Wednesday, May 30, 2012

More Great Quotes

"Instead of preaching the good news that sinners can be made righteous in Christ and escape the wrath to come, the gospel has degenerated into the pretext that we can be happy in Christ and escape the hassles of life."
- Ray Comfort

"Keep looking up...with your face down."
- _Disciple_

One day a lady criticized D. L. Moody for his methods of evangelism in attempting to win people to the Lord.
Moody's reply was "I agree with you. I don't like the way I do it either. Tell me, how do you do it?"
The lady replied, "I don't do it."
Moody responded "I like my way of doing it better than your way of not doing it."

"Joy is the byproduct of obedience."
- Unknown

"My greatest thought is my accountability to God."
- Daniel Webster

"The christian life is an impossible one and it isn't for everyone.
You must enter through the narrow where you must leave everything behind and be stripped naked of yourself. You must get rid of your pride. Many so-called christians are on the wide road leading to destruction. They may have all the outward signs of being a christian (go to church, serve, read their bible, pray, etc.) but there is no inward change of repentance." - Unknown

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Death of Two Giants

In the last seventy-two hours, I have mourned the passing of two people who played an indirect role in my life. One I grew up admiring, whereas the other I came to admire in the autumn of my life.  Almost everyone knew the name of America’s oldest teenager, Dick Clark, but many would not be familiar with Chuck Colson. Most of the fanfare and spotlight has been upon Clark, but in comparing the lives of the two men, it is clear that the giant of a man was Chuck Colson, despite how media might portray the lives of the two men.
Dick Clark said in 1997, “At this stage of my life, everyone says ‘When are you going to quit?’ I’m not an overly religious man. I believe in God. He’ll tell me, ‘You gotta quit,’ by taking me away. That’ll be the day I’m either too sick or I drop dead in my tracks. I don’t want to stop. I’m having too much fun.”  Dick is credited with a lion’s share of helping rock and roll music take the cultural world by storm. Potentially that is not a good legacy. In the past several years, I have not paid much attention to the guy I thought would never age, since my focus has been on spiritual matters and not pop culture. To my recollection, I never heard anyone say a bad word about Mr. Clark. His upbeat personality and infectious enthusiasm coupled with his handsome physical package made him a natural to succeed in the world of show business. When I was young, I thought this was the purpose in life: to make friends with everyone and to be loved by all who knew me. At that point in time, I had not encountered the Bible passage that indicates that those who love Christ will be hated, criticized, and scoffed at by the world. It’s amazing how much my viewpoint of success has been altered. Being a teenager was great, but it was only a stepping stone to becoming a man of understanding.
In a new book to which I’m applying the finishing touches, I include a section on the Christian Hall of Fame. In that section, I inserted a small subsection for my heroes of the faith. Chuck Colson was on that list.  This is what I say about him: I always find it amazing how many people find Jesus in the prison system. Perhaps the fact that preachers have a captive audience assists in the conversion process. In any case not many, if any, of them give back to prison ministry the way Chuck Colson has. Colson, who authored some very fine books of his own, has been a key player in the prison ministry world in addition to blogging about the defense of the faith. In speaking out boldly the word of God, Colson offended many. He understood that the praise of God are more desirable that the praise of men.
Colson made some mistakes in life which changed the direction of that life. Getting sent to prison was the best thing that ever happened to him, though I’m sure that possibility was not on his mind as he heard the cell door clank. Clark seemed to live his whole life going the same direction toward success and the praises of men. I hope that destination was not a dead end and that Dick Clark gains entrance to the Pearly Gates. I have no doubts that Mr. Colson will have a seat of honor in Heavenly realms. We will miss his sword of truth down here. It is time for some other men and women to step up and take his place.

What Would Jesus Say?

I just got one of those chain emails – not the kind that promises that good things will happen to you if you forward to a zillion of your friends and family and terrible things will befall you if the email hits your trash bin. No, this one was an inspirational, pump up the troops to spur them to action. Unfortunately, I had to disagree with the motivation here. The communication involved dealt with the war on terrorism – specifically the battle against Islamic forces.

I may make some enemies here, but I feel compelled to speak out. I won’t include the entire email here but thought it enlightening to include a blurb that struck a nerve with me.

Do you think I care about four U. S. Marines pissing on some dead Taliban insurgents?

And I'm supposed to care that a few Taliban were
claiming to be tortured by a justice system of a
nation they are fighting against in a brutal Insurgency.

If you don't agree, then by all means hit the delete
button. Should you choose the latter, then please don't
complain when more atrocities committed by radical
Muslims happen here in our great Country!

