Tag Archive | Paul

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 Unknown Soldier

2014-01-28-1678Visiting Arlington National Cemetery is an experience I would recommend to any American citizen. Overlooking our nation’s capitol, Arlington is the final resting place for American heroes, patriots, presidents, and other notable figures throughout our history. Among those laid to rest in Arlington are Presidents Kennedy and Taft, Governor Earl Warren, astronaut Capt. Pete Conrad, explorer Robert Peary, Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, and civil rights activist Medgar Evers.

For all of the statuary and solemnity that such a place exhibits and deserves, there is one grave that stands out as a place of reverence and respect…

The Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

2014-01-28-1701Established in 1921, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier  is the resting place of three unknown American soldiers… one from each of the wars; World War I, World War II, and the Korean War. While there had been one unknown from the Vietnam War, that body was later exhumed and identified through DNA as Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie. The Vietnam War crypt now remains vacant.

2014-01-28-1700Guarded non-stop since July 1, 1937, the sentinels guarding the tomb are committed to the respect and reverence a place of such hallowed distinction deserves. From their 8 hours of uniform preparation prior to every shift, to the precision of every movement, to their unwavering dedication in the face of heat, cold, and inclement weather, these soldiers dedicate their time of service to the physical and symbolic protection of the Tomb.

Inscribed in the face of the sarcophagus are these words…

Here rests in honored glory
An American Soldier
Known but to God

You may ask, “So why all of the pomp and ceremony? Why all of the attention to some soldiers who we don’t even know their identity?”

It is because those who established the Tomb, as well as those who dedicate their lives to guarding it, understand that just because a soldier’s name is not known does not make him any less worthy of respect and honor. They understand that bravery and dedication as a soldier of our nation deserves to be recognized and revered in the highest way, even if the rest of the world doesn’t know their name.

In the Bible, the apostle Paul said…

      But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. ~ I Corinthians 1:27-29

Maybe people consider you foolish because of what you believe. Maybe you are not the biggest or strongest warrior of the faith. Maybe you feel despised and even unknown. Maybe you do your task for the Kingdom in utter obscurity, pray in your quiet place, and live your life in quietness and peace.

You know what? You might not be a big deal (or even noticed) in the world, but God sees you. You might not be the one getting the recognition, but God is taking notice of your labors. You might not be getting cheers on this earth, but rest assured, you are receiving the applause of Heaven.

So take heart, you unknown soldier. Your labor is not in vain. Just remember…

The proud are opposed by God, but He gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Man may see your outward appearance, but God sees the attitude of your heart (I Samuel 16:7).

The mighty may inherit the battlefield, but the meek will inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5).

Carry on, unknown soldier… you are known to God — and that is all that matters.

Ready… FIRE… Aim…


So I’m perusing my news feed on social media the other day when I see this headline…

“Chip and Joanna Gaines Under Fire for Maybe
Having the ‘Wrong’ Views on LGBT Issues”

“Maybe”…

Please, take a moment and let that sink in.

“Maybe.”

Chalk outline - crossThe story, posted in The Daily Signal, discussed how the HGTV stars of Fixer Upper were in hot water with some outlets such as BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan over the fact that they attend a church where the pastor still believes that homosexuality is a sin. Now, bear in mind that the Gaines couple, who happen to be born-again Christians, have never spoken publicly (that anyone seems to know of) about their position on homosexuality and/or gay marriage.

Cue the sirens of the “Thought-Police“.

So, if I’m getting this straight, now we have gone from…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if you speak out against what the Bible calls ‘sin'”, to…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if you think something is a sin”, to…

“You are a horrible and despicable person if I think that you think that something is a sin.”

Folks… we, as a society, have officially jumped the shark.

First_amendment_engraving,_Washington_DCPolitical correctness has indeed reached a tipping point, and for the left-wing crowd that wants to be able to say, express, and champion every progressive, “enlightened”, offensive, and ungodly idea under the auspices of “free speech”, well… here’s your First Amendment at work.

Our nation is sorely divided over LGBT issues. According to The Daily Caller article

According to Pew Research Center, as of 2016, 37 percent of adults in this country still oppose same-sex marriage, while 55 percent approve. That means over a third of Americans are still against same-sex marriage.

