Archive for October, 2009

Ana Vitoria

As I sit, writing on my nice, expensive laptop, on my comfy sofa, in a beautiful home that is safe from the elements, equipped with central heat, air, bonus room, two car garage with a refrigerator and pantry full of food, I think about little Ana Vitoria.  I wonder what today will bring for her.   Ana Vitoria is a beautiful little girl living in Ubauna, Brazil, in the northeastern desert region of the state of Ceara, and today is her 5th birthday.  I know a Barbie-themed or Dora the Explorer-themed birthday party with lots of little girls and boys all sitting around her wearing birthday hats, eating sugary cake, blaring party horns in celebration with colorful balloons all around  is too much to ask in this impoverished area.

She lives in extreme poverty.  Food, safe shelter and medical attention are difficult to come by for her and her family.  They often go without.  It’s a tough, and often, sad life for a little girl to live.  There is no food stamp assistance, no children’s Medicaid and no Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF – “Welfare”) to get them through.  In her short life on this earth, she has seen more misery and hopelessness than most in America will ever experience in a lifetime.  To say that this is an unfair travesty would be an understatement. 

However, by the grace of God, Gospel for Brazil has been placed into her life to be the light of Jesus that will shine through the darkness that has oppressed her and her family, and offer her life-saving food and medical attention through the Seed of Hope Sponsorship Initiative (www.gospelforbrazil.org to learn how you can sponsor a child).  Our Life Group at The Sanctuary is privileged and honored to be her Gospel for Brazil Seed of Hope sponsor, providing life-saving food to her on a monthly basis, as well as meeting her basic medical needs.   Without our sponsorship of Ana Vitoria, there is a very real possibility that she could starve to death or suffer continued, serious malnutrition that could cause major physical disease,  plaguing her for the rest of her life.  

In addition to providing for her physical needs, Gospel for Brazil also feeds her spirit, teaching her and showing her about the grace, love and hope found in our Savior, Jesus Christ.

So to you little Ana Vitoria, Happy Birthday.  From us to you, a prayer to reach across the miles:

Father, we lift little Ana Vitoria up to you in humble gratitude for this precious life you have brought into our lives.  Touch her little spirit and fill it with peace, hope and joy.  Bless her with good health and strength, and fill her little tummy with food and nourishment.  Surround her with your holy angels and fire of the Holy Spirit so that her steps are guarded and her life is protected from any evil that may come against her and her family.  In the name of Jesus Christ, we bind satan and his dominions from having any influence in her life and we claim little Ana Vitoria, in the name of Jesus, as your child, Father.    Live in her spirit so that she may hear your voice and grow to be a godly woman and powerful warrior for your kindgom.  Touch her today with happiness and make her feel like a little princess that is worthy of being celebrated.  Just love on her and hug on her today, Father.  In the awesome name of Christ we pray…. Amen.

In my previous post, “What Version of Jesus Are You Giving The World”, someone asked this question under the comments section.  This was my response (with added comment):

Jesus died on the cross for all to receive Salvation, through the blood of Christ, that believes in Him through Faith and Repentance. It is a gift that has no expiration date, no hidden agendas. As long as this world turns, and as long as someone is breathing, the world, and an individual, can receive salvation. Doesn’t matter what type of life you lived or what type of person you were, you can still receive salvation in your dying moments. Jesus loves us THAT much!!!  Many don’t believe this but it still doesn’t make this truth an untruth.  Think about the criminal dying on his cross beside Jesus.  We don’t know what type of life he lived or the things he had done but with one simple request, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom”,  Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise.”  Forgiven and forever with his Lord and Savior.  The Gift of Salvation is always there for your taking, regardless of time, place or circumstances.  There isn’t anything that someone can bring to the table that is a deal breaker.

Unfortunately, we often treat Jesus as a “limited time offer.” We tell the unsaved about the glorious mercy, grace, love, hope, authority and power of Jesus but once they have accepted Him into their lives as Lord and Savior, we then replace the real Jesus with the Jesus that fits into whatever denominational doctrines we cling too. More accurately, we replace the Holy Spirit (Spirit of the Living Christ) with a tamer version, weaker version or more easily understood version.

