Editor's Note: This article first appeared in the December 2004 edition of Charisma.
I love to celebrate Christmas because I love the Christ of Christmas. Yet we live in a day when celebrating "Christ's mass" is frowned upon by the secularists, who want to excise Jesus from the holiday, and surprisingly, by some Christians who want to exorcize Christmas from the calendar.
You have no doubt heard some of these more popular "Bah! Humbug!" criticisms from sanctified scrooges:
Christ wasn't born in winter, let alone on December 25.
Christmas comes from an occult winter-solstice festival.
Evergreen trees and holly and mistletoe come from pagan customs and therefore are "of the devil."
Sound familiar? Let's see if I can help those "Christ-massers"among you celebrate the birth of Christ in a deeper, more meaningful and festive way, without guilt or condemnation.
A new iOS app providing a portable and interactive user experience for the 10th Anniversary expanded version of Rick Warren’s bestselling The Purpose Driven Life: What On Earth Am I Here For? is now available from Zondervan at http://zndr.vn/UBL4E5.
The “Purpose Driven Life” app includes the entire content of the book as well as 42 built-in videos of Warren further sharing insights into each chapter. In addition, individuals will have the ability to create notes to use in small group settings or for personal study.
“The ‘Purpose Driven Life’ app allows for simple and efficient portability perfect for on-the-go reading,” said Tracy Danz, Vice President and Publisher, Zondervan Trade Books. “What better gift to give this Christmas than one that will help an individual start a journey of discovering the answer to life’s most important question: What on earth am I here for?”
Editor's Note: This article appeared in the December 1982 issue of Charisma Magazine and was written by Jamie Buckingham, former senior pastor at Melbourne Tabernacle Church in Melbourne, Fla. Buckingham died in 1992 at age 59.
I write this aboard a jet airliner speeding south from one of the nation’s greatest northern cities. I am heading home for Christmas.
How eager I am to see the face of my wife, embrace my now-grown children who are gathering at the old homestead, grab my little grandchildren and swing them high as they squeal: “PaPa’s home!”
How eager I am to sit quietly with my dear friends, my extended family, to embrace and whisper “I love you” in the ears of those as committed to me as they are to their own blood relatives. We will embrace, take off our shoes, sit in front of a fire (sipping eggnog), and feel “at home” in each other’s presence.
Some members of my church gathered near the altar last Sunday to pray for those affected by the recent school massacre in Connecticut. Our pastor had a list of the victims, and he asked that we mention each of the families by name.
It wasn’t easy to read that list. It included Daniel Barden, age 7; Charlotte Bacon, 6; Olivia Engel, 6; Chase Kowalski, 7; and Jack Pinto, 6. A total of 20 children died in the shootings, plus six adults, including Victoria Soto, the brave first-grade teacher who herded her students into a closet when the gunman approached her classroom. She was 27, the same age as my oldest daughter.
Some people in my church found it too difficult to pray out loud. That’s understandable. But how exactly do we pray when tragedy strikes?
Last Friday, just as our nation was showing the beginning stages of healing from 9-11 to our nation, we took another hit. A total of 26 children and six adults were massacred in a quiet, suburban, elementary school.
The devastation of this small community has rocked the nation. People from all over the nation are sending comfort, wreaths, Christmas trees, toys, ornaments and coffee to the community of Newton, Connecticut. Why does this massacre hurt so much?
Schools are usually considered safe places. In fact, most emergency shelters are in schools. Before 9-11 we felt the U.S was impenetrable. In the last years, churches, colleges and high schools have seen death and violence—and now, an elementary school. The outpouring of love and support to this devastated community shows that we all share in the pain, and we can all share in the recovery.
The burning question this week for me is how will this impact our Christmas services?
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The technological revolutions of today stagger our imaginations. We try to peer into the future, and if we could actually see what the world will be like 10 or 20 years from now, I'm sure that we would be overwhelmed.
This is not the first time, however, that the human race has undergone a technological revolution.
Three thousand years ago when a young man by the name of David became king of Israel, Israel was divided and backward, and was oppressed by its neighbors. Israel was little more than a cluster of primitive tribes living in tents, and people were barely scratching a living from the land.
On Nov. 21, 1980, when the MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas burned, survivors were brought into the Convention Center, where our Crusade meetings were being held. In an interview, Governor Robert List talked about the good times at the MGM only 24 hours before. “And how quickly,” he said, “the music has stopped.”
Some day, for all of you, if you don’t know God, the music will stop. It will all be over. The Bible says, “It is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27).
The Bible says that Job suddenly lost all of his wealth and his children. The devil said to God, “If You take all those possessions away from him, he’ll curse You and turn from You.” But God replied, “You can do anything to him, except you can’t kill him, and then we’ll see” (Job 1:11-12).
