Category Archives: George W Black, Blogs

George loves to share inspirational devotions, short messages, posts from other social media, etc.

Happy first thanksgiving

Modern history books are not clear on the subject of the first American Thanksgiving. So I pulled together this brief note to share the truth of early America.

The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated by the Pilgrims at Plymouth Massachusetts in 1621. They were fleeing England due to religious persecution, and they came to the new world on a ship called the Mayflower.

It was their hope to establish a place of religious freedom where they could worship God according to their own convictions and not the government or king.

The Pilgrims were also known as Puritans because they practiced a form of Christian faith that wanted to purify Christianity from the rule of the Pope and the King. They felt only Jesus could be their King, and that the Bible should be available to everyone in their own language.

This was not a new idea for the Pilgrims, as it was a growing movement across Europe known as the Reformation by Martin Luther. However, this became the basis for much of the persecution of the Pilgrims by the Church of England.

The initial objective of the Pilgrims was to sail to Virginia where flourishing English settlements had already been formed. But northern winds forced them off course and they had to winter on the undeveloped shore of Plymouth, Massachusetts.

Following a dreadful first winter during which over half of the 121 Pilgrims died, the remaining settlers were able to secure the help of a local Indian tribe, the Wampanoag’s, who sent them Squanto to teach them how to plant crops, farm, and fish. Squanto had previously been taken captive and transported back to Europe where he learned to speak English. His kindness and language skill made it possible for the Pilgrims to survive.

The Wampanoag leader Massasoit also gave food to the colonists during the first winter when supplies brought from England were insufficient.

The next year at their first Summer harvest time, the Pilgrims called for a special time to thank God for His blessings and celebrate with their Indian benefactors a special feast of thanksgiving. This feast lasted three days, and was attended by 90 Indians and 53 Pilgrims. This feast was made official two years later when Governor Bradford issued the following proclamation.

“Inasmuch as the great Father has given us this year an abundant harvest of Indian corn, wheat, peas, beans, squashes, and garden vegetables, and has made the forests to abound with game and the sea with fish and clams, and inasmuch as He has protected us from the ravages of the savages, has spared us from pestilence and disease, has granted us freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own conscience.

Now I, your magistrate, do proclaim that all ye Pilgrims, with your wives and ye little ones, do gather at ye meeting house, on ye hill, between the hours of 9 and 12 in the daytime, on Thursday, November 29th, of the year of our Lord one thousand six hundred and twenty three and the third year since ye Pilgrims landed on ye Pilgrim Rock, there to listen to ye pastor and render thanksgiving to ye Almighty God for all His blessings.
William Bradford
Ye Governor of Ye Colony”

For the following 168 years, the tradition of a harvest Thanksgiving to give thanks to God for His blessings was typically a local or regional event in various locations, as a nation had not yet been formed. But the ripples from Plymouth Plantation continued until George Washington issued the first Presidential Thanksgiving Proclamation in 1789. Abraham Lincoln issued Thanksgiving Proclamations in the spring of 1862, also making it a Federal Holiday.

Several important events occurred as a result of the Pilgrims coming to America in 1620:

1. Before leaving the Mayflower, a representative form of government was organized and put into writing, known as the Mayflower Compact. This became the first such document of both American independence and democracy in American History.

2. Unlike some other settlements, the Pilgrims lived in peace with the neighboring Indians, showing a more Christian attitude of common respect than had been offered by the Spanish that came before them.

3. Governor William Bradford wrote a book, “Of Plymouth Plantation” in which he chronicled the first thirty years of the Pilgrims colony that eventually grew to about 7,000 members. This first hand account became a roadmap for many that followed, and left an invisible footprint in the history of America that cannot be denied.

4. Because of this, in small, almost undetectable ways today, we have all inherited some of the ideals and practices of those first pilgrims, including our desire for independence, our belief in religious freedom, our concern for others with whom we share this country, and even to the keeping of the tradition of an annual Thanksgiving tradition.

5. May we, like those first Pilgrims, take time to humble ourselves and give thanks to Almighty God for all of His many blessings today.

God bless, George Black

Leadership Principle #37 – Write The Vision


Leadership Principle #37: People can’t do their job if they don’t know what their job is.

Leaders must “write the vision.”

Habakkuk 2:2 NKJV “Then the Lord answered me and said: “Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it.””