For example, Jesus clearly states in the Bible that we, his disciples, will do the same things…and even greater things than He did.  Jesus healed and cast out demons, he raised the dead and reached the lost and hurting.  We, in and through the Spirit, can do the same.  But many denominations choose to ignore this (for various reasons), in essence, stripping the Spirit of His power in the believer’s lives.  Instead of people being healed and freed of spiritual oppression by the use of the Spiritual Gifts (the Power) given to us by the Spirit of Christ, people continue to live in bondage, unhappy, joyless, depressed, bitter and in despair. 

Living a life in bondage, unhappy and hopeless, takes a toil on the soul, regardless of our place in God’s kingdom.  So they walk away from God in search of something….anything, that will heal them spiritually but they never find it.  Jesus Christ is the only One in which true healing and genuine Joy, Peace and Hope can be found. 

Hasn’t the time come for us to burn our prideful, self-righteous, man-made denominational doctrines that keep people in oppression at the altar of repentance, and get about the business of bringing the real Power and Authority of Jesus into the lives of the lost and hurting?

 

So what version of Jesus and Christianity are you giving this world – the Jesus that brings all the power and authority of the heavenlies into your life and that is full of Grace, Hope, Faith, Love, and that heals, that casts out demons, that raises the dead or are you giving the world the cardboard version of Jesus that is stripped and void of any real power and authority to heal, to cast out the demons that oppress us, to bring Joy, Peace and Hope into lives?  

Do we tell the world about the real Jesus and then give them the cardboard Jesus that fits conveniently into our man-made denominational doctrines that causes people to say, “This is a piece of junk!  I want the real Jesus!”?   And to that, are we giving the often expected response of, “But you can’t have the real Jesus.  You get the Jesus that we’ve made up.  We aren’t comfortable with all this healing, speaking in tongues, deliverance from evil spirits, prophecy and Gifts of the Holy Spirit truth that God talks about in the Bible.  That Jesus-as-Rebel version that the Bible shows us that rescued souls from the gates of hell is good reading but we dont’ want to get all Jesus Freaky on people.  That was just a nice little PR campaign to bring you to the cross and then indoctrinate you into our way of spiritual thinking.  True, you may never experience the real power of Jesus at work in your lives but we have a really nice sanctuary, good singing and good preaching that makes up for all that other stuff.”

Is Jesus just a “Limited Time Offer” that is good while it lasts or is He the real deal for you?  Are we giving the world the Jesus that changes lives and changes us into new creations full of the power of the Holy Spirit or the one that is handcuffed to our tired and stale demoninational doctrines that tells people how Jesus can or can’t work in their lives?

To learn more about this divinely-inspired, Holy Spirit-driven mission organization, please go to www.gospelforbrazil.org to find out how you can become a part of reaching the lost and hurting souls in the northeast desert region of Brazil.  Enjoy the video.  I’m not a professional so it was just a fun little “project” to share some memories with you.

Now that the Nobel Peace Prize committee has awarded the prize to someone who hasn’t actually done anything to bring about peace in any meaningful manner, I realized, quite excitedly, that this opens the prize up to a whole new population of nominees.  So, I thought I’d list ten nominations for the upcoming 2010 Nobel Peace Prize that are as deserving, if not more deserving, than the recent winner to win the prize and take home $1.4 million dollars (not in order of merit):

1.  Christy and Me:  Why not?  Seriously…we have actually taken four mission trips to Brazil with Gospel for Brazil.  We have spent almost two full months in Brazil spreading peace and goodwill to the people of Brazil.  We share the Truth of Christ with them, hug them, love on them, feed them, clothe them and even cry with them.  Not to mention how involved we are with the Seed of Hope Child Sponsorship Initiative that feeds hungry (very) children and assists with their basic medical and educational needs.    I’ve already got some ideas on how to spend the money.  It’ll be like winning the lottery.