Lee Grady penned a no-nonsense article last week cleverly titled “10 Stupid Things Ministers Should Never Do.” The ministry of Dr. Mary Ann Brown left an impression on Lee, and in his article he recalled some of her sage advice, which was: “Lee, please don’t ever get stupid.”
I was talking to evangelist Steve Hill of Brownsville Revival on Friday evening and our conversation reminded me of Lee’s article. Steve told me he’s sadly watching pastors fall into a lukewarm theology. The next day Steve had a prophetic vision about an avalanche that could kill thousands that we shared with our readers.
There are indeed many dangers for last day ministers. Whether you are an apostle, prophet, evangelist, pastor or teacher, there are temptations and pitfalls at every turn. There are fiery darts coming your way. It can be difficult to know whom to trust. But that doesn’t mean you need to get stupid.
Something uncomfortable usually happens at my church. Somewhere in the day, I will be praying a third time for an injury to be healed and wait as they check to see if the pain is gone; or be perplexed by a testimony that is almost too good to be true; or be left in a somewhat confused conversation with God about what I have seen or heard—and I am one of the leaders.
Being in a healing/revival environment can be uncomfortable for pastors. We tend to operate in our strengths of bringing comfort and care, order and answers, and connection and protection. Uncomfortable stuff makes people feel, well, uncomfortable; so we usually try to keep it at a minimum.
But if—and when—the community catches the kingdom mentality that anything is possible with God and sets its collective heart on worldwide transformation and the healing goodness of the heavenly Father, we’re all regularly drawn into experiences for which we have no grid and, perhaps, even little inclination.
Let’s be careful of building a ministry on one man’s charisma—even if he is trendy
Thanks to amazing advancements in digital technology, pastors today can reach massive audiences. Their sermons can become overnight YouTube sensations. Some of our most gifted Christian communicators touch millions through their downloadable sermons. Others broadcast their messages to multi-site locations so that their reach is multiplied to 10 or 20 congregations instead of one.
I’m not complaining about this. I love the fact that this column (which started out as a page in a paper magazine) is now able to travel to the other side of the world in seconds. I’m glad I can preach the gospel through Twitter and Facebook. God wants us to use modern technology.
But as much as I love my iPad, and as much as I welcome all the rapid changes occurring in communications, I’m concerned about the emergence of the iPreacher.
A whole generation of Israel wished—and died wishing. For them, 40 years of wandering turned the Promised Land into Fantasy Land. For those same 40 years, Joshua nurtured a victory just waiting to happen. When God commissioned him, Joshua responded and turned others’ wishes into land, cities, homes and possessions—the inheritance of generations to come.
Why did Joshua succeed where others did not? It’s vitally important to first say that the reasons all lay in Joshua’s own heart, not in his circumstances. That’s the difference between what happens for some people and what doesn’t happen for others. Success is in ourselves and God’s Word, not in our circumstances.
Let’s look at the five victory factors behind Joshua’s success, all set out in Joshua 1.
This is coming to you from a man who has just passed through the valley of the shadow of death. Since my close call with eternity just a short while ago ... everything has become clearer. I can hear His whisper. Unabated obedience has become my mandate. That is why I'm writing this word from the Lord.
A few days ago, after enjoying quality time with Jesus, I was surprised by an alarming vision. I saw a massive, majestic mountain covered in glistening snow. It reminded me of the Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps. Its peaks were sparkling white and I was amazed by God's attention to detail. It was so realistic I wanted to go skiing! But I sensed that there was more that the Holy Spirit was about to reveal. As I closed my eyes, I was in a winter wonderland bustling with thousands of vacationers. The ski lodge, condos, hotels and cabins were at full capacity at this popular resort.
Day quickly turned to night as the skiers, snowboarders and sports enthusiasts were settling in. Anticipation grew as the snow began to fall. Everyone headed to bed believing tomorrow would be a day of sheer enjoyment on freshly covered slopes. For an avid skier, the exhilaration of being the first one to race down a new blanket of snow is a dream come true.
GOD TV aired a live broadcast featuring Steve Hill of the Brownsville Revival of the 1990s and Nathan Morris of the current Bay Revival, together with pastor John Kilpatrick, the host of both spiritual outpourings. Below are some photos Hill sent us from the historic event.
The Brownsville Revival ran from 1995 to 2000, attracting more than 4 million people to Pensacola, Fla. Often televised on GOD TV, it was characterized by passionate salvation messages from evangelist Steve Hill, a call to holiness from Kilpatrick and worship led by Cooley.
TheBay Revival started in Daphne, Ala., in July 2010. It overflowed to the Mobile Convention Center and is now on a city-to-city tour of the USA. It is recognized for its many miracles, radical preaching from British evangelist Morris, teaching by Kilpatrick and original songs written by Marrow.
