Tag Archive | unity

Living In A World Of Extremes

WorshipIt is pretty apparent that we live in a world of extremes…

Over the past few years, we have witnessed some pretty extreme weather.

We have seen the rise of extreme violence and terror — unlike I have witnessed in my lifetime — because of groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda.

On a daily (hourly) basis this year, we are exposed to the extreme rhetoric of political candidates, vying for the highest office in the land.

We see it all… extreme poverty, extreme hatred, extreme division…

Wouldn’t it be nice to get some extremely good news? Wouldn’t it be great to learn how, in spite of all of the bad news society throws at us, to walk in EXTREME FAVOR?

This year at our Fresh Oil New Wine Conference, we are going to learn how to walk in EXTREME FAVOR! I invite you to register now, and join me as I welcome my friends  Perry Stone, Rabbi Curt Landry, Tommy Bates, Randy Caldwell, Ronnie Phillips, Jr., Dwain Miller and a few more. There will be a Women’s Luncheon on March 9 with Susanne Cox. So much to look forward to! I hope you will join us, and find the EXTREME FAVOR you need to live a Kingdom Life!

Pastor Ron

The Scars Of The Covenant

A dramatization…

Bet She'an2He could not believe his good fortune. He had gone from a young man in hiding to the front of the line, in a manner of speaking. This was relatively unheard of, especially for someone like him, with the physical limitations of being crippled. Yet, here he was… sitting at the table of the king. As he sat eating, he pinched himself for the five thousandth time to make sure this wasn’t a cruel dream – a dream from which he would wake and once again find himself in destitute obscurity.

Ouch!

“Nope… still here”, he mused, taking another bite of the delicacies set before him.

On this particular morning, the king was unusually quiet. The normal laughter and conversation that the king engaged in was replaced by a pensive quiet. The king seemed introspective today – almost sad. As he ate, his perpetual gazing out the window betrayed a mind that was lost in thought, a lifetime away. As the king reached for a piece of fruit, his sleeved slipped down from his wrist. It was then that the young lad noticed it…

A scar.

As the king continued eating, the sight of the scar became a focal point. He knew the king was a fierce warrior, but there was something different about this scar – something that beckoned him to inquire about its origin. In what heated battle did this great man receive this mark? What assailant could have gotten close enough to such a skilled swordsman to make such a mark? It only took a few minutes of his mind racing for his lips to form the words, and his heart to muster the courage to break the silence:

“Sire?” he said, his voice cracking with the single syllable.

“Hmmm? What is it?” came the almost startled reply. Coming back from wherever his mind had wandered, the king shifted his attention to the lad across from him, waiting for his question.

“That scar on your wrist… In what campaign did you receive that wound?” he inquired.

The king paused for a moment, almost as if suddenly being transported back in time to an event of life-changing significance. As he began to rub the wound, a smile crossed his face.

“I received this mark in a campaign that lasted for many, many years,” he said, now turning his full attention to his young inquirer.

“But you are a most skilled warrior, my lord. What fierce enemy could have ever gotten so close as to wound you in such a way? Have I heard of this great warrior in the stories and ballads of our land?” HIs mind was racing, trying to anticipate the answer.

“Enemy?” replied the king, almost laughing. “This mark is not the result of an enemy’s rage-fueled blade. No… this mark came from one I loved more than life itself. I received this wound because of your father.”

The boy was dumbfounded. “My father???”

“Yes… your father. You see, I was a peasant. Your father was the heir to the throne. We were an unlikely pair… the statuesque son of the king, and this ruddy-faced shepherd boy. But when Jehovah chose me to ascend to the throne instead of your father, one would have thought that to be the end of our friendship.”

The king’s face lit up. “But you know what? It only made it stronger!”