2.  Joe and Arimar Carr:  As deserving as we might be, I think Joe and Arimar beat us out by a fraction.  Joe and Arimar founded Gospel for Brazil, have assisted in a church plant in Wilmington, NC and devote themselves full-time to bringing peace and light into people’s lives.  They have definitely improved our lives and brought some spiritual peace to us.  Go Joe and Arimar!  I’m behind you Bro and Sis!  And don’t forget that we were your friends before you won it…hint, hint!

3.  Billy Graham:  Millions and Millions have been brought to salvation in Christ through Billy Graham, changing their lives here on this earth as well as eternally.  It’s really no telling how many people have been saved and how many lives have been filled with love, hope and peace because of his selfless servanthood to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

4.  Sophie:  Who’s Sophie?  Well duh!  She’s our cat.  Why limit it to humans.  She has blessed our home with a lot of peace and love since joining the family last year.  You ought to see how she makes my wife smile.  And she cuddles good too!

5.  Mickey Mouse:  Isn’t this one a “no-brainer”.  This dude is loved by the entire world and he just makes me smile.  I just feel all peaceful inside thinking about him.

6.  Tyler Hansbrough:  Man, seeing him dunk all over Dook for four years and then cut down the nets after winning the National Championship this year was awesome.  Definitely filled us and Tar Heels nation with a sense of peace….and domination.  And doesn’t the nickname, “Psycho T” have a peaceful ring to it (well…probably not for dooky fans.)

7.  Dean Smith:  Heck….he invented basketball and won a lot of basketball games as the Tar Heels head coach.  There’s just something peaceful and goodwillnaturish about that.

8.  Michael Jordan:  Watching him play basketball and dominate the game was like watching peace in action.  Add in that he’s a Tar Heel and that says it all. 

9.  Mr. Rogers:  Think about it…when he welcomes you to the neighborhood and asks, “Won’t you be my neighbor?”, don’t you just feel the love and peace inside?  I think we should go around this week asking people if they want to be our neighbor.  Wow!   That screams of goodwill, peace and cheer.

10.  Jesus Christ:  Really, I saved the best and greatest for last.  You see, Christ still LIVES!!!!!  He’s as real as the air you breathe or the ground you walk on.  Seriously, who has done more for world and mankind peace other than Jesus.  No one.  He IS love, hope and peace.  Yea, this one is easy.   Thank you Jesus for bringing such an awesomely, heavenly, supernatural peace into our lives. 

So, who do you think is most deserving?

Judy Brown, president of the American Life League (ALL) has a novel idea for the Supreme Court justices while sitting on the bench:

“Now that we have six people on the Supreme Court out of nine who claim to be Catholic,” she notes, “we’d like for them to take the opportunity to address the reality of who it is who lives in the womb from the moment that his or her life begins, and then take action to overrule themselves so that the Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton decisions are no longer — quote, unquote — ‘the law of the land.'”
 
According to Brown, some government officials believe they are living two lives — one as a government worker and the second as a person of faith — and that the two lives do not mix. The long-time pro-life leader has a message for those who live that message.
 
“It’s just as ridiculous as telling someone that you’re going to leave your religion at the door when you go to work in the Post Office,” says Brown. “I mean, your religion is an inherent part of your identity as a human being — and either your faith goes with you everywhere, or you don’t really have faith.”

Wow!  What a novel idea – living out your faith.  Sounds like this may actually work.  I think I’ll give it a try!  I’ll let you know how it works out.

” (7)  Many deceivers, who do not acknowledge Jesus Christ as coming in the flesh, have gone out into the world.  Any such person is the deceiver and the antichrist.  (8)  Watch out that you do not lose what you have worked for, but that you may be rewarded fully.  (9)  Anyone who runs ahead and does not continue in the teaching of Christ does not have God;  whoever continues in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.  (10)  If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not take him into your house or welcome him.  (11)  Anyone who welcomes him shares in his wicked work.”  2 John 1: 7-11 (NIV)

“The thief comes to only to steal and kill and destroy;  I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:10

President Barack Obama – Nobel Peace Prize recipient.  Rhetoric won Obama the presidency.  Now it has won him the Nobel Peace Prize. 

