19 November, 2014

The Day I Met "Charlie"

This week I've had several people asking me, "is this stuff real?". They are referring to the God encounters... the God set ups and the miraculous. I had someone Sunday tell me they were having doubts. Monday I had someone asking me if the story was true about meeting the young man downtown. After posting yesterday's story about the set up where I met up with Bobby, my friend I've not seen in more than 30 years, I've had a couple people message me and telling me that they just could not believe my stories. One of these people has been a friend for many years and she told me that while she believed in God, she just found my stories too much to be true and she asked me if I could prove it. Well, as I said, Bobby did not give me his phone number, so unless he contacts me (which I believe he will) and he gives me permission to use any identifying information, I cannot "prove" this happened. But as God always does, he does provide a way. Yesterday, when I posted the story, a former church member of mine commented on that story. It just so happens that in the summer of 1993, I met this woman in the exact same manner... a God set up.  So today, I'm going to share the story of the day I met "Charlie." I'm taking an chance and believing that "Charlie" will identify herself by commenting on this with her real name. Let me add this one slight disclaimer. It has been 21 years, so it is possible that with the passage of time, my memory may not be 100% accurate, so I am going to invite "Charlie" to make any corrections to the story, because I want it to be the absolute truth.  Here goes. Hope this does it for those of you who have doubts and those who have insinuated that I simply make this stuff up.
The story of how I met "Charlie".

In the June of 1993 my family moved to Danville, Il to pastor the Bowman Avenue Church of God. This church was small and struggling. When we arrived we had 18 people attending, which included my wife and I and our soon to be 3 year old son. Our daughter was born 2 weeks after we moved there. The church only had older people in it, with the youngest members (other than my own family) being the previous pastor who had just retired. We were working to grow the church, and God was blessing us. My people were some of the greatest people I've ever known, just full of love and willing to do what ever needed to be done. Their age did limit in some areas, but they did what they could. I asked them for the names of people to contact and told them that I would begin praying over those names and ask God to prepare those hearts and to set up times that I could meet them. Some of them gave me names, and one of the ladies, named Paula told me about a woman named Charlie who used to attend there and but had not been for quite a long while. She told me that Charlie worked at Sirloin Stockade. I added her to my prayer list. (I know this is long, but it all is necessary to set up the story, so bear with me.) 

Later that summer I was driving north out of Danville, on my way to Bismarck, IL where I was supposed to visit with one of my members. As I got to the last stop light before you go out of town, as clear as you can imagine, I heard the Holy Spirit tell me to go to Sirloin Stockade, which was just through that light on the right hand side. Now, I had literally just finished eating lunch at the Wiener Works. (Those of you who know me well know of my passion for hot dogs.) I ignored what I was hearing thinking that it made no sense. I drove down the road and I heard again to go back to the Stockade. I kept driving and I heard again, to go there and suddenly my car began to sputter and stalled. I pulled off the road, started the car and turned around, thinking I'd better get the car checked out. When I turned around, the car ran fine. When I got near the stop light, I again heard, "Go into the Sirloin Stockade."  I turned in and I was thinking, "God, this is really weird." I sat in my car for a couple of minutes praying asking God what this was all about. I heard again, "Go inside." I reluctantly went in, and stood in the corner of the room near the door for several minutes saying, "now what?"  I heard, "go order something to eat."  I was like, "but I'm not hungry!" I heard again, "go order something to eat."  So, reluctantly I finally went up and ordered a meal. I did not order the buffet and the guy at the counter thought I was crazy. I mean, everyone goes to SS for the buffet; right?
So, I take my tray and go sit in a booth, and being totally honest, I was not happy. I'm arguing with God at this point, asking him why I was there, why he made me buy a meal that I was not going to eat... wasting money that I really did not have. 