“Ours was a covenant that not even death could nullify. Your father recognized the gift Jehovah had placed in me, and he was determined to see me succeed. He was the most unselfish person I ever knew. By birthright, your father should have been the next king, but he put his own ambition aside to see me succeed. I mean, even when your grandfather, the king, wanted to kill me, your father risked his own life, and the wrath of the king, to protect me. This scar is from a time your father and I made a covenant in blood that sealed our destinies. My friendship with your father taught me that we could accomplish more together than either of us could separately. There was power in our unity.”

Just then, the door across the room opened, and a slightly weary queen appeared at the entrance.

“David, there is a matter with your young son that requires your attention,” she stated, trying to remain poised.

The king laughed. “I’ll be right there, my queen.”

King David stood up, wiped his mouth a final time, and turned to his young interviewer.

“Mephibosheth, I want you to understand: Your presence here is the manifestation of the covenant between your father Jonathan and me – the culmination of a life devoted to a friendship both miraculous and wonderful. And just as a prince would (normally) be heir to a throne, you are heir to the promise I made to your father. As I loved him and had his best interests at heart, so I brought you out of Lodebar – a place of no hope – and have made you like a son. My table is your table. All of the wealth of your father is at your disposal.”

With that, King David turned and left the room, leaving Mephibosheth alone with his new-found appreciation, not only of his father, but of the power of the covenant of friendship. (For more on the story of David and Jonathan, see 1 Samuel starting in chapter 18 and continuing into 2 Samuel).

This dramatic account of a very real story illustrates the covenant power of friendship. As the lives of David and Jonathan illustrate the power of unity in friendship, we participate in such relationships on a daily basis:

Our relationship with God (a covenant Jesus died to enforce);

Holy communion (the covenant meal reminding us of our obligations in our covenant with God);

Marriage (the covenant relationship between one man and one woman);

Friendships (who is your “Jonathan”?);

Church membership (we are members of the body of Christ, and in that unity is the manifest power of God at our disposal).

As Jonathan and David found strength and purpose in their friendship, so we have power in the unity of faith with other believers. Think of the promises of Jesus:

“If any two of you agree…” Matthew 18:19

“Where two or three are gathered in my name…” Matthew 18:20

But the miracle power of unity is not just our unity with other believers. It is also our unity with Jesus – it’s a package deal! John 15 spells out in great detail the importance of abiding in Him, as well as loving each other, and the power available to us if we do. The unity of the Spirit creates an atmosphere of peace – nothing broken and nothing missing.

So what are you waiting for? As the tabernacle of David, we must call the broken, crippled, and wayward to the table. We must go to “Lodebar” – the place of no hope – and announce to them that Someone has made an everlasting covenant… a covenant that includes THEM!!!

Who is the “Mephibosheth” you are going to seek out?

Free At Last

Truth

As a follower of Jesus Christ, I believe, with all of my heart, the quote above. The logical converse of this truth is that, without the truth, we cannot be free. Today, I am writing to you in the interest of truth and freedom.

First of all, I would like to begin by saying that we, the American people, are the victims of fraud on an astronomical scale. Over the past 6 years, we have witnessed…

  • The national debt increase from 7 trillion to 18 trillion dollars (and rising);
  • An absolute debacle in foreign affairs, leaving us to restart a war that had already been won;
  • The murder of our Ambassador in Benghazi;
  • The beheading of American citizens by ISIS;
  • The unprecedented betrayal of Israel, one of our greatest allies;
  • The dismissal of 12 of our nation’s top military leaders;
  • The unemployment rate of African-American youth skyrocket to its highest point in history;
  • The elevation of street thugs to heroes. While my generation witnessed men of character like Jackie Robinson, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King, Jr., this current generation has been subjected to the toxic ramblings of race-peddlers, always quick to show up at the site of any potential racial tension, always quick to throw gasoline on the fire.
  • Narrative being elevated above real news. The “media elite” and left-wing press in this nation regularly editorializes what it wants a story to be, instead of the reality of the event in question;
  • A Congress that refuses to hold the President accountable for unlawfully acting against the Constitution;
  • A former Secretary of State who says that we should “empathize with our enemies”.

To empathize means to “think as they think”.

WRONG!

