On Sunday, I addressed the people of Abba’s House, the city of Chattanooga, and the nation regarding the terror attack in the City of Chattanooga on July 16, 2015. I invite you to join us in the worship center of Abba’s House as I share the Good News…
It was the evening of November 30, 1977…
For those of us old enough to remember (and before the days of VCR’s, DVR’s, and YouTube), it was the night that Americans gathered around our television sets and watched with mixed emotions the final Christmas special featuring the great Bing Crosby. Bing Crosby’s Merrie Olde Christmas, originally taped toward the end of summer that year in London, England, featured Bing along with his family and a few guests. Just over a month after the taping, on October 14, Bing died suddenly from a massive heart attack following a round of golf with friends.
One of the highlights of the program was a duet by Bing and a young David Bowie. It was a beautiful rendition of the song Little Drummer Boy, arranged together as a medley with a song called Peace on Earth. As Bing’s low baritone voice sang out the familiar “ba-rum-bum-bum-bum”, David Bowie sang out the higher counter-melody…
Peace on Earth,
Can it be?
Years from now
Perhaps we’ll see;
See the day of glory,
See the day
When men of good will live in peace,
Live in peace again.*
* Tune and lyrics, written by Ian Fraser, Larry Grossman, and Alan Kohan
Peace on Earth. Since that night on a Judean hillside when the hosts of Heaven filled the sky with the refrain of “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men“, men of good will throughout the centuries have long worked for peace. As Bing Crosby and David Bowie sang once again a plea for peace on Earth, no one knew the irony of what they were singing… and when. You see, the day that they taped that segment of the show was September 11, 1977.
September 11, 2001
Fast forward exactly 34 years as Americans watched in horror the tragedy of that day unfold before our very eyes. A handful of Islamic terrorists brought the reality of their radical ideology to the shores of our country in an attack unlike anything since December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor. When all was said and done, four planes had crashed, the World Trade Center was reduced to rubble, the Pentagon was in flames, a field in Pennsylvania was strewn with fiery wreckage, and nearly 3,000 American citizens had lost their lives. They were husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, sons, daughters, and grandparents. They were business people, students, athletes, blue-collar workers, housewives, politicians, and children. And in the days that followed, as we learned of the facts surrounding the events of that day, Americans spoke out with a cry of defiant resolve…
We will NEVER forget.
But as we spend this day in reflection on the events of September 11, 2001, I have to ask…
Have we forgotten what it felt like that day? Have we forgotten the feelings of fear and uncertainty that gave way to anger for this violation against our nation? Have we forgotten the sorrow at the loss of our friends and loved ones, and the determination to never let it happen again on our watch?
Most importantly, have we forgotten our reliance upon God during those dark nights?
In 1 Peter 5:8, the apostle writes…
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil walks about like a roaring lion, seeking whom he may devour.
When quoting that verse, we have a tendency to focus on the second part; the descriptive about our enemy. But many times, we neglect our responsibility in the verse, that being the first four words…
Be sober, be vigilant…
I find it interesting that, as a nation founded upon our reliance on God, and having spent the better part of the past 4 decades trying to distance ourselves from God, we now find ourselves fighting an enemy that is waging a war based on a religious ideology, claiming to be fighting in the name of God. The fact is, we are fighting a demonically influenced political ideology that masks itself in the shroud of religion. As we see events unfolding in the Middle East, the persecution and murder of Christians by Muslims, the infiltration of Islam in our own culture, and unresolved events such as the Benghazi attack on our diplomatic team, it is all meant to incite one thing…
But the real fear we face is more sinister than just the fear of a group or ideology. The absence of truth and absolutes in our culture has created a vacuum, and fear has been more than willing to fill the void. We have become afraid to speak the truth for fear of being called intolerant. We are afraid of standing up for Godliness and holiness for fear of being labeled a bigot. We are afraid to speak out against social injustice for fear of being called a racist. We are afraid to stand for traditional marriage and family values for fear of being called a homophobe. We are afraid to stand against the evils of Muslim ideology for fear of being called an Islamophobe. The list goes on…
However, cowering in fear from the onslaught of the enemy — whatever socio-political-religious mask he chooses to wear — should not be the response of any follower of Jesus Christ. After all, we have this declaration…
For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. ~ 2 Timothy 1:7
Being the habitation of God Almighty, we have unlimited power. As recipients of the finished work of Jesus, we have received unrelenting love. As believers in His holiness and righteousness, we have taken on the mind of Christ. In light of these things, as the Psalmist said…
The LORD is my light and my salvation– whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life– of whom shall I be afraid? ~ Psalm 27:1
So while we are called to be sober and vigilant, and to walk in faith and truth instead of fear, we can walk in the belief that our Prince of Peace has come, and gives us peace — peace that no man can take away. We can move forward from this day — September 11, 2014 — as the day that we resolve to no longer allow the enemy to keep us in bondage to fear, but will live according to the promise of Romans 8:15…
For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father.”
