A Cracker Barrel Truth!

Within the last several weeks, a new Cracker Barrel restaurant has
opened in our area.  Complete with a new interior design and exterior
appearance, this updated take on an already successful franchise has
culinary attendees lining up for the experience. Because the Kistler
family has frequented many a Cracker Barrel over the last 30 years, I
can honestly say that I am somewhat of an expert on the topic.  Almost
without exception, we’ve found the Tennessee-based chain to be
incredibly consistent in all aspects of restaurant service!  So, the
comments that follow are NOT meant to be critical!  They just need to be
made for the purpose of making a larger point.

After enjoying a dining experience twice at our new Cracker Barrel, I’ve
noticed a distinct difference between the new location’s atmosphere and
service from those that are older.  Perhaps most prominent is the
attitude of the wait staff.  Though all employees are in training, the
smiles, eagerness to serve, and overall pleasantness make dining at the
new location a much preferred choice!  A recent Cracker Barrel
experience, at a well-established location, underscores my point.
Rather than appearing excited to be there, the wait staff seemed tired,
overworked, and almost regretful that Betsy and I were even there.  Even
the language used was tired and worn.

What makes my observations poignant is the fact that ministries can
suffer much the same unfortunate fate as a successful restaurant chain.
Rather than being thrilled to serve our Lord, and people, thru committed
adherence to God’s truth, we can become passionless and tired, even
responding in a less than excited way toward visitors.  Rather than
eagerly anticipating each opportunity for collective worship and hearing
of the proclaimed word, we can (in weary, old location Cracker
Barrelesque fashion) unconsciously slip into a mundane, “I’ve done this
before” mode.  The tragic result is that those to whom we minister can
pick up on our tired, passionless attitude.

Recently, I spent several days at one of our nation’s newer Christian
college ministries.  Everyone with whom I interacted exuded a contagious
joy–such as was the case with Solomon’s servants–a joy that impressed
the Queen of Sheba.  This ministry, especially it’s global media
operations, have a crystal clear understanding of why they exist!  I
didn’t meet one individual who appeared displeased that I unexpectedly
entered their world.  No, they were genuinely excited to see a visitor
to their area of ministry–so much so that it was difficult to get away
from them. When I spoke briefly at a staff chapel, they were
phenomenally and eagerly receptive of my message!   Throughout the day,
as I encountered those who were in attendance at the chapel, I was
repeatedly thanked for coming and speaking!  Such anticipatory
excitement hasn’t always been the case with other Christian ministries
I’ve visited.  Far too often, I’ve felt somewhat like an intruder
because I interrupted their day’s work.  Yet, people ARE the ministry!
They ARE the reason we enter ministry in the first place.  They must
NEVER be viewed as unnecessary interruptions in our otherwise busy day!

So, to our new Cracker Barrel, as well as to my recently met new friends
in ministry, I say a giant “job well-done!”  Simply keep up the great
work you are doing!  Your understanding of Whose you are and why you
serve is coming through LOUD AND CLEAR!  May EVERY genuine believer in
Christ exhibit the same contagious enthusiasm!

NOTE:  The word “enthusiasm” comes from the compound Greek word “en”=in,
“Theos”=God–in other words, literally “God within.”  When we are
possessed by Him, how can we be any way other than exuberant!

Dave Kistler
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)

Oregon Couple Ordered To “Cease Speaking Their Beliefs!”

Aaron and Melissa Klein, owners of “Sweet Cakes By Melissa”, the Oregon
bakers who refused to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding, have not only
been fined $135,000 for their Biblical stand, they’ve also been issued a
“cease and desist” order by Brad Avakian, Commissioner of the Oregon
Bureau of Labor and Industry.  The gag order demands that the Kleins
refrain from talking about their views on marriage to anyone!

In response to this preposterous order, Aaron Klein doubled down in
stating that he and his wife will not comply with the demand.  Legal
representation for the Kleins is claiming that Avakian has violated the
Kleins’ free speech rights, especially noting the commissioner’s desire
to “rehabilitate” the Kleins with respect to their views on marriage.