At about this point, God's plan unfolded. I'm sitting there, having myself a little melt down being mad at God when a server walks up. She was very polite, but then asked me with kind of a funny tone in her voice if I was all right. I don't remember exactly what I said to her, but then she said, "Well, my name is Charlie. If I can be of any service to you, just let me know."  It did not click at first, and she turned to walk away. Suddenly I said, "Charlie! You're Charlie?" She looked really surprised and asked, "Do I know you?" I said, "No... I'm your new pastor." Her face went absolutely blank at first, and then just lit up. "Charlie" is one of those people whose entire face smiles when she smiles. You know, eyes twinkle, cheeks glow and grinning from ear to ear. She plopped down in the seat across from me and said, "God sent you to me!"  She went on to tell me how that she had been really struggling in her walk with God for awhile and that literally that very morning before going to work she had been praying and said to God, "I need a pastor!" We sat and talked for awhile and she told me how that she had seen me standing in the corner, as she put it, "looking like you were lost or something." She said that she had seen me there for several minutes and wondered just what was wrong with me. Several times in our conversation she said, "God sent me a pastor!"  

I won't go into all the rest of it for times sake, but "Charlie" and her boyfriend started attending our church and shortly after our meeting her boyfriend gave his life to Christ. They became very dear friends, and a key part of our church. As it turned out, they literally lived about 4 blocks from me and I had to drive by their house every day to get in or out of my neighborhood. Funny that I'd never met them before, but God has his way and his timing.  

Charlie... if you would, I'm asking for you to do me this favor, as a witness to those who are struggling with doubt and proof to those who simply do not believe... would you mind commenting on this to verify this account?  I'm asking, if you would, to comment here on the Blog rather than Facebook (or you can do both) so that it is there for everyone to see, that our God is real and that he does do these things I am speaking about. Again, if I have any of this wrong, or there is more that you remember, please feel free to share.

By the way, I know the skeptic may say I and my friend just cooked up this story. First, let me say that this woman and I have seen each other, if memory serves me correctly, twice in the past 18 years and have not spoken to each other in at least 4 years now, other than a quick comment or two on Facebook. Right Charlie?

18 November, 2014

Thank You God For Messing Up My Plans Again

I had another one of those "set ups" that could only have come from God today. Some would say chance or coincidence, but there is just no way that this was not orchestrated by God Himself. My wife has a conference that she must be at in Springfield on Wednesday and she is riding with co-workers, leaving Peoria at about 6:00 AM Wednesday. I suggested last night that she pack a bag and spend the night with our son who lives in Peoria so that she would not have such a long day. She agreed and got up early this morning to pack a suitcase. About 25 minutes after she left, I went to the kitchen to get a cup of coffee, and there by the door was her suitcase. I was not very happy because this was going to mean at least 2 hours out of my day to drive it down to her. I was fighting a headache this morning, so I waited to leave around 11:00 when I was feeling a bit better.  So I drove over to Peoria and on the way I called to see where Libby had parked her car so that I could put the bag in it. She asked if I could wait because she had something she wanted me to take home. So, I sat out in the parking lot for about 15 minutes waiting until she could get away. (If you don't know me well, let me tell you, I struggle with patience. I'm always getting worked up because I'm always in a hurry.) 

By this time I thought I might call my son to see if he could get away for lunch but he was not going to be able to go until almost 2:30, so I nixed that idea. I had decided to run by Sam's Club to pick up a few things since I was already in Peoria, so I went and did that and was going to head back for home. When I went to check out, there was a problem with my membership card. They were showing that I had not renewed and I knew that we had just recently paid. It took them almost half an hour to get the problem straightened out. By this time, I was not only not a happy camper, I was getting hungry. I decided to go eat at a BBQ place I like over there, but on the way to that place, I saw Culver's and decided that it would be much quicker, so I went there. 

When walked in Culver's the employees were all extremely polite but there was some sort of a problem with the coffee maker, which for some reason required everyone working to come try to figure it out, leaving all of us customers standing at the counter.  They took so long before they came to wait on us that a couple of people in front of my walked out of the store rather than continue to wait. Again, they were very polite when they came and took my order as well as when they brought my food out. In fact, they were so polite that I found myself thinking that in many cities (I'm not naming any... just use your imagination) they would not be able to find that many polite young people to work in the restaurant. But while I was waiting, I looked at my watch a few times thinking, "What is the hold up?" I grabbed my cell phone and checked my messages and then "checked in" on Facebook about  where I was. 

