Megachurch pastor Jamal Bryant to lead Eddie Long’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church

November 21, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Leonardo Blair
 Jamal Bryant (L), pastor of Northwest Baltimore’s Empowerment Temple, and the late Eddie Long of New Birth Missionary Church in Lithonia, Georgia (R). | (Photos: Facebook)

Controversial Baltimore megachurch pastor Jamal Bryant will take over as senior pastor of New Birth Missionary Baptist Church in Georgia, once led by former benefactor Eddie Long, church officials announced Monday.

A report in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution said Bryant, who currently leads the 10,000-member Empowerment Temple, was chosen from a pool of 138 candidates to take the reins of a church that once boasted 25,000 members in its heyday. Membership at New Birth has since dropped to about 10,000 after Long was hit in 2010 by a series of sex scandals involving allegations from multiple young men that haunted him until his death in January 2017.

When asked why he chose to leave Empowerment Temple for New Birth, Bryant told the AJC: “Because it’s New Birth. … I realize we’ve got some work to do. By myself, I cannot. Together we will.”

A representative at Empowerment Temple said “we have no information on that right now,” when asked by The Christian Post on Tuesday about the announcement.

Bryant, who has preached at New Birth since Long’s death, will reportedly deliver his first official sermon as New Birth’s pastor on Dec. 9.

Bishop Stephen A. Davis, who took over leadership of New Birth shortly after Long’s death, resigned from the church in June. Bryant was among several pastors to serve as guest preachers as the church looked for a replacement. He delivered a spirited sermon at the church about a month ago.

Bryant revealed that Long was a benefactor who helped pay his way at Morehouse College shortly after his death but also criticized New Birth for the way the sexual misconduct allegations against him were handled.

“I do not know how in this hour, there are those who are crying out and we do not recognize the tears or the cry for help, that the body of Christ has said nothing about ministering to victims. I know people are gonna be upset with me. I know you don’t want to talk about this. But here’s the reality, we didn’t talk about it in bishop’s life … and at this point, many would argue, it is inappropriate to deal with it on the day after his death, and maybe, I don’t know,” Bryant said to apologists of Long’s ministry. “I do know the church has to deal with it.”

Bryant’s own ministry at Empowerment Temple was almost destroyed after he admitted to an extramarital affair while he was married to now ex-wife Gizelle Bryant, who stars on Bravo TV’s “Real Housewives of Potomac.”

Since his divorce, he was also alleged to have fathered a child with 34-year-old Latoya Shawntee Odom.

Bishop Neil C. Ellis of Bahamas-based Global United Fellowship who was also a close friend of Long, admitted that Bryant is flawed but gifted for the role at New Birth.

“He’s made some missteps, but I’ve made them too,” said Ellis, who called Bryant “a gifted young man who, over time, will speak for himself.”

Ellis, according to the AJC, was involved in New Birth’s search for a new pastor and told the congregation in a message on Sunday that he is fully aware that not everyone would be pleased with Bryant’s selection.

“In the midst of it, I’ve found more than I wanted to know, but what I do know is, you need a pastor,” he said.

“Here’s my appeal to you (members). I need all of New Birth to guard your spirit, settle your emotions, eliminate your criteria. A lot has gone into this. Is everybody going to be happy about the appointment? I doubt it. No matter who we put in front of you, some people are going to have a challenge and you may be deserving of those challenges, but you have to trust somebody,” Ellis said.

Thomas W. Dortch Jr., chairman of the church’s board, told the AJC that the person they would select for the job needed to be “visionary” and “energetic” and someone who can “inspire our congregation and rebuild those various community ministries and missions that we used to have at New Birth.”

Members like Tracy Johnson, who has been a member at New Birth for more than 20 years, said she was happy with Bryant’s selection.

“I believe he’s that pastor who will reignite the fire that New Birth had for a long time,” she said.

Another member, Peggy Rice, called Bryant’s appointment “a new beginning.”

