Racism and Hatred: Derived from One Source

Christians, we need to be on our knees praying for the lost, our leaders (regardless of political party), and for the unborn. The war we fight is not a physical war but a spiritual war. We need to practice our faith in love and stop vomiting hatred towards others.

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Most recently, in Virginia we have been faced with accusations against our Governor, Ralph Northam because of a racial picture that appeared in his medical school yearbook under his name. He originally apologized for it, then the next day, he denied that it was him. He then went on to say that he dressed up like Michael Jackson and painted his cheeks black with black shoe polish. He is adamant that he will not step down.

Then the Lt. Governor Justin Fairfax has been accused of sexual assault. This allegedly occurred in 2004 at the Democrat National Convention in Boston according to news sources.

Now our Attorney General, Mark Herring admitted that he painted his face black as an undergraduate in college.

All three of Virginia’s top leaders have controversies that most likely will end their political careers.

In reference to the sexual assault, it is reported that the assault was reported to Virginia Congressman, Bobby Scott, as a #MeToo allegation. It is unknown why this was not investigated a year ago.

In contrast to all of this, there are people who have so much hatred against Democrats and Republicans, that they revert to name calling and distasteful conversation on social media. As Christian’s, we should not be name calling and spewing hatred from our lips. Jesus calls Christians to love the sinner but hate the sin.

The Bible tells us that we should keep our tongue from evil and keep our lips from speaking deceitful speech (1 Peter 3:10). Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Ephesians 4:29, “Do not let unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.” Proverbs 10:19, “Sin is not ended by multiplying words, but the prudent hold their tongues.” Proverbs 15:4, The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” There are many more, but these are a few to meditate on.

The issue at hand is a heart issue. Many people are angry at leaders, both on the Democratic and the Republican sides. I am not here defending abortion promoters, but I am here to say that the words one speaks against others that do not have your same views can come across as hateful and pushes the unsaved farther from the Christian faith. Name calling will not win souls.

Giving excuses to substantiate hateful speech and comments do not hold water when compared to the Word of God. Calling unsaved people names will destroy any evangelistic opportunities that may come their way. God is aware of what these people believe. Please don’t play God, as if you know best. Anything you do that does not match up with the plumb line in how Jesus has commanded us to live is not godly. There are other ways to change people’s hearts.

Most recently, I read a fellow Christian’s post to a news article in response to the Rev. Al Sharpton coming to Richmond to speak to Virginia Union University students. The fellow Christian posted Matthew 7:15, “Beware of False Prophets.” Someone pushed back with a disparaging remark against Christians only for the Christian to post a disparaging remark back to most likely an unsaved person. Folks, we cannot be speaking like this to people. Proclaiming Scripture and then telling someone to do something that is vile is destroying evangelical opportunity to bring people to Christ. These types of words destroy opportunities and will only close doors to spiritual dialogue which could possibility lead another to Christ.

If Christian people want to take a stand for justice for the unborn and other atrocities, they can do it without hate filled comments of name calling and profanities. Calling an act evil is not name calling. As Christians, we should not get ourselves caught up in the evilness of the world. This is exactly what Satan wants us to be doing. Satan relished in the fact that Christian’s are telling others off with profanities and hurtful responses. Satan is the author of confusion and lies. John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it in full.” 1 Peter 5:8-9, “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings.”

Christians, we need to be on our knees praying for the lost, our leaders (regardless of political party), and for the unborn. The war we fight is not a physical war but a spiritual war. We need to practice our faith in love and stop vomiting hatred towards others. We need to put on the whole armor of God as mentioned in Ephesians 6:10-18. God will not honor our disobedience which can separate us from a full relationship with Christ. Before we attempt to pull the small speck from another’s eye, we need to look in the mirror and remove the large plank from our own eye (cf. Matthew 7:5). If we want to make a difference for the gospel, then we need to have love for one another and for our neighbor. Racism and hatred come from one source, and that is from Satan. Love comes from one source, and that is God and His Loving Son, Jesus Christ. We have a choice. I choose love. What do you choose?

Colossians 4:6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.”