Right after I did the check in, a man walked through the door and instantly I knew him. I looked for a probably a minute and a half before I finally walked up to him and said, "Excuse me... your name would not happen to be Bobby; would it? He looked at me like he was searching me over and then finally said, "Dago?" I was just stunned. I had not seen this man since November 2, 1982 when we were in prison together. He was only 31 and I 23 last time we saw each other, but I just knew this was him. He came and sat with me for a few minutes and ate before he had to leave, but that few minutes was all that was needed and I knew why I was there in Peoria. It was very obvious when I saw him that he was sick, and he told me that he is dying of Kaposi's Sarcoma. Bobby was just floored that I was a preacher. He said that he always figured I'd "grow out of that religous stage" (as he put it) and go back to my old ways. I told him that it was not a stage and what God had done in my life and just how blessed I am. Bobby's head dropped and he said, "Damn Dago, I wish I'd listed to you way back then." He shared how his life has been in and out of jail and a list of other things. I told him that our running into each other today was not an accident, and that I believed God had set the whole thing up. I told him what all had happened to get me to that particular restaurant at that time. I told him that now matter where he'd been or what he had done, it was not too late to give his life to Jesus. He was open to hearing what I had to say, but was still not ready to accept Christ.  He allowed me to pray for him though. As we left each other, he was really searching for answers and did not know what to do. He would not give me his number, but he took mine and promised to call me soon. If you have not put it together yet, my friend is gay and is dying from AIDS. He has a partner and his mind is just swirling because he does not know what to do right now. He says he can't ask Jesus into his life and then continue living this way. I told him that he needs to take this one step at a time and let God work this out for him. I'm believing that Bobby is going to call on the Name of Jesus. I'm asking all my readers to please lift him up in prayer and that the Holy Spirit would draw him and that he would answer.

16 November, 2014

Those God "Set Ups"

I had to run to make bank deposits about 9:00 tonight, and with this weather, I really did not want to get out. It's so cold that the window would not roll down on my van, which did not make me a happy camper because I had to get out in the cold to make the deposits. I made the first one at Tompkins and then drove to Wells Fargo on Henderson and let's just say, I was not happy when I got out, walked up to the night deposit and saw the sign telling me the night deposit was out of order and that I could go downtown to make a deposit. There really was not much of a choice, so I drove downtown... grumbling all the way. When I arrived I got out and made my deposit, and as I turned around and there was this young man walking through downtown wearing only a hoodie for a coat. I offered him a ride and at first he was not going to take it, but I convinced him that he really needed to get out of the cold. It was 12 degrees and the windchill is below zero. As we drove he thanked me and told me he was trying to find a friend who had promised to let him stay at his house but had locked him out. He had a number for the guy so I let him use my phone and he got hold of him but he was going to be at least another hour before he got home to let him in. I told him I could not stay with him that long, but offered to take him to McDonald's to get a cup of coffee and he could wait for his friend to get home. His expression said it all, so I told him that I'd buy. When we got there, I bought him something to eat, after arguing with him about whether or not he was hungry. After we got his food, I told him that I really had to run, but asked if I could pray for him before I left. He looked a little bewildered and said, "I guess so." I just prayed a simple prayer over him and asked God to watch out for him, protect him and to reveal Himself to him in a real way. When I had prayed he looked at me with tears welling up in his eyes and said, "Mister, you must be an angel or something." I told him that I was no angel, but that God had sent me by with a simple message, to tell him that God loved him. He said to me, "For the first time in a long time, I believe that."