Are You Willing to Follow God Up the Mountain?

November 9, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

Jarrett Stephens | 

(PHOTO: UNSPLASH/KYLE JOHNSON)

When Abraham was one hundred years old, God finally gave him and Sarah the son of promise—Isaac. And with Isaac came the fulfillment of the covenant between God and Abraham, and, with that fulfillment, the blessings of God.

We don’t know much about Isaac’s childhood, but scholars suggest that somewhere between ten and twenty years after his birth “God tested Abraham . . .” (22:1).

[God] said to him, “Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you.” (verses 1–2)

I don’t know about you, but I struggle with what God commanded and asked of Abraham. If you have children, you want to banish from your mind immediately the thought of losing one. I don’t think I could imagine anything that could cause more hurt or despair. In a very real way, this is what Abraham was having to wrestle through. He didn’t have the luxury of knowing how this story was going to end. Isaac was his son, his only son. God desired for Abraham to give to him that which Abraham treasured the most: his promised son.

Knowing God requires us to lay everything on the altar of sacrifice. It begins with a complete and total renunciation of our own dreams, desires, maybe even identity. Only those who are serious about their relationship with God will ascend this mountain. The question God had for Abraham in that moment is the same question he has for me and you today: “Do you trust me? Do you want to know me? Do you treasure me above all other things? Do I have your heart?

I love how Abraham responded:

So Abraham rose early in the morning, saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and his son Isaac. And he cut the wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him (Genesis 22:3).

Abraham walked by faith. He was going where God had called him to go and doing what God told him to do. Surrender. Obedience. The journey to knowing God begins with a choice, just one step of faith. This is how Abraham made it up the mountain, and it’s what will get us up the mountain.

If you want to experience and know God, it starts by surrendering your entire life to God’s will and to his Word. This isn’t an easy decision or journey. The temptation as we ascend this mountain is to focus on what we are giving up or what we are called to sacrifice. This will only stall our progress up the mountain. The way of wisdom is to put our focus on God and trust him one step at a time, one day at a time.

But we can’t forget the dramatic conclusion to this story:

Then Abraham reached out his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son. But the angel of the LORD called to him from heaven and said, “Abraham, Abraham!” And he said, “Here I am.” He said, “Do not lay your hand on the boy or do anything to him, for now I know that you fear God, seeing you have not withheld your son, your only son, from me” (Genesis 22:10–12).

Abraham’s absolute obedience stirred the heart of the God who promises and provides. And there, caught in a thicket by its horns, was a ram. There was a substitution on the mountain that day. Abraham sacrificed the ram instead of his son.

Was it worth it to follow God up the mountain? Absolutely. On that mountain, Abraham came to know God in a new way. God showed Abraham that . . . When you have me . . . When you lean on me . . . When you trust in me . . . When you walk with me . . . When you follow me to the mountain, you will find that I am your perfect provision. My promises are all you need. My grace is sufficient.

On the mountain, God changes our perspective of who he is. There we find that he’s not heartlessly putting us through tests, seeing whether he can cause us to stumble. On the mountain, we see that God provides everything we need. He gives us an experiential knowledge of his promises and his presence.

When we answer God’s call to the mountain and learn of his provision, God changes our perspective of ourselves too. He shows us that we can climb the mountain of sacrifice knowing that he is faithful and he will make himself known.

 

How Can I Practically Do God’s Will?

November 9, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Justin Steckbauer | 

      Let’s consider today how we can learn to follow God’s direction for our lives. How does God leads us? How can we know the direction that he has for us?
Discerning God’s will begins with the vital relationship between us and God. The more I’m treating my daily life as a constant dialogue between God and me, the more I will be able to follow His will.

There’s a simple prayer I learned and I pray it often: “God grant me knowledge of your will for me, and the power to carry it out.” Two fundamentals, knowledge and power. Knowledge, to know it, and power to do it.