Meanwhile, among Christians, 54 percent thought that homosexuality should be accepted in society, per a 2014 Pew study—which means that up to 46 percent thought it shouldn’t be. Among Protestants, 44 percent believe that homosexuality should be discouraged in society.

However, as a minister of the Gospel for the vast majority of my life, I will continue to stand on the truth of the Word of God, and its definition of sin. In our day and time, with cultural forces being brought to bear on those who believe in the inerrancy and timelessness of the Bible, it would be far easier to go with the flow, follow the crowd, and preach an “I’m ok, you’re ok” doctrine that marginalizes holiness and righteousness in the name of a twisted and corrupted definition of “love”. But that isn’t how it works. The laws and principles laid out in God’s Word are sovereign and unchanging. What God says is sin is sin, for He is not bound to bend to the whims of culture and political correctness. He is God Almighty, unchanging from eternity to eternity.

In I Corinthians 13 (The Love Chapter), Paul says…

    Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. (v. 4-8a NKJV)

As a minister of the Gospel, I speak out against things that the Bible calls ‘sin’ — not in spite of love — but because of love…

… Love that puts up with being called a bigot or a homophobe because of my love for the souls of men and women who are without Christ.

… Love that is willing to risk ridicule and derision for the sake of truth.

… Love that wishes, as Christ did, that “none should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)

But I digress… a little.

The fact is that political correctness in America has reached a point of toxicity, hypocrisy, and absurdity that warrants a long, hard look by the next administration into the injustices and persecution of conservative individuals who have simply stood on their First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and faith, while other — more politically correct — individuals are given a pass on the basis of those same rights.

And for the “who are you to judge me?” crowd to now begin persecuting people because of what they MIGHT believe??? Is that not the very essence of being judgmental? (I wish I could say this is a joke, but you really can’t make this stuff up.)

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 (NKJV)

In the end, God is the Judge of all. Until that time, whether conservative or liberal, right or wrong, we must all be ready to be offended in some way by some person who has a differing viewpoint from our own. That is the whole essence of discourse or having a conversation — to share differing ideas and opinions. 

And who knows… in the process, we might actually learn something about ourselves, about others, and about what it means to live and exist outside of the bubble of our own ideas. As Christians, we might actually become better informed to make the difference that Jesus called us to make, in the lives of others and in our world. We might start changing minds and hearts because of, not just a message of love and forgiveness, but a lifestyle and attitude that uncompromisingly walks the talk.

 

Law and Order

Chalk outline - personBack a few years ago, a very popular television show saw the end of a successful 20-year run. Law & Order was a drama, often based on actual police and judicial cases, in which a crime was committed, followed by courtroom drama in the prosecution of the accused. The show was so popular, it produced an offshoot series — Law & Order: SVU.

So… if Law & Order was so popular on TV, why is the rule of law and order not popular in today’s culture?

We live in a society based on laws. When people enter into public office, in most cases, they put their hand on a Bible and swear to uphold and protect the Constitution of the United States. As Americans, our allegiance is not to a person… it is to a document that embodies the laws of the land. Article 2, Section 1, Clause 8 of the Constitution reads…

“Before he [President] enters the Execution of his Office, he shall take the following Oath or Affirmation:—’I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.'”

First_amendment_engraving,_Washington_DCIn a nation built on the rule of law, it is unacceptable for those in authority to allow those laws to go unheeded, ignored, and disobeyed. Yet, in recent years, we have seen our laws be ignored time and again, both by criminals on the street, and powerful individuals in the halls of government. Whether it is private citizens breaking the law, or a President of the United States ignoring the law, both will lead to anarchy if left unchecked.

In the midst of so much societal unrest in our nation right now, we hear much talk about the First Amendment. Again, referring back to the Constitution, the First Amendment states…

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

As a Christian, I believe in freedom of religion. As an American, I believe in freedom of speech. I do believe The First Amendment  guarantees the right to protest peacefully.

