Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Last Friday, I watched in horror the terrorist attacks on Paris. I had flashbacks to the horror of 14 years ago when terrorists attacked our own nation- America. I think it’s hard to disagree that this will be a decades-long struggle with radical Islamists.

I am not looking to give you some political ideology or what I believe would be a great military strategy in the fight against terrorism. Rather, I want to give you some Biblical advice on how we, as Christ-followers, respond in the midst of painful times.

The things I am sharing have come from a blog I read last weekend from someone I respect highly. His name is Ed Stetzer, and his advice on a Christian response to terrorism is spot-on. Specifically, as it relates to what took place in Paris, he says:

     1) Pray. Pray for families. Pray for Paris (which we did on Sunday in our church services).
         He then adds: Pray for Muslims. Pray for our enemies. It is not easy, but it is our

     2) Love the hurting. Even where we sit, we can love the French and “weep with those who
         weep” (Romans 12:15). It was the French newspaper, Le Monde, that said in the
         aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, “We are all Americans now.” Well, today, we are all

     3) Love our enemies. This is what makes the Christian faith unique. President Obama
         said it well, “This is an attack on all of humanity.” When you let that sink in, you would
         have to admit that love is not our natural feeling, but love is what we are called to
         anyway. (Read and contemplate Matthew 5:43-45.)

     After the events of last weekend, when a ‘love your enemies’ response is hard to come by
     or when memories of 14 years ago resurface, we have to do more than give lip service to
     the things I’ve listed above. We have to make a commitment to resist certain things.
     There are three things we should not do as Christians:

     1) We should not hate. Our human nature wants to hate those who destroy so many lives.
         We feel an anger towards an evil we cannot control. But the truth is, we are people who
         live with hope and live with a mission. We cannot hate a people and reach a people at
         the same time. Pray that your heart is protected from hate.

     2) We should not take out anger on refugees. The immigrants streaming across Europe
         are trying to escape radical Islamists; they are not the enemy. Of course, we need better
         security knowing that terrorists may very well try to infiltrate such refugees, but most
         refugees want to protect their families. Don’t start placing blame or drawing
         conclusions on innocent people who need protection.

     3) We should not call for war with Islam. What do I mean? I do not think that interfaith
         cooperation is helpful, but multi-faith understanding can be. I do not believe Muslims
         and Christians pray to the same God, but all people need Jesus including Hindus,
         Muslims, and Atheists. That is the part that makes us Evangelicals.

I want to see Muslims come to Christ (just as they want to win me to Islam), and we can’t do that by going to war with a billion people. The vast majority of Muslims are not terrorists. As I said at the beginning- I’m not writing about the appropriate government response- I’m writing about the Christ-followers’ response.

Let’s make sure the responses have been tempered by the fruit of the Spirit instead of human emotion. Don’t get caught up in debates and anger. Let us remember that ‘God is in control’.


P.S. Are you content? Why? Why not? What would make you content? More money? A better job? How can I be content and happy? Answers to these questions and much, much more are headed your way this Sunday at 9:15 and 11:00.

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

A Story of Rabbit Hunting

Thirty plus years ago a man named Carlos Montoya was out rabbit hunting in order to provide his family with some extra food. As he was walking around the rocky hillside close to his home, he began to pray. He asked God to give him a vision for the city of Ensenada. He continued to pray daily that God would work so a greater kingdom work occured in his town of 30,000 people. He prayed and waited. And he prayed some more.  
Prayer submits to the source of all power: Christ alone. That is why we typically end our prayers with the words, “In Jesus name.” This reminds us that He is the all-powerful God and works everything after the counsel of His good pleasure.
However, just because we say the words does not mean we have submitted to Christ’s authority. Effective, life-transforming ministry never comes through the power of man, but through the power of God. Man is simply a conduit through which God works.
Prayer- robust prayer – is a tool by which we keep the conduit free of obstruction and full of faith. Author and Pastor E.M. Bounds once wrote, “Prayer puts God’s work in His hands- and keeps it there.”

Truly, you have no ministry if your ministry has no prayer. Did God answer Pastor Montoya’s prayers? Did God honor the prayers of a man while rabbit hunting?

Two churches are still thriving from those prayers. A school to train people to go out and make Disciples is growing. Each year the school trains 80-90 students. They never advertise, and yet people come from all over Mexico to be trained. A weekly T.V. ministry preaches the Good News to the people of Ensenada. A group of pastors gather together weekly to pray for their city (now 750,000 people).

God is at work. Lives are being transformed. Addictions are being healed. Marriages are being restored. And even when there appears to be very little of this world’s goods- God supplies.

Yes- God honored the prayers of Carlos Montoya. What are you asking Him to do through you? Great things He will do when we ask Him. I had the opportunity to witness firsthand how God answered the prayers of Carlos. Pastor Robb and I spent the week there teaching in the school. All I can say is to God be the glory great things He has done! And it all started with prayer.


P.S. Does some worry have you captured? Are you so stressed that you are overwhelmed? Do you feel trapped and you don’t see any way out? You must come to church this week and bring a friend to discover how to live worry-free and stress-free. See you at 9:15 and 11:00.