It would be nice if God would just come out and say what’s next. But it doesn’t work like that. One of the hardest things is waiting, not knowing what’s next. And I insist to God, that he tell me what’s coming. But he won’t say. I try to figure it out, I spend hours in prayer, reading scripture, pondering the events in my life trying to line then up in some coherent fashion, but everything is silent.

And once I’m done strenuously wrestling, begging for dreams and visions, and insights and signs, emotionally exhausted, disturbed, I finally surrender, and come like a little child, lost, upset, confused, and simply nestle into the arms of the Father and say: “I don’t know what’s happening Father, but I trust you completely, and rest in you, in the not knowing.”

I’ll often go out at night and walk around the city. And I’ll see the lights. They shine in the darkness. I’ll walk out in the sticks, see the street lamps, leading me down the road. It’s like the Holy Spirit, symbolically leading me through life. God is speaking always; we just have to attune ourselves to watch for it. And understand what he is saying.

But I always must remember, my ability for self-deception is extreme. I can create scenarios in my mind and develop all sorts of false delusions, and believe many things that aren’t true. So there is a danger that I will take what God is revealing to me, and twist it to suit my own desires. Or I’ll construct a future of my choosing, point in that direction, manipulate my way forward, and then say “this is from God” when it was really me manipulating events.

But, if we really, honestly seek to do God’s will, and not our own, He will lead us in beautiful ways. It won’t be easy. But it is so worth it. Sometimes, as I live with God… it’s the craziest thing, but it’s like I can sense things that are coming. I have a communion with God that begins to reach beyond today. He shares perceptions from Himself. He tells us that a trial is coming, or a blessing is coming. We begin to have an emotive perception of reality.

In the final analysis, the way God communicates with me and shows me his will is really a daily dialogue, hour by hour through the day. God is always doing so many things in my life. And if you’re really seeking to know the truth, praying, and looking for God’s signs in your life, you will find your way forward. Do it. Do God’s will.

The words are true from the famed Salvation Army chorus: “I’m in his hands. I’m in his hands. Whatever the future holds, I’m in his hands, The days I cannot see, have all been planned for me, His way is best, you see, I’m in his hands.”

How to Tap Into God’s Secret Wisdom

October 12, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Dan Delzell | 

      Perhaps you consider yourself to be a wise person, and maybe your family and friends would agree with your assessment. But are you wise in the things of God? That is to say, have you tapped into God’s “secret wisdom”?
You see, the “wisdom of the world” (1 Cor. 1:20) operates on a different trajectory than the secret wisdom of God. The apostle Paul spoke of this heavenly wisdom when he wrote: “We speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” (1 Cor. 2:6,7)

God’s secret wisdom is given to those who are humble in heart, and willing to admit they need the Lord’s grace and guidance. God’s secret wisdom is not given to the proud. “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not – to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” (1 Cor. 1:27-29)

So are you a boastful person? Do you tend to seek glory for yourself, or is your life devoted to bringing glory to God? “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.” (1 Cor. 1:31) Man by nature is good at bragging about himself and his accomplishments. But this obsession with self gets replaced with God’s secret wisdom once a person bows the knee to the Lord and admits, “I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. Cleanse me Jesus of my sin.” Such a confession, when made sincerely, destroys pride and replaces it with humility before God and man. And it led Paul to honestly proclaim, “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 6:14)

How can a person be emptied of pride and filled with the Holy Spirit? Such a drastic change requires the miracle of conversion. Through repentance and faith in Christ, spiritual conversion turns a person into “a new creation.” (Gal. 6:15) Saved people think differently than lost people. Prior to conversion, we lived according to our natural instincts. But the moment we received Christ as Savior, (John 1:12) we received a new nature. And this new nature contains the secret wisdom of God.

