Sunday, June 28, 2015

A sad message from the Lord for America.

Thus saith the Lord God of heaven and earth:

When you were young and new, you delighted in my word and I protected you.
When you had trouble, you sought me with your whole heart and I delivered you.
But you prided yourself in the blessings I gave you. You took credit for the prosperity I gave you.
You turned from my ways and followed after other gods, which are no gods at all.
I sent messagers to you, time and time again, but you vilified and ignored what they said to you.
I lowered my hand of protection and allowed your enemies to attack you and for a short season you sought me.
But, in short order, you turned your back on me again and swore to rebuild yourselves better and greater than you were before: as if it were you, and not I, that prospered and protected you.
I sent more messengers to you and still you did not hear.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

A sad day. It's time for heavy prayer.

Acts 1:13-15King James Version (KJV)

13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)

Acts 2:1-4King James Version (KJV)

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 17:6King James Version (KJV)

And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also;

This is a sad day in the United States. Riots are breaking out in many cities. Racism is being fomented and stoked by people bent on subverting the founding principles of this country. And it seems likely that the Supreme Court will soon legalize same sex marriage- an abomination in the eyes of God. 
Virtuous things are being tossed aside and immorality and illegal behaviors are being lifted up as normal. 
Good people are being vilified by the media AND the courts. Evil seems to be having free reign. It is entirely possible that Christians here will soon have the same choices that many of us have had over the centuries: Bow to ungodliness or risk beatings, imprisonments, or worse. 
What's a Christian to do? 
Well, it is a time for prayer. In the Bible, whenever God's people were threatened or suffering or scared, they prayed. They prayed in their homes. They gathered together and prayed. They prayed until they touched heaven and God unleashed his supernatural power. Then, they would take that same God and his power to the streets and (one life at a time) they began to change their culture. 
Many lives were changed. Many souls were saved. 
This is the only hope for America. In fact, this is the only hope for the world. 
It will not be easy. Even those that took that power to the streets, suffered. Many were beaten. Many were killed. But, lives were changed through their obedience to God and refusal to give into the evil culture they were in.
We have prayed for real revival for many years. Study the scriptures. Real revival almost always came in times of extreme persecution- and through God performing the miraculous up to and including killing false believers and ungodly political leaders. GOD did that- not his people. 
If ever our world needed a healthy dose of the fear of God and the moving of his spirit- it is today. 
We may not be able to change the direction of the whole world, but we can make a difference and take some folks with us to heaven as we go. 
I took down my American flag today from off my home. I did it in part because there are rumors of gangs killing whole families who fly the flag on their homes. But, the main reason I took it down is because, though I love my country and the Constitution it is based upon, I cannot be proud of what America has become. 
The scripture declares that a nation that lifts up evil cannot stand (my paraphrase). I will not support the leaders we have now that are sacrificing our freedoms and destroying the Godly principles our nation was built upon. 
I am not advocating physical war: though I believe strongly a second civil war is well on it's way. What I am advocating is hitting our collective faces in deep prayer and fasting in supplication to the only being who can make a real difference in our ungodly world: Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. 
I pray you will join me. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

Why do some bear more fruit than others?

Matthew 13:8-9King James Version (KJV)

But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.
Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.
We recently moved to a much more rural (or as I would prefer to call it- country) area. Directly across from our home is a corn field. In fact, while driving around in this area, I have seen many corn fields. The vast majority of the corn in these fields seems to be doing just fine to my untrained eye.
However, the other day, I noticed something odd. On the edges of these fields there was corn growing that seemed to not quite be in the fields themselves. The soil around these areas seems different than the soil where the majority of the corn was growing. Why does this matter, you ask? Because the corn plants that were a little out of the field looked healthy enough. But, the plants were much smaller and it was obvious that they would not produce as much corn as the ones who were in the normal field. 
What was the difference? Apparently the soil around the smaller plants was good soil. If it wasn't good soil, it wouldn't grow, right? I'm no farmer, but I asked the Lord to explain this to me and the phrase he brought to my heart in reference to the smaller plants was this: fallow ground. 
Immediately, I remembered a part of this scripture: 

Hosea 10:12King James Version (KJV)

