Tag Archive | healing

Living smart in a smartphone world.

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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

Election 2016: Where Do We Go From Here?

FlagAmerica has spoken. We have elected our next President and Vice-President. While some across our nation are rejoicing, others of our neighbors mourn. In a political campaign that was as vicious and divisive as any in my lifetime, I think it is important for all of us to remember that the Republic will endure. We have weathered far worse than this — wars, the Great Depression, more wars, scandal, etc. — and we still remain.

I think this is a time for soul searching; a time to re-evaluate our priorities, our passions, and (yes) our politics. America has chosen a businessman/outsider to be our next Commander-In-Chief, rejecting someone who has a long and storied career in the political arena and the public eye. I think that, just as important as the voice of the people being heard, it is equally important that those in leadership understand exactly WHAT they heard. What were these voices saying? Why did the “silent majority” show up in force on November 8, 2016?

There is an old adage (often ascribed to the writings of Tocqueville) that goes like this…

KS77849I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and her ample rivers—and it was not there. . . . in her fertile fields and boundless forests—and it was not there. . . . in her rich mines and her vast world commerce—and it was not there. . . . in her democratic Congress and her matchless Constitution—and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits flame with righteousness did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, she will cease to be great.

Could it be that the citizens of our great nation are tired of the unrighteousness and corruption at the highest levels of government?

RushmoreCould it be that we have finally become weary of being a nation with a broken moral compass, evidenced by rampant police assaults, out-of-control violence in our streets, rabid support for the abomination of abortion-on-demand, acceptance of deviant sexual behavior, and open hostility to the things of God?

Could it be that we have come to the determination that the government is not the answer to what ails us, and that all of the laws and regulations in the world may change the actions of a man, but cannot change his heart?

Could it be that we have realized that, for all of our good intentions, we cannot help the rest of the world until we have, ourselves, been healed of what ails us?

Could it be that we are returning to the understanding of what it means to be “one nation under God”?

The answers to these questions will not come overnight. Even after President-Elect Trump is sworn into office in January, all that has divided our nation will not mysteriously disappear.

It will take prayer. Prayer for President Trump, Vice President Pence, our Congress and Senate, governors, local leaders, and our nation. I believe what we are now seeing is the result of a LOT of people on their knees before God. THAT should not have stopped with the sunrise of November 9th. Psalm 107:28-29 says…

Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble,
    and He brought them out of their distress.
He stilled the storm to a whisper;
    the waves of the sea were hushed.

When we pray with thankfulness, Paul gives us this promise for peace and protection…

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 4:6-7

CoffeeIt will take understanding. As believers who trust in the inerrancy of the Bible, sometimes we are less than patient with those who are not believers. It is up to us lead in love, and show the love of Christ by example. Charles H. Spurgeon once said…

If sinners be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. If they will perish, let them perish with our arms about their knees. Let no one go there unwarned and unprayed for.

It will take consistency. During the election cycle of 2016, Christians let their voices be heard. It is up to us to continue to speak out, let our voices continue to rise over the din of a culture that enjoys the sound of its own noise, and hold our leaders accountable for the pledges and promises they made to get elected.

It is an oft-used Scripture in times such as these, but nonetheless true or relevant. It is one we should all cling to and model in the days, months, and years ahead…

 If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ II Chronicles 7:14

May God bless our nation as we move forward in hope, grace, and unity.

God bless you.

Pastor Ron

Lady Liberty

The Unraveling of America

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As we celebrate Independence Day today, I find myself reminiscing about the qualities and people who have made our nation great. Character, integrity, patriotism, freedom, excellence, Godliness, exceptionalism are all words that come to mind when I think of the writings of our founding fathers. Names like Washington, Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams are synonymous with these aspirations. Others who followed in their wake — men like Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy, Reagan — encouraged America’s citizenry to overcome adversity, stand for freedom and against tyranny, and shoot for the moon. One has but to visit our nation’s capital — places like the Smithsonian Institution, Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Arlington National Cemetery — to have a sense of where we came from, how hard we have worked, where our faith was founded, how much we have sacrificed, and what we have accomplished…

And we have but to watch the evening news to realize how far we have fallen.