The apostle John described believers this way: “You have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.” (1 John 2:20) In other words, you now possess God’s secret wisdom, whereas prior to your conversion you only understood “the wisdom of the world.” (1 Cor. 1:20) But that old way of thinking and living is doomed to destruction. It cannot please God because it does not rely upon Jesus. “Without faith it is impossible to please God.” (Hebrews 11:6)

“So how do I get faith?” Well, don’t think of it merely as needing to “get faith.” Instead, consider your need for Christ. Consider your sin as well as the cross where Jesus died to pay for your transgressions. When you embrace the truth about your sin and your Savior, you enter the realm of God’s secret wisdom. It’s on a different wavelength than the wisdom of the world. And this is one reason “the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18) The cross doesn’t make sense until you receive Christ as Savior and believe the Gospel. (John 3:16)

There is a “portal” of sorts one must walk through in order to possess God’s secret wisdom. It brings your soul into vital contact with the living Lord of the universe. In The Chronicles of Narnia, C.S. Lewis created a story involving four children walking through a wardrobe in an English country house. It serves as the portal into a mysterious and wonderful land called “Narnia.” In the real world, you enter a place of grace “in the heavenly realms” (Eph. 2:6) the moment you walk by faith through the Gospel portal. “Faith comes from hearing the message.” (Rom. 10:17) And in this new realm, God’s secret wisdom is no longer a mystery to you.

Lord Jesus, I am a sinner and I cannot remove the stain of sin from my soul. But I believe you died on the cross to pay for my sins. Wash away my sins with the blood you shed for me. Be the Lord of my life and the Savior of my soul. Guide me, lead me, and fill me with the Holy Spirit. Empower me as your disciple until the day I enter paradise where I will live with you forever. Thank you Jesus for enduring the intense agony and suffering of crucifixion in order to redeem my soul for eternity. Amen.

One of the Most Destructive Statements a Church Member Can Make

October 12, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Thom S. Rainer | 

      If you have served in church leadership for several years, you have likely heard this statement:
“You know who pays the bills at the church.”

The statement is one of the most insidious, destructive, and ungodly statements a member can make. It says much about the attitude of the member and the group he or she represents. There is nothing good that can come from this statement. Just look at some of the implications of this attitude:

1. It is an attitude of selfishness. The giver with this attitude looks at his or her gifts to the church with a closed fist instead of an open hand. Money is given conditionally, not sacrificially or unconditionally: “It’s my money, not God’s money.”

2. It is an attitude of entitlement. Gifts to the church are more like country club dues. “Since I pay my money, I get my perks and benefits. I get things my way. And if I don’t get things my way, you just watch me stop paying my dues.”

3. It is an attitude of divisiveness. Those who express such statements are already creating schisms in the church. The big givers are in one group, and the lesser givers are in another. It’s us versus them. “Those other people don’t deserve an opinion, because we pay more than they do.”

4. It is an attitude of bullying. The statement is always a threat. It is usually directed at the pastor or some other leader in the church. “You do things my way or just watch what I’ll do to you.” It’s intimidation and bullying at its worst.

5. It is an attitude of superiority. The person who makes this statement is the Pharisee who lets the world know how “godly” he or she is. “Look at how much I give. I must be blessed by God. And this church is blessed by me. You wouldn’t want me to withhold my blessings, would you?”

6. It is an attitude of ungodliness. The Enemy loves to hear such statements. When he hears church members say they pay the bills, he knows they are focused on themselves and not Christ. He knows they are divisive instead of instruments of unity. The Enemy knows he’s winning when these contemptible words flow from the mouths of church members.

But there is absolutely no excuse for making threats with the money you and others have given to the church. Such an attitude gives no glory to God.

It is one of the most destructive statements a church member can make. It is spoken too often in too many churches. And, if the attitude is allowed to continue, it becomes a cancer that will kill and destroy.

 

6 Negative Consequences of Church Members With an Entitlement Mentality

October 3, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

Thom S. Rainer | 

“Once one realizes they are entitled to nothing, they become grateful for everything.”