However…

When protests turn into the lawless chaos that we have seen over the past few years, resulting in looting, damage and loss of property, personal injury, and even death, this is not the definition of peaceful assembly. And when those in authority set the wrong example and precedent by blatantly ignoring laws, it creates an atmosphere of “anything goes” and a vacuum of absolution from personal responsibility. How can one hope to maintain a semblance of law and order when the laws you are tasked with upholding are berated and ignored… by the one tasked with upholding them.

Paul addressed the subject of authority in Romans 13 when he wrote…

 Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience’ sake.

Paul understood that submission to authority is not a burden, but a blessing, because by honoring authority, we honor the One who put that authority into place. There is blessing in obedience (1 Samuel 15:22).

Peter wrote that by honoring and submitting to authority, we silence “the ignorance of foolish men.”

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men— as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. ~ 1 Peter 2:13-17

Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king.” Sounds like solid advice for a country that suffers from a crisis of leadership.

Keep calmIf we, the Church, can be a model of humility, integrity, and consistency, we can point people, not just to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, but be a shining example of the peace and blessing that come through submissive obedience. Often in the past, the church has abdicated its God-given responsibilities, taking us further down the road to governmental dependence. It is time for the body of Christ to once again be salt and light, and make a difference in a society that is flying blind. It is time for us to be an example of what a return to Godliness, law, and order looks like on a national scale.

I’m in.

How about you?

 

Pastor Ron

Standing Alone, Yet Never Alone

Caught in the Storm

Our culture does not favor people who are not part of the system. Those who are willing to stand alone, if necessary, for their convictions are rare indeed! When one feels alone, Satan would have you play the victim. He is a liar. Being willing to stand alone for the truth is a major character builder. It also makes us like Christ Himself.

Our Lord was left alone in the Garden of Gethsemane when the battle for our souls was at stake. The unbidden blood of lonely stress was the first shed for our souls. The prophet Isaiah saw this 700 years before it happened. Speaking of the cross, Isaiah shared this

“I have trodden the wine press alone and of the people there was none with me…”      ~ Isaiah 63:3

Often Jesus would get alone…

“He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone…” ~ John 6:15

When He came away from that “aloneness,” He could walk on water and still storms.

Our culture loves conformity and fears non-conformity. One must go along with the “party line”. One must “go along to get along,” yet there are times when conformity — and even unity — must give way to convictions.

The Reformation exploded in Wittenberg, Germany when Martin Luther nailed 95 theses to the door and said, while standing alone, “Here I stand… God help me, I can do no other.”

King DavidAbraham was alone when God gave him the revelation of Isaac.

Moses was alone when a burning bush changed the destiny of a nation.

Jacob was alone when God wrestled him to submission and changed him to Israel.

Isaiah was alone when he saw a vision of God’s throne and received a world changing assignment.

David was alone when he sang the 23rd Psalm.

Jeremiah saw judgment while he said, “I sat alone because of your hand.” (Jeremiah 15:17)

Ezekiel “fell on his face alone” as God spoke to him.

Daniel spoke, “I, Daniel, alone saw the vision…” (Daniel 10:7-8)

John was alone on the Isle of Patmos when the Revelation was unfolded before him.

Standing alone for God means you’re never alone. He stands with those who are willing to stand alone.

Listen to St. Paul in 2 Timothy 4:16-17…

“At my first defense no one stood with me, but all forsook me…
but the Lord stood with me.”

Sometimes standing alone moves you into the company of the Lord and the angels!

In the Academy Award winning movie on the life of Thomas Becket called “Becket,” there is a scene I will never forget. Becket had been King Henry II’s chancellor. With the death of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the King gave Becket that office as leader of the Church of England. For a season, Becket served in both offices. Eventually, he gave up the office as chancellor as his loyalty was now with the Lord and the church. Through tears, King Henry said to Becket, who had been his best friend for 15 years, “I shall learn to be alone.”

As a Baptist preacher, I thought I had many friends. Yet after the Spirit baptized me and I began to operate in all the gifts, those friends vanished. I learned to be alone. I would throw my heart around someone, help someone, and think, “Here is a friend I can call on.” However, as soon as standing with me became difficult, they would leave. I learned to be alone – but alone is not alone. For me, the by-products of standing alone include:

  • Intimacy with God
  • Power
  • 37 books written
  • Answered prayer
  • Angelic manifestation

I can say for all the lonely days and nights, “The Lord stood with me!”