Copyright © February 8, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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International Mission Board: Every Church Every Nation

February 6, 2019. Richmond, Virginia. Tonight at Grove Avenue Baptist Church, we had a glorious time celebrating and sending out the International Mission Board’s (IMB) Southern Baptist missionaries and the installation of Dr. Paul Chitwood, the new President of the IMB. Dr. Chitwood is the thirteenth President of the IMB. There were nineteen new missionaries prayed over and blessed to send them on their way to the utmost parts of the world to tell others of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.

A few notable leaders present were Clyde Meador, Executive Vice-President of the IMB; J.D. Greer, President of the Southern Baptist Convention; Danny Aiken, President of Southeastern Seminary; Jeff Lorg, President of Gateway Seminary; D. Jeffrey Bingham, President of Southwestern Theological Seminary; John Upton of the Baptist General Association; Dr. Brian Autry, President of the Southern Baptists Conservatives of Virginia; Jerry Rankin, the 10th President of the IMB; and Tom Eliff, the 11th President of the IMB.

The nineteen missionaries to be sent will work jobs alongside indigenous people so that they can learn their customs, ways, and integrate into their society. Doing so opens up the opportunity to show the love and compassion of Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

“Please pray for the new IMB missionaries and Dr. Paul Chitwood and his family as they work together to partner with churches to empower limitless missionary teams who are evangelizing, discipling, planting, and multiplying healthy churches and training leaders among unreached peoples and places for the glory of God.” ~ The International Mission Board.

Jesus Christ was worshipped and glorified at the service through song and praise.

To learn more about the International Mission Board, please visit www.imb.org. The International Mission Board is a Baptist Christian missionary society affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. Their headquarters are in Richmond, Virginia.

Copyright © February 6, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Bread: Having Hardship, Fear, and Anxiety

Even as Christians, we may face from time to time hardship, fear, and anxiety. In God’s Word, it says in Psalm 91:1, “The one who lives under the protection of the Most-High dwells in the shadow of the Almighty.” If a person is truly a follower of Jesus Christ, he or she lives in the shadow and under the protection of God, our Father who is in Heaven.

My Refuge and My Fortress

91 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.
I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress,
my God, in whom I trust.”

For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler
and from the deadly pestilence.
He will cover you with his pinions,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness is a shield and buckler.
You will not fear the terror of the night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness,
nor the destruction that wastes at noonday.

A thousand may fall at your side,
ten thousand at your right hand,
but it will not come near you.
You will only look with your eyes
and see the recompense of the wicked.

Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge—
10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent.

11 For he will command his angels concerning you
to guard you in all your ways.
12 On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the adder;
the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot.

14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him;
I will protect him, because he knows my name.
15 When he calls to me, I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble;
I will rescue him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation.”

Psalm 91 is a refuge Psalm that provides God’s people throughout time, an antidote to hardship, fear, and anxiety. In verses 1 and 2, God is our refuge. This is an affirmation that in Christ, we will find safety and peace regardless of the difficulty or circumstance. In verses 3-13, these are the descriptions of how the Lord is our refuge. Because you are a follower of Jesus Christ, your salvation cannot be snatched away. His faithfulness comes from God’s steadfast love and it is certain that He will keep His promises. Whatever terrors come at night, God will see you through. God loves you and it is through His love that we have protection because of our faith in Him.

As we walk through life, if we are walking with the Lord Jesus Christ, we are living under His protection, in His shadow. To do this, we must be close to Him, know Him, and have a personal relationship with Him. There must be a great familiarity with God to have access to Jesus Christ and His protection.

If you want to have access to His love, grace, and protection; if you want to live in His shadow, then pray to ask Jesus Christ into your life. Pray the following prayer:

“Dear Jesus, I am a sinner and lost without hope. I believe that you are the Son of God, that you died for my sins, and rose from the grave 3 days later. I repent of all my sins and wrong doings. I ask you to come into my life and live in me for the remainder of my natural life. I want to live for you forever. In Jesus Name I pray, Amen.”

