Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"LOVE DIFFERENT" - THE MOVIE WITH A MOVEMENT MESSAGE

FAITH-BASED MOVIE REVIEW
There have been wonderful faith-based movies made by African-American producers like Tyler Perry, T.D. Jakes and others. However “Love Different” is a body of work by Producer/Director Anthony Hackett which defies a label and even a category. It is so woven with continuously flowing themes of humor, love, faith and human interaction that 94 minutes go by without you noticing.

“Love Different” tells the tale of a young Iowa born and bred woman (expertly portrayed by Christian actress Jenn Gotzon as Lindsay Walker) who accepts a job at an all-black consulting firm in Maryland.  Right off the bat, we know where this is heading. The humor and cultural clash immediately become evident, fueled by some excellent writing by Anthony Hackett and his team. 


Lead Actress Jenn Gotzon
The head of the consulting firm, the affable Mr. Chamberlain, assigns his best consultant – JonNeque (Neque) Campbell to come alongside Lindsay Walker in order to give her a two day crash course in “Black Culture” after discerning that his new consultant may be unable to relate to her prospective new clientele! The humorous crash course in the culture fall under the rubric of “don’t try this at home, folks”.

However, while this is going on, a few subplots develop. One subplot involves  Neque’s  equally professional wife, a regular church-going woman, who is beginning to feel neglected. The second subplot revolves around the Jenn Gotzon character (Lindsay) and her parenting skills with her teenage son. Both main characters in this warm, humanity-enhancing film are individually competent in their careers, but are also works in progress – needing to “love differently”. Neque is in need of understanding his wife’s “love language” – attention. Lindsay’s need at this time is to be firmer in a phase of discipline with her rebellious but really obedient son, with tough love. 
Actor/Director/Writer
Anthony Hacket
t

Apart from the obvious humorous situations  and scary moments,  there are some  intentional stereotypes which some of the general public may have of African American culture and life.  However, whether the Writer/Actor/Producer Anthony Hackett intended it or not, he hit on a powerful truth about the state of not just the inner city church, but youth ministry in general. When the mask Neque (the main character) was wearing fell away, after the two day crash course with Lindsay Walker, as to why he stopped going to church, it exposed a huge wound which has gone unattended for a generation now. This wound is the unattended to and gaping in the soul of young America.  

The premise Anthony Hackett used to underscore the title of his movie is the actual project on which he and Jenn Gotzon (Lindsay) are supposed to be working. It revolves around a public relations campaign for a youth outreach program, of a traditional church. Like many of the churches in any city’s older neighborhoods in America, this church had lost most of its youth and sought out this consulting agency to handle its outreach optics. 
WATCH TRAILER HERE OF "LOVE DIFFERENT":
As a lay minister/evangelist/event promoter who works across cultural lines in a city of about 120,000 in the Christian music and evangelism arena, I see the same world which “Love Different” addresses. It is universal. The Body of Christ has a generation of young people already gone because of the lack of love, truth and the Gospel. 

If this movie can spark renewal and a reflective look at our human interaction, in a personal, social, work and community level, it would be a beautiful statement. Love Different can be more than just another cute, funny and inspiring faith-based movie, it can be a catalyst for some church leaders to look in the mirror and get moving back to our original mission. That mission was given by Christ – love God, love people, make disciples.


Visit the following sites for more information:
Movie Website: www.LoveDifferentTheMovie.com
Producer Website: www.SonsetFriday.com

Saturday, April 23, 2016

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES: THE BOOK OF EXODUS #3

STANDING ON THE PROMISES....IN THE GAP
"11 Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord relented from the harm which He said He would do to His people. (Exodus 32:11-14)

If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do? This is more than a Scripture verse from the Book of Psalms (Psalm 11:3).  It is the question of our time, where true believers and even nominal ones, see the social and moral order crumble right before our eyes. Mankind has always rebelled against God, since the Fall in the Garden (Genesis 3) all the way to present time. Mankind as always ignored the lessons of history, thereby dooming itself to results of those historical lessons.

Still, even given the total depravity of humankind, there have always been a remnant whom God calls His own. Today this is known as the true church – the Body of Christ. Moses was such a man to the rebellious Israelites who were wandering in the deserts for 40 years, due to their rebellion.  Their blasphemy; idol worship; constant grumbling against the God Who freed them and more, compounded their sin as worse than a foul order in front of Holy God. He was prepared to wipe them out.  But Moses, he stepped up and then stepped in.