When a child is small, whether we want to or not, we train them to hear our voice. We have certain tones of voices that indicate “I mean business.”
By the time a child is four or five years old, they will begin to have so much going on in their heads that sometimes they don’t hear us until we turn on that certain tone of voice.
In the busyness of the Christmas season, it might seem counterproductive to pause. Yet, it is in these moments that we can learn so much about listening. Take a few moments today to consider how you hear God’s voice. Do you only hear Him when He “turns on the voice”, or are you hearing even His whispers?
A famous “defender of the faith,” Benjamin Warfield, against the overwhelming teaching of Scripture, actually claimed, “Christianity makes its appeal to right reason, and stands out among all religions, therefore, as distinctively ‘the Apologetical religion.’ It is solely by reasoning that it has come thus far on its way to its kingship. And it is solely by reasoning that it will put all its enemies under its feet.”
Apologetics in this context means, “a reasoned defense” rather than a “presentation-in-power” of Christian belief. Apologetics assumes that one becomes a Christian more by intellectually grasping “right doctrine” or “good ideas” rather than humbly receiving the revealed presence and power of Jesus.
In early church history, as the power of the Spirit became a threat to the church hierarchy, most of the early “church fathers” became more acceptable as “apologists,” defending the faith against philosophical and religious attacks, even as they (rarely) conceded that Christianity was mainly spread by those who healed and drove out demons. Since these apologists were trained in the same intellectual traditions as their opponents, their crucial problem is that they accept their opponents’ premise that human wisdom is the way to discover God and to accept His gospel. The gospel then became a matter of accepting certain facts about Christianity (the creeds), rather than basing faith on the “experience” of God’s revelation and power—a problem even today in evangelical Christianity.
There is a concept called Margin. I first learned about margin the hard way. When my oldest child went to kindergarten, I mapped out the route, and figured out exactly how much time it would take to arrive at school on time. With this information, I calculated what time I needed to leave every morning.
For the next three months, every morning was a race against the clock, and most days I lost – I would pull onto the school grounds just as the bell rang.
Then my husband was laid off and took over the morning duty, and suddenly, my daughter was arriving with time to spare. I was in awe! I asked him how he managed to get her to school on time. With a bit of reflection, I discovered that I hadn’t created space for the time it took to get a baby and kindergartener to the car, or the time it took to get from the car to the classroom.
When life gets busy, sometimes we find that we are rushing from event to event, hoping we make it on time. First we decorate the church, then our home. We plan for the holiday parties in each ministry area, and the church staff. We prepare for the Christmas concert, and Christmas service, then comes the New Years’ service. For a few moments, we pause – often after pulling an all-nighter to wrap presents - and have a Christmas get together at home.
The weeks of December are often bundled with joy and energy. Yet in all that activity, it is easy to get so wrapped up in doing that we end up in January totally wiped out, not able to even hear our own thoughts, let alone God’s voice.
This season can be different. There is a growing trend (again) to focus on the spiritual disciplines. As I have been going through several books on the subject, there is one resounding theme: Space.
And this is what I learned: I am the only one who has the authority and ability to create space in my life. Even if I have other people to report to, space will never be created in my life unless I lead the charge.
As you progress through this Christmas season, here is a simple tool to help you reflect on how you spend your time, and where you might need to create space:
Take a moment to make a grid on a piece of paper – then fill in the boxes with your activities for the last week. If you are very crammed, you might even just do the last three days.
Do you notice a pattern? What can you do to focus your time on the most critical items on your agenda? What are you doing that really isn’t urgent, isn’t important, and could be done by someone else?
Now, where is your time with God on that grid? What can you do to create space in your activities, and create time for your relationship with God?
In this season of celebration, remember to take time to nurture your soul. After all, your relationship with Christ really is the reason for the season, and those around you will learn from your example.
In the week following Isaac Hunter's resignation as senior pastor of Summit Church, the Orlando Sentinel reports that Hunter was in a downward spiral of violence, drug and alcohol abuse, and suicidal thoughts, according to a domestic violence petition filed Friday.
“I currently fear for my life and the lives of our three children,” Rhonda Hunter wrote in a petition for a temporary restraining order against her husband. “Isaac is unstable and has demonstrated erratic behavior, alcohol abuse, and fits of rage.”
Circuit Judge Roger J. McDonald granted Rhonda Hunter's petition the same day it was submitted. The order bars Isaac Hunter, 35, from the couple's home in Winter Park, Fla., his church, his children's schools and his wife's workplace.
Isaac Hunter admitted to an extramarital affair and resigned from his post as senior pastor at Summit Church in Orlando, Fla., on Nov. 28, one day after his 13th wedding anniversary. Hunter is the middle child of prominent evangelist Joel C. Hunter, senior pastor of Northland, A Church Distributed, in Longwood, Fla., and spiritual adviser to President Barack Obama.
