Thursday, August 21, 2014

DESPERATION: "When All Else Fails ... Read the Instructions"

Here are the notes from the message this past Sunday at New Life Community Church.  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

Desperation, Part 3                                                        Sunday, August 17, 2014
“When All Else Fails … Read the Instructions”

28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.  30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord  Joel 2:28-31 (NIV)

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.  Joel 2:32 (NIV)

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting
Read the instruction manual

But also apply the instruction manual

Expert on Bull Runs Gets Gored By Bull

Every year revelers from around the world head to Pamplona, Spain to take part in the running of the bulls glorified by Ernest Hemingway's 1926 novel The Sun Also Rises. The festival, a heady nine-day mix of partying and adrenaline-chasing, draws hundreds of thousands of people from around the world to Pamplona, a city of around 300,000. Fifteen people have been killed in the bull-runs since records began in 1911. The most recent death occurred five years ago when a Spanish man was gored.
Bill Hillman, a 32-year-old Chicago-based journalist, is an expert on the event. He even co-authored a book subtitled "How to survive the bulls of Pamplona." But on July 3, 2014, just knowing about bull running, even knowing enough to write an instruction manual on bull running, wasn't enough. A 1,320 pound fighting bull named Brevito lagged behind the pack just before entering the city's bull ring at the end of a rain-slicked run in the annual festival. At the opportune time, Brevito gored Hillman in the right thigh and a 35-year-old Spanish man in the chest. Both men recovered, but the co-author of Hillman's book 's told The New York Times, "We will probably need to update the book."

And Josiah was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned thirty-one years in Jerusalem. And he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of David his father; and he did not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. For in the eighth year of his reign, while he was yet a boy, he began to seek the God of David his father, and in the twelfth year he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places, the Asherim, and the carved and the metal images.  II Chronicles 34:1-3 (ESV)

16 years old – began to seek God
20 years old – began to clean up the country.

Now in the eighteenth year of his reign, when he had cleansed the land and the house, he sent Shaphan the son of Azaliah, and Maaseiah the governor of the city, and Joah the son of Joahaz, the recorder, to repair the house of the Lord his God. They came to Hilkiah the high priest and gave him the money that had been brought into the house of God, …  10 And they gave it to the workmen who were working in the house of the Lord. And the workmen who were working in the house of the Lord gave it for repairing and restoring the house.  II Chronicles 34:8-10 (ESV)

26 years old – began repairing the house of God

Two things close to God’s heart:  REPAIR and RESTORE.

14 While they were bringing out the money that had been brought into the house of the Lord, Hilkiah the priest found the Book of the Law of the Lord given through Moses. 15 Then Hilkiah answered and said to Shaphan the secretary, “I have found the Book of the Law in the house of the Lord.” And Hilkiah gave the book to Shaphan.18 Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” And Shaphan read from it before the king.  II Chronicles 34:14-15, 18 (ESV)

Absolute Necessity:  REDISCOVER God’s Word

Question:  If they had not been guided by the Word of God, what had guided them?

19 And when the king heard the words of the Law, he tore his clothes. 20 And the king commanded … saying, 21 “Go, inquire of the Lord for me and for those who are left in Israel and in Judah, concerning the words of the book that has been found. For great is the wrath of the Lord that is poured out on us, because our fathers have not kept the word of the Lord, to do according to all that is written in this book.”  II Chronicles 34:19-21 (ESV)

Our first response:  REPENT

22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.  James 1:22-25 (NIV)

29 Then the king sent and gathered together all the elders of Judah and Jerusalem. 30 And the king went up to the house of the Lord, with all the men of Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem and the priests and the Levites, all the people both great and small. And he read in their hearing all the words of the Book of the Covenant that had been found in the house of the Lord.  II Chronicles 34:29-30 (ESV)

Our second response:  READ

7 Days of Saturation

31 And the king stood in his place and made a covenant before the Lord, to walk after the Lord and to keep his commandments and his testimonies and his statutes, with all his heart and all his soul, to perform the words of the covenant that were written in this book. 32  … And the inhabitants of Jerusalem did according to the covenant of God, the God of their fathers. 33 And Josiah took away all the abominations from all the territory that belonged to the people of Israel and made all who were present in Israel serve the Lord their God. All his days they did not turn away from following the Lord, the God of their fathers.  II Chronicles 34:31-33 (ESV)

A Vision!

