Tag Archive | prayer

Breaking Free from the Dungeon of Depression

Fear4Depression.

In 21st century America, we hear that word every day. While depression takes on a variety of forms, a “blanket” definition would be…

“the state of being depressed–a feeling of let down, of hopelessness.”

It can affect the body. It can cause an overwhelming sense of fatigue to come upon a person. In fact, there are studies that indicate that many psychological neuroses, as well as some fatigue diseases, are the results of living with depression.

A permanent cure for depression?

Is there such a thing? Statistics show that multitudes of Americans are hoping for the quick cure. In 2001, it was estimated that 28 million Americans were taking anti-depressants. In 2016, studies suggest that one in six Americans are on some kind of psychiatric drug, a figure nearly double the 2001 number.

When Jesus began His ministry, His very first sermon included a quote from Isaiah 61…

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He has anointed Me
To preach the gospel to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set at liberty those who are oppressed;
To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord. 
~ Luke 4:18-19

In Isaiah 61 (the original passage Jesus quoted), He goes on to say…

“… And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.”

The Bible doesn’t call it depression. The Bible calls it the spirit of heaviness. There is a demon involved here. David called it “being cast down.” Depression is a state of mourning in your life, a state of heaviness over circumstances. You are under the circumstances of your life. A great many things can open your life to the spirit of depression; circumstances, illness, negative and unhealthy thought patterns, bad (sinful) habits, rejection, death and loss, lack of direction, failure, and loss of passion for God can all be contributing factors that allow the enemy to gain access to your mind. The symptoms of depression as as varied as the causes; feelings of panic, unrelenting dissatisfaction,  unstable emotions, oppression, and feelings of being overwhelmed or forgotten are all signs that you are heading down a dark and lonely road of depression.

So how do you hit the brakes? How do you recover when depression has you bound up? What can put you on the path to positive spiritual and mental health?

In order to be healed from depression, you must experience a fresh work of the Holy Spirit in your life! Isaiah 61 (then again in Luke 4) tells how Jesus would come to the depressed, enslaved, and the broken…

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me, because the Lord anointed Me….”

Jesus came with an anointing, a yoke-breaking, depression-crushing, life-giving, freedom-announcing anointing. All you need to do is ask Him for it. Then ask for a fresh word from the Lord. He says, “I’ve come to proclaim. I’ve come with a word.” He is our help and our salvation!

The third thing you need is a fresh worship offering to God.

“Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. ~ Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV)

Remember Jesus says to, “Put on a garment of praise.” Don’t be afraid to let God do something different in your worship life.

You say, “Well, Brother Ron, I just praise Him in my heart.”

I can guarantee that when you get up tomorrow morning at 6 a.m., no matter how tired you are, you will get dressed for work. You can’t walk into your workplace with no clothes on, saying, “I didn’t feel like getting dressed; I thought I’d just skip that today.” God said, “I’ll give you a garment of praise.” You put on a garment whether you feel like it or not. Your heart may be heavy. You may have been through some painful stuff, but shout to the Lord anyway.

The devil can’t take away the blood of the cross. Satan can’t take away the resurrection of Jesus. He can’t take away your salvation. Proclaim along with Job…

Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him…”
~ Job 13:15a  (NKJV)

“For I know that my Redeemer lives, And He shall stand at last on the earth”
~ Job 19:25 (NKJV)

This devil of depression must be rooted out, or its impact will be devastating. If the depressed father doesn’t take these steps to overcome it, it could take his wife and it could take his children. Grandmother, it could take your grandchildren. You had better get rid of it.

I used to have to fight this spirit of depression every Christmas. Because of difficulties in my youth and the memories that would flood me, I feel myself begin to withdraw even as my children and friends around me were celebrating Jesus’ coming. God has used my kids to pull me out of this seasonal attack of depression.

Demons can’t possess Christians, but they can obsess, compress, and depress you. They can live in you like a rat or a cockroach. You have to drive them out. I didn’t get rid of them by telling them, “Well, I’m just so sorry you’re here.”  I just told them where to go. “Get out of my life, heaviness!”  And by the power and blood of Jesus, those spirits must flee!

