So Why Should I do Church Anyhow?

It was early in the morning, as our bus entered New York City, on our way to Brooklyn Tabernacle Church for their weekly Tuesday night Prayer meeting that drew thousands from all over the city. I awakened just in time to see the magnificent twin towers rising to my left. I immediately grabbed my camera and took a picture that I would soon come to treasure for the ages.

The date was September 4th, 2001, just one week before our weekly prayer meeting at High Mill Church was about to begin. The prayer meeting that night took on a whole different meaning as the Tabernacle leadership had us stand and then prayed for us that the Holy Spirit would use our weekly gathering to bring healing and revival to our city and churches. Little did I realize how important those prayers would be as we gathered, one week later on September 11th to seek God for our country in the midst of falling towers, death, and broken hearts.

I will never forget church that sorrowful night. It was filled to capacity. People that hadn’t come to church for sometime, as well as occasional attendees, filled the sanctuary. Emotionally, there was hardly a dry eye and no one seemed to be embarrassed of outwardly expressing their grief. Simply, we were a family which gathered together, clinging to one another, and crying out together for God’s mercy and love. In short, we were what the church was  always meant to be–a community where broken people could find solace in relationship with their brothers and sisters; a place where the mandate, message, and meaning of Christ’s love could be nurtured and sent out to a hurting world that needs hope and truth.

Recently, I have talked with more and more people who are asking the question, “So why do I have to attend church to be a Christian? I have church in my home, isn’t that good enough? I can do the faith thing by myself. Why do I have to bother with others? God doesn’t dwell in buildings, so why should I attend?” While each of these statements contain some truth, because yes, you don’t have to attend church to be a Christian, you can worship at home, and you don’t need others to have a relationship with Jesus,  yet have you consulted the ONE who birthed the church– namely Jesus Christ, about your arguments and opinion?

The writer in Hebrews 10:25 presented a real challenge to his readers.” Let us not stay away from Church meetings . Some people are doing this all the time. Comfort each other as you see the day of His return coming near.” (NLB) Benjamin Franklyn, at the time of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, in July 1776, uttered these famous words. ” We must all hang together or most assuredly, we will all hang separately.” Of course, he was referring to the signers of the Declaration, as well as the colonists, and their need to rely upon and trust one another in community and loyalty and not living solitary lives.

Romans 1 tells us that there will be a day, before His return when everything is going to be in chaos. That which has been right will be looked upon as wrong and that which is morally wrong will be deemed as right. Look around us and see. When late night talk show hosts like Bill Marr and Stephen Colbert can use their air time to spew the most vile and sickening display of arrogance and sexual  incivility without the networks challenging their words, it becomes obvious that we have lost our moral compass–like the Greek and Roman world in Jesus’ time. Do you remember the “I Love Lucy” show of the early 1950’s when Lucy was about to have little Ricky, and the show writers would not allow the cast to use the word”pregnant”? My have times changed! Also, no longer are free speech and diversity of thought tolerated on college campuses. There is little difference today between those bastions of so called learning and free speech than Nazi thugs that took over German campuses in the mid 1930’s. We see crazy laws being scripted in the name of equality which are no more than attempts to silence free speech.  I could list hundreds, but a recent one caught my attention. There is now a proposal pending in some court that would make it illegal to clap at sporting events, because it is offensive to those who are deaf.” The times , they are a-changin.”

So why do I need church in my life? Simply because, right now we don’t really need one another as much as we are soon going to. On September 11th 2001, churches across America were jammed, not for any other reason than we were desperate! In much of the world today, the church is under siege, and without the power of Christian Community, many would die. Tribulation has sculpted the Church into being THE CHURCH.

I ask–” What are you waiting for? What will it take to make you realize that we are in this TOGETHER? Spiritual Crisis is gripping the world! Will it take the next tragedy to motivate you to action? Do you realize that you are needed to bring your gifts to the table, so to speak? Heed the Words of Jesus and understand that true Holy Ghost Strength is not found in the” I can do it alone approach” , “But where two or more are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them!” (Matthew 18:20). Let me challenge you with one more thought; We don’t have time to waste, BECAUSE HE’S COMING BACK!September 11,2001

 

For God’s Sake-Give the Man a Chance!

For me, Facebook and Social Media used to be an interesting adventure into the hearts and minds of fellow bloggers and posters, but it’s not so much fun anymore. While it has provided avenues of communication the likes of which the world has never seen before, it has increasingly been corrupted by self principled zealots of rancor and hatred pushing their personal bias based agendas that leave no room for discussion and understanding of others points of view.  It has been a tremendous blessing for me to connect with friends all over this great land and world, but putting those joys aside-Social Media has become an agent of strife, division, and twisted Truth-separating families and life time friendships.As Believers, we shouldn’t be surprised, because Jesus warned us about the Great Deceiver and Deception that would characterize the Last Days. But that is a story for another day.

What seemed like such a blessing at inception , has turned into something that our Founding Fathers could have never dreamed of when they coined First Amendment Rights. With freedom of speech in mind, those founders, in writing the Declaration of Independence  and U.S. Constitution, envisioned healthy give and take debate that would strengthen this holy alliance of the people and it’s governing body-where respect for the order of law, others opinions, and the rule of majority would be respected and a stronger Democracy forged.