If anyone thought that last month’s ruling on same-sex marriage at the
Supreme Court would end with attempting to legalize homosexual marriage
only, this situation with the Kleins should end that incorrect idea!
No, advocates of same-sex marriage will not be content until they
silence those of us who stand unequivocally for God’s definition of
marriage!

Unbelievably inconsistent and hypocritical is the attempt to
“rehabilitate” the Kleins, while simultaneously denying the possibility
of such rehabilitation of homosexuals.  In other words, it’s legitimate
and legal to attempt to change Christian’s beliefs, but it’s not so for
those who are enslaved in the homosexual lifestyle!  It’s okay for
Christians, like the Kleins, to have their beliefs denied, even changed,
but it’s not okay for Christian ministries to counsel homosexuals,
offering them a better way–deliverance from their sinful behavior!

It is imperative that we, as believers in Jesus Christ, do as did the
Apostle Paul (Acts 22) and refuse to allow a sinful and subversive
government/culture to run roughshod over our rights as citizens!  So,
stand up, speak up, and graciously (but VERY directly) resist!  Our
right to practice our faith freely is at stake!  And, may God’s
preachers provide the path ahead for God’s church to Biblically resist
that which attempts to usurp God’s rightful position of authority!

Dave Kistler
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)

APN Prayer and Praise Update

Dear Friends,

You’ve all read and perhaps even commented on the Supreme Court’s rulings of last week. But if I may, I’d like to make a brief summary, draw some conclusions and express some concerns as to a very concerning predominant response I’m seeing by most Christian leaders in America. NOTE:  I strongly encourage you to listen to our Stand in the Gap Today radio program of June 30 as David Kistler and I dealt with some of these key considerations. This program was unique and I know will be very much worth your time. https://americanpastorsnetwork.net/resources/

A Summary: Without question, between the SCOTUS decision on Obamacare and then Marriage, two critical things happened: 1) The Constitution and the Rule of Law were trashed. In both cases as eloquently stated by the dissenting Justices, the Court had NO Constitutional jurisdiction to rule as they did in either case. The majority in both cases violated their oath of office, trampled the separation of Powers, trashed the Constitution and ruled not as justices upholding justice, but attempted to make law as politically driven renegades. 2) God Himself and His Moral law was arrogantly and defiantly rejected particularly in the Marriage Opinion. The implications of making a ruling on the definition of marriage established by God Himself and recognized for millennia by civilizations past and present, by defiantly redefining what God Himself defined, and choosing to negate the vote of state legislatures and citizens across the nation are more than dangerous. It is perhaps even fatal for our republican form of government. I note however that these  decisions did not mark the beginning of a new chapter of egregious actions by the highest court but an exclamation point at the end of a lengthy book being written by numerous courts under numerous administrations over nearly a generation!

     A Brief Conclusion: To understand what the Court has done several things must be noted:  1) The SCOTUS majority rendered a Judicial OPINION.  They did not nor can they make LAW.  How we as Americans (citizens and states alike) respond to this ‘opinion’ is critical; 2) Their opinion violated Moral Law and Constitutional law; 3) Their opinion while having the ‘color’ of law may be ‘legal’, but it is in no case ‘lawful’.

Major Concerns:  Since this SCOTUS opinion on marriage was rendered, there has been a great deal of angst realized and expressed privately by pastors and Christian organizations across America. I have been part of private phone conferences as well as conducting updates and conferences this week for scores of pastors at a time. I have received emails from groups and pastors from across the country and I am concerned about what I am seeing.

My concern is two-fold1) By continuing to pursue failed human political strategizing on how to fight back against ungodly court rulings and government regulations, we will only encourage God’s judgment. I know this is a bold statement, but bear with me. I fear that most people are falling into the trap of speaking about and encouraging ‘civil disobedience’, defiance, marches and protests and making the lead strategy more like the days of the civil rights movement than what God expects at such a time. God expects now and always – repentance and biblical obedience. At APN, we are urging that all those who uphold God’s Moral Law and the Constitution think, speak, and act first and foremost with the goal of being biblically obedient. Our responsibility as preachers is to preach the Word of God. We know that our nation perishes because of a ‘lack of knowledge’ of God’s Word. We don’t need more political or human strategy. We need obedience to God’s commands.