~ Adapted from my book
Everyone’s Guide to Demons and Spiritual Warfare
Copyright © 2010 Ron Phillips
Published by Charisma House Book Group

Worship

5 Reasons You Might Want To Reconsider The Lists You Re-post

We’ve all seen them. We’ve all read them. We’ve all re-posted them.

Yep… me too. Guilty as charged.

Sprout 2THE LISTS. Like God’s promise in Genesis to Abraham about his offspring, social media/internet lists are becoming as numerous as the grains of sand on the seashore. Lists for every conceivable vocation, location, and 12-step program in 15 easy steps. For someone who is in the ministry (like me), it seems like these lists grow faster than the weeds in my flower beds at home. For ministers and ministry-types, the topics can include (but are certainly not limited to) things like…

10 Things You are Doing Right in Your Ministry.

20 Things You are Doing Wrong in Your Ministry.

22 Things You’d Be Doing Right if Your Weren’t Doing Them Wrong (in Your Ministry).

You get the idea. Can I hear an “amen”?

And while some lists are totally informational and harmless — lists like “10 Things to See on Your Trip to Vermont” or “The 15 Top Dining Spots in Coos Bay, Oregon”, others are less so. Others go to the heart of who we are, not just as organizations, but who God made us as individuals.

So here is my list. It’s short — just 5 points — so here we go…

5 Things You Should Consider Before Re-posting Lists

  1. Who is posting your list of choice? Just because someone has a popular blog or website does not necessarily make them an authority on every given subject. Before you re-post something as Gospel that could have a far reaching effect on someone else’s spirit, make sure it actually IS Gospel. Just because you agree with it does not make it right or accurate, it just means it struck a nerve with you for some reason. There is a good chance that, if you agree with it but it does not line up with the Word of God, you might need to step away from the screen and do a little soul searching yourself. Regardless of the authors “credentials”, you should always do your due diligence before parroting anything. Even experts make mistakes.

    The Bottom Line: Don’t listen to every voice. Choose carefully those you allow to speak into your life and destiny.

  2. Beware the “Guilt-List Post.” I think 20 years from now, we will have an entirely new and thriving area of psychology brought on by psychoses born in the realm of social media. I am seeing more and more where we have gotten to a place in which public statements on social media are taking the place of disagreements that should be handled in private conversations; primary among these are what I would term the “Guilt-List Post“… someone who disagrees with something, and posts a list on social media or a blog to add validity to their argument. For ministry-types, whether it is preaching styles, music tastes, or witnessing ideas, people often re-post lists because they either feel guilty, or are trying to “guilt” someone else into seeing things their way, all because some “expert” says “this is what you are doing wrong”.
    In Isaiah 1, the Bible says…

    “Come now, and let us reason together,”
    Says the Lord,
    “Though your sins are like scarlet,
    They shall be as white as snow;
    Though they are red like crimson,
    They shall be as wool.” ~ Isaiah 1:18

    Social media posting, messaging, and emailing will never be a good substitute for sitting down face to face and reasoning things out with another person. Passive-aggressive chastisement on Facebook is not what Jesus was talking about when He gave us His words in Matthew 18 about how brothers and sisters should deal with disagreement and offense. Unfortunately, it is fast becoming a cheap, ill-used, and misdirected substitute.

    The Bottom Line: Social media posts and emails are breeding grounds for misunderstandings and confusion. Learn the art of conversing and (more importantly) listening.

  3. The Self-Aggrandizement Post. The opposite of the Guilt-List Post is the Self-Aggrandizement Post. This is posting a list to reaffirm what you are doing right, and to let everyone else across the world know what you are doing right as well. While affirmation is fine (and we all need it), I’m not sure posting a subjective list based on one person’s opinion as your basis for success is the best way to go about it. Jesus’ words in Matthew 7 say it better than any 12-point list…

    A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. ~ Matthew 7:18-20

    As someone wiser than me once said…

    A man’s gift makes room for him,
    And brings him before great men. ~ Proverbs 18:16

    In other words, when you let your gifts and talent do the talking, is doesn’t take a lot of words for people to take notice.

    The Bottom Line: Memorize Proverbs 18:16, and remember: “A little humility goes a long way.”