If you have prayed that prayer and you meant it, Jesus will come into your life and you will be living in the shadow of God. Please find a Bible believing church and start attending so that you can be discipled in the ways of the Lord. It is my prayer that you receive Christ today.

 

Copyright © February 6, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

The Ugliness of Christian Politics

Most recently, our beloved Commonwealth of Virginia has experienced political controversy of our Democratic Governor, Dr. Ralph Northam, who just endorsed the most aggressive late-term abortion bill. This bill was defeated, but the fact that a Pediatric Neurologist, who is also the Governor of Virginia, is not sitting well with Christians on both the Republican and Democratic sides.

Our Governor proclaims to be a man of faith, a Christian, and a member of a Baptist church. It is concerning that man who proclaims to be a Follower of Jesus Christ then endorses an aggressive abortion bill. Most recently, while being interviewed on WTOP, Northam said, “When we talk about third-trimester abortions, these are done with the consent of obviously the mother, with the consent of the physicians, more than one physician, by the way…And it’s done in cases where there may be severe deformities, there may be a fetus that’s non-viable. So in this particular example, if a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother.” This statement enraged both Christian Democrats and Republicans.

Just yesterday, a racist picture, supposedly of him, from his 1984 Eastern Virginia Medical School Yearbook, showed two people, one in a KKK hood and robe and the other black-faced, standing holding beer cans. The Governor apologized for the racist picture, and then today he is denying that he was in the picture at all. The picture was located on his yearbook page under his name. Then the Governor admitted that same year, he dressed up like Michael Jackson and put black shoe polish on his face for a dance contest in Texas. The Governor was very apologetic, but many Democrat’s and well as Republican’s have asked him to step down. The Governor states that he will not step down. Racism and the Jim Crow era slurs have no place in society. This shows a heart condition that does not match a Christian walk.

Many took to Facebook and Twitter. Professing Christian’s posted slurs towards Democrats like, “DEMONcrats” or “Democrats were acting like Demons.” Hateful, hurting, words appear to roll off many lips and yet there seems to be no remorse for what is said.

We at The Lantern & Shield do not condone abortion or racism. Although we are all conservative in our beliefs and our politics, it is troubling to us to see how professing Christians seem to find it very easy to say hateful and hurting words just to substantiate their positions in politics. We believe that Christians can take a stand for what they believe in but do it with love. Not everyone who states they are Christian are truly Christians. Approximately 79% of American’s identify with Christianity, but that does not make them a true Christian.

Jesus said in Mark 12:30-31, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and mind; and to love your neighbor as yourself. There is no greater commandment than this.”

If you want to make a difference for the gospel and in the name of Jesus, don’t call Democrats Demons and Demon-crats. It really is very offensive and it appears that people who do this have hate in their hearts. We are to love the sinner but hate the sin. How can you expect people to come to Christ when you just basically cursed them by calling them a demon?

The Word of God also says that we are not to judge others. It’s interesting that some people are so politically inclined to crucify another Christian for their difference of opinion than to try to reason with them by having a loving conversation with them. Matthew 7:5 says, “You hypocrite! First remove the beam out of your own eye, and then you can see clearly to remove the speck out of your brother’s eye.”

I have many Democrat friends who do not support this bill. They are loving people and would give the coats off their back to help anyone. Not every person who identifies with the Democratic Party are baby killers or racists. I have known Republicans that believe that it’s okay to have an abortion. Don’t assume that just because someone mostly identifies with one party or the other believe in everything their party supports.

My point in this piece is that if you proclaim to be a true Christian, your life will exhibit love and not hate. We should be living our lives in a way that promotes love and the advancement of the gospel to the lost in our communities, state, and nation.

When people attack us, we should respond the way that Paul teaches us in Romans 12:20, “On the contrary, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this, you will heap hot coals on his head.” Respond in love. They most likely will expect a hateful response, but respond with the love of Christ in your hearts.

We must also pray for our enemies as well as those who come against our faith. We do not like this recent abortion bill, which our Governor has supported and endorsed. But we must as Christian’s pray for Governor Northam, that God will change his heart, and that decisions will be made for the glorification of God’s will.

