the righteousness of God. ~ James 1:19-20

In Proverbs, we find this truth…

A soft answer turns away wrath,
But a harsh word stirs up anger.
The tongue of the wise uses knowledge rightly,
But the mouth of fools pours forth foolishness. ~ Proverbs 15:1-2

Someone much wiser than me wrote that. It seems like pretty good advice for all of us. We can be uncompromising in our beliefs without being uncharitable in our speech. We should all strive to be passionate about our convictions without being profane in our words and attitude. It is possible to strongly disagree, but do so with unquestionable love, or at least civility.

Maybe it’s time to view social media the same way we view bilboards…

Read… and keep on driving down the road.

Have a great weekend!

Pastor Ron

Mike Huckabee is in the House for All-American Day!

Mike Huckabee

Anyone who knows me knows how much I care about this country. Throughout my 50+ years of ministry, I have desired for America to come back to God, and for revival to once again burn like a wildfire in our land. I know that, in order for that to happen, it takes the people of God getting up off of their pews, out into their communities, and sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will hear.

img_0184Another thing that it takes for revival to happen is for men and women of God to stand in the public square, and to proclaim unashamedly that Jesus is Lord, that right is right and wrong is wrong, and to be champions of truth, the poor and the unborn, and to be a voice against the ungodliness that has leeched into the walls and halls of our government.

Governor Mike Huckabee is such a man.

This Sunday is going to be a special time at Abba’s House as we welcome Governor Huckabee for 🇺🇸AllAmerican Day🇺🇸. There will be stars and stripes, Patriotic music by our choir and orchestra, fireworks, and a special word for this hour by Governor Huckabee.

So join us THIS SUNDAY (July 2) at Abba’s House for 🇺🇸AllAmerican Day🇺🇸! I would love for you to be my special guest. Service begins at 10:30am.

P.S. If you can make it earlier, come at 9:15 and check out our LifeGroups. There’s always room for one more, and you’re always welcome at Abba’s House!

All American Day

Legalese, Leviathan, and Living in the Land of Confusion

Leviathan 1

     While writing this the other day, none of us could have known the tragedy that would take place on Wednesday morning at the Republican Congressional baseball practice in Alexandria, VA, while they were practicing for a charity event.
We live in uncertain times, and we must stay vigilant in standing for what is right and just amidst the confusion that permeates our society.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of those injured and affected by this sinister attack, and praying for safety and wisdom for all of our elected officials, military and first responders, and all those in leadership in our nation.

 

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

Fast forward to 2017…

From Russian hacking to climate change to borderline anarchy, we in 2017 are rapidly proving that any confusion surrounding 1986 doesn’t even compare. With so much misinformation through “fake news”, then regurgitated through channels like social media, it’s a wonder that we can find the truth at all. Watching some of the Congressional hearings and questioning surrounding who did what with regard to Russia collusion and information leaks, and wading through legalese and political jargon… it’s enough to make your head spin.

Welcome to the Land of Confusion.

Why are people being dragged through the mud and disparaged over baseless allegations while people breaking the law by leaking said information are being ignored? Why are we even chasing straw-man issues like Russian hacking and collusion while some of our leaders won’t recognize the immediate threat of Islam and Islamic groups like ISIS? Why is the media, liberals, and political establishment working at unprecedented levels to discredit our new president before he can even get his agenda off the ground? Why is it ok to espouse every left-wing, left-field politically-correct ideology that comes down the road while ignoring the freedoms of others, the law of the land, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution of the United States? Why are the very people (and liberal media) who are so quick to jump on the separation of church (religion) and state bandwagon, whenever a Christian is involved, silent while we are being force-fed Islamic ideology in schools and in the public square?

I’ll tell you why… Leviathan.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As we go through 2017, we are seeing the Leviathan spirit permeating our society like never before, through…