  4. What works for them may not work for you. Celebrating the success of others is great, but one person’s (or organization’s) recipe for success does not necessarily mean it will work for you or yours. While there are some basic, common-sense elements to success that we should all strive to maintain (hard work, diligence, kindness, fiscal responsibility), the fact is that what works in Chattanooga, TN — “the buckle of the Bible-Belt” — might not necessarily work in a place like Oakland, CA. A church in Birmingham, AL that has a thriving bus ministry might not be a great model for a church in Manhattan, KS. There’s an old saying that goes “Bloom where you’re planted.” If you are “planted” in a place that is hard and rocky, you are going to have to get more creative in order to be a success than someone who is “planted” in fertile soil. In fact, you may find that your definition of success is markedly different.

    The Bottom Line: Find your sufficiency in God. Allow Him to define your measure of success.

  5. What has God told you to do? This really is the heart of the matter: What is the revelation God has given YOU? What is the call of God on YOUR life or the life of your organization? Many times in the Bible (and throughout history, for that matter), we have seen God reveal Himself in unusual ways, and give individuals or groups an unusual call or command. For example:

    Moses parted the Red Sea simply by lifting his staff and stretching out his hand.

    The children of Israel leveled the walls of Jericho with a shout and the sound of trumpets.

    A kid named David took out a giant warrior named Goliath with a single stone.

    John The Baptist subsisted on a diet of locusts and wild honey.

    In the end, while advice is good and good advice should always be considered, nothing can replace the calling of God for you. It might look unusual. It might be unconventional. It might be what the “experts” call crazy. However, if it truly is from God, then you can rest assured that, even if it seems chaotic or way out of the norm, He will be in the middle of it to guide your hand every step of the way.

    The Bottom Line: No ten-step plan to success will ever make you as successful as the single plan of God for your life and circumstances.

So be encouraged if you are a work in progress. If you have a true word from God, He is going to make a way in whatever wilderness you find yourself.

And if you don’t have that word yet, just remember what God said in Jeremiah 29:13…

“And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.”

Mike Huckabee is in the House for All-American Day!

Mike Huckabee

Anyone who knows me knows how much I care about this country. Throughout my 50+ years of ministry, I have desired for America to come back to God, and for revival to once again burn like a wildfire in our land. I know that, in order for that to happen, it takes the people of God getting up off of their pews, out into their communities, and sharing the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to all who will hear.

img_0184Another thing that it takes for revival to happen is for men and women of God to stand in the public square, and to proclaim unashamedly that Jesus is Lord, that right is right and wrong is wrong, and to be champions of truth, the poor and the unborn, and to be a voice against the ungodliness that has leeched into the walls and halls of our government.

Governor Mike Huckabee is such a man.

This Sunday is going to be a special time at Abba’s House as we welcome Governor Huckabee for 🇺🇸AllAmerican Day🇺🇸. There will be stars and stripes, Patriotic music by our choir and orchestra, fireworks, and a special word for this hour by Governor Huckabee.

So join us THIS SUNDAY (July 2) at Abba’s House for 🇺🇸AllAmerican Day🇺🇸! I would love for you to be my special guest. Service begins at 10:30am.

P.S. If you can make it earlier, come at 9:15 and check out our LifeGroups. There’s always room for one more, and you’re always welcome at Abba’s House!

All American Day

Revival in the Age of Instant Coffee

Coffee w TAIWWe live in an age where we want everything fast… instantly, as it were.

Like coffee.

Sure, it smells and tastes like coffee. It may even have enough caffeine to give you a good jolt. But to most discerning coffee aficionados, they can smell a cup of instant coffee coming a mile away, and they are NOT happy about it. To them, there is nothing like the taste of a fresh-brewed cup made from freshly-ground coffee beans from some exquisite place, where the air, soil, and atmosphere are perfect for the growing of those sacred beans., Yes sir, the true coffee-snob can tell you what kind of coffee it is, where it was grown, and a variety of facts about the country of origin.

So why do we think God is any less discerning?

Most of us want things fast and on our terms, and in most cases if we are honest, the spiritual life is no exception. The only problem is that anything related to a Spirit-filled life is not dictated by our wills, whims, and calendars, but by the Holy Spirit of God Himself. He has His timetable (“a day is as a thousand years…”), and is not at the mercy of our schedules.

