When No One Else is Watching…

Everyone knows that God chose a shepherd boy to slay a giant, but why a shepherd?

God chose David and displayed His glory through David’s life, making unconditional covenant promises,  “Your house and your kingdom will endure forever before me; your throne will be established forever.”  (II Samuel 7:16)  But why David?

David did not ‘score points’ with God by slaying Goliath or championing God’s honor in the face of scorners.  God was watching what David was doing when no one else was watching.  

Most of us know that David was the youngest son of seven and given the lowly job of tending sheep out in the fields.  We’re familiar with his bravery, fighting lions and bears who attack the lambs.  Who doesn’t want that courage and strength?  I really believe though, that God’s eye was on much more…

David was outstanding in a job that nobody wanted.  A shepherd extraordinaire who:

  • never bragged or broadcasted his exploits.  No one in his family seemed to highly regard David – he was initially excluded when his brothers were presented to Samuel.  In fact, his father Jesse could say nothing about David except, “he is tending the sheep”.  David’s fierce courage only became known when he sought to convince King Saul that he could slay Goliath.
  • risked his life with no apparent motive for reward or acknowledgement or even possibility of promotion!  No sheep would celebrate when rescued, neither would David receive an award, trophy, or bonus.
  • worshiped God in the dark and lonely places, praising and exalting without audience or witness except God alone.   Although gifted, David did not perform, he worshiped.

I believe there are such ‘young Davids’ in the Body of Christ who may risk their lives as a servant extraordinaire for their Father.  They may also risk reputation, position, and livelihood and find themselves in lowly places but it doesn’t matter.  They have a task at hand and will excel even when no promotion is possible, no one acknowledges or esteems them and in fact, no one is even watching.   And out in that field they will worship, without choir, without musicians and without special effects.  

Perhaps we won’t meet these brethren until we get to heaven and even then they may be far closer to God’s throne!  There we may find caretakers to the infirm, single parents, elderly believers, disabled brethren…and some whose only ministry was to pray – and giants fell because of them!

Most everyone imagines being a hero, catching the applause, and receiving an award.  Only the Lord though, can change hearts to be like this David’s – fixed to excel at whatever task the Father entrusts,  a heart that worships the Lord with exuberance, just because He’s with us and worthy to be praised.  

God bestows gifts and talents to us all, perhaps they come forth and bear fruit through faithfulness in those lonely fields.  But this communion with God prepares us…when the giant looms overhead, when the enemy encroaches, when crisis arises we’ll know as David did: ‘victory is mine’!

“Don’t worry about this Philistine,” David told Saul. “I’ll go fight him!”

 “Don’t be ridiculous!” Saul replied. “There’s no way you can fight this Philistine and possibly win! You’re only a boy, and he’s been a man of war since his youth.”

 But David persisted. “I have been taking care of my father’s sheep….”  

What a resume!  What God is fashioning and refining in us may be unseen to the whole world but He gives life to the given gifts within us…and He will be exalted through them, even if no one else is watching.  

Inviting Jesus Makes the Difference

But I am going to the Mets game at Citi Field on Saturday. Be it corny or weird, I am inviting Jesus to go with me, not just to be with me but as a guest that I might honor.

That excerpt came from my post before the game, Jesus on the Guest List, 8/3/17.

There may well be a difference between asking the Lord to be with you and inviting the Lord to be your honored guest.  “Be with me Lord” usually initiates a prayer for favor, help, courage, provision or resources.  “Come with me, Lord, let me honor You as my guest”  creates a different priority of honoring Jesus.

I prayed before going to the game, asking the Lord to open my eyes to any encounter where I might honor Him and touch others for Him.  I imagined bumping into someone who needed the Lord and sharing the Gospel.  And oddly, I added, “show us what to do with the money we’ve saved.”

Once we reached Citi Field we joined the pregame worship outside the stadium.  As families ‘tail-gated’ and played catch, the Times Square Church band played songs of praise.  “Here Lord I will honor You by praising Your name for all to hear.  May You be high and exalted!” 

During this time I happened to stand near a Filipino family, a young couple with small children.  Unlike everyone else, they did not wear Mets T-shirts, Faith Day shirts, or any other baseball day attire.  The entire family wore bright yellow T-shirts with  #CareforCandize; when I asked, the mother shared about their six year old niece suffering  from cancer in the Philippines, lacking affordable health care.  While the band played on and everyone sang praises, this woman held her toddler and shared the story of Candize.  While I knew the grief of watching a loved one suffer and die, I did not know the great burden of unreachable medical help.

