A Response to Terrorism

277359-20151124Have you watched the news today? Undoubtedly, there’s a report of a new terrorist act somewhere in the world. Last week it was in Paris. This week, nations are on edge as threats abound and warnings are issued here, there, and everywhere. Surely we are experiencing the terrible times of which Jesus spoke when lawlessness increases and the love of many grows cold, the end times when betrayal and hatred run rampant in our streets. All around, His words come to life before our very eyes:

You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake…And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. Luke 21:16-17,25-26

Sounds pretty bad, huh? And, of course, it is! But it’s not the end of the world quite yet, and we must not focus on the abounding terror but on the One who is ultimately going to bring it all to an end on the Day of the Lord. He has not left us un-prepared or without hope, and He is sufficient in even the most desperate of times. But what does that look like? There’s a perfect example in the story of Esther, the Jewish woman who became Queen of Persia, which is, interestingly, the region we know as Iran.  It’s also interesting to note that those Persians of long-ago were just as violent and cruel as are the radical jihadists of today.

In summary, in his hatred of the Jews, Haman initiated a plan to have them all wiped from the face of  the earth and the king approved it for Haman was a highly favored and trusted official. Esther 4:3-17:

And in every province, wherever the king’s command and his decree reached, there was great mourning among the Jews, with fasting and weeping and lamenting, and many of them lay in sackcloth and ashes. 

When Esther’s young women and her eunuchs came and told her, the queen was deeply distressed. She sent garments to clothe Mordecai, so that he might take off his sackcloth, but he would not accept them. Then Esther called for Hathach, one of the king’s eunuchs, who had been appointed to attend her, and ordered him to go to Mordecai to learn what this was and why it was. Hathach went out to Mordecai in the open square of the city in front of the king’s gate, and Mordecai told him all that had happened to him, and the exact sum of money that Haman had promised to pay into the king’s treasuries for the destruction of the Jews. Mordecai also gave him a copy of the written decree issued in Susa for their destruction, that he might show it to Esther and explain it to her and command her to go to the king to beg his favor and plead with him on behalf of her people. And Hathach went and told Esther what Mordecai had said. Then Esther spoke to Hathach and commanded him to go to Mordecai and say, “All the king’s servants and the people of the king’s provinces know that if any man or woman goes to the king inside the inner court without being called, there is but one law—to be put to death, except the one to whom the king holds out the golden scepter so that he may live. But as for me, I have not been called to come in to the king these thirty days.”

And they told Mordecai what Esther had said. 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. 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?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “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.” Mordecai then went away and did everything as Esther had ordered him. 

Can there be any doubt that Mordecai, Esther and the entire Jewish people were in mortal danger? Can there be any doubt that the terror they faced was very much like that which is seen today? I don’t think so.

So, what was their reaction? It was one we should model as we enter into mourning, prayer and fasting, and seeking the Lord for His sufficiency in our own time of trouble. We do have hope, for just look at how our amazing God stepped in when His servants humbled themselves and took a stand for righteousness, regardless of the potential consequences.

Previously, Mordecai had learned of a plot to kill the king and had saved his life. His action had been recorded but has seemingly escaped the memory of the king. Meanwhile, Haman had come to hate Mordecai more than any other Jew and even the sight of him made him very angry so he built a gallows on which to hang Mordecai, but on the very night before he approached the king about it, God intervened (Esther 6:1-11).

On that night the king could not sleep. And he gave orders to bring the book of memorable deeds, the chronicles, and they were read before the king. And it was found written how Mordecai had told about Bigthana and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, and who had sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And the king said, “What honor or distinction has been bestowed on Mordecai for this?” The king’s young men who attended him said, “Nothing has been done for him.” And the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to speak to the king about having Mordecai hanged on the gallows[i] that he had prepared for him. And the king’s young men told him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king said to him, “What should be done to the man whom the king delights to honor?” And Haman said to himself, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman said to the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let royal robes be brought, which the king has worn, and the horse that the king has ridden, and on whose head a royal crown is set. And let the robes and the horse be handed over to one of the king’s most noble officials. Let them dress the man whom the king delights to honor, and let them lead him on the horse through the square of the city, proclaiming before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.’” Then the king said to Haman, “Hurry; take the robes and the horse, as you have said, and do so to Mordecai the Jew, who sits at the king’s gate. Leave out nothing that you have mentioned.” So Haman took the robes and the horse, and he dressed Mordecai and led him through the square of the city, proclaiming before him, “Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor.”