If you think I’m not upset with the cruelties of Islam, you’re sadly mistaken. The bloody intolerance for religious deviation from the confines of Mohammed and the Koran and the honor killings make my own blood boil. However, my mother taught me long ago that two wrongs don’t make a right. The very Jesus, whom the author of this email alluded to, preached that we should do unto others as we would want done to ourselves. He also said to love our enemies. Another section in the Bible points out that we don’t battle against flesh and blood but against principalities. Even the heathen love their own. Those who accept Christ as the son of God have a higher standard. Having disrespect for the sanctity of life almost drags us down to the level of those who maim and kill. Not being upset that our military was involved in urinating on the bodies of slain terrorists is a sign of hatred, something we Christians should avoid with a passion. When Osama Bin Laden was executed, the celebration slogans that flew through cyberspace via the fingertips of Christians made me mourn. How can the champions of life rejoice in death?

I often ponder what would have been the result if America had stood up as a nation after 9-11 and offered a statement of forgiveness toward those who had hurt us. Instead we launched an expensive and never-ending battle against an elusive enemy. Is it possible that such forgiveness could, instead of convincing the terrorists that we are weak and fearful, have burrowed under their hearts to help them see that violence and killing is not the answer to life’s problems? And could that perhaps have extended a bridge into the Arabic world instead of a wall?

Some people believe that Jesus is the poster child for the NRA (National Rifle Association). In reality, I think that makes Him shudder. Protective violence is a fact of life and a necessary evil. It is definitely not something to gloat about. I did hit the delete button on that email. Call me crazy but I do believe that there is an honorable way to fight. From the research that I’ve recently done regarding some of our troubled cities in the world, the best method of fighting for Christians appears to be through prayer, not bullets. Maybe we’d see more success in bringing the message of a loving Savior to the Muslims on our knees instead of up on our military soapboxes.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Pentecost - Power to Turn Zeroes Into Heroes

I received an email a couple of days ago from suggesting that articles about Pentecost were being encouraged and were eligible for special promotion. What a coincidence. I had felt a compulsion to write such an article a few days before. The guidelines, much to my surprise and chagrin, indicated listing various ways of celebrating Pentecost, especially in the Catholic Church. I have to admit that I was never involved in a Pentecost party in any church, including the Catholic Church in my youth.

One of the slogans I hear bandied about frequently these days is "Christianity is not religion but relationship".  At first that phrase agitated my eardrums like fingernails across a chalkboard. My presumption was that people who don't like to keep God's commandments rationalize that shortcoming by coming up with a higher path. Instead of obeying God, some people find it much more convenient to just claim a relationship with the Almighty. Some misguided individuals possess the idea that relationship consists of God loving me and me letting Him. I certainly won't deny God's love for us, but I caution against unwarranted familiarity with the Creator of the universe.

Scholars might point out that under the new covenant of the blood shed by Jesus Christ, all individual believers have the right to enter the Holy of Holies, not just the priests (not to be confused with Catholic clergy). This seems to be sound doctrine, but a caveat is judicious here. In order to enter the Holy of Holies, the priests had to be obedient and follow specified protocol. Thus in my vocabulary, a relationship, especially this one, involves built-in rules.  So if by religion, we refer to God made rules, then my advice to you is that we need both religion and relationship. However if religion is interpreted in the typical human scope, the main elements comprising religion are human inspired. Some might refer to this as man trying to reach up to God. The bottom line is that I don't believe that God is interested in "human" rules. Check out the reaction of Jesus to Pharisaical teaching featuring stringent laws that God had not applied to burden mankind.

Celebrating Pentecost with food and ritualistic traditions should not be our focus. The goal is not to celebrate Pentecost but rather to live it. The tongues of fire descending upon those gathered in the upper room provided the impetus for transforming frightened disciples of the Nazarene into bold witnesses, motivated to travel through all the known world to relay the message of a Savior/Messiah to virgin ears. Today, most people on earth have already heard of Jesus Christ. Their resistance levels are so high at this point that testifying of Christ requires the baptism with fire to endow believers with the boldness to speak out in the shadow of persecution or ridicule and the courage to stand up for their faith. Unfortunately, many denominations consider the power of the Holy Spirit that descended upon the upper room to be expired. They don't realize that without the power of Pentecost, Christians don't have a chance in an increasingly hostile world.

People are turning away from the church because it doesn't demonstrate the power of God. It's time we quit worshipping our traditions and get plugged into the power supply of the universe, so that we might be like the Apostles. Note that many, if not most, of the people gathered in the upper room died as martyrs for the gospel. If they had fled after the death of Christ, they might have survived many more years on this planet, but their lives would have been bereft of the honor and glory which God will bestow upon them for their faithfulness. It's your turn on earth. Are you going to flee to personal safety or let the Lord infuse you with supernatural Pentecost power to go forth and be His ambassador in a dangerous world? 