While we may at some point be forced to disobey a government ‘opinion’ or ‘law’, we must lead with and die with a commitment, not to civil disobedience or rebellious strategy but with full commitment to God and His truth. Like Shadrach, Meshech, and Obedneggo, we must be prepared to step into the flames if so be before we ever bow the knee in worship of or allegiance to the gods of this world. We must be prepared to disobey the ‘king’ and die for the King of Kings, but we must focus more on obedient living for the King of Kings.

2) I am concerned that too many organizations are ‘using’ this circumstance to primarily angle for more donations to ‘continue the fight’ and I believe perhaps inadvertently direct attention away from the spiritual consideration to the human strategy. While all of our organizations need funds and I’ve spoken in the past about it, we must be very careful to make sure that our true motives are obedience.   My Stand in the Gap Minute program that will air next week speaks to these issues:  Title: “Watch out for those who Sneak About”    https://americanpastorsnetwork.net/resources/   May God help us all to respond Biblically in these days.

Stand in the Gap Today Radio Program Update: According to recent polls, most Americans have NO idea of the real meaning of the 4th of July. On our Stand in the Gap Today radio program, we dealt with the real meaning yesterday, July 3. You can find this program here: https://americanpastorsnetwork.net/resources/  In this program I presented two short statements that I believe sum of my thoughts on this issue: 1)  “The 4th Of July is not a mere celebration of an event(like a birthday). It is the observance of a sacred intent.”

2) The door of freedom swings on the hinges of the fear of God and is oiled by the preaching of men of God!”   We sit here today as beneficiaries of the hard work and deep understanding of men of God, in the pulpit, in government, and in the home. We sit here today watching it all flee away not because there is nothing we can do about it, but because we refuse to know and do what God says. May God help us all to kneel down, stand up, and press on.

God bless you all.
Sam

40 Questions for Christians Now Waving the Rainbow Flag

For evangelicals who lament last Friday’s Supreme Court decision, it’s been a hard few days. We aren’t asking for emotional pity, nor do I suspect many people are eager to give us any. Our pain is not sacred.
Making legal and theological decisions based on what makes people feel better is part of what got us into this mess in the first place. Nevertheless, it still hurts.

There are many reasons for our lamentation, from fear that religious liberties will be taken away to worries about social ostracism and cultural marginalization. But of all the things that grieve us, perhaps what’s been most difficult is seeing some of our friends, some of our family members, and some of the folks we’ve sat next to in church giving their hearty “Amen” to a practice we still think is a sin and a decision we think is bad for our country. It’s one thing for the whole nation to throw a party we can’t in good conscience attend. It’s quite another to look around for friendly faces to remind us we’re not alone and then find that they are out there jamming on the dance floor. We thought the rainbow was God’s sign (Gen. 9:8-17).

If you consider yourself a Bible-believing Christian, a follower of Jesus whose chief aim is to glorify God and enjoy him forever, there are important questions I hope you will consider before picking up your flag and cheering on the sexual revolution. These questions aren’t meant to be snarky or merely rhetorical. They are sincere, if pointed, questions that I hope will cause my brothers and sisters with the new rainbow themed avatars to slow down and think about the flag you’re flying.

1. How long have you believed that gay marriage is something to be celebrated?

2. What Bible verses led you to change your mind?

3. How would you make a positive case from Scripture that sexual activity between two persons of the same sex is a blessing to be celebrated?

4. What verses would you use to show that a marriage between two persons of the same sex can adequately depict Christ and the church?

5. Do you think Jesus would have been okay with homosexual behavior between consenting adults in a committed relationship?

6. If so, why did he reassert the Genesis definition of marriage as being one man and one woman?

7. When Jesus spoke against porneia what sins do you think he was forbidding?

8. If some homosexual behavior is acceptable, how do you understand the sinful “exchange” Paul highlights in Romans 1?

9. Do you believe that passages like 1 Corinthians 6:9 and Revelation
21:8 teach that sexual immorality can keep you out of heaven?