Art Rainer

My premise was simple and basic. I went to Scripture to delineate the characteristics of a healthy church member. The responses to the book and the blog post gave me an acute awareness of the dearth of healthy church members in many churches. The opposite of a healthy church member is an entitled church member. He or she sees the church as an organization that doles out perks and benefits somewhat like a country club. The church, therefore, exists for the members rather than the members serving sacrificially as the body of Christ (see 1 Corinthians 12).

  1. More conflicts and church fights. When church members have an entitlement mentality, they get angry when they don’t get their way. It thus leads to conflict and even church fights.
  2. Pastor and staff perceived to be hired hands. Forget the idea of the pastor/teacher equipping the saints to do the work of ministry. Entitled members view them to be workers paid to all or most of the ministry. “After all, that’s what we pay them for.”
  3. Keeps the focus off the Great Commission and the Great Commandment.Entitlement is self-focused. The Great Commission and the Great Commandment are other-focused.
  4. Creates unhealthy alliances. Entitled church members often form alliances with other church members of similar unhealthy mindsets. They are called cliques and power groups. They can be members of an extended family, or they can be a diverse group of members simply determined to get their own way.
  5. Turns giving into dues. The money given to the church is not done so with open hands. It has strings attached, and those strings will jerk the money back the moment entitled church members do not get their way. (See my earlier post on giving versus dues.)
  6. Turns the church facility into a shrine. When members insist on getting their way, the church facility becomes an object of their own desires. The fight could be over a color of paint or carpet, a parlor or bride’s room, chairs versus pews, or the pulpit itself. The sad possibilities are endless.

I have a burning passion to see churches revitalized. In many ways, it’s really about the revitalization of the hearts of church members. And those hearts must transform from me-centeredness and conditional to other-focused and unconditional.

Then, and only then, will our churches experience true revitalization.

Tips for More Regular Bible Reading

October 3, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

Chris Bolinger | 

 

My first article gave reasons why Christians should read the Bible at least four days each week. My second article explained why regular Bible reading is challenging for many. Here’s a summary:

  • We have become conditioned to read in bursts. The Bible was not written to be read that way.
  • The Bible can be challenging to read, even for avid readers who understand the times and cultures in which the Bible was written.
  • Parts of the Bible can be boring; many readers get bogged down in those parts.
  • The most popular version of the Bible, the King James Version, uses archaic terms that make some passages very difficult to understand.
  • Familiar parts of the Bible can get stale, leading us to zone out when we encounter them.

A few years ago, I was in the middle of Christian Leadership Concepts (CLC), a challenging, two-year program for small groups of men who want to go deeper in their faith. CLC stresses the importance of having a daily quiet time with God, which was something that I never had done. Here are three things that I learned that should help you in your quest for more regular time in God’s Word.

1. Don’t Go It Alone.

CLC wasn’t the first organization to challenge me to spend time in the Bible every day. Just about every church I had attended recommended a daily quiet time. I got the same recommendation at Christian conferences, at my kids’ youth events, and in many Christian books that I read. But I never stayed consistent until I was in a CLC group. That’s because CLC not only issued the challenge but surrounded me with a group of guys who helped me meet the challenge.

You don’t need a big team. But, if you’re like me, then you need at least one other person to partner with you in the venture – and adventure – of reading God’s Word regularly. Having one or more partners gives you benefits such as these:

  • Interaction: Hearing ideas from others, and putting your thoughts into words, can help everyone in the group understand challenging passages and apply more of God’s Word to your daily lives.
  • Accountability: You and your teammates can help each other stay on track with regular time in the Bible.
  • Support: Good teammates care about more than just accomplishing a goal. They care about each member of the team and will commit to providing ongoing, prayerful support.

