Categories
Living It Out In Real Time Miracles Out of Nowhere The Life of Faith The Mysteries of God The Secret Place

Refusing To Settle For Less

How many times have you seen someone give their all to a pursuit, only to come up short? We see it all the time…

  • A thriving business that ends up failing due to bad decisions, mismanagement, and financial chaos;
  • An actor who receives accolades for a performance, wins an Academy Award, then falls into obscurity;
  • An athlete or team that wins contest after contest, only to fail when it really matters. (Remember the New England Patriots 2007 season – they were undefeated going into Super Bowl XLII, only to lose to the New York Giants.)

But worse than coming up short in a contest or personal pursuit is someone who makes a conscious decision for defeat… someone who makes a decision not to take advantage of every opportunity, resource, or gift available to them.

     † D.L.Moody was NOT such a person. D.L. Moody, the founder of many establishments including Moody Bible Institute, was a man who refused to operate without the power of the Holy Spirit. Early in his ministry he pushed forward in his work, operating mostly in the strength of his own flesh. He felt he had no real power in his life, but he didn’t know how to resolve the problem.

At the close of his meetings in a YMCA, two humble Free Methodist women often approached him and said, “We are praying for you.” Their comment unnerved the young preacher. Finally, one night upon their approach, he asked, “Why are you praying for me? Why don’t you pray for the unsaved?”

They responded, “We are praying that you may get the power.” He asked them what they meant, and they proceeded to explain to him the definite baptism of the Holy Spirit. He then prayed with the women, fervently desiring the power of God to fall on his life.

Not long after that prayer, as he was walking in the midst of the hustle and bustle of the streets of New York, the power of God fell upon Moody so mightily that he had to turn aside to the house of a friend. There, alone in a room for hours, he experienced the filling of his soul with such joy that he at last had to ask God to withhold His hand. He went out from there with the power of the Spirit upon him, and going directly to a London crusade, he saw God do a wondrous work through him, bringing hundreds into the church.¹

I could write pages and pages of the men of God who have experienced the filling of the Spirit, such as Charles Spurgeon, Billy Sunday, Charles Finney, and Evan Roberts, the Welsh evangelist. However, God’s power is not just for great preachers of the faith. It is God’s desire for all Christians to know the power of the Holy Spirit upon them.

† From my book, The Essential Guide to Baptism in the Holy Spirit Published by Charisma House

¹ R.A. Torrey, “Why God Used D.L. Moody”, in James S. Bell, ed., The D.L. Moody Collections (Chicago: Moody Press, 1997), 116-117

Categories
Healing Living It Out In Real Time The Life of Faith

Enough

FlagAmerica is at war… a war without national boundaries. I wrote several years ago (and was severely criticized) that America has a bloody enemy.

Does anyone honestly doubt that now?

While I could go on and on about attacks on our nation and it’s citizens, at home and around the world, here are a few of note…

In October, 1983, the attack on the Marine barracks in Beruit, Lebanon claimed 299 lives.

In October, 2000, the USS Cole was attacked while sitting at anchor at the Port of Aden in Yemen. Seventeen American sailors were killed.

On September 11, 2001, we watched helplessly as our fellow citizens were murdered in the Twin Towers and at the Pentagon, attacks that claimed nearly 3,000 lives (almost all civilian). For most of us, the images of our fellow citizens jumping from the upper floors of the World Trade Center are indelibly etched into our minds.

Four Americans (including Ambassador Chris Stevens) were murdered in Benghazi in 2012 when the U.S. Consulate was attacked.

Since 2001, thousands of our brave servicemen and women have died on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And now… Boston.

While we do not yet know who is responsible for yesterday’s attack, we do know who the father of terror is. It is high-time for the terrorists of the world to be held accountable. It is time to end political correctness. It is time to serve notice on these brokers of violence and fear, as well as countries that send or harbor them, and let them know that we have had enough.

No more monetary aid for countries that foster ill-will and hatred toward America.

No more weapons for countries and administrations that are known purveyors of intolerance, injustice, and violence toward the United States, Israel, or any of our allies.

No more rewarding countries with aid who persecute their own people simply because they follow Jesus.

And no more oil dependence. Let’s end our dependence on Middle Eastern oil and open the unlimited resources of America. We need to build the pipelines and refineries right here at home, and cut off the finances of tyrannical and jihadist regimes.

It is time to know who our friends are and who our enemies are. It is time to silence these tyrants hiding behind their abused populace, empty rhetoric, and misguided religion.

For now, let us pray for our fellow Americans in Boston.

And let us join together with one voice and declare…Enough is Enough

Categories
The Life of Faith

Perfect Timing

pastor ron 048 Sometimes, when people see our program, Ron Phillips from Abba’s House, they forget that I am the pastor of a “local” church. While I do enjoy speaking and ministering around the world, in the words of Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz: “There’s no place like home”. There is just nothing like standing before my own church family and seeing the joy and unity in the Spirit that we have when we worship together.

Among the duties that come with being a pastor, I have the privilege of getting to pray with some of the businessmen and women in our church – praying over their businesses and employees. While I know that many people are taking a beating in the current economy, many entrepreneurs have the increased burden of physical structures, massive overhead, and all of the responsibilities that come with owning a business. Being responsible for, not just yourself, but the lives of dozens of other families who depend on you for income is daunting. These brave people need all the prayer they can get!

pastor ron 272The other day, I went with a few church staff members to pray for one such businessman. Don Lepard has been a faithful member of our church for many years, and recently started a new company. Global Green Lighting is a company that makes energy-efficient “green” lighting for cities and municipalities. The lights are designed to operate in such a way as to save the cities that use them up to 70% in public lighting costs. As you can imagine from the description and the pictures, a business like this costs a lot of money to start and operate.

pastor ron 201pastor ron 220As we began to pray for Don and GGL, our prayers focused on two areas: cashflow (investment income) and business (tangible customers). As we prayed for cashflow, I prayed that an investor would come to GGL by Friday. As we prayed for new business and new clients, I felt impressed to pray for business to come in from Germany. We continued praying, anointing employees, as well as walking around the property and asking for God’s favor on this company. We were finishing our prayer time when Don’s cell phone rang. On the line was an investment banker who said he wanted to bring by a client who was interested in investing in GGL. He stated that they would be coming by ON FRIDAY!!!!

pastor ron 261We left to have lunch with Don and some of his staff. While we were at lunch, Don received an email from a very large German-based company wanting to discuss a contract that would allow them to sell the GGL lights to their already established customers. Praise the Lord!!!

Within one hour of praying, we had a response to the two specific things we prayed for.

Delight yourself also in the LORD, and He shall give you the desires of your heart. ~ Psalm 37:4

We serve a mighty God! He knows our weaknesses. He sees ours hearts. He is well acquainted with our need. None of it gets by his watchful gaze. For those who delight themselves in Him, there is favor and blessing waiting. At times, the wait is longer than at others, but His timing is perfect, His plans for us are flawless, and He is good. He meets us at the point of our need in very real, very tangible, and sometimes, very specific ways.

Don stated that his favorite saying is, “I cannot wait to go to sleep at night so I can wake up early to see what God has in store for me each day!”

So, what is YOUR need? What does God have in store for YOU?

Don’t be afraid to be specific with your Father… He’s not afraid to be specific about your answer. Your answer may be just a prayer’s breath away.

pastor ron 052  pastor ron 099pastor ron 087

Categories
The Life of Faith

got favor?

Gas GaugeIn May of 2002, I was preaching a crusade in Nigeria. After about a week of wonderful meetings, it was time to once again climb aboard a plane and head back across the Atlantic. As we were about to leave, we were praying with our host pastor, Dr. Nick Ezeh, and rejoicing in what God had done in the meetings. After saying our goodbyes, we turned and walked into the terminal only to be confronted by these disturbing words on the flight schedule screen:

Flight #— to Lagos: CANCELLED

Now, in the U.S., this is not really a huge issue. When a flight is cancelled, most of the time, there is another flight within hours. However, since we were in Calabar, Nigeria, and not Cleveland, Ohio, this was not the case. If we missed our connection in Lagos, the next available flight was FOUR DAYS LATER!