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“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…” ~ Isaiah 5:20

We’re there.

Today, we are seeing America unraveling at the seams. We are seeing unprecedented evil – as the Bible defines it – being accepted and even welcomed in our culture. We are witnessing events and attitudes that I would never have imagined would be “acceptable” in my lifetime.

So who is pulling the strings?

The history we are seeing unfold before our eyes is startling, shocking, and disturbing. But current events beg the questions…

  • Do you know that two men changed all of culture as we see it right now?

  • Is the homosexual revolution all the result of a brilliantly devised marketing plan?

  • Did you know that Dearborn, Michigan is already “Islamicized”?

  • Is political correctness destroying America?

  • Why is there respect for Shari’a law in our government, but no respect for the Bible?

  • Did our forefathers really set up boundaries between the church and the state?

Yesterday (July 3), I released a word to our nation. My new book, The Unraveling of America, answers these questions and more. It is time to stand for righteousness. It is time to stand for truth. It is time to get honest about the individuals, entities, and attitudes that are tearing our great nation apart, and return our nation to the path of righteousness, justice, truth, and integrity that is our true destiny.

If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. ~ II Chronicles 7:14

It is time to expose the unraveling of America, and begin the healing of our Land.

Pastor Ron

Making The Monster

"Frankenstein's monster (Boris Karloff)" by Universal Studios - Dr. Macro. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

“Frankenstein’s monster (Boris Karloff)” by Universal Studios – Dr. Macro. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons

I thought this week, since most Americans are in some way, form, or fashion recognizing Halloween this Saturday, I would talk a little about… Monsters.

Well, one monster in particular…

Frankenstein’s monster.

Since it first appeared in 1818, Mary Shelley’s classic monster story Frankenstein has undergone dozens of re-tellings, from the horrifying to the comical. The common version is of a scientist named Victor Frankenstein who robs body parts from various cadavers with the intention of re-animating dead tissue. When faced with the hideousness of the monster he brings to life, he rejects it, only for the monster to embark upon a murderous rampage, killing those closest to Victor, including his beloved fiancée. But even as Victor pursues the monster to remote regions of the world, he is unable to kill his creation.

A pretty far-fetched tale, right?

Or IS it…

The tongue has the power of life and death,
    and those who love it will eat its fruit. ~ Proverbs 18:21

While we may not be digging up graves in the middle of the night, we in the church have been inadvertently creating monsters for a long time. While Jesus came to offer us life and freedom, through our own words, we create monsters out of the very people He came to save.

Don’t believe me? Let me ask you…

When was the last time you called someone “stupid”?

Worthless.

Loser.

Moron.

Jerk.

“That’s pretty harsh, Pastor. I don’t call people those kinds of things.”

Ok. How about…

Difficult.

Unlikable.

Disagreeable.

Unfriendly.

While people often do things or act in ways that we may not agree with, does that always constitute who they are as a person?

What about you? Just because you have a bad day, or a traumatic experience, should you be relegated to playing that role for the rest of your life? Sure, there are moments that define us, and there are actions and events we cannot change. However, for the most part, the majority of the things that we experience are moments in time that are soon forgotten, not life-defining events. The fact is, we never know what a person is truly going through at any given time.

Is that person who sits in front of you at church, that you call unfriendly, simply a person with a quiet or shy personality?

Is the child or teenager that you see as unruly actually a victim of abuse or neglect, and simply needing positive attention?

Is that difficult person merely more passionate or committed to the task than you are? Does that person simply have a different definition of success, or “set the bar higher” than the average person?

Does that weirdo raising his hands during worship simply love Jesus more than you do?

I’ll be the first to admit: Friendships and relationships take effort, and getting outside of our circle of influence requires us to step into the unknown and often uncomfortable places. Honestly, in many cases, it is not that a person is __________ (insert negative adjective here). It’s that we’re too lazy to take the time to find out who that person really is. It’s just easier to slap a label on someone than it is to learn what makes them tick. The problem with that is that words have power, and the more a disparaging word is spoken over a person, the more they begin to believe that is who they are. I have counseled good people who have gotten derailed from their true identity because they began to believe a lie that was spoken over them. Yes, we are responsible for our own actions and attitudes, and I am not giving a pass to bad behavior. However, when a person is beaten over the head with words of worthlessness and defeat, it doesn’t take long before those words hit their target (the mind), and they begin to believe a lie. Once that happens, the “monster” comes to life.