This would not be the first time Moses had to stand in the gap for over two million people whom the Lord wanted to judge and take out right there and there.  This prayer is one of those times where his heart for God and the Name of the Lord showed in a personally powerful way. Oh, that you and I would have such a closely guarded relationship with Almighty God that we can speak freely with Him (in prayer) and He answers.

Now, just as in the case of America and the world today, God had more and ample justification to destroy any and everything at any time. The same people of Israel whom He had freed from 400 years of bondage in Egypt were conducting pagan orgies and "worship" in front of a massive golden calf, made by Moses' brother himself - Aaron! God had done all the miracles - the Ten Plagues; Passover; the Red Sea Crossing....and more....and here were these people blaspheming Him in the absolute worse sense. He was more than justified.

Moses, on the other hand, what that would mean - the mission would fail and Egypt would have the last laugh. Word of the miraculous escape from Egypt had already spread throughout the region before and after the Red Sea. The Egyptians lost all their top chariot warriors when the waters returned to normal and word of 3-4 million people wandering in the desert heading for Canaan had to have not just alerted the pagan peoples from the Sinai to the Canaan valley and beyond, but put fear into them. There were some wars coming to this region very soon.  Moses was an all in for the struggle, and as disgusted as he was by the pagan display below, he had the heart and will to see the mission through. Most of all, Moses cared deeply about Yahweh - the Great I am.
LESSON#1:
This is confirmed in Hebrews 11:26 where Moses knew to Whom He had been speaking - Jesus Christ! There is a significant lesson to take away from what Moses prayed, and it is the essence of our Christian walk. We must do NOTHING in this world to bring dishonor to God, NOTHING. When we trip, stumble and fall and cause others to defame Christianity (and thus Christ). At all costs, we have to guard the Name of the Lord, more than we do our own names.


In essence, this is what Moses prayed in verses 11 and 12 (Exodus 32): 11 Then Moses pleaded with the Lord his God, and said: “Lord, why does Your wrath burn hot against Your people whom You have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, and say, ‘He brought them out to harm them, to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your fierce wrath, and relent from this harm to Your people. 

His prayer here was more than just a request for God to spare the people for God's Reputation to be spared from ridicule by the surrounding heathen peoples. Actually, had God destroyed the majority of the millions who sold out (instead of the selected ring leaders who actually paid the price), His Name would have been feared even more throughout the Middle East! Moses also prayed for God to "relent"! He wanted God to more than just change His Mind about killing the perps of this outrage. Moses wanted Him to have compassion once He had gotten over His righteous anger.
LESSON #2:
This is the other lesson for us as intercessors for the nation - let us pray, even though the foundations of society have been removed by evil men and women - let us pray for God to have mercy on our communities and country, that our people may live in peace. National prayer means a nation of prayer warriors on our knees pleading for God's mercy, grace and compassion even as He suffers through the indignity of it all. He will get justice, as we know, when the roll is called up yonder. So this current paradigm is for life as we know it on this planet, as we co-exist with others.
ACTION POINT: BELIEVE THE PROMISES
The next part of this particular prayer is an important one for those who have been saved by Christ and thus have the ability to have our prayers heard by Him. The Lord made many promises to us all through Scripture. The most significant one is when Jesus said "I will never leave nor forsake you". God Himself told His generals like Joshua to be strong and courageous. He never abandons His own. He gives provision, protection and affirmation of our eternally secure position in Him. So when we are especially burdened enough to stand in the gap for a person or our nation, or even our own circumstances, Moses gave us the example here in Exodus 32:13 of how to stand, occupy and live completely submitted to the Power and Promises of God.

He prays thus: "13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants, to whom You swore by Your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven; and all this land that I have spoken of I give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’”  He claimed the Promises of God because he BELIEVED those Promises.  He had absolute Faith in the absolute Authority and Ability of God to do what He said He will do. 