  • An unprecedented assault on the freedoms of Christians by the politically correct “thought-police” of the homosexual lobby. Since even before the acceptance of same-sex marriage in 2015, our freedom to peacefully disagree with this unGodly “alternative lifestyle” was being trumped by a militant LGBT agenda that labels anyone who thinks homosexuality is a sin a “bigot” or “intolerant”. To take a stand against the wave of acceptance of same-sex marriage could cost a person their job, business, and livelihood (not to mention the threats of bodily harm and death that are growing increasingly more common). This intolerance of Christians has become so obvious that many thinking, peaceful people in the homosexual community have actually spoken out publicly against it, bemoaning the intolerance that the LGBT crowd is exhibiting toward Christians. While the new Administration has been more supportive of the rights of Christians and free speech, the media continues to push back, doubling down on the LGBT agenda through “news” outlets and television programming.
  • The continuing assault on motherhood. A twisted form of feminism through the media appears to empower women innocently, but in reality, women are shunning the responsibility of child-rearing in the name of “freedom”. Women are escaping motherhood altogether through the diabolical and barbaric practice of abortion, or simply giving their kids to ex-husbands or grandparents to raise. Through the examples of many women idolized in pop-culture, the idea of what it means to be a woman, wife, and mother is being twisted and confused. The ideas and spectacle alone of The Women’s March in Washington on January 21, 2017 should give pause to anyone contemplating this ideology.
  • The orphan generation. The previous generation has often been labelled “fatherless” because of the millions of deadbeat fathers who walked away from the responsibilities of father and family. We can only assume that this next generation has the potential of being orphaned — fatherless and motherless — spiritual orphans who can understandably be the the easiest prey for demonic forces.
  • The continuing assault against our schools. Even after prayer was taken from school and a misunderstood interpretation of the separation of church and state was implemented, parents could rest assured, knowing that our children would be taught basic freedoms and values that made this country great. However, even in the Bible Belt (Southern United States), the precedent has now been set that includes teaching homosexuality as a normal, alternative lifestyle. Furthermore, as Christians, our right to disagree with this line of “education” has been stripped away. The great minds that once led in academia now live in fear of being ostracized and ridiculed by the media, or losing government funding, if they disagree.
    Leviathan twists historical records, interjects twisted testimonials from professing homosexuals, and distorts community support until schools are buried beneath waves of so-called “tolerance”. It is pretty obvious that Leviathan is alive and well as test scores continue to plummet, and our students are graduating less educated now than at any time in history.
  • The insanity of the acceptance of Islam and Sharia Law in America. Even as we have watched the Middle East and Africa go up in flames in recent years, we have politicians who are becoming increasingly accepting of bringing the beliefs and practices of Islam to America. Even as Islamic terror attacks are being perpetrated in our own country, the chants of “tolerance”, “diversity”, and “coexistence” are regurgitated by liberals whose battle cry seems to be, “Can’t we all just get along (with anyone who is not a Christian)?” However, these people fail to realize one big problem: You cannot co-exist with someone who is trying to kill you! Yet, now that we have a President who is taking a stand FOR the protection of the American people and AGAINST radical Islam, there are those on the left that are becoming unhinged at the idea of extreme vetting and common-sense immigration policies.

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

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

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

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

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

We also find in Hebrews that the sword is discerning.

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

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

What must we do?

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

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

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

An old pastor I once knew…

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

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

“Sure,” came the reply.

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

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

Friends, there is a world waiting…

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

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

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

One final thought…

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

Grow…through scripture.

Grow…in grace (love and forgiveness).

Grow…in knowledge (intimacy with Jesus).

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

Want to learn more about the Leviathan spirit?
Learn more in my book Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare

 

Revival in the Age of Instant Coffee

Coffee w TAIWWe live in an age where we want everything fast… instantly, as it were.

Like coffee.

Sure, it smells and tastes like coffee. It may even have enough caffeine to give you a good jolt. But to most discerning coffee aficionados, they can smell a cup of instant coffee coming a mile away, and they are NOT happy about it. To them, there is nothing like the taste of a fresh-brewed cup made from freshly-ground coffee beans from some exquisite place, where the air, soil, and atmosphere are perfect for the growing of those sacred beans., Yes sir, the true coffee-snob can tell you what kind of coffee it is, where it was grown, and a variety of facts about the country of origin.

So why do we think God is any less discerning?

Most of us want things fast and on our terms, and in most cases if we are honest, the spiritual life is no exception. The only problem is that anything related to a Spirit-filled life is not dictated by our wills, whims, and calendars, but by the Holy Spirit of God Himself. He has His timetable (“a day is as a thousand years…”), and is not at the mercy of our schedules.

Azusa StreetMost people who run in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles are familiar with the Azusa Street Revival that began in 1906, considered by many to be the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement. Led by William J. Seymour, the Azusa Street Revival continued for several years, and included Holiness congregants, Baptists, Mennonites, Quakers, Presbyterians, and others. However, many in our country may not be familiar with another outbreak of the Spirit, in Europe, that preceded Azusa Street…

The Awakening in Wales.

In her book, The Awakening in Wales (and some  of the hidden springs), Jessie Penn-Lewis documents the Welsh Revival (1904-1905), a mighty move of the Holy Spirit that took the country of Wales by storm. During that period, approximately 150,000 people gave their lives to Christ, in a country with a population of approximately just over 2 million. Miracles, signs, wonders, and incredible outpourings of the Holy Spirit happened during that time.

So what prompted such radical transformation? What was it that made the Welsh Revival different from the “revival” happening at the church down the street from your house right now? What were the markings of this mighty move of God? In The Awakening in Wales, a few points repeatedly come to the surface…

They prayed and prepared.

Not just days and months.

In the YEARS leading up to 1904, Christians in Wales joined in passionate prayer, believing and asking God for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit. “Prayer-circles” were formed and people met at specific times to pray earnestly and deliberately, for hours on end. People traveled from place to place and spread the “fire” they had gotten in one place or meeting to other towns and villages. Prayer-circles began to spring up simultaneously and spontaneously, not just in Wales, but in other countries as well.