Seems simple enough, but pastors and church leaders are sometimes weak when it come to recruiting for a ministry with very little guidance. The “training” is usually a sit-down discussion with no written guidelines, objectives, accountability, etc.

It is imperative that every person in your church or ministry that has been asked to serve, knows what is expected of them. If we think we can just soft-ball it to them, we are sadly mistaken. They are hearing something different than you are saying because they have different filters. Write the vision. If you don’t, they will “write” their own, and it usually will not look like what you have asked for.

The leader must cast the vision AND the process. You can’t have one without the other, or else you will promote frustration. Clear and simple instructions on how the ministry or department works is necessary. This provides the tools for a person to measure themselves as to whether or not they are accomplishing what is intended. And if you don’t know, then you are not the leader.

In the past I used to insist on lengthy job descriptions (I call them ministry descriptions) that covered way too much detail, and became counter productive. Now I strive to have an overview of everything on one page. If additional detail is needed, then fine. But they can know what is being asked by looking at just one page. The nuts and bolts are sometimes more involved.

There is a reason it is called “the work of the ministry.” Ministry requires work, preparation, planning, organizing, etc. Once you have done this, then you can enjoy the fruit of your labor.

God bless, George W. Black

Rest Is Non-Optional – Are You Listening?

Cathy and I hope you had time during the summer months to take a break for rest and re-creation. One of the greatest challenges for me has been to follow the example of Christ and His disciples. Jesus always observed the Sabbath, and He took time for His ministry team to rest on other occasions.

I once heard a preacher say, “Jesus had the disciples come apart, before they came apart.” Ministry burnout is avoidable. I have been there before, and I can tell you it is a work of the flesh. Jesus leads us into abundant life, and He never drives us to exhaustion.

Rhythms of grace is a message Apostle Fred Bennett continues to share with us, and one I have had to learn the hard way. We will always do our best ministry planning, and leading after a season of rest.

Matthew 11:28-30 MES ““Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

As a younger minister I thought I was indispensable, or that rest was selfish, or even wasted time. More caffeine please. But looking back over the years I realize I could have saved myself, and my family, and my church, a lot of wear and tear if I had taken time to tarry.

Biblical rest is about finding a rhythm. It is a rhythm of God’s grace. A rhythm is intensity followed by relaxation, and we can find in everywhere in God’s creation.

Your heart beats, and then it rests in-between the beats…a rhythm. This is why blood pressure has an upper and lower number. Otherwise your circulatory system would be constantly stressed at the upper limit…not a good thing.

Exercise, such as weight lifting, is about exertion followed by a resting moment so oxygen and glucose can feed the muscles that just lifted the weight, and lactic acid, the by-product of exercise, can be released.

Breathing is a rhythm of inhaling and exhaling, and in-between an interval of rest. When you inhale there is oxygen being off-loaded to the bloodstream to provide life to the cells. There is also a reverse process whereby carbon dioxide is transported from the blood and exhaled by the lungs.

A lot is going on during the interval of “resting” by the lungs. You see, rest is not about just resting. It is about a rhythm that is necessary to process things and keep us healthy.

This is what Jesus meant about the Sabbath being made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. In other words, we all need a pause in our week to recharge for the next week. Six days we work, but the seventh we rest. The failure to do so means vital processes don’t occur that are meant for our spiritual renewal and well being.

I have also learned that we not only need daily rest and weekly rest, but we also need seasonal rest. Vacations are good. Three day weekends are good. But if you don’t put them on a calendar and protect them, they just don’t happen.

Calendaring is an essential discipline for those needing to find balance and health. No condemnation if you are finding it hard to find a stopping place.

The Fall is a good time to try again. God has put it in my heart to help ministers succeed where I have failed, and this is one area I have failed miserably, and still struggle from time to time.

My appeal to you is to please take care of yourself. Please take care of your marriage. Please take care of your family. Time passes so quickly that the “round-tuit” you kept promising can slip away from you.

We can’t go back and change yesterday, but we can begin today to plan a better tomorrow. Are you listening?

I am praying for you. Call me if I can help mentor you in this vital area.

All for Jesus,

George Black

Moses & Miracle of quail, Numbers 11


 © by George W. Black

Has your faith been stretched lately? Even Moses had his moments.

In Numbers 11, Moses is surrounded by 600,000 men unhappy with God’s provision of Manna after they were delivered from Egyptian bondage. Reluctantly God promises them meat.

