Tag Archive | Holy Spirit

A Reputation of Grace

Recently, I’ve been learning from God about grace. Among many things the Lord has taught me is that we have a tendency to restrict grace. In the story of the prodigal son, the words “far country“ and “great way off” are essentially the same in Greek. The father’s loving gaze and grace extended all the way to the place of wrong choices, waste, and ultimately to the pig pen. Our Father’s patience, grace, and loving welcome waits on the worst of us to come to ourselves and come home. How many of us can extend grace for the long wait? How many of us are willing to hang in their with a “prodigal” until the journey leads a friend home?

It’s easy to extend grace to someone we care about, love, and want the absolute best for. But is grace just for those we like and those who like us? Is grace prejudiced? Is grace for those who act like we think they ought to act?

Am I hearing a crucified Savior saying of His executioners, “Father, forgive them”? After all… Jesus scandalized the religious crowd by eating with sinners and being called a friend of sinners. Obviously, He had affection and compassion for those that society did not hold in regard. But to forgive and show grace to hypocritical religious types? What could Jesus have been thinking???

The apostle Paul may have hit the nail on the head when he said, “He made Himself of no reputation” (Phil. 2:7).  Jesus wasn’t worried about His reputation, about who He was seen with, or who He socialized with. He wasn’t interested in winning a popularity contest. He was concerned with winning the souls of men through grace, and pointing them to God, regardless of what that did to His reputation with the It crowd.

Wow…

For me, this grace thing is easy to talk about but hard to do.

How about you?

What limits do we put on grace? Sure, I know Romans 5:20 – 6:2a…

Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound.
But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:
That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
God forbid.

Maybe what Paul is reiterating is that only God has the right to set boundaries on grace. After all, it doesn’t say ”Ron forbid” — it says “God forbid”. Probably good advice for all of us.

Well, just some stuff I am learning at 70… grace to you and me!

The Road To The Resurrection

Road To The Resurrection

Good Friday is just a few days away. It is the day that we remember our Lord suffering and dying a cruel and inhumane death on the cross. It was the day that left a rag-tag group of fishermen and ruffians confused about the future. It was a day when the friends of Jesus lost hope.

Well, as they say… hind-sight is 20/20.

Had they known then what we know now, they would have known that, while it may be Friday, Sunday’s coming! They would have known that no demon of Hell could long keep Jesus in a grave. They would have understood that His single death meant LIFE for millions and millions of men and women throughout the ages…

… Men and women who have only to look to the blood-stained cross, and accept the finished work that Jesus performed there — and when He arose from the grave, dealing the death-blow to Death itself.

This Sunday, I invite you to join us at Abba’s House as we look down, and take the final step, on the Road to the Resurrection. Pastor Ronnie will teach us about The Miracle of the Promise. What is it about the Promise of this Easter Season that gives us such hope, even these 2,000+ years later? Find out on Easter Sunday!

If you are within 50 miles of Chattanooga, make the drive. We’d love to see and meet you! If you live too far away to drive, you can always join us online on our app, at abbashouse.com, or on Facebook or YouTube. Wherever you are, I invite you to get to a Bible-believing church on Sunday, and celebrate with His people the resurrection of the King!

The Spirit is Moving

I have been busy traveling and speaking, but thanks to our Abba’s House Media team, I get to watch the services wherever I am.

This past Sunday, an incredible move of the Holy Spirit broke out in the House. During the worship, the Holy Spirit moved in such an amazing way, and manifested in adoration, forgiveness, repentance, comfort, healing, and more. This move of the Spirit was something Pastor Ronnie discussed weeks before, and happened to air on Abba’s House with Pastor Ronnie Phillips, Jr. the same week. His message on The Power of Change ended up being prophetic as the Holy Spirit invaded the service on February 11, and those in attendance LIVED the spoken word. Watch this clip…

It is so exciting to see what God is doing at Abba’s House, especially in these weeks leading up to Fresh Oil New Wine 2018. I believe that God is manifesting His power and anointing, and what we are seeing is just a glimpse of of what is coming as He continues to make All Things New!

I hope you will join me and Pastor Ronnie on March 4-8 as we welcome Dutch Sheets, Perry Stone, Bobby Atkins, Randy Caldwell, Randy Miller, and Bernard Cornwell. There will be a Women’s Luncheon with (very) special guest speaker, Paulette Phillips. There is going to be passionate praise and worship! As always, registration (and attendance) is FREE, but we’d appreciate it if you would register so we can plan accordingly. You can click HERE to register.

I hope you will join us for Fresh Oil New Wine 2018… All Things New!
Come expecting a move of God like you’ve never experienced.

See you there!

Come Before Winter

This has been a year of transition for me, as I move into more of an apostolic role in the life of Abba’s House, and watch the next generation take their place, led by Dr. Ronnie Phillips, Jr. as Senior Pastor, to move this ministry into the future. I’m excited to see what God is doing through our new leadership, and I look forward to my new role of traveling  and ministering to pastors and churches around the nation, speaking into their lives God’s goodness, grace, and truth.

This coming Sunday, I will be delivering a message I last preached many years ago called Come Before Winter. I would like to invite you to join me at Abba’s House on November 5 at 10:30am, and bring an unsaved friend.

Here is my personal invitation to you…

The Three Rivers

kid-in-the-rainWe’ve had some rain here in Tennessee recently, and as the rain fell to the ground, it reminded me of what Scripture refers to as the early and the latter rain. In those days, the latter rain fell for the olives, the grape vines, and the planting of winter wheat. Symbolically, the latter rain represented the end-time awakening and outpouring promised by the Holy Spirit.

Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

 Do not grumble against one another, brethren, lest you be condemned.
Behold, the Judge is standing at the door! ~ James 5:7-9

This year at my church, Abba’s House, we have already seen God release a mighty outpouring. Strangely enough, it began on a Wednesday evening under Ronnie, Jr. Ministry would just break out. Then a couple of weeks ago, Dr. James Marocco came from King’s Cathedral in Maui, and the ministry experience exploded!

The next weekend, our young people gathered for what we called GO! Weekend, with a powerful outpouring of God’s presence and power that ran over into our Sunday service.

So what are the Three Rivers?

RIVER ONE: The famous Brownsville Revival broke out on Father’s Day, June 18, 1995. It was also called the Pensacola Outpouring. Hundreds of thousands were transformed by this movement! John Kilpatrick shepherded this outpouring through 5-7 years.

RIVER TWO: The Bay of the Holy Spirit (French name for Mobile Bay in Alabama by early settlers) outpouring is more recent and its effects continue until today! Again, John Kilpatrick was the pastor. He invited a young evangelist named Nathan Morris to assist. A massive outpouring flooded South Alabama with salvation, healing, and deliverance!

The Third River is our own Abba’s House awakening. Long before there was a building called Abba’s House, there was a 6 year awakening right here in Hixson, Tennessee. From that was birthed our Fresh Oil New Wine Conference and our Big Event.

Perry1

  This September, we are inviting you to step into the water of Outpouring as the three great rivers converge! The time is now! Hundreds of people from across the nation have already registered, with more signing up every day!

This outpouring proceeds the Feast of Trumpets by one week. Prophetically, trumpets picture the last days gathering and the rapture. Also, there are two eclipses, signs in the heaven over our region!

Our thoughts are now focused on what God is going to do at The Outpouring. 

Please join us September 14-17.

 

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

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