The law is much like a mirror! It can show us our sin, but can’t cleanse us of it. Yet too many seek to live up to the law expecting they can perform it to gain a right standing with God. That only leads to hypocrisy and judgmentalism. There’s a better way - a way that actually works! Today on a Daily Walk we take you to Romans two and see together what that is.
It’s no secret that we live in an increasingly addicted culture. Join us for today’s PowerPoint as Pastor Jack Graham shares Scriptural truth to remind us that the chains that bind us and the habits that hold us back can all be broken by Christ.
Chapter 10 – “Hell’s Supreme Surprise
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 NIV
The hero of heaven is God. Angels don’t worship mansions or glittering avenues. Neither gates nor jewels prompt the hosts to sing . . . God does. His majesty stirs the pen of heaven’s poets and the awe of her citizens.
They enjoy an eternity-long answer to David’s prayer: “One thing I ask of the LORD . . . to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD” (Ps. 27:4). What else warrants a look? Inhabitants of heaven forever marvel at the sins God forgives, the promises he keeps, the plan he executes. He’s not the grand marshal of the parade; he is the parade. He’s not the main event; he’s the only event. His Broadway features a single stage and star: himself. He hosts the only production and invites every living soul to attend.
He, at this very moment, issues invitations by the millions. He whispers through the kindness of a grandparent, shouts through the tempest of a tsunami. Through the funeral he cautions, “Life is fragile.” Through a sickness he reminds, “Days are numbered.” God may speak through nature or nurture, majesty or mishap. But through all and to all he invites: “Come, enjoy me forever.”
Yet many people have no desire to do so. They don’t want anything to do with God. He speaks; they cover their ears. He commands; they scoff. They don’t want him telling them how to live. They mock what he says about marriage, money, sex, or the value of human life. They regard his son as a joke and the cross as utter folly.1 They spend their lives telling God to leave them alone. And at the moment of their final breath, he honors their request: “Get away from me, you who do evil. I never knew you” (Matt. 7:23 NCV). This verse escorts us to the most somber of Christian realities: hell.
No topic stirs greater resistance. Who wants to think about eternal punishment? We prefer to casualize the issue, making jokes about its residents or turning the noun into a flippant adjective. “That was a hell of a steak.” Odd that we don’t do the same with lesser tragedies. You never hear “My golf game has gone toprison.” Or “This is an AIDS of a traffic jam.” Seems a conspiracy is afoot to minimize hell.
here’s The Deal with Larry Tomczak ” How to Deal with Loneliness and Develop Meaningful Friendships”
Bill Clinton says it's his favorite song. It's a Beatle's classic still played 50 years after its debut. It strikes a chord with multitudes because we so identify with its theme.
"Ah, look at all the lonely people / Ah, look at all the lonely people."
The spotlight shines on an aging woman then transitions to an unappreciated pastor.
"All the lonely people / Where do they all come from? / All the lonely people / Where do they all belong?"
She dies. "Nobody came." He officiates, then meanders away.
"All the lonely people / Where do they all come from? / All the lonely people / Where do they all belong?"
How could you not guess the memorable "Eleanor Rigby"?
A century before, Henry David Thoreau captured the same issue of loneliness. He stated, "The mass of humanity lead lives of quiet desperation."
From a biblically informed perspective, we know there are three basic needs of humankind:
- Transcendence: reaching beyond physical to spiritual.
- Significance: having purpose in life.
- Relationship: having human connectivity/friendship.
God calls us to renew our mind (Rom.12:2), meditate (say repetitively; "chew the cud") and bring "every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ" (2Cor.10:5). "The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart" (Rom. 10:8).
When we delight to spend time daily in His Presence we discover "Those who seek the Lord will lack no good thing" (Ps.34:10). When we incorporate into that time the declaration of faith-building verses, our confidence grows in who we are and what we have in Christ. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God" (Rom. 10:17).
