Tuesday, September 29, 2009

4th Quarter Challenge

This past weekend I had the opportunity to participate in the 2nd annual E-Group gathering, hosted in Redlands CA by my Pastor (C. Myles Young) and host Pastor BJ Wilmoth. Friday morning and afternoon's agenda entrigued those of us in attendance with a tour of the 'Azusa Revival' origins. Locations on the stop included the first house where William Seymour began to preach, the Bonnie Brae House (where he finally received the Holy Ghost he had been preaching about), his burial site, the former site of the Azusa Street Mission, and Arroyo Seco (campground and baptismal site).

I couldn't help but wonder how many California-based Apostolics have never retraced the origins of the Holy Ghost outpouring in our great State. Knowing our history is important. Understanding who 'they' were, where they came from, why and where they ended up can be very helpful to us living in what could very well be the last days.

On Saturday morning over a mug of coffee and a scone, I was challenged by Bro. BJ Wilmoth. Later on that the morning he put the same challenge before the congregants during the day session. In turn, I'd like to challenge our readership following to do the same.

Now, I'm not saying that Jesus is coming in 2010, but I do believe His return is closer than when we first believed. We are in the fourth quarter of the year (3 months/approx. 90- days left in 2009). So, here's the 4th quarter challenge:

1) Will you join us in reading the four synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke and John)? At 3 chapters a day we can do it.

2) Let's try and write out the entire book of Acts! At 11 verses per day, we can do it too!

Are you up for it? I hope so - and look forward to reading your comments about your progress, insights you gain, questions you generate, and so forth. Keep me posted, and let's learn together.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Just Bragging on God (& Tawni)

Here are a couple snapshots a friend of ours captured of Rori Lane's personality during one of her sessions today. Just had to brag (not only on Brenda's photographic work - which takes guts since my brother in law Scott and great friend Sam are two of the best in the business) on God (and my wife Tawni), and thank Him again for my little princess. I can't believe she is already going to be three years old in November. Time flies - make and capture as many memories as you possibly can!



Friday, September 18, 2009

If You're Struggling with the F-word...

'Foreclosure', that is.

The following is a guest post by Christi from Jealous Hands.

***

Our house will be foreclosed on October 6.

I'll bet it's happening to someone YOU know, too.

What I feared for so long is finally happening, and you know what? I have complete peace about it.

I've spent the most of the last year unable {or unwilling} to be happy - and making everyone else around me miserable, too. And what I had to learn is this: it's okay to still be happy, it's okay to still live your life while in the midst of something like this. It's not the end of the world. Yes, it stinks! Well, at least it did in the beginning to me. Now, honestly, I have just let it go. To say I don't care sounds like I'm calloused or irresponsible or something - and that's not it.

I lost almost a year of my life {and my family's life} worrying, fretting, acting ugly over this. Being mad, yes at God - because why would He allow this to happen to us? And the reality is, this is a fallen world and the world is in the shape it's in because we are sinners - in SPITE of God, not because of Him which is where my perspective was wrong. So, I don't care anymore. I don't worry about the house that's being left behind, which is next door to the house we're moving into. We're fortunate that we HAVE somewhere to go, although the Lord will have to pay for it, because we sure can't do it! It's okay.

It took me a long time to get to this place. And please don't think I'm advocating just throwing up your hands, or walking away from something that you've a responsibility for. But we just couldn't do it anymore. The money simply is not there. We haven't done anything wrong - yet we've been judged, looked down on, distanced from family and friends, and had to console other people when we were the ones in crisis.

Finally, after lots of anger and tears I got back on my knees and I know that's where I should've been all along. It's still a journey EVERY hour, EVERY day. I was so caught up in what might happen in the future, that I couldn't be happy with the day I'd been given. I wasted a year worrying about a day that hadn't come yet. I couldn't see how to be happy, when I "knew" misery & uncertainty were lurking right around the corner.

Uncertainty doesn't have to be something that takes away inward rest.