Today those principles of fairness, respect, and decency seemingly are vanishing before our eyes. No longer do we value healthy debate nor respect differing points of view but instead hide behind computer screens and cowardly shout each other down with tweets, texting, postings, and vicious voice mails. No longer is our goal through discourse to make America a better country for all of our diversity, but instead a hopelessly divided country where the most important thing has become “my” bias and opinion, often times without regard for the Truth, being proclaimed with vulgar, indecency, and bigotry.

Without calling it such, many Americans are falling prey to a spirit of Anarchy which has become evident on our streets through the agendas of various movements which value neither life, the rule of law, nor faith based principles. Anarchy, which is being funded world wide by such dubious figures as George Soros and taught in the writings of such men as Saul Alinsky, can be defined as: ” A state of disorder due to the absence or non-recognition nor respect for authority and the rule of law.” It is a state of lawlessness and political disorder that takes place when no one is left to procure or enforce the rule of law. Let me simplify it. What would your neighborhood look like if law enforcement was removed and no one answered your call to 911 at 2:00 am?

Let me bring this home. Mass hysteria fueled by a media bias sold out to destroy this President has commandeered common sense and created a frenzy, in my opinion, the likes of which has not been seen since the Nazi propaganda machine convinced a whole generation of Germans (not all but many) that Jews were not human beings and were the direct reason for Germany’s economic plight and deserved to die. This might be a rather strong comparison to you, but I spent 8 days at Buchenwald with 5,000 ex-Jewish prisoners some time ago, and their stories of how the German press manipulated the masses was and is eerily familiar.

I will be the first to admit that Donald Trump was not my first, second, or even third choice for the presidency, but he won and contrary to the “He’s not my President” rancor, if Hilary would have won, she would be my president, because that is the rule of law and a rebuke to the the black flag (they chose the right color) of anarchy.

When you have a so called Hollywood “star” say at a march for women’s rights that she would like to Blow the White House up; when an editor of a major newspaper declares that the only way to stop Trump is to assassinate him, and when a classroom is given over to a high school student shooting some sort of fake  gun at a picture of the President of the United States so that she could release her pent up feelings- Anarchy is given birth. These are just a few examples of intolerance and fascism taking place, and those guilty need to be dealt with legally and not coddled by lawyers twisting the Truths of First Amendment rights. A TV commentator recently said that the rule of law is being returned to this country and those used to breaking it and getting away with it are having a major meltdown.

In conclusion, as Believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, all of this can seem like a waste of time and words. Yet we are called to respect our governing authorities and pray for our leaders. President Reagan once said,” If we forget that we are one Nation under God, than we will be a nation gone under.” On September 11th, 1787, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, upon leaving the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a lady, ” Mr. Franklin, what kind of document have you given us?” His reply is one for the ages. “Madam, We have given you a document that if you do two things, it will last for ever. First of all, as a people stand in strong moral character and secondly, remain faithful to God.” Both are under siege. But we will never know if God is up to something, unless we give this President a chance. For God’s sake, he’s only been president for almost two weeks! Let’s stop the rancor and anger and give him that chance!

 

 

 

 

When is it the Right Time to Stay Home on Election Day?

When I was born, “Give ’em Hell” Harry Truman was in the oval office. Then, as a child, I don’t remember too much about Dwight Eisenhower except that he gave really boring speeches. But then again, how much can a six year old understand when it comes to the economy and world events? All I know is that he always seemed to be on the tv screen when I wanted to watch “I Love Lucy” or “Gunsmoke”. Then came the early 1960’s and Camelot. As a young teenager, John Kennedy embodied all that I wanted to become. And I can say today that I am in ministry (public service) because of the vision, charisma, and zest for living that JFK embodied. Even now, after Dallas, 53 years ago, the pain is still there.

I remember Lindon Baines Johnson’s Great Society and it’s incredible failure in changing the course of economics in America’s inner cities. He also gave us Viet Nam and massive division among Americans politically. Then there was “Tricky Dick” Nixon and Watergate, which now pales in comparison to the criminal activity enveloping America’s political landscape today. Gerald Ford followed and then Jimmy Carter, who had a big heart but no understanding whatsoever in running an enterprise as big as the American Government.

Who can forget Ronald Regan! I became one of  those Regan Democrats , when at the Berlin Wall, Mr. Regan stared Russian president Gorbachev down by proclaiming,”Mr. President, tear this wall down!” Regan was far from boring-often falling asleep during cabinet meetings, but he restored American exceptionalism and dignity lost during the Carter years.

The Bush Years, father and son, contained a myriad of issues producing a mixed bag of results that is not my point of discussion here. This leads us to the past 8 years and President Obama’s “Change that we can Believe in” slogan for American Society. History will be the judge as to whether that  Promise has been fulfilled.

Personally, there were many republican presumptive nominees that I liked better than the nominee the voters picked. I thought that Marco Rubio had those Kennedy like qualities that touched my heart back in the 60’s. I liked Dr. Ben Carson, but knew that his inexperience would, in the end, be his downfall. I would have even liked John Kasich or Carly Fiorina, but again, the voters saw differently.

So, I am back to my original Question. When is the right time to stay home on election day? I can say that without hesitantly, THIS IS NOT THE TIME! Like many of you, the stories, some true  and others exaggerated, the language, and lewd actions are not qualities that I would expect from a President of the United States. So this time, I am not voting for a man or woman (a third party vote is a wasted vote) but for a party platform that the Party’s head fully endorses.There are 5 reasons why I believe that America’s destiny for the next 2-3 generations will be enormously impacted by who is the next president. For the sake of my children and grandchildren, I am sharing my heart!