Saturday, May 26, 2012

More Great Quotes

"Don't be afraid of tomorrow -- God is already there."
- unknown

"If you don't plan to live the Christian life totally committed to knowing your God and to walking in obedience to Him, then don't begin; for this is what Christianity is all about. It is a change of citizenship, a change of governments, a change of allegience. If you have no intention of letting Christ rule your life, then forget Christianity; it's not for you."
- K. Authur

"Prayer can do anything that God can do."
-E.M. Bounds

"Paul saw people sinking toward hell and did not talk of refining them, but of saving them from the wrath to come."
- C.H. Spurgeon

"Faith's most severe tests come not when we see nothing, but when we see a stunning array of evidence that seems to prove our faith vain."
- Elizabeth Elliot

"When the Lord reveals His will to us and we obey, our mission will be a success regardless of the results."
- Chinese house church leaders.

"Learn to hold loosely all that is not eternal."
-A.M. Royden

"When God gave Christ to this world, He gave the best He had, and He wants us to do the same." (Dwight L. Moody)

"God sends no-one away empty, except those who are full of themselves." (Dwight L. Moody

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

God's Media Army - Christian Fiction

I wrote a column in the Christian Online Fiction magazine dealing with self-publishing for about two years. Last month I decided to hang it up to pursue more pressing matters (hopefully movies/television) and gave notice when I turned in my last editorial. I just found out my final article will not be published. Since I spent several hours framing it, I decided I’d post it myself to various outlets. Buckle your seatbelt and read on.

If you are not aware of the tremendous warfare going on between the forces of good and evil for the minds of the people of planet Earth, especially the young people, pardon me for suggesting that you are living in a bubble. God might want you to pop that effervescent armor and realize that your efforts are needed as a soldier of the Lord who wields a pen as your weapon of choice. I might be out to brunch here, but it seems to me that the mainstream publishers have avoided rocking the boat by publishing materials that might be too radical or too edgy or too hardcore Christian. As a result, the mainstream leaders often abandon the battlefield so they can generate lucrative profit producing Amish assemble-by-number novels, detective stories without any cussing where the name of God maybe mentioned and one of the characters may utter a prayer, but not in the name of Jesus, and sentimental romances where courting is adorned in Christian apparel and language but below the surface still reeks of worldly focus on external glamour, materialism, and shallow sentimentality that masquerades as love. So exactly what do these observations mean to a self-published author? It means that there is a niche to fill. Since you don’t have publishers to please and agents to feed, you can do God’s work unimpeded by the external forces that put people and their work into boxes of diminutive size. You have the luxury of being free to go where God wants you to go–if you have the courage to enter the lion’s den and the strength to swim upstream against white water.

I have tried to champion the cause of self-published writers in this column. My goal has been to encourage, enlighten, and empower those who God has placed a seed within, so that the seed may germinate and mature into something lovely and inspirational. Unfortunately, I’ve been operating in a void here and have no clue if I’ve made any impact. Perhaps I won’t know until Heaven. What I do know is that my season of writing for Christian Fiction Online Magazine is drawing to a close. The arrival of bills to be paid and writing deadlines to be met causes the calendar pages to fly off. There is nothing I can do about the bills, but one less deadline will give me more time to focus on projects that I feel are critical. It’s been wonderful to be a part of CFOM, but the curtain must close. Perhaps sometime I’ll resurrect my crusade to aid self-pubbed authors in their quest to fulfill God’s call in their lives.

Statistics indicate that few people are actively engaged in the art of reading. And even a smaller percentage of those are seeking Christian fiction. In the final analysis of the matter, if I really want to impact the culture, I must spend my time on things that will grab the attention of the masses. And I believe the audio-visual media is the ticket to have the ability to grab someone by the scruff of their soul and unleash unknown desires and misunderstood emotions that lead people to question their superficial human existence. And thus my new focus in life will be to write and produce movies that will combat evolution, the occult, the sexual revolution, injustice and any other crusade that God might add to my target list as my vision expands.