“Are you raising donations to help?” I asked and just as she shared the fund my husband called out, “C’mon, it’s time to go get our seats!”

With all the distractions of crowds, cheers, and junk food, I could not forget the family with the bright yellow shirts.  They came to honor God yet their suffering loved one, so far away, could not be forgotten.

The Mets are not having a good season and this game reflected it. They lost.

The great victory through, took place after the game where stands and platforms were immediately erected and a worship service commenced.  Jesus was the honored guest, as songs of thanksgiving and worship filled the stadium and the jumbo-trons.  Christ loving Mets players testified of their faith and walk with the Lord before Pastor Carter Conlon preached a message of salvation and hope.  Many attendees came to Christ and received salvation and the promise of eternal life.

faith day II

 

I believe the Lord was honored.    But what about…

Later that night I shared with my husband about Candize’s cancer, her pictures and family story.   When I asked, “What should we give?”  he responded with the same amount I had in my heart.

I knew my ‘Guest’ was honored when we ministered to Him…

“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’  
Matthew 25:40

 

Jesus on the Guest List

In Matthew 22:1-14 and Luke 14:15-24 Jesus powerfully describes, through parables, a wedding feast and banquet with elaborate preparations and personal invitations. The intended guests of these extravagant affairs dismiss the servant messengers and worse, abuse and kill them. While representing the tragic rejection of Jesus by the Jewish people, the Lord affirms the offer of salvation to the Gentiles.  The Kingdom of God is available to all who come by faith in Christ as Savior.

God is determined to fill His banquet hall. There is no mistaking His personal invitations, His outreach to the byways and country roads and neither is there uncertainty about the fate of those who reject Him.

However, the wedding feast in Cana recorded in the second chapter of John is an actual wedding, most noted for Jesus’ first miracle of changing water into wine. There is great significance in the wine and wedding and much is gained from studies therein. Yet an important point seems neglected in this passage. Unlike the Jesus’ portrayals of God’s invitation to man, here Jesus is the invited guest. The parents of the betrothed decided, let’s invite Jesus and His disciples to this wedding (John 2:1-2).

If it were only Jesus and Mary one might conclude that the invitations were familial but the varied backgrounds of the disciples lead us to conclude otherwise. Perhaps the anointing and authority of Jesus became evident and so, when planning a most important life event, Jesus and His disciples would be on the guest list. And undoubtedly they accepted.

It is paramount for us to accept God’s invitation of salvation and the promise of eternal life. But aren’t we greatly remiss if we neglect to personally invite Jesus into the everyday events of our life whether great or small?

Would we invite Jesus as guest to our wedding or how about on that date, would Jesus and His followers join you at that movie? Is there any rendezvous or event that we would not invite Jesus?

Being sovereign and omnipotent is not the same as being invited. We are right to consult the Lord with all our plans and submit to His will. But a consultant is not an honored guest.

I believe that if we decidedly make Jesus our guest of honor – even at church – we will see change. His divine presence may not be evident to all, perhaps only ‘servants’ will see His glory. The wedding party and guests all enjoyed the supernatural wine but God’s glory was revealed to the servants and disciples, “…and his disciples put their faith in Him.”

I am not planning a wedding or other significant event. But I am going to the Mets game at Citi Field on Saturday. Be it corny or weird, I am inviting Jesus to go with me, not just to be with me but as a guest that I might honor.

faith day

“Lord, I pray that we welcome and honor Your presence wherever we are. Give us real desire to ‘introduce You’ in every encounter with others and open up the way.  Soften our hearts to express Your love in word and deed and invite You, “the Truth” into every conversation. As the world never cowers to present an honored guest, let us present You, our King, with joy and reverence. I pray for Faith Day Lord, that You may be invited and honored by many. Let Your glory be revealed and give birth to redemption and new life. As You are invited, King Jesus, I pray that Your wedding banquet greatly increase!”

Who is God Looking For Now?

“Too bad you missed that prayer meeting – it was so exciting!

I always get a puzzled look from others when I share about the Times Square Church Worldwide prayer meeting.  Prayer meeting? Exciting? The large gathering of multicultural believers, the online fellowships around the world and most importantly, the presence of God make this prayer meeting so exciting.

So encouraging and stirring in fact, I am presenting my notes from Pastor Carter’s message preached during Tuesday’s prayer meeting, 6/20/17:

Thoughts on Faith and Prayer – Who is God Looking For Now?

We are living in a time of immense pain, perhaps unrivaled since the civil war…What type of people is God looking for now?  The kind of people who can push back this pain…In Biblical history when the enemy came in to destroy, God sought for a person or people who would stand in the public place and declare who He is.