Jesus said “love your enemies”, meaning that love works in order to change them. If our government is going to empathize with anyone, it needs to empathize with…

  • The American middle-class that is being taxed to death while losing income;
  • Those without jobs who are desperately looking;
  • Our underpaid, under-appreciated, and under-supported military;
  • The African-American community that needs jobs, encouragement, and hope instead of empty rhetoric, violence, and death in their communities.

While America has its fair share of problems, America is NOT a racist nation. As someone who grew up in the segregated South during the 50’s and 60’s, I am personally sick and tired of allegations that portray our great nation and our fine people as being something less than what they are. I have witnessed the sweeping changes that have taken place over the last 60 years. I have been a long-time supporter of civil rights, and was present on the streets of Montgomery, Alabama when Dr. King spoke to the crowds there during the Selma-to-Montgomery march. I heard the story of how my father took a stand for a colored friend (and veteran) who could not get a driver’s license simply because he was black. I was there when it cost something to take a stand, and know first-hand what that looks like, so I am deeply troubled when race-hustlers and religious phonies take isolated incidents and try to use them to divide our great nation. I’ve grown weary of a biased news media and White House leadership that are trying to invent crises as a way of grabbing more money and power. Our military as a whole was held up to scorn and ridicule by the media because of the actions of a few renegade soldiers at Abu-Ghraib. Now, we are witnessing those in the highest seats of power attacking our first-responders… the police and national guard. To watch New York City Mayor DeBlasio throw the NYPD “under the bus” was sickening. While there are officers who do things that are questionable or wrong, the vast majority of law-enforcement personnel are men and women of integrity, and I have known, been friends with, and presided over the funerals of such brave public servants. The same criticism can be said of any occupation, including politicians. If I could, I would say to the good mayor, “Mr. DeBlasio, should the people of New York City judge you based on the lack of integrity (or criminal activity) of other politicians around our nation? With no evidence to support an assertion of guilt on your part, would it be fair to lump you in with such names as Boss Tweed, Spiro Agnew, and Rod Blagojevich?”

What I have found is this…

Praying2America is still a great country. A recent study of racism in the world revealed that, out of the 50 participating nations, the United States is one of the least racist nations in the world. In Alabama — the center of the Civil Rights movement in the ’60’s — the Crimson Tide is being quarterbacked by Blake Sims, an African-American. I have followed the career of Dr. Ben Carson, a brilliant neurosurgeon and author. According to Forbes, 7 of the 8 most powerful celebrities in entertainment and sports are African-American, including Beyonce, LeBron James, and Oprah. In our own city (which has had its fair share of racial tension in the past), I’ve watched our children’s sports leagues operate, not on the basis of race, but ability. The church I have pastored for over 35 years is racially integrated. In fact, I have been told by people of color that they do not want to be referred to as “African-American members”, but simply “members”.

Yet, many questions trouble us all these days, and the recent deaths of men such as Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and Trayvon Martin —and subsequent violence and racial division — do not represent the best of America. Certainly, these men were all too young to die, yet I am troubled by the narrative in the public arena.

In the case of Michael Brown, a young man is dead, and a young police officer has lost his career and the life he would have had. Yet, the narrative in the media seeks to make a hero out of someone who was not, and tries to give meaning to a story that is, quite honestly, a tragic moment in time. And now, we have the symbolic gesture of “hands up – don’t shoot” being parrotted by news personalities, sports figures, and politicians… a gesture that has become a rallying point, based on a false narrative (proven false by autopsy reports and witness testimony).

So, while Ferguson, Missouri burns, and the race-hustlers attempt to extend their 15 minutes of fame, spreading their poisonous ideology to other cities to incite more unrest, a darker, more sinister question is hiding in the shadows: Why are the news cameras not rolling on the streets of Chicago, Detroit, and other large urban areas in which blacks are killing blacks, whites are killing whites, Hispanic youth are losing their way, and suicide is reaching epidemic proportions? Where is the concern by the American media for the native Americans living in squalor on neglected reservations?

