Just A Week Away

An event you do NOT want to miss this life changing event!

The Sound of Socialism

austriaanschlussRecently at our church, our young people performed the great musical The Sound of Music. It is the classic story of the von Trapp family’s escape from Nazism in Austria after Germany usurped Austria into the German empire in 1938 — an event known as the Anschluss.

One of the by-products of doing this timeless musical was the opportunity to teach our children a little bit of history about World War II and the Nazi regime…

A history many in our nation have obviously forgotten.

Nuremberg 1The National Socialist German Worker’s Party (ie: the Nazi Party) rose to power following Germany’s defeat in World War I. The Nazis played upon the discontent of the people in attacking big business and capitalism, and used class-warfare as a tool to further its popularity by establishing a culture of entitlement and ideological superiority. Racism was also a key element in the spread of this toxic ideology, and resulted in the Holocaust… the death of six million Jews.

Socialist… Sound familiar?

For the first time in our nation’s history, we not only have candidates who are promoting socialist beliefs, but have an openly socialist candidate running for the highest office in the land.

Have we become so short-sighted that we won’t heed the hard-fought lessons we have learned in the last 80 years? Has our education system become such a cesspool of ideologues and history revisionists that our children are being brainwashed into believing that socialism is the answer to all of the problems that ail us as a nation? Oh sure… socialism has its appeal — after all, who doesn’t like FREE STUFF???

The problem is that nothing — N O T H I N G —  is free. Even “free” stuff is costing someone, somewhere.

Take education for example. One of the mantras we are hearing is for “free education/free college”. Well, if college becomes free, one would have to assume that all of those things it takes to keep the doors open — lights, heat, electricity, etc. — are all going to be free as well.

And how about those salaries? If we are going to offer free college, would it not be reasonable to assume that all of the college faculties will be doing their jobs gratis? That means janitors, security, administration, and yes… professors. So, all of these (mostly highly) trained and educated people are going to put in their 40+ hours per week with no paycheck to show for it? Sure, there are those states where some college is being offered for “free” (TN being one that offers 2 years of community college for “free”). However, “free” is still not free… it ultimately comes at the expense of the taxpayer.

The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples’ money.
~ Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher

The Bible has a lot to say about work and a good work ethic. From Genesis to the writings of the apostles, hard work is considered admirable and Godly. Looks at what Solomon had to say in Proverbs…

All hard work brings a profit,
but mere talk leads only to poverty.
~ Proverbs 14:23-24

 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth.
He who gathers crops in summer is a prudent son,
but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.
~ Proverbs 10:4-5

The Apostle Paul was pretty direct in his instructions to the Thessalonians…

 While we were with you, we gave you the order: “Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat.” We hear that some people in your group refuse to work. They are doing nothing except being busy in the lives of others. Our instruction to them is to stop bothering others, to start working and earn their own food. It is by the authority of the Lord Jesus Christ that we are urging them to do this.
~ 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

Yet in spite of these warnings, I hear candidates running on a platform that constantly blames the ills of the poor on the rich, and stirs up not just class warfare, but ties it to racial division as well. The idea that penalizing someone who has worked hard in order to subsidize the lazy completely takes away from the incentive to work hard and do well. Why would I want to work hard to be a success if someone is just going to take away my hard-earned income and give it to someone who has not worked for it? It is absurd to believe that when you rob from the rich it is going to somehow benefit the poor in the long term.

Hitler and Amin Al-Husseini

Berlin, 1941: Adolph Hitler meeting with Mohammed Amin Al-Husseini, Grand Mufti of Jerusalem

The further we run as a society from the teachings and statutes of the Bible, the further and faster we run toward our own destruction. Although seeming to tolerate Christianity initially, the Nazis moved rapidly to quell the voice of the Christian church, while at the same time forming an unholy alliance with Islam. Martin Bormann, Hitler’s personal secretary, once admitted, “National Socialism and Christianity are irreconcilable“. We are seeing the dark specters of this type of ideology taking hold in our nation, with Christians being put on trial for their beliefs and convictions, while Islam is given a pass and a warm embrace by those in the corridors of power.