Talk about God’s perfect timing! And what delicious irony, as the bad guy had to parade the good guy through the streets of the city proclaiming the king’s favor over his enemy; favor he thought should have been his.

Long story short…well, not really very long because Esther is only ten chapters…not only did Mordecai and Esther survive, but so did all of the Jewish people. And even more, the king granted permission for them to avenge themselves against their enemies and 75,000 unrighteous haters of God’s people were destroyed.

Our King is coming, and His arrival is imminent. Nobody can say exactly when that will be, but it is certain that all of the signs of the end of which Jesus warned are manifesting now. Let’s not allow our hearts to fail us from fear, but let’s rise up and stand in faith in our God. He is always sufficient and His timing is always absolutely perfect.

A Song of Hope

IMG_0105_2Like many of us, my cousin, Crystal Kain Ross, felt overwhelming grief at the Supreme Court’s decision to endorse gay marriage.  Soon though, she realized that God had not been caught unaware, He is still in control, and in the end He has already won the battle.  When all is said and done:

For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God.  Romans 14:11

Then the Spirit of God spoke to Crystal’s heart and gave her a new song to sing. In telling me about the song, she emphasized two phrases (italicized in the text) that spoke volumes to her.  In the first verse, “His crystal tears,” the Lord showed her that Jesus’ tears are as crystal, multifaceted and pure.  In the fourth verse, the phrase, “His torrents of love,” cannot do justice to the magnitude of His love for us.

The darkness will soon disappear
The daughters of earth are awakened
To cry His crystal tears
His voice sings o’er the oceans
With judgments in their waves
The nations soon are coming
To see His brightest day

Soon every knee is bowing
Before the King of truth
And every heart will be accepting
Of the faith that needs no proof
The sinners are confessing
The secrets of their nights
They see the King’s great promise
Every day a new nation in His light

Sweet rivers of salvation
With healing life and grace
Flow now inside us unceasing
Until the darkness is stayed
Wash over us victorious
Bring purity from sin
Until we join the chorus
Of the songs that never will end

His torrents of love are falling
In glorious light-filled rays
So bright His paths before us
They flow in brand new ways
Each cry to heaven is counted
No prayers are cast aside
The gates to the heavens are opened
The King is drawing nigh

No matter what the Courts say
Or all their dark desires
The King of glory cometh
To light His holy fires
Be of that group so counted
Of His purity within
So when you time here is over
Your soul can enter in

Each cry to heaven is counted
No prayers are cast aside
The gates to the heavens are opened
The King is drawing nigh

In or Out of the Box?

scan13colorIt is for freedom that Christ has set us free…So if the Son sets you free, you are free indeed. Galatians 5:1a & John 8:36

 Sheba has a dog-crate in which she’s often lived for extended periods of time—it’s a place where she is safe, but it’s also a place where her movement is limited. She’s in a box and she reacts in two different ways. Usually she’s content—in fact, she seems to love it, either sleeping peacefully or lazily watching the world go by in front of her. At other times she rebels and wants out; and she makes sure everyone knows it by her continual barking, as well as pawing at the sides of the crate; but regardless of how much she whines, she can only get out if we open the door. Once she’s out, the better-behaved she is, the more freedom she generally has. As an older lady with much better manners than she had as a puppy, Sheba spends very little time in her box—she is usually free to roam around the house as she pleases.

Perhaps we’re very much the same—but the boxes we live in are of our own making—they’re places where we think we’re safe—places with emotional or attitudinal walls that we’ve erected to keep other people out. Like Sheba we may be very content most of the time—sitting back, relaxing and just watching the world go by. But while our boxes may be quite comfortable, they’re also limiting for there’s no challenge; no potential for growth. So there comes a time when we get restless because our needs seem to be unmet, or our hopes and dreams don’t seem to be coming true. But we feel trapped—we can’t get out of our boxes—and there seems to be no way to open the door to freedom.

But our Master can unlock the doors to our self-imposed limitations. God can break down those walls—the barriers that prevent us from being all that we can be, for “where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17b)

If we allow him to open the doors and we step out in faith, we can explore, grow, learn and mature. Pretty soon our boxes are no longer necessary. In fact, we may find that they’ve become too small and we no longer fit inside!