As I got back in my van to drive home, I thought back to church this morning when I prayed over my church that God would give us all what I call "God set ups", where he puts us in the right place at the right time to meet someone where we can speak words of life to them. I'm convinced this was one of them. Normally my wife has the deposits ready in the afternoon on Sunday, but today was different. I started to make them a little earlier tonight, but decided to get something else done first. I did not have a clue, but the delays were God setting me up for an appointment. The broken bank deposit? God seeing to it that I'd be downtown, at just the right moment to see that young man walking down Cherry Street. God loves that young man enough to orchestrate my entire day for that one moment that I might have an encounter, feed him and tell him that God loves him. 
Yeah... God cares that much for us all. I challenge each of us who call themselves followers of Christ to open our eyes and look for those "God set ups" that he is continually orchestrating in our lives.

13 November, 2014

Well, I Am Now a False Teacher and Heretic

I had a rather strange encounter this morning. I had received a phone call from someone who was having a major life crisis and they asked if I could meet them. We agreed to meet in a restaurant close to her home and were having coffee and talking about her situation. This woman is not a professing Christian, but does have some background in church. I was trying to give her some sound advice to her situation but was stressing to her that her real need was Jesus. She had many questions and I was trying to answer them for her and was giving her scripture to back up what I was saying. She told me that she had a difficult time understanding the Bible. I had my iPad with me and began to read her some of the same scripture passages from the Contemporary English Translation. She really liked that and said she could comprehend it much better. I helped her to download that Bible version on her phone that she would have it and we talked for awhile longer and I prayed with her before she left.  As I was getting ready to leave, an elderly man stopped me and asked if I could spare a few minutes. I could tell by his tone that he was, lets just say, "less than happy." I agreed, got myself another cup of coffee and sat down with him and his wife praying under my breath that God would help me because I could just sense this was not going to be pleasant. I was right. 

The man started in with, "I know you were trying to help that young lady, but you were damning her soul with that newfangled Bible you were reading. That's demonic and you are deceived!"  I just let him go on for a little bit as he gave me a lecture for several minutes how that the King James Version of the Bible is the only true Bible and everything is is demonic. I have had these "discussions" many times down through the years, but some of the stuff this guy was saying took the cake.  For one thing, he told me that the KJV was the "Authorized" version. (Stressing "AUTHORIZED") I said, "Yeah; so?" He said, "That's blasphemy!"  I asked, "What is?" He went into a rage that I was mocking what God had authorized.  I said to him "Sir, you do realize that it was not God who authorized the KJV, but it was King James who authorized the translation. Right?"  I thought he was gonna climb out of his skin right there in Hardees! I showed him in his own Bible what I was talking about and he accused me of being "a pawn of Satan out to deceive the true church." I should have left right there... but I didn't. I asked him if he thought that the King James Version was the only true Bible and he said "absolutely, I do!"  So I pointed across the room to some people who were Hispanic and I asked him what they were to read? He told me they needed to learn English like God intended. I was blown away. So I asked him about people in Russia. He said they needed to learn English. So I asked him if what He was saying to me was that God only spoke Sixteen hundreds English, and he said that was a fact. So I asked him if that was what God spoke, then why didn't Jesus speak it?  He screamed, "He did! Can't you read the Bible?" 

At this point I was in uncharted waters. I've never had anyone in 30 years of ministry try to argue that one with me before. I could not let it go. I just had to ask. I asked him if he was telling me that all the people in Biblical times spoke English and he said, "Sonny, it's in the Bible! If you'd stop listening to these newfangled teachers and put your nose in the Bible, you might know a thing or two!"  I knew this was a hopeless cause at this point, so I told him that I appreciated his concern, but I was just fine believing what I believed and wished them both a fine day. As I walked away he said, "You are going to burn in Hell for your Bible twisting ways young man! Repent!"

I truly just don't even know what to say. 

11 November, 2014

So, How's That Working Out For You?