Matthew 5:14-16, “You are the light of the world…”

In the time of Judges…people rose up but then fell to laziness, complacency, fell into darkness…God raised up a voice – Gideon.  He didn’t believe or see that he was a ‘mighty man of resources’ because he looked to himself, not the power of God that could  be his…we are like that – not knowing the strength we have in God…when God sends you to do something, His word is all you need to get it done – whatever He’s spoken to your heart…

You don’t need a diploma, resume, credentials…just belief in what God will do!

God sent Gideon to be a light on a hill – and God will give us His torch, smash the jars and cause our light to shine.  All we are to do is declare the victory that is in God, not us!  They made a public declaration of who God is and how our victory is in Him…God brought confusion upon the enemies and they turned on themselves…He used a people whose hearts wanted to honor Him…

What does God need from people today?  What kind of people is He looking for??

Gideon mustered a large army…~ 32,000…God said “reduce it”…first, tell all the fearful to GO HOME.  Twenty thousand men went home while 10,000 remained.  Fear says, “God is not able.”  God said, ‘those who are afraid to go public – send them home.  They are not a light on a hill’.  

The worst thing that God can ever tell us:  “I have a battle to win – go home!”

That doesn’t mean we don’t struggle with fear…we are not called to an absence of fear but to overcome fear.

God continued to decrease Gideon’s army…took them by the water…water always represents the Holy Spirit.  Then sent them to a hill – He wanted a people who would venture out, willing to go public.  And He looks today for a people to speak on His behalf to the addicted, the afflicted, the marginalized, radicalized, the broken…This is where the victory is…The devil has done all he can to silence the church.  By God’s grace we’re going to say what God gives us to say…

We are the light that God has set upon this present hill…we must proclaim, ‘It is the power of God that you need in your life – the power of God will heal your home…the power of God to break your addictions…to give you a sound mind…it is the power of God that brings clarity, a future for your children…It is the power of God alone alone that brings healing to a nation…brings unity to every race, every culture, every people…

The church will rise and be counted…like Gideon’s tiny army against a huge army…we must stand and declare to a lost generation that there IS salvation, there IS a Savior, there is a heaven and a hell…and a bridge called ‘the cross’ between the two… 

The church is going to rediscover her identity in these last days, by the grace of Almighty God!

I am willing to stand and be counted among the ‘foolish’…oh, to the Midianites it must have looked like an insane battle plan…300 people against 135,000…what a site! You had to know God was in that!…

And I know that God is with us when we choose to openly declare His name and talk about His victory…with the compassion of God in the center of our being, we call the lost from every place to His wonderful plan of free salvation and the promise of power to live a new life….

Who wants to go?  Who wants to go to the top of the hill?

Whether you are afflicted, addicted, filled with sorrow, whatever your circumstance – you too are invited to come to that hill called Calvary, invited to receive the strength of God, have your sins forgiven, receive divine purpose in your life…you too are called to hold up your torch and say, ‘follow me as I follow Christ! I know where victory is!  I know where love is, where healing is…it’s all at the cross of Christ!’

My prayer is, Pastor Carter declared,

“Wherever You call me to go, whatever You call me to do…may I have the privilge of being an ambassador of Your power…Let me not boast of myself but boast of You, Your cross Your victory…let me be a light in this dark generation…”  

 

Oh Lord, let that be the cry of my heart too!

What about you?

 

http://www.tscnyc.org/webcasts/tuesday-7pm/

or find the message later in sermon queue for Worldwide prayer, http://www.tscnyc.org

Better, join us in Times Square or online, Tuesdays 7pm….

 

Restricting God – Let Me Count the Ways…

Many of us are frequently stirred and humbled by the testimonies of missionaries and servants of God. From Biblical times to present day, men and women proclaim the power of God as He leads them to hidden places of suffering. Surrendered vessels who seem totally insignificant become agents of Most High God, affecting lives for eternity.

And we want that too! Who wouldn’t want their temporary life here to matter in God’s Kingdom? Who, knowing the Lord, wouldn’t want all His purposes and intentions come to fruition? And so we too cry out, perhaps at an altar, perhaps in our private prayer….