Moses seems to cop an attitude when he tells God, “So where’s it coming from? Even if all the flocks and herds were butchered, would that be enough? Even if all the fish in the sea were caught, would that be enough?”

Have you ever heard yourself talk to God like that? Nothing but doubt and unbelief pouring out? It definitely wasn’t Moses brightest moment. 

And then God asks the question that drills down to Moses soul and uncovers the real root of the problem. “God answered Moses, “So, do you think I can’t take care of you?”” 

It wasn’t just the magnitude of the thing needed that was messing with Moses. It was much simpler than that. It was really about trusting God to take care of him. 

As it turns out, God was more than able to deliver on His promise, even if Moses couldn’t work out how it would happen. After all, how did the leper work out the process by which Jesus cleansed his leprosy, or the blind man who regained his eyesight? How did the disciples work out how Jesus fed 5,000 with five small Barley loaves and two small fish? 

The answer is never about how a thing can be done when we pray, but only do we trust Him to take care of us.

As for God answering Moses prayer? “A wind set in motion by God swept quails in from the sea. They piled up to a depth of about three feet in the camp and as far out as a day’s walk in every direction.”

A trained walker can cover 20 to 30 miles in a day.  But even half that distance is a massive amount of quail, three feet high. Is this the exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can think or imagine? I think God was letting Moses and the people know He is in control of the “how”, we just have to trust that He is able and will.

I love that the Bible shows us Moses’ human frailty, and not just perfection. This should give us hope that even when we don’t have perfect faith, God still does.

But He wants us to learn from these moments, and trust Him more and more. Your faith may be small today, but it can become great faith, and this brings Him great delight.

Are you facing what seems to be an impossible situation? My encouragement to you today is to find God’s promise in His Word, and then pray it out in faith. Don’t worry about how God is going to do it. That’s His job. If He tells you to do something, do it. He knows what it takes to get the miracle.

God is a good, good Father. Trust and obey Him no matter what, knowing that His tender mercies and loving kindness are always at work to care for you.

All for Jesus,  George W. Black

LET GOD MAKE THE “FINAL CUT”

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LET GOD MAKE THE “FINAL CUT”

by George W. Black

“God said to Gideon: “There are still too many. Take them down to the stream and I’ll make a final cut. When I say, ‘This one goes with you,’ he’ll go. When I say, ‘This one doesn’t go,’ he won’t go.” So Gideon took the troops down to the stream.” Judges 7:4-5 MSG

If you are a leader in the body of Christ, you must let God pick your team. Whether you are serving as a pastor, or a ministry leader, don’t commit the sin of presumption.

If there is one “besetting sin” I have witnessed in the local church, it is rushing promotion out of need or desperation. In some cases, these unproven leaders or workers can cause more damage than good.

You may have too many people serving in vital positions. Don’t fill a position just because it is vacant. Wait on God. The wrong person is worse than no person.

Out of insecurities we often pick those that are most like us, and that we like, and that appear strong and gifted. But God will pick those whose hearts are right, and that are able and faithful.

Jesus spent all night in prayer before He selected the twelve.

Be sensitive to the “gut check.” Even if all the outward signs are right, the “gut check” is the Holy Spirit saying “no”, or “not now.” Don’t quench the Holy Spirit when He is directing you otherwise. He is trying to protect you, and preserve God’s kingdom work. Only God knows the heart of any person.

Let God make the “final cut.” After all, it’s His church, right?

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER EASTER?

WHAT HAPPENED AFTER EASTER?

Pastor George Black, 4-23-17

Opening Scripture: Acts 2:1-4 NKJV  “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. {2} And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. {4} And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Introduction: The death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ accomplished more than just our redemption…it set in motion a new dispensation of Grace and the Church. Easter opened the door for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit to empower the Church to finish the work that Jesus started.

 

  1. Easter changed everything because of the resurrection of Christ. He then appeared to his disciples for forty days discussing the Kingdom.

Following the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the Bible tells us that Jesus spent forty days of intensive instruction with His disciples on the Kingdom of God. We could call this a spiritual boot-camp to prepare them for the incredible journey they were about to take. What an amazing time this must have been. And even though we have no direct record of what Jesus taught them during this time, we can assume that the disciples transmitted His teaching in their preaching and epistles, some of which is found in their New Testament writings. However, the most significant take-away we know of is the command by Christ to wait for the empowering of the Holy Spirit before attempting to build the Kingdom of God.