I have a friend, who I love dearly who has been "struggling" to find God. I put that in quotes, because that is her word to describe where she is at. Let me say up front that I discussed this with her this morning as we were chatting online and I asked her for permission to use our conversations in my blog, so I'm not betraying a confidence. I'm not going to use any information that might even hint at who this person is... so please spare me the nasty messages about doing so folks. I have her blessing. I pretty well told her what I intended to write, and she is fine with it, so long as I don't "set her out there" by identifying her.   The thing is, as I have told her many times over the past several years, is that she is trying to "find God" on her terms. She wants God... or rather she wants the peace of God, the blessings of God and the assurance of Heaven, BUT... she does not want to let go of the things of the world. We've discussed this over and over and our conversation usually goes something like this. 
She will tell me how broke she is, how tired she is of being alone and feeling depressed.  She will say that she needs to get closer to God, and she knows it. 
I'll say to her, "So, what are you waiting for?"  Her response is typically to offer up several excuses, then to say, "I guess I'm just not ready yet." I'll ask, "What is it you are not ready for?"  We'll banter back and forth for a bit and I'll say, "You're not ready to give up control of your life... not ready to surrender."  She typically gets defensive here for a bit, but then admits that she is still trying to work out her own problems and trying to find the answers. And every time we reach this place, I will always say to her, "So, how's that working out for you?"  She typically fires back some half humorous, yet profane response back at me and then will add, "Why do you always have to be right?" My response is always something about how it is not me that is right, it is God's plan and standard that he expects.

At this point, many people will be ready to say, "Now you are getting religious!"  Let me say to anyone who feels this way, that religion has gotten a bad name and it is wrong. Let me be the first to say that what God desires of us is personal relationship. There is NO question about that. But we also need to understand that there are rules to that relationship. God's Word tells us that He is a jealous God and that He will not share His glory with another. Now, some might say they don't have another god, but hang with me for just a moment and I'll try to show you how that you do by using my conversations with my friend.

My friend and I have had this conversation more times than I can count, where she tells me how she loves God, loves Jesus and wants to please God. I'll say, "When is the last time you went to church?"  Rather than a direct answer she will tell me how she is just too tired on Sunday and that is her one day to sleep in. So I'll ask her why she does not try going to bed earlier on Saturday night so that she gets plenty of rest. Her response is that Saturday is the one night that she gets to go out with her friends and "let her hair down." (read "drink")  So I will say, "It is more important to you that you have your night out than going to worship God."  She will try to argue how that is not true, but the facts are clear. I'll ask her how much money she spends one or two Saturdays per month when she "lets her hair down". She has said many times that she really cannot afford what she spends, but this is her one source of enjoyment.  So, I'll point out that she is always complaining about how broke she is, always too tired to do anything on Sunday... and you can't see where the problem is?  (Here I get cussed at again.)  

The point to my friend and to anyone reading this is pretty simple... you're love for selfish and worldly pleasure points to one clear fact... you worship yourself more than you worship God.  You can argue it all you want, but the fact that you choose those activities over worshiping God tells me who your god is.  You can argue that you love God all you want, but when you can't make time for God, then you don't love Him. How long do you think you'd stay in a human relationship if you treated that person the same way? There is no relationship there. Words do not a relationship make. Actions speak louder than words. If you love God, then make room for Him.  You can keep doing things your way, and I'll keep asking the same question: "So... how's that working out for you?"   

10 November, 2014

It's A Matter of Faith

Just sitting here wondering why people who claim not to believe in God get so worked up and bent out of shape when someone who does believe in God expresses that belief. If a person truly does not believe in God, then why would they care if someone else does? They can think what they want, but when they get argumentative, vulgar and make a big scene when someone expresses their faith in God, they expose the truth of their heart. They either do believe in God or are very uncertain of what they believe and that is why they must try to tear down our belief. The more they scream, the more they admit their fear that they are wrong. Why else would they care? Why fuss over something you do not believe in if you are convinced that there is nothing to it. Obviously, they are not convinced. Just saying.

31 October, 2014

The Only Way to Freedom

Many years ago I read a story in a newspaper in which the told of a prisoner in Australia who was in the county jail awaiting to be transferred to the State Prison. He was facing a lengthy sentence and knew that if he was going to escape, he had to do it from the county jail. He began to plan a daring escape. The day came when he executed his plan flawlessly by crawling under a delivery truck parked at the prison receiving dock. He clung to the bottom of the truck and rode it out of the front gates of the prison. He held on for dear life to the bottom of that truck as it drove down a major highway for about 20 minutes or so. Finally the truck began to slow down and when it came to a complete stop, the man quickly let go of his grip and dropped to the ground. As fast as he could he rolled out from under that truck to freedom.  As he stood up he was stunned to find that he was inside the walls of the state prison, five miles from the county jail from where he had come from.  