THE RESULT:
Do we have this strong measure of Faith? Moses spoke regularly with God and thus his faith was the strongest among all of the people of the world at that time. We have the ability to have such amazing faith, all we have to do is draw close to Him; pray, believe and study His Word and surrender all. When we do this and believe in His Word and His promises, look at what happens. Moses believed the Word of God and Exodus 32:14a tells us "So the Lord relented"!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES: THE BOOK OF EXODUS #2

....OF HUMILITY & GRATITUDE
The man Moses is an incredible human being. Contemplate, for a while, just who Moses really is. He was the Prince of Egypt, placed in that position by the Hand of God, second in command in the most powerful country on earth (at the time). Yet within a few years, he is a wanted fugitive in the hot burning deserts of Midian. There he becomes a shepherd from age 40 until he is age 80, and raises a family. He is married to the beautiful daughter of the high priest of Midian, Reuel (Jethro) – a descendant of Abraham’s second wife after Sarah died. Then one day he is chasing one of his sheep up a mountain and Jesus Christ (Yahweh, I Am Who I Am) appears to Moses in a burning bush and all history is changed. 
From the face to Face encounter with Jesus, Moses goes through the Ten Plaques; the Passover; the Exodus; the Parting of the Red Sea; the Manna from Heaven; Gushing water from a Rock; the Ten Commandments and so much more! The people had seen the victories against the Amalekites when Moses arms were raised, and the defeats when his arms got tired and fell to his sides. Miracle after miracle – clothes and shoes which did not wear out for forty years. No illnesses that required medical attention.  The bronze serpent which drove away the snakes when they looked upon it…and so much more.  
After witnessing some of the miracles, immediately after crossing the Red Sea , and having beheld the Mighty Hand of God, Moses composed this song and prayer of praise which should be an example for us, when WE consider His Majesty, His Might and His Magnificent Manner of dealing with us. Prayers do not always have to be about serious tough issues (surgery, tragedy or depression etc.) Sometimes the Lord is pleased when we just pray to Him via the means of lifting up our praises to Him. We did not have to go through all the hardship and extravagant one time major events of the oceans parting for us, but all of us have come of our own personal "Egypts". We were all delivered from the bondage and slavery of sin and crossed over, on “dry land” to the other side. We crossed over from death and darkness to eternal life and light when we were born again into Salvation through the Sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus. Christ parted that previously uncrossable sea for all mankind, for all time, at the Cross where He paid our sin debt IN FULL!
In this way, therefore, let us adopt the prayerful and worshipful Song of Moses, to be our own, our song of Gratitude as to what the Lord has done for us.
MOSES PRAYER OF PRAISE:
Exodus 15:1 Then Moses and the children of Israel sang this song to the Lord, and spoke, saying:
         OUR GOD FIGHTS FOR US!
“I will sing to the Lord,
For He has triumphed gloriously!
The horse and its rider
He has thrown into the sea!
The Lord is my strength and song,
And He has become my salvation;
He is my God, and I will praise Him;
My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.
The Lord is a man of war;
The Lord is His name.
Pharaoh’s chariots and his army He has cast into the sea;
His chosen captains also are drowned in the Red Sea.
The depths have covered them;
They sank to the bottom like a stone.
“Your right hand, O Lord, has become glorious in power;
Your right hand, O Lord, has dashed the enemy in pieces.
And in the greatness of Your excellence
You have overthrown those who rose against You;
You sent forth Your wrath;
It consumed them like stubble.
And with the blast of Your nostrils
The waters were gathered together;
The floods stood upright like a heap;
The depths congealed in the heart of the sea.
The enemy said, ‘I will pursue,
I will overtake,
I will divide the spoil;
My desire shall be satisfied on them.
I will draw my sword,
My hand shall destroy them.’
10 You blew with Your wind,
The sea covered them;
They sank like lead in the mighty waters.
PRAISE AND GLORY TO HIS NAME!
11 “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods?
Who is like You, glorious in holiness,
Fearful in praises, doing wonders?
12 You stretched out Your right hand;
The earth swallowed them.
13 You in Your mercy have led forth
The people whom You have redeemed;
You have guided them in Your strength
To Your holy habitation.
PROCLAIM THE NAME OF THE LORD!
14 “The people will hear and be afraid;
Sorrow will take hold of the inhabitants of Philistia.
15 Then the chiefs of Edom will be dismayed;
The mighty men of Moab,
Trembling will take hold of them;
All the inhabitants of Canaan will melt away.
16 Fear and dread will fall on them;
By the greatness of Your arm
They will be as still as a stone,
Till Your people pass over, O Lord,
Till the people pass over
Whom You have purchased.
17 You will bring them in and plant them
In the mountain of Your inheritance,
In the place, O Lordwhich You have made
For Your own dwelling,
The sanctuary, O Lord, which Your hands have established.
 