Pastor Ron

Breaking The Code: Hope For The Last Days

I recently talked to a very prominent leader in the energy business. There has been found in America another huge oil and gas reservoir that is as large as or larger than the Dakota discovery. The Dakota discovery and the fracking there has moved America toward energy independence. These new finds will make our nation an economic powerhouse.

IMG_5198America is awash with energy resources, so much so that if the government allowed us to bring them up, our wealth as a nation would dwarf the rest of the world and turn our nation back to its place of economic authority.

This would take our enemies’ hands from around our throat and bring down energy costs. America would experience the greatest boom in its history. I believe God is ready to bless America and the world if we will begin to stand by faith on the principles that we know work. I believe in the Rapture and Second Coming, yet it is time we put our hands down and understand we are not leaving this world as losers.

Jesus said, “Occupy till I come” (Luke 19:13, KJV).

How then can we live confidently in these last days?

We can embrace biblical hope!

CandleSeveral years ago there was an article in Parade magazine that made an impact on me. It was the story of self-made  millionaire Eugene Lang, who greatly changed the lives of a sixth-grade class in East Harlem, New York. Mr. Lang had been asked to speak to a class of fifty-nine sixth-graders. What could he say to inspire these students, most of whom would drop out of school? He wondered how he could get this group of predominantly black and Puerto Rican children even to look at him. Scrapping his notes, he decided to speak to them from his heart. “Stay in school,” he admonished, “and I’ll help pay the college tuition for every one of you.” At that moment the lives of these students changed. For the first time they had hope. Said one student: “I had something to look forward to, something waiting for me. It was a golden feeling.” Nearly 90 percent of that class went on to graduate from high school.

Hope is such an interesting word. By definition it means “to desire with expectation of fulfillment; to expect with desire.”

All real hope must have a foundation to stand on. I might tell you that I hope to play center field for the Atlanta Braves next season, but you and I both know that is not hope based on a firm foundation—that’s called wishful thinking.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” ~ Proverbs 13:12

Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica about the end times. Many in his day were afraid they had missed the Rapture. Their deferred hope was making their hearts sick and fearful. Although his main focus was on the theme of judgment, Paul continued to encourage the church constantly about their future hope:

• He gave them hope and joy about the return of Jesus (see 1 Thessalonians 2:19).
• He exhorted them to live holy lives in anticipation of His coming (see 1 Thessalonians 3:13).
• He declared that we do not have to be shaken or disturbed but that we can live in hope (see Titus 2:11–13).

We Are Called to Live in Hope and Not Fear.

CoffeeAs a pastor for more than four decades, I have witnessed many changing events in the world. As I pen these words, ancient hatreds continue to boil to the surface in the Middle East. The war in Iraq has left many confused and dazed as to our purpose for being there. The war in Afghanistan continues to drag on, while Iran thumbs its nose at the international community. It continues to build a nuclear weapon for the purpose of annihilating Israel. Many believers have failed to recognize the conflict is being waged on a higher level. It is a conflict of immense spiritual proportions.

The world is on fire. People are living in fear and without much hope. Sad to say, this sense of hopelessness has infected the church. Instead of believing that darkness will overwhelm us, we in the church must recognize that the truth of the Word of God will always triumph over the infernal forces of the enemy!

Hiram TombMy purpose in writing my new book, The Hiram Code, is to give hope back to the body of Christ and outline strategies that not only will enlighten you, but also give you a clear direction for the future. In it, you will discover…

• A clear “sound” has been released to this generation—a sound of hope and not fear;
• God is not finished with the nation of Israel;
• The connection that exists today between the ancient civilization of Phoenicia and Israel;
• Who King Hiram was and why he was important?
• The lessons we can learn from Isaac, and how he was able to walk in the hundredfold blessing;
• How to face your giants;

• … And so much more!