A New Day is Dawning

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Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?  I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.        Isaiah 43:18-19 ESV

Never has the fulfillment of these words felt as imminent to me as it does now.  My sense that our God is on the move was enhanced a few nights ago when, after confronting evil all night both while awake and in my dreams, I finally fell into a restful sleep and dreamed of righteous change. When I awoke, I knew deeply within my spirit that whatever is on the horizon is a move of God that cannot be claimed or labeled by any ministry, denomination or other group.  He simply cannot be contained!

Much that I see in the physical realm is confirming my sense of the spiritual, as indicated in God is On the Move in Southern California and I Had a Dream of the Triumphant Church.  In my own life and ministry, change is in the air, with new opportunities beginning to appear on my horizon after several years of pulling back and waiting on the Lord.

So, with only 3 weeks until 2015 arrives, I’ve begun preparing for whatever the Lord choses to bring during the new year.  The first change I’ve made is to make my first three books, Pug Parables, I’m Still Standing and Richard’s Story available as free downloads.  Secondly, I’ve updated my blog site to become my ministry website as well, and it has a whole new look.  Within the first few weeks of January my old domain of http://www.standinginfaith.org will be directed to this site, http://standinginfaithministries.com

Certainly, we live in a time that confirms the truth of Jesus’ words in Luke 21.  Men’s hearts are failing them for fear because of all we see occurring in our tumultuous world with wars, commotions, hatred, persecution, and natural disasters surrounding us.  Yet His encouragement to seek Him first stands.

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. Luke 21:28 KJV

God is On the Move in Southern California!!!

God is on the move in Southern California!!!

Every day, we are seeing new evidence of His handiwork, the magnitude of which is so amazing that it’s difficult to describe;  but my friend, Paul L Cox of Aslan’s Place, has done a wonderful job of writing an introduction to what is happening.

The Harvest Has Begun

Something is happening in the High Desert of Southern California, and it looks and feels like the early rumblings of revival.

Some weeks ago, I was with a pastor-friend from Hesperia and he told me the Lord had directed him to start going witnessing door-to-door. He was surprised but obedient; and in awe, he reported that at every house that he visited the people not only received him but also received Christ as their Savior. I am also hearing of this kind of evangelism beginning in other places.

My wife, Donna, and I recently began attending Abundant Living Family Church in Hesperia, a multi-generational and multi-cultural church fellowship. I was wonderfully surprised to see that Mark Graham, the pastor, invites people to stand to receive Christ as Savior during each service, and many people respond each time. I have not seen this since the Jesus Movement in the late 60’s and 70’s, and now, 40 years after the height of the Jesus Movement in 1974, it is happening again!

When Donna and I moved up to the High Desert in 1994 we began receiving many prophetic words that there would be a great move of God here. One particular word said that cars would be backed up at the off ramps of Interstate 15 in the High Desert waiting in line to reach the locations where the tangible presence of God was located. We also met many individuals who told us that God had told them to move to the High Desert because a revival would be taking place.

During the following years, everywhere that I went in the world I would hear similar prophecies of revival coming. Often, during our local schools and seminars, words would also come indicating that that we should anticipate revival and an amazing influx of the power of God. During all these years, we have seen many wonderful moves of the Lord, but nothing as dramatic as what has been prophesied. While many of God’s moves were gracious renewals of Christians, included many magnificent healings, where was the great outpouring that would lead to thousands coming into the Kingdom?

On Pentecost of 2013, Kevin Basconi of King of Glory Ministries in Moravian Falls, NC was visiting with us. Two days prior, the Lord had spoken to us to call for a gathering at Aslan’s Place and I invited Kevin to join us. We certainly were not expecting what happened! At sundown, as Pentecost began, we started by simply waiting on the Lord. Suddenly, I felt like someone had grabbed the back of my head and was squeezing it like one would squeeze an orange. We asked the Lord what was happening and the Holy Spirit revealed that I was discerning God the Father as the Power.

Matthew 26:64 (NKJV) Jesus said to him [the High Priest], “It is as you said. Nevertheless, I say to you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.”

Suddenly I had an insight that I had never had before. Just before Pentecost the Lord promised His followers that the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would receive Power. Could it be that what they received was the revelation of the Father as “The Power”? It is the revelation of the Father as “The Power” that is being released on the earth.