Now all the people gathered together as one man in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate; and they told Ezra the scribe to bring the Book of the Law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded Israel. So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month.  Nehemiah 8:1-2 (NKJV)

So Ezra the scribe stood on a platform of wood which they had made for the purpose; … And Ezra opened the book in the sight of all the people, for he was standing above all the people; and when he opened it, all the people stood up. And Ezra blessed the Lord, the great God.  Then all the people answered, “Amen, Amen!” while lifting up their hands. And they bowed their heads and worshiped the Lord with their faces to the ground.  Nehemiah 8:4-6 (NKJV)

Also Jeshua, Bani, Sherebiah, Jamin, Akkub, Shabbethai, Hodijah, Maaseiah, Kelita, Azariah, Jozabad, Hanan, Pelaiah, and the Levites, helped the people to understand the Law; and the people stood in their place. So they read distinctly from the book, in the Law of God; and they gave the sense, and helped them to understand the reading.  Nehemiah 8:7-8 (NKJV)

And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law.  10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”  Nehemiah 8:9-10 (NKJV)

Friday, August 15, 2014

"The Moral Revolutionaries are Coming for Your Children"

That's the last line in Dr. Al Mohler's** Briefing on Tuesday of this week (Aug. 12).  He describes activities in the Fremont, California Unified School District with respect to a high school textbook entitled Your Health Today.  You can buy a copy of this book for yourself for a mere $120.30 on Amazon.  An LA Times article reports that the book  "would expose teens to topics on sexual fantasies, sex games, as well as themes that include ropes, handcuffs, sex toys and vibrators."  And that's just the start in describing the book's sexual agenda. 

Some might discount Dr. Mohler's words as paranoid -- an over-reaction.  But we need to look closer. We MUST look closer.

It is far too easy for us to relegate such a story to the Wild West of run-away California liberalism.  "Let them go to Hell in a handbasket.  They're crazy anyway.  We will never be like THAT!"  But hold on a minute.

Look at the growing trends that assault our children and grand-children on a daily basis.  There is the unbelievable success of E.L. James' novel Fifty Shades of Grey and its two sequels. They have sold 100 million copies!!  The topics, according to Wikipedia : "It is notable for its explicitly erotic scenes featuring elements of sexual practices involving bondage/discipline, dominance/submission, and sadism/masochism." This is pornography.

Now, a movie based on the book is coming in 2015.

We can point to such popular TV sitcoms as "Will and Grace", "Modern Family", "The New Normal", "Glee" ... the list goes on.  These evangelistically promote a change from traditional morality.

Just talk to any Youth Pastor today.  They are met weekly with an environment shocking to my 50's, 60's, 70's upbringing.


Run for the Hills! -- Circle the Wagons!

The reaction to this can often be RETREAT.  If the moral revolutionaries are coming for our children, then let's protect them by removing them from the line of fire.

As a first reaction, this makes sense.  Therefore, the rise of home schooling is an enormous phenomenon in our day.  I applaud those parents who feel they can make this commitment.  But, is this the total answer?  I am sure it is not.  Well-meaning parents can shield their children for a while, but eventually they will integrate into the larger culture.  That will be a crucial moment.

Watch What They Watch

There are numerous defensive steps parents can take.  Filtering internet access using such services as Covenant Eyes is important.

The movies our kids view have profound effect on them.  Resources such as Movie Guide can help us check out movie content from a Christian perspective.

Various apps help parents monitor their kids' cell phone usage.  Texting can lead to sexting and who knows what else.  For parents, it can seem like fighting an enormous monster.


But, it is not enough to bolt your doors and hide in the dark.  We cannot run away to a mountain cabin. We cannot forever be on the defensive. We must ACT.

The "Secret" Weapon: Dads and Moms

On an individual level, nothing takes the place of parents who care and are engaged with their kids. There are so many wonderful resources to help parents raise their children in safety and sanctity.  All one needs do is go to such storehouses as Focus on the Family, Family Research Council, or the American Family Association to name a few.

Churches That Make a Difference

It is time for churches to become resource bases in the battle for our kids.  It is time to do the research, find the answers, form the army, and train the troops.  We can no longer "whistle in the graveyard." Every church must have effective Equipping Classes to inform, inspire, and empower every family to win this war.

