Our great missionary friend, Peter Ratcliff, is a British citizen. Even though he has not lived in his home country for many years he still possesses that distinct accent. One of his go to words is "epic". My wife, Rhonda, brought some shirts for his children that said "My dad is Epic". No truer words have ever been spoken, Peter and his whole family are 'epic'! They are an epic family in epic times. The simplistic definition of epic means the heroic deeds of a person of unusual courage and unparalleled bravery.
History produces events that call for "Epic People" to rise to the challenge. We have witnessed the courage of doctors and nurses in hospitals worldwide to fight to save lives. We have witnessed men and women serve countries around the world fighting for whatever cause their respective countries promote. On any given day first-responders are just a call away from an epic event. Humanity owes a deep debt of gratitude for these brave men and women. They have answered the call of service with courage and bravery.
In Christiandom, "epic times" began when Adam sank his teeth into the forbidden fruit in the garden. From that time until today, it takes an epic person to stand for truth in a world where truth is subject to personal opinion. The power of media sways the uninformed to follow a lie, and of course satan, with his deception, deceives even the very elect scripture (Matt 24:24 For false messiahs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.). The intensification of persecution upon Christians worldwide goes unnoticed in mainstream news but it is a daily occurrence.
As we travel to other countries we have been so blessed to meet many epic christians. Men and women with tremendous courage and bravery that have strengthened my life with their wisdom and faith. Sadly, I see in our western style of religion that the thought of having to be an 'epic person' is something to try and avoid. The thought of having to be brave or courageous is something we try to reason ourselves and our children out of. "Let's play it safe" seems to be the banner most want to carry.
Epic times will demand, and have always demanded, epic christians to stand firm in the Faith. Let us be known as an Epic generation for an Epic time.
'One Who Embraces' Habakkuk
What is it you are embracing in this season? Are you embracing media reports? Conspiracy theories? Your own intellect? We all have our "stuffed animal" we are embracing right now. Let's be real, we say what we want, act like we know better, but the compromised church is on full display.
The book of Habakkuk seems to be a page out of todays events. The prophet has called out for a nation to repent, yet the hard heartedness of the people is immovable. They prefer to do what is right in their own eyes. This has been a virus that has caused more harm to humans than all other viruses combined. In the book, God sends judgement in the form of a nasty group of ruthless warriors called Chaldeans. Habakkuk cries out to God 'how long will the people suffer?' God tells him to get a vision in place, it may seem like it will not happen but wait for it, it will happen!
It seems for many years the vision of a Third Great Awakening has been the vision God has had us write and declare. Wait on it, God says it will surely come! Then Habakkuk goes to prayer. Not just any prayer, but a wild, ecstatic prayer of remembrance. He recalled God's awesome works. In these times of uncertainty in the world, one thing we can be certain of, God is still a god of miracles! He is still the same God yesterday, today, and forever. So Habakkuk states this liberating declaration:
May you take time today to embrace the goodness of God, the Lord is good and His mercy endures forever. The fig trees will bloom, the vines will yield fruit, the fields will supply again abundantly, the flocks and the herds will fill the stalls!
Rejoice in the Lord always; and again I say rejoice! Paul the Apostle, written from prison. Selah.
Reading the account of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead, I was again confronted with this theme that Jesus spoke back in John 9:1 In this event a blind man caught the eye of Jesus. His disciples noticed Jesus was drawn to this man and of course has to ask the very carnal question 'who sinned that caused this blindness? Was it his sin or his parents?' Jesus replied, 'Neither! It happened to him so you can watch him experience a miracle'.
Now to John 11, his good friend is sick. Jesus gets the urgent message 'please come now!' Sounds a lot like the prayers going forth in this pandemic, Jesus! Come! Now!
Jesus assured his disciples again, my friend will not die but will reveal the greatness of the Son of God by what takes place. They finally make the move to go see him, but it seems by human wisdom that it is too late. They even missed the burial, Lazarus was sealed in the grave!
Is it not true that when we don't get out prayers answered in "our time" we think it is too late? Here is what Jesus said-
John 11:15 'And for your sake, I am glad I wasn't there, because now you have another opportunity to see who I am so you will learn to trust me. Come, let's go see him.
Did you catch that? Jesus didn't say 'let's go comfort Mary and Martha', he said let's go see Lazarus!
We, the church, the called out community of Jesus followers, have another opportunity before us to really see who Jesus is. We have another lesson to pass, will we learn to trust Him? It seems we get this lesson over and over, maybe we need reminding over and over? We can trust Him! The empty tomb assures us of this fact. This Resurrection Day was unlike any the world has experienced. So many theories, conspiracies, and stories are being tossed about that no wonder next to fear, confusion is everywhere.
I think this simple approach will help you, that this event will reveal the greatness of God by what takes place. I hear the sound of God's End Time army coming forth! I pray Isaiah 40:31 over you this week-
But those who hope in the Lord
Resurrection To Revolution
This Easter Holiday will be one we will never forget. That may be an understatement as life globally continues to grind to a halt. We are getting messages daily from Nepal, India, Paraguay, and Lebanon, telling of the difficulties facing the people. To think that just 6 weeks ago I was in Nepal and we gathered, we ate in abundance, we hugged, we laughed. How we are prone to take times like that for granted. In a moment of time it has all changed.
I would think the disciples has similar thoughts over 2000 years ago. As they sheltered in place in fear for their lives, the message was clear it will not be as it was. The man they had followed for 3 years was outside the city hanging on a cross. Days before they gathered, they ate, they hugged, they laughed. Even with Jesus telling them change was coming, human nature gets locked into the moment and change seems to be a distant mirage.
When you read the words Resurrection and Revolution your first thoughts generally were to the rising from the tomb of Jesus and an overthrow by force. True statements and thoughts but I want to give these definitions for thought.
Revolution- A complete or drastic change in conditions, ways of thinking or acting.
That makes the life of Jesus clear, He came to bring a revolution. Human conditions, ways of thinking, and our actions all needed a crucifixion. The resurrection of Jesus was not to bring back old customs and practices. It was for a new way of life, it was for an abundant life as Jesus promised.
This temporary pandemic will soon die and fade away. A time and season of resurrection will be in our midst. Will we as blood bought, Spirit filled followers of Christ be content with our old customs and practices or will we receive the revolution this pause has offered?
The pause that occurred over 2000 years ago released the greatest force upon the world ever, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. The disciples received and accepted the revolution given to them. We stand at the threshold of a great awakening. Let's allow this event to completely and drastically change us for the Glory of God!
Senior pastor at Grove Christian Center.