"He who has ears to hear, let him hear." Luke 14:35b

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Judgment That Leads to Revival

Guest blogger Pastor Mike Gonzalez shares a message today about God's impending judgment on our nation and the hope we have as Christians. Welcome, Mike!

Do you believe that God is capable of doing great and mighty things in our generation? Do you believe it’s possible that the LORD Himself could be raising up such godless people in our nation in order to bring a purifying judgment among His people?

In Habakkuk's day, God raised up the Chaldeans (the Babylonians), a ruthless, cruel and violent people in order to bring punishment and correction for the sins of His people in order to bring them back to a right standing with Him and revive them once again. Habakkuk had become discouraged that his prayers and cries to the LORD had not been answered concerning the wicked in the land, “How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! “Violence is everywhere!” I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery?” (Habakkuk 1:2-3a NLT).

Habakkuk was so overwhelmed with how unrighteous the land had become, “The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted” (Habakkuk 1:4).

Does this sound familiar? Think about how often we struggle with the injustice and perversion we see and hear about, not just on television, but from the mouths of our so called-religious and political leaders. Daily we’re shocked at how laws are being abused and enforced, and we seem to only shake our heads in frustration and disbelief with our usual complaint about these leaders. We sometimes feel powerless and confused as to what to do and many, even within the church, are giving up or becoming indifferent because of the level of wickedness in the land which is causing our love to grow cold (Matthew 24:12).

Notice the response of the LORD to Habakkuk, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets…For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay…the righteous person will live by his faithfulness” (Habakkuk 2:2-4 NIV).

Did you catch that? The righteous will live by his faith! When God brings judgment in the land, as I believe He is doing with America and the Western church, we are not to complain or run to our own strength to seek deliverance, but rather we must cry out to the One who will not only bring promised judgment on all evildoers but is willing and able to bring revival to His people.

Habakkuk turned to God in prayer and said, LORD, I have heard the report about You; LORD, I stand in awe of Your deeds. Revive [Your work] in these years (in our generation); make [it] known in these years (in our generation). In [Your] wrath remember mercy! (Habakkuk 3:2).

We must also trust in the Lord and cry out to Him to remember mercy in the midst of His wrath. God is able and willing to revive His people, but we must confess our sin and wait upon the LORD for His appointed time. It will be difficult, and many trials are ahead for the people of God. Persecution is coming. Economic disaster is looming over the horizon for our country and the world. Many are hopeless and falling away from faith, but the remnant people of God will be revived and will not fear because even “in a year of drought (we will never) fail to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:8).

Let us put our confidence in the Lord whatever the circumstance or situation we face, and we will be able to say like Habakkuk, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength” (Habakkuk 3:17-19a).

Rejoicing for Revival,
Pastor Mike

Mike Gonzalez is the senior pastor at Columbia World Outreach Church in South Carolina. He is a graduate of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.

Monday, March 4, 2013

How Do You Kill 11 Million People?

“We knew the time the train was coming and when we heard the whistle blow we began singing hymns. By the time the train came past our church, we were singing at the top our voices. If we heard the screams, we sang more loudly and soon we heard them no more. Years have passed and no one talks about it now, but I still hear that train whistle in my sleep.” (How Do You Kill 11 Million People?)

Obviously, this title alludes to the Jews killed during World War II. Recent research indicates this number could be much higher. Although much genocide litters human history, the Holocaust draws certain connotations in our minds. 
Last spring, I read a blog review of “How Do You Kill 11 Million People?” by Andy Andrews. Moved by the review and the premise behind the book, I left a comment to this effect. Despite the stack of unread books on my shelf, I intended to buy that book, sooner rather than later. And it would go to the top of the stack. A few days later, I received an email from the blog owner saying I had won the weekly blog giveaway. 
My prize? You guessed it. The book has 80 pages, and I read it in less than an hour. A simple concept doesn’t have to be wrapped in a lengthy expose. The book definitely lived up to my expectations.
Among the insight the author gives, he challenges the reader with the following:
·         Why do the ages of our world’s greatest civilizations average around two hundred years?

·         Why do these civilizations all seem to follow the same identifiable sequence—from bondage to spiritual faith, from spiritual faith to courage, from courage to liberty, from liberty to abundance, from abundance to complacency, from complacency to apathy, from apathy to dependence, and finally from dependence back into bondage?

·         The United States is the longest tenured government in the world.
So how do atrocities in history correlate to life in the 21st century? Are we doomed to repeat past mistakes by not learning from them? Certain mileposts would indicate so. 
When my daughter was little, she loved to say it was opposite day when I tried to get her to do something she didn’t want to do. We’ve slowly come to accept certain things in this country that are opposite to our belief system, while at the same time embracing the inane. 
You only have to look at our current social issues to draw the correlation between fallen civilizations and our current way of life. 
Three thousand babies are murdered legally each day in the United States. We look the other way when stories surface on corporations like Pepsi that test new products on aborted fetal cells. The revelation barely registered a blip on the media’s radar.
Yet we’re outraged when Starbucks’ use of dye obtained from crushed bugs surfaces. I mean, that’s really something to get upset about. Right
Compare the current political, social, and economic situation in the U.S. to a party on a frozen lake in rising temperatures. The party-goers are caught up in the revelry; they don’t hear the subtle cracking sound of ice melting. The cracking continues until it’s too late—the ice is separating under their feet.
The ice is cracking all around us, folks. We only have to look at history to see moral decline precedes economic decline when civilizations collapse. A solution exists, and we’re all part of it. Hope for our future begins with each individual putting down their drinks and walking off the ice before it’s too late. 
So how do you kill 11 million people? 
The answer is simpler than you could imagine, and it’s key to our hope as a nation. I’m not one to give away the major premise of a book, so you’ll have to read the book to discover it. It’s available on Amazon.com and other book outlets.
I’ll leave you with one final thought from the book, a quote of President James Garfield from his centennial address to Congress in 1876:
“Now, more than ever before, the people are responsible for the character of their Congress. If that body be ignorant, reckless, and corrupt, it is because the people tolerate ignorance, recklessness, and corruption. If it be intelligent, brave, and pure, it is because the people demand these high qualities to represent them in the national legislature.” Then he added, “If [one hundred years from now] the next centennial does not find us a great nation…it will be because those who represent the enterprise, the culture, and the morality of the nation do not aid in controlling the political forces.”