Let Your Voice Be Heard

In Fremont, California, 2,200 parents rose up and said NO to the pornographic assault being played out in their schools.  As a result, the Superintendent and School Board agreed to "temporarily shelve the book."  They have only placed it on hold.  That means, after knowing the content of this text, the administrators still want it in the students' hands.  The moral revolutionaries are coming.

In Every Place

In every locality, Christians must speak up and hold school boards accountable.  In every city and town, churches must be transformed from being country clubs for leisure living, and become equipping centers for winning a war.  Every Christian father and mother, grandfather and grandmother must be loving enough, brave enough, and devoted enough to walk with their children through the tempting days ahead.  Loud voices are talking to them.

The moral revolutionaries have a vision for our kids.   They will not quit.  It is time for a fresh wind from God to blow on every family and every church.  As a result our schools and our culture can be redeemed.  That is our vision.  And we are coming to say and to pray, "Thy kingdom come!  Thy will be done ... on earth as it is in heaven."

** Dr. Albert Mohler is one of the most intelligent and informative voices speaking today.  He is the President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky and the author of numerous books including The Conviction to Lead and Culture Shift.  Follow the link to access his daily Briefing.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Are Missionaries Idiots and Narcissists?: a Response to Ann Coulter

As a Fox News enthusiast, I have always had respect for Ann Coulter.  Her style is often brash and cynical, but her content is always good.  That's why her post of this past week was shocking.

The headline on her website this past Wednesday was "Ebola Doctor's Condition Downgraded to 'Idiotic'."  She is writing about Dr. Kent Brantly along with his co-worker Nancy Writebol.  They are the medical missionaries to Liberia who while ministering to Ebola victims contracted the disease themselves and had to be flown home to Emory University Hospital in Atlanta.

Ann Coulter's criticism of Dr. Brantly and Mrs. Writebol may be summarized under three points.  These three speak to a broader question concerning Christian missions.

1.  Christian missions is idiotic.

It is hard to believe that Ann Coulter could write such stuff, but she did.  She questions why missionaries are in Africa in the first place.  After all, it's dangerous.  After all, America is a mission field in the first place.

She writes, "Why did Dr. Brantly have to go to Africa? The very first "risk factor" listed by the Mayo Clinic for Ebola -- an incurable disease with a 90 percent fatality rate -- is: "Travel to Africa."   Can't anyone serve Christ in America anymore?  No -- because we're doing just fine. America, the most powerful, influential nation on Earth, is merely in a pitched battle for its soul." 

She alleges misplaced priorities.  If, she says, Dr. Brantly had practiced in Los Angeles and won one media mogul to Christ, he would have done more than "anything he could accomplish in a century spent in Liberia."  Why? Because America is influential whereas a Third World cesspool (those are her words) is not.

As another option, Dr. Brantly, according to her, should have stayed home in Zavala County, Texas (one of the poorest counties in the nation) rather than fly around the world to take care of strangers.

2.  Christian missions wastes money.

Ms. Coulter begins her article talking about money.  "I wonder how the Ebola doctor feels now that his humanitarian trip has cost a Christian charity much more than any services he rendered.  What was the point?  Whatever good Dr. Kent Brantly did in Liberia has now been overwhelmed by the more than $2 million already paid by the Christian charities Samaritan's Purse and SIM USA just to fly him and his nurse home in separate Gulfstream jets, specially equipped with medical tents, and to care for them at one of America's premier hospitals."

I have no idea how she came up with this equation, but she did.  In her opinion, not only was this mission wrong-headed, it was a waste of perfectly good money.  

3.  Christian missions is narcissistic.

Her most scathing comments are aimed at motive.  Why would anyone do such an idioticly wasteful thing as try to help Liberians?

With typical caustic insight, Ms. Coulter says that "serving the needy in some deadbeat town in Texas wouldn't have been 'heroic.'"  Accusing all of us, she writes, "Which explains why American Christians go on 'mission trips' to disease-ridden cesspools. They're tired of fighting the culture war in the U.S., tired of being called homophobes, racists, sexists and bigots. So they slink off to Third World countries, away from American culture to do good works, forgetting that the first rule of life on a riverbank is that any good that one attempts downstream is quickly overtaken by what happens upstream." 