Acts 1:1-5 NKJV  “The former account I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, {2} until the day in which He was taken up, after He through the Holy Spirit had given commandments to the apostles whom He had chosen, {3} to whom He also presented Himself alive after His suffering by many infallible proofs, being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God. {4} And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; {5} “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

 

  1. Jesus taught the disciples of the coming of the Holy Spirit, that He was coming to help them after His departure.

Jesus was WITH the disciples, but the Holy Spirit was IN the disciples. This is the glorious transition that occurred following Easter. Jesus told the disciples He was returning to the Father, but that He would not leave them without His help. As a matter of fact, Paul the apostle said “without Him I can do nothing.” So how were these new apostles going to continuing building the Kingdom of God? Jesus promised them a “Helper.” He was referring to the third person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit, who is also referred to as the “Spirit of Christ.” In other words, the Heavenly baton was passed to the Holy Spirit when Jesus returned to Heaven, and He came to finish IN the disciples what Christ had started WITH the disciples. Jesus Christ was now IN the disciples by the Spirit of God, not just with them. This is the very reason He taught them that they would do the same works He did, even greater works. Greater? How can you do greater miracles than opening blind eyes, raising the dead, or curing the disease of leprosy? Jesus meant greater in number. Why? Because He went to the Father and sent back the Holy Spirit to indwell His followers. Instead of just one person doing miracles and building the Kingdom, there would be many, because now Jesus can fill every believer by the Holy Spirit and do the same things through the believer that He did. These signs shall follow them that believe…

A. John 7:37-39 NKJV “On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. {38} “He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” {39} But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.”

B. John 14:26 NKJV “”But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.”

C. John 16:7-16 NKJV “”Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. {8} “And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: {9} “of sin, because they do not believe in Me; {10} “of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; {11} “of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged. {12} “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. {13} “However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. {14} “He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you. {15} “All things that the Father has are Mine. Therefore I said that He will take of Mine and declare it to you. {16} “A little while, and you will not see Me; and again a little while, and you will see Me, because I go to the Father.”

D. Luke 3:16 NKJV “John answered, saying to all, “I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I is coming, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to loose. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

After we memorize John 3:16, we need to memorize Luke 3:16. Jesus has promised to save us in John 3:16, but He also promised to baptize us in the Holy Spirit in Luke 3:16.

 

  1. Jesus ascended to the Father 40 days after His resurrection, and sent back the promised Holy Spirit 10 days later on the Jewish Festival Day of Pentecost.

A. Pentecost means “fiftieth day”, and occurs 49 days after Easter Sunday, but 50 days including Easter Sunday.

B. Jesus was crucified, buried, and rose again during the Jewish festival of Passover.

C. Passover began when the Death Angel visited Egypt and killed all the first-born sons. The only ones spared were those who had marked their doors with the blood of a lamb.

D. As a result of this last judgment on Egypt, Pharaoh let the Israelites go into the wilderness to worship God.

E. Forty-nine days after the Exodus, while in the wilderness, God gives them the Ten Commandments at Mount Sinai. This day later becomes the day of Pentecost. On the same day God gave the Israelites the Law of Moses, Jesus now sends them the Holy Spirit, the only One who can empower us to keep the Law.

F. Pentecost is also known as the Festival of Weeks, or Festival of Reaping, or Festival of First Fruits. In other words, it was the Festival commemorating the early harvest, in anticipation of the later harvest. This reminds us that the glory of the later house will be greater than the former.

During this festival it was customary to wave sheaves of grain from the early harvest before the Lord. This reminds us that because Jesus was raised from the dead as the first-fruits of those who died, but the rest of the harvest is on the way. There is a glorious resurrection awaiting every believer who has died in Christ.

 

Conclusion: What happened after Easter set in motion the most incredible journey of faith that has swept around the globe, with over 2 billion and 200 million people confessing to be Christian in our world today. But our job is not over. As long as there are lost people in world, nation, state, city, neighborhood, we must continue the work of Christ by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus died and rose again for our redemption, but He sent the Holy Spirit back to empower us to take this redemption to every man, woman, teenager, boy and girl. You are not alone. Jesus is no longer WITH us. But we actually have something even better. He is now IN us. Greater is He that is IN us than he that is in the world. Remember: I can do all things through Christ!

 

Invitation: You can receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit today.