12 Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the Lord, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.
What is fallow ground? 
In the Hebrew in this passage it means: tillable or untilled or fallow ground. 
In Websters dictionary's first definition it means: cultivated land that is allowed to lie idle in the growing season.
This is tillable land. It is land that could be used for crop growth. But, for one reason or another, it was not tilled. So, the soil was not broken up. It is hard and unyielding. It is amazing that any seed took root there at all. 
The farmer starts tilling the land, before the crops are planted. This breaks up the hard surface, removes rocks, kills insects and parasites, etc. He then goes behind that with fertilizer. Where we live, that means spreading manure mixed in water over the plowed area. (I don't have to tell you how wonderful the smell is when the wind blows over that field towards our home at that time.) 
He then lets it soak in for a couple of weeks. Afterwards, he re-tills and fertilizes it again. Then, he makes his rows and plants his seeds. 
In the case of the corn growing in this fallow ground, apparently the seed must have fallen in a crack, or a small hole. Since the soil below the hard surface was good soil, it took root. But, the rains and farmers watering doesn't soak into the fallow ground as well as the plowed up ground. The plant does grow. But, at a slower place, to a shorter height, and it will yield a smaller crop. 
To the soil (if you will allow me a little poetic license here), the plowing, the fertilizing, and the re-plowing are not pleasant experiences. It's not fun to be tossed and turned, broken and beaten, and (worst of all) "messed on." But, the process is a necessary one if the soon planted seed is to grow and give a maximum yield. 
The fallow soil doesn't endure these things. It is, in a sense, shielded by it's hard surface. It is isolated and somewhat lonely- being apart from the tilled ground. But, without enduring the tilling process, the seed that it gains isn't able to grow as well. Growing at all, in fact, is a fight for survival. Many of these seeds do die. But, some of them grow and have a reduced yield. 
Scripture tells us to: 

1 Peter 4:12-13King James Version (KJV)

12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:
13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.
And again: 

James 1:3-4King James Version (KJV)

Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.
But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.
Many of us are like the fallow ground. We are good ground. We want to live for God. We want to bear fruit for our Lord. But, we don't allow ourselves to be fully tilled and fertilized so that his seed can grow unhindered. 
But, unlike earthly ground, the ground of our hearts has a choice.  It's not fun to be messed on by others. It's tough when our hearts are broken by the tilling of problems in this life. 
We can choose to allow God to take us through the hard times- to be broken and contrite before him. We can allow ourselves to be dumped on and accept our suffering, for we know we will one day bear much fruit for our Lord. 
Our trials can either make us better, or bitter. If we become bitter, we become hard. If we become bitter, it's hard for the water of God's word to seep through our crusty ground and water the seeds he's planted in us. 
I can't speak for you, but I'm tired of struggling to grow. I'm worn out by fighting the circumstances God has allowed in my life to allow his seed to bear a hundred fold. I'm not satisfied with the thirtyfold, or even the sixtyfold production in my life. 
I want my ground broken and tilled and well fertilized. That way, the water and nutrients he provides will sink deep down within me and help his seed to grow. I want to give my Lord maximum yield. 
How about you? 
There's no guarantee that his seed will grow if our heart is hard and un-tilled. It may, but are you really satisfied with returning so little to him who gave so much for us? 
I'm not. And I don't believe you are either. 

Saturday, June 13, 2015

A personal note: Please forgive me.

Matthew 5:22-24King James Version (KJV)

22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

This blog is very personal (and very difficult to write). The temptation here is to rattle off a bunch of things that others have done to me and my family and then say, "I forgive you." To many people, that would seem noble and magnanimous. But, it would be wrong. 
I can't do anything about what others have done against us. All I can do is forgive them and pray for them. But, what I can do is follow the scripture. Jesus says, " if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift."
I need to be closer to God. I need God's blessings on my family and our ministry. But, rather than point fingers at others, my job is to ask others to forgive me. Though I have repented of my past, there are many folks that I have hurt along the way. 
So, to the people I have angered (or been angry at), I'm sorry. Please forgive me. To the pastors and churches that we have helped, but then left in anger for one reason or another, I'm sorry. Please forgive me. To my family for all the wrong decisions I've made and actions that I've taken. I'm sorry. Please forgive me. 
To the brothers and sisters in the Lord, who, through my actions and words, have been hurt, or disillusioned, or angered, I'm sorry. Please forgive me. To the first church I pastored and failed. Please forgive me. 
To my wife, for all the times I failed you, I'm so very sorry. Please forgive me. To my daughters, for all the times I wasn't a good Dad and spiritual leader, I'm sorry. Please forgive me. To my sons for not being there for you at times when you needed me, I'm soooo sorry. PLEASE forgive me. 
Most of all, to my Lord and savior Jesus Christ. For all the times I've wallowed in self pity, gotten puffed up in pride and anger, dove off into old habits out of frustration, doubted your provision and tried to do it myself, I'm so so so sorry! Please forgive me, Lord. 
And you are my Lord. My supreme controller. From here on out, I give it all to you to do with as you will. If I never preach, sing, or write another word, I'm yours. As the old song says, "Here's my cup Lord. Fill me up Lord." Please heal the wounds I've left in all those I've left behind.