The problem rests in our homes, churches, and communities. It doesn’t take a village to raise a child… it takes a mother and a father investing their time and their lives in their children. It takes parents who will raise up their children to honor God, love others, respect authority, and do what is right.

Are today’s heroes to be poor street kids involved in petty crimes whose lives end far too soon?

No. Life and death must have more meaning. I think of Medgar Evers, who fought for civil rights, and believed the Gospel of Jesus. Here was a hero who was assassinated in his own driveway, but, by his death, affected civil rights around the world.

What about Rosa Parks?

What about Martin Luther King, Jr., and his belief in non-violence?

What about the courage exhibited in the life of baseball great Jackie Robinson?

Girls2There are thousands of young people of all races whose names are never called. One such young lady was Shirley Martin, the first African-American student in my high school in Alabama. She faced enormous odds, yet won a small victory for equal rights. Shirley gave up her head-cheerleader, homecoming queen status for the cause of racial integration and equality. Books will not be written about her. You won’t find her listed in Wikipedia. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson will never invoke her name. Yet she, and so many like her, are true heroes.

As sad as their stories may be, those who break the law and disrupt society are not heroes, whether they are young, old, law enforcement, civilians, famous ministers, or notorious personalities. A person who incites others to riot based on false pretense and a manufactured narrative is a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”, a charlatan, and a coward. Heroes do real work, make real sacrifices, inspire real promise and hope, and champion real progress.

It is time to join hands and take a stand for truth. It is time for us to lower our hands in surrender, and reach out to help someone different than ourselves. It is time that we reject the shrill voices of hate and division, and allow the words of Dr. King to resonate in our hearts…

I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality… I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word.

It is time to be free at last.

The Tear-Stained Pathway Into His Presence

The phone rang as I stepped out of the shower. As I picked up the receiver, I heard the voice on the other end say, “Mr. Phillips, your wife, Paulette, has been in a little fender bender.” I dressed quickly and jumped in the car.

As I crested a hill on the main highway, I was unprepared for what I saw. Through the rain, I spotted my wife’s little convertible, now a twisted mass of metal. An ambulance stood waiting, and workers were trying to free Paulette from the wreckage. The smell of gasoline was heavy in the air. I tried to get close to the car but was held back by emergency workers. I was frustrated and felt helpless knowing she must be desperately hurt and I was unable to offer comfort. However, God had provided someone at the scene to do that for me. A fireman, at the risk of his own life because of the potential for an explosion, removed a window from the car and climbed in next to Paulette. He covered her with an asbestos blanket, held on to her, and spoke life into her. It was his job to watch her carefully and keep her talking to be sure she wasn’t falling into deep shock.

Twenty-five agonizing minutes passed before the firemen and the Jaws of Life freed her from the car. And we didn’t know it then, but it would be six months before her crumpled body would allow her to return to a normal life. As I ran to Paulette’s side while they hurried her stretcher toward the ambulance, I remembered clearly hearing her say, “Thank You, Lord!” I know that in the midst of that tragedy, God was there, and He provided a wonderful young Christian fireman whose presence comforted my wife in that dark hour. His heroic presence was the touch of God. She felt carried in the Father’s arms.

Paulette returned home from the hospital after two weeks, but life at home was difficult. We had to rely on our extended family, our amazing church family, and heavily on the Lord to carry us through each day.

When tragedy strikes, we find ourselves in need of the assurance of God’s presence more than ever before. To that point in my life, I never needed the Lord more than I did in those first hours and days following her wreck. It is no coincidence that our ascent into the most secret place with God can occur during times of great heartache and tragedy. Tears have a way of driving us from ourselves and into His arms. Who hasn’t cried out in the dark night of the soul for comfort that can only come from Jesus? Expect to find the pathway to His presence stained with the tears of thousands of heartbroken saints before you.