10. What sexual sins do you think they were referring to?

11. As you think about the long history of the church and the near universal disapproval of same-sex sexual activity, what do you think you understand about the Bible that Augustine, Aquinas, Calvin, and Luther failed to grasp?

12. What arguments would you use to explain to Christians in Africa, Asia, and South America that their understanding of homosexuality is biblically incorrect and your new understanding of homosexuality is not culturally conditioned?

13. Do you think Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama were motivated by personal animus and bigotry when they, for almost all of their lives, defined marriage as a covenant relationship between one man and one woman?

14. Do you think children do best with a mother and a father?

15. If not, what research would you point to in support of that conclusion?

16. If yes, does the church or the state have any role to play in promoting or privileging the arrangement that puts children with a mom and a dad?

17. Does the end and purpose of marriage point to something more than an adult’s emotional and sexual fulfillment?

18. How would you define marriage?

19. Do you think close family members should be allowed to get married?

20. Should marriage be limited to only two people?

21. On what basis, if any, would you prevent consenting adults of any relation and of any number from getting married?

22. Should there be an age requirement in this country for obtaining a marriage license?

23. Does equality entail that anyone wanting to be married should be able to have any meaningful relationship defined as marriage?

24. If not, why not?

25. Should your brothers and sisters in Christ who disagree with homosexual practice be allowed to exercise their religious beliefs without fear of punishment, retribution, or coercion?

26. Will you speak up for your fellow Christians when their jobs, their accreditation, their reputation, and their freedoms are threatened because of this issue?

27. Will you speak out against shaming and bullying of all kinds, whether against gays and lesbians or against Evangelicals and Catholics?

28. Since the evangelical church has often failed to take unbiblical divorces and other sexual sins seriously, what steps will you take to ensure that gay marriages are healthy and accord with Scriptural principles?

29. Should gay couples in open relationships be subject to church discipline?

30. Is it a sin for LGBT persons to engage in sexual activity outside of marriage?

31. What will open and affirming churches do to speak prophetically against divorce, fornication, pornography, and adultery wherever they are found?

32. If “love wins,” how would you define love?

33. What verses would you use to establish that definition?

34. How should obedience to God’s commands shape our understanding of love?

35. Do you believe it is possible to love someone and disagree with important decisions they make?

36. If supporting gay marriage is a change for you, has anything else changed in your understanding of faith?

37. As an evangelical, how has your support for gay marriage helped you become more passionate about traditional evangelical distinctives like a focus on being born again, the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ on the cross, the total trustworthiness of the Bible, and the urgent need to evangelize the lost?

38. What open and affirming churches would you point to where people are being converted to orthodox Christianity, sinners are being warned of judgment and called to repentance, and missionaries are being sent out to plant churches among unreached peoples?

39. Do you hope to be more committed to the church, more committed to Christ, and more committed to the Scriptures in the years ahead?

40. When Paul at the end of Romans 1 rebukes “those who practice such things” and those who “give approval to those who practice them,” what sins do you think he has in mind?

Food for thought, I hope. At the very least, something to chew on before swallowing everything the world and Facebook put on our plate.

Author: Kevin DeYoung

To read this article on The Gospel Coalition site, please click HERE.

What Say You to These Things?

Last evening, at the Pentagon in Washington, DC, Muslims, their families and other specially invited guests (including Keith Ellison (MN), the first Muslim elected to Congress) gathered for an “Iftar Dinner.”  During the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, from sun up to sun down, fasting and restraint from other activities is to be observed.  At the end of each day (after sunset), family and friends gather for a meal called “iftar.”

On June 22, President Obama hosted such a dinner in commemoration of Ramadan at the White House.  Imagine the outrage if a meal honoring Christianity, or a Jewish seder were to be observed in either location!  The ACLU, Military Religious Freedom Foundation, CAIR, and a host of other anti-God, anti-American entities would be screaming to the heavens about the egregious violation of the First Amendment!

Yet, for 17 years, this iftar meal has been observed at the Pentagon.  My friends, the infiltration of Islam into the highest levels of our government is on full display!  What is even more tragic than the allowance of such events, is the fact that we have been so stunningly silent about these things and even the expression of OUR faith!  Even we preachers have tamed our sermons, and tempered our speech to the point that we are toothless lions!