"The Lord shall reign forever and ever.”(verse 18) Amen

Saturday, April 16, 2016

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES: THE BOOK OF EXODUS #1

"HOW COULD A LOVING GOD...."
So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Why is it You have sent me? For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all.” (Exodus 5:22-23)

Moses had already been in a most unique position, vis a vis his relationship with the One True God of Heaven, as we all know, going back to the “Burning Bush” encounter with Yahweh. Most of his direct conversation with Christ, could not be classified as prayer, as it was with the majority of our great Bible heroes. However, this one qualifies as a prayer.

Moses had seen the hardship which a furious Pharaoh had laid upon the Hebrews, with compound interest, after Moses approached him to “let My people go” (Exodus 5:1)  and was very concerned. We may have the same question. Sometimes we may do exactly what the Lord prescribes in His Word, communicated to us via the Holy Spirit – the same Spirit Who guided Moses, and then things just seem to get either worse, harder or even completely out of control. 

Here we have the former Prince of Egypt, educated in the best universities of the known world but having spent forty years as a humble shepherd in the wilderness, his outlook, character and pride were transformed from pagan Egypt to a humble servant. God used those forty years to get the Egypt out of him. So he could not grasp the trial by fire which people who are being freed by the Lord go through, will go through and will most definitely continue to go through!

Moses made three important statements in this short prayer and they are so real, you and I can see ourselves doing the same….and committing the same error!
STATEMENT #1: (“Lord, why have You brought trouble on this people? Vs 22b)
Right off the bat, Moses commits and unforced error.  He blames God for bringing trouble on the Israelites due to Moses’ God-directed intervention on their behalf. The problem is, God did not cause the trouble. Pharaoh did. God does not bring evil upon people. He does bring judgment and it feels horrible. Well, ask the Egyptians about the Ten Plaques. 

Just recently, one of them threatened to sue Israel and the Jews for these same plagues that occurred over 3500 years ago! Because of the sinful and rebellious nature of mankind, the reaction to a direct command from God WILL be met with an equally forceful disobedient action. Life would be so much easier if we humans obeyed God, surrendered to His will and follow His narrow path. Anything else leads many to blame natural and supernatural events on God Himself.

STATEMENT #2: (Why is it You have sent me? Vs 22b) In other words, Moses is asking the Lord “why did You send me to do this in the first place?!” William Carey, the great Baptist minister from England is known as the “Father of Missions”. He  felt called to go to India as a missionary where he never won a single soul to the Lord for years and years, while losing his lonely and sad wife to a disease. He could have said “why did You send me, Lord”. But William Carey did not. He pressed on and plodded on, amidst adversity, heat and losing things and people precious to him. He and every other missionary or preacher or even a Sunday School teacher, can legitimately question the Lord when things go bad in the area, in which they were called. When that happens, the key is not to lose courage or even question your calling in life. 

The key is to remember how we got there – God called us…and if He called us, He will never leave us.  It will also serve us well to remember that every one of the Disciples of Christ except the Apostle John, died as a martyr to the Faith among many others to this very day. Most of all are never called to such an extreme sacrifice, even though sometimes it feels like persecution in our churches and towns. We would do well to remember that the same God Who called us to His Service will never leave, forsake or abandon us to the wolves. He is always with us.

STATEMENT #3: (For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done evil to this people; neither have You delivered Your people at all. Vs 23) This statement of blame against God, by His servant Moses, is also priceless. In statement #2, he not only questioned why he was even chosen to be the great “emancipator of Israel in Exile”. But now, he underscores it as if God did not hear him complain the first time. We do the same thing, trying to be too cute by half.  Moses is basically blaming God for Pharaoh being twice as brutal to the Hebrew people since the Almighty sent Moses into demand the ruler of Egypt free the Israelites.  Doubling down on something, which no other prophet of God in the Old Testament did, Moses accuses God of noticing the sheer evil of the Egyptian ruler and doing absolutely nothing about it. 