Isaiah, the court prophet, cousin and confidant to King Uzziah, thought he had it all. His cousin king, although a leper, had given the nation peace and hope. Isaiah’s own ministry was one that sternly laid down the law to God’s wayward people. He had angered them, calling them stubborn, ungrateful children, and even went as far as to compare them to “rotten, stinking grapes”! (See Isaiah 5:4.) Surely God was pleased with Isaiah’s obedience in ministry. He surely had the ear and heart of his cousin, King Uzziah. Isaiah is like many of us. When you read the first five chapters of Isaiah, though inspired, you feel that something is missing in his life. There is a lack of hope and only a vague hint of what God is actually up to. Isaiah 6 gives us the turning point—an amazing “alone” experience with God that is vivid and clear.

After Isaiah’s dear cousin died suddenly, Isaiah felt his life collapsing. The hope that had sustained him and the promise of ministry in a peaceful Jerusalem that kept his eyes looking ahead seemed to evaporate. Tragedy is like that. Normally, it will either drive us to God or cause us to run away from Him. But Isaiah made the boldest decision any prophet ever made. He decided to charge into God’s presence! Isaiah turned purposefully toward the temple of Solomon, the three-room structure that housed God’s presence. Beyond the outer court, beyond the candlelit holy place, Isaiah knew there hung a thick veil. Beyond that veil, God promised to be present. However, the rules were clear—only the high priest could step behind the veil; anyone else would be struck down by God! Even the high priest could only enter the holy of holies once a year!

Isaiah came to the place of absolute self-abandonment, just as each of us must approach God. Death no longer mattered to Isaiah. He pushed his way past quiet worshippers and astounded priests to get to God. Isaiah needed help and hope, and had come to the end of his own resources. He was now a candidate for a miracle. He pressed past the veil into the holy of holies. The fearful protesters behind Isaiah no doubt backed away in fear, certain that this crazed man was walking straight into death.

There in the holy of holies, lit by only the Shekinah glory of God, Isaiah did die, in a sense. He died to himself and all of his own ambitions! In this bold step, I believe Isaiah gave up on Isaiah! He met Yahweh, and nothing else mattered. God was in that place, high and lifted up, with His unmatched glory trailing behind Him like the train of royal robes billowing behind a sovereign. Angelic worshippers surrounded the throne crying, “Holy!” The place shook with the voice of the angels. Isaiah 6:1–4 paints a vivid picture of the scene that Isaiah saw when he stepped inside the holy of holies:

In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory!” And the posts of the door were shaken by the voice of him who cried out, and the house was filled with smoke.

At that moment, Isaiah had no choice but to die to his flesh and ambitions. “Woe is me…” he cried, in an expression that could be also translated, “I am doomed!” He understood that even his own mouth, the mouth of a man of God, was unclean. Angels brought cleansing fire to touch his preaching lips, and his life was transformed. Soon he heard the voice of God crying for volunteers to carry His message. “Here am I, send me” (Isa. 6:5–8) cried the transformed Isaiah.

No man can see the Lord and continue living like nothing ever happened! No, the old life will be burned away and a new life will begin. Isaiah stormed into God’s presence in the middle of his pain because he needed answers, comfort, and help. The New Testament puts it this way:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. ~ Galatians 2:20

And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. ~ Galatians 5:24

But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world. ~ Galatians 6:14

In the secret place of God, we come to the end of ourselves. We come as a bride to take on Jesus’s name and nature. When we are willing to die daily, Jesus says to us:

“If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.” ~ Luke 9:23–24

 

~ from the book, The Power of Agreement
by Ron Phillips and Ronnie Phillips, Jr.
© 2014 Charisma House Book Group

The Deception of Diversity

A recent poll revealed an interesting statistic regarding sexual orientation in our nation. A Center for Disease Control and Prevention poll reveals that, when asked regarding sexual orientation, only 1.6% of American adults self-identify as being gay or lesbian, and 0.7% as bisexual.* Yet, the LGBT lobby has become one of the most powerful political lobbies in America.

So, why is that?