In the end, however, it’s quite simple: One cannot forsake the teachings and statutes of the One who established human civilization without severe consequences.

“God has been very good to us. One of the reasons God has been
good to us is that we have done him honor. ~ Justice Antonin Scalia

Although we are a nation founded upon Christian principles, secularists in our society have been trying desperately to take America to the point that we are decidedly “post-Christian”. With the passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia last weekend, the political stakes for the soul of our nation have been raised to a perilous level. The wrong person being appointed to the Court would send us into an abyss of unconstitutional decisions and legislation from which we might never recover. For as Justice Scalia observed…

“That’s the argument of flexibility and it goes something like this: ‘The Constitution is over 200 years old and societies change. It has to change with society, like a living organism, or it will become brittle and break.’
But you would have to be an idiot to believe that.
The Constitution is not a living organism, it is a legal document. It says something and doesn’t say other things… As long as judges tinker with the Constitution to ‘do what the people want,’ instead of what the document actually commands, politicians who pick and confirm new federal judges will naturally want only those who agree with them politically.”

We need a transformation in our country. What is happening societally and politically right now should be driving us to our knees in prayer. The consequences of going further down the rabbit-hole of unGodliness, secularization, and socialism should drive every person who loves this country, and what it stands for, to the ballot box. We have come so far from the horrors of the socialism and subsequent fascism of Nazi Germany, as well as the fear of “The Evil Empire” of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (U.S.S.R.) and the Cold War. I lived through it. I remember the rhetoric and threats. I remember climbing under our school desks during air-raid drills. I remember the nuclear saber-rattling. I remember the images that the words “nuclear holocaust” invoked.

I want more for my children and grandchildren.

You should too.

Election 2016: In Search of The Perfect Candidate

One has only to watch the news, drive down the street, or look at social media for 2.7 seconds to realize one singular fact…

It is an election year in America.

KS77849That’s right, folks. Election Year! Placards wallpapering the roadside, political television and radio spots with the flip of every channel, unbridled rhetoric filling the walls and news feeds of Facebook and Twitter. We seem to have about every conceivable viewpoint, every imaginable ideology, and every possible position covered. We all have in our minds the perfect candidate; the one that we agree with on 99.9999% of the issues important to our nation. And while the Democratic side of the nation has far fewer candidates to choose from than the Republican side, it would seem that just about every possible ideology is represented.

Everything except, perhaps… reality.

Candidate XThe reality of the situation, particularly on the conservative side of things, is that we are looking for someone who does not exist: The perfect candidate. We want to believe that we agree with a certain candidate about everything when we really don’t because he (or she) is “our guy”. We want to not agree with a certain candidate because they are not “our guy”. The fact of the matter is that there is not really that much that separates most of the candidates on either side. Most Republicans agree on most issues. Most Democrats agree on most issues.

So how do we pick? How do we choose the best person for the job? How do we make peace with ourselves and our ideology when “our guy” is not our nominee of choice?

There is the saying that “those who don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” And while we view the Bible from a theological standpoint, we sometimes forget the fact that it is also a book of historical events. In reading the Bible, we learn that God oftentimes used unlikely people to accomplish His purposes.

Cyrus II, King of Persia

“Cyrus the Great” was king of Persia, and was what most of us would consider “a heathen”. He was brought up in the worship of the idols of the Medes and Persians. Yet, here is what God had to say about Cyrus in Isaiah 45…

Thus says the Lord to His anointed,
To Cyrus, whose right hand I have held—
To subdue nations before him
And loose the armor of kings,
To open before him the double doors,
So that the gates will not be shut:
‘I will go before you
And make the crooked places straight;
I will break in pieces the gates of bronze
And cut the bars of iron.
I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden riches of secret places,
That you may know that I, the Lord,
Who call you by your name,
Am the God of Israel.
For Jacob My servant’s sake,
And Israel My elect,
I have even called you by your name;
I have named you, though you have not known Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
There is no God besides Me.
I will gird you, though you have not known Me,
That they may know from the rising of the sun to its setting
That there is none besides Me.
I am the Lord, and there is no other;
I form the light and create darkness,
I make peace and create calamity;
I, the Lord, do all these things.