You and I hear it all the time Whenever some lunatic goes in and shoots innocent people, or a tidal wave, washes away a village, or even a strong earthquake, the unredeemed and even some Christians would ask rhetorically “How could God allow this…..”?  A mainstream news anchor, who is known as a non-believer, once raised the question, during an evening national newscast “….how could a loving God let this happen?”. This has been the refrain for all the centuries as one horrific event or natural disaster occurs. The answers remain the same - sin!

Sin is the reason for the total depravity of man and a fallen state of the natural world. Whether most people who ever lived, believe this or not, the Fall of Man in Genesis Chapter 3 affected more than just Adam and Eve. All Creation was defiled as sin and death were brought into this world.  We know from the prophesies of the Creator Himself – Jesus – that things will get increasingly worse. Natural disasters will increase in intensity and the evil of man will know no boundaries. All these things are predicted until the End comes.

The responsibility of each and every Christian is to know the Mind of Christ the Creator by knowing His Word from Genesis to Revelation – all 66 Books. We know His Mind by reading and studying His Attributes, His Ways and His reasoning. From the Beginning, God has always never spoken in secret but to the redeemed, He has spoken plainly and succinctly. While His Ways are not our ways, His Word is clear. His mercies endures forever and His Love is never-ending.  How can God allow anything? He can because He is God, we are not and are alive today, only by His Grace. For this, we are eternally grateful. 
“In the Wisdom of God, the world through ITS wisdom, did not know Him” …1 Corinthians 1:21 – (Emphasis mine)



Thursday, April 14, 2016

LET US NEVER FORGET WE REPRESENT CHRIST TO THE WORLD

“So be very careful how you live. Do not live like people who aren’t wise. Live like people who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity. The days are evil”Ephesians 5:15-16
Have you ever sat in a public place quietly observing others? Maybe it was at a mall or a park. Maybe it was while waiting at the doctor’s office for your appointment where you found yourself listening to the words of those around you, watching their actions and even judging their appearance. I know I’m guilty.
- However, have you ever thought about the reverse? 
- What if others are watching and listening to you? 
- Would they see Jesus in you if they did? 
- Have you forgotten you represent Jesus Christ in this world?
Read and reflect on the following questions and then answer the previous one (in bold):
         * If someone had observed me throughout the day today, would              they Know I was a Christian without having to ask me?
  • * Where is God on my priority list?
  • * Am I serious about my faith or is it just a game I play to make myself feel better?
  • * Do I act the same way when I’m at church as when I’m with other friends or with my family?
  • * Am I willing to make sacrifices in order to grow in my relationship with God?
  • * Do I take time every day to consider the love of God, to remember what Jesus has done for me?
  • * Am I willing to follow Christ and live out my faith even when it costs me something?
  • * Am I willing to put others before myself?
  • * Am I quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to anger?
  • * Do I talk to God as much as I talk on my cell phone?
  • * Do I know enough about the Bible to have a biblical world view? Or are my opinions formed through many other sources except the Bible?
  • * Am I as excited to see someone come to Christ and be baptized as I am seeing my favorite football team score a touchdown?
  • * How do I express my love for God in my everyday actions?
  • * Do I spend so much time doing everything else that I have no time left for God? No time left for church? No time left to pray?
  • * Am I willing to be stretched in my faith?
  • * Being completely honest with myself, what change in my life does God want me to make?
  • * Am I a more faithful Christian today than I was a year ago?
  • * Do I serve others as if I were serving Christ himself?
  • * Do I pray “Here am I Lord, use me;” or “Oh God, you’ve got to be kidding. Please find someone else.”
  • * Do I fear God and nothing else?
  • READ MORE FROM CAROL ROUND BY CLICKING HERE 

Sunday, April 10, 2016

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES: THE BOOK OF GENESIS #8

"FROM FOLLY TO FORGIVENESS"
9 Then Jacob said, “O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’: 10 I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant; for I crossed over this Jordan with my staff, and now I have become two companies. 11 Deliver me, I pray, from the hand of my brother, from the hand of Esau; for I fear him, lest he come and attack me and the mother with the children. 12 For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well, and make your descendants as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude.’” (Genesis 32:9-12)
This first recorded prayer of Jacob (Israel) is unique in that it is primarily an example for those of us who are interested in outreach and evangelism. In fact, it is perfect for this time in that Jacob, while a firm believer and follower of God, had so far led a life of deception and  fathering children with four different women. He was on the run again from somebody else besides his brother Esau, who got deceived by Jacob out of his blessing, and for the first time was genuinely scared enough to consider praying!