Azusa StreetMost people who run in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles are familiar with the Azusa Street Revival that began in 1906, considered by many to be the beginning of the modern Pentecostal movement. Led by William J. Seymour, the Azusa Street Revival continued for several years, and included Holiness congregants, Baptists, Mennonites, Quakers, Presbyterians, and others. However, many in our country may not be familiar with another outbreak of the Spirit, in Europe, that preceded Azusa Street…

The Awakening in Wales.

In her book, The Awakening in Wales (and some  of the hidden springs), Jessie Penn-Lewis documents the Welsh Revival (1904-1905), a mighty move of the Holy Spirit that took the country of Wales by storm. During that period, approximately 150,000 people gave their lives to Christ, in a country with a population of approximately just over 2 million. Miracles, signs, wonders, and incredible outpourings of the Holy Spirit happened during that time.

So what prompted such radical transformation? What was it that made the Welsh Revival different from the “revival” happening at the church down the street from your house right now? What were the markings of this mighty move of God? In The Awakening in Wales, a few points repeatedly come to the surface…

They prayed and prepared.

Not just days and months.

In the YEARS leading up to 1904, Christians in Wales joined in passionate prayer, believing and asking God for an outpouring of His Holy Spirit. “Prayer-circles” were formed and people met at specific times to pray earnestly and deliberately, for hours on end. People traveled from place to place and spread the “fire” they had gotten in one place or meeting to other towns and villages. Prayer-circles began to spring up simultaneously and spontaneously, not just in Wales, but in other countries as well.

As well as prayer, many who participated did not wait until the events of 1904-1905 to seek after the Spirit of God. Many came to the meetings, having already been filled with the Holy Spirit. Much of this was due to the fervent prayer that went on ahead of time; people seeking after God with no reservations or selfish agendas. They didn’t wait for a meeting or a moment for something to happen; the further outpouring of the Spirit of God at the meetings was a by-product of the months and years of preparation that had already taken place.

There was unity.

In Wales, the people of God came together. Churches set aside denominational labels and walls for the sake of a common goal: A mighty move of the Holy Spirit. In I Corinthians 1:10, Paul appeals to the believers in Corinth…

I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.

Penn_LewisBut the unity was not just between the people of Wales. Jessie Penn-Lewis stated…

“The object-lesson that stands out the clearest, and speaks the loudest, to the Church of God, is the fact that the Spirit of God moved upon the unsaved in converting power as soon as the Christians in a particular church, or specific meeting, were in harmony with God.” ~ from The Awakening in Wales

The people were in unity and harmony with God. And make no mistake about it… being in unity with the King of Kings is all about being in His will, His timing, and His purposes.

The message of the Cross of Calvary was central.

 

“As we recall the conditions preceding the first Pentecost, we cannot forget that CALVARY WAS A TERRIBLE FACT to each one of the little company in the upper room.

There is no Pentecost without a preceding Calvary.” ~ Jessie Penn-Lewis

The message of the Cross, and Jesus’ sacrifice on Calvary, was the central theme of the Revival. Penn-Lewis went on to say…

“The world has seen before its eyes that the preaching of the Cross is in very truth the dynamic of the Gospel, and is the energy of God to actually and really save men from the bonds of sin. And what is of greater consequence, the Church of God has been rallied, as by a voice from Heaven, to the banner of the Cross.”

Others also explained…

“We have been critics of the Bible when we should have been devotees. We have preached Christ as an ideal of sacrifice, but have left out His atonement for sin. Now, thank God, there is a return to the Book, and to Calvary…

The Revival has brought us back to the Cross of Christ.”

It is the Cross that saves. It is the message of the Cross, and the power of the Holy Spirit that convicts men and women of their sin, and their need for a Savior. The recipe for revival is actually a fairly simple one: Prayer, unity in the Spirit, and the Message of the Cross. The fruit of that was evidenced in the more than 150,000 souls who entered the Kingdom of Heaven through the principality of Wales in 1904-1905.

Seriously.

The revival we speak of is not going to happen until we get serious about seeking God through prayer, fasting, repentance, and unity of the Spirit. God told His people in Jeremiah 29:13…

And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.

All of our heart means we check our schedules at the door.

All of our heart means we set aside our agendas and our plans.