2. Try a Bible Reading Plan.

If you want to embark on the challenge of reading the New Testament or the entire Bible, then you should get a reading plan. There are plenty of free ones. Here are some examples from Ligonier Ministries:

  • 5-day Bible plan: Bible in a year, with readings five days a week
  • 52-week Bible plan: Bible in a year, with each day of the week focused on a different genre: Epistles, The Law, History, Psalms, Poetry, Prophecy, and Gospels.
  • Four-a-day Bible plan: Bible in a year, with four readings a day, starting in Genesis, Psalms, Matthew, and Acts
  • Books-of-the-month Bible plan: Bible in a year, completing specified books each month
  • Chapter-a-day Bible plan: Bible in three years, one chapter per day
  • 5x5x5 NT plan: Read through the New Testament in a year, reading Monday to Friday.

A reading plan provides structure, goals, and milestones, which help you get on track and stay on track with reading the New Testament or the entire Bible. What a reading plan doesn’t provide, however, is insight into what you are reading. If you want such insight, then check out the Bible Project page on YouTube. For every book of the Bible, the page provides one or more Read Scripture videos. Each is a short animated film that provides an overview of the book (or a portion of it) with invaluable information on the author, the context in which he wrote, the structure of the book, and its theme(s), key elements, and highlights.

3. Find a Devotional That Works for You.

Some people prefer to contemplate Bible passages on their own, while others prefer to get insight from someone else. If you fall into the latter camp – and you don’t have a Bible reading team or don’t talk to your teammates very often – then a devotional may be a good option for you. Each entry in a typical devotional is a Bible verse or passage and the author’s thoughts on that verse or passage. Those thoughts are designed to help you understand the verse or passage and apply it to your life.

Most devotionals are available for purchase, but a growing number are free. A free devotional may be hosted on a website, distributed via email, or made available via a smartphone app.

I wanted a devotional that would help me get into a rhythm of drawing daily strength from the Bible. After searching in vain for months, I decided to write one. The result is Daily Strength for Men, which will be available in early November. Samples are available on DailyStrengthForMen.com.

My prayer is that, whatever resources you use, you’ll get deeper into God’s Word and grow closer to God, the source of our strength.

Christian Hoarding? Do We Own Stuff? Or Does Stuff Own Us?

September 27, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Op-Ed Contributors Eric Metaxas And Stan Guthrie | 

Hoarding isn’t just a grotesque curiosity for TV voyeurs. It’s a real and present danger for Christ’s Church.

C.S. Lewis once said, “The safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” In today’s prosperous America, we’ve made hoarding just as easy, and the danger to our souls is just as real.

A new article in The Atlantic by Alana Semuels lays out the grim details. In 2017, Americans spent $240 billion on jewelry, watches, books, luggage, telephones, and related communication equipment—twice as much in inflation-adjusted dollars as in 2002. During the same time, the population grew only 13 percent. Spending on personal care products also doubled.

To hold all this stuff, we’re supersizing our houses and storage facilities. Last year, the average size of a single family home in the U.S. was 2,426 square feet—a 23 percent increase from 20 years ago. Meanwhile, two decades ago there were 26,000 self-storage units around the country. Today there are 52,000 of them!

All this acquisitiveness, Semuels says, is because online retailers such as Amazon have made buying stuff so easy, and because the global economy has made stuff so cheap. I’m sure that’s partly true, but I think the cause is deeper.

And what about the harm of all this sludge to our souls? I’m uncomfortably reminded of Jesus’ parable of the rich fool in Luke 12. This man had received an abundant harvest, and what did he do? He built bigger barns to store it all and said to himself, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.” But what did God say to him? “Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?” The man couldn’t even enjoy all his earthly treasures.

And just so we wouldn’t miss the point, Jesus administered the sobering coup de grâce: “So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.” The problem wasn’t that the man was rich—many of the Lord’s choicest saints have been abundantly blessed with the world’s goods. It wasn’t that he had stuff, but that his stuff had him, and that he wasn’t rich toward God.