"Slink off!"

She calls Christian missions an exercise in cowardice.  Afraid to fight the culture wars, timid souls "slink off" to dangerous places in hopes of being called heroes.

She calls this "Christian narcissism."

What Can We Say?

It is obvious that Ann Coulter has never heard of something called THE GREAT COMMISSION (Matt. 28:19-20).  

Her words are insulting and offensive.  But, she betrays an attitude not unlike many that circulate regularly around the Church.  She simply said it more rudely.  Sanely, we need to answer these questions.

Is it wrong to go?

Over the years, I have done my share of trips to the foreign field.  I have heard it many times: "Why are we going over there when we have so much need here at home?"  One time years ago, we were gathering toys to take to an orphanage in Mexico.  One individual brought in a trunk load, but put a condition on the gift, "I don't want any of these toys to go out of the USA.  They all are to be given away here in Monroe."  We asked the person to please go ahead and give them away, but could not include them in our effort.

Underneath this attitude is the premise that we should not try to help anyone else until we have helped ourselves.  "When we get strong enough, we will then be able to really do some good."  "Our first priority is to get ourselves healthy, then maybe we can help someone else."  The biggest problems with this is, first off, you never get strong enough, and, secondly, it's totally un-Scriptural.

Jesus never said "Go when you get strong enough."  The Book of Acts is a continual picture of God pushing the Church to go -- no matter what.

Does it cost too much?

Missions is always an expensive affair.  Again, I've heard it a thousand times.  Why plant good people in far away places at great expense when that money would be put to greater use at home?  On the table here is a larger question.  Are those people we seek to reach WORTH IT?  

At the core of Christianity is the salient truth that God Himself spared no expense to reach you and me.  The self-sacrifice of Jesus put a price tag on human lives -- even "insignificant" humans like Liberians and Nigerians.  

Why do we go?

To me, the most shocking aspect of Ann Coulter's article is the allegation of cowardice and narcissism. Do some people go on missions to escape?  Probably.  It can be something like a heart-broken man fleeing to join the French Foreign Legion.   But, to cast question on all cross-cultural efforts as being exercises in self-adoration??!!

Church history is filled with inspiring stories of missionary exploits.  From William Carey to Hudson Taylor, from the Moravians to the "Auca Five", the Spirit of Jesus shines brightly in these tales of courage and commitment.

I believe we must re-commit ourselves to standing strong in America, loving our land, and caring for our own nation.  We must win back the heart of our country.  But in doing so, we cannot back away from our world mandate.  Jesus said, "Go into all the world..."  It will be costly.  It will be dangerous.  But, please let's not crucify and criticize our own.

God bless Dr. Kent Brantly and Mrs. Nancy Writebol.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

DESPERATION: "My Greatest Need"

Here are the notes from the message at New Life Community Church, Sunday, August 10, 2014.  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

Desperation, Part 2                                                   Sunday, August 10, 2014
“My Greatest Need”

28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.  30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord  Joel 2:28-31 (NIV)

And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.  Joel 2:32 (NIV)

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

21 Days of Prayer and Fasting

The commandment to get in touch with the Holy Spirit.

16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. 18 And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, 19 addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, 20 giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ,  Ephesians 5:16-20 (ESV)

And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high.”  Luke 24:49 (ESV)

The Holy Spirit is a PERSON.

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 go, I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: John 16:7-8 (ESV)

The Holy Spirit WORKS.

Then he said to me, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts. Who are you, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain. And he shall bring forward the top stone amid shouts of ‘Grace, grace to it!’”  Zechariah 4:6-7 (ESV)

Inward motivation.

To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.  Colossians 1:29 (NIV)

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.  I Corinthians 15:10 (NLT)

The Holy Spirit EMPOWERS.

how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.  Acts 10:38 (NIV)

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Are Pastors Deliberately Keeping Their Flocks in the Dark?

On Thursday of this week, an article was published by pastor and radio talk show host Chuck Baldwin.  Citing research by George Barna, he alleges that 90% of pastors are deliberately misleading their flocks -- "keeping them in the dark."