God anointed King Cyrus to free his people from the Babylonians. Not only did Cyrus allow God’s people to return to Jerusalem to rebuild, but he charged the people living in the lands where the children of Israel lived to assist them with donations of “silver and gold, with goods and with animals, besides freewill offerings…” (Ezra 1)

God used a person of questionable spiritual standing to change the lives and destiny of His people. God didn’t just USE him… God ANOINTED Cyrus for the task. While Cyrus (followed by Darius and Artaxerxes after him) did not have the “desired” spiritual knowledge and background, what he did have were the practical knowledge, ability, resources, and authority to rebuild the temple of God, and eventually, Jerusalem itself. In Proverbs 21:1, we read…

The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord,
Like the rivers of water;
He turns it wherever He wishes.

 This verse doesn’t say “the Christian king” or “the Spirit-filled king”… it simply says “the king” — ANY king. Take a look at Romans 13:1…

Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities,
for there is no authority except that which God has established.
The authorities that exist have been established by God. (NIV)

God puts people into authority for His purposes. Sometimes it is to judge His people. Sometimes to chastise His people. Sometimes to encourage His people. Sometimes to challenge His people. Regardless of His reason or purpose for elevating any individual, You can rest assured He has one.

And while some candidates come across as “Cyrus-like” (which, honestly, is how I view someone like Mr. Trump), still others have unabashedly courted the “evangelical vote”. While each candidate, at least on the Republican side, has expressed their belief in God, some have been more forceful about their commitment to Him. Candidates like Ted Cruz, Ben Carson, Mike Huckabee, and Marco Rubio have professed their Christianity in no uncertain terms. Yet even so, we have seen backbiting, personal attacks, and “dirty politics” emerge from some of these camps. We see, on both sides, candidates who have spoken favorably about one another in the past now tearing each other down on a daily basis. However, Galatians 5:15 warns us…

But if you bite and devour one another,
beware lest you be consumed by one another!

In 1980, George H.W. Bush won the Iowa caucus against former California Governor (and former Democrat) Ronald Reagan. Yet, in the end, Mr. Reagan was chosen as the Republican candidate for president. And while during the primary both candidates had their differences, they never went so far afield in their attacks that they were unable to come together, join as eventual running mates, and serve two terms together, with Mr. Bush going on to serve one more term, this time as president.

I have said all of this to encourage you… get out and vote. Be a part of the process. Make your voice heard.

But…

Someone once said, “In the primary, vote your conscience. In the general election, vote your party.” While this idea does hold some exceptions, there is some truth in it. Most every one that has a political ideology is a member of their party — Republican or Democrat — for a reason. Generally, you choose a party because of that party’s platform; the core values of the party itself. Even many “Independents” tend to lean one way or the other for the same reason. So while you go about supporting the candidate of your choice, remember these three things:

#1. Listen beyond the bluster and personalities of the candidates. We all have different personalities. Some are extroverted and loud. Some are meek and introverted. We have a tendency to want to vote for people who are like us. If that is you, just remember…

Abraham Lincoln had no denominational affiliation. Considered to be the father of the Republican party, Lincoln’s name, legacy, and words are invoked probably more than any other politician.

Harry Truman was known for his profanity. Bill Clinton was alleged to be a womanizer. Both of these men were allegedly Baptists.

Regardless of the criticism leveled at a candidate, be careful to avoid extremes in your own criticism. I have seen an amazing amount of rhetoric and vitriol leveled at certain candidates in the media, as well as on social media. You may be forced to have to swallow your pride and eat your words if your candidate is not your party’s nominee. What you should consider heavily is the candidate’s track record of success and failure, and their position on the issues that are important to you and the nation.