On Nov. 29, 1947, the United Nations’ General Assembly voted to partition Palestine into a Jewish and an Arab state. The Jewish leadership accepted the plan; the Arab leadership rejected it. Sixty-five years later, on Nov. 29, 2012 (Thursday), Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority, excoriated Israel, praised Islamic terrorists and received the overwhelming approbation of the General Assembly, which voted 138 to 9 (with 41 abstentions) to recognize Palestine as a “non-member observer state.”
Abbas was perfectly clear: “The moment has arrived for the world to say clearly: ‘Enough of aggression, settlements and occupation.’” The world, then, through the U.N., would be rebuking Israel with its vote.
To be sure, President Abbas made some conciliatory remarks, such as, “We did not come here seeking to delegitimize a state established years ago, and that is Israel.” But these remarks were completely overridden by his unstinting condemnation of Israel, whose policies, he claimed, “have thrown [negotiations] into the intensive care unit.”
How could he claim that he came to the U.N. to “launch a final serious attempt to achieve peace”?
Culture wars are real. I’m speaking of the battles that continually pursue between those who hold to traditional values and those who are opposed. My friend, the gospel is greater than any force that comes against it. When we preach the pure Word of God, amazing results follow. Please allow me to give you an example.
The governor of Alabama once invited me and several of my evangelist friends to a historic meeting. It was a Saturday afternoon rally in support of keeping the Ten Commandments posted at the State Supreme Court.
Upon arrival we were shocked to see more than 25,000 people gathered together on the front lawn of the governor’s mansion. Surrounding the crowd were all the major media networks broadcasting this historic event.
I remember asking the governor what he wanted me to say at this secular rally. His response was crystal clear: “Preach the gospel and give an altar call.”
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If revival can come to a wicked city like Nineveh in response to the preaching of God’s Word by Jonah, then I believe there is hope for our nation.
The results of the recent election show a definite move toward secularism and a shift away from Christian values and biblical morality. In some states, same-sex marriage was approved and marijuana was legalized. Unbelievably, whether it was apathy or indifference, there were millions of evangelical Christians who stayed at home and did not go to the polls. Had more Christians exercised their right and privilege to vote in this election, perhaps the outcomes on the national and state levels could have been quite different.
However, I believe that followers of Jesus Christ can still make a crucial difference in our country going forward.
As a pastor I have been involved in political, economic and social issues in order to be holistic in ministering to the needs of our community, as well as functioning prophetically to influential elected officials. In this context, I have observed how many leaders also involved in holistic ministry have “behaved themselves” in regards to speaking out prophetically on major biblical issues. My opinion is that we are all called to be prophetic—especially preachers of the gospel (1 Peter 4:11).
For example, during the past decade I have been a major proponent of preserving biblical marriage and have worked against legalizing alternate forms of marriage such as same-sex marriage. As I have helped lead the charge, some of my good friends have intentionally remained silent for a variety of reasons.
The following are some of the reasons pastors have muzzled their prophetic voice:
We are living in times that can cause both great fear and great opportunity. These are seasons where the faithful and wise people of God can flourish.
It is not because all is peaceful or that challenges and hardships are diminishing, but these are the days that great character is forged. As we contend with difficulties, strong hearts and minds are being formed and creative new strategies for life are being birthed.
Deep calls to deep and extreme necessities call upon great virtues. When minds become transformed and passionate hearts are engaged, then those qualities, which would otherwise have lain dormant, awake to new life and new opportunities. The Spirit of God empowers and releases these battle tested messengers of light to bring forth His power, presence, and glory upon the earth like never before.
We have just come out of a presidential election. Some Christ followers are happy, some are not, some have concern, and some continue to live in fear. I do not have a problem with concern, but I do have a problem with fear.
Fear has the ability to imprison the faith and hope within us. Without faith, it is impossible to please God, and it is impossible to live in the overcoming power of the Kingdom of God within us. God is much bigger than who is in charge of our nation or any nation. Whoever is in charge should never be an opportunity to allow fear to grip us.
Romans 13 says, "Be a good citizen. All governments are under God. Insofar as there is peace and order, it’s God’s order. So live responsibly as a citizen. If you’re irresponsible to the state, then you’re irresponsible with God, and God will hold you responsible. Decent citizens should have nothing to fear."
Our country finds itself in perilous times, facing uncertainty and anxiety stemming from economic challenges, global instability and threats to our freedom and security as a people.
Having just come through a divisive national election, I am urging pastors across this country to lead their congregations in praying daily for our president, Barack Obama, and all of our elected leaders--for wisdom, Divine guidance, and that God would accomplish His will and purposes.