Chuck Baldwin

Barna, speaking on American Family Radio, tells us that he has just completed a two-year research project gauging the political, cultural, and societal convictions of "theologically conservative pastors."  To summarize, he states,

‘What we're finding is that when we ask them (the pastors) about all the key issues of the day, [90 percent of them are] telling us, Yes, the Bible speaks to every one of these issues. Then we ask them: Well, are you teaching your people what the Bible says about those issues?--and the numbers less than 10 percent of pastors who say they will speak to it.’

Chuck Baldwin then comments, 

Did you get that? Ninety-percent of America’s pastors say they KNOW that the Bible speaks to all of these issues, but they are deliberately determined to NOT teach these Biblical principles. That is an amazing admission!

I have several observations.


I agree with the percentages Barna and Baldwin assert concerning evangelical pastors' silence on controversial issues.  But I disagree with the reasons for the silence.  It is not always a determined resistance to bring God's truth, but rather a combination of fear and a sense of inadequacy to deal with complex issues.  There is also the concern about the priorities of ministry.

George Barna does not tell us his list of "key issues."  But it's not hard to come up with a host of cultural, political, and societal battlelines.  Here is the beginning of my list:

1.  Gender issues and gender identity.
2.  Marital failure and divorce.
3.  Homosexuality and the LGBT agenda
4.  Immigration
5.  Racism
6.  Destructive economic policies and practices
7.  Child abuse
8.  Sex trafficking and slavery
9.  Pornography
10.  Addiction
11.  Religious freedom
12.  Scientific over-reach.
13.  Global warming


In many cases, pastors know they need to address these things, but it can seem a "no-win" situation. They are usually preaching to the "already converted" when speaking to their own congregations.  The people they want most to affect are outside the walls.  While I do not personally agree with this sentiment, pastors can feel there is no upside to delving into controversy.

I came across an unusual illustration of this point.  Brian McLaren is perhaps the top leader of the emergent church movement.  Some call this the "apostate church movement."  It is my firm opinion these once devoted Christians have in essence left the faith.

Brian McLaren

On July 21 of this year, McLaren tells in his blog how he moved from being an "evangelical pastor" refusing to deal with the LGBT agenda to one that fully endorses it.  He lists a 5-step process he underwent.

1.  Disengagement.  Wishing the issue would go away.
2.  Fear.  If I don't speak out in support of gay rights, I will lose 4% of my congregation.
3.  Fear.  If I DO speak out in support of gay rights, I will lose 40% of my congregation.
4.  Hesitation.  If I take a stand, I will be misunderstood.
5.  Oh well.  My cover is blown.  Everybody now knows I support the gay agenda.

McLaren moves in the opposite direction of that advocated by Baldwin and Barna, but it is still the same sequence.  Most pastors do not desire to be unfaithful to their call.  They simply wish the thorny "no-win" issues would just go away.


The second reason pastors fail to communicate about hard issues is because they haven't done the hard work to feel capable of doing so.  I believe that the Bible speaks to every issue facing mankind.  Some of those issues require careful thought, study, and consideration.  The last thing we need is a host of half-educated preachers pontificating about things they do not understand.

For this reason, many church leaders restrict themselves to pure Bible preaching.  We certainly have a scarcity of sound biblical preaching and teaching.  Why shouldn't the pastor stick to his strength and leave the technical stuff to experts?  In reply, we certainly need more of God's Word, but we also need a biblical worldview applied to modern situations.  We need to hear the Bible APPLIED to every issue. whether it be poverty or piety, pornography or politics.


Baldwin's phraseology is provocative.  It alleges a pre-meditated intent to deceive -- to "keep in the dark."  Do I believe many, if not most, pastors are shy to speak out on controversial issues?  Yes.  But does that constitute intentional deception and negligence?

In truth, most pastors are peace-loving individuals who already have their share of difficulty, challenge, and controversy.  Between warring deacons, whining parishioners, anemic budgets, and a nagging sense of needing more, being asked to fight the demons of a world gone crazy can seem too much.

One of the strengths of the great evangelist Billy Graham was that he stayed ON TASK.  He never wavered from his basic commission from God.  He tells of how he was tempted to become an anti-communist political activist.  Instead he stayed on his message:  Jesus love you, He can forgive you, and give you a new life.