Peace be with you and yours,
Last week on The Heart of Abba, I spoke about the Demonic Downgrade of America. I tackled those things going on in our society that are dragging our country into an abyss of ungodliness and despair. I cited numerous symptoms, in our government and our society at-large, that are tell-tale signs that we are running head-long down a path of moral, fiscal, and societal destruction. As I cited from the tagline of the 1984 movie, Something Wicked This Way Comes…
For every desire, there will be a cost.
Well, it’s a pretty grim picture. However, the words of Jesus offer us hope…
“I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. Before long, the world will not see me anymore, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you. Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.” ~ John 14:18-21
This past Sunday, I delivered the sermon Upgrading the Demonic Downgrade of America to the church body at Abba’s House. I invite you to join me now, through this video, and find the hope that exists for our nation if we but turn back to the Author and Finisher of our Faith — Jesus.
I invite you to share this video with your friends,
and join me in prayer for the very soul of our nation.
Join me this Sunday, July 6, 2014 as I discuss the Mysteries of Eternity. As we stand and watch the flames of retaliation burn in Israel following the brutal murder of three Israeli young men, we as believers need to understand the times in which we live. What do the current events unfolding right now mean to believer and unbeliever alike? Is it going to get worse before it gets better? How should we live our lives in light of these things? Don’t miss this important message.
Worship begins at 10:30a.m… to watch live, click here.
Yesterday, many of us commemorated the 12th anniversary of the September 11 attacks on our nation. We remembered the event like it was yesterday. We remembered the horror and anguish we felt as we helplessly watched nearly 3,000 of our fellow citizens be whisked away into eternity. We remembered the uncertainty of facing an enemy we could not see coming. We remembered the promises we all made to “never forget”. However, there is one thing we seem to have forgotten…
Our dependence on God during our darkest of nights.
Many didn’t find it.
The cry of so many in our culture could be summed up in the words of an old ’80’s song by the group Jefferson Starship…
I know it’s too late now
But I wish I could go back in time
And start all over somehow
And get it right from the start
Many people carry unnecessary regret. Many think it is too late to change, or wish they could go back in time and get a “do over”.
Well, this Sunday, you can.
Sunday, September 15, 2013 is National Back to Church Sunday. If you are currently involved in a church, I challenge you to invite someone who isn’t to join you at your house of worship. If you are not involved in a church, I invite you to visit a church in your area, and see how you can get involved.
You may say, “I’m just not sure I can find a church that is right for me.”
Well, you won’t know until you try, and with 20,000+ churches participating this Sunday, the odds are pretty good that there is one that is right for you. And just remember: You have to start somewhere. If you don’t find it the first time out, keep trying. I believe the church where you belong is out there waiting for you.
“Well, I have a lot of questions… maybe some of my questions are dumb”
Church is a great place for asking questions. The Bible is filled with people who “inquired of the Lord.” If it is an easy question, we should be able to find you an answer quickly. If it is a tough question, we may just have to find it together. The only “dumb” question is the one you don’t ask. Wouldn’t it be great to find a group of people you can grow with?
“I just feel like my life is a journey.”
Life is a journey, and the church is not a destination. It is a place to stop, rest, and find encouragement to continue the journey. It’s about finding a fire, and spreading it to others to light their way. Isn’t the journey always nicer if you have someone to travel with?
“Maybe I’m too different.”
The first church in Jerusalem as described in Acts had a wide diversity of people: spiritually-mature, physically-challenged, ex-cons, religious professionals, widows, foreigners, new-believers, problem-makers, problem-solvers, and more. Sadly, the 21st century church is the most segregated place in our nation. Let’s work together to change that.
“But I’m a sinner…”
Welcome to the club… we all are. The Bible says that “all have sinned”. It is why we need Jesus.
What better place to find healing than a hospital? The church is a hospital for the downtrodden and weary of heart. Come find rest and healing in the hands of the Great Physician.
“Well, the church is full of hypocrites…”
True, so you should fit right in. <<wink>> Seriously… we are ALL hypocrites in one way or another. Unless you live 100 percent of what you believe 100 percent of the time, you are, by definition, a hypocrite. However, our goal as Christians is to be more like Jesus. We may not always succeed, but most of us are trying. That is the great thing about grace and mercy.