If you have participated in hateful words against others, God said that you must ask forgiveness and repent. By continuing these types of behaviors, this can separate you in your relationship with Jesus Christ. Sin will separate us from God. John 9:31 says, “We know that God listens to the godly person who does His will.”

Copyright © February 2, 2019. The Lantern & Shield Times, A Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Bread: Have you felt Defeated?

Have you ever felt defeated? Have you felt like you have lost everything? In Psalm 86, David cries out to God. Were you aware that you can pray this same prayer and it could apply to your own life in our current society? I could certainly make a commentary about the Psalm, but I will not. Instead, I encourage you to read it, and then pray it to God. He will hear your voice and minister to you.

Psalm 86 ~ A Prayer of David

Hear me, Lord, and answer me,
for I am poor and needy.
Guard my life, for I am faithful to you;
save your servant who trusts in you.
You are my God; have mercy on me, Lord,
for I call to you all day long.
Bring joy to your servant, Lord,
for I put my trust in you.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you.
Hear my prayer, Lord;
listen to my cry for mercy.
When I am in distress, I call to you,
because you answer me.

Among the gods there is none like you, Lord;
no deeds can compare with yours.
All the nations you have made
will come and worship before you, Lord;
they will bring glory to your name.
10 For you are great and do marvelous deeds;
you alone are God.

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
you have delivered me from the depths,
from the realm of the dead.

14 Arrogant foes are attacking me, O God;
ruthless people are trying to kill me—
they have no regard for you.
15 But you, Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God,
slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.
16 Turn to me and have mercy on me;
show your strength in behalf of your servant;
save me, because I serve you
just as my mother did.
17 Give me a sign of your goodness,
that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,
for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

May the Lord bless you! May the Lord restore you! May the Lord shine His face on you, that you may be saved. (cf. Psalm 80:3)

I pray that God will bless you and forgive you of your sin. Jesus is waiting and wanting to come into your heart. Won’t you seek Him?

Copyright © January 29, 2019. Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Daily Bread: Monday January 28, 2019

May God be gracious to us and bless us; may he make his face shine upon us so that your way may be known on earth, your salvation among all nations. ~ Psalms 67:1-2

Blessed be the Lord! Day after day he bears our burdens; God is our salvation. ~ Psalms 68:19

Sing to God, you kingdoms of the earth; sing praise to the Lord. ~ Psalms 68:32

God you know my foolishness, and my guilty acts are hidden from you. Do not let those who put their hope in you be disgraced because of me. ~ Psalms 69:5-6

God, you have taught me from my youth, and I still proclaim your wondrous works. Even when I am old and gray, God, do not abandon me, while I proclaim your power to another generation, your strength to all who are to come. ~ Psalms 71:17-18

The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are protected. ~ Proverbs 18:10

The Christian Life: Colossians 3:12-17

12 Therefore, as God’s chosen ones, holy and dearly loved, put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a grievance against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you are also to forgive. 14 Above all, put on love, which is the perfect bond of unity. 15 And let the peace of Christ, to which you were also called in one body, rule your hearts. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell richly among you, in all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

May the Lord bless you today and throughout this coming week.

What is Christmas Really About?: The Rest of the Christmas Story

Have you ever wondered about what Christmas is really about? The Christmas holidays are quickly approaching. The celebration about Christmas is not just Santa Clause, presents, Christmas concerts, Winter celebration, or Christmas Trees. It is about the Savior of the world who came into the world to save it and not to condemn it. It is about Jesus Christ and the beginning of His life and the man that He became to fulfill Scripture. This is just the beginning of a wonderful and divine act in which God sent His Son into the world.

This is just the beginning.

Luke 2 English Standard Version (ESV)

The Birth of Jesus Christ

2 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. 2 This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be registered, each to his own town. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. 8 And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. 9 And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, 14 “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!” 15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them. 21 And at the end of eight days, when he was circumcised, he was called Jesus, the name given by the angel before he was conceived in the womb.

But this is NOT the end of the story…….