Well, I submit that the time for doing that has well nigh passed!  NOW is the time for God’s preachers to sharpen their tongues (and minds) and unharness their lips for full engagement with the truth!!!  No longer let us fear the faces of our well-dressed and well-heeled congregations!  No longer let us even consider who may be “offended” by our bold, unflinching declaration of the truth!  No longer let us check the giving reports before deciding to say what desperately needs to be said from God’s sacred desk!

No, men of God arise!  Fling the scabbard of political correctness to Hades from whence it came, rare back and thunder “Thus saith the Lord!”  Rather than attempting to “massage the Millennials” with palatable words, honor the Holy One by declaring in Elijah-like fashion the whole counsel of God!

At the expense of being hung at sunset, let me say that I am grieved beyond words at the incessant emphasis on God’s love, to the exclusion of His Holiness and truth!  May I remind us ALL of the Apostle John’s repeated use of the phrase in his epistles, “whom I love in the truth!”  “Love” without truth is NOT love!  There can actually be no love, if truth is excluded!

The fact of the matter is this!  America is where she is because truth has been minimized and marginalized!  And, the ones tasked with proclaiming truth have been emasculated!  When the preachers of a nation are known for their “prettiness” rather than their “prophet-like” nature, there is a problem!  When a ministry is known more for it’s buildings than for it’s bold declaration of God’s word, there is a problem!  When the first thought is, “What will people think?”, rather than “What does God think?”, there is a problem!

I am SO thankful for the preachers I know who stand ready to engage the Wicked One with God’s truth!  Men, I love you!  I appreciate you more than I can say!  I thank God for you and anticipate the day when we stand before our Mutual Savior, trusting to hear the “Well done!”  Till then, let’s build up our spiritual muscles for the battles ahead!  Through Christ and the power of His Holy Spirit, we are MORE THAN capable of boldly fulfilling our calling!  With passionate love for Him, and the same for those to whom we preach, let’s engage!!  Though these may be “the times that try men’s souls”, these are also incredible times for God-pleasing ministry!  I don’t know about you, but I’m more determined than ever to stand up and speak up!  As said Evangelist Billy Sunday about the sin of his day, so say I!  “I’ll kick it as long as I’ve got a foot, and I’ll fight it as long as I’ve got a fist. I’ll butt it as long as I’ve got a head. I’ll bite it as long as I’ve got a tooth. And when I’m old and fistless and footless and toothless, I’ll gum it till I go home to Glory and it goes home to perdition!

Dave Kistler
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)

Supreme Court Decision And Civil Disobedience!

Tonight on FOX News’ Sean Hannity program, Pastor Robert Jeffress
(Pastor, First Baptist Church of Dallas, TX) was as animated as I’ve
ever seen him as he spoke of the path ahead for all believers in Jesus
Christ.  Said Pastor Jeffress, “We will not be intimidated by the
liberal left, President Obama, or the Supreme Court of the United
States!”  Pastor Jeffress’ comments came in the midst of a discussion on
what will be the future of First Amendment liberty for Christians, whose
beliefs are diametrically opposed to degenerative societal norms.

Additionally, former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee, when asked whether
the Supreme Court’s decision on marriage necessitates “civil
disobedience” said, “I see no other way!”  In all candor, I completely
agree!  As a preacher who has already made his decision, I am prepared
to practice civil disobedience and to experience the persecution and/or
incarceration for my “firmly held beliefs” relative to the topic of
homosexuality!