Overcomers learn to vanquish defeatist, negative thoughts as we train ourselves to resist temptation, accusation and condemnation as Jesus did by boldly declaring, "It is written!" (Matt. 4). We don't accept Satan's estimation of ourselves and our situations but agree with God to discover our destiny. "Do two people walk together, if they have not agreed?" (Amos 3:3).
"Sow a thought – reap an act. Sow an act - reap a habit. Sow a habit – reap a lifestyle. Sow a lifestyle – reap a destiny!"
I am taking this reading today from a good friend of mine, Larry Tomczak. I do a weekly podcast with Larry called Here's The Deal with Larry Tomczak and I was so encouraged by this article today that I had to share it with you and hoping it would encourage you in whatever it is that yu might be going through today.
This is a collage of scriptures that are placed together to remind of us of what God has to say about Victory, Faith, Boldness, Health, and Destiny.
So knowing that there are people that I can reach that he cannot, I wanted to share a part of a message that he brings to people to encourage them in their walk and this is my hope as well today.
Please share with others and encourage them.
Blessings and Favor to all of you.
"Our country could begin to unravel if an elected president is thrown out of office because of lies and the media." - Franklin Graham
I will soon gather in the DC area with other board members for Intercessors for America. I've been privileged to serve with this team for almost 45 years. Our mission: to see God's purposes for America fulfilled through sustained prayer and Spirit-led obedience.
God's Word instructs us to pray regularly for those in authority over us. "I urge you, first of all, to pray for all people. Ask God to help them, intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them. Pray this way for kings and all who are in authority so that we can live peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. This is good and pleases God our Savior, who wants everyone to be saved and to understand the truth" (1 Tim. 2:1-4 New Living Translation).
As hysteria and drumbeats intensify among Trump-hating Democrats and some Republicans to try and finally remove the President from office, an urgent call to prayer is critical. The severity of what's happening must be grasped as dangerous forces are at work that can be devastating to America.
The song "Don't Worry, Be Happy" was clever, cute and catchy but lacked substance to help us be happy.
Wherever we find ourselves on our spiritual journey, deep down inside we want to be happy and successful. Surveys show they're the top priorities of people of every age in every season of life.
What are the principles that God reveals in scripture that guide us in these areas? Obviously for Christians everything is based upon a dynamic relationship with Jesus as Lord. We willingly obey, aligning with scripture in every area of life and are confident in the reality: "Happy is that people whose God is the Lord" (Ps.144:15 KJV).
Multitudes are robbed of happiness and success because of disregarding the wisdom revealed in the Bible given for His glory and our good. It's imperative we follow His Word as a decision not an emotion, trusting Him for success and blessings that follow living as overcomers by faith.
"This Book of the Law must not depart from your mouth. Meditate on it day and night so that you may act carefully according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way successful, and you will be wise" (Josh.1:8).
"Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, even as your soul is well" (3 Jn. 2).
"The thief does not come, except to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (Jn. 10:10).
Walking by the youth-oriented clothing store at our mall, I noticed its featured T-shirt prominently displayed in the window. The message emblazoned on the front was "PRACTICE SAFE SEX."
Young people hear this message regularly in public schools and are bombarded by it in the media promoting casual sex. Add to the equation countless millions regularly watching and being inflamed by the "click away" perversions of pornography.
The most widely read advice columnist in newspapers today makes available a booklet to help "educate" our children in safe sex and homosexuality. This is not based on a biblical worldview but the same permissive propaganda promoted by Planned Parenthood. Family Research Council reported that in California, an undercover video caught undercover ACLU attorneys instructing teachers to secretly help students obtain contraceptives and abortion services without parental knowledge or consent.
In Fort Collins, Colorado, the prohibition on public exposure of breasts by women and girls over 10 years old is now gone from the city code as of this week.
Hustlers, the blockbuster movie in theaters across America, sends the message that girls can make megabucks as glamorous "adult entertainers" (strippers) seducing guys, using drugs and enjoying lavish lifestyles based on nudity and promiscuity.