So I take my puny weapons which hopefully God will endue with His power and move on to a new battlefield. I want to leave you with a plea to join God’s army. Use any talents He has given you to enhance His kingdom and not your own. Almost an entire generation of young people are lining up to enter the gates of Hell. What will you do to help God rescue some of them?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Book Review of The Final Quest by Rick Joyner

What can you say about a book that supposedly contains a vision from God? How do you write a critique of revelation? It might be like trying writing a review of the book of Revelations. If the words are Holy Spirit inspired, does one have the audacity or the foolishness to cast dispersions upon it? I would highly recommend to anyone commenting on a book such as this that they think really hard about what they say. The Bible says ‘woe unto him who calls evil good and good evil.’ I don’t know about you, but I’ve made a practice in my life of avoiding woe. Mr. Joyner claims he received the contents of this book in a series of visions that took place over about a year in duration. Thus the big question becomes, is it legit? We as believers need to discern between God’s word, man’s word, and Satan’s lies. It’s not always easy, because the flesh is weak and Satan is definitely ramping up his activities in the area of counterfeiting the supernatural.
Where do I start? How about with the reviews of the book on Amazon? Several one and two star reviews were written suggesting that Rick Joyner is a servant of the devil, deluded, and most heinous of all, doesn’t write well either. They warn that the book is dangerous. Ironically, one of the more salient aspects of the first part of the dreamlike adventure that the author goes through is doing battle against the enemy and discovering that many of the troops of the opposing army are deceived Christians. Do you see the dilemma here? Somebody is in error because they both can’t be right. Is Mr. Joyner representing God’s truth or are these reviewers being valiant defenders of the faith? The answer to that question is very critical. Besides the group of believers that are hoodwinked into fighting against God’s army in the belief they are fighting for Him are a group who just believe that they don’t need to fight. They believe that God is love, and all we need to do is just love, so they burn their draft notices. This is a different type of delusion, but is deception just the same. Personally, I’d really like to believe in a Pollyanna (or Beatles’ song) world where love is all you need. But I’ve been called to battle personally, and I recognize that the darkness is growing darker. The light is also growing more brilliant in response as the drumbeat is summoning the Christians soldiers onward. The two sides have clashed throughout the history of man. The final quest is at hand, according to this book.
Back to the quest - in between battles, the author is taken to Heaven and speaks with a few people there. Some were famous evangelists and authors who reside in the lower part of Heaven instead of the penthouse because they labored for their own glory while on the Earth. In some cases, God ended their lives early to prevent them from going all the way over to the dark side due to their pride. And in the places of highest honor, people that labored in anonymity for God with faithfulness and perseverance are found. One of these is a man who was homeless, what some would consider a bum. Ironically, my next book deals with the homeless, and the story of this man was a distinct revelation for me and an aid in deciding what to include in my book. I had to consider this a divine appointment for me to read this story at this time. Another concept that is super stressed is the importance of true humility. The author dons a cloak of humility which is a badge of honor among those in Heaven. A warning against false humility is issued, labeling it as another variety of self-centeredness. Pride is portrayed as the banner of a hidden army that the enemy uses to attack unsuspecting troops loyal to Jesus.
I have been on this humility bandwagon for a while now. I think God has been speaking to me about it. I’m reading a book by Andrew Murray on the topic. I’ve been trying to kill my flesh and ensure my motivation for any success is God centered. It’s a difficult task. This book points to centering your focus on Jesus, just like Peter did when he successfully walked on water for a few steps. We need to please Him and not the people around us, even those whom we love. And love leads to faith. From this book I’ve gained great insight into what the target should be. Self promotion, self-aggrandizement, and even self-esteem itself pale into insignificance at the comparison with the glory of God. Satan wants us to think about numero uno all the time. How else can we send out invitations to a pity party if we’re not focused on our puny little world and its inherent problems? Confucius said, “Man who wrapped up in self, makes very small package.” I’ve been guilty and still am. I’m trying to truly die to self, so that I might walk in God’s power and Spirit. That’s the kind of supernatural strength which is raising people from the dead and healing the blind and deaf. This book has given me a vision of what that is like. I highly recommend that you read it and with an open mind.
As to the detractors, what can you say about a review which portrays the author, who has just confessed being guilty to many things and extolls the virtue of humility and the danger of false humility, as being arrogant and falsely humble? My mom used to tell me, consider the source. The enemy is at work sowing lots of false teaching and doctrines and practices in our world today. It is confusing when Christians fight. However, Jesus said you will know them by their love. If any believer wants to criticize the writing or teaching of another, let him speak in love and not mockery, or I’m not going to listen. If the enemy is spreading false information (and that’s his specialty), will he not also attack the truth? Sometimes we fight battles that we don’t need to, similar to Don Quixote tilting with windmills. I truly believe that we are in the last days (many have thought that in the past and obviously they were wrong), and that means there will be a battle between God (good) and the devil (evil). Which side are you going to fight on? And remember, if Joyner’s vision is truly from God, not fighting will be the same as being on the enemy’s side. You might wonder how you can love and fight at the same time since those two activities seem to be contradictory. All I can say is – read the book, and you too will share the vision of that paradoxical position.

About the reviewer: Donald James Parker is a novelist who specializes in culture-clash fiction. Check out his work – including free ebook download – at