Are we, who have been blessed far more abundantly than most of God’s servants around the world, as rich toward God as we need to be? I cannot tell you an amount that you must share if you don’t want to be a Christian hoarder—that’s between you, the Lord, and perhaps a wise Christian friend or financial adviser. What I can tell you is that, if our giving doesn’t hurt at least a little bit, if it doesn’t curb our seemingly insatiable urge to hoard, then it probably isn’t enough.

And in this time of material abundance, a lot of worthy churches and ministries face a chronic shortage of funds. Why is that? According to nonprofitsource.com, Christians today give only 2.5 percent of their income; during the Great Depression, it was 3.3 percent. The average giving by adults who attend Protestant churches in America is about $17 a week, and 37 percent of regular church attendees and evangelicals don’t give any money to church.

There are all kinds of Christians in this world, but the category “Christian hoarders” doesn’t exist in God’s economy. Let’s check our hearts, and our wallets, and set aside more treasure in heaven.

When Things Seem Impossible, Remember His Faithfulness

September 27, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Jentezen Franklin | 

 

And the king and his men went to Jerusalem against the Jebusites, the inhabitants of the land, who spoke to David, saying, “You shall not come in here; but the blind and the lame will repel you,” thinking, “David cannot come in here.” - 2 Samuel 5:6

Isn’t it amazing that God can move on our behalf, and in a moment of crisis, come through with just the right answer or provision for that hour? And then, isn’t it even more amazing when He does it again, and again, and again? But as remarkable as this is, I find it even more amazing that when we go through the next major crisis we suffer from amnesia and immediately forget all the times He has come through for us.

In this passage of scripture, we come across David, a man with inner conflict. He knew that he and his men were supposed to take the city of Jerusalem. It was not only their right; it was an order straight from the throne of God. The problem was, to any trained or untrained eye, it was impenetrable. It looked impossible. Ever been there?

Satan is the great deceiver, and if he can create just enough doubt, then he can set up a stronghold that keeps us from the high place that God has called us to. So when David’s men were divided in their mind, they could not conquer the city.

And so it is with us. We can know that we know that God is calling us to the next place, the next step in our journey. Yet, rather then remembering God’s legacy of faithfulness in our past, we choose to see our physical limitations and surface circumstances through human eyes using human logic. We turn back in discouragement, because we know that we know we are settling for less than God’s best.

When David and his men came together, they realized they had a right to that city. David could have said, “I’ve come so far; I ought to be happy, I ought to be satisfied, I ought to stay in this comfort zone. I don’t have to fight anymore battles.” But something in him moved, because he knew there was a place greater than where he was. There was to be a city of David.

David remembered when he went out and slew Goliath and cut his head off with his own sword. He remembered picking up the head of that giant, dripping with blood, and he taking it not just back to his tent, but back to the city of Jerusalem (1 Samuel 17). Remembering this caused him to consider who He was and to remember that God would always be with him.

You have a legacy—the DNA of tried and tested faith. And God is calling you to do even greater things than you did before, maybe in a different field, in a different way, or a different place, but you’re going higher not lower. You need to believe that as you go up, the strongholds are coming down in Jesus’ name. Never trust your eyes in matters of faith. And rather than count the cost, instead remember and consider the many times God has come through, even when it seemed impossible.

 

Pastor Jentezen Franklin is the Senior Pastor of Free Chapel, a multi campus church. Each week his television program Kingdom Connection is broadcast on major networks all over the world. A New York Times best-selling author, Jentezen has written eight books including his latest, Love Like You’ve Never Been Hurt.

What Kids Need Most From Their Parents

September 15, 2018 by  
Filed under In The News

By Greg Laurie | 

(PHOTO: UNSPLASH/STEVEN VAN LOY)

Over the years as a pastor, I’ve talked with people on their deathbeds and have often heard the same thing from parents: If they had it to do all over again, they would spend more time with their children and their spouse. And of course they always add, “I would have been closer to God.”