The reasons for my unequivocal stance on this is two-fold.  First, to
comply with the Supreme Court’s errant decision on same-sex marriage
would be completely antithetical with the Scriptures teaching on the
topic.  On something as fundamentally basic as what constitutes
marriage, I MUST obey God rather than man (or any man-made
institution)!  Second, I believe that disobedience to the High Court’s
damnable decision is constitutionally consistent. According to the 10th
Amendment, the powers not granted to the (federal) government by the
constitution are reserved to the states, or to the people!  When the
federal government (i.e. the Court) steps out of it’s constitutionally
prescribed position of authority, that same government should EXPECT
kickback from authority on the state level!  It is this precise thought
that is motivating Texas Governor Greg Abbott to stand so clearly,
powerfully and aggressively against the High Court decision!  In
essence, he has said to the Supreme Court, “thanks, but no thanks!”
“We, in Texas, have both legislation and an amendment that defines
marriage for our state!”  So, it is obligatory that the Texas Governor
fulfill his oath of office, to protect and defend the Texas
constitution.  I pray that other state leaders will be equally committed
and forceful in their response to Friday’s decision!

So, the decision rendered on Friday is NOT the final word on this
issue!  A constitutional crisis (states authority vs. federal authority)
looms on the near horizon–one that has the potential to eclipse the
divisiveness of the Civil War!  May God grant us (those of us who stand
where God stands on this issue) His wisdom to know the path ahead, and
the courage to accept the consequences!

Dave Kistler
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)

Landmark Decision At High Court–Comments!

My friends,

It is with great duplicity that I write to you this morning. Moments
ago, I landed in Philadelphia, PA from two PHENOMENAL weeks in Israel!
Never have I felt safer!  And, space doesn’t permit me, at this point,
to remark on all that we saw, heard, sensed, smelled and experienced
while in the Holy Land!  More on that later!

I write with duplicity because of the tragedy that was the Supreme
Court’s decision yesterday!  Though in some ways shocking, it was not at
all unexpected!  In addition to redefining culture’s definition of
marriage, the High Court’s decision will have dramatic and long-lasting
repercussions for the United States–a land founded on a clear
Judeo-Christian, Biblically-based foundation!

While the highest court of the land may redefine an institution, they
cannot/have not changed God’s mind on the issue!!!  No, marriage is
still God’s institution and He ALONE has the right to define it!  He
ALONE has the right to decide it’s participants!  He ALONE has the right
to determine the future of ANY nation that flaunts it’s sin and shakes
it’s fist in the very face of a thrice holy God!  So, from a Divine
perspective, we have entered into even more treacherous territory!

From a legal perspective, we’ve certainly entered into uncharted
waters.  This decision has pitted the 14th Amendment against the
treasured 1st Amendment!  In doing so, there will be a litany of cases
that will ultimately make their way to the Supreme Court! Justice
Kennedy’s broad (and incredibly weak) comments about those with “firmly
held religious beliefs” being able to continue to live and advocate
those beliefs, is NO protection for those of us who love righteousness!

Amid so much that seems negative, there is an incredible silver lining
in all this!  This may be THE moment for the church of Christ to stand
up, tall, and unequivocally clear with regard to truth!  No matter what
this may/will mean, this is our moment for courageous commitment to the
One Who is The Truth!  Additionally, actions like those of Texas
Governor Greg Abbott (declaring that Texas will continue to guard,
protect, and defend the First Amendment liberties of the residents of
that state) signal what may happen in other liberty-loving states!  In
other words, another “state’s rights” battle is brewing!

So, church of Christ/men of God, ARISE!!!  Stay tuned!  Much more to
come on this!

Dave Kistler
President, HOPE Ministries International
President, North Carolina Pastors Network (NCPN)

Wars, Rumors of Wars, and Spiritual Awakening

   The international news of this week can be summed in a prophetical phrase: “and there shall be wars and rumors of wars”. All around the world there is increased fighting and clear preparations for war. Russia and NATO, Russia and Ukraine, Russia and Georgia, Russia and the USA, Saudi Arabia/Egypt/Jordan/others and Yemen and a proxy war with Iran, ISIS/AlQaida/Hezbolla/Islam and the rest of the world.  Because of the traitorous actions of the White House in its desperate effort to placate and strengthen the ambitions of Iran as they seek the destruction of the United States and Israel, the Middle East is exploding in an all out nuclear arms race. And, these are just the military wars and then only a partial list at that. Then there are the just as dangerous in some respects, currency wars as China, Russia, India and others seek to replace the US Dollar with a new currency and certain people in Europe and the US President seeks a New World Order with a new currency and the wars and rumors of war are seeming increasing by the week.  So what should we do? Be about the work of the Lord will the more diligence and of course, look up!