So, the ball is in your court. Maybe you were involved in a church and left. Maybe you’ve never darkened the doorstep of a local church. Whatever your condition, why not find your way back (or to) a church this Sunday? I know that we would love to see you at Abba’s House, if you are in the Chattanooga/North Georgia area.
After following the news in the wake of this week’s terror attack at the Boston Marathon, it is obvious and understandable that emotions in our nation are running the gamut.
We are saddened by the physical and emotional pain that our friends and fellow Americans are facing as a result of those killed and injured. Our prayers for healing and comfort go out to the victims and their families during this time.
We are angry that someone had the audacity to commit this heinous crime on a day (Patriot’s Day) that was about everything that is right with our nation (courage, honor, freedom), on our own soil – our home.
We are confused as to why and how this could have happened. Who committed this act? Why did they do it? As our fine law enforcement officials investigate, we believe that answers will be forthcoming.
We are afraid. Many people in our nation are now living in fear on a variety of levels:
People are in fear that it could happen again.
Witnesses may face fear from the memories of that horrific day.
Victims are fearful of moving forward into a future of uncertainty.
Terror, by it’s very definition, is about eliciting a fear response. Terror means “extreme fear”. Terrorism is not simply about killing and wounding innocent men, women, and children; it is about inciting fear in those who remain, and causing people to live in fear.
The problem we face is that fear (terror) is a vicious cycle. Fear is a magnet to demons. The more we discuss and voice our fear with our lips, the more demons are attracted to the atmosphere of fear. Fear is more than emotion… fear is a spirit. 2 Timothy 1:7 tells us that…
“God has not not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind“.
In the Bible, Job was considered a righteous man. However, Job had a fatal flaw. In Job 3:25, Job confesses:
“For the thing I greatly feared has come upon me, and what I dreaded has happened to me.”
Job feared the loss of his children and his treasures, and Satan was drawn to that fear. And while we may think that fear is an unavoidable part of life, living in fear is an existence that we do not have to settle for. 1 John 4:18 tells us that “perfect love casts out fear“, and in Proverbs 29:25, we have this promise:
The fear of man brings a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD shall be safe.
Abraham Lincoln is arguably the greatest president our country has ever seen. However, history bears out that he lost every single election he ran until he ran for president. What if he had allowed fear from past experiences to convince him to quit? How different would our country look today.
Former South African President Nelson Mandela once said, “I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it.” For the believer in Jesus Christ, the opposite of fear is more than courage… it is faith and hope.
For those of you that watch my television program, Ron Phillips from Abba’s House, you are familiar with my co-host, Angie McGregor. What many of you may not realize is that Angie is a gifted songwriter and singer. Several years ago, in the immediate shadow of 9/11, Angie released a song that resonates today. Having faced down some fear in her own life, she penned the song simply titled, I Will Not Fear. After the events of 9/11, this song took on a whole new meaning for all of us that heard it.
— from the CD Could We Dance? ©Copyright 2002 FacePlace Music
Does anyone honestly doubt that now?
While I could go on and on about attacks on our nation and it’s citizens, at home and around the world, here are a few of note…
In October, 1983, the attack on the Marine barracks in Beruit, Lebanon claimed 299 lives.
In October, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked while sitting at anchor at the Port of Aden in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed.
On September 11, 2001, we watched helplessly as our fellow citizens were murdered in the Twin Towers and at the Pentagon, attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives (almost all civilian). For most of us, the images of our fellow citizens jumping from the upper floors of the World Trade Center are indelibly etched into our minds.
Four Americans (including Ambassador Chris Stevens) were murdered in Benghazi in 2012 when the U.S. Consulate was attacked.
Since 2001, thousands of our brave servicemen and women have died on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.
And now… Boston.
While we do not yet know who is responsible for yesterday’s attack, we do know who the father of terror is. It is high-time for the terrorists of the world to be held accountable. It is time to end political correctness. It is time to serve notice on these brokers of violence and fear, as well as countries that send or harbor them, and let them know that we have had enough.
No more monetary aid for countries that foster ill-will and hatred toward America.
No more weapons for countries and administrations that are known purveyors of intolerance, injustice, and violence toward the United States, Israel, or any of our allies.
No more rewarding countries with aid who persecute their own people simply because they follow Jesus.
And no more oil dependence. Let’s end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil and open the unlimited resources of America. We need to build the pipelines and refineries right here at home, and cut off the finances of tyrannical and jihadist regimes.
It is time to know who our friends are and who our enemies are. It is time to silence these tyrants hiding behind their abused populace, empty rhetoric, and misguided religion.
For now, let us pray for our fellow Americans in Boston.
And let us join together with one voice and declare…Enough is Enough