All of our heart requires singular focus, with a constant eye on the prize.

So are you ready for revival? A REAL revival? A revival that changes the course of a nation, and ushers souls into the Kingdom in droves? A destiny-changing moment in time that is more than an event advertised on a marquee?

I am.

It’s time to put on the “coffee pot”…

Let it brew nice and slow…

Allow the aroma to fill the air…

And take time to prepare something worthy of the King.

Unhinged

trump-swearing-inOn November 8, 2016, the American people spoke.

On January 20, 2017, Donald J. Trump was sworn in as the 45th President of the United Sates.

And from that time until now, individuals, groups, and organizations have become increasingly hostile, hateful, lawless, and… well… unhinged.

We have seen protests, riots, assaults, and rampant crime in our streets, all under the guise of 1st Amendment rights. We have gotten a front-row seat to unprecedented obstruction with the “slow-walking” confirmations — courtesy of Democrats in the Senate — of President Trump’s cabinet (in fact, not since the inauguration of George Washington in 1789 has a president had to wait this long to have his cabinet confirmed). We have been subjected to a steady string of “false news” reports from a media openly hostile to our new leader and leadership. We have become witness to the spectacle of Hollywood liberal acolytes using award programs and entertainment platforms for the purpose of lecturing the “uneducated masses” on the evils of President Trump, Vice-President Pence, and anyone associated with them — seemingly from birth.


The 1st Amendment of the Constitution has long been a cornerstone of the American way of life. To know that we can worship, believe, speak our mind, and have a free press without fear of persecution from the State is a right we should be able to count on.
The 1st Amendment of the Constitution declares…

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.

IMG_1905Many of those who rallied behind the lawful election of Barack Obama, and told those on the opposite side of the aisle to “deal with it” are now becoming increasingly hostile to the rule of law. When “We won!” was the reply to those who disagreed with the incoming flood of immoral and, in some cases, arguably unconstitutional legislation, those of a Republican or Conservative bent did not flood the streets, obstruct traffic, destroy property, and participate in disgusting and offensive demonstrations.

Of what do I speak? Well, for anyone who has (some might say ‘wisely’) not viewed news programs or current events, allow me to get you (partially) up to speed…

  • On January 20 (Inauguration Day), rioters took to the streets in parts of Washington D.C., throwing rocks at police, smashing storefronts, and setting vehicles on fire, apparently in an attempt to disrupt the Inaugural parade route. Over 200 were arrested and charged with felony rioting (a federal offense that, if convicted, carries up to a 10-year prison sentence, and up to a $250,00.00 fine).
  • On January 21, The Women’s March on Washington took place on the streets of Washington D.C., and around the nation. While the group’s policy platform includes “reproductive rights, immigration reform, healthcare reform, religious discrimination (primarily that against Muslim Americans), LGBTQ rights, gender and racial inequities, workers’ rights, and other issues“, one of the co-chairs of the march was Linda Sarsour, a Muslim activist who allegedly advocates Sharia law. Among the highlights of the march were women dressed in “vagina” costumes, profanity-laced tirades and pontifications by celebrities such as Madonna, Ashley Judd, and Scarlet Johansson, and the marked absence of any pro-life women’s groups (who were told they were not allowed to participate because they were pro-life).
  • On February 1, riots broke out at UC Berkeley as the result of a scheduled lecture by Breitbart editor Milo Yiannopoulos. Yiannopoulous, a gay “right-wing” commentator, had to be escorted off campus by police amidst the cancellation of his lecture due to violent protests that included Molotov cocktails, masked agitators, and personal assaults on innocent bystanders. In the end, the campus upon which the “free-speech movement” began in 1964 has become a bastion of censorship and intolerance by the very people who are screaming for tolerance.

For all of their protests, riots, whining, and foot-stomping, those who protest our new administration seem to be missing an important fact…

We are a nation of laws. We pride ourselves in the rule of law. While other countries devolve into chaos and madness, America remains stable because of our laws. And while the former administration made it a point to ignore certain laws it didn’t agree with (particularly regarding immigration and social issues), the Trump administration promised to return to the rule of law. While liberals try their best to derail this administration at every single turn from doing what the American voters tasked it to do, those same voters are, for the most part, in favor of President Trump’s actions. Interestingly enough, the same people who are for the stonewalling of the Trump cabinet are the same people who are criticizing President Trump for not moving faster in accomplishing the goals he set forth in his campaign.