In actuality, lives are destroyed daily in our hyper-sexualized culture. There are long-term effects of violating God's standards: HIV risks, aborted babies, depression, sleeplessness, infertility, rape, sex trafficking and skyrocketing suicides. There is also the horror of sexual abuse.
A front page story in USA Today last week heralded the headline, "Millions of Women's First Sex Was Forced. read more
In this podcast, Pastor Matthew takes us through 2 Corinthians 4 spotlighting the afflictions and testimony of the Apostle Paul and why we should never let go of the faith that saves us. If you have ever been afflicted and troubled, you need to listen to this word of encouragement!
Here’s The Deal with Larry Tomczak “In Today’s Famine for God’s Word, Here’s the One Sermon I Would Preach”
I just gathered with family and friends to celebrate my 70th birthday. 100 days later, I anticipate commemorating my "Year of Jubilee" 50th spiritual birthday. I echo what Billy Graham said at a similar point, "How quickly it all goes by."
Have you found yourself thinking lately, Seems like time is passing so quickly? If so, you're part of multitudes experiencing a discovery initiated by God.
Scripture records, "There were four leprous men at the entry of the gate, and they said to one another, 'Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, "Let us enter the city," the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. But if we sit here, we die also.' Then they said to each other, 'What we're doing is not right. This is a day of good news and we are keeping it to ourselves. If we wait until daylight, punishment will overtake us. Let's go at once and report this to the royal palace.'" (2 Kings 7:3-4, 9-10).
Considering our desperate times, the famine for the Word of God and the inevitability of death, do we identify with these men responding to a God-given stirring? As they did, will we go into our city and bring good news to hopeless and broken people?
Read the full article here:
On today’s podcast, Pastor Matthew highlights a secret that the Apostle Paul draws the Church’s attention to in 2 Thessalonians 3: the power and privilege of prayer. Why and how should we pray? Are people not qualified to pray for us according to Kingdom rank? Tune in and be encouraged!
Here’s The Deal with Larry Tomczak “5-Time Oscar Winner Declares: ‘There Is No Hell; This Is Heaven’
In an extensive Wall Street Journal (Aug. 17, 2019) interview with world-famous director, Francis Ford Coppola of "Godfather" fame, he shared about his new film project, which presents utopia here on earth. He also told us that, "There is no hell, but the other news is that this here is heaven!" He'd been raised in a strong Catholic Italian family, so obviously he's embracing a different worldview than that of Scripture and Roman Catholicism.
In his classic, Oscar-winning "Godfather" series, the brilliant director featured a mafia kingpin making a memorable line often repeated to this day. "I'll make you an offer you can't refuse." It's apparent Mr. Coppola offers listeners a "deal" if they accept his belief about no eternal judgment and that they can escape accountability to a loving but holy and just God.
According to the Bible, the wisest human being who ever lived was Solomon. In his collection of divinely inspired wisdom, he stated, "A prudent man foresees the evil and hides himself, but the simple pass on and are punished" (Prov. 27:12).
He also summarized his lifetime of learning with these words, "Now all has been heard. Let us hear the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil" (Eccl. 12:13-14).
Jesus came to redeem us but made it clear we must repent and trust Him alone for salvation. He reinforced the doctrine of eternal judgment in which hell is real and real people go there.
In this podcast, Pastor Matthew teaches from David’s famous testimony in Psalm 23, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil.” We discuss what causes fear and also why we should never fear danger, death or the devil! Tune into this message and be encouraged!
Student Poll: Obama "History's Greatest President"
- 10 Objective Reasons Why He was the Worst
After graduating from Cleveland State University I began working at the AFL–CIO headquarters across from the White House. Immediately they had me study the labor movement so I could accurately learn its history.
Because "Civics" isn't taught in our public schools anymore with 60's liberals and radicals dominating academia, it’s no surprise that college students do not receive an accurate picture of America’s rich history. Communist revolutionary Vladimir Lenin said, "If you can separate people from their history, they are easily persuaded."