While politics is noticeably partisan, prayer must never be partisan. Americans need to come together, and people of faith should lead the way, by praying diligently for our leaders whether or not they agree with them or their policies. God's Word commands us to pray for 'kings and all who are in high positions.' (I Timothy 2:2)
We are living in perilous times—and I’m dedicated to exposing the schemes of Satan and then educating Christians on what to do about it.
We are finding that many churches have become Satan's sanctuary. Satan can sit down and savor a soft sermon. The pillow prophets behind the sacred pulpit won’t dare preach against him. Rather, they offer us savory snacks that produce anemic malnourished Christians whose lives are void of Holy Ghost strength.
I fear we are raising up a generation of weak, cowardly, young people. They don't know how to cast out devils. Many have never been filled with His Spirit and haven't experienced the glorious manifestation of tongues. They don't know how to pray. They don't know how to go after God. They want to sit under some teacher that's going to tickle their ears and make them happy.
Jonah was a prophet typical of many believers today who wrap their faith in nationalism and/or patriotism to the point where it supersedes obedience to the will and heart of God.
The Assyrian nation (modern-day Iraq) had harassed and fought against Israel and in 721 BC took the land of the ten tribes of Israel. Jonah was called by God to preach the gospel in the Assyrian capital of Nineveh either before or right after this period of disinheritance. Jonah initially refused to go because of his hatred toward the Assyrians; this would be like a Jewish rabbi being sent to Berlin to preach repentance to Hitler during the Holocaust, or like an American evangelist being sent to preach to Osama bin Laden and al-Qaida in Pakistan, or to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
This lesson from the book of Jonah is also preached by Jesus in the Beatitudes of the gospels when He taught us to “love our enemies” (Matt. 5). This is not just referring to our personal enemies but also our national enemies. It is hard for the human soul to believe that God actually loves our enemies and those people responsible for atrocities committed against humanity. But we have to realize that God is bigger than our prejudice and our pain! (For example, how do you think the families of the victims of the “Son of Sam” shooter David Berkowitz feel when they hear him giving his testimony of his conversion to Christianity?)
Note: The following is an excerpt from the book Lead and Succeed by Sara. J. Moulton Reger
Business leaders can never go wrong by building their foundation on godly principles. The fundamentals in this chapter are the underpinnings of our thinking, so they precede effective decisions, actions, and habits. Just as it is a good idea to check the foundation of your home periodically to ensure it is sound, you may want to return to this chapter periodically to review these important Bible fundamentals for business leadership.
Acknowledge That Leaders are Chosen by God
The apostle Paul wrote the following passage at a time when Rome ruled the world. One of Rome’s emperors would eventually order Paul’s death.
“Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.” (Romans 13:1)
Billy Graham is known for preaching fiery sermons that see even the hardest hearts converted. Now, the 94-year-old evangelist is under fire for newspaper ads that compelled voters to cast their ballots based on biblical principles.
A group of atheists is taking the Internal Revenue Service to court over its failure to enforce electioneering restrictions against churches and religious organizations, including the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.
Wisconsin-based Freedom From Religion Foundation filed a lawsuit Wednesday, claiming the IRS violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment and FFRF's equal protection rights.
The Rev. Billy Graham and his son Rev. Franklin Graham met with presidential candidate Mitt Romney last month. Romney asked the 94-year-old evangelist to pray for him for the duration of his campaign. Billy Graham reportedly told Romney, “I’ll do all I can to help you.”
Concerning the election results, I was right and I was wrong in what I thought would be the outcome, and, at the Lord's behest, chose to remain silent rather than issue a prophetic statement about who would win. In the aftermath of Election Day, the nature of that mix of right and wrong became clear and significant.
On Sept. 29 as I prayed for the outcome of the presidential election the Lord said to me, "He isn't the man I chose, but I will elect him. Close by a two point margin." In my intense desire not to see Barack Obama get another four years, I supplied the name "Mitt Romney" as the one the Lord referred to. Intense emotion and strong desire tend to distort what we hear from God. Out of the storehouse of our flesh, we fill in the blanks according to what we want to hear or what our emotions predispose us to hear. This explains the many false prophetic pronouncements so many of us have seen and read, even from leading voices.
Having learned this principle the hard way, I sensed the Father's hand of restraint, respected the nagging doubt I felt, and chose not to publish what I believed I heard.
When I shared what I thought it meant with a few others in private settings, I qualified it by saying that because of my intense emotional involvement in the issue, I could not be certain that God really spoke what I thought I heard and I made it clear that I was not, therefore, speaking prophetically. It appears, however, that I did hear accurately, but was confused concerning which candidate it applied to.