Seems a bit like criticizing a sprinter for not running faster… while ignoring the fact that his foot is chained to the floor.

So criticisms, tantrums, and protests aside, what does the Bible have to say about submission to authority…

 Coffee 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. For because of this you also pay taxes, for they are God’s ministers attending continually to this very thing. Render therefore to all their due: taxes to whom taxes are due, customs to whom customs, fear to whom fear, honor to whom honor. ~ Romans 13:1-7

“Those who resist will bring judgement on themselves.” In the King James Version, it says it this way…

“…and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.”

Regardless of what any of us think of a politician or leader, we would do well to heed the words of Paul in this passage. Whether judgement falls as the result of our earthly actions by the hands of authorities here on earth, or judgement is stayed and awaits us in the afterlife, we can rest assured that God is good for His word, and that judgement for acts or rebellion against God-ordained leaders is inevitable.

I have lived through many presidents in my lifetime, and I have probably never agreed with any of them 100% of the time. Still, while I might be critical at times, I have always been careful to pray for our leaders, and while standing for what is right, do so in a law-abiding fashion. It seems that the words “civil disobedience” have come to mean whatever methods people decide upon in the heat of the moment. It is one thing to chant, picket, and protest outside of a building. It is quite another to violate someone else’s rights by burning property, physical assault, and making threats of violence. While it is lawful under our Constitution for an individual to stand up and regurgitate whatever banal ideology they choose, it is not lawful to threaten to kill the President or hurt innocent people. Signs and slogans make you a protester. Threats and violence make you a criminal thug. While one may land you in the newspaper, the other will likely land you in jail.

For the last 8+ years, many laws have been ignored simply because they were socially unpopular, particularly laws pertaining to immigration (hence “Sanctuary Cities”), and social/moral issues. As President of the United States, the person who occupies that office has taken an oath to “uphold and defend the Constitution“. That includes abiding by the laws contained therein, or any laws passed legally through the legislative process set forth in the Constitution… whether or not that particular President agrees with their validity or not. The President himself is answerable to the people for how he carries out his oath. If a President disagrees with a law, then he has the right to have those in Congress try to advance legislation to repeal such laws.

I would contend that the ire against President Trump may have less to do with his lawfulness (or perceived lack thereof), and more to do with the reining in of an attitude that “laws were made to be broken”. Many (if not most) of the protests I have seen are people fighting back against the rule of law, protesting what should be common sense enforcement of the laws of our land. Whether it is immigration, gun control, etc… in most cases, we don’t need more legislation; we simply need to enforce the laws already passed and on the books.

At the end of the day (and to coin a phrase), there’s a new sheriff in town, and he’s dusting off a Constitution that has long been ignored.

Faith for the Finale

Think about this…

Would you run a marathon — leading the entire way by a mile — only to sit down at the end, 5 feet short of the finish line?

Would you finish Rachmaninoff: Symphony No. 2 in E minor with a pianissimo oboe solo?

Would you compete for an entire season — going undefeated for all of it — only to refuse to come out of the locker room for the championship game?

vince_lombardi_bart_starrFor many of us who are sports fans, we just witnessed a historic event. In Super Bowl LI, we watched as the New England Patriots — who were down by 25 points at halftime — came back to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy for the 5th time in a stunning overtime defeat of the Atlanta Falcons. Never before had a team overcome more than a 10-point deficit in the Super Bowl. Never before had “The Big Game” gone into overtime. When the New England Patriots came out of the locker room for the 3rd quarter, it looked like it was all but over. I had friends who actually turned off the game because it looked like such a blowout. “On to other things.” So what happened?

Well, one of the things that the commentators kept saying was “how young the Atlanta Falcons were”… How young they were…. How quick they were… How much older the Patriots were. Yet for all of their youth and exuberance, it seems that they lacked the one thing that the Patriots did have: Focus. During the second half, the Patriots stayed focused on winning. They stayed focused on the task at hand. They kept their eyes on the prize. Whether it was blown coverages or senseless penalties, the Atlanta Falcons went from a team hungry to win to a team trying not to lose. Somehow, they lost sight of the hard-fought lessons that got them to Houston. They had the motivation and energy to make it to the championship, but lacked the grit and determination to get them across the finish line.