May you find the real joy of Christmas that only Jesus Christ can bring. It is through the death of Jesus Christ and His resurrection that we have forgiveness of our sins. Jesus came into the world not to judge the world but to save it. It is only through Jesus that one can be saved.

Romans 3:23 “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”

Romans 6:23 “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

John 3:3 “Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Romans 10: 9-11 ” because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.”

2 Corinthians 5:15 “and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”

Revelation 3:20 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.”

Jesus stands at your hearts door and knocks. If you want to really experience the “true” meaning of Christmas, then consider inviting Jesus Christ into your heart and life and ask God to change your heart and transform you to be Christlike in all that you do. Believe with your heart and mind. Ask forgiveness of your wrongdoing and sins, and confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Transformation means that you are a changed person for Christ.

Although many celebrate Christmas with a baby in a feeding trough, that baby grew up as the loving Son of God who died a horrible death in order to redeem us from our wickedness. He was beaten until his blood was spilled on the ground, crucified with nails driven into his hands and feet, and He died. After three days, He rose from the grave and this is evidence that He truly was the Son of God.

Christmas is really about the Christ who came to save the world! Won’t you give your life to  Jesus Christ and know the real meaning of Christmas?

Copyright © November 1st, 2018, Originally published under Pastor Joseph Lee Blog from March 30, 2017. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

 

A Nation in Crisis: Illegal Immigrant Attacks Young Boy on School Bus

I love people and have a heart for ministering to immigrants who are in our nation and trying to make a new life for themselves. As a Christian, my heart goes out to people who are less fortunate than myself. My wife and I have helped people from buying groceries for them to praying and helping them at worksites by handing out water on hot days and giving them Spanish Bibles. We both have a heart to help people. Many of these people are here in the United States legally. From time to time, we cross paths with people here illegally and we encourage them to apply for legal citizenship and do it the right way. I mention all this beforehand so that people will know that we really do love people and want the best for them.

At the same time, we consider ourselves to be good citizens of our local community, state, and nation. We obey the law and we expect others to do the same. I have personally been a victim of a violent crime, so I understand the fear when someone is trying to assault you or kill you! I most recently heard of a young boy right here in Virginia who was bullied on a school bus and was beaten in his face to the point that his nose was broken. The school bus driver did not stop the bus to render assistance. The boy bled profusely from his nose and face until his blue jeans were soaked with so much blood that even his underwear was soaked with blood. The victim had to ride injured on the school bus for over 20 minutes, no assistance given by the bus driver, and no assistance to break up the assault. The bully was a high schooler and he received a ten-day suspension. I found out this evening that the bully was an illegal immigrant who was from Honduras.

This is just one circumstance of many being reported across the nation. I am not releasing the name of the victim to protect him from any retaliation. Any recourse against the perpetrator’s parents are drastically diminished since they are illegals. The school district has allowed these illegal immigrants into the school’s and they cannot even protect our own children. With this migrant caravan approaching, I cannot even fathom what may happen if others who do not have good intentions for Americans are allowed in our communities.

It is my understanding that the immigration laws in the United States must take these people in, but to what expense? Not every immigrant is a bully or a criminal, but how does a nation vet these people? Our nation is changing and quite frankly, becoming a more dangerous place to live. The attack on the young boy that I have written about was in a rural area of Virginia. I am not going to tell people how to vote in the upcoming mid-term elections, but when you cast that vote, think about the safety of your children. If this happened in rural America, it could happen anywhere in the United States.

As a Christian, I will continue to be a good neighbor, help those who are less fortunate than me, love my neighbor as I love myself, and share the gospel to all who will hear. I will also encourage all illegal immigrants that if you want to honor God, then obey the laws of the land. That means that if you are here illegally, then you need to apply for citizenship, even if it means that you go back to your own country and do it the right way. There is no honor or respect in breaking the law. If you want American Citizens to respect you, then obey our laws and come to the United States legally.