By the nature of our calling, pastors must address more than just the pure Gospel message.  We must bring "the whole counsel of God."  In doing so, there is the continual challenge of keeping balance and proper priorities.

One of the historic strengths of America is the power of the pulpit.  From Jonathan Edwards and the Great Awakening to Martin Luther King, Jr., America has been shaped by her preachers.  So, may God's servants lift up their voices.  It may be the voice of one crying in the wilderness, but if it carries prophetic impact it will shape our land once again.

By overcoming hesitation and fear, then doing the hard work of preparation, there can be a reclaiming of the power of God's Word in our land.  It has happened before.  It can happen again.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

9 Things You Should Know About Hamas

Considering the current conflict between Israel and the Hamas, I thought it might be good to take a closer look at this group called Hamas.  Joe Carter, in his TGC blog, gives us 9 important things we need to know about this terrorist group.  Here's the link:

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Pray or Dr. Kent Brantly

The story coming out of Liberia and now Atlanta about Dr. Kent Brantly bears us taking note.  Dr. Brantly is a 33-year-old Christian missionary doctor who is showing us something of what makes Christianity strong – heroic.

This past Sunday in the Daily Beast, writer Michael Daly wrote about Dr. Brantly.  This secular newsman coined WWKD – off the much used WWJD (“What Would Jesus Do?).  Michael Daly says Kent Brantly’s actions in battling the African Ebola epidemic elicit us to ask “What Would Kent Do?”  He is exemplary.

Mr. Daly writes, "Among his fellow devout Christians, 33-year-old Dr. Kent Brantly should be honored as someone who has lived the answer to the question of What Would Jesus Do?  But he is a no less worthy example for those of any faith, or no faith at all.  Even atheists could find a guide to goodness in asking themselves What Would Kent Do? 

Here’s the story in a nutshell.  Dr. Kent Brantly is the real deal.  You can listen to the message he preached at his home church (Southeastern Church of Christ of Indianapolis) this past July.  Here’s the link:

He packed up his wife and two small children because of “the call of God” on his life.  Medicine was the means of showing the love of Jesus.  He signed on with Samaritan’s Purse for a two year stint in the ravaged nation of Liberia. 

Michael Daly writes, “What Jesus would do is what Brantly did when he agreed to work in an Ebola isolation ward in Liberia despite being admittedly terrified.”

To carry it further, when he found that he had been infected, he also knew his co-worker, Nancy Writebol, was in the same condition.  With only one dose of anti-Ebola serum available, he chose that she rather than himself be treated.

Christian history is filled with stories of faith, sacrifice, and heroism.  St. Tertullian of the 2nd Century declared, "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church."  Dr. Rodney Stark, in his book The Rise of Christianity, tells us that when pagans fled the plague-ravaged cities of the 2nd Century, Christians stayed behind to care for the sick.  In so doing, by such acts of self-less love, they won over an empire.

Examples of utter self-less devotion inspire us to pay the price in our day.  Dr. Kent Brantly stands as a testimony to us of the faith that overcomes the world.

Michael Daly concludes his article illustrating to us the power of sacrificial service.  "Brantly becomes the first person actually in America known to have Ebola. He also returns to us as a reminder of how magnificently decent we can be by actually living in accordance to principles we are all supposed to share.   Brantly would dismiss any comparison between him and Christ.  But, even if you do not believe in Jesus, you can ask yourself WWKD?"

Pray today for Dr. Kent Brantly.  And pray that God raise up more like him to touch our world.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

DESPERATION: "Desperate Measures"

Here are the notes from the message Sunday at New Life Community Church.  If you desire to listen to this message, you may do so by going to our website at  God bless!

Desperation, Part 1                                                      Sunday, August 3, 2014
“Desperate Measures”

Just completed series Turning Points:
1. Turning Points for our Nation
2. Turning Points for the Family
3. Turning Points for the Church
4. Turning Points for You

We need an encounter with God the Holy Spirit.  We need a touch from His presence.  We need to be built on God’s Word.  We need to have a burning passion for people.

28 “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.  30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.  31 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord32 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be deliverance, as the Lord has said, even among the survivors whom the Lord calls.  Joel 2:28-32 (NIV)

“Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

Hippocrates:  "For extreme diseases, extreme methods of cure, as to restriction, are most suitable."[1].