Consider this story from the Bible…

      Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. ~ Genesis 11:1-9

God created unity to be a powerful force, but misguided unity can be just as powerful. By His own admission, He knew that, in order to thwart the prideful plan man had devised, He would have to create confusion and disunity. God knew there is great power in agreement…

If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.

By confusing their languages, it brought the building of the Tower of Babel to a screeching halt.

If we take the above statistic and plug it in according to the population of the United States (317 million), that would mean that there are approximately 7,291,000 people who claim to participate in an LGBT lifestyle. Now, contrast that with the fact that there are between 75-100 million people in the United States that claim to be Christians.

So why does the LGBT community seem to have a louder voice than a Christian community more than 10 times it’s size?

It’s all about unity.

Consider a beehive. Science tells us that, in the course of an individual bee’s life, it will produce 1/12th of a teaspoon of honey. However, an average beehive will produce 60 lbs. of honey in a year. Bees “know” that it is not about the individual bee. It is about the entire community working together to complete the task — queen, drones, and workers united for a single task, with everyone performing the function they are made for, not concerning themselves with what they are not meant to do.

The liberal idea of diversity is killing our nation. Liberals think that, in order to be diverse, we must accept everything — unacceptable or not. It is the idea that I must unquestioningly throw my support behind those things that are contrary to my convictions. We have seen it recently in the infamous Hobby Lobby case: The idea that, in the name of anti-discrimination, and “women’s rights“, a family-owned company must sacrifice their own faith-based convictions on the altar of political correctness and diversity. Liberals choose to ignore that real facts (that of the more than a dozen types of birth control Hobby Lobby offers their employees, the only one in question was an abortifacient that ends the life of a fetus), as well as the inherent hypocrisy of a law that, in the name of anti-discrimination, discriminates against people of faith. You cannot sacrifice truth for diversity. You cannot claim to be positively diverse simply because you have a bunch of differing opinions, races, and ideologies. Lack of a distinctive is not constructive diversity… it’s just randomness.

True constructive diversity is different elements working together for a common purpose or good. If a football team was made up of a bunch of punters, you could kick field-goals all day, but you probably would not get close enough to make one. If a baseball team was made up of a bunch of outfielders, who would pitch the ball? In sports, a team is made up of a diversity of talented individuals who all serve a common purpose in differing capacities. A Swiss watch is a precision timepiece made up of a diversity of useful parts, all working together. However, if those parts are not aligned and set up correctly, all you have is a box of junk. An orchestra is a vast array of instruments — some brass, some wooden, some stringed, some percussive — that, when playing a Prokoviev concerto in unity (not to be confused with unison), creates a beautiful, dynamic, and emotionally moving sound. Remember, unison is everyone playing the same part. Unity is many different parts working together for a common goal. World War II General George Patton once said…

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking.

So why is the church not more of an effective voice in our society? Why are we the largest, yet most ignored group in America?

Lack of unity.

We major on the minors. We fight between denominations and church groups. Within our individual churches, we fight over craziness… the color of hymnals, our worship styles, the visions different groups within the church have for the church, parking spaces…

It’s time for the church to stop dying on hills of battle that don’t matter, and look to the One who died on the hill called Calvary. The life and example of Jesus should be the standard by which we all live. The Word of God should be the benchmark for how we relate and confront a society that is bent on removing His Presence and guiding hand from all memory. If we would stop trying to pressure the church down the street into our image, and instead join hands with others of differing styles but the same Lord, the Church of Jesus Christ could once again be a mighty voice for righteousness, goodness, and promise in a society adrift, without a moral compass or hope.

Unity is the beginning of revival! A Church in unity would be a force strong enough to weather any storm, and intriguing enough to attract the hardest heart to the love of Christ.

* http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/health-survey-gives-government-its-first-large-scale-data-on-gay-bisexual-population/2014/07/14/2db9f4b0-092f-11e4-bbf1-cc51275e7f8f_story.html

A Life In Disagreement

This week marks a milestone in my ministry. My son Ronnie and I recently wrote a book together called The Power of Agreement, and this week, it hit the bookstore stands.