The brutal reality: students are propagandized with a skewed view of America and ignorant of the lives and accomplishments of our truly great presidents. It’s also no surprise that the latest poll of college students ranked Barack Obama as the "Greatest President in American History." He had twice the votes of George Washington while Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, John F. Kennedy and even FDR were way back in the pack!
On the threshold of my 70th birthday alongside of my 50th spiritual birthday, I sing with believers worldwide celebrating God's “Amazing Grace.”
“Through many dangers, toils and snares we have already come. T’was grace that brought us safe thus far and grace will lead us home.”
When we genuinely repent and put our total trust in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the Cross, the conversion experience supernaturally transitions us from death to life, all sins are forgiven, we’re adopted into God’s forever family, declared justified (just as if we’ve never sinned!) and are catapulted into the sanctifying process of being conformed to His Image. He was punished so we could be pardoned and enjoy new life as born-again Christians!
In the Book of Romans, Paul’s masterpiece on salvation, he
spends 11 chapters explaining this divinely-inspired revelation. In chapter 12 he pivots, calling us to respond by presenting ourselves to God and then embrace the priority of developing a biblical worldview to experience the fullness of God’s beautiful plan for our lives.
“Don’t be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind so that you may prove what is the good, acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. 12:2).
On today’s podcast, Pastor Matthew addresses what healthy (reasonable) church expectations look like. Have you ever wondered what you are to expect from the Pastors and what they, in turn, expect from the congregation? Tune in and turn in your Bibles to 1 Thessalonians 5; let’s all become better church members in the Body of Christ!
In 2012, Jim Turley, current president of the Boy Scouts of America, was the first member of the Executive Board to call for inviting boys struggling or identifying as homosexuals to become part of the program. Shortly thereafter, Boy Scouts executives caved to LGBTQ persistent pressure to be "gay affirming" and overhauled the over 100-year-old organization’s mission to include anyone endorsing and celebrating a lifestyle sacred scripture calls “moral impurity, degrading, shameless, indecent and unnatural” (Romans 1:24–27).
This is not bigotry - it is Bible. It may not be politically correct but it is fidelity to God's design for men and women, marriage and family. For those struggling with and confused with same-sex temptation, God's remedy is available to all and His grace sets those ensnared free!
As predicted, once the floodgates opened to boys wrestling with homosexual urges and openly gay troop leaders, multitudes grieved and began departing. Now the lid is off as over 800 clients have identified 350 abusers and the Scouts confidential records, known internally as "the perversion files" are being examined. Bankruptcy is under consideration.
USA Today stated the complaint in a front page article: "It's apparent that the Boy Scouts Defendants continue to hide the true nature of the cover-up and the extent of the pedophilia epidemic within their organizations because the vast majority of new victims coming forward involve claims of abuse at the hands of pedophiles who are not yet identified by the Boy Scouts of America" (8/7/19).
Using the example of King David in Psalm 32, we see that hidden sins on earth are an open scandal in Heaven. In this program, Pastor Matthew gives us five reasons and benefits why we need to confess our sins to the Lord. Also discussed are the traits that define what ‘godly’ people are. Give this a listen and be encouraged!
This is not a prophecy but a possibility. Even when political people say they're "not interested in running," don't be fooled.
I'm an Alabama football fan. I vividly recall a moment in the 2018 National Championship game between the Crimson Tide and Georgia Bulldogs when Alabama's coach, Nick Saban, faced a big decision. Seeing his team's sputtering offense, the clock winding down and aware of what was at stake, he made a bold move by benching his star quarterback Jalen Hurts (26–2 record) and replacing him with a freshman, Tua Tagovailoa.
Catapulted into overtime, Tagovailoa engineered a stunning 41-yard TD pass to win the national championship! He was named the offensive MVP. With confetti falling during the post-game interview, he declared on nationwide television, "First of all, I want to give all the glory to my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!"
Desperate situations require desperate solutions.
With the 2020 presidential election underway, observers of both political parties agree that the 24 Democratic candidates are making a most disappointing splash before curious observers. Even dyed-in-the wool liberals like former Chicago mayor Rahm Emmanuel and TV talk show host Joe Scarborough admit the candidates' extremism and acrimony, even trashing Obama, are embarrassing and destroying the Democrats' quest for The White House in 2020.
Lifelong Democrats are saying, reluctantly but honestly, "The Democratic Party is no longer recognizable to me." Looming on the horizon is the very real possibility of another embarrassing defeat like those of Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis and George McGovern.
Outrageous and Unrealistic Ideas
The Democrat candidates are whining about our "horrible economy. read more
Pastor Matthew concludes the series on #Prodigal with an understanding of why Jesus told the story and why the older brother is just as critical to the narrative as the prodigal himself! Listen to this and be encouraged!
Here’s The Deal with Larry Tomczak ” How Science, Sonograms, Scripture Confirm Unborn Babies Are Not Mere ‘Blobs’
At a recent pro-abortion rally, a number of feminists huddled together wearing T-shirts declaring, "My Body. My Choice." Emblazoned on their placard were the words: "PARASITES DON'T HAVE RIGHTS."
At another rally upholding the sanctity of life, a young girl carried a sign that read: "IF MY MOM DIDN'T CARE—I MIGHT NOT BE HERE—THANKS, MOM!
Abortion is not primarily a religious or feminist issue; it is a human issue! Protecting the life of a developing baby in the womb should be the concern of every compassionate person committed to social justice.
The problem: Scores struggle to believe the tiny person forming inside mom is biological life. They say, "fetus", unaware that the Latin word refers to the humanity of preborn life not merely a blob of tissue. Ironically, they still speak of a "baby bump" or ask "When is the baby due?"
When the Supreme Court ruled on abortion in 1973, Justice Blackmun based his opinion on the practice of pre-Christian Roman law which allowed abortion. He admitted that "Greek and Roman law afforded little protection to the unborn" as well as the newly born since Roman law also permitted infanticide.
"Indifference" of the church during the founding days of this country, is a key word that could be used to describe the culture of this time.
Colonies were growing and prospering.
The church being established in the colonies was losing it's power, the power to convict men's hearts and minds. The church even grew skeptical at this time in history, in the new America.
Worship became formal and lacking power.
Tom goes into great detail about the ministers of the time, such as Jonathan Edwards and many others.
join us for more episode of "Sparks of Revival" @ http://thecenterforawakening.com/
Join us for Part 2 in the Prodigal series as we focus on the lost son. Lost people matter to God; the downfall and restoration of the prodigal reveals why God should matter to lost people. It is an inescapable fact that every lost person needs to realize: You need God! Listen and be encouraged!
Rev. Matthew Crebbin has been Senior Minister at the Newtown Congregational Church, UCC since 2007. He has served faith communities in New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. A sought after preacher and lecturer, his ministry has focused upon a variety of areas including: theological dialogue, ecumenical and interfaith partnerships, grief and trauma ministry—as well as justice and peace advocacy. He currently serves as the Coordinator of the Newtown Interfaith Council.
Healing the Healers is a new media resource intended to support clergy, laity, social workers, first responders and other faith leaders facing community-level trauma. In the first five parts of an ongoing video series, Rev. Matthew Crebbin begins an important conversation with colleagues in which they acknowledge the unique stress they face in the aftermath of community trauma.
Rev. Crebbin is the Senior Minister of the Newtown Congregational Church in Newtown, CT. On December 14, 2012, his life, along with those of his family, his congregation, and everyone in the town, was changed by the horrifying shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School. His mission in this series has a dual focus: both to learn about and better understand the mid-to-long term effects of such traumas on faith leaders who, like him, have gone through such an experience, and to help educate and prepare other faith and community leaders who may be faced with such events in the future.
The last time we were together, we were strolling the grounds of an amusement park and encouraging one another. Your father had steered us into homeschooling which paid off incredibly.
I previously gathered friends in my apartment to launch Covenant Life Church with CJ Mahaney which later was entrusted to you. There and nationwide you reinforced for many grateful parents foundational biblical principles of purity and the permanency of covenant marriage.