Someone said to me today that we have made it through the last eight years, and nothing will change with this election. I beg to differ with anyone echoing this particular point of view for theseZack Rinehart_00000008Jack Rinehart reasons. First-the next president will appoint 2-3 supreme court justices. If the Progressive Left wins the election, the constitution will not be interpreted by the letter of the law but shredded as it has been during the past 8 years. Late term abortion, which consists of ripping a living human being from it’s mother’s womb as late as nine months, will be the law of the land, as well as the second amendment being legislated out of existence. Secondly, as bad as illegal immigration is today, the Democratic candidate wants totally open borders where 600 million people south of the border would have open access to our country. We only have to look at Western Europe today to see what border-less countries has produced. Vast parts of Major European cities today have little or no police presence because Sharia Law has replaced western courts. Whole inner city populations are slaves to religious fear and crime. It is also interesting that the Democratic Party wants to increase 550% non-vetted Refugees from Syria and elsewhere in the Middle East. I might add that if you are Christian, you need not apply. 96.5% of immigrants are non Christian.

Thirdly, the Republican nominee wants to cut corporate taxes from 39 to 15 %, while the left wants to raise taxes on the rich, who already pay over 70% of all taxes. Ronald Regan followed a lower tax policy , and our economy boomed. Our inner cities don’t need more rhetoric about more taxing, but need jobs, modernized infrastructure, and hope. The Republican nominee has pledged 500 billion dollars to make our cities Great Again.

Fourth-NAFTA-the North American Free Trade Organization, signed by former President Bill Clinton has ravaged American companies all over the country-costing America millions of good paying jobs. Now the Trans Pacific Partnership is staring us in the face. Potential President Trump has  promised to renegotiate the first and cancel out the second.

Finally, and most significantly, our approach to military preparedness as well as a genuine understanding of the dangers we face will be a major challenge for the next president. As we have learned ISIS is no jv team and the recent Iranian Nuclear deal will give Iran nuclear weapons within 8 years and go down in History as the most dangerous and horrendous deal ever signed by an American Secretary of State or signed off on by the President of the United States. Also, need I mention Benghazi or a host of other failed foreign policies over the past 8 years-with many of those failures placed in the lap of the secretary of state.

To all of my liberal friends that I will still Love Wednesday Morning, don’t write and tell me why my points are wrong but give me facts as to why! Let me conclude by challenging you to vote your conscience, but be sure your conscience considers which party platform honors your values. Like King Cyrus and Samson in the past, God has used less than stellar examples of righteousness to bring about His Will. With all of my heart, I feel that this is one of those times.But putting it all aside, I am thankful that politics and political leaders will come and go–But my hope is in Jesus Christ who has given me wisdom to discern the signs of the times and act appropriately!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Where Have All the Flowers Gone?

“Where Have all the Flowers Gone” made famous by Peter, Paul, and Mary in the 1960’s celebrated the meaning of “time”and it’s impact upon societal evolution, during that period of political and social unrest in our country. The lyrics also spoke to the value of time upon humankind and how it was appropriated. And so these simple lyrics (check them out) have inspired my following thoughts concerning how we value time today in our culture driven by the next fad or event that can make me happy and in many cases forget the pain..

Do you ever feel like you were once  young and carefree and then blinked one day and found yourself to be fourty years old? (Some of us have a hard time remembering what fourty looked like!) The seasons of time have a way of passing us by very quickly-yet the older I become, the more I am realizing the importance of time as a daily adventure in God’s Great Scheme of things, rather than seconds, minutes, days, and months endlessly ticking by with little meaning or purpose. A friend of mine recently shared this quote. “It is not the harvest at the end of the day that matters, but the seeds we have planted along the way.” If we are listening, each moment of every day can be an adventure just waiting to happen and what seemed like a meaningless moment in time can blossom into a New and Great Adventure!

Presently, I am sitting in Big Meadows Lodge on beautiful Sky Line Drive in Virginia overlooking beautiful Shenandoah Valley. Where has all the time gone? My grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles brought me here when I was just 10 years old. As our children grew through the years, Diana and I brought them and a horde of friends to experience the beauty that is Shenandoah. And now, here I am with five of eight grandkids and parents doing the same hiking, deer chasing, bear hunting, and waterfalls splashing that we have enjoyed since seemingly time began in my young life.

Time can be our best friend or our worst enemy, a very wise friend recently told me. It is simply how you view time. As I talk with so many especially young people today, I see hopeless struggle to find purpose and meaning in life. Time has become an evil slave master filled only with hopelessness, despair, and lack of joy- where in some cases, drugs  alcohol, and criminal behavior have filled the void. What is even more disturbing is seeing Christians, who should have the greatest reason to be Joyful sounding much like Solomon in the book of Ecclesiastes, where in chapter one he laments,” There is nothing to anything…What is there to show for a lifetime of work?…One generatioin fades away and the next one arrives, but nothing changes…Everything is utterly boring; no one can find meaning in it (time).” (Ecclesiastes Chapter 1-The Message Bible)

But what if God has a Bigger Plan in mind for Time as we live and know it- not endless monotony, but a short expanse of time  filled with endless possibilities that could bring fulfillment and purpose? James 4:14 declares,” For what is your life? It is like a vapor that appears for a time and then vanishes.” If this is true, why are we wasting even one second of time when God has so much more in store for us to experience and enjoy?

I want to conclude by examining the word Time from God’s Perspective in the New Testament. Ephesians 5:15-16 says, “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.” I believe, brothers and sisters, like Queen Ester, “For such a Time as this,” we have been summoned by God to be that “City set upon a hill that cannot be Hidden,”and like the Sons of Issachar, to discern the Signs of the Times and act accordingly with the wisdom and time granted to us!