The entire human race is running full-throttle toward the edge of eternity. So even though prophets, preachers, seers, and scholars have been discussing the Last Days  and The Day of the Lord for over 2,000 years, how should we live now.. today? What should our mindset be in 2017? Should we be filled with fear or faith?

Among the customs of some Native American people was a ritual of a young man passing into adulthood. He would be taken out into a place away from the community; he would then be blindfolded and left in that spot all night. He was not to remove the blindfold until the morning came and the sunlight began to shine through the blindfold. So all night, he was in that place, feeling alone and isolated… unsure of his surroundings and what potential threats waited for him, unseen because of the blindfold.

Well, I am sure you can imagine his surprise when, upon removing the blindfold at morning’s light, he found himself surrounded by his kinsmen — his father and uncles. Though he may have struggled with the fear of loneliness and the unknown, there was never a moment when he was not being watched over by his elders, who remained just out of reach and by his side the entire night.

Just like the young brave was never abandoned by those who loved him, so we are never abandoned by a loving Heavenly Father who never lets us out of His sight.

It is that unwavering attention to His children that allows us to run the race, and have Faith for the Finale.

At Abba’s House, I have just begun a series of messages by the same title…

Faith for the Finale.

I want to encourage you to join us, whether in person or online, as I take you through the steps and mindset that it takes to be an overcomer in adversarial times, and what YOU need to do in order to finish well the race set before you.

See you Sunday.

Pastor Ron

A Year of Change

FlagIn about two weeks, America will once again go through the pomp and ceremony of inaugurating a new president, meaning new leadership and new direction in our nation. While January 20 (and a few days following) will be filled with all manner of spectacles, traditions, and commentary, it will merely mark the beginning of an administration that came to power on promises of ending corruption, national security, and returning us to being a nation “of, by, and for the people.” President Trump will have his hands full, leading our country during a time of political unrest, social division, international instability, and unfettered terrorism.

So, “we the people”… what can we do?

First of all, we can pray. In I Timothy 2:1-2, Paul tells Timothy…

I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people—  for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.

Israeli Flag 1Prayer is not partisan. While I never voted for President Obama, and disagreed with him on much of his agenda, I prayed for him nearly every single day. I genuinely hoped and prayed that he would be a good and just president. My prayer is the same for President Trump. I pray that he will surround himself with Godly counsel, that he will listen to wise advisers, and that he will always put America’s best interests — spiritually, socially, and economically — first (this includes an unwavering support for Israel).

Second, I would encourage everyone reading this, regardless of what side of the aisle you fall on politically — give President Trump a chance. No man or administration has the ability to fix all that ails a nation overnight. Leaders rise and fall according to the will of God (Romans 13:1), and I believe that God has ordained President Trump for “such a time as this”. If you have honest disagreements with him or his policy, fine. I’m sure we all will at some point. There has not been a president in my lifetime that I agreed with 100% of the time. But honest criticism, reasoned viewpoints, and civil discourse should not fall victim to unbridled vitriol, (un)civil disobedience, and fake and deceptive news. If there is one thing I have learned with the popularity of social media, it is that you cannot believe everything you read.

Praying      Last, I would encourage all of us — as Americans — to be diligent in seeking after holiness, righteousness, and decency. Make a difference in your own circle of influence. Last year, I wrote a book called The Unraveling of America  in which I pointed to a number of political and social ideologies and entities in our world that have led to the systematic dismantling of our nation. With the advent of new leadership, all of these adversaries and ideologies are not going to mysteriously vanish. We must be diligent. We must be wary. We must hold our leaders to account for their decisions, actions, or lack thereof. We must follow the advice of Jesus who tells us to be “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves” (Matthew 10:16).

It’s time for our nation under God to once again rise up and be the “shining city on a hill”, not because of our perceived greatness, but because of the goodness and grace of God that He shed upon us.

Pemmaquid PointAmerica! America!
God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea.

~ from America the Beautiful
Words by Katharine Lee Bates
Music by Samuel A. Ward