As well as prayer, many who participated did not wait until the events of 1904-1905 to seek after the Spirit of God. Many came to the meetings, having already been filled with the Holy Spirit. Much of this was due to the fervent prayer that went on ahead of time; people seeking after God with no reservations or selfish agendas. They didn’t wait for a meeting or a moment for something to happen; the further outpouring of the Spirit of God at the meetings was a by-product of the months and years of preparation that had already taken place.

There was unity.

In Wales, the people of God came together. Churches set aside denominational labels and walls for the sake of a common goal: A mighty move of the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians 1:10, Paul appeals to the believers in Corinth…

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Penn_LewisBut the unity was not just between the people of Wales. Jessie Penn-Lewis stated…

“The object-lesson that stands out the clearest, and speaks the loudest, to the Church of God, is the fact that the Spirit of God moved upon the unsaved in converting power as soon as the Christians in a particular church, or specific meeting, were in harmony with God.” ~ from The Awakening in Wales

The people were in unity and harmony with God. And make no mistake about it… being in unity with the King of Kings is all about being in His will, His timing, and His purposes.

The message of the Cross of Calvary was central.

 

“As we recall the conditions preceding the first Pentecost, we cannot forget that CALVARY WAS A TERRIBLE FACT to each one of the little company in the upper room.

There is no Pentecost without a preceding Calvary.” ~ Jessie Penn-Lewis

The message of the Cross, and Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, was the central theme of the Revival. Penn-Lewis went on to say…

“The world has seen before its eyes that the preaching of the Cross is in very truth the dynamic of the Gospel, and is the energy of God to actually and really save men from the bonds of sin. And what is of greater consequence, the Church of God has been rallied, as by a voice from Heaven, to the banner of the Cross.”

Others also explained…

“We have been critics of the Bible when we should have been devotees. We have preached Christ as an ideal of sacrifice, but have left out His atonement for sin. Now, thank God, there is a return to the Book, and to Calvary…

The Revival has brought us back to the Cross of Christ.”

It is the Cross that saves. It is the message of the Cross, and the power of the Holy Spirit that convicts men and women of their sin, and their need for a Savior. The recipe for revival is actually a fairly simple one: Prayer, unity in the Spirit, and the Message of the Cross. The fruit of that was evidenced in the more than 150,000 souls who entered the Kingdom of Heaven through the principality of Wales in 1904-1905.

Seriously.

The revival we speak of is not going to happen until we get serious about seeking God through prayer, fasting, repentance, and unity of the Spirit. God told His people in Jeremiah 29:13…

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

All of our heart means we check our schedules at the door.

All of our heart means we set aside our agendas and our plans.

All of our heart requires singular focus, with a constant eye on the prize.

So are you ready for revival? A REAL revival? A revival that changes the course of a nation, and ushers souls into the Kingdom in droves? A destiny-changing moment in time that is more than an event advertised on a marquee?

I am.

It’s time to put on the “coffee pot”…

Let it brew nice and slow…

Allow the aroma to fill the air…

And take time to prepare something worthy of the King.

Brother of The King

There was a little boy named Rick.

As a young child, his father abandoned his mother. With no income and unable to support her family, Rick’s mother had to put him and his brothers in an orphanage.

Some time later, Rick’s mother remarried a man whose name was Vernon. One day as Rick and his brothers were at the orphanage, a fancy car pulled up, and they were informed that they were there for Rick and his brothers. The car left the orphanage, and a short time later pulled up in front of a mansion…

Graceland.

As they passed through the gates of the world-famous home of Elvis Presley, the car came to a stop, and upon passing through the doors, they were greeted by “The King” himself.

“I always wanted a little brother, and now I have three”, they were told as the six-year-old Rick and his two brothers were met by their famous half-sibling. You see, Rick’s mother had married Elvis’s father.

The next morning, they discovered a yard filled with toys, bicycles, and gifts, and they ran with joy from one item to another, amazed to find themselves in such a home.

From an orphanage to the mansion of “the king”, this story reminds me of one we should all relate to — one of another King…

Jesus is “not ashamed to call us brethren.”  He is our Brother and Companion.  He has made us sons, and so all that He has is ours.  We are God’s children and are therefore recipients of His love.  All this is possible because He was willing to be a “perfect” Savior…

For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. ~ Hebrews 2:10

The perfect means “complete.”  Jesus was willing to do all that had to be done to give us complete salvation.  He came to lead a new family home to glory. All of the resources of Heaven are available to us as children of the King, and co-heirs of Jesus.

I don’t know about you, but I think that is Good News worth sharing!

This week…

I will be joining Pastor Ronnie Phillips, Jr. at the RPMI Wilderness Conference in Chatsworth, GA. I hope you will join us for this powerful event. Damon Thompson, Eric Clark, and other will be with us. It all starts tonight (4-27), and runs through Sunday night (4-30). If you can’t be with us in person, you can watch it online on the RPMI Facebook page.

​​