As we watch, the eyes of world are increasingly focusing on the Middle East and Israel as prophecy foretells. We can see and feel it happening. As Believers, we love Israel and the Jewish people because God does. We pray for God’s people because there is blessing in doing so. We view them as members of the family because we know that we have been grafted onto their tree and given the blessings God promised to them. We also know that Scripture tells us that we are to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I know I have prayed for the Peace of Jerusalem in the midst of increasing hostilities and threats against them for years and years because it was right to do. But, I must confess that this week while having breakfast with a Messianic Jewish pastor friend, I had to asked God for forgiveness. As we were talking about the real meaning of Passover coming up this week  in the midst of increasing  hostilities in the Middle East, my friend Jeff shared with me some encouraging news. After coming back from almost 2 months in Israel and as he talked with hundreds of fellow Jews there and here, that he said that it is clear and obvious that God is opening the hearts of His people. What once were constant rejections of any discussion about Jesus as the Messiah, the response is now, “I hear you Jeff, tell me more. And then they are saying to themselves and others, ‘what if what Jeff and others are saying is really true? What if Jesus really was the Messiah?’” How amazing. This is of God’s doing and how encouraging and a sign of the times.

But, then I mentioned that I pray for the peace of Jerusalem regularly and he said what does that mean – to pray for the peace of Jerusalem? Are you praying for the physical safety of Israel and the Jews or their spiritual salvation. And that struck my heart because I believe that I and likely most Americans in our support for Israel, may quite likely be praying a bit amiss. As my friend Jeff said, there will be no peace in Jerusalem/Israel until they accept the Prince of Peace. Physical peace is nice, but God’s heart for His people is spiritual peace which only comes through salvation. He said, you and Christians must pray for the spiritual salvation of the Jews as that is God’s heart. I agree. So, from now on, my prayer is for the spiritual awakening and salvation for the people of God. When they accept the Messiah as the Lamb of God, the Prince of Peace will bring true peace and fulfill the prophecies we’ve all longed to see.

So this week as Jews across the world observe Passover and the Seder meal, join me in praying for their spiritual salvation, for their eyes to be opened and that they will look on Him Who they rejected and embrace the Messiah. And may we thank the Lord that He has manifested grace to us and made us part of the Commonwealth of Israel. These are exciting days as God completes His plan of redemption. I trust that our hearts and minds will be increasingly in tune with the heart of God.

-Sam Rohrer, APN President

 

Deafening Silence

We have a choice. Will we, the Church, choose to stand with Israel?

 By: Dan Celia

 Israel is the land of those who walked before us, bringing us our Christian heritage and the Judeo-Christian values by which we live each day. It is the land of God’s Chosen People. And, of course, it is the land of our Lord. The Bible tells us that those who bless Israel will themselves be blessed, and those who curse Israel will be cursed (Genesis 12:3).

A friend of mine who is an official in Jerusalem recently sent me an update. She explained they were fighting against an enemy hiding behind and among civilians, putting their own people in danger. She went on to say that while this enemy cares nothing for those civilians, Israel is being blamed for the atrocities that are resulting.

Our increasingly anti-Semitic word continues to make Israel the target of demonstrations and biting criticism while ignoring the brutal murders of Christians and others in the vicinity of Israel (and elsewhere). We continue to see politicians around the world who consistently look for political solutions and negotiate with an enemy who refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist. These mediators are trying to reduce this conflict to political issues instead of an unquenchable vendetta of hate perpetrated by the so-called theology of Islamic extremists.

Along with the constant threat of death and devastation in the land, many Israel tours have been canceled and, of course, this is having a dramatic impact on their economy and affecting everyone in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. Israel continues to call for prayer and for God’s hand of protection to be upon them.

All these things are extremely disturbing to me as a Christian who loves Israel. We need to be praying continuously. I believe churches need to stand up and to find a renewed and steadfast spirit within them. They need to stand up for Israel, pray for Israel, and find concrete ways to help Israel. I find it most disturbing that so few are doing this. Those who fail to stand with Israel should be praying that God does not cast them away from His presence (Psalm 51:10–11).