SURRENDER HAS IT’S REWARDS

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SURRENDER HAS IT’S REWARDS

By George W. Black

When we say “Jesus is Lord,” we may not always consider the far-ranging dynamics of His Lordship in our daily lives.  God spoke to my heart recently that “whatever you surrender to God comes under His covering, blessing, and protection; and whatever you do not surrender, does not.”

I have been meditating on that thought for days because of its profound implications. I felt it was a Word of wisdom to me personally, so I didn’t want to let it “fall to the ground” unexplored.

Various stories in the Bible that affirm the joy of divine surrender began to emerge in my thoughts, such as Jesus in the Garden before the passion of the Cross. He asked His Father if there was another way to accomplish salvation, His humanity bearing heavily on the moment as real as ours. Then He transitions His prayer to complete surrender with one word, “NEVERTHELESS.”

Surrender is always an act of worship, a giving of oneself fully and completely to another. Jesus set the example for us. He could have called 10,000 angels to rescue Him, but He chose the Father’s plan over His personal desire.  Just has John the Baptist had decreased so Christ could increase, so too now we find Jesus choosing to decrease so that the Father’s plan could continue.

“O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” Matthew 26:39

But let us not forget the example of faith that Jesus Christ set for us, and that we can continually look to for strength and courage, to say no to self, and yes to the Father’s plan. Jesus saw beyond the moment of temptation through the eyes of  faith. He looked to the reward.

“looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Surrender has it’s own rewards. For instance, when I surrender my life to follow Christ, I may not always do it perfectly, but it means that I am now looking to Him for His wisdom, guidance, etc. My faith and surrender place a demand on God that He responds to by perfectly covering me, blessing me, and protecting me.

In particular, when I surrender my body to Christ as a living sacrifice, this means that it is now His body, and that I want to follow His plan for it. This means using it for His purposes, taking care of it according to the clear teaching of Scripture, exercising it, feeding it good things, resting it, and fasting  it as He directs.

The next time you say Jesus is Lord of your body, ask yourself, is He really? Have I really surrendered to His plan for health and a long life?

Whatever we surrender to God comes under his covering, blessing, and protection. I want to be an obedient disciple that brings glory to God. I also want the health and long life necessary to do it well, so I have to come to the place I say, “nevertheless, not as I will but as You will.”

Sometimes fasting is the hardest thing I do. When I can’t even skip a meal, that tells me who is really in charge…my flesh. But God’s grace is sufficient. It’s not about beating myself up about it, its about recognizing my need for surrender. When I surrender, grace flows to the low place. Grace is God’s ability to do His will. If I am willing to receive His grace, I can always do His will. Thank you Jesus!!!

What about surrendering our finance to Him as an act of worship? I find so many people driven by fear in this area, and fear is of the flesh. We must be good stewards by recognizing that it all belongs to Him in the first place. What a joy and privilege it is to surrender our finance to Him and ask for His wisdom and guidance on how to handle it.  When you make God your financial partner, He becomes responsible for you. But we can’t say Jesus is Lord of finance, and not do the things He tells us to do.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord,Lord,’ and not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46

I remember a life-lesson on surrendering my finance early in my ministry. Cathy and I had driven several hundred miles to preach for a rural church in Louisiana, both Sunday morning and evening. We had some great services and everyone was blessed. However, Cathy and I were in trouble financially. Our house mortgage was overdue, and we were already getting the notices and phone calls. I felt helpless as the provider of my family. I was sure God was going to use this weekend trip to bless us with a good love offering.

I was wrong. When the deacon of the church handed me a folded check at the end of the evening, I could hardly wait a few minutes to open it and see what the church had given us. I was desperate.

When I opened the check, it was for $100.00. Needless to say, my heart just sank. We needed over $900.00 just to pull even with our bills, and would still not have anything for food or utilities.

Suddenly God spoke to me and said “sow it.” I heard Him as clear as day, but my flesh did not want to say “nevertheless.” So I argued with Him. I said, “God you know our situation. We spent more money than that check on gas and other expenses just making this trip. If I sow this money, we will have nothing to go home with, and I don’t know how I could ever tell Cathy I had given it away.”

It’s kinda funny when we think we can argue with God. But we do. He asked me one question in response that put me in my place. He asked, “will that offering meet your need?” Slowly I admitted, “no Lord, it won’t meet my need.” Then He said again, “sow it.”