JThis Power is now releasing a move of God that will result in a billion souls coming into the Kingdom of God. Doug Addison wrote of this September 16, 2014.[1]

“Arthur Burt was a revivalist in the U.K. and was given a powerful prophetic word from God in 1934 entitled: And There Shall Be No Ebb. “It shall come as a breath and the breath shall bring the wind and the wind shall bring the rain. And there shall be floods and floods and floods and torrents and torrents and torrents. Souls shall be saved like falling leaves from mighty oaks swept by a hurricane. Arms and legs shall come down from Heaven. And there shall be no ebb.” Arthur died August 28, 2014 at 102 years old. Bob Jones had prophesied that Arthur would see his 1934 prophecy come to pass in his lifetime. This is the year of the release of Arthur Burt’s life-long prophetic word and Bob Jones’ word of one billion people coming into the Kingdom. Both of these great men went back to Heaven this year. The prophetic sign in Arthur’s death: he died at age 102 on 8/28. Psalm 102 is the cry to God to see Him move again. But 102:28 is a prophetic word for what is coming.”

And, Psalm 102:28 says, “The children of Your servants will continue,
And their descendants will be established before You.”

On January 7, 2007, I was with Patricia King and several others at a summit for the New Year. This was just after the Lord had given us the Prayer to Release the Living Stones at Aslan’s Place. I remember wondering at the airport what would happen to me. Even though I had pastored for 20 years, it seemed there was no longer a place for me in the institutional church. I said to the Lord, “I know where I have come from, but where am I going?” With this reflection in my mind, I heard Stacy Campbell deliver a profound word.

“There’s a great transformation going on in the Body of Christ in the globe. And the forms and the structures—they’re coming down from the old wineskin, and a new wineskin is being built, but it’s very hard to discern. But what is coming? The harvest that is coming is so big, it cannot be contained in one structure. And this is the key—the life is in the bricks. Living stones. They’re alive! They’re alive! They contain His Spirit! So the key is not to discern the form, but the key is to discern the brick. Who are you in God? But whenever you discern the stone, uh huh, uh huh, I see that stone! I know that stone–that’s an Apostolic stone. That’s a Prophet stone. That’s a healing stone! And you begin to let the old stones go with the young stones. The male stones go side-by-side with the female stones. When you discern the stones, you will put those living stones that contain life together with other living stones that contain life, and they will build a container for the times to house the presence of God.  It’s too small! It will NEVER be able to contain what God is about, to millions and millions and millions. Yea, a billion souls harvest that will need stone joined with stone, joined with stone united, and not divided!”

It is now 20 years since we came to the High Desert. Last Sunday, September 28, Pastor Mark Graham shared in church that the Lord told him the night before that revival had come to the High Desert. During that service, the Presence of God filled the room and the pastor walked up and down the aisle praying for people. The Lord’s Glory was obviously present. No sermon was given, and no offering was taken. At the end of the service Mark said the Lord had asked him to call for 14 days of prayer, meeting each night at 6:00pm. Last night, Monday, September 29, 2014, he handed out a call to prayer. He was clear that this was not about a pastor or a church, but about the Kingdom of God. It was time to seek the Face of God and not His Hand. It was time to ask Jesus to come and live in our midst. It was time to cry out that His will be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

Would you join in prayer with those of us in High Desert of Southern California that His Kingdom will come, not only here but also in your community? Consider the following list of prayer points from last night, and pray that:

  • Jesus and His message will return to the High Desert.
  • Salvations in the High Desert throughout all of the houses of worship will explode.
  • Biblical signs and wonders will increase dramatically, both in our families and the houses of worship.
  • Our corporate obedience will increase to Jesus.
  • Our personal obedience will increase to Jesus.
  • Our regional government will turn over and be filled with Spirit-led politicians.
  • America will be shielded from all terror, and that our hearts as a nation will return to Him.

2 Chronicles 7:14–16 (NKJV), “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. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, that My name may be there forever; and My eyes and My heart will be there perpetually.”