Seldom did Jesus use labels…

When He did, it was often in criticism of the religious establishment (see Matthew 12:34). However, for the average “sinner”, His words were life and grace…

Jesus didn’t call Peter a loser or coward after he denied knowing Him in His hour of need. His forgiveness was not only obvious… it was unspoken. He never mentioned the incident (see John 18 & John 21).

Jesus didn’t call the woman caught in adultery a cheater or whore. He challenged those attacking her, and when they backed down, He sent her on her way, unharmed and forgiven (see John 8).

When Jesus saw Zacchaeus in the tree, He didn’t call him a crook or a swindler (he was a tax-collector… an occupation disdained by most people). He simply said, “Come down Zacchaeus… I’m coming to your house.” That encounter became a life-changing experience for Zacchaeus and his whole house (see Luke 19).

So what can you do?

What are those words that you have spoken over someone that have been a curse instead of a blessing?

What was that hurtful thing you said that you don’t think you can come back from?

What were those disparaging remarks that you wish you hadn’t said?

Not sure where to start? If you are guilty of creating a “monster” through your words,  two simple words can start the process of restoration…

I’m sorry.

Ask forgiveness of the person you hurt through your words.

Ask forgiveness from the Father, Whose blood-bought creation you wounded with your words.

Learn to make your first reaction and response to those around you words of life, health, and peace.

Maybe YOU are the monster you created…

Maybe you have spoken curses and negativity over your own life, and are wondering why you are the way you are — why you have low self-esteem. Start now by confessing to your Heavenly Father that you are not those things, that you are who HE says you are (overcomer, victorious, child of the King, etc.), and begin to walk in your true identity.

The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body.
It corrupts the whole body, sets the whole course of one’s life on fire,
and is itself set on fire by hell. ~ James 3:6

We can use our tongues for evil or for good.

We can use our tongues to speak life or to speak death.

If you choose to speak life, you are speaking the language of Heaven — the fountain that flows from the throne of God and brings blessing to the soul, and health to the heart.

However, if you choose to speak words of negativity and death, don’t be too surprised by the misery that comes from the “monsters” you help to create.

Choose LIFE.

Jalyn’s Story: Healing In The House

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

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

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

Healthcare.

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

Standing With Our Friends

There is so much I would like to say about what God has been doing at Fresh Oil New Wine 2014, but how do you put the Kingdom events of (already) 4 days into a few paragraphs? We have experienced wonderful worship, dynamic preaching, and restorative and healing miracles. As of tonight, we have had reports of three people with varying degrees of hearing loss completely healed, one of whom was one of our visiting speaker’s wife. To God be the glory, great things He is doing!!! Every speaker has knocked it out of the park with words for the body of Christ that I wish everyone who is reading this blog could hear.

Worship2When I think of the focus of our conference, a theme of recognizing our Jewish roots as believers, and the importance of standing with the nation of Israel in these troubling times in which we live, I cannot help but recognize the stark contrast of the actions of some in national leadership who have taken a “less than supportive” tone with Israel this very week. Veiled threats of isolation and global disdain at a time when we should be standing firmer than ever with our greatest ally is a cause for deep concern. However, even as some in Washington ramp up the rhetoric, we see glimmers of hope coming from some corners of our country that give rise to hope and trust that our relationship with Israel is not beyond repair.

I’ll say more about this in an upcoming blog post… be watching for it.

In the meantime, today marks the conclusion of Fresh Oil New Wine 2014, and it will end with a bang! My dear friend Rabbi Curt Landry is with us for the morning session (9:45a.m.), and tonight, I welcome my friend Pastor John Hagee to close out the conference.