You married your beautiful Shannon, and began raising your three wonderful children. God gave you great favor in the eyes of multitudes, especially young people, who looked to you as an inspiring example: "If he can do it, so can I!"
In your conferences, books and pastoral ministry you were faithful to scripture, instructing on the true meaning of agape love versus erotic sexual attraction; cooperating with God in character development for stability in marriage; and, honoring parents and God’s design for marriage and family by resisting the seduction of cultural influences on living together (fornication), homosexuality, and unscriptural divorce.
Along the way, God gave you insights for a more balanced approach to singles relating without compromising biblical commands. I honor you for later acknowledging some mistakes in practicing biblical principles along with an element of some legalism. Like all of us, you’re on a journey and you wanted to set the record straight and I commend you for your humility.
Discouragement, Deception and Derailment
Josh, you’re very familiar with the importance of maintaining a biblical worldview amidst the avalanche of ungodly pressures causing discouragement, deception and many Christians to be derailed today. Your relocation to Canada exposed you to an even more liberal culture which I experienced firsthand in ministering there last year.
"Take head to yourself and the doctrine" (1Tim. 4:16) is critical for you and I to "finish well" and avoid being one of the casualties prophesied in 1 Tim. 4:1, "Now the Spirit clearly says that in the last days some will depart from the faith and pay attention to seducing spirits..."
I’ve got to be honest with you, my friend, you stunned me this week when you announced that after almost 20 years of marriage you and Shannon were ending your marriage and that you no longer consider yourself a Christian.
You also stated that you were reevaluating your views on the LGBTQ agenda and apologizing to them for not supporting same-sex marriage and affirming their place in the church.
If God convicted you of un-Christlike attitudes towards homosexuals that’s good. If you’re wandering into unscriptural acceptance of sexual activity that God calls “shameful, unnatural, degrading, impure, indecent and perversion” (Rom. 1:21-32), I beseech you to "stop and turn back to unchanging Biblical truth." You know I’m not talking about people struggling with same-sex attraction but those who “not only do them but also give hearty approval to those who practice them (Rom. 1:32).
My brother, here in Nashville the entire Christian community watched the sad story of a thriving megachurch collapse as the pastor, to whom I personally appealed, decided to become "gay affirming and inclusive." Local and national media celebrated the development but soon he announced the breakup of his marriage as he drifted into heresy, eventually leaving Nashville with multitudes left heartbroken, confused and devastated.
Time for a Wake Up Call?
Josh, you’re in your 40s. Billy Graham once said, when asked what one thing he learned as he aged, "How quickly it all goes by."
Remember the compelling question you posed readers in I Kissed Dating Goodbye? Chapter 14: "What Matters at 50?"
Doris and I have faced incredible pressures, conflicts and challenges in our 43 years of marriage and ministry but by the grace of God we continue to honor what we vowed before God, each other and many witnesses on April 10, 1976. Along with our brides, we know there are only two kinds of marital couples: those who admit their problems and those who don’t. All couples have problems.
What about Billy and Ruth Graham?
Ruth was once asked in an interview if she ever thought about divorce in her marriage to Billy? She responded without hesitation, yet jokingly, "Divorce? No. Murder, yes!"
A Tragic Tale
Years ago I sat in my dining room with one of the premier preachers in America. I devoured his teachings and once I was married Doris and I both continued listening to his outstanding messages.
At the height of his ministry, he began compromising his biblically informed convictions and wandered into more comfortable and convenient doctrinal positions. Sitting across from me he said he reached the point where he wanted "personal peace" rather than problems with his wife.
He separated from her and their six or seven children. He got involved with another woman. His reputation disintegrated and his ministry and church came apart. Someone shared with me the effect it had on the children especially one son who spun off into drugs. The last time I spoke with the man he was doing some work on a dock if I recall correctly.
- What if he’d humbled himself and sought counseling? I’m not talking about psycho-babble and therapeutic victimhood but godly counsel over a period of time with a seasoned biblical counselor?