Now that we're here, though - it's not what I thought it would be. I've already gone through the heartbreak and misery. It almost, very nearly, tore us apart. We've had to work together and get creative to carve out a new normal for our family. There are amazing opportunities ahead of us, and I'm finally excited thinking about the possibilities. We're still living a blessed life.

It takes courage, faith and hope to step into the unknown. I wanted to run away, but He kept calling me back.

What I want you to know - especially if you're facing this situation - is that it IS okay. Please don't waste your life worrying, even about your children {which was always my biggest concern, how will MY BOYS deal with this}. Please don't become so hard that your marriage is on the line. Please don't get to the point that you look back and realize that you've wasted a year, and those are minutes and days and memories that you can't get back.

Life isn't perfect. Thankfully It doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

An Eternal Tug-of-War


Polarity is the organic pull, attraction or tension - the interdependent relationship shared between opposite, sometimes seemingly disconnected ‘force fields.’ Polarity appears to exist, have influence on and affect three different atmospheres, or dimensions. First and foremost, polarity exists in the supernatural, unseen world where spirits wrestle. Simultaneously, nature grapples with itself on an even plane, in an ebb and flow of earthly elements. Thirdly, when you distill these ‘universal laws’ down from the ethereal you find contained and condensed within every human being a peculiar polarity where both spiritual and natural coexist, engaged in a tug-of-war for eternity. In creation God formed man from the dust of the ground, then breathed into man’s nostrils, whereby man became a living soul – creating polarity and introducing the greatest internal-external conflict of all time.

Determining whether the traction or tension is coming from within, or without is pivotal in deciding whether to pull back or away, or push for or towards.
Ultimately, what we permit to have influence upon our spirit affects our body, and vice versa. Constantly, we are being torn, until finally one force dominates, and the other agrees, one pole manages supremesy and the other pole submits - and the consequences are eternal.

Who's winning the tug-of-war in your life?

Saturday, September 12, 2009

On a Political Note



It's 3:05am on the morning of the final day of Session in the California State Assembly. Needless to say, here are a few of my thoughts.
Figuratively speaking, the political face of the United States has changed
dramatically, and at an accelerated pace. While over-objective historians, liberal analysts, and subsequent future textbooks may attribute this transformation to the evolution of social norms, tolerance and diversity, the current political portrait of America is, in my strong opinion, an unflattering caricature that would cause our founding fathers to roll over in their graves.
In infancy, our nation demonstrated an authentic faith and dependence upon God-attributes appropriately articulated in our ‘Pledge of Allegiance.’ Chronologically, when compared with most other countries, we are very young. However, recent, relative history has required little of time to taint the once fair and innocent, child-like complexion of American politics. Like bad acne, the image of politicians and politics in America have been permanently scarred by equally adolescent behavior, impropriety, immorality and the extreme liberal influence of the outspoken, poisonous, leftist minority.

Reinstating righteousness to our capitol rotundas, and fidelity to our legislative floors is a daunting task, but in a political structure of the people, by the people, and for the people, correction is possible. Struggle has always been a factor in the survival of ‘We the People’ who ‘trust in God.’ In fact, our founding fathers achieved because of the adversity they faced, and gained freedom because they fought for it. As a result, they accumulated adequate courage to establish, cultivate the thirteen original colonies, and later constitute the United States of America.
From the Pilgrim’s first Thanksgiving prayer, to the last stanza of the original National Anthem (God Bless America), from the tradition of prayer in schools to the inscription on our currency and coins, God has always been a trademark of American people.
Early politicians were not secretive or bashful about the fact that their religious beliefs and faith in God shaped their family values, morals, business practices and politics. Early legislators, like Abraham Lincoln, led disciplined lives, employed a Judeo-Christian work ethic, and operated on sound, biblical principles. Such men and women were not paranoid about their God-consciousness, or preoccupied with political correctness-but rather maintained their honesty and guarded their integrity in their quest for justice, equality-life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. As Americans, we inherit this rich tradition. Sacrilegiously, radical secularists choose to ignore our past and substitute government imposed ideals for faith-based morals.

There is hope-but America must return to its roots, its grass roots. When the Redcoats were coming, Paul Revere instinctively knew to call the people whose freedoms were in jeopardy.
America is suffering from an attack of moral failure. As one prominent, nationally syndicated talk-show host referred to them, the ‘red-diaper-doper-babies’ are coming. Actually, they are already here-and this active, self-indulgent, self-deified sect of society has, like a cancer, threatened our democracy with their socialism, desecrated the institution and sanctity of marriage as defined between one man and one woman, and vandalized our traditional family values with their homosexual agenda, legalized abortion, cloning and premature stem cell research. Presently, bi-partisan legislation for these and other controversial issues are being redrafted and reconsidered by politicians we have elected.
Ronald Reagan said, “Freedom prospers when religion is vibrant and the rule of law under God is acknowledged.” Once again, there is a clarion call in America- and once again, it is imperative that the people respond and take action to defend what set us apart from the rest of the world.

We cannot afford to remain silent, as silence is consent. It is time for our voice to be heard. However, because a voice without action is merely bravado, we must also act. The age old adage, ‘actions speak louder than words’ is true, especially in politics.
Though quick to converse, and voice an opinion about a candidate’s character or campaign, where is the church when it comes time to vote? With the exception of the stalwart efforts exhibited by a few, poll numbers prove that the vast majority of Christianity seems to adopt a pious, almost laissez faire, whatever happens happens, this world is going to hell in a hand basket anyway, ‘this world is not my home I am just a pilgrim passing through’ attitude when it comes to political activism. With such a small-minded, short-sighted, reclusive world view held by Christians who could otherwise make a difference, it is no wonder why politics in America continues to erode.

It is our responsibility to elect representatives who will foster and fight to protect our freedom of faith and religion, and vote out those who attempt to facilitate freedom from faith and religion. Unfortunately, we who espouse traditional family values and morals are just as guilty as those we blame in government, of creating the great divide of separation between church and state. Legislation has removed corporate prayer from our schools, but we have stopped praying. A replica of the Ten Commandments was removed from Justice Roy Moore’s Alabama courthouse, and we complained a little - but accomplished nothing. Liberal activists volunteer their time, draw picket lines and protest faithfully, vociferously, demanding a verdict-and we criticize them for their radicalism, but do little to compete with or compensate for their political cries.

It is time for a ‘great awakening’ in American politics. It is time for Christianity all over America, lay members and ministers alike to awaken from social slumber, educate ourselves, and become privy to the import and spiritual implications of real political struggles that exist just outside our sanctuary walls. Then, we must prepare our hearts with prayer, network our resources and arm ourselves with an arsenal of information, and assume the position of political influence I believe God intended the Church to have. ‘The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ’ (2 Cor. 10:4). Atheists can deny it, agnostics can avoid it and others can say what they may, but God has always played a role in politics. ‘God is the Judge; He putteth down one, and setteth up another’ (Psalms 75:7). ‘…He removeth kings, and setteth up kings…’(Daniel 2:21). How does God complete this process? The answer ris ‘through His people within the confines of human government they have constructed.’
While the main mission of the church is to fulfill the Great Commission, God has also commissioned His followers to ‘occupy’ until He returns (Luke 19:13). The word ‘occupy’, as used in the Greek language, refers to an ‘occupied territory’ as would be found in a time of war. As a result, this usage of the word ‘occupy’ denotes a strong military or political presence!

Until Jesus Christ returns, it is time for those of us who call ourselves Christian, or American for that matter, to, for the sake of our founding fathers, and for future generations, cure the cause of moral failure, erase what has become a caricature and restore virtue to the face and heart of our country’s politics. In this time of ideological and political warfare, the people of God must occupy, express our support and voice our concern in the prayer closet and out in public, in the sanctuary and in classroom conversation, on talk-shows, in the letter of the law, in letters to the editor, in personal beliefs and in phone calls to representatives, in educating others and in our election day ballots. God with us makes a majority-and if God be for us, who can be against us?!