This is an opinion story of The Lantern & Shield Times. Copyright © October 24, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times, a division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

America’s Political Turmoil: God Is STILL in Control

Just this morning, I had the pleasure to hear Dr. Brian Autry preach a sermon called, “There is Hope Because God is in Control.” This sermon was taken from Acts 12:1-5, which reads:

“About that time, Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword, and when he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded to arrest Peter also. This was during the days of Unleavened Bread. And when he had seized him, he put him in prison, delivering him over to four squads of soldiers to guard him, intending after the Passover to bring him out to the people. So Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer for him was made to God by the church.” (ESV)

Back in the time of the Apostles, the political environment was very violent. Christian’s were the target of violence because of their faith in Jesus Christ as well as the spread of the gospel. If Christians were arrested, many were either tortured, beaten, or put to death by Herod as well as Nero of Rome. This sets the stage for Peter, he was arrested by Herod after Herod killed James. The Early Church prayed for Peter earnestly. Notice in verse 5, Peter was kept in prison, but earnest prayer was prayed for him by the Church, that God will hear, and act on behalf of the Church. What is important to note here is that Christians during this time were basically helpless. Most did not have the skills of a soldier. The only thing that they could do was to pray for Peter. The outcome was a miracle.

Look at the rest of the story in Acts 12: 6-17:

“6 Now when Herod was about to bring him out, on that very night, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries before the door were guarding the prison. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood next to him, and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him, saying, “Get up quickly.” And the chains fell off his hands. And the angel said to him, “Dress yourself and put on your sandals.” And he did so. And he said to him, “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me.” And he went out and followed him. He did not know that what was being done by the angel was real, but thought he was seeing a vision. 10 When they had passed the first and the second guard, they came to the iron gate leading into the city. It opened for them of its own accord, and they went out and went along one street, and immediately the angel left him.11 When Peter came to himself, he said, “Now I am sure that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from the hand of Herod and from all that the Jewish people were expecting.” 12 When he realized this, he went to the house of Mary, the mother of John whose other name was Mark, where many were gathered together and were praying.13 And when he knocked at the door of the gateway, a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer. 14 Recognizing Peter’s voice, in her joy she did not open the gate but ran in and reported that Peter was standing at the gate. 15 They said to her, “You are out of your mind.” But she kept insisting that it was so, and they kept saying, “It is his angel!” 16 But Peter continued knocking, and when they opened, they saw him and were amazed. 17 But motioning to them with his hand to be silent, he described to them how the Lord had brought him out of the prison. And he said, “Tell these things to James and to the brothers.” Then he departed and went to another place.”

What is important to understand about this passage is that God heard the EARNEST PRAYERS of the Church and He acted. The Lord came to Peter in the jail cell, released his chains, and led him out away from his imprisonment. Peter was rescued by the Lord through an angel.

Even when people are faced with mounting adversity, God is still in control. According to Dr. Autry, “God is STILL on the throne. He is STILL in control. Who is the ultimate Sovereign? It is God! If there is anything that we can do, it is through earnest prayer!”[1]

Dr. Autry mentions four points as how God is in control.

  1. God is in control even when we have trials. The only way to respond is by earnest prayer. God can deal with any situation. He is in control because His Word says that He is.
  2. God is in control even when it’s dark. Even when we are resting in the Lord, God is in control. Look at verse 6, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, resting without a care, and the Lord stood next to him and struck Peter on the side to wake him up. Even in the night, God is in control.
  3. God is in control even when our faith is weak. God does not answer prayers just because we are in His favor, but because He is God.
  4. God is in control even when wickedness seems to win. Although Satan is running rampant in our world today, God is still in control and in the end, God wins the spiritual warfare.[2]

According to Dr. Autry, “Never, ever forget that God is in control. It seems like evil and wickedness is running rampant, but God is still in control. God puts up with a lot, but He loves each of us.”[3] See 2 Peter 3: 8-9, “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.”

Given our current political environment, with brother turning against brother and sister against sister, God is still in control. When attacks on character are occurring, God is in control. When a tsunami strikes a city and hundreds are killed, God is still in control. When the health report states there is cancer, God is still in control. When health problems worsen, God is still in control. When a child, brother, sister, mom, or dad dies; God is still in control. The evil prevails our nation and it seems like there is no more morality, God is still in control. Regardless of who is the President of the United States, Congressman, Senator, Governor, Local Government, God is still in control!