You know, a lot of times it really seem that life is like that, doesn’t it?  Life boxes us in and we get to a point where we feel imprisoned by our fears, or anxieties… our guilt and shame. These pressures seem to wall us in emotionally and spiritually, and we begin to desperately search for a way out. We try one thing after another, trying to escape, only to discover that we're just moving ourselves from one prison to another, one anxiety to another. We might try friends or relationships. Some might try drinking or drugs or even risky behavior, trying to find a release from the pressure we are under and the wall that are closing in on us. And with each “escape attempt” that fails, those wall get even tighter, higher and thicker and there just seems to be no way out. The reality is, there is no way out… except for Jesus. It does not matter what elese you try, or how many times you try it, eventually it is going to lead to the same dark, cold and lonely place. The sooner we learn this and we give up our folly, the sooner we will find the only real purpose and fulfillment that there is to find I this life. Yes, those things work for a season, but the end result is always the same. We’re just riding from prison to prison, thinking we are free, but when we stop and look around and discover that all we’ve done is exchange one prison for another. Only Jesus can set us free. And he whom the Son sets free is free indeed. 

28 October, 2014

The Deception Grows Deeper Day By Day

I'm not exaggerating to say that almost every day, at least 5 to 6 times per week I have someone calling me "judgmental" or  a hypocrite because I will not agree with them and their individualized gospel that they have come up with. Today alone, three people have said something very similar to this. Two of them were on Facebook and one was a telephone call this evening. One of these people has been a friend since high school and she was irate with me. She told me that I'm losing friends left and right because I always have to feel like I am right and that I cannot respect other people's religions. I told this person that 1) It was not me that was right, it was the Bible, and 2) Not one of these people who have gotten mad at me are from "another religion." All of of them "professed" to be Christians.  She said that it's the same thing. No, it's not. When we call ourselves Christian, it implies that we have become BORN AGAIN, that we have died to our selves, our own will and plans and we surrender our lives to Christ, so that He can live in us and work through us. She said, "that's your opinion." No, my friend, that is not my opinion. That is what being a Christian is. Anything less than that is NOT being a Christian. I can tell everyone that I'm 28 years old, that I'm independently wealthy and live in a mansion. Saying it or claiming it does not make it so. Even if I really BELIEVED those things does not make them so. The FACTS are that I am 55 years old, I am relatively poor and I live in a house that is about 130 years old and looks it. You may say that is a silly illustration, but folks, believing you are a Christian because you believe in Jesus and go to church once in awhile (or even every Sunday) does not make you a Christian. To be saved is not to believe in Jesus. The Devil himself and all of the demons in Hell believe in Jesus. It takes more than belief. It takes surrender.  And once we are saved *Born Again (which means we died and started over with a new life in Christ) then we turn from our old way of life and walk in a new way. It's called obedience to God's Word. If we are not walking in obedience, then it means we are rebelling from God's Word and the Bible very clear tells us that rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft.  I hear it all the time, "I may not believe the way you do, but I believe." Some say that they and God have an understanding. That is utter foolishness. The Bible says clearly that no man comes to God except through Jesus, which means we do it His way or we don't do it at all. Go ahead, get mad at me, because I would rather you hear the truth and be mad at me than stand back and keep my mouth shut and be guilty of not telling you the way of salvation. This stuff of "I choose to do it my way" is a road marked for Hell. I'm sorry, but it is. When you choose to do it your way, you reject God's way, and there is no middle ground... it is Heaven or Hell. 

Go on... post on Facebook now that I'm being judgmental again. The fact is, I'm not. I'm laying out the clear Biblical truth and when you reject the truth, you judge yourself. You will stand before God one day and utter your words, "I chose to do it my way" and he will say that he never knew you. That's not me being judgmental... that's what His Word, the Bible says. I love you enough to risk making you mad and losing your friendship with the truth because what some of you don't realize is that we are talking about eternity here, and that is no laughing matter.