“Explaining this year’s selection, the committee credited Obama not for concrete accomplishments but for atmospheric ones. “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world’s attention and given its people hope for a better future,” the committee said. “His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world’s population.””  Slate – The Wizard of Oslo

On the basis of values and attitudes?  Let’s examine some of Obama’s “values and attitiudes” and the “values and attitudes” that the world is increasingly sharing:

  • God:  I read a quote from an unknown source the other day that fits Obama (and many Christians):  “Satan doesn’t mind if people profess Christianity as long as they don’t practice it.”  Obama is a smart guy…he knew if he played the race card and the Christian card, he would gain vital votes in winning the White House.  He professed his devotion to God and his Christian ideals to perfection.  Because of the Christian vote, he’s acting President.  He professed it eloquently but practices it….well, he doesn’t practice it. 
  • Faith and Religion:  Obama himself has denounced America as a Christian nation (this from a professed Christian), and is making deliberate and aggressive moves to “court” Muslim countries and Muslim Americans.  Muslims would like nothing better than to wipe Christianity and the Truth of Jesus Christ from existence (as well as America/Americans).   Additionally, he is determined to sign the Hate Crimes bill into existence as quickly as possible (as early as this weekend), which could/would suppress and oppress religious freedoms, particularly Christian beliefs.
  • Life:  If you managed to be born into this world and you aren’t an elderly person,  then your life is valued, a precious gift from God.  However, if you are an unborn child, then your life is an inconvenience on all those mother’s and father’s who “made a mistake” due to their lack of understanding or irresponsibility, or can’t handle the thought of living with a child that doesn’t fit their unrealistic, romantic views of the child they’ve always wanted to parent.  Under Obama, it’s easier, and getting easier, than ever to have an abortion (i.e. – kill an unborn child).  Heck, during the election, he even stated that he was thankful that if one of his daughter’s got pregnant as a teen that she’d have the opportunity to correct her mistake by aborting “it.”  Now, under his proposed Health Care Plan, taxpayers who are pro-life would be financing (taxpayer $) abortion, and the elderly could be refused services or medical care if it was determined to be cost-prohibitive due to their age. 
  • Family:  Marriage is a spiritual institution from God himself.  God intended it to be between a man and a woman….period.  Obama has been a national cheerleader for homosexuality and the right for homosexuals to marry.   He is speaking at the Human Rights Campaign banquet on Saturday night.  The HRC is a major homosexual activist group that is determined to promote their radical homosexual agenda and attack biblical, Christian truths regarding God’s clear admonition and hate of homosexuality.  Homosexuality is a direct assault on family values and the institution of marriage.

If these are the values and attitudes that are valued in this world (which is becoming more evident each passing day), then the end is closer than any of us truly realize.  If this is what Peace, Hope and Change looks like to the Nobel Prize Committee and the world, then label me as a antagonist to this ideal. 

As Christians, we are to have Christ-like values and attitudes that are counter to the world’s values and attitudes.  We have to be  lights that shine through the darkness, pointing the way to Christ and the true Peace and Hope that comes from being followers of the one, true God. 

Being a Christian in an increasingly dark and evil world isn’t easy.  It’s out-of-vogue but we have to move forward with a boldness, courage and willingness to confront satan and his dominions.  We have to stop being passive and lukewarm Christians that conform to this world.  There is an authority and power that is supernatural and has the ability to bring forth a revolution in true Love, Hope, Faith and Peace.  First, we have to believe in that authority and power, and then we need to take hold of it, using it to wage spiritual war against the values and attitudes that mock God, oppresses and persecutes the Truth of Christ and His followers, promotes false gods and religions, kills unborn children and destroys the foundation of marriage. 

Isn’t it time Christians rise up as Spirit-filled warriors and say, “Enough!”?