What does God want us to do? He wants us to fall on our knees, and pray earnestly for our leaders, the lost, our loved ones, and our enemies. God wants us to pray earnestly and He wants a “True Relationship” with each of us, through His Son, Jesus Christ.

If you want to see God work, then PRAY, have a RELATIONSHIP with the Living God through Christ Jesus. Remember, God is STILL in control!

References:

[1] Brian Autry, There is Hope Because God is in Control, The Victory Hour, Grove Avenue Baptist Church, Broadcast on NBC12, September 30, 2018.

[2] Autry, There is Hope Because God is in Control, September 30, 2018.

[3] Autry, There is Hope Because God is in Control, September 30, 2018

Copyright © September 30, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.

The Storms of Life: Are You Fighting Them Alone?

As of this past weekend, most of North Carolina and South Carolina have been dealing with Hurricane Florence, which struck the coast near Wilmington, NC as a Category 1 hurricane. As the eye moved on shore, in a couple of days, it was downgraded as a tropical storm. Today, it was downgraded again as a tropical depression. This storm was massive and has produced catastrophic flooding in North Carolina and has been attributed to at least 15 deaths. This storm came charging into North Carolina and has effectively been a wrecking ball in the lives of the residents of North and South Carolina with destruction of property and death.

Today, as my family and I attended Grove Avenue Baptist Church in Henrico Virginia, Dr. Brian Autry led the congregation in prayer, praying for the people of North and South Carolina. He then delivered a message of hope called, “There is Hope in the Storms of Life.” His text was taken from Mark 4:35-41. It reads,

35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (English Standard Version)

Without rewriting Dr. Autry’s entire sermon, I want to focus on a few nuggets of truth taken away from this sermon which ministered to me and my family in a great way. While Jesus and His Disciples were on the ship, a great storm stirred the seas and the people were scared literally to death. They thought they were going to die, and went to get Jesus and wake Him up so that He could tell them what to do. And Jesus rebuked the storm and the wind. The wind and the rough seas calmed immediately and they were amazed.

Life occurrences are sometimes like major storms. They sometimes come and they disrupt our lives to the point that we are brought to our knees. Dr. Autry stated, “Some examples of these occurrences could be a death of a child, the death of a spouse, losing a job and unable to support your family, the death of a parent, and home destruction from a fire, hurricane, flood, or tornado.”[1] These are just a few things that can disrupt our lives and cause storms in which we do not know what to do? We are scared and our faith is weak because we do not know where to turn?

Within the last four years, I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer. To be honest, the diagnosis scared me. I started to think the worse. I did not want to die. I was afraid of the surgery. It was all an unknown for me. After the initial shock, I decided to go for a second opinion. That doctor agreed with the pathology report. So, it sunk in. I had to accept it! But something inside of me said “NO!” I started to reach out to men and women of God who had a very strong faith and believed in healing. The way that they prayed was powerful and they were known as very strong prayer warriors. I decided to go for a third opinion to an ENT Specialist in Norfolk Virginia at Eastern Virginia Medical College. I met with him and he advised me that if it were cancer, that he felt that I had a less than 5% chance of it being an aggressive cancer that would kill me. This offered me hope as well as I calmed down and settled in for the fight. I was scheduled for the surgery in June of that year. I had people praying for me, laying hands on me in prayer, Dr. Mark Becton from Grove Avenue Baptist Church laid hands on me and prayed for me, Dr. John Peyton of Reconciliation Church laid hands on me and prayed for me as well as his church congregation, people I didn’t even know prayed for me all over the world, my Choir Director and staff and worship team at Grove Avenue Baptist prayed for me, and my wife and daughter and family prayed for me. I was covered in prayer. Then, before they whisked me away for the operating room, a nurse at the hospital that I personally knew came in and laid hands on me and prayed for me right in front of the surgeon. Whatever happened, it was well with my soul. I kept singing that in my mind and in my heart. I had totally turned my circumstance over to Jesus Christ, to do with as He wished. My surgery was supposed to be around six and a half hours. After two and a half hours, I was brought back to recovery and the diagnosis was that they did not find any cancer. They did remove half the thyroid because of a very large nodule. The good news was no cancer at all. I must admit, that was a major storm in my life, but God saw me through it. I felt that this was a true miracle!