21 October, 2014

Rattlesnake Logic

I received this tonight and wanted to pass it on.
Pay attention folks!

Rattlesnake Logic....
After the Boston bombing the news media spent days and weeks trying to determine why these men did what they did.
They want to know what America did to make these brothers so angry with us. They want to know why these men were not arrested before they did something so terrible.
The media is in a tizzy about this new era of homegrown radicals and about why and how they can live among us and still hate us.

A friend of mine from Texas explained it all to me: “Here in west Texas, I have rattlesnakes on my place, living among us.
I have killed a rattlesnake on the front porch.
I have killed a rattlesnake on the back porch.
I have killed rattlesnakes in the barn, in the shop and on the driveway.
In fact, I kill every rattlesnake I encounter.

I kill rattlesnakes because I know a rattlesnake will bite me and inject me with poison. I don’t stop to wonder WHY a rattlesnake will bite me; I know it WILL bite me because it's a rattlesnake and that's what rattlesnakes do.
I don’t try to reason with a rattlesnake or have a "meaningful dialogue" with it…I just kill it.

I don’t try to get to know the rattlesnake better so I can find a way to live with the rattlesnakes and convince them not to bite me. I just kill them.
I don’t quiz a rattlesnake to see if I can find out where the other snakes are, because (a) it won’t tell me and (b) I already know they live on my place. So, I just kill the rattlesnake and move on to the next one.

I don’t look for ways I might be able to change the rattlesnake to a non-poisonous rat snake...I just kill it. Oh, and on occasion, I accidentally kill a
rat snake because I thought it was a rattlesnake at the time.
Also, I know for every rattlesnake I kill, two more are lurking out there in the brush. In my lifetime I will never be able to rid my place of rattlesnakes.
Do I fear them? Not really.
Do I respect what they can do to me and my family?
And because of that respect, I give them the fair justice they deserve....
I kill them.

As a country, we should start giving more thought to the fact that these
jihadists' are telling the world their goal is to kill Americans and destroy our way of life. They have recently posted two graphic videos on the internet showing them beheading Americans.
They are serious.
They are exactly like rattlesnakes.
It is high time for us to start acting accordingly!

I love this country.
It's the damn government I'm afraid of!
Look who's new in the White House!

Arif Alikhan - Assistant Secretary for Policy Development for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

Mohammed Elibiary - Homeland Security Adviser

Rashad Hussain - Special Envoy to the Organization of the Islamic

Salam al-Marayati - Obama Adviser and founder of the Muslim Public Affairs
Council and is its current executive director

Imam Mohamed Magid - Obama's Sharia Czar from the Islamic Society of North America

Eboo Patel - Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships

This is flat-out scary!

The foxes are now officially living in the hen house...
Now ask me why I am very concerned!
Do you feel OK with this?

How can this happen, and when will we wake up?
We are quiet while our Country is being drastically changed!

"Spidey Senses"

One of my friends (who is also a pastor) and I frequently talk about, what we call, our "spiritual Spidey senses." If you ever watched the old Spiderman cartoons you may remember when his spidey senses went off, he was sensing that something was not right, or that something was about to happen. Jim and I have spoken many times about how in our spirit we were sensing that things were not right or that something was about to change or happen. Well, for more tha a month now, I've had that sense. It has been much more specific this time as I have said over and over the date(s) October 25/26 were jumping out at me. I felt like the Holy Spirit was saying to keep a watchful eye out toward those dates. I don't really have a clear direction as to what it is (although I have my own idea) so I am not going to share that. I'm simply writing to those who will give ear, keep your spiritual eyes and ears open this week.

14 October, 2014

Is It Wrong to Speak of the End Times?