Jacob came to his first recorded prayer of the Bible after angels from God met him at a place he called Mahanaim (Genesis 32:1-2).  He had gone through his own wilderness time with his father-in-law Laban and back in Genesis 28:21 we see him for the first time approaching anything about his own personal faith. He said “…so that I come back to my father’s house in peace, then the Lord shall be my God”. Jacob, the great patriarch of Israel, was at the time, typical of most who grow up in Christian homes, talk about their parents’ faith, yet never come to their own personal relationship with God until some encounter, tragedy or trying time…..if ever. In this case, Jacob was called by the Lord Who gave him visions of angels ascending and descending on what we call “Jacob’s Ladder” (Genesis 28:12). After the “ladder” vision, God revealed the same promise to Jacob that He had made to Abraham, confirming His covenant to make a great people from Abraham and Isaac and now through Jacob.

Things are now about to turn serious for Jacob as he is commanded by God to return to Abraham’s territory from Syria, to leave the pagan gods of his in-laws behind. However to reach there, he must go through the lands of Edom controlled by the fearsome Esau – the brother he robbed!  He hears Esau is coming to meet him with 400 men, so naturally, Jacob thinks this is not going to end well for him. In his fear, he prays the prayer we read in Genesis 32:9-12. What is immediately striking about this prayer is the stunning application to our own condition. As we examine the phrases of this brief prayer, it should lay out for us not just how much God can love and give grace to us, but how we can share this love and Truth with anyone, who was in the same place as Jacob or anyone of us, before Christ rescued us.

Jacob prayed:
Verse 9, in part: "“O God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, the Lord who said to me, ‘Return to your country and to your family, and I will deal well with you’. 
Jacob remembered the Faith of his father Isaac and grandfather Abraham. The entire region knew of the great Abraham. Jacob was now coming into his own as a man of Faith, knew the promise and therefore, was coming to agreement with God, that this promise stands. When we pray before Abba Father, we stand in His Word. Father God gave father Abraham His Word. It first came to fruition when miracle baby Isaac was born to a 100 year old man and his 90 year old wife. When God makes a promise to you and I, He stands by it. What He says in His Word, the Bible, He means. You can count on it, receive it, believe it and then declare it.

Verse 10, in part: "I am not worthy of the least of all the mercies and of all the truth which You have shown Your servant".
The next step after standing on the Promises of God your King, is to come to a complete realization that we are not deserving of one single mercy or compassion or a single blessing because we are more deserving of condemnation. This is the true meaning of Grace and with this Grace, comes the knowledge of the Truth, as he prayed here....unmerited favor from God which opens our eyes. If there is anything better for any human being, then or now....well, we do not know what it could be. Jacob is already calling himself a servant which means repentance and humility and fully grasps, for the very first time, Grace, Faith and Mercy can only come from God. This is a lesson for those of us who grew up in church that we MUST come to this point in life where the eyes of our hearts are opened to the Truth or we remain lost in our deception. God has no grandchildren. Each true believer has to come to terms with his/her lost estate in order to find the path to eternal life - Jesus Christ.

Verse 11, in part: "Deliver me, I pray...."
First, remember the Promise AND remind God of it, thereby acknowledging Him.
Second, realize our worthlessness even while receiving His Grace and Mercy.
Third, press in and upward with the plea and prayer request. In fear, Jacob knows he has to come face to face with his past. The deception and evil committed against Esau now have come full circle and like all of us, we must face just who we are and what we have done. There is no sin so great that God cannot forgive and while Jacob knows now he has the favor of God with him, he needs to reconcile this deeds with the object of those deeds - Esau. There are some Christians who have done grievous emotional, spiritual and worse to other people - believers and non-believers. There has to be an attempt at making things right, whenever possible. The best road to restoration is face to face reconciliation. If the harmed person is far away, send a letter or an email. If the person is in your congregation - request a meeting. Do this, under the mercy and covering of God, and watch Him take the burden off you.