There have been other storms in my life where God protected me. I was a police officer in Rocky Mount, NC and a deranged drunk man attempted to kill me and my field training officer. The man shot up our police car and by the grace of God, we were not struck by his bullets. Although I had gun powder burns on my face from the suspects gun when my partner and I were fighting for the man’s gun, my partner and I were protected.

There are things that most likely will happen in your life that will bring you to your knees. Why does God allow these storms to happen? Dr. Autry gave three truths pertaining to these storms of life that affect our lives:

  1. The first truth is that you can be close to Jesus and still encounter storms. Storms are not always predictable. Storms can be sudden and severe. They can produce suffering, sorrow, and sin, which can bring about a dark side and destruction in our lives.
  2. Storms force us to cry out to Jesus. If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, you will encounter these storms that might bring you to your knees. As a Christian, we are to cry out to God and tell Him our problems and pray for mercy and grace. Unfortunately, there are many without Jesus as their Savior. A person without Christ and suffering through a crisis has no source of hope.
  3. Be aware of the Storm Surge of doubt. Pastor Rick Warren once wrote, ‘Doubt your doubts and believe your beliefs.’ Don’t stop believing because you are in a major storm in your life. When you pray, remember that the Holy Spirit knows what you should pray. Have faith in Jesus. Remember His promises. Rest in the presence of Jesus. Rely on the power of Jesus. You can only find joy, hope, and peace in Jesus.[2]

What storms of life are you enduring? Do you know the true Living God? Do you want to deal with it alone or would you like to know the love, grace, peace, joy, and mercy; only found in the saving grace of Jesus Christ? If you do not want to face it alone, then reach out to Jesus. He is waiting for you. He said in Revelation 3:20, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Jesus, would not die and go to hell, but have eternal life in heaven with Jesus. For God did not send Jesus into the world to condemn it, but to save it. Paraphrased from John 3:16-17. For all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. (Romans 3:23). Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus died for all so that those who live should no longer live for themselves, but live for the One (Jesus) who died for them. (2 Corinthians 5:15). Without a living God and Savior, when battling these storms, one feels defeated. But only with Jesus Christ, one battling these storms has hope and faith.

If you want to pray and ask Jesus into your life and heart, just stop right now and pray this prayer:

Dear Jesus, I am a sinner. I am not worthy of life. But Lord Jesus, I want you to come into my life and into my heart. Please forgive me of my sinfulness against you and my Heavenly Father. I ask you to come into my life and forgive me. In Jesus name, Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then get involved in a Bible believing church. Without the encouragement of other Believers, you will have a hard time staying on track with Christ. It is my prayer that you stay steady in Christ. Read your Bible. If you don’t have a Bible, I would recommend you purchasing an English Standard Version. This is the translation that I read and study.

Please join me in praying for the victims and families of Hurricane Florence. I pray that God will touch hearts and people will be restored from this tragedy. In the coming days, there will be men and women from other states going to North and South Carolina to volunteer and help with recovery efforts. Organizations like the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia has a disaster relief team that has been placed on stand-by. This is an organization that I am a part of. Please pray for the volunteers who will be deployed soon to assist in the clean-up as well as be there to feed people who are the victims of the storm. Please pray that the team will be able to minister, not only by Word, but by deed. To make a donation for hurricane relief through the Southern Baptist Convention of Virginia, please click on the following link: https://www.sbcv.org/hurricaneflorence/

References:

[1] Dr. Brian Autry, There is Hope in the Storms of Life, The Victory Hour, Broadcast on NBC12, September 16, 2018

[2] Autry, There is Hope in the Storms of Life, September 16, 2018.

Copyright © September 16, 2018. The Lantern & Shield Times, a Division of Marketplace Evangelism Ministries Inc. All Rights Reserved.