Several people have been making comments to me, or to others who I know saying that writing things such as my blog entry about the vision I had is nothing but theatrics and scare tactics and that we (the church) don't need to talk about this sort of thing. They insist we should focus only on the love of God. I really am not going to write to argue with anyone, because those folks have their mind made up and they are comfortable where they are. I happen to disagree with them. There is a lot written in the Bible about the last days, and I believe it is there for a reason. In fact, I KNOW it is there for a reason. So much about what the Bible speaks of is taking place right before our eyes. The signs are all around us, both in the church and in the world. In the church, we see exactly what the Bible warns us of where people have exchanged the truth for a lie and preach "another gospel."  Jesus himself spoke with very real clarity about those last days when the disciples asked him about when these things would happen. If it were not important, then I really think Jesus would have said, "Just preach love and everything will be alright."  The fact is that it was because He loves us that He gives these warnings. When you love someone you give the a heads up or a warning so that they don't miss something important. Could you imagine if someone knew the bridge was out ahead and they did not try to warn you as you went speeding by? Love is more than gooey emotion... it speaks truth. 

In Mark the 13th chapter, for the entire chapter Jesus is talking about the last days. At the end of that chapter, in the last 6 verses, Jesus says something very interesting.
32 “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 
33 Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come. 
34 It’s like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with their assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
35 “Therefore keep watch because you do not know when the owner of the house will come back—whether in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or at dawn. 
36 If he comes suddenly, do not let him find you sleeping. 
37 What I say to you, I say to everyone: ‘Watch!’”

The imagery which Jesus uses here is that of not being ready or prepared for Jesus when he returns. He warns us to watch for his coming and be ready because we do not know when he will return. Now, the question is, "Why would Jesus do this?"  Why such a warning if all we needed to do was make a decision for Christ and nothing more?   The fact is that Jesus uses a number of parables like this to express the idea that we are to prepare ourselves for his return at any moment and watch for its coming. The warning is pretty evident to the one with open eyes and ears... that if you are not ready you will miss out.

So what does it mean to be ready and watch as a Christian? Again, I believe this is more than making a decision to be a Christian. Being a Christian is far more than a decision. It is radial change. It is such a transformation that the Bible calls it being, "born again."  To me, I think it is pretty evident that we are radically transformed, so much so that Paul would write "do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is... his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)  When this sort of transformation takes place you are no longer asking, "can I do this and still be a Christian." There will be no need, because the renewed mind rejects those worldly patterns. The New Testament Christians were so radically transformed that the people of Antioch began to call the followers of Christ, "Christians."  That was not a compliment! They were insulting them, saying they acted just like the one they called the "Christ" (Jesus). What they meant as an insult was in fact a testament of how radical the transformation of their lives had become. We should be the same. 

Let's get back to Jesus' warning at the end of Mark chapter 13. Jesus warns to be ready, to not let the Master find them asleep. To me this means that we are to be be and do the things that Jesus would want us to do rather than simply doing what we want to do, which is what the modern church is telling us that we can do.  In the Mark passage Jesus uses the image of servants being left to do the task assigned to them. The idea being that when the master comes back he will be happy with those who are doing the tasks he set and angry with those who aren’t... those who are “sleeping.” Keith Green had a powerful song back in the 1980's about being "Asleep in the Light."  (Look it up on Youtube.)  The thing is, the tasks that Jesus has left for us to do is to make disciples. Not converts... "disciples."  Disciples are those who are radically transformed... not those who have "joined the club."  We are to live for God at every moment and to "watch" for His return. (Yes, it is in the Bible!) This means that we are to be reading his word and praying, meeting with other Christians to encourage and build them up. It means living a godly life and taking the time and effort to tell others of the hope and joy you have in knowing Jesus. And all the while, watch the signs. Jesus said "when you see these things... lift your heads, for your redemption is near."  He clearly said we would see the signs and know the day was close, which tells me that it is absolutely correct to tell others that His return is close at hand.

Get Ready Church!

Late last night, after reading my blog entry from yesterday about the vision I'd seen, a friend of mine sent me the following link. Take a look at this and compare it to what the Holy Spirit showed me Sunday night. Coincidence? I think not.  I believe God is sounding the alarm to America that it is time to fall on our face before Him and repent, before it is too late! 

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