Remember the Darkness But Stand in the Light

Cattle Car

Actual cattle car used to transport unsuspecting Jews to Auschwitz – Freedom Tower looms above.

There is a profound exhibit at The Museum of Jewish Heritage commemorating those who perished during Jewish Holocaust, particularly at Auschwitz.  I highly recommend a lengthy visit there to anyone visiting NYC.

I take a personal interest in the Holocaust as it sequentially follows the atrocities of the Armenian Genocide, 1915 to 1922.  In fact, Hitler famously boasted,

“Our strength consists in our speed and our brutality. Genghis Khan led millions of women and children to slaughter – with premeditation and a happy heart. History sees in him solely the founder of a state. It’s a matter of indifference to me what a weak Western European civilization will say about me….. Accordingly, I have placed my death-head formation in readiness – for the present only in the East – with orders to them to send to death mercilessly and without compassion, men, women, and children of Polish derivation and language. Only thus shall we gain the living space which we need. Who, after all, speaks today of the annihilation of the Armenians?”  August 22, 1939, excerpt from Hitler’s orders to Wehrmacht commanders, a week prior to Nazi invasion of Poland.

Premeditated, systematic and diabolical, the Ottomans’ plan proved a formidable forerunner for the Nazis.

map of transports to auschwitz

Transport strategy to rout European Jews to Auschwitz

list of jews in world

tally of Jews in Europe, summed for extermination

 

While Armenians, Jews, and other victims may cry, “Never again!”, we as believers understand that, even as our brethren are persecuted and suffer today, global persecution and annihilation is on the sure horizon.

The power of social engineering, scapegoating, and ostracizing was blatant in Germany, permeating the culture through education, media, and government.  Wickedness was ripe in the hearts of Germans when a Jewish teenager avenged the deportation of his parents by killing a German diplomat.   Kristallnacht – ‘the Night of Broken Glass’-  was the horrific response.   Fermented anti-Semitism exploded with violent destruction of Jewish stores, homes, schools, and synagogues.  From one youth’s crime came the arrest of 30,000 Jewish men who were then sent to concentration camps, solely for being Jewish.   While this unleashed the holocaust, Nazi Germany was strategically and socially prepared.

thousands arrested after kristallnacht

Thousands of Jewish men arrested during Kristallnacht. 

 

Those fortunate to visit this engrossing exhibit will see filmed testimonies, rare artifacts, Auschwitz reconstructions, military charts, photos and more.  Juxtaposed against cruel and relentless suffering and death was the phenomena of overwhelming German passion and devotion to Hitler.  Moreover, civilians and businesses were complicit in the murder of thousands systematically killed every day –  none of the concentration camps, death chambers, and crematories could have functioned without architects, engineers, suppliers, builders, and transport experts.

Two grievous realities became evident at this exhibit.  Despots like Talaat Pasha and Adolph Hitler are satanically inspired, if not indwelt.  Secondly, evident in the filmed interviews and testimonies, is the heartbreaking reality that nearly all the Jews marked for destruction did not believe it or perceive it until they actually arrived and faced it.

We must commemorate and honor those who suffered and perished and uphold the memory of brave heroes that stood up and risked all on their behalf.  But as believers in Jesus Christ and the living word of God, we must remember one more thing:  tribulation, persecution and death await those saints who live as the Anti-Christ arises.

We may not believe it, we may not perceive it, but unwarranted hatred for Christians is fermenting.  While our brethren in Islamic areas suffer daily, our plight is stirring in the undercurrents of social engineering, political posturing, and educational indoctrination.  This world power, the Anti Christ, will be “…given power to make war against the saints and to conquer them.”

Unlike Hitler, who basked in the adoration of Nazi Germany, the Anti Christ will be adored throughout the world, “…every tribe, people, language, and nation.  All inhabitant of the earth will worship the beast..”   Unimaginable?

gas-chamber-auschwitz.jpg

The world watched as Christians and Jews were annihilated and the apathy continues today.  But we, as believers, cannot afford to be complacent, scripturally ignorant, or enrapt with the world.   This world is fermenting and cultivating an anti-Christ spirit that will ripen like ‘Kristallnacht’ – may we stand today and on that day in a way that honors our Lord. 

hitler quote

 

The Forgotten Door to Power, Position and Peace

We were created for a place of power, position, and peace and yet our quests for them often lead to futility and disappointment.

Rather than reset our compass,  we dig deeper in ourselves for inspiration, motivation, and self confidence, cheering ourselves on with words of “gusto” and “empowerment”.   Seeds of self promotion and self-actualization were sown long ago with a dark promise,  “…your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”  Satan’s design for man mirrored his own downfall –  exaltation of self – selfish ambition, self love, self importance and self reliance….separation from God.  

But the position God plans for us, the peace He promises, and the power He avails to us is far greater than any ‘self actualization’.   His personal love and plan for each of us will lead to places where He awaits, with a calling only He can fulfill.   

The life lived by faith in Christ is one with eternal value. 

The will of God is unique to each individual life. God has created each of us specially unique in that there is not, nor will there ever be anyone like you.  He has also placed you here on earth in this time and generation in the country and ethnicity for His own desire.  Your impact in this world is nothing without Christ; it’s all about surrendering our will unto His.   (Excerpt from Anchored in the Cross  3/15/18)  

Hollow and temporal achievements in this world can never compare to the work of the Holy Spirit through the life of a surrendered believer.  Sadly, today’s church has lost the power, the peace, and the position before God.  They are ‘safe’ places for personal sin, without conviction and without a loving challenge to pursue God’s holiness.

From ancient days to this present moment, through broken yet indwelt believers, and through His living word, God desperately calls us.  Fellowship, salvation and eternal promises come forth only through this forgotten door…

door with snow pinterest

“…we can boldly enter heaven’s most holy place because of the blood of Jesus. By His death, Jesus opened a new and life giving way…” (Hebrews 10:19-20)

Church agendas of ‘good works’, excellent music, special events –  campaigns against every social ill – can never reconcile us or anyone else to God.  Nothing at all in us can please or satisfy God.  In view of God’s holiness the Apostle Paul declared, “In me dwells no good thing.”    From this revelation opens the life giving truth:  The blood of Christ alone brings new life.  He restores us to God, and indwells our hearts.  (Read what God did while we were sinners…  in Romans 5) 

Our flesh and soul often suffer regret, remorse, and self condemnation leading to inconsolable emotional suffering.  But “godly sorrow”, as described in II Corinthians 7:9-11, is a blessed drawing of the Holy Spirit leading to true repentance.  There, at the foot of the cross, the door opens to the power of the cross:  forgiveness of sin and deliverance from the power of sin.

New power, through the life of Christ within us, new position – the right standing before His throne, and new peace, through Christ “which surpasses all understanding”…..God awaits us.  And Jesus declares,

“…I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”   

door with snow pinterest

 

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)