Verse 12, in part: "For You said, ‘I will surely treat you well".
This says it all. God not only has a plan for our life which we can either follow or blow for good. But for goodness sake, even when we take a severely problematic detour, there is hope and forgiveness if we remember, repent and seek to restore our relationship with both our Heavenly Father, and those we may have harmed in our off-road antics. Look at what God will say to our near-prodigal misconduct...."I will surely treat you well". Is there any comparable promise anywhere? Not in this universe!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

PRAYERS OF THE BIBLE SERIES: THE BOOK OF GENESIS #7

RESOLVED: CONFIDENT PRAYER BRINGS RESULTS
12 Then he said, “O Lord God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day, and show kindness to my master Abraham. 13 Behold, here I stand by the well of water, and the daughters of the men of the city are coming out to draw water. 14 Now let it be that the young woman to whom I say, ‘Please let down your pitcher that I may drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I will also give your camels a drink’—let her be the one You have appointed for Your servant Isaac. And by this I will know that You have shown kindness to my master.” (Genesis 24:12-14)
As in the days when Jesus spoke of the unbelievers who looked “for signs and wonders”, many are looking for the same today. They seek  physical manifestation, through signs, instead of trust by Faith. It is the old “Doubting Thomas Syndrome”, which permeates a lot of modern Christianity.  However, this unique prayer, early on in human history, is different in so many ways.

The name of Abraham’s apparent most trusted servant/right hand man is not made known, because the Spirit of the Living God is leading the faithful to focus more on HOW the faithful servant went about his mission. There is some thought that Eliezer was this faithful servant, seeing that he is the closest advisor and friend to the great Abraham. The faithful servant was entrusted by Abraham to go back to his own family in Haran to find a wife  who was not a pagan like the vile Canaanites, for the latter’s son, Isaac. Isaac was the vehicle through whom the God of Heaven would start His new paradigm, via the Hebrews.  Before looking closer at this prayer, please read Genesis 24:6-8 to get the serious instructions to walk away, if the leading of the Lord is not there.

This is an important truth for us Christians, in these last days. We need to remember that whatever we are going through, we ARE going through and it will be a lot easier to let God lead the way. He knows the way, holds sway, rules the day and if He is so inclined to say, we need to just walk away. This is the gist of the teaching from Abraham’s instruction to Eliezer if he discerns the woman not to be what God ordained.

That being said, let us dive, portion by portion, into not just the prayer, but the submissive heart and humility of this servant of Abraham.
-          “Oh LORD God of my master Abraham, please give me success this day” (verse 12a)…being a sent man on a mission, from the Lord’s major prophet of the day, the servant seeks to please the master (Abraham) and not returned empty-handed from this, to which he had sworn to Abraham. The success he seeks is not for his personal gain. There is absolutely nothing wrong with praying for our mission to assist someone else to be a fruitful venture. Unlike the majority of mankind, we do have access to the Throne of Grace, and our Heavenly Father loves it when we just give even the smallest matter to Him.  This way, we exhibit our complete Faith in God.
-          “Behold, here I stand by the well of water….”(verse 13a)….when you and I place a matter before the LORD,  it is absolutely incumbent on us to leave it there and not run hither, tither and yon trying to then try to address the matter ourselves.  When we give something to the Lord, in faith, and pray for His Mighty Hand to bless, address or redress the matter – stay put, don’t try to replace God and allow Him to be Who we say and know He is. Psalm 46:10 is explicit in its instruction “be still and know that I am God”!                              
-          Now let it be….”(verse  14a)….”let her be the one (verse 14b)…..and by this I will know (verse 14b)….these are the words (prayers) of a man who is confident, firm and completely sure of his relationship with God! The application for us is to do likewise and be clear in our intercession. Such clarity is always answered, at least in my experience, and definitely Abraham’s servant. He had to know the closeness the relationship between his master and the Great God of Heaven Who spoke directly and with no confusion in His Words, to Abraham. So he obviously expected the same kinds of answers and signs from Above, knowing that he was on a mission from one of God’s favored prophets of all time!

Does God answer such confident, bold, direct, clear and expectant prayer? You bet He does. Look at Genesis 24:15 “And it happened…!” It happened! God answered as clearly and directly as Abraham’s servant prayed.

