REBOOT

Sunday the Lord gave me a word for the church—not just Word of Life, but the chiurch at large. The word was “reboot”. I’ve been meditating on what that might mean, and I think I’m starting to understand. Reboot usually means something isn’t working or it’s working slowly, and you need a restart. Marsha Stire Dixon has often come to me with computer issues and I would ask, “Did you reboot?” That is, “Did you shut the computer down and restart? Lately she’s learned to reboot on her own, and occasionally when I’m having computer issues she will ask me if I rebooted.

The church has undergone a massive reboot. And, in the restart, we’re finding we had “files”—programs that we didn’t need and deleted them. But, we’ve also found we needed additional “files” that needed to be installed in order to run more effectively and efficiently, and other files that needed to be updated. Reboot has taken the church outside the four walls, enabling her to reach more people through means that were once incidental but are now essential. We’ve realized we need to update that way we do things. We’re looking at new ways of being the church—not doing church, but actually reaching out to make a difference.

It’s also set us up for a personal reboot. COVID-19 and the BLM have forced us to think. It’s forced us to add and remove “files” that affected the way we think and act. It certainly has me, anyway. And, some of my “programs” needed an update.

Change is often not comfortable, even when it’s necessary. We’ve been forced out of our comfort zone in so many ways. But, in the long run I believe we’ll look back and see some positive change out of what, at the time, seemed to be a negative situation. “All things work together for good to those who love God, to those that are called according to His purpose.” (Rom 8:28)

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Was COVID-19 Prophesied by Isaiah? If so, What Does it Mean?

Pastor David Wilkerson, in 1986, wrote this to Jerusalem Prayer Team’s Dr. Mike Evans, who shared it in a recent message. It’s very timely in light of current events. Perhaps this is, indeed, the beginnings of the next Great Awakening.

As I was in prayer, studying and preparing in my prayer room, I picked up an old Bible and out of it fell a note I had forgotten I even had. As I read it, I found myself trembling and crying. The note was from a breakfast I had with Dr. David Wilkerson in 1986 at the Embassy Suites near the Dallas Fort Worth Airport.

… Brother Wilkerson opened his Bible to Isaiah 24. He said, “every house will be shut up, and no one will be coming or going. The city of confusion is broken down, and every house is shut up that no man may come in (v, 10), all entrances and exits to the city are gone (v.12). In other words, there will be no place to escape. God has shown me that a calamity is coming beyond humankind’s capacity to respond. This judgment will devastate the world’s economies. Every restaurant and bar will be shut down, and all the drinking and merrymaking will end. All entertainment and churches will be shut down. Isaiah says in the 24th chapter, verse 9, “they shall not drink wine with a song.” The mirth of the land is gone. All sports will be shut down. But the prophet Isaiah also saw a great shaking of the olive tree coming in Isaiah 24:13. In other words, God’s shaking everything that can be shaken… a time of overwhelming darkness as He exposes the world’s idols.

But in the midst of this terrible shaking, a song is heard, a chorus of voices singing praises to the majesty of God. “They shall lift up their voice, they shall sing for the majesty of the Lord, they shall cry aloud from the sea,” (Isaiah 24:14). That’s the beginning of the Great Awakening. And then in Isaiah 24:15-16 it says, “from the uttermost part of the earth have we heard songs, even glory to the Righteous One.” Lukewarm Believers are going to come back to their first love. Their souls will be flooded with godly repentance, falling on their knees with repentance. There will be a great awakening. The song of revival will be heard from the uttermost parts of the earth. From Israel to Indonesia, Africa, from the east to the west, from the north to the south, from China to Arab lands, all parts of the earth will rise up in the midst of this plague.

They’ll be feasting on the Word. The idols are coming down. They will see in horror the idols they have worshiped that have blocked them from the power of the Holy Spirit…idols they put their faith in. The greatest cry of repentance will come from God’s remnant.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In the Midst of It All, God’s Still In Charge!