This is going to all Popes, Apostles, Prophets, Bishops, Priests, and Pastors and any other leader who has influence over people. God relates with you directly, and does not need you to get between his relationships with others, as He desires to relate with them directly.
You are called to point people to God and not to yourself or any other system or agenda. When you command that they look at you, serve you, get answers from you, you begin to minimize, dilute, and most times get in the way of their ability to hear Gods voice on their own.
You are called to lead as a servant. You are called to humility. You are called to communicate that everything they need is within them for Christ Himself; the hope of glory is within them. The people you serve are not called to serve your agenda, and you are called only to serve Fathers agenda for their lives, which may not have anything to do with your agenda.
God does not need middle management as He has all the management He needs by the power and revelation of His Holy Spirit on earth. Get out of His way, and serve only in His way. All Priest-craft must go, “apostle-craft, prophet-craft, and pastor-craft included,” and they all must surrender to the Master-craft of all creation, Jesus our Lord. Ungodly hierarchy has no place in the Kingdom of God. Leaders are called to serve. The greatest of leaders becomes the servant of all.
I am not writing this letter to accuse but rather to advance understanding. And even though I am white, I am not writing as an outsider but as a fellow evangelical, part of the same spiritual family. May I pose some candid questions?
Are you guilty, on any level, of blind allegiance to the Democratic party? And, on Election Day, did any of you compromise your convictions out of racial solidarity?
I have been very open in my criticism of white evangelicals, pointing out how we often put our trust in the Republican party and how we look to the latest candidate as some kind of political savior, only to be disappointed time and time again, complaining that the Republicans wanted our votes but did not stand up for our values. “We won’t get fooled again,” we say, only to repeat the same cycle four years later.
On Election Day morning, I posted an article entitled “A Warning to Moral Conservatives,” raising concerns that if Mitt Romney was elected, we would be making a grave mistake in looking to him to advance our moral and social agenda. I even wrote an article in June entitled “Mitt Romney Is Not the Answer,” and I often told my evangelical radio listeners that I would not argue with them if they could not vote for Romney because he was a Mormon. So, I do understand black Christian reticence towards Romney (for these reasons, among others).
All of us care a great deal about our country. The intensity of opinions and feelings during the long political campaign showed the depth of that concern.
Now with the votes counted, it is important to remember that whether we are personally pleased with the outcome or not, God wants us to pray for those chosen to be our leaders—at the national, state, and local levels. The Bible urges us to do so with both respect and thanksgiving (see 1 Peter 2:17; 1 Tim. 2:1–3).
We must also remember that no election will ever solve America’s most basic problems. That is because the trouble, at its root, is in the human heart, and the only path to true restoration—for a person or for a nation—is through repentance. The Bible says, “Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19–20, ESV).
Only the gospel, God’s Good News, has the power to change lives, heal hearts, and restore a nation.
In spite of escalating turmoil in our world, and failed hopes for presidential elections in the USA, there still remains one last, great outpouring of mercy before the time of the end (see Matt. 24:14; Acts 2:17). This supernatural season is not something for which we must beg God.
No, its coming has been predetermined. It is the “appointed time” of the Lord.
As most know, an “appointed time” is an open display of the sovereignty and power of God, whether it is in calling a person or calling a nation. In it we discover with absolute certainty that nothing is impossible for God. It is a season when God fulfills the hopes and dreams of His people.
As it is written, “But You, O Lord, abide forever, and Your name to all generations. You will arise and have compassion on Zion; for it is time to be gracious to her, for the appointed time has come” (Ps. 102:12-13).
George O. Wood, general superintendent of the Assemblies of God, is speaking out about the presidential elections in a new online video designed to offer guidance for Christians.
Wood, who recorded the video prior to Election Day, explains that no matter who won the election, the president now leads a country that is in the midst of multiple sharp social and economic challenges domestically and severe tensions internationally.
Using an acrostic gleaned from Jeremiah 29:7, Wood spells out a P.E.A.C.E. plan for how the Assemblies of God can influence the nation in a godly direction—including Prayer, Evangelism, Action for the common good, Civility and Example.
After encouraging routine fervent prayer for leaders, Wood takes time to clearly state that although being politically active is important, it is not to be a Christian's priority: "The mission of the church is to 'make disciples of all nations' (Matthew 28:19), not to 'win an elections in all voting precincts.'" He goes on to encourage Christians to be known as soul-winners and discipleship-makers.
When the votes were counted and it was clear Barack Obama had been re-elected, I felt a profound sense of sadness. That's because from my worldview as a charismatic Christian, Obama's policies represent everything wrong with America.
He claims to be a Christian and he seems to be a fine family man. The one time I met him he seemed thoroughly likable. But Obama favors policies such as same-sex marriage and abortion on-demand. In addition, his policies seem to be eroding religious liberties at every turn.