- What if he led the way with his wife in coming to a place where they put everything on the table in strictest confidentiality and dealt with generational issues, destructive habit patterns, unwise "friendships", pornography, flirtation with the opposite sex, parenting disagreements, anger issues, undisciplined spending, sexual problems and the like?
- What if he and his wife made the difficult decision to reject the lies of the enemy, repent, forgive and persevere no matter what the cost, while believing God's authoritative Word that redemptive grace would bring them to victory? "No temptation has taken you except what is common to man. God is faithful, and He will not permit you to be tempted above what you can endure, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that you may be able to bear it" (1Cor.10:13).
- What if he and his wife quietly enlisted the support of trusted friends to engage in intercessory prayer on their behalf during their season of adversity and testing?
A Defining Moment
Josh, and Shannon, I want to assure you that this is truly a defining moment for both of you as you well know. There are multitudes of people all over this nation and abroad who love you and are praying for you right now. I am in that caring company available to you so don’t hesitate to call me for encouragement, counsel or prayer.
More importantly, Jesus is praying right now as the One Who gave His life for you, committed to save you from a path that undermines the abundant life he desires for you and your family. "Therefore He is able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, because He at all times lives to make intercession for them" (Heb.7:25).
"Then the Lord said, ‘Simon, Simon, listen! Satan has demanded to have you to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have repented, strengthen your brothers" (Lk.22:31).
Here's the deal: Joshua, my friend, on the cover of your best selling book the image appearing to be you has his face downcast, covered by a hat. Your spiritual family throughout America encourages you to look up confidently knowing that "God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (Jam.4:6).
Please don’t kiss your marriage goodbye!
Your Friend 'till the End
Join us for the next three installments focusing on the most beloved of Jesus parables: The Prodigal Son. In this edition, we will look at what the father does for the wayward son, which is a portrait of the perfect love of our Heavenly Father! Listen and be blessed!
Bombs blasted, machine guns bulleted, grass-roofed homes blazed with intentionally set fires, and nine-year-old James Lual Atak ran for his life. The civil war that ravaged Sudan in 1987 separated many children from their families in just this way. The young boys who walked – and survived – unfathomable distances and terrain, and made it to the nearby lands of Ethiopia and Kenya became known as the “Lost Boys”. Left behind by society, they rank among the world’s forgotten orphans of war.
James experienced both sides of war, and then discovered a new way to live. First, he was conscripted as a child soldier, forced to run through the bush carrying his machine gun like a baby, and sent to the frontline as bait to shoot down the enemy, so the older “real soldiers” would live to fight to the end. Unlike many others, a general eventually set him free, and James made the long journey, along with thousands of other Lost Boys, to Kenya.
As one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, James watched other children die, even as he struggled to become one of the survivors.[i] He eventually made his way to Nairobi, Kenya, where a man named George William helped James receive an education and learn about Christianity.[ii] While in Kenya, James and his girlfriend each applied for visas as they dreamed of marrying and relocating together, if one of them was granted the coveted opportunity to escape.[iii] Despite the hope of a new life with his beloved, James felt burdened – so many children were still suffering what he had once endured, and few or none were receiving help.[iv] As James prayed earnestly for guidance, his name appeared on the list for an American Visa, his girlfriend’s on the list for an Australian one. However, instead of accepting his visa and pursuing the life he had planned, James bravely decided to follow the plan God placed in his heart — to return to his country and alleviate the suffering he could.[v] His girlfriend went to Australia, and James returned to Sudan by himself without funds, resources, or a plan for where these would come from. He trusted God’s plan and started to gather orphans and teach them with the one textbook he had in order to make a difference in his country.