You don’t have to wait until your deathbed to realize how important your family is. One father whose children were grown and out of the house looked back and made this statement:

My family’s all grown, and the kids are all gone. But, if I had it to do all over again, this is what I’d do: I would love my wife more in front of my children. I would laugh with my children more – at our mistakes and our joys. I would listen more, even to the littlest child. I would be more honest about my own weaknesses, never pretending perfection. I would pray differently for my family – instead of focusing on them, I’d focus on me. I would do more things together with my children. I would encourage them more and bestow more praise. I would pay more attention to the little things like deeds, and words of thoughtfulness.

He concludes, “If I had to do it all over again, I would share God more intimately with my family; every ordinary thing that happened in every ordinary day I would use to direct them to God.”

When the dust settles and all is said and done, when you look back on your accomplishments in life, your family will be one of the most important things you had a part in. Sure, you can look at a successful career. Sure, you can look at other accomplishments. But your children who carry on your name and your family legacy into the next generation – and into the next one – will be some of the greatest accomplishments of your life.

How important it is for parents to realize their children are a gift to them from God. Psalm 127 says, “Children are a gift from the Lord; they are a reward from him. Children born to a young man are like arrows in a warrior’s hands. How joyful is the man whose quiver is full of them! He will not be put to shame when he confronts his accusers at the city gates” (verses 3–5 NLT).

During the social experimentation of the 1960s, we did away with the so-called nuclear family, laughing at such a concept and finding new ways to express it in the name of being progressive. And now we’re reaping the inevitable results. We’re seeing the folly of it.

Studies have shown how wrong this approach has been. Harvard University sociologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck developed a test to determine whether 5- or 6-year-olds would become delinquent. Their test, which proved to be 90 percent accurate, found there were four primary factors necessary to prevent juvenile delinquency: 1) the father’s firm, fair and consistent discipline; 2) the mother’s supervision and companionship during the day; 3) the parents demonstrating affection for each other and for their children; and 4) the family spending time together in activities where all participate.

Your kids need you – not just in the early years but throughout their years at home. You’re impacting them. They need an on-hand mom and the active involvement of a father.

When my wife and I had our first son, Christopher, we were very young. Cathe was 19, and I was 22. We didn’t live in a nice home. We didn’t have nice things. In fact, our furniture had the stuffing coming out of it. One person would give us one thing, and we’d find another thing at the Salvation Army. We tried to fix things up and make them look as nice as we could. We didn’t have much food in our refrigerator. We actually had to finance a television set – a miniature black-and-white TV that cost $105. We financed it for $6 a month. But my wife was there at home for our son for those very important years of his life.

The concept of quality time is nothing more than a myth. Children need quantity time. They need hands-on involvement from both parents.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Don’t lay a guilt trip on me. I’m busy.” We’re all busy. Are you saying that you could not make more time to be with your children? You might find that if you simply eliminated a couple of things, a lot of time would open up.

I wonder how much time parents waste watching television or checking their social media when they could sit down with their children and play a board game or simply talk. It’s all a matter of priorities.

Once it’s over, it’s over. We can’t regain that time again. We can’t go back and fix things. That is why parents should take the time now to do everything they can to impact their children. Establish parameters for them. Give them discipline. They need parental leadership. They may resist it at the time, but they will be grateful for it later.

It isn’t teaching children through rigid, unbending dogmatism but through explanation and example. That starts in a parent’s own relationship with God.

Are you setting an example? Do you need to make some changes in your life so you can be an effective example and leader?

Andrew Murray wrote, “The secret of home rule is self-rule, first being ourselves what we want our children to be.”

It shouldn’t be our goal, however, to mold our children into our image. Our goal instead should be to mold them into God’s image.

They are not ours to keep; they are ours to nurture. We are not to teach them to be dependent on us for the rest of their lives. Rather, we’re to teach them to be independent – and more importantly, dependent on God.

 

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