He has been a weak leader by almost every measure—his taxing policies hurt an already weak economy; he promised many things he didn’t come close to delivering; and, from what I can tell, he not only botched protecting our consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Sept. 11, but then lied about the fact the attack was by a mob angered by an anti-Islamic video rather than by terrorists.
The outcome of the 2012 presidential election reinforces the fact that what America needs the most is not a political movement driven by expediency and agendas of man but a prophetic movement driven by the impetus of the cross.
Accordingly, the outcome of the 2012 election speaks to a fragmented Bible-believing community where ethnic followers of Christ validated the donkey while white evangelicals supported the elephant. We need a new narrative that will bring both groups together.
To that respect, I am convinced more than ever that the only agenda that can save America and unite the body is not the agenda of the donkey or the elephant but the agenda of the Lamb.
The agenda of the Lamb is one of righteousness and justice. We need a multi-ethnic kingdom culture cross-driven movement that will reconcile Billy Graham's message with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s march. In other words, we need a movement committed to protecting life and alleviating poverty, defending marriage and doing justice in the name of Jesus. It can no longer be either or, it must be both-and.
In order to protect our Judeo-Christian value system, defend the image of God in every human being (in and out of the womb), secure religious freedom, reform the culture, transform our political discourse and usher in a new awakening, we must reconcile truth with love, conviction with compassion, sanctification with service and holiness with humility.
Finally, as many pro-life biblical worldview Christians fight off the effects of post-election stress disorder, let us not forget that God is still on the throne. At the end of the day, our objective is to convey to America one simple message; Behold the Lamb of God that taketh away the sins of mankind. Behold the Lamb!
My feelings, following the results of the 2012 presidential race, are not predicated on the relative merits or either candidate. They are borne with facts that are true of Americans' lives at this time in the 21st century; some of which are flavored by choices by our seated president's words and actions, but not without difficulties that may be attributed to either of our presidential candidates or their parties. In short, our vulnerabilities and weaknesses as a nation—economically, spiritually, morally or otherwise, have a deeper root than the failures of human management or policy.
It is in the light of that preamble that I make this statement: The re-election of President Obama is yet another landmark of history that reveals the inevitable flow of events which increase in depth and spread when the church mistakes its mission. As one incident, the election outcome holds the portent of being a prophetic announcement of the impending end of the significance of the church in America, unless ...
... Unless a reawakening of Christ's body in America occurs, which heeds the "first of all" priority Paul, by the Holy Spirit (1 Tim. 2:1-2), assigned to the church's ministry of prayer and intercession for leaders, peoples and nations, no administration or political party will be capable of a solution to our nation's essential problems.
I did not vote for Barack Obama. I am almost ashamed to admit I voted for a Mormon.
Until two weeks ago I decided not to vote at all, knowing as I do that Mormonism is shrouded in the demonic. But I rationalized that our national debt—and trend away from family values—warranted my vote for Mitt Romney.
In any case, Barack Obama won by a far greater majority than most of us predicted. It is my view that the Monster Storm had something to do with this. That said, God (for some reason) has allowed for President Obama to be our president for another four years.
I’m writing this at 9 p.m. on election night, so I don’t know who’s going to win, but by the time you read this, you’ll probably know. I’m watching people meltdown on Twitter and Facebook, and it’s making me think about the relationship between politics and culture. No matter who wins, many of my readers will be thrilled, and just as many will be depressed. Either way, it’s worth remembering Scottish politician Andrew Fletcher’s quote: “Let me write the songs of a nation: I don’t care who writes its laws.”
Whatever happens with the election, if you’re an artist, filmmaker, pastor, writer, teacher, business person, leader – whatever, keep moving forward. Create. Spark visions. Inspire people. Speak the truth. The influence of culture is far more significant and life-changing than whoever sits in the White House.
Politics are important, no question. The direction of the country, the national debt, and national security are all critical issues. But as Confucius said: “To put the world right in order, we must first put the nation in order; to put the nation in order, we must first put the family in order; to put the family in order, we must first cultivate our personal life; we must first set our hearts right.”
Start where you are, and make change happen. As R.R. Reno said in the magazine “First Things”: “At the end of the day, elections don’t shape or influence our cultural imaginations. It’s worth remembering that the future of America will turn on culture, not politics: the poetry of our moral and social imaginations, not punditry. So by all means vote, but don’t neglect the real and deeper sources of public life.”
Now get back out there in the fray and start creating …
Prayer warriors targeted the 2012 U.S. presidential elections with a fervent spirit and faith to see America return to God. From churches to houses of prayer to solemn assemblies—petitions for a leader who would govern our nation according to the Judeo-Christian values upon which it was founded went forth day and night.
Although I didn’t literally see anyone in sackcloth and ashes, I saw thousands rending their hearts instead of their garments. I witnessed the remnant in deep repentance over the sins of our nation. I watched as denominations, races and ethnicities united together with no other agenda beyond walking out 2 Chronicles 7:14.
And yet we woke up this morning with a president who strongly supports legalized abortion on demand and same-sex marriage. Some may be asking, “How can this be? We humbled ourselves. We prayed. We sought His face …” Second Chronicles assures us that if we do those things He will hear from heaven, forgive our sin and heal our land. Yes, but that Scripture doesn’t promise healing begins by replacing a pro-gay, pro-abortion president with a moderate Mormon who happens to ascribe to strong family values.
I am not in the least bit discouraged with the outcome of the presidential elections, and I write these words with faith in the presence of God.
Without a doubt, I have grave concerns about where our nation could be heading under four more years of President Obama and I grieve over the steady erosion of our liberties.
I am burdened by the deepening division within our country and troubled over real questions about our relationship with Israel along with issues concerning our national security. And I am pained by the fact that, for the first time, Americans voted to redefine marriage and make it genderless (and we did in all four states where this was on the ballot).
Editor’s Note: The below article responds to the Rev. Dennis Dillon, publisher of The Christian Times, who recently wrote an article called, “Why Christians Should Vote for Barack Obama.” Mr. Dillon mentioned Bishop Mattera by name, attempting to rebut the Bishop’s piece, “Why Do So Many Believers Shun Biblical Values While Voting?”
Before I respond to Mr. Dillon, let me preface it by saying that I do not like using a pen to debate someone who calls himself a brother. I would rather be face-to-face. Despite our disagreements, I trust that he is an honorable man who sincerely believes that he best represents Christ. But because the article he published singling me out and encouraging Christians to vote for Barack Obama was both theologically ignorant and politically naive, I must respond.
I love sitting in the front row. It’s been my vantage point at church for about 30 years now. Whether turning around to view everyone, going out and ministering to the people, standing to preach or watching our congregation do a processional for offerings or communion, I love seeing the people God has entrusted to our care. I remember how my heart would swell with love and pride for each person who would come to the front and pass by for those processionals.
As a pastor, you love your flock. You want the best for them. You desire and pray for each member that God has placed in your care to be strong in the faith, walk with Christ, hear His voice, understand and apply God’s Word to their lives, know their unique calling and gifting, and effectively minister to others—especially by helping new believers grow and by reaching out to this lost and dying world.
As evangelist Billy Graham prepares to celebrate his 94th birthday on Nov. 7, he has been reflecting on the previous year and preparing for what God has in store for him during his 95th year on the planet.
"I never expected I would live this long, outliving my beloved wife Ruth as well as many friends and loved ones," Mr. Graham said. "I believe God must still have a purpose for keeping me here, and I look forward to seeing what that might be."
Graham continues to be called upon to provide perspective on world events and the spiritual state of our nation, especially heading into a presidential election. He has encouraged all Americans to join him in praying for our country and its leaders during this critical time. He regularly prays for the president, those who are currently in office, and those who are seeking to lead our nation into the future.
When Jim Garlow found out his wife had more than 100 tumors, he sat at home alone and wept. As he looked around the house, everything reminded him of Carol.
How can I stand? How can I live life? How can I make it? Garlow asked himself. “I resolved that whatever happens, nothing impugns the love of God. If anything tragic happens to my wife it is not because God willed it. Because of the rebellion and the cumulative impact of sin, the world is filled with heartache, pain, sickness, disease and death.”
Garlow, senior pastor of Skyline Church in La Mesa, Calif., has been fighting for his marriage since Carol was diagnosed with cancer in 2007. Carol’s diagnosis came just weeks before a group of pastors gathered at Skyline to organize a historic battle for traditional marriage via Proposition 8.
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That God would call a man from the hills of Kentucky to England's Westminster Chapel is one of the great incongruities of church history. I was honored to serve at that famed church from 1977 to 2002. In fact, every time I ascended that lofty pulpit, I pinched myself. Yet it was both a preacher's dream and a pastor's nightmare. The dream: All I had to do was prepare sermons and preach them. The nightmare: Being a good pastor from the pulpit only. John Calvin once said he would as soon enter the pulpit undressed as unprepared—and, believe me, the Westminster pulpit is one platform you do not want to enter having not done your homework.
He knows it’s not his to bear alone, but in his sphere of influence—which happens to be the City of Brotherly Love—the pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church can’t help but see lost souls all across Philadelphia.
“The burden of lostness,” is how Williams describes his passion most succinctly. “My vision is to share that burden of lostness.”
So when Williams heard about the nationwide outreach My Hope with Billy Graham, he did not hesitate to jump on board.
That “burden of lostness” was burning inside of him more than ever.