Pastors need to speak loudly from the pulpit against the policymakers and media that continue to take the wrong side of the issue or ignore the truth altogether. Pastors and the faithful need to be standing with Israel as never before, and their voices need to be heard.

Unfortunately, the silence is deafening—and it will bring no blessing to the Church in America.

Why are we silent? Could we be afraid of the political ramifications of speaking out? Could pastors and church leaders possibly be afraid that some in the church may be offended and leave to go to a more “easy-going” church? Could it be that tithes and offerings could fall off because of such a vocal stance? Could it be that we would believe for even a moment that he who lives in this world could be stronger and more terrifying than the power of God?

Each day, I hear the Silence of the Church on even more issues. Churches do not want to be politically involved, yet their very silence involves them—in a detrimental way. The Church in America is too concerned about losing the influence of the world to stand firmly as an influence on the world and take their stand on the truths and promises of the Bible. Certainly, there are exceptions out there. Those exceptions need to be even more vocal in encouraging their brethren in the pulpit to stand firmly and speak loudly.

As believers, we are the Church. And we have a choice. We can remain silent and put ourselves in jeopardy of losing everything—everything that counts. Or we can choose to speak out boldly . . .  against those who are bombarding Israel with hate . . . against the policy makers and media who present half-truths or no truth at all. To stand steadfastly in every way with Israel. The choice to speak loudly does not come with the possibility of any real losses—at least the kind of losses that matter.

May the grace of God and His mercies and peace be upon the nation of Israel and may God’s people rise up in prayer, faith, conviction, and action for this land.  (Psalm 122:6-7 NKJV)

 

Dan Celia is President/CEO of Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries, Inc. and host of the national syndicated radio talk program Financial Issues heard daily 9 to 11 ET. To learn more go to www.financialissues.org. Financial Issues Stewardship Ministries is a Partner of the American Pastors Network.

The Seventh Mark of Judgment on America: “War and National Collapse”

Immediately following the dedication of the temple, Solomon prayed for God’s intervention in seven probable national needs. In each case, he sought God’s commitment to ‘hear from heaven and forgive their sin’– if the people would repent. In II Chronicles 6: 34-37, King Solomon concluded his specific prayers by asking, “When your people go out to battle against their enemies…when they sin against thee and you become angry with them and deliver them to the enemy and they take them captive… even then if they say, we have sinned and done wickedly, will you then hear from heaven and sustain them and forgive them?” The ultimate national judgment is devastating war.

When a nation continues to sin, God’s anger builds to the point where He says, “I’ve warned enough. I’ve been merciful long enough, and I will now permit the nation to collapse and the people be killed or made captives.” Years later, the nation of Israel refused to hear God’s repeated warnings, and their sin broke through God’s protective hedge of protection around them. Even then, in His mercy, God gave one final chance to avert His judgment. In Ezek. 22:30, God said, “And I looked for a man among them who could make up the hedge and stand in the gap before me for the land that I should not destroy it, but I found none.” Once God’s warnings reach His limit, He will remove from history all nations who defy Him or, once knowing His blessing, willfully forsake Him.

Ps. 9:16a-17 says, “The LORD is known by the judgment which He executeth. The wicked will be cast into Hell and ALL NATIONS who forget God.” The United States of America is no exception. What He said to Israel, He did—and only because of His special covenant with Israel will they be brought back together again under God. Unless God’s people humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, this devastating final judgment of war and national collapse will be the next to occur. The clock has been ticking, and the bell is about to toll. God told Israel in Deut. 8 (paraphrased), “When you have eaten and become full, your wealth increases, your herds increase and I make all that you touch to prosper, beware that you don’t become proud and you forget Me and think that you did this all yourself and trust in yourselves or other gods. For when you do, I will bring swift judgment on you and drive you from your land as I did to the former inhabitants which were before you.” God’s mercy is long, but His justice is certain. Wake up, America. Wake up, American Christians.

This is the last article in an eight part series, “Can We Know if God’s Judgment is on America? – The Background to Understanding God’s Promise in II Chronicles 7:14”.