Charisma House (our publisher) recently featured an article by Ronnie in their online publication (www.charismamag.com).  I thought, for today’s blog, I would share Ronnie’s article with all of you. Enjoy!

“Can we agree to disagree?”

How many times have you heard that? How many times have you said it yourself? It’s a pretty popular saying, especially in the political and socially diverse environment in which we find ourselves today, but it’s a sad thing when all you have in common with another person is the fact that you disagree. Amos 3:3 says, “Can two walk together, except they are agreed?” (NKJV). That’s kind of the million-dollar question—a question for which I had a resounding answer: Nope.

Growing up in the church, I had more than enough to disagree with. I’m not talking about theology, worship style, legalism or anything related to your admission into the pearly gates. My disagreements were far more simple and personal. As the son of the preacher, my disagreements were with unrealistic expectations placed upon me by those who thought they knew me by virtue of my name. My jumping-off point was with how “good church folk” treated my family (in particular my father) and the abuse we suffered at the hands of such people.

At the ripe old age of 23, I was mad at God, through with church, and living a life that in no way reflected my upbringing as a preacher’s kid. As a result of my poor decisions and the root of bitterness that had me firmly entangled, my relationships were strained, my marriage was a mess, and I was trying to deal with the pain, regret and humiliation of life by hiding inside a bottle. I was working my way up the corporate ladder in my secular job, but beyond that, everything else was crashing around me.

Yet in spite of the disagreements, fights, feuds and other assorted turmoil I had put my dad through, I still had to admit that he was my best friend. While I had done my best to push him away, my father, the son of an alcoholic-father-turned-church-deacon, knew what it was to be cast aside, knew the power and price of redemption, and knew that the best way to win over the object of your disagreement is with love.

Now, the problem with any disagreement is that the vast majority of the time, someone is in the right and someone is in the wrong. It pretty much went without saying that based on my lifestyle, I was wrong—although my dad would also be quick to admit he was not without fault. Still, I hung on to my bitterness and anger like a lifeline and refused to give an inch. I refused, that is, until I found myself on the bathroom floor—a total wreck—crying out and yelling at God. After consuming an inordinate amount of alcohol and a screaming match with my wife, I had collapsed on the floor of our bathroom late one night. Totally freaked out, she knew of nothing else to do than to call my father. I challenged her to do so, thinking he wouldn’t come. Ashamed and confused, I had no use for myself anymore. I figured he didn’t either.

In the middle of one of the darkest nights of my life, there was a knock at my door. It was my dad.

My initial reaction to seeing him was a hate-filled rant that quickly devolved into the cry of the prodigal. Once the angst-filled rebel gave way to the worn-down prodigal, the next couple of hours were filled with cries of remorse, tears of forgiveness, and promise—the promise of healed relationships and renewed commitment to my family, my heavenly Father and the calling He had placed on my life.

Someone smarter than me once said that the problem with running from God is that usually you end up running into Him. Living a life of disagreement with the godly people God has placed in our lives and being forever at odds with our gifts and calling will only lead to ruin and an up-close-and-personal view of the bathroom floor.

Is there happiness in disagreement? Sure. Even the Bible alludes to that in passages like Hebrews 11:25: “He [Moses] chose to be mistreated along with the people of God rather than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin” (NIV).

However, the momentary happiness that a self-serving life brings pales in comparison to the life lived in agreement with the call of God. Pleasures lose their luster. Riches lose their value. Prestige lasts until the next shiny new employee comes along. The only life that has any lasting, eternal value is the one lived for Christ.

Now, years later, I’ve left the parties with my friends for the peace and contentment of my family. I’ve given up the life of egotistical and selfish disagreement for agreement and harmony with my fathers (earthly and heavenly). I traded in the confinement of self-imposed loneliness and unworthiness for the wide-open spaces of promise and hope that only a life in agreement with God’s call can bring.

And I wouldn’t trade it for the world.