Finally, we must never allow God’s love, grace, mercy and compassion and His answers to our prayers be showered upon us, without being overwhelmed by gratitude. When the Lord answered Abraham’s servant’s intercessory plea on behalf of his master’s request for a wife for Isaac, look at how a true believer in God should respond here in Genesis 24:27 “
And he said, “Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who has not forsaken His mercy and His truth toward my master. As for me, being on the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren.” 
~Amen~

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

GOD'S NOT DEAD 2 - A REVIEW FROM A MOVIEGOER

GOD'S NOT DEAD 3 STORY SET?
"...atheists can't take away the pain, but they sure take away the Hope"...thus says the character Walter Wesley, played by well-known Christian actor and singer Pat Boone to his daughter - Grace Wesley (expertly and powerfully portrayed by well-known TV actress Melissa Joan Hart). What followed is one of the most critical movies for the Body of Christ in 2016 America, if our fellow citizens are really paying attention.
God's Not Dead 2 (GND2) is a compilation of several actual court cases where the religious freedom of students (high school and college) and teachers were denied by an increasingly hostile anti-Christian God mindset. This mindset was coming for decades, from the days of Supreme Court Hugo Black, a former member of the Ku Klux Klan, who was part of the Warren Court in the 1960's which removed the Bible and Prayer from American schools. Black reintroduced the long dormant "separation of church and state" concept and set the stage for the eventual spiritual decline of the United States. Some of the actual cases listed in the movie credits were the backdrop for this warm yet deadly cold reality. The reality is the fine line which some Christians have to walk daily in a country that was founded on Religious Liberty for the Christian.

Now what is apparently coming in God's Not Dead 3 is just the natural progression of such extra-constitutional activism. It is recommended to movie-goers to sit through the entire roll of credits at the end of God's Not Dead 2 to see what is coming next. A minor subplot during GND2 involves the popular late US Senator/Actor Fred Dalton Thompson where a group of pastors are ordered by local government authorities to hand over all their sermons for the centralized authority to vet. This is a storyline based on what actually occurred in 2014 when the Mayor of Houston threatened Houston preachers to hand over their sermons or else….an action which resulted in a massive national outcry and backlash.  For those who are interested in a growing Christian movie culture fueled by current events, this is something to look forward to.

God's Not Dead 2 revolves around the story of an Arkansas high school teacher - Grace Wesley - who answers a seemingly innocuous question in her AP History Class about the heroes of non-violence (Gandhi and King) and the greatest non-violent hero in history - Jesus. Another student in the class immediately texted his atheist parents during the class that his history teacher was basically turning the class into "Sunday School". Grace Wesley, an immediately likeable single teacher, wonderfully portrayed by Melissa Joan Hart, a popular mainstream television actress (and Christian), is soon brought up before the school board. They demand an apology and more from her, which basically amounted to a tacit denial of her testimony of faith in Christ. Grace Wesley declines and decides to take her chances in court, with an apparent green public defender whose youth and penchant for not losing a case overrides his lack of Faith in Jesus Christ.

At stake in this case is Ms. Wesley's job and all that she has. This includes the small idyllic home where she cares for her aging father (Pat Boone). She stands to lose not just her job, teaching license and home, but the plaintiff's attorneys courtroom skills initially make mincemeat of Grace Wesley's young, under-dressed defender for most of the trial. This all changes at the end when Grace's attorney (Jesse Metcalfe of "Desperate Housewives") finally calls his client up to the witness stand as a hostile witness and ends up winning the case. He does so in some of the finest courtroom writing and hijinks written in any type of drama - Christian or secular! 


CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFO ON BOOK
Two great real-life authors gave outstanding testimonies on the "witness stand". The great Lee Strobel, the former atheist legal reporter for the Chicago Tribune who set out to prove the bible wrong and ended up a Christian gave a sterling apologetic for the Faith...making, as it were, the "Case for Christ". Equally as impressive was the testimony of real life L.A. Detective & Christian apologetics author J. Warner Wallace whose book Cold Case Christianity (2013) is a cold hard look from another former atheist (Wallace) at the Gospels to see if the facts of Jesus' life and death hold up to scrutiny. What Wallace found led him not just to Faith in Christ, just like Strobel, but into active ministry for the Lord in missions and outreach.

In the final analysis, this Pure Flix masterpiece by David A.R. White and his team marks a significant direction for this long time Christian movie making company. The advance questionable reviews of the secular press attest to the success of the entire storyline, the screenplay, content and especially the inclusion and testimonies of the two former Atheists- Authors Strobel and Wallace. The mainstream secular velvet broadside, across the board, is proof that God's Not Dead 2 not only bowls a strike, but will also influence a lot of doubters who were formerly convinced that God did not exist.