If you are within 100 miles of Chattanooga, you owe it to yourself to come. If you cannot make it, be sure to watch our live streaming at our website.

If you are on Facebook, and would like to stay connected, please visit and like us at…

https://www.facebook.com/AbbasHouse

and

https://www.facebook.com/RonPhillipsMinistries

You can also follow me on Twitter at @PstrRonPhillips

Hope to see you soon.

Pastor Ron

Strange Fire or Fresh Fire

On Wednesday night at Abba’s House, I was asked to address the recent controversy surrounding statements made by John MacArthur, Pastor of Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA. On the proverbial eve of releasing his new book, Strange Fire, Pastor MacArthur hosted a conference at his church by the same name. The Strange Fire Conference was October 16-18, 2013 and was dedicated to attacking Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians.

Before I continue, I would like to state unequivocally that I have a great deal of respect for what Pastor MacArthur has accomplished. He serves in a thriving congregation that has done much for the Kingdom of God. Many lost have come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ under his leadership and ministry. There is a lot he is doing that I believe is – as Philippians 4 says – “true, noble, right, and pure”.

With that being said, I believe that his stance on the Gifts of the Spirit, support of cessationism, and his related and unrelenting attacks upon his brothers and sisters who believe and walk in the fullness of the Spirit are – quite simply – wrong.

With real threats like militant Islam, creeping socialism, moral breakdown, government meltdown, crime and violence, it would seem that there are other targets of greater importance in the battle against the enemy of our souls than those who reside within the walls of the church. Yet, in his new book Strange Fire, MacArthur “opens fire” on fellow Christians. The famed pastor and teacher, who (it appears) has become the resident theologian for Southern Baptists and many evangelists, is continuing his attack on Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians with the publication of his book, as well as last week’s conference.

As the modern arbiter of cessationism, MacArthur is of the belief that the miraculous gifts ceased with the death of the last apostle or at the closing of the Biblical canon (around 100A.D.).

The problem is that this approach has no Biblical support and very little historical validation. His views are simply a regurgitation of the late B. B. Warfield’s views. The teachings of Warfield were a reaction to the events surrounding “Azusa Street” and the mighty Pentecostal awakening in the early 20th century!

I have absolutely no doubt that there are extremists, heretics, and hypocrites among us in every belief circle and corner of Christendom. However, Pentecostal Christianity is the fastest growing part of God’s Kingdom worldwide. It is obvious from what I read, have heard reported by witnesses, and have observed with my own eyes that miracles, signs, wonders, and gifts have not ceased. I have personally witnessed miraculous events, not just within the walls of Abba’s House, but in other churches throughout America, and foreign countries as well.

Cessationism (birthed by Calvinism) is killing both the spirit and the mission heart of Evangelicals. I wish this blog gave me adequate space for a full answer, but it does not. However, in my Essential Guide series of books on the Holy Spirit, I deal Biblically, historically, clearly, and spiritually with all of MacArthur’s attacks.

Volume 4 of the series, An Essential Guide to Spiritual Gifts, answers the cessationist argument in Chapter 3 called, The Availability of Spiritual Gifts Today.

For those of you reading this blog, I will make all 4 Essential Guides available for a gift of $25.00–postage paid (this is a discount of nearly 50% from our regular price… discounted price good through Nov. 2). This includes:

  1. The Baptism of the Holy Spirit
  2. Speaking in Tongues
  3. The Gift of Healing
  4. Spiritual Gifts

Simply call our order line at 1-800-877-6493 and one of our representatives will be happy to assist you. Ask for the Fresh Fire blog offer. If the operators are busy, please leave a message, and someone will get right back to you. You can also order online by clicking here.

You can also download these at Kindle, as well as Barnes and Noble.

Remember Luke 3:16, “…He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost and fire…”

There’s nothing strange about that!

Ron Phillips

PrayerP.S. As I shared from my heart during the service, this picture was snapped by one of my staff members. Our Wednesday night crowd was taking a moment to pray for our brother, Pastor MacArthur. I believe it is time for the body of Christ to heed the words that Paul wrote to the Ephesians and “Make EVERY effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.” (Ephesians 4:3)