Erasmus:  "Malo nodo, malus quærendus cuneus"  which means “for a hard knot a hard tool must be sought.”

Lowe’s Commercial

A.    Desperate
1.      Definition:  des·per·ate
adjective: desperate

                  feeling, showing, or involving a hopeless sense that a situation is so bad as to be impossible to deal with.  "a desperate sadness enveloped Ruth"

(of an act or attempt) tried in despair or when everything else has failed; having little hope of success.  "drugs used in a desperate attempt to save his life"
last-ditchlast-gasp, eleventh-hour, do-or-diefinalMore

(of a situation) extremely bad, serious, or dangerous.  "there is a desperate shortage of teachers"
(of a person) having a great need or desire for something.  "I am desperate for a cigarette"
in great need of, urgently requiring, in want of; More
(of a person or fight) violent or dangerous.  "a desperate criminal"

2.    Full Definition of DESPERATE

Ø  1        a :  having lost hope <a desperate spirit crying for relief>
          b :  giving no ground for hope <the outlook was desperate>
Ø  2          a :  moved by despair <victims made desperate by abuse>
o   b :  involving or employing extreme measures in an attempt to escape defeat or frustration <made a desperate leap for the rope>
Ø  3          :  suffering extreme need or anxiety <desperate for money>
Ø  4          :  involving extreme danger or possible disaster <a desperatesituation>
Ø  5          :  of extreme intensity
Ø  6          :  shocking, outrageous

3.      des·per·ate

1.  reckless or dangerous because of despair or urgency: adesperate killer.
2.  having an urgent need, desire, etc.: desperate for attention.
3.  leaving little or no hope; very serious or dangerous: a desperateillness.
4.  extremely bad; intolerable or shocking: clothes in desperate taste.
5.  extreme or excessive.

Desperate Measures:
Desperate measures either push you toward God or away from God – toward good or toward bad.


TV Show Breaking Bad on the Dangers of Pride

The critically-acclaimed TV show Breaking Bad centers on the story of Walter White, a bored high school chemistry teacher who discovers that he has stage III lung cancer. Desperate to provide for his family, Walter decides to start manufacturing methamphetamine to create a nest egg. Initially, his goal is to make about $750,000; enough to cover the mortgage, college for both his kids and to cover any other major expenses that might arise over the next 20 years.
But as the series moves forward, the drama focuses on Walter's transformation from a frustrated middle-class American male to a drug kingpin and a cold-blooded killer. The central question of Breaking Bad Becomes this: What makes a person "Bad"? As the story develops we get a clear answer: at some point, Walter decided to become bad.
Specifically, Walter succumbs to the sin of pride. Initially, his pride was submerged under a thin veneer of suburban respectability. But as the show progresses, Walter's pride rises to the surface. In one of the show's most stunning scenes, Walter chillingly explains to his wife Skyler why he's the man in charge when it comes to Mexican cartels and the drug trade. He says,
Who are you talking to right now? Who is it you think you see? Do you know how much I make a year? I mean, even if I told you, you wouldn't believe it. Do you know what would happen if I suddenly decided to stop going in to work? A business big enough that it could be listed on the NASDAQ goes belly up. It disappears. It ceases to exist without me. No, you clearly don't know who you're talking to. So let me clue you in. I am not in danger, Skyler. I am the danger. A guy opens his door and gets shot, and you think that of me? No. I am the one who knocks.
Walter is no longer the frustrated, somewhat bumbling and basically good genius of season one. He's changed, and we're encouraged to look at him the way Diane Keaton looks at Al Pacino at the end of The Godfather: "What's happened to you?" It's a mixture of horror, deep regret, and revulsion. It's a disturbing picture of the evils of pride.
Good people under pressure can go good or break bad.

Desperate Measures:

1.     An EYE-OPENING Encounter

“O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!  Psalm 39:4 (ESV)

Andy Stanley:  Everybody ends up somewhere in life.  A few people end up somewhere on purpose.

2.     A LIFE-TRANSFORMING Experience

Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and rain righteousness upon you.  Hosea 10:12 (ESV)

3.     A CYCLE-BREAKING Decision

13 Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king's palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. 14 For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father's house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” 15 Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, 16 “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.” 17 Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him.  Esther 4:13-17 (ESV)