#2. Remember we are ALL human. We all make mistakes. We all misspeak, and say things that we wish we could take back the moment the words leave our lips. Candidates, just like the rest of us, change their minds and positions. Personally, I would rather have a leader who recognizes and is honest about his or her mistakes than someone who doubles-down on a bad position or bad decision because of pride. While we should always be wise in our choices of leaders, we need to also recognize their humanity and fallibility as well. Personally, I would love to see a born-again, Spirit-filled person elevated to office of President, but that may not be the person God has ANOINTED for the task (remember Cyrus).

KS77810#3. Vote. Abraham Lincoln once said, “He has a right to criticize who has a heart to help.” As much as I hate to say this, sometimes voting is not about picking the person who will do the most good. Sometimes, it is about picking the person who will do the least harm. Sometimes, neither candidate is ideal. Sometimes, you may feel like you are just choosing between the lesser of two evils. However, by choosing not to vote, you have voted — you chose not to support the candidate who had the best chance of success.

In Jeremiah 29:7, God told the exiled children of Israel…

But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the Lord on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare. (ESV)

While this world is not our home, and we serve a higher King, we have a responsibility to be good citizens of the place where God has planted us. That means being a good neighbor, caring for our communities, and getting involved in the decision-making process — a big part of which is exercising our right to vote.

I have a friend who is recovering from cancer. In the last three years, he has been diagnosed with three different types of cancer, so it is safe to say he has been through a variety of treatments and procedures. In the last year, he has undergone five surgeries. We were recently discussing the political landscape and the election, and he put it to me this way:

“When you are going through cancer, you choose the treatment that has the best track record, the one that is going to have the best chance of saving your life. None of them are pleasant. Every treatment I have undergone has had its side-effects, pain, and associated misery. However, in the end, I just had to go with the best option, and trust God with the results. Sure, I had the choice to just do nothing, but that decision probably would have cost me my life.”

We as believers have the opportunity to be a part of turning our nation around. The candidate you get may not be the one you want, but may be the one God anointed. The next four years may not fix every ill in our nation, but may simply be a small step in the right direction. If we do our part and vote, there is still the chance we could fail.

However, if we as believers in Jesus do nothing at all, failure is guaranteed.

Why?

Because “… faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.” ~ James 2:17

May America bless God once again,
Pastor Ron

#SB50 And Wisdom from the Sidelines

Football in grassLast night, millions of Americans watched as the Denver Broncos marched to a very well-deserved victory over the Carolina Panthers. Both teams were the champs of their conferences, and had great seasons. However, in the end, only one team can stand at the podium and accept the Vince Lombardi trophy. Congratulations to the Denver Broncos for being the Super Bowl 50 Champions!

Being that we are at the end of another football season, I thought I would share with you a quote by the late, great Tom Landry, former coach of the Dallas Cowboys…

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

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

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

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

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

Coming Back from Extinction

 

Sprout 2

I recently saw this interesting story online.

In 2008, while on an archaeological dig on the Menominee Reservation in Wisconsin, archaeologists unearthed a small pot which they estimated to be approximately 800 years old. Upon opening the ancient artifact, they discovered a bunch of seeds. Several years after the discovery, some students in Winnipeg decided to plant the seeds, and to everyone’s surprise, something grew: A species of squash that had been previously classified as extinct! The species has been named “Gete-okosomin”, which means “big old squash” in the Menominee language. Efforts are now underway to ensure the future survival of this miracle of nature.

Wow! What an amazing discovery. But more than that, what an incredible lesson we can learn from this tiny seed…

These seeds were approximately 8 centuries old. To put that into perspective, during approximately the same time in history that these seeds were being buried…

  • Genghis Khan was being declared Great Khan of the Mongols  (1206);
  • King John was signing the Magna Carta  (1215);
  • The Crusades were in full swing;
  • Thomas Aquinas began to write Summa Theologiae  (1265);
  • Marco Polo was born and traveled throughout Asia.

Just think… these seeds — long forgotten and thought forever lost — were witness to the times we can only read about and imagine. These small capsules, preserved for centuries underground, hold the key to a life and species thought gone forever. These seeds, held in a simple pot, survived heat, cold, flood, and any other number of natural occurrences to reveal the promise of new birth at this point in history.