This brings me to two Greek Words each used for the word Time-Chronos and Kairos. To make it simple, Chronos time is time witnessed in 24 hour segments that simply rolls on and on-second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour with no end in sight- much like the lives of many who simply exist and have no expectation of anything happening or changing. Kairos, in contrast, is used for time in the above scripture in Ephesians. Kairos Time refers to an appointed time, an opportune moment, or a season in life whose time has come. The problem is this-when we are living in Chronos Time expecting nothing to happen, we will get just that-Nothing! We then miss what Paul is saying in Ephesians 5:15-16. As Christ Followers, we have been given one moment in time to seize that moment, redeeming Kairos Time and taking advantage of opportunities , times, and seasons!

What does this practically mean? Personally, it requires a mental shift. As believers, we must realize that we have been called, chosen, and anointed with Power in this Hour of Time to see our purpose fulfilled and destiny attained. There is no room in a Believer’s mindset to meander through life simply trying to make it to the next day. We must seize the Kairos moment granted us. Secondly, dont get hung up in living out Chronos time where you miss the Kairos Moment granted you. Simply put,” With Chronos Time , we count our years while with Kairos Time , we make our years count!” Divine Appointments are Kairos Moments where your Life , at the exact right moment in time, intersects with another in need of a Savior’s Love.

Psalms 90:12 tells us,” to number our days that we might apply our hearts with wisdom.” I don’t know how much Chronos Time that I have left, but one thing that I do desire, is to listen and be aware of every Kairos Moment of opportunity granted me. I phone Up-Date 8-13-2016 033

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are You Ready?

I-Phone update 4-1-16 011As I  share these words, My heart is overwhelmed , because I was blessed to be part of something so overwhelming that even now, It is hard to comprehend as well as understand the depths of God’s mighty love. The Jesus’ Movement had burst on the scene, in the 1970’s followed by the Charismatic Renewal in the Protestant and Catholic Church. But as amazing and life changing as those Moves of God were, there was the Promise of another Movement of God’s Spirit that was in the formative stages laying the groundwork for a Revival that would shake our world in the not to distant future, and it would directly spring forth from my hometown of Canton, Ohio. Canton would not be the only aquifer or well spring of Revival nor would it be out of just one church. But it would burst forth from  those believers in our city hungering after God with a passion not seen before. This article is a reprint from an article that I wrote in November 2002, because the Movement has begun, Heaven is waiting, and the Holy Spirit is Gathering His Army signifying that Jesus is waiting on us, His Church, to burst upon the scene in all of His Magnificence and Glory! So here goes.

“Do you understand that where you live is unique to God’s end times plans. Do you realize that God has chosen your city to be mightily used in the Last Great Revival that will sweep the world?”

Those words I will never forget, and as my dear friend Miriam King related them to me, I came to the realization that I was part of something very huge spiritually. Miriam and Claire King, her husband, were spiritual giants in my life back in 60’s and 70’s, as well as giants in this city in the area of spiritual healing. . I had the privilege of attending many of their healing services at Christ United Presbyterian Church in downtown Canton when such things were unheard of . It was an encounter that Miriam had with a visiting  U.S. congressman’s wife that forever changed the direction of my life , for it began a sequence of events that have transgressed these past 40 some years. I remember the day that Miriam called me and mentioned that she wanted to share something with me concerning her conversation with the senator’s wife. She shared that as she approached the city, she saw a dome of light over Canton, and the Holy Spirit began to speak to her heart these words, as well as those above. ” I have chosen this city to be a key player in what I am about to do all over the world.”

We’ll, as a new believer and just recently baptized in the Holy Spirit, as well as possessing  a discerning if not skeptical mind, I heard those words but did not allow them to penetrate my heart nor understanding. But what I want to share with you is what the Holy Spirit did with those words, and just how He confirmed many times His Plan for our city. Space does not allow me to journal the totality nor depth of my experience, but I pray that as I share a few examples from the archives of my journey, you will be encouraged to know you also are part of something very special that God is about to do through our church and churches and city.

Several years after that initial encounter, I found myself in school in Anaheim, California, which was a miracle in itself, because being a homebody, California was the last place that I would have gone for seminary after  just dropping out of graduate law school. Then, strange things began to happen. One Sunday morning, in the midst of 4,000 people, my pastor called me out of the crowd. I couldn’t believe my eyes as he was directly looking into mine  and summoning me forward. As several friends pushed me out into the isle, I stumbled towards the front. With eyes that seemed to pierce through me, the pastor  looked at me and said,” Son, God is taking you back to Canton, Ohio to start a church and out of your city, will flow revival that will touch the world. ” I was speechless, because I had never met him nor spoken about where I was from.

A week or so later, I met a lady named Doris Smalley  who proceeded to tell me about a vision that she recently had. How I had met her, was another Divine Appointment that was beyond logic for my brain to figure out. Anyways, she had been waiting to meet me. The first words out of her mouth when she saw me were,”You’re the one.” ” The One what, I responded?” she replied,” You are going back to your city, and you’re going to start a church which will minister to youth in particular, but it will also minister all over the world. She then went on to describe our original meeting place at High Mill swim park, even describing the color of the front doors on the farm house which was our meeting place. She said that she had been given it in a vision. She and her husband Phil, became like our spiritual parents for the next 15 years and eventually came back and shared one Sunday morning the whole experience.