Wednesday evening during praise and worship I sensed a deep sense of concern, perhaps even fear, was beginning to impact the faith of some of those who vowed to remain strong in their faith during the COVID-19 crisis. I asked God what my response to people should be. I picked up my Bible and turned to Isaiah 40.

Chapter 40 is a prophetic proclamation of the coming of the Messiah being told by God through the prophet. But, the people are fearful, and unwilling to believe in light of their circumstances. The chapter concludes:

“Why, O Jacob, do you say, and declare, O Israel, My way and my lot are hidden from the Lord, and my right is passed over without regard from my God? Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, does not faint or grow weary; there is no searching of His understanding. He gives power to the faint and weary, and to him who has no might He increases strength [causing it to multiply and making it to abound]. Even youths shall faint and be weary, and [selected] young men shall feebly stumble and fall exhausted; But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] shall change and renew their strength and power; they shall lift their wings and mount up [close to God] as eagles [mount up to the sun]; they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint or become tired.” [Italics and emphasis added]. (Isaiah‬ ‭40:27-31‬ ‭AMPC)

In the midst of all the chaos surrounding us during these times, expect, look for and hope in the Lord, trusting in Him. You’re going to make it because, in spite of how it may seem to you right now, God’s still in control.

Northwest Arkansas Chaplain Ministries is a 501.c.3 non-profit corporation that’s making a difference. We provide chaplain services to the Benton County Sheriff’s Office and other area law enforcement agencies and fire departments, and ministry to prisoners in the Benton County Detention Center. Find us at nwachaplains.com, or on FB at NW Arkansas Chaplain Ministries.

‬‬

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Grace Than Ever!

I can’t get away from it…and the more I study it, the more I want to experience it and walk in it–Grace. Grace is both unmerited favor and divine enablement, as I’ve said before. Ephesians 2:8-10 tells us how we are save–by faith, through grace–and tells us what we are to do as as result–good works. And, reiterating a previous blog point, we’re not saved by our works, but for good works.

So, why is God so willing to lavish His grace upon us? The answer is in the preceding verses, Ephesians 2:4-7.

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” (NAS. Emphasis added)

We’re not saved so that we will love God. We’re saved because he already loves us, and through that love extends His grace to us so we can experience His kindness through that grace forever.

Posted in Uncategorized

Grace—Freedom From Sin…

Last month I posted a blog on grace as unmerited favor, and also as divine enablement. It’s the divine enablement that empowers us to live in God’s favor. Unfortunately, there is a movement in the church referred to as “Hyper-grace”. Since we’re all under grace we an live any way we want. In his book, Hyper-Grace; Exploring the Dangers of the Modern Grace Movement, Dr. Michael Brown writes:

The truth is that the modern grace message is quite mixed, combining life-changing, Jesus-exalting revelation with serious misinterpretation of Scripture, bad theology, divisive and destructive rhetoric, and even fleshly reaction. And, in all too many cases, it is being embraced by believers who are not just looking for freedom from legalism but also freedom from God’s standards.

It’s in God’s grace we walk continually in forgiveness, but Paul addressed “freedom” versus “license” in his letter to the church at Rome:

“What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin that grace may abound? Certainly not! How shall we who died to sin live any longer in it? Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin.” (Romans‬ ‭6:1-7‬ ‭NKJV)

The message here is: Experience God’s grace. Grow in His grace. Enjoy God’s grace. It’s God’s gift. But realize that grace is freedom from sin, not freedom to sin.

Posted in Uncategorized

My Plan or His?

Or, it could have been said, “My will or God’s?”

I’m asked the question, “How do I know God’s plan (will) for my life?” In most cases, the person asking the question is a believer in Jesus Christ, but not necessarily a follower. A believer acknowledges the existence of Jesus, and may have even asked Him for salvation. But a follower is a student of Christ, studying His Word and seeking to know Him better.

Here’s the thing: up to 99% of God’s will for your life has already been given to you through His Word. So, in order to know His will, you have to know His Word. Don’t ask somebody else to tell you what His will is until you’ve sought His will on your own by asking God as you read the Bible regularly.