So… what have you done with your seed? Where are your dreams and aspirations buried, waiting to be discovered? What are the promises that you had believed were long dead and forgotten?

We serve the God of life. We serve the Author and Finisher of our Faith. We serve the One who sees the end from the beginning, knows our hearts and minds, and can sympathize with our weakness, pain, and broken dreams.

When we think it is over — finished — He sees the hidden promise; the seed sown in faith, be it financial, time, energy, or other of our resources.

What we see as too old, He sees as aged to perfection — ask Abraham and Sarah.

What we see as not enough, He sees as the right number — ask Gideon.

What we see as insufficient, He sees as abundance — as the little boy with the loaves and fish.

We have all heard the Scriptures regarding “seedtime and harvest”. My friend Jentezen Franklin was once delivering a message at Abba’s House, and he put it a different way. He talked about “seed… t-i-m-e… and harvest”. He explained that when a farmer sows seed, it takes a while for the seed to germinate, sprout, grow, and bear fruit. Some seeds take longer than others. All too often, we want to sow a seed and see an immediate harvest. That is not the way it works in the natural, and oftentimes, not the way it works in the spiritual either. Once we sow, if we attempt to harvest our seed before its “due season”, we will reap little to nothing. Sometimes, we may not see the harvest of our sowing for months, years, or decades. Sometimes, our harvest may come to fruition for someone else. Paul understood this in his letter to the Corinthians…

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now, he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor. ~ I Corinthians 3:6-8

Sprout 1To see an abundant harvest, it takes obedience, patience, persistence, and faith. It takes sowing seed into fertile ground that is going to receive that seed, and allow it to spread its roots and grow. It takes faithfulness as a sower, and faith in the ONE who will give the increase, Whose word will never return void, but will accomplish what He has said.

So have faith.

Sow your seed.

Give it to Him.

Believe.

Trust that your good seed sown in faith — regardless of how old — will bring a harvest and reward that will have meaning, purpose, and fruit, both in this life and the next.

Fame, Failure, & Finding Your Focus

Through the Looking GlassJohn Wooden was the great basketball coach at UCLA. During his tenure, he won 10 NCAA championships in a 12-year period, including a record 7 in a row. He once made a statement I really like. He said…

Talent is God given. Be humble.
Fame is man-given. Be grateful.
Conceit is self-given. Be careful.

Sometimes when we see success in an area, this is an easy saying to forget. We tend to begin believing the accolades of those around us, cease to be careful with regard to getting “a big head”, and we forget where our success and talent come from. Once we begin to “believe our own press”, and think we have achieved our position under our own steam, we walk on perilous ground. In Proverbs 11:2, a wise man wrote…

When pride comes, disgrace follows, but with humility comes wisdom.

God is the giver of all good things. He exalts, and He brings low. We all go through seasons in life. If you are in a season of humbling, learn the lessons God is trying to teach you. If you are in a season of success and advancement, stay humble. Never forget where those good and perfect gifts come from. Keep your focus forward, and your eyes fixed on Him. HE will never fail you.

I leave you with this, another great quote from Coach Wooden…

You can’t let praise or criticism get to you.
It’s a weakness to get caught up in either one.

Find Extreme Favor

  
This year at our Fresh Oil New Wine Conference, our theme is EXTREME FAVOR. In the tough times in which we live, with political and social unrest in our world, and terror and uncertainty on every side…

What does it take to have extreme favor in your life?

How can we have extreme favor with God?

Join me March 6-10 as I welcome some very special guests… Perry Stone, Rabbi Curt Landry, Tommy Bates, Randy Caldwell, Ronnie Phillips, Jr., Dwain Miller and more.

We also welcome back Susanne Cox for our Women’s Luncheon on March 9.

It’s time to get off the sidelines and into EXTREME FAVOR!!!

You can register online by clicking here.

For more information, please visit http://www.abbashouse.com/fonw

I hope to see YOU at Fresh Oil New Wine 2016!