“Lord, use me, send me! I want my life to matter, to count…”

isaiah1

THEN our flesh speaks ‘sense’ into our cry,

“BUT Lord…”
….don’t send me any place hot, you know how I hate the heat. I would be miserable
….you know I couldn’t go very far, you know my limits, I have responsibilities…
….don’t send me to blah-blah, I could never eat that food, and the bugs are ginormous. Agh, Lord send someone else there
….send me to truly needy people, not to those blah-blah; they’re always trying to rip off the system
….I would serve in a hospital ministry but the germs… and who really knows if those comatose people can even hear the Gospel?
….prisons are, well, dangerous. I’m too old….I’m too young
….please don’t call me to serve in my own neighborhood,  that’s too boring!
….if I go there, if I do that – wouldn’t I lose everything?

By the time we’re finished we’re no longer stirred…we’re discouraged!

Underneath is unbelief  which doesn’t really restrict God but restricts us from grasping His best for our lives.

American Christianity may have a foundational flaw embedded from our culture of ‘rugged individualism’ and ‘opportunity’ and ‘freedom’. We defend the rights to excel, possess, invest and express.  True Christianity smashes that self-reliant lifestyle. No one naturally wants to die to ‘self’ but when we resist complete surrender, resist the cross of Christ, we risk missing His perfect call upon our lives.

“Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.”  Jonah 2:8

I for one am not at the place of total surrender. I want to be though, especially in these last days where prophecy points to the soon return of our Lord. I hope for a deeper burden for the lost, not stoked by fleeting and temporal emotions, but one birthed by the Holy Spirit which defies my emotions and intellect.

Would anyone join me in prayer?

“Lord, thank you for saving me and abiding within me. I believe that, no matter what failures mark my life, no matter how ordinary or limited I perceive my life, You are not limited and You can never fail. I pray for a calling, a heavenly burden that will overshadow and nullify every fear and obstacle. Help me to trust You, Lord. Don’t let me imagine remote and ‘fantastic’ things while missing the ‘woman at the well’. Loosen my grip on the things of this world and help me to walk with a view of eternity. In Jesus name, Amen.”

“God promises not just to save us but to give us a full and meaningful life.”  

“We are called to be a testimony to the world that God is alive.”

(Pastor Carter Conlon, Times Square Church)

 

 

World To God: “DON’T DISTURB OUR CONSCIENCE!”

The below posted brief film gained notoriety as it was recently banned in France. (Perhaps being banned brought it forward to greater limelight than otherwise possible!)

Films and literature are subject to scrutiny and outright ban when governing authorities deem the content to be intolerably offensive – politically, morally, and/or socially. Banning films or literature serves to punctuate the prevailing values and agendas of society.

So why was this film banned in France?

“The court said the video’s depiction of happy Down syndrome children is ‘likely to disturb the conscience of women who had lawfully made different personal life choices.’ “

(Read more at: http://www.nationalreview.com/article/442735/dear-future-mom-down-syndrome-anti-abortion-video-ban-france)

In France, 96% of unborn babies found with Down Syndrome are aborted.

From the beginning of time, man embraced the delusion that the freedom to rebel against God somehow empowers us. This ‘freedom’ and heady independence from the ways of God emboldens us to rename immorality and cloak it with glamour and allurement. We boast ‘we are free!’ while in fact there is no greater task master than sin.

Biblical passages, such as Ephesians 2:1-3, describe this present world as under the dominion of Satan,

“..the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient”

In Ephesians and elsewhere, the Apostle Paul declares that ‘rulers’, ‘authorities’ and ‘powers of this dark world’ dominate our culture. There is a progressive course of rebellion, laying foundation to accept and redefine sin, deceiving man into celebrating sin and finally and futilely, raising up standards against the inner conviction of sin.

                       WORLD TO GOD: “DON’T DISTURB OUR CONSCIENCE!”

This is a sobering quest of the last days.  It is the dark zeal that animates parades and entertainment that celebrate offenses against God.  Killing our conscience, that alarm installed by God to warn of danger, consequence and judgment is a futile and desperate denial of Sovereign God.

The final destination of man’s darkened heart, revealed in the fearful coming judgment….

“The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood – idols that cannot see or hear or walk. Nor did they repent of their murders, their magic arts, their sexual immorality or their thefts.” (Revelation 9:20-21)

… appears to be an inability to repent in spite of horrific acts of judgment.

Revelation chapter 11 describes ‘two witnesses’, sent by God and endowed with His power. Ordained by God to prophesize and testify for 1,260 days, these two messengers are murdered and their deaths are celebrated by the whole world…. “Don’t disturb our conscience!”                                                

Jesus, the Light of the world, left us here to be the light of the world. Light of the world, not friend to the world. The gulf between light and dark is broadening and fortifying.  Those  Brethren who choose to stand in God’s light, upholding Biblical truths in the power of the Holy Spirit, is shrinking.  We can expect this: the ‘church’ will continue to downward spiral, compromise and apostasy will make nominal Christians enemies of God. As the great ‘falling away’ steadily progresses,  the Body of Christ will be His remnant left in the world.