At this point, our team shifted into overdrive, trying desperately to speak to someone who might have a solution to our dilemma. We quickly discovered that there was a flight to Lagos from another town called Port Harcourt. The flight was scheduled to leave in 3 hours and 45 minutes. Great, right? Except for one small problem…

Port Harcourt was 3½ hours away.

If we left immediately, we would have a fifteen minute margin of error. If we hit traffic, had any mechanical issues, or were in any other way delayed, chances were good that we would not make our connection, and would have to get comfortable for a four-day layover. Our team quickly gathered all of our gear, and got back into the vehicles for the long ride to Port Harcourt.

Now, one thing about Nigeria is that twice a year they shut down all of the oil refineries for a week or two for scheduled maintenance, thus creating shortages, rationing, and gas station shutdowns all over the country. It just so happened that that shutdown fell during our visit. The whole time we were there, we witnessed lines at gas stations that made the U.S. gas lines of the 1970’s look like the express line at Wal-Mart. About an hour into our drive, I glanced down at the gas gauge of our borrowed vehicle, and noticed that the needle was below empty. Our driver, a very nice Nigerian gentleman by the name of A.G. Bright didn’t seem too concerned. I leaned forward and asked him if the gauge was broken.

“No, my brother,” he answered, “but God will provide, for we prayed for mercy on this journey. Also, you and Dr. Ezeh are God’s men… He will surely see us through.”

It is difficult to admit this, but my faithless soul was not comforted. As we drove on, my mind was filled with visions of our stranded team, standing by our vehicles in the middle of the sweltering Nigerian jungle, or worse, being taken captive by rebels or robbers.

As my mind raced through the worst possible of scenarios, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of singing. Mr. Bright had started singing praises to God, and was quickly being joined by others in the vehicle. As the praises went up from our SUV, my faithless heart still continued to fret, expecting our engine to come to a grinding halt at any second. However, after another HOUR of unrelenting driving, we came to a crossroads, with a gas station that stood like an oasis at the intersection. As we pulled in, we questioned whether or not it was even open, since it was without the massive lines we had witnessed everywhere else. Upon discovering that it was open, we soon found out from the proprietor that the station had been closed for a week due to the fuel shortage, but that he had just received a shipment, and was actually re-opening his station AS WE PULLED UP!

A smiling A.G. Bright looked at me and said, “See, Pastor Phillips… God always takes care of His servants. You are in favor with God!”

Now here we are in 2013, and we face challenges like never before. Turmoil in our financial markets, uncertainty and unrest about the state of our nation politically, and chaos and disquiet in various hot-spots around the globe make it difficult to have faith. Yet having the favor of God is not dependent upon who is king, prime minister or president. The favor of God does not hinge on “bull markets” or diversified portfolios. The favor of God is not even affected by our immediate circumstances… our job, our family, or even our gas gauge. The favor of God is about His goodness and His faithfulness. We receive God’s favor, not because we are good, but because HE is good.

Driving down those dirty, pot-hole infested roads of Nigeria that day, Mr. Bright became a shining example of how we get ahold of that favor.

Mr. Bright prayed… He prayed a prayer that said, “God, here is what I am expecting, and no one will be more surprised than me if You don’t come through.” (Contrast this with the prayer that many of us pray: “God, here is my need, and I will be shocked if You actually answer me.”

Mr. Bright walked by faith… He put his proverbial “money where his mouth was”. He had no choice but to move forward by faith, and he did it with gusto, literally driving into the unknown with nothing but a belief that God is true to His word and to His children.

Mr. Bright worshipped… He didn’t sit there and fret about the gas gauge. He opened his mouth and declared God’s goodness and faithfulness in advance.

What a powerful lesson! I want to be like Mr. Bright. I want to be the one who walks in favor, stands in favor, and lives in favor! I want to be the one whose life is centered in His presence, and in the blessing that God gave Moses for the children of Israel…

“The Lord bless you
and keep you;

The Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;

The Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.

