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Life or Death is in the Power of Your Words

How well do you use your words in life as a leader? If you are not sure, just look at the relationships around you. Our words can get us into trouble or they can dissolve trouble. Loving words can be like a warm breath on a lit candle that can easily extinguish a heart simmering with anger. “Please forgive me” can be just as powerful a collection of words as “I Love you with all my heart!”  In this article, we will consider the power of our words as it relates to us as Leaders of the WORD.

My father gave me great advice the day I got married. He said to me, “Son, when you and your wife get into an argument, watch your words. Once you say them, you cannot take them back.” Although I have not always practiced this seasoned piece of wisdom, I do understand the incredible importance of it. As a Leader, we have to stop and consider a few ways we can learn to weigh our words in our heart before they are spoken (or shot) out of our mouth?

In a time of drought, even the smallest bit of water can help a thirsty land. It can also help a drying heart. One of the first ways to weigh our words is to consider if they will be received as a cool glass of water or a mason jar of gas. Like the brittle grass during an absence of rain, is a heart that is hurting. The smallest spark can set it on fire. The words you choose will determine either a blessing or a blaze. Remember in meetings and gatherings, fires are good for roasting marshmallows, not each other.

Another way to weigh our words is to consider what your subordinates expect of you. If you are married, has your spouse ever said “I don’t need your solutions; I just need your sympathy”? Many of us are fixers and when it comes to talking with our spouses and those that work for (or with) us, less is often more. If you are not sure- ASK. This not only determines the content of your words, it also impacts the way you listen. You may even say something like, “How can I best assist you?” Try it next time- you might be surprised at the response.

I remember a poem by H.W. Longfellow that that said, “I shot an arrow into the air, it fell to earth, I knew not where; for, so swiftly it flew, the sight could not follow it in its flight.” A third way we weigh our words is to consider its target. Will the words be encouraging or confronting? Is the point of the words to affirm a good choice or to expose a bad one? Regardless of the arrow, the string that sends it flying should be that of love and respect. When we speak the truth in love (EPH. 4:15), we never have to worry about a stray arrow causing unnecessary injury.

Musician Tommy Shaw stated, “Timing is everything.” If that is true in music, it is also important in our words because all of life is relationships. Our next way to weigh our words comes not from the ticking of the clock as it is the cadence of the conversation. When you are about to say something to someone, especially when it is a heated discussion, ask yourself, “At this time, will he/she hear what I am about to say?” If you are unsure about the importance of timing, please consider the Prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 12:1-13.

As we close, I want to provide one more way to weigh our words and that is at the foot of the cross. Only when our words are first baptized in the waters of worship to God will we be able to bring a proper sacrifice of speech to the Lord’s altar of healing. Words matter. The Apostle John wrote “In the beginning was the word (Logos), and the Word was with God and the word was God…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us . . .” (John 1:1, 14). When we run our words through the Word, they will always come out with grace and not growl.

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CHAPLAIN (MAJ-ret) DANIEL MIDDLEBROOKS
813-767-2082 (Cell)
chaplainmiddlebrooks@hotmail.com

Personal Story:
Chaplain (MAJ-ret) Daniel Middlebrooks was born in Plant City, Florida on 19 July, 1966. After receiving his AA degree from Hillsborough Community College, he entered the Active Duty on 27 May, 1988 at FT. Jackson, SC and began his career as a 91J- Physical Therapy Technician for three years at Fox Army Hospital, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL (1988-1991). In November 1988, Daniel surrendered to the call of the ministry and worked toward his BS degree at Athens State College, Athens, Alabama. He left the Active Duty, May 1991 and entered New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the National Guard Chaplain’s Candidate Program. He was endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention, commissioned as a 2nd LT in January 1992 and served with the HQ STARC until Jan 1994. He completed his MDIV in the summer of 1994 and was commissioned at a 1st LT, January 1994 and transferred to 769th Combat Engineers, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was later transferred to the 2-117 FA in Oneonta, Alabama.
Civilian Ministry Experience:
CH Middlebrooks served at Williams Blvd Baptist church from 1991-1995 as the Minister of Newlyweds, Minister of young Adults, Minister of Family Ministries and Interim Music Minister. He moved to Morgan City, AL and served as the Associate Pastor and New Building Construction Director from OCT 1995-June 1997. He served as the Senior Pastor for Hopewell Baptist Church, Plant City FL from Feb. 2013- March, 2017. He currently serves as the Command Chaplain for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and as the Chaplain for Plant City. His also volunteers as the chaplain of Plant City Fire Department and Hillsborough County School Board-Security Division. He is the President/CEO of R3 Care & Consulting, LLC and Chaplaincy Care, Inc.
Active Duty Chaplaincy/Military Experience:
He entered Active Duty again in June 1997 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He served in the 626 FSB (97-98) and 1/502 IN BN(99-2000); Deputy 280th BSB CH (2000-02) and 1-26 IN , Schweinfurt, Germany (2002-03); 1st Recruiting Brigade as the OIC of the CH Recruiting team (2004-06);and 10th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Carson, CO (2007-10). He last served as the Chaplain’s Career Course Senior Course manager, instructor and developer/writer.
His military Schooling includes Chaplain Officer Basic Leaders Course (93), Chaplain Career Course (2003), USAREC Chaplain Recruiting Certification, CPE (2006), and ILE (2007), and the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School Faculty Development Training/Instructor Certification. CH Middlebrooks has deployed to MFO/Egypt (1999-00), Kosovo (2002), and Iraq (2008-09).
Awards: Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, The Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leave Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one Silver and four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with one Silver and two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze star, GWOT, Humanitarian Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Oversee Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and MFO Medal. He earned his Air Assault Wings in 1997 and his Recruiter badge with three silver stars in 2006. He was awarded the distinguished Witherspoon Award from the OCCH and National Bible Association in 2010. He is married to the former Arienne Plyler of Brandon, Florida. They have two daughters, Erica (23) and Allison (18). Over the last 29 years of marriage, the Middlebrooks family has moved 19 times and understands what means to “Bloom where God plants you”.

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The Real Church

The Church of Jesus Christ is what it says, it belongs to Jesus Christ the Son of God the one who holds the universe together by the Word of His power. What does this mean ? 

Jesus said upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail. 

Regardless of how fragmented and divided