BAM! Faith came up in my heart and I suddenly realized what He was trying to get me to do. He was giving me seed to break the curse of lack off my life. Now I had the choice of either eating my seed or sowing my seed. I surrendered and finally said, “nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.”

There was a man in the service that night who had just gotten saved in prison, and was a new release. Right after God told me to sow that money, he came over and began to talk to me and share his vision of starting a prison ministry to go back in with Bible Studies and discipleship training. I asked him if $100.00 would help him get started, and he about shouted he was so excited. He said that $100.00 was exactly what he was praying for to get started. I reached into my pocket and pulled out that folded check, signed it over to him, and put it in his hand.

God heard his prayers and used me to meet the need. That $100.00 wouldn’t meet my needs, but it met his needs. What an amazing God we serve.

I felt the smile of God as I left that place, but then I had to tell Cathy on the way home. As we pulled onto the highway, I told her how much the offering was, and what God had instructed me to do with it. Cathy is a woman of great faith. I had underestimated her. She said “good; God will take care of us some other way.”

Within a week we received a special love offering in the mail from someone who did not know the situation we were facing. It was a check for $1,000.00 that completely covered our past-due mortgage and some other things. The note said that God had laid this donation on this persons heart, and it happened about the same time we had sown our offering. I cried.

Whatever we surrender to God will have His covering, blessing, and protection.

Surrender in every area of life has its own rewards. Why does God ask us to surrender to Him? Because He is a good, good Father who knows what is best for us.

“If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land.” Isaiah 1:19

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

FORGIVING THOSE WHO HAVE WOUNDED US

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It is truly difficult to forgive people you have loved deeply when they have wounded deeply, and never apologized.

Sometimes I think I have let things go by praying prayers of forgiveness. Then like a speeding car out of a side street I get blindsided in my mind again.

This morning the Lord whispered to my heart that I had prayed the words of forgiveness, but had not cancelled the debt.

I am still mad at them. They still owe me. This is not forgiveness.

So back to the Cross I go again, repenting of my hard heart and self-righteousness, remembering all of my own sins.

I am so grateful for Amazing Grace. This time, with God’s help, I will cancel the debt, release the anger, and set them free.

Until then, I am not free.

Mark 11:25-26 “And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.”

WE MUST HAVE A NEW AWAKENING

deadpool
WE MUST HAVE A NEW AWAKENING
“Deadpool” opened with a $135 million dollar record crushing “R” rated movie weekend, on Valentines weekend no less.
 
Christians should always “know before you go” by reading movie reviews and parental guides that tell you the inside story of what you are about to open your spirit up to.
 
Ps 101:3 “I will refuse to look at anything vile and vulgar.”
 
www.MovieGuide.org is one such source I turn to for the inside scoop. It calls Deadpool “abhorrent.”
 
Besides sex, nudity, violence and gore, movie goers got treated to about 84 F-words and its derivatives, 3 obscene hand gestures, 21 sexual references, 34 scatological terms, 19 anatomical terms, 8 mild obscenities, 2 religious profanities, and 9 religious exclamations.
 
Does the success of this movie reflect the loss of morals in our society, or do movies of this nature condition us to tolerate and even accept todays anti-morals, anti-God, secular revolution? In both cases we are presented with a “state of our union” that must surely be what the Bible refers to as “perilous times.”
 
Sadly, Christians may have helped contribute to the success of this movie. What does this say about the state of Christianity in America when a “Christ-follower” can willingly pay for a bath in profanity, etc, and still feel okay about it? Even enjoy it?
 
Jesus never said “only believe.” He said “repent and believe.”
 
Mark 1:15 “The time promised by God has come at last!” he announced. “The Kingdom of God is near! Repent of your sins and believe the Good News!”
 
True repentance always means a change of direction and lifestyle. Making Jesus Lord means following Him, not the world.
 
I am praying for another Great Awakening in our nation that will rescue this generation. God is able. It’s not too late.
 
Join me daily for 10@10 – ten minutes of daily prayer at, or around 10 AM in your time zone, to pray for national, regional, local, and personal revival and awakening in our generation.
 
2 Chron 7:14 “Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land.”
 
https://www.movieguide.org/reviews/deadpool.html

HOPE FOR AMERICA

2016-POTUS-Collagere

I am resisting the urge to wade into all the Iowa tumult as I am so often amazed, and disgusted, by the division politics breeds between Christians who say they believe in the teachings and values of the same Bible I hold dear.

But then some of these same Christians are probably amazed and disgusted with my politics as well. Welcome to the USA.

Having lived through 12 Presidents, and many more state and local elections, I no longer drink the Kool aide of anyone’s campaign promises.

I evaluate what the candidates are saying in light of where they have come from, because history is often a great predictor of the future.

I have been a keen observer of politics since John F. Kennedy. When I was younger I campaigned for several politicians, both state and national. Even as a child, my father, who was active politically, had me go from house to house handing out campaign pins for who he hoped would be the next Governor of Louisiana. The candidate lost, but it had a life-long influence on me. It made me care about elections. Every election is important.

If only I could be king for a day. Actually that is a pretty scary thought. No thanks. I prefer to stay in my lane.

There were other political involvements along the way, but most notably, after campaigning vigorously for a presidential candidate in 1976, Cathy and I had the honor of being invited to the Presidential Inauguration of 1977. We stood in the cold and snow in Washington DC and witnessed the amazing transfer of power that is our Democratic Republic. No blood was shed as in other countries. It was a “bucket-list” experience for me.

Our nation has now passed that peaceful baton through 44 Presidential administrations, and our noble American ideals as a “city upon a hill” continue to survive.

I can’t say I believe they still thrive, but they do still survive.

As a pastor, father, and grandfather, I have a huge love and concern for my country and for the future we are handing the next generations. The domino affect ripples down through time. I think every true Christ-follower should be very concerned about where we go from here as a nation.

But instead of politics, I offer this perspective:

Despite all the campaign rhetoric, by all the candidates, the most critical solution to our nation’s woes remains absent – repentance for our national sins to turn away the judgments of a Holy God.

Does the political *ethos of a candidate matter. You bet! There is always the good, the bad, and the ugly, and we need to educate ourselves to know the difference. We may not be electing a “Pastor In Chief”, but it does matter if the Commander In Chief has a spiritual and moral base. What starts at the head flows down to the body. The Bible tells us “righteousness exalts a nation”, and unrighteousness does not.

* “Ethos” – the distinguishing character, ethic, sentiment, moral nature, or guiding beliefs of a person, group, or institution.

I lead a racially and culturally diverse church. We don’t bring politics into the pulpit, because Jesus Christ is our unity. I insist on this.

But you better believe I preach the Gospel and a Christian world view. I never try to tell our church who to vote for, or even who I will vote for. They don’t even know my party affiliation, or non-affiliation. I tell them to “vote for Jesus”…the candidate that best embodies the morals, values and ideals of our Judeo-Christian heritage, regardless of party.

Needless to say, someone saying they are a Christian is often much like their campaign promises. Campaign conversions are many. But what does their history say?

Our nation is in trouble. Nearly everyone agrees on this point, regardless of their political persuasion. The empirical evidence is indisputable on nearly every scale we want to measure…moral, financial, debt, military, international, etc.

The evidence that a nation is under a curse is confusion. Whenever the nation of Israel turned away from God, it always went into confusion. This is the curse of disobedience found in Dt. 28. Read the whole chapter for yourself. God offered the Israelites blessing or cursing. He said you choose.

Remember the 40 years in the wilderness wanderings? Confusion. Like Israel, is America now going in circles with no answers? We know this is going on in our nation, and we are all angry about it.

But the angst and outrage people feel over our dilemma must be channeled constructively. Campaign rhetoric and emotional political solutions alone cannot save our nation.

Besides, such things are often not honest. The problem is we want to believe them, and the candidates know that.

We must remember this:

No one is wise enough, strong enough, or smart enough to make America great again without God’s blessing.

So what is the answer? The answer is learning from the Biblical history of Israel, who more than once found themselves in the same predicament we are in today. When they had a godly leader that led them to pray, and repent, and turn to God, they were spared. When they did not, well, you can read about their captivity and bondage yourself.

I believe there is still time for the United States to turn around. There may even be signs of the pendulum reversing on the horizon. But the answer to our national problems is a spiritual one, not just a political one.

I don’t know if we have anyone left running for the office of President that has the moral certitude and courage to lead us in this way. Some of our best choices may have already dropped out.

But even if we do, I don’t know if modern America will elect them.

What is America’s hope? The right candidate? Of course. God uses people. But we must also have God grant repentance to our nation. Without HIM we can do nothing. But with HIM, all things are possible.

The only real hope for America is for God to “heal our land.”

“When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.“ II Chronicles 7:13-14 NKJV

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