As you read the Bible, ask God to reveal His will for you through your reading. As you read, He’ll speak to you as the written Word (Logos) becomes the revealed Word (Rhema). As you read, your SHAPE (Spiritual gifts, Heart, Abilities, Personality and Experience) will begin to give you an understanding of His plan for you. When you do begin to grasp His plan, talk to your pastor or a trusted Christian friend to help you understand and fulfill that plan. And, above all, as He reveals that plan, PRAY, PRAY, PRAY!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Ephesians 5:22-26: Wives and Husbands

In our book, “God’s Blueprint for Marriage”, and in our marriage seminars, we look at the relationship between husbands and wives as it reflect the relationship of Jesus Christ and His bride, the church. I’m always looking at ways to explain through scripture what submission means in a marriage relationship. This morning, during my daily devotional reading, I found this in the J. B. Phillips translation, one of the early contemporary English translations. I like the way Phillips speaks of this relationship in Ephesians.

“You wives must learn to adapt yourselves to your husbands, as you submit yourselves to the Lord, for the husband is the “head” of the wife in the same way that Christ is head of the Church. This willing subjection of the Church to Christ should be reproduced in the submission of wives to their husbands. But, remember, this means that the husband must give his wife the same sort of love that Christ gave to the Church, when He sacrificed Himself for her. Christ gave Himself to make her holy, having cleansed her through the baptism of His Word—to make her an altogether glorious Church in His eyes.”

The husband-wife relationship becomes one of mutual submission when this scripture is looked at in its entirety. Unfortunately, particularly in fundamentalist circles, it’s taken out of context. Yes, wives are to submit themselves to their husbands, but husbands are to give themselves up for their wives.

Learn more about God’s Blueprint for Marriage on our website, Godsblueprint.info.

Posted in Uncategorized

More on Grace

When you see the word “grace”, remember it may mean “unmerited favor”, but it also might mean “divine enablement”. Look at the word in context of the scripture. For example, in Ephesians 3:8, Paul refers to the “grace given me to preach to the Gentiles…”. Is this “unmerited favor”? Or, is it “divine enablement”? Or, could it be both? “God has given me unmerited favor to divinely enable me to preach to the Gentiles…”

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

It’s not all that complicated!

A few years ago when Marsha and I were in Peru speaking at a house church, a man announced he was ready to take the step of faith and become a Christian. (His wife had recently made that same choice.) So, I had him turn in his Bible to Romans 10:9, where it says, “If you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord, and believe in your heart God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved.” I asked him, “Do you believe Jesus died for your sins and rose from the dead?” His response was affirmative. I asked him, “Are you ready to make Jesus Christ your Lord (Greek: kurios lit. “master”)? When he said yes, I prayed with him and he asked Jesus to become his boss. His countenance changed; he looked at me incredulously, and asked, “Is that all there is to it?” “That’s right!” I replied.

It’s not following a set of rules. It’s a relationship with Jesus Christ, made possible by an invitation extended to us by God’s grace. It’s just not all that complicated!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Bad Times Don’t Last!

Over 30 years ago Marsha and I were struggling financially, and saw no light at the end of the tunnel. We were having a “discussion“ (if you had been listening you might’ve called it an “argument”, but we were just being “emphatic “ :-), when Marsha asked “emphatically” “What are we going to do about it?“ I replied equally “emphatically”, “ I don’t know what we’re going to do about it!”

Looking down at the table beside me, I saw these words in the Phillips translation I have been reading: “Present distress is temporary and negligible.” Reading the words that follow, “In my opinion, whatever we may have to go through now is next to nothing compared to the magnificent future God has planned for us.” (Romans 8:18). Those words gave us hope.

At times, we need to reminded, again, that “present distress is temporary and negligible,” and thank God for the magnificent future that lies ahead.

Years later, I am reading through the Phillips translation of the New Testament again. It brings back memories of how God has been with us through bad times, and promises better times in the future. And, if today’s times are good, think how much better they will be!

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment