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.
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
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!
I woke this morning to the old Bob Dylan tune, "For the Times They are A Changing". I, of course, went to Youtube to listen to the song and was amazed at some of the lyrics and how they are relevant for today. In some of your extra time you now find yourself with, listen to this song.
It seems with each passing week this worldwide event escalates before our eyes. What was hoped for, now seems impossible. What we all prayed for seems to be delayed. The atmosphere of anxiety is intensifying before our our eyes. Human wisdom seems to have met its match. Could this be the turning point to where a broken, hopeless humanity cries out to God? I have an inner sense that we are about to see something of this nature. This has shaken the world. We get communication form all parts of the world and it's the same story, 'fear, worry, and uncertainty is at an all time high'. Yes, the media hype has not been much help either, but as the days roll by and more and more victims are added, reality hits with deepening gloom.
Last Sunday, as I sat before an empty sanctuary, I gave this assurance from the Word of God that "The Times They Are A Changing". Times and seasons are promised from God, what we have hope in is that times and seasons are temporary, they are not permanent. What IS permanent are the promises of God. A crisis is never permanent. This all shall pass. When this does pass, what will we as the human race have learned from this experience?
My prayer is we will be a more humble, compassionate, unified people. May you go to God's word and find a promise to stand on today. That promise is the rock to stand on, all other ground truly is sinking sand. May the Rock of all times, seasons, and ages bring you peace while we go through these times that are A-Changin!
I have been reading John Maxwell's new leadership book, "Leadershift". What a timely message he shares in this book. I love to follow his messages on leadership, and this may be one of his best. One thought in the book that is so key for this day is how to become transformational leaders. In this time of upheaval, turmoil, and uncertainty, this type of leadership must rise to the occasion to steer our homes, businesses, and churches through this storm.
Transformational leaders have these characteristics:
-They see things others do not see
-They say things other do not say
-They believe things others do not believe
-They feel things others do not feel
-They do things others do not do
History's greatest leaders were conceived in the crucibles of turmoil, war, persecutions, and cultural meltdowns. What we see before us is an opportunity to see a new breed of leaders arise out of the rubble of this event. It is needed in all 7 mountains of our culture. What a multitude of challenges and opportunities we have before us.
I have, around my desk, post it notes with quotes that speak into my life. This one really got my attention this morning, it is from Bob Hazlett and he says this:
"The impossible challenges facing you today are actually an invitation to experience a part of God's power you haven't seen yet."
What a great promise! I am convinced that we will see some amazing miracles in the coming months.
1 Corinthians 2:9
Allow the Peace of God to help guard your heart's and mind. We are going to see a victory!
No, I am not referring to the old Aerosmith song from the 70's, I am reading this in the book of Isaiah 8:11.
11 For the Lord spoke thus to me with a strong hand, and instructed me that I should not walk in the way of those people
The Lord is speaking through the prophetic voice of the day and instructs him NOT to walk in the way of the people. How were the people walking? In fear, stumbling in spiritual darkness, seeking advice from ungodly & worldly advisors, driven to chaos. Walk this way says the Lord; let Him fight your fear, seal the Word of God in your hearts, put your hope in Him. Then He says by walking this way I will use you as a sign and a wonder in the land.
My understanding of this passage in Isaiah 8:11-22 tells me there is a way the Lord wants us to walk, especially in times like this. To be a beacon of hope in a world that is being shaken; church we must walk this way! Our walk is one of faith not fear! Our walk is one of confidence that ALL His promises are YES and we agree with our amen!
Our walk will not imitate the world because we walk to a different sound, a different command! The world is watching the church in this epic event, how will we respond? As for me and the house the Lord has entrusted me with, we will talk this way!
Today at sunset the Festival of Purim begins, marking the Jewish nation's deliverance from the evil plans of Haman. This is one of the most beloved stories in the Bible, a book that has the imprint of God all through it, yet never mentions God by name.
This story, as do several other bible stories, has a certain element we as believers sometimes struggle with, the 'who knows' element of our faith. That unknown factor causes many to pause and count the cost, Esther knew the cost of 'who knows'. She spoke it facing the consequence of death if it did not go well, yet in the face of this outcome she walked in obedience and an entire race of people were saved from genocide. Jonathan, Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, Azeriah, and an innumerable amount of herbs of the faith throughout history have been faced with this question 'who knows'?
Rhonda and I have stared at this question as we follow the dreams that seem to continue to push us into new countries. What we all 'can know' is the promise of a helper, the Holy Spirit, who will be our companion, guide, and instructor. So even though our walk of faith has many 'who knows', it would not be necessary to have faith if our walk was certain. At the urging of her spiritual guide Mordecai, Esther took the dangerous path of 'who knows' and today that courage is celebrated.
Who is waiting for deliverance on the other side of your 'who knows'? Lets help others celebrate the greatest deliverance of all!
Romans 5:8 But God demonstrated His own love towards us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Now that should raise a Hallelujah!
I have just returned from a missions trip to Nepal, the people as always were hungry for the Word, served with passion, and wept as we departed. The culture of honor, the agape love, and the heart of servitude continues to be the power behind the growth of the ministry we have partnered with for 17 years now. It was a joy to begin our 20th year in ministry in the country it all started. Nepal has forever captured out hearts.
The headlines of the day point to a trust issue we have in the church. Do we really have faith and trust in God? It would seem it becomes an issue when the media releases such sobering news. There is no denying a virus is spreading to physical bodies. We live in a broken, diseased world that will only see more deterioration as we watch darkness escalate. But the believers promise is much greater!
Isaiah 60 says to arise and shine for your light has come. Yes a deep darkness is on many people but the Lord will arise over His people, yet fear seems to be the emotion of the day. Fear is a terrorist, fear is no respecter of persons, fear is our enemy! Much is said about fear in the Bible. Over and over God commands His people to not fear but trust. Where is your level of trust today? It has a target on it. Satan wants to break down your trust, he is using two extremes in the media- the far left liberal media and the conspiracy camp.
Isaiah 8:12 Don’t believe their every conspiracy rumor. And don’t fear what they fear—don’t be moved or terrified.
I recall a scripture song from the 70's & 80's that we used to sing, Psalm 20:7 "some trust in chariots, some trust in horses, but we will remember the name of the Lord!"
Proverbs 18:10 The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous run to it and are safe.
If you feel your trust get hit, run to God's word. God has a covenant with us- Haggai 2:5 "My spirit remains among you, do not fear! May the Peace of God rule in your heart today.
Surrender! It is amazing where a surrendered life can take you. I sit writing this on a plane starting the long journey to Nepal. This year will be our (my wife Rhonda and I's) 20th year in ministry. When I was driving home one cold February night 20 years ago, I said a very simple but sincere prayer. "God I am yours". Seven months later I was on a plane heading to Nepal unaware of what the future looked like but excited to be in God's capable hands.
So much has happened in these 20 years. Rhonda has written books about some of the travels and newsletters have brought some of the stories to life. What started out as missionary work has now encompassed pastoral duties. All from a very simple act of obedience. Yesterday morning's message I shared these three thoughts in Luke from the story of the young man who took his inheritance and went on a prodigal journey. The scripture says one day he came to himself. In other words, he woke up! Then he evaluated his situation and realized his fathers servants were eating better than he was, so he took action, he responded.
Thank God 20 years ago I woke up, evaluated my situation and took action. Thousands have been saved, thriving churches have been established, schools, radio stations, wow! Look what surrender has done. The one thing needed to make this trip more of a celebration is my wife by my side, but due to several circumstances she felt it was not best to go on this trip. It leaves a hole by my side, but she will soon be back in the seat next to me following the dream life that began with surrender!