My prayer is that the truth in The Hiram Code will replace fear with faith and we will have a hope firmly grounded in the truth of God’s Word that will cause us to remember we are on the winning side!

~ Adapted from my new book, The Hiram Code
Copyright © 2015 Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma House
Charisma Media/Charisma House Book Group

Creación_de_Adám hands

Lessons I Learned from The Iron Bowl… #RollTide

Being a life-long Alabama Crimson Tide fan, watching last weekend’s Iron Bowl between Alabama’s Tide and Auburn’s War Eagles was both exasperating and exhilarating. For those of you who didn’t see it, let me recap…

RTR ShirtAlabama led early, but after two quarters and two interceptions thrown by Alabama quarterback Blake Sims, the #1 ranked Crimson Tide was behind going into halftime. At the beginning of the third quarter, Sims threw yet another interception right out of the gate, which Auburn soon after turned into another touchdown.

At this point in the game, Crimson Tide fans all around the country were screaming at their TV sets for Coach Nick Saban to replace Sims with backup quarterback Jake Coker. Enough is enough! Let’s get some fresh blood in there and get something going before the game is hopelessly lost!

However, to the chagrin of many watching the spectacle, when Alabama once again got the ball, Sims ran out onto the field, ready to take his spot behind the center.

Tide fans everywhere were befuddled. Had Coach Saban lost it? Was he purposely trying to lose the game? Was this going to be a remake of Iron Bowl 2013, and the famous “Kick Six“?

Three minutes later, Sims threw a touchdown pass, closing the score gap to six points. Auburn kicked another field goal a few minutes later, and Auburn’s score began to inch up once again.

Then it happened…

Bear BryantWith a new-found confidence fostered by a coach who believed in his ability, Sims began to connect with his receivers. Over the next 15 minutes of play, the Crimson Tide scored four unanswered touchdowns, and went on to win what would be the highest-scoring Iron Bowl in the history of that rivalry… 55-44.

Now, you might be saying, “Well Pastor, congrats on your team winning, but what in the world does that have to do with anything in my life? I don’t even like football.” Bear with me a minute…

What if Coach Saban had pulled Blake Sims out of the game after his third interception, or even his second? What if Blake Sims had lost all confidence because his coach and teammates lost faith in him? What if they had switched to another plan in the middle of the game?

The fact is that Coach Saban saw something in Sims that eluded the rest of us (and probably Sims himself). He probably knew that replacing Sims would mean deviating from a plan he believed in — a plan he believed would make them the winning team at the end of the night. Trusting his instincts and what he knew and believed about Sims, he defied “reason” and the mob mentality, and chose not to throw Sims under the bus, but to show him he still believed in him.

And it paid off. At the end of the night, Alabama fans everywhere had 55 reasons they were thankful for Blake Sims.

YOU are on a team, and you have a coach named Jesus Christ. You’ve had some victories, but you’ve stumbled, slipped, thrown bad passes, interceptions, and fumbled the ball on more than one occasion. You are bruised, bloody, and beaten down. Honestly… you’re not much to look at, and people around you have serious doubts in your abilities and worth.

But you have a Coach who believes in YOU. You have someone on your side who, over and over again, will pick you up, dust you off, and send you back out there into the fray.

“Why? Is Coach Jesus just sadistic? Does He enjoy watching me get beat up every time I turn around?”

Not at all. Sure, He knows you. He sees your flaws, knows your failures, and sympathizes with your struggles.

But He also knows what you are capable of. He has a plan in which you are an integral part. Paul said in Romans…

For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. ~ Romans 11:29

That means God’s call on your life is not dependent upon your fumbles and missteps. His calling is irrevocable, and He makes no apologies for keeping you in the game. When we think it is difficult or impossible to trust our faithfulness, He reminds us that our relationship with Him is about trusting His grace. What we have to do is trust Him, and believe in His call and His wisdom for our lives and destiny.

So cheer up! You may be bruised and banged-up, but if you are reading this now, it means you are still breathing, still full of life, and still IN THE GAME! It’s time to start believing in the One who called you, for His calling is sure, and He’s never going to be sorry He did. Game ON!

Oh, and… ROLL TIDE!

Pastor Ron