Our plea to the world has not changed, “Be reconciled to God” (II Corinthians 5:20) Neither has the message of salvation by faith in the finished work of Jesus Christ on the cross, His forgiveness of sins for all who sincerely repent. And steadfast is the promise of the resurrection, new life and life eternal for those who trust and obey. We cannot change, soften, or compromise the message as the darkness aggressively resists.

Our call, from before the world began, also remains. “Stand”, “watch” and “pray”, steadfast in faith wherever we are, believing that He has put ‘the parts of the body exactly where He wants them.’ Be ready with that undying plea to man from heaven. No one knows who around us will hear and receive the Gospel truth and cross over the gulf from death to life.

The celebration of sin, the banning of life and hope, should truly propel us deeper into the word of God and separate us further from the ways of this world. Viewing the world with the heart of Christ should birth in us both discernment and deep grief.

“We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19

Let us commit to exalt and honor God. In mercy for our fellow man and in defiance of the wicked one, let seek God each day, speak the truth of the whole gospel of Christ wherever He assigns us.  Let us pray fervently that the Holy Spirit will enable us to  disturb the conscience of those who are perishing, that they may come to their senses and be reconciled to God.

The Biggest Obstacle to America’s Greatness

There is, actually, something phenomenal about political conventions. The most talented public relation persons convene together and engineer an exhilarating and memorable event. Emotional speeches target the issues of the public heart while our eyes and ears feast on sensory glory. Even the skeptic is hard pressed to rally.

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Making America great again is as easy as…

house in landslide

making this house great again.

We cannot make America “great again” or “safe again” no matter how many sincerely strive to do so or hope to recreate former days of simplicity and order.  The protective hedges of reverence and shame are trampled down.   Beyond moral decay, we are now well into a moral landslide.

Contrary to the sentimental interpretations of many evangelical Christians, America is not a Christian Nation, if one could ever be. We did not collectively surrender to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. Our country was, however, grounded and secured in Christian morals. Adherence to Biblical morals and values structured our government, laws, courts, and societal mores. Since man does reap what he sows, Americans prospered under the principles of work ethics, religious reverence, and respect for government and law enforcement. Without the Lordship of Jesus Christ, ethics, morals, values, and ‘reverence’ all become relative and fluid, increasingly conforming to man’s sinful and rebellious nature that opposes God’s authority. In fact, we no longer tolerate nor even acknowledge God’s authority.

The fear of God “keeps us from sinning”, “is the beginning of wisdom” and leads us to His presence, salvation, and deliverance;  the total disregard of God’s authority leads to flagrant unashamed sin, foolishness, and peril. More law, more programs, more rhetoric will never curtail the harvest we are reaping.

The political process can be invigorating and empowering. It is captivating and deceiving, drawing man into the dynamics of this world system with himself as an agent of change. Many ‘Christians’ partake of political activities to promote ‘Christian values’.   It is a tremendous release of the ‘human spirit’ to rally around changing the world….not to be confused with the release of the Holy Spirit that changes man’s heart.

The end times, Jesus declared, “would be like the days of Noah”, a time where every inclination of man was wicked. In the days of Noah, everyone ate, drank and married – oblivious to God’s ominous judgment.  And moreover,

“God’s heart was filled with pain”.  (Genesis 6:6)

God may well be the ‘biggest obstacle’ to America’s greatness. Peace and prosperity is never the reward for prideful rebellion; God said “the wages of sin is death”. But as in the days of Noah, there is refuge, there is hope, there is deliverance and salvation. “I am the gate” declared Jesus, “whoever enters through Me will be saved.” The gate opens to our life through repentance, receiving the gift of forgiveness given by the cross.

As part of the world, America will join and collaborate with every nation to fulfill prophecies of a one world government. It will be no greater than any other country under the domain of the powerful charismatic leadership of the anti-Christ. Let us as believers though, find our greatness under the authority of God and the power of the cross as God exalts the humble….

“Lord, let us be vessels of Your Holy Spirit in these last days. Let us find our strength in separation from the world and intimacy with you. Prepare our hearts to minister Your love and truth so that, when calamity strikes and the hollow pillars tumble, we can represent You and be a salve from heaven. Sour our eyes for the things of this world and draw us nearer to You. I pray in Jesus’ name, Amen.”