Sometime later, I was in San Francisco and during a church service, a man began to prophesy. ” There is a city in Ohio, named Canton, out of which will flow a mighty revival in the last days.” I was stunned and turned to a friend and said, ” Did you tell him that I’m from Canton, Ohio?” ” No, he replied, I didn’t know that was where you’re from.” No more than a week later, the same thing happened in Los Angeles and later in Denver and Canada.

Down through the years,  at various conferences, when my hometown’s name has come up and I’ve mentioned Canton, Ohio, I’ve gotten the same response. Not too long ago at a mega church in Atlanta, Georgia, a pastor friend related a like occurrence. The pastor began his sermon and then abruptly stopped. He began, ” I can’t go any further until I say something. There is someone here from Canton, Ohio and the Holy Spirit wants you to know that out of your city will flow a mighty revival that will touch the whole world.”

A well known author recently shared in a magazine article about Revival flowing out of Ohio-especially out of the northeast part of the state. A noted evangelist recently did likewise.

Church-What does this mean? Does it mean that we are special or more anointed? Of course not! I feel that it only speaks of the blood, sweat, and tears, as well as prayer that have been sown in this city and for this city by those who have possessed obedient servant hearts. I believe that we are going to reap the harvest which they have sown-And the scripture, “weeping and sorrow are at night, but joy cometh in the morning.” (Psalms 30:5)  will be our victory and destiny.

 

 

 

 

 

When is the Last Time You Were a “Shoshben” to Someone?”

It had been a very warm day, and I was emotionally spent. It was my fourth day teaching at a college in Vanadzor, Armenia. I had been invited to teach a two week seminar at a local Christian College under conditions that were brutal. The temperature was approaching the low ninety’s, and there was no air conditioning nor any  fans. And while the students were very attentive and eager to learn, eight hours with only a one half hour break was taking it’s toll on all of us. It was approaching evening as I walked back to the small apartment where I was staying, and needless to say, I just wanted to relax in my room. But as I approached the door, I found that it was locked and my host was no where to be found. It is here that an adventure began that would touch my life and heart forever.

Darkness had set in, and I had no place to go. So, I walked back down the eight flights of stairs that I had climbed to reach my flat and just stared out into a small park area wondering what do I do now?. There sitting on a park bench were three older ladies, who I knew that were locals and spoke no English. Immediately one of them waved for me to come over. That was my first meeting with Asia. Probably in her mid 70’s, with a big smile and friendly heart, she asked me in Russian what I was doing. I spoke enough Russian, to explain that I was locked out and my host wasn’t home. Immediately Asia got up and told me to follow her. As we climbed back up the eight flights of stairs in what was a vintage world war two apartment complex, we soon arrived at Asia’s apartment which surprisingly was across the hall from mine! That began a friendship that has now lasted almost 15 years.

Over this time span, Hebrews 13:1-2 has become somewhat a reality in my relationship with Asia. ” Keep on loving each other as brothers (and sisters). Do not forget to entertain strangers , for by so doing, some people have entertained angels without knowing it.” Was Asia an angel like the writer was talking about? I cannot say for sure, but she was one to me one scary night in a far distant country.

Asia has always had uncanny way of knowing when I show up to visit. She will tell others that her Pastor Chuck arrived yesterday or whenever without me ever letting her know that I was coming. I could cite so many other supernatural happenings through the years that sometimes do make me wonder about the angel thing; like her praying for me all night at times when I needed it the most. But that is not the focus of this article. You see, the day that I met Asia, that soft still voice of the Holy Spirit, spoke to me and said that I had been put in her life to ease her burden-To become a “Shoshben”to her. For almost 15 years, financially and otherwise, I have tried to fulfill that promise.

So what then is a “Shoshben?” In Eastern culture, a Shoshben was a friend of the Bride Groom.His responsibility was to handle all of the preliminaries that would take place before the marriage celebration. He made sure that invitations went out and the food was ordered. Besides helping with the ceremony, he would stand guard over the wedding celebration tent-where the groom would take his bride after the ceremony. He held a position of honor as the groom’s best friend.

John 3:29 explains it this way. “The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom,waits and listens for him and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice.” Thus,as John was preparing the way for Jesus, his words are likened to the role of the Shoshben.  John was positioning the lost to receive the bridegroom who was coming-Jesus Christ. John held that position of Honor for Jesus. He was His Shoshben, so to speak.

A Shoshben then positions a person to receive Christ. Much like with the “Woman at the Well”, Jesus positioned her to receive the Words of the Father. Barimaeus, Zaccheus, Peter and John- all of these men plus many others, Jesus came along side of, and became a Shoshben, in front of them, to reveal the Father’s Plan through his example of caring love.

Look at it this way. Every time you take someone to lunch, a ball game, or spiritually intervene and show them the Father’s Love,you become a Shoshben in their life-preparing the way for the Messiah; positioning them for a personal encounter with Jesus Christ!

Relational Evangelism is very simple. We are the friend of the Bridegroom and have been given the most honored position of preparing people to Encounter Jesus Christ. But we must keep in mind that people don’t come to Jesus through osmosis or even acts of love. Through Word, deed, and action we are to pave the way for a Jesus encounter so that one day when Jesus becomes Lord, they will have already seen and DSC_0183met Him through you-the Shoshben, the very hands and feet of Jesus!

 

 

 

Are You Ready For Some Good News?

35-ISRAEL October 2015 432JUBILEE- (Hebrew -yovel)” A season of restoration, overflowing joy, forgiveness, debt removal, and the releasing of God’s Mercies every 50 years.”  Jewish custom has much to say concerning “The Year of Jubilee,” but my focus concerning Jubilee, in this blog, is to examine this period of time in light of the beginning of Jesus’ ministry in Luke chapter 4.:17-19. Here, Jesus went into the synagogue on the Sabbath Day and stood up to read, and there was given Him the book of the Prophet Isaiah . “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me for this reason; He has anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor. He has sent me to heal those who are brokenhearted , to proclaim pardon to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to send forth in deliverance those who have been crushed-To proclaim the acceptable Year of the Lord.” Jesus was quoting from Isaiah 61:1-2. And what is amazing, with these words, His official ministry began on Wednesday September 11, 26 A.D.- The Day of Atonement and the beginning of the Year of Jubilee according to early church scholars.

Though today, modern Judaism does not recognize the celebration because it is non-applicable until representatives of all 12 tribes have returned to Israel and a majority of Jews live in the Land- ie. making Aliyah or the journey back to the Jewish homeland.. Yet the “types and shadows” of Old Testament Law invoked through Jesus’ ministry beginning on Jubilee, have immense implications. According to some Jewish Believers who believe that Jubilee can be practiced because of the establishment of the nation-state of Israel, the latest period of Jubilee began September 28, 2015, with the beginning of the Feast of Tabernacles and will end in October 2016 with the celebration of Rosh Hashanah. But it is not so much a date or event that I want to focus on, but rather what the Spiritual Concept of Jubilee offers to the Believer every day!

Jesus’ words in Luke,(quoting Isaiah), offer incredible Promises for those of us who celebrate The reign of Christ in our lives.  Jesus declares that He has been given Authority to help the poor-both physically and spiritually, heal broken hearts, set those trapped in impossible situations free, heal the blind who can not see right from wrong , and deliver those who have given up on life. He ended by declaring that, “The favorable time of the Lord has come.” In a Jewish sense, this referred to various feasts, but for our examination- I believe and Prophetically Declare that Jesus was saying, “Look up! I am offering you all that is necessary to regain control of your life. I don’t care how bad that it has been! This is a New Day, and I am ready to do a New Thing in and through you if you are willing to trust Me. So lay down all the excuses that are stopping you from becoming what you know that you have been called to do, pick up your Cross and follow me, for I am about to take you to realms that you never thought possible! No Longer can you look back, because I have Incredible News and  New Paths for you, stretching into a New Future so profound that if you were to know your Destiny’s conclusion, it’s very Glory would overwhelm you!”

Jesus came to declare a new season in our lives, and while the Jewish concept of Jubilee has a unique focus all it’s own, for us as Believers in Yeshua’s Masterful Plan for our lives, our Jubilee has come in the personage of a Suffering Servant, who, through His brokenness, our broken and scarred lives have been restored and now reflecting His Glorious likeness.

I want to conclude by examining a picture that I took portraying an early morning sunrise on the Sea of Galilee depicted above. I want to draw from it a Prophetic Picture of what I sense the Holy Spirit saying for our Jubilee year of 2016 and beyond. “As the early morning Sun rises over Galilee, depicting God’s Glory and Radiance-so I Am offering to you a fresh start, a season of restoration and joy in the broken places of your life, a reigniting of fresh enthusiasm, direction, and purpose, and a releasing of Holy Spirit Anointing- giving you relevance and a mandate to set the captives free leading people to the saving knowledge of knowing Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord!” This is what He has given to me at the beginning of this Jubilee Year, and it is what I share with you as encouragement and strengthening for the establishment of His Kingdom Rule here on earth! Hadn’t we be about the Father’s business?

 

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So What’s the Big Deal with Israel Anyhow?

 

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As we stood on the Israeli Syrian border, with outstretched hands, we asked God to bless and protect our Syrian brothers and sisters, less than 50 miles from our vantage point. For me personally, it was a moment etched into my memory and feelings that I will never forget. While we stood safely and secure, under the protection of the Israeli army, just a short distance away, many were dying for their faith in Jesus Christ. In a sea of persecution, murder, and genocide, there we stood on a sliver of land, no bigger than 263 miles north to south and at it’s deepest width, no more than 71 miles, and it’s narrowest 9.3 miles. Israel can be driven north to south in approximately 5-6 hours and west to east in less than 2 hours. Under normal circumstances, one might ask why the Middle East is on the verge of major war over such an insignificant piece of real estate-the size of New Jersey? Well, these are not normal times and the significance of the establishment of the Jewish nation is key to understanding the times in which we are living- times in which the prophets dreamed of seeing and we are blessed to participate i Notice the size comparison between Israel and the Arab World below.

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I have been home approximately 3 weeks from a Holy land Pilgrimage which we saw transform many lives. While I have been to Israel many times, I can tell you that the excitement and joy of going again has never lost it’s splendor and expectancy for me, and each experience in the land of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob always offers new insight and clarity into God’s Plan for Israel and the Church.

Yet- this trip seemed different. I was given a new awareness of the Miracle that is the nation of Israel. Just think of it! The prophet Isaiah, writing approximately 2,700 years ago, proclaimed in chapter 66 verse 8, “Who has heard such a thing? Who has seen such things? Can a land be born in one day? Can a nation be brought forth all at once?” Yes! On May 14-15, 1948, by a United Nation’s charter vote, Israel was established as a nation-In one Day! In this article, it is not my intent to re-examine my last blog- “The Role of Israel and the Church” but to create an awareness of Israel’s Role in God’s Plan and the miracle that is the state of Israel today.

Understanding that present day Israel has rejected God’s plan for her, yet also realizing God’s Master Plan is far from completed, I want to examine why, as believers, we are intrinsically connected to what God is doing with His people Israel . My understanding is based, not upon personal opinion or my many ventures to Israel, but the wisdom and knowledge of men who have mentored me and established my faith upon sold rock and firm doctrinal understanding-men such as Dr. Jack Hayford, Chuck Smith, Walter Martin, J. Rodman Williams, and a host of others who have had a passion to Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem.

First of all, there are two main views concerning Israel in relation to God’s Plan. One view holds that Israel was chosen of God but has now been set aside because of her disobedience and rejecting Christ. God’s judgment fell on Israel when Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed by Roman legions in 70 AD. and hence, the Church has replaced Israel as God’s Chosen and now receives all the inheritance and blessings promised to Israel in the Old Testament- but only in a spiritual sense. This teaching is called Replacement Theology.

The position that I personally believe to be correct says that though Israel was judged and set aside by God for rejecting the Messiah, the judgment is not permanent. The Church has an obvious key role to play in God’s Plan, but not in the replacing of Israel. Rather, Israel does have a future in the Plan of God, and the Promises given to Israel will be fulfilled in Israel. This view is part of what is called Dispensationalism.

A lot more can be said on this subject, but I want to direct my final comments back to the miracle that is modern day Israel. No more than one day after her establishment as a nation, she was invaded by her Arab neighbors. Outnumbered 10-1 in weapons and man power, somehow the nation was able to withstand the onslaught and achieve a victory that many historians say should never have happened. Since her inception as a nation, in 1948, the State of Israel has fought seven recognized wars , two Palestinian intifiadas, and a series of armed conflicts in the broader Arab-Israeli conflict. Keep in mind, much of the land mass that is modern day Israel, was property purchased from Arab owners who had no use for it because of the terrain’s nature. Contrary to many biased in the media, it was not stolen from Israel’s Arab neighbors.

This land , ranging from mosquito infested swamps in the north to barren desert southward has been turned into fertile farmland and crop producing acreage like few other places in the Middle East. How interesting is the prophetic word found in Isaiah chapter 35 verse 1. In referencing Israel, ” The wilderness and desert will be glad, and the Arabah (or desert), will blossom like the crocus.”

Fully recognizing that some prophetic words concerning God’s Mighty Plan of Redemption refer to events and nation states existent at that time, we must keep in mind that  the Old Testament scriptures are replete with “types and shadows”- Old Testament events foreshadowing future happenings in God’s Plan. I believe that Isaiah, chapter eleven verse 12 can be fashioned in this way. ” And He will lift up a standard for the nations, and will assemble the banished ones of Israel and will gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.” Come to Israel and see. Jews are streaming home-over 4,000.000 making “aliyah” from every country where Jewish people can be found, thus fulfilling prophetic events that would transpire before the Messiah’s Return.

So why should we care about a land so far away? Simply, Israel is the spoon that stirs the cup, so to speak. That is why Jerusalem contains more media and press than almost any other capital in the world. The world is watching and waiting. Something Great is about to unfold! And as believers in the Jewish Messiah, we have been grafted in to God’s wonderful Plan of Redemption and soon from his Throne in Jerusalem, He will rule, and then Jew and Gentile alike will worship Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords!

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Israel and the Church Today

Traveling to Israel many times has afforded me the opportunity to discuss with Believers the role of modern day Israel and the the Church of Jesus Christ. I might add that such a discussion is not without controversy nor arguments that champion varying points of view. But my intent in this blog is not to defend Israel’s role nor the Church in God’s Master Plan for the end of the ages. But rather, I want to examine the term “Chosen” as it relates to Israel and “Grafted in” as a reference to modern day Believers, because I believe that if we examine both terms in the context of culture and history, we will find that we have a lot more in common than we realize.

The Bible is many books but one story. It is a story of God’s never ending love to redeem mankind through human partners-becoming a light to the nations and making disciples. In a sense, God found Israel in the Negev desert where He spoke to Abram and Sarah and through their obedience, would bring about His Divine Plan consummating in the coming of the Lord Jesus. Abraham and Sarah had a passion for God and His Plan for mankind. Deuteronomy 32:10 tells us that, “He found him in the desert and kept him as the apple of His eye.” And today, He is asking us to be part of this 4,000 year old journey to bring people into a Righteous relationship with Jesus Christ!

Let me begin by examining God’s pledge to Israel. in Exodus 33:13-16, as they were about to leave Mt. Sinai,God promised that His Presence would go with them. Moses quickly responded that unless His Presence did go with them, He would not leave. His reasoning was quite simple-He had seen God do incredible things on Israel’s journey out of Egypt, but now more than miracles, he desired to revel in His Glory, because that Glory distinguished Israel from all the other peoples of the world! It is that same Glory today, through the shed blood of Jesus Christ, that sets us apart as the “light of the world” in our increasingly immoral culture.

God had called Israel to Mt. Sinai to give them a mission. Like the church in I. Peter 2, They were to become a “kingdom of priests”-extending the rule of God and putting Him on display for the nations to see His Glory and come to know Him. He gave them the Torah, and they learned about their Patriarch father and how God had used Abram.