A young girl named Kristina had lain across her father’s grave in despair. A few men had helped her bury her father, but did nothing more. “There are simply too many orphans to worry about this one,” she heard them say before leaving her behind. Days passed. Having nowhere to go, Kristina stayed at the gravesite. Hungry. Alone. Then a man walked up. He asked her what her name was, where her parents were: “I told him they were dead and I was alone.” The man offered his name, James Lual Atak, and then said the words that would change her life. “Come follow me. I will take you to New Life Ministry (NLM), and if you will follow the way I teach you, you will grow strong and you will not be alone anymore.”[vi] Kristina would learn, unlike the other men she encountered, James Lual Atak does worry about the orphans.
Kristina was not the first orphan to be rescued by James Lual Atak. When Kimberly Smith Highland, President of Make Way Partners, first met him in 2005, James had 153 orphans under his protection in what was at the time considered the Sudan; he was caring for them as best he could — while teaching them to read and write from one textbook.[vii] Together, James and Kimberly committed to do whatever it took to keep those children safe, and Make Way Partners became James’ and New Life Ministry’s sole funding partner. Thirteen years later, NLM is now home to 750 children, has a ministry for widows and former sex-slaves, and operates the region’s only high school.[viii] James also led Make Way Partners to build two other orphanages, schools, and clinics throughout Sudan and South Sudan, using the same successful model of indigenous leadership.
Today, New Life Ministry (NLM) is home to Darfur Muslim orphans and Southern Sudanese Christian and Animist orphans.[ix] James does not discriminate among those who need his help, and his compassion does not end with children. When they first met, James asked Kimberly if she’d go with him to where he knew Darfuris were hiding from the Janjaweed, and dying in the bush. [x] Fearing his motives, Kimberly asked why.[xi] “Because they’re dying out there, we have to take them some of [our] food and water and medicine.… The only real peace for my people is the love of Jesus. We have to be Jesus to the Darfurees, and take them food and medicine and help.”[xii]
Some would look at the accomplishments of caring for so many children in the face of war and inhumanity and say, ‘good enough.’ Yet, James still works tirelessly to create new ways to help his people. In addition to establishing NLM’s high school, James dreams of founding a training college to launch the next generation of leaders.[xiii]
Because he followed his faith and deep convictions, James was able to provide not just a home and education, but also hope, inspiration, and purpose for a little girl named Kristina — and for many others. And now, she explains, “[My favorite thing about being at NLM is] James Lual Atak, because he is teaching me how I can help more orphans like me.” [xiv]
Go on Amazon and you won't find anything on how to be an effective complainer. Why? Criticizing comes naturally because of our fallen nature.
Christians are directed differently, "Do all things without murmuring and disputing, that you may be blameless and harmless, sons of God, without fault, in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, in which you shine as lights in the world" (Phil. 2:14-15).
Disregarding the directive has consequences. God reminds us "because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things ... you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you" (Deut. 28:47-48a).
This is increasingly important in this critical time. The self-righteous tendency is to "find a flaw—flip 'em in the trash" unless you're Hillary, Che Guevara or a Planned Parenthood operative. The pressure is ever-present to be "politically correct" and embrace their "progressive" anti-American assault perfected by Obama who regularly referred to what's wrong with America.
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A Culture of Complaining
Franklin Graham tells us we are in the battle for the soul of our nation.
The further we drift from our Judeo-Christian foundations, the more people unconsciously conform to a culture of complaining that permeates the atmosphere today. They either take for granted or are simply ignorant of how good we've got it in the USA!
The Democratic presidential candidates breathlessly compete in tearing down our nation and our president. Listen to them bloviate their utopian plans between non-stop pricking holes in the balloons of prosperity we enjoy here in America.
Almost daily some celebrity, commentator or sports figure is in the news or on The View blasting our president, past historical figures and our nation. The brilliant architect of our founding documents, Thomas Jefferson, is now persona non grata; Betsy Ross is wiped off Nike shoes because Colin Kaepernick complained; celebration of the Women's World Cup victory was terribly tarnished because a lesbian leader seized the spotlight to sour the world on Trump and America.
Engaging with people to persuade them to a different viewpoint requires sensitivity and skill. "A soft answer turns away wrath" (Prov. 15:1). Obviously being a good listener, not interrupting and being well-informed are essential.