[1] Just in the month of September, 2014 the following articles contained reference to this new move:
– Rick Joyner: “The Full Manifestation of Jesus in Our Midst” September 28, 2014
– The Tsunami of Glory is Coming-Be There September 23, 2014
– Steve Scroggs: “The Signs of the Harvest! Can You See the Signs?”September 22, 2014
– Tim Sheets “The Alarm Clock of Heaven Is Now Ringing… Power to Prevail is Being Poured Out!” “My Shaking Has Come. I Am – Shaking Earth. I Am Shaking Heaven” “The Third Great Awakening Shall Now Advance in Tidal Waves of My Power” September 9, 2014

Bamboozeled

 

Richard, Raymond and Rufus (affectionately known as Sarge) were brothers; sons of poor parents who labored from morning ‘till night on the farm in order to survive and provide for their ten children, as well as several unofficially adopted cousins.  Their home, a ramshackle farmhouse had an all-purpose kitchen with a wood burning stove and a big table.  Two chairs with a board stretched across the backs served as my grandmother’s ironing board, and her iron was a heavy cast-iron one that was heated on the stove.  This was also where a washtub would be filled with water, also just heated on the stove, for baths.  A door led from each side of the kitchen—one down a path to the outhouse, and the other into a side yard with a well where Grandma pumped all of her water; with dozens of chickens roaming free, at least until she decided it was time for one of them to become dinner.

Shortly after my dad, Richard, passed away in 2009 I told my mom I’d write his biography.  Many from our large extended family contributed their memories, but the real treat was hearing some of Uncle Sarge’s tall tales from childhood.  His Arkansas dialect is mostly unedited in an attempt to keep the story’s authentic flavor.  (Dad on the right and Sarge on the left in the picture–the last time they were together on a cruise to Alaska in 2007, as far from their Arkansas roots as either could ever have imagined.)

“Once I got play’n in some lime out in the chicken house.  They used it for puttin’ in the chicken nests to keep the mites and other critters down.  Well, Mama saw that lime on my hands and said, ‘Son that could kill you.’ So I freaked out and Richard and Raymond teased me mercilessly about it for months.  This went on and on, and the more I was scared about it, the more they went on.   I got so scared that I wouldn’t put my hands on my body or in my pockets.  I was afraid I was going to contaminate myself and keel over dead.  Richard and Raymond would tease me all the time and tell me I was gonna die from touchin’ the lime and then they would try to get dirt on my hands, so I would have to wash them.  Finally I got over being scared about it, as I had lived for months and hadn’t yet died.  I was sure glad when I figured out in my mind that I wasn’t gonna die from touching the lime, but Richard and Raymond sure had a good time teasing me about it.”

How easy it is to be bamboozled by someone you trust, and the tale of the teasing brothers makes me recall the more serious issue of false teachers.  Consider the words of Jesus as well as the admonitions of John and Peter:

Then if anyone says to you, “Look, here is the Christ!” or “There!” do not believe it.  For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.  See, I have told you beforehand.  Therefore if they say to you, “Look, He is in the desert!” do not go out; or “Look, He is in the inner rooms!” do not believe it.  For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be.  For wherever the carcass is, there the eagles will be gathered together.  Matthew 24:23-28

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.  1 John 4:1

But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.  2 Peter 2:1

 

A Perfect Day

A perfect morning—the coastal marine layer keeping the temperature in the comfortable mid-60s as much of the country swelters under intense heat; baby birds chirping in their nest; Jacaranda trees adorned in their glorious lavender headdresses, the scent of blooming jasmine wafting across my patio, and a hot cup of coffee.

As perfect as it seems for the moment though, all I have to do is pick up a newspaper or turn on the TV to be reminded of the chaotic world in which we live.  Yet even in the midst of one global crisis after another we have hope, and faith still triumphs in the face of trouble.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.  (Romans 5:1-2)

I recall the words of an old hymn whose words proclaim the hope of what is promised to those who believe, and my heart sings, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see,
and I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace; when He takes me by the hand, and leads me through the Promised Land, what a day, glorious day that will be.”

How amazing—how beyond perfection—will be the day be when Jesus is revealed in all of His glory and claims His inheritance.  The Day of the Lord will surely come, striking terror in the hearts of unbelievers—a day of destruction for those who refuse Him, but a day that ushers in the eternal reign of our King; a day for which I long.

Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; For the day of the LORD is at hand, For the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.  (Zephaniah 1:7)

Then the seventh angel sounded: And there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever!”  (Revelation 11:15)

All the ends of the world shall remember and turn to the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before You.  For the kingdom is the Lord’s, and He rules over the nations. all the prosperous of the earth shall eat and worship; all those who go down to the dust shall bow before Him, even he who cannot keep himself alive.  A posterity shall serve Him.  It will be recounted of the Lord to the next generation, they will come and declare His righteousness to a people who will be born, that He has done this.  (Psalm 22:27-31)

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming quickly.”  Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20)