It was the role of the Patriarch in Israel’s cultural development that we first begin to realize the role of Israel in God’s Plan. The Patriarch was central to the family structure. All resources flowed to him, and he was in charge of “redeeming” all of those under his charge. The word redeem (Go’el in Hebrew) had a unique meaning. Of course, it has a religious significance, but at it’s very Old Testament root, it was tied to the Patriarch of the family who was in charge of meeting everyone’s needs. If someone was injured or strayed, it was his job to bring him back into the Father’s House (Beth-Ab). Redeem then meant, at a deeper level, to bring back or restore. If you had been alienated from the Father’s House, it became the Patriarch’s job, whatever it took, to bring you back! What a beautiful picture of the church’s role today;instead of settling for “business as usual” within our four church walls, we have been commissioned to redeem the lost-not just for heaven but for playing an active role as a kingdom of priests, bringing back into the Father’s House those who don’t have the Gift of Grace.

God spoke through the prophet Isaiah-” I am Israel’s Redeemer” (chapter 43), In Psalms 135, God declared,” I redeemed you from your enemies,” and in Psalms 107, God told Israel that, ” I have redeemed you from your troubles.” In each Biblical example, God is saying,” I have restored you to the household.”

But what about when the Patriarch would die? Who would assume the Patriarch’s role? At death, the first born oldest son would replace him, and all the family would rejoice because now, that son would be in charge of taking care of them. The resources would go to the first born; likewise, God gave His resources to His first born Israel. Simply-God’s master plan for Israel was- ” Bring the lost children back into the Father’s House.” It was not because Israel was loved more than the others but was ” chosen” as the first born!

God wasn’t playing favorites but because of Israel’s birth right, they were commanded to “redeem”: the nations and bring them back into the Father’s House. But as God’s partners, Israel failed, and so God chose a second “first born” and gave Him all the resources of the Father. And because Jesus was God come in the flesh, He now offers us a way back into the Father’s House-any who would receive Him as Savior (John 14).

We, as Believers, have been grafted into this Great Plan. God has not forgotten His first born Israel. and revival will sweep the Land before the coming of the Lord, but for now the Holy Spirit is saying to the church-“I am entrusting you with all the resources, and your job is to bring a sick and dying world back into the Beth-Ab or the Father’s House!

Our commissioning has not changed from Israels. In Isaiah 43:1 God commanded Israel,” Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by your name. You are mine.” As God’s First Born, Israel has been Chosen through birth right and as grafted in branches, those same resources, are flowing through us who have received the “first born original bringer forth of all creation-Jesus Christ! (Colossians 1:15). So, what are we waiting for? As Israel received their commission at Sinai, we have been given the Great Commission by the Lord Jesus Christ. His Presence is with us! The Mission awaits us, His Calling is upon us. I don’t want to miss God-do You??Israel 2014 May 142

Thank You Steve for Showing Me Jesus!

Jesus was always about reaching out to the outcasts and the marginalized of society. During our morning service today at High Mill Church, I saw that same love modeled, and though my premise in writing this blog might seem simplistic to some, I believe that today’s events touched the very heart of God and gives us a living model of inviting others into the Father’s House!

I am not in the habit of writing blogs about individuals, but in this case I must. Thank You Steve for being the hands and feet of Jesus and modeling God’s love for the stranger in our midst. I don’t have to share your last name, because you know who you are, as do others who have observed you do this before.

I was standing in the back of the church as people were streaming in, when I noticed in the last row a couple with a teen age young man. I could tell that they were visitors and somewhat uncomfortable- being in a new surrounding with unfamiliar faces. I went over and introduced myself and soon realized that they were at High Mill for the first time. Immediately, I looked for another youth or leader to introduce the young man to. Initially, I didn’t see anyone, until I walked to the front of the church and saw, you guessed it, Steve. I asked Steve to go back and be friendly-nothing more. I always have a burden for those who need to be pulled into the “family” that we call church, so it was natural that a few minutes later, I looked back to check on the family, only to realize that the young man was missing. A few minutes later, I checked again, and he still hadn’t returned to his seat. My first reaction was that maybe he had been scared off by the attention that he had been receiving.

Worship was about over, and so I walked to the front of the church to where I would be sitting. Much to my surprise and joy, there sitting in the second row with Steve and a few other youth was the young man. You see, not only had Steve done the polite thing ,but he did the Jesus’ thing and took the next step and invited him to sit down front with him- literally inviting him into the security of our church family.

Again, this simple analogy might seem simplistic to you at the very least and a waste of blogging time at the greatest, but I want to ask you several important questions. When is the last time you took the time on a Sunday morning, or for that matter any other time and introduced yourself to the stranger in your  midst and invited them to sit with you? Jesus put it this way in Matthew 25:35, “I was a stranger, and you invited me in.” Secondly, have you ever been that stranger and prayed for God to send you someone? Why is this simple lesson so important to me? Putting aside the fact that Jesus spoke and modeled such love, I can tell you personally, that it was that one simple invitation during a church service, in my moment of uncertainty and fear of the unknown, that catapulted me into a spiritual place that I had never known existed!

Finally, Hebrews 13:2 reminds us that,” Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by this some have entertained angels without knowing it.” While I believe and take this charge literally, I am not suggesting that the Holy Spirit would place angelic beings in front of you, but the charge in Hebrews is to take seriously the stranger in our midst because just maybe…

God, make us a people that takes seriously the Great Commission- realizing that often times it can be lived out within the church as well as without!

This blog, will form the foundation for a soon coming blog answering what is Israel’s Role in God’s plan for redeeming man, and secondly, how do we see Israel in light of God calling them is Chosen and loved?