So they will put my name on the Israelites, and I will bless them.”

(Numbers 6:24-27)

That is the kind of favor I want.

How about you?

Pastor Ron

Categories
New Year

Faith, Philippians, & Fleetwood Mac

Happy New Year!

As with each New Year, for most of us, this one probably started with watching the crystal ball drop in Times Square (we miss you, Dick Clark), a kiss from a loved one, and a string of well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions:

“I’m going to lose that elusive 40 lbs”.

“I’m going to finish that never ending remodeling project .”

“I’m going to quit smoking.”

The list can go on and on for most of us. A New Year is a time for new beginnings… a time at which we contemplate the person we would like to be – a thinner, kinder, healthier, more organized person. However, by the first couple of days into January, any failure to strictly adhere to our good intentions spells doom for the other 363 days. We begin to look at the big picture through the lens of our failure at keeping last year’s resolutions, and the spiral of defeat begins before the last of the spiral-sliced ham (and other Christmas leftovers) has found its way to the garbage can.

But hold on a second! Before you give up completely, and start looking for a yard stick and paper towels with which to construct the white flag of surrender, please allow me to throw a sound-bite of reason into your intellectual quagmire.

Fleetwood Mac.

Christine McVie of the band Fleetwood Mac put it this way…

If you wake up and don’t want to smile
If it takes just a little while
Open your eyes and look at the day
You’ll see things in a different way

Don’t stop thinking about tomorrow
Don’t stop… it’ll soon be here
It’ll be better than before
Yesterday’s gone, yesterday’s gone

Years ago, the news media was interviewing soldiers on the front line of Vietnam. It was the Christmas season and the reporter asked a question of a grisly, old Gunnery Sergeant.

“What gift would you like this season?”

The old soldier answered – “Tomorrow”.

Stop trying to bite off a mouthful that it is going to take 365 days to chew. Start with that one thing that this old soldier understood all too well…

Tomorrow.

In Philippians 3, the apostle Paul talked about how he approached the future…

Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do,
forgetting those things which are behind,
and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,
I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (v. 13-14)

Sounds like good advice to me. However, in spite of the blank page, uncharted waters, open doors, and genuine hope that 2013 offers us (which, incidentally, I am running with), many of you reading this right now have already resigned yourselves to defeat. Because of things such as personal problems, taxes and inflation, wars in the Middle East, and the uncertainty of the stock market, many of you have already decided that 2013 is going to be a bad year.

I, for one, haven’t. But let’s go with this line of thinking for a moment…

If you are bound and determined that this is going to be a bad year, here are several ways to guarantee that outcome:

Keep your eyes on the rear-view mirror.

John Maxwell says that there are four bridges that we all must burn if we want to have a better life.

  1. Wrongs done to us. Successful people let the past go. Ignore the little stuff… forgive the big stuff.
  2. The unfairness of life. Determine that, by the power of the Holy Spirit, you are NEVER going to live with a victim mentality.
  3. Bad habits. Break unhealthy patterns from the past.
  4. Our own stupidity. Become intimately acquainted with the phrase, “I was wrong”.

There is a story told of an old black man, age 85, down South, sitting on his porch one summer evening, slowly rocking in his rocking chair, with his pipe, blowing circles into the motionless air. A young hyperactive salesman approaches him and shouts from the sidewalk:

“Grandpa, I got a book for you here that will help you remember everything from your whole life. It costs only five dollars.”

The old man sat there in silence, reflecting, not saying a word as he rocked, and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, said:

“Sonny, I’ll give you a thousand dollars for the book that can help me to forget.”

A really great way to sabotage your year: Don’t pray – Worry instead.

In Matthew 6, Jesus says ten times, “Don’t worry”. The Apostle Paul encourages us:

“Don’t worry about anything, but pray about everything” (Philippians 4:6-7).

     So why do we? Why do we worry about tomorrow when it can do nothing but destroy our today? Dr. Charles Mayo of the Mayo Clinic said, “Worry affects the circulation, the heart, the glands and the whole nervous system. I’ve never known a man who died from overwork, but many who died from stress.”

Someone once said that, “Today is the tomorrow we worried about yesterday.” So what did all of that worrying gain you? What was it about today that had you so in knots yesterday? Was it really worth it, or do you think that a little less worrying and a little more praying might have given you, if nothing else, a little more peace of mind?

Remember: Nothing kills a good year like having a bad attitude.

“If you don’t think every day is a good day, try missing one.” ~ Cavet Robert

So, you walk into a room, and the very first person that speaks to you begins by sneezing in your face.

That is exactly what a bad attitude is like. It is a virus of ill-will that is spread every time you open your mouth. Just like passing a cold, a bad attitude has the potential to infect all of those it comes into contact with.

Life is full of things over which we have no control… where we were born, who our relatives are, what we look like, any physical limitations. The one thing in our life that we have TOTAL control over is our attitude. People cannot make you have a bad attitude. Your job cannot make you have a bad attitude. Your church or pastor cannot make you have a bad attitude.

Attitude is ALL up to you.

       “A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.” ~ Herm Albright, Reader’s Digest (June, 1995)

     But if you are determined to have a bad attitude, then by all means…

  1. Be a fault-finder. Go out of your way to find fault with everything and everyone God puts into your path. Family, co-workers, church leadership… make no one exempt. For the true fault-finder, there are always plenty of targets. However, anyone who wants to be like Jesus will find potential, not pessimism. They will focus on the positive, not the negative.
  2. Kill your passion. You were created for greatness, but if you have your heart set on killing your God-given passion, it can be done. If you never question why you were created, avoid people with passion at all cost, or just shift the transmission of your creativity into neutral, that’s a good beginning to the end of passion. However, if you have a dream you can’t stop talking about, or a vision that excites you, it could be that God is trying to tell you something. As Nelson Mendela once said, “There is no passion to be found in playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living”.
  3. Blame others for your situation. This is the one that permeates society. There is never a shortage of people or circumstances to blame for our misfortunes. If your business fails, blame your downline. If you don’t like your looks, blame your parents. If your kids are a mess, blame the church for not raising them right. If you get a speeding ticket, blame the policeman for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, if you want to break the cycle that has made us a nation of “victims, crybabies, and fault-finders”, take responsibility for your life. If something is not working, be willing to change.

     “The greatest of faults, I should say, is to be conscious of none.” ~ Thomas Carlyle

Good intentions won’t carry the day (or year) if you don’t finish what you start.

Success in anything starts with a determination to finish what you started. No runner ever won a race by lying down on the track 20 feet shy of the finish line. Don’t let mediocrity weaken you… set goals, make a plan, then work the plan.

                  Write them down.
                  Embrace them by faith.
                  Give it your all.
                  Do not be afraid.

If you make your plans for “someday”, just remember this… Someday never comes.

START TODAY!

A promising year will end in a big pile of nothing if you have all of the answers, and never listen to others.

It is what you learn after you know it all that really matters. No one knows less than the “know-it-all”. Be teachable… be humble.

Live out your year with an attitude of defeat… Never take the risk of faith.

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.” ~ Paul (2 Timothy 1:7)

“Greatness, in the last analysis, is largely bravery. Courage in escaping from old ideas and old standards and respectable ways of doing things.” ~ James Harvey Robinson

Taking the risk of faith begins quite simple, requiring just three things… power, love, and a sound mind.

Hopefully, in the process of reading this New Year’s blog, you’ve changed your mind, and have made the decision to make this the best year ever. The future is full of promise, and tomorrow is (as Annie sang) “only a day away”. Using Philippians 3:12 -16 as a model, we can have a simple formula for not just a great year, but a great life as well…

Stay Hungry“not as though I had attained”
Stay Focused“This one thing I do…”
Stay on Course“… forgetting… reaching…”
Stay Determined“I press”
Stay Disciplined“toward the goal”
Stay Open“God will reveal…”
Stay Together“be of the same mind”

So have a great year, my friend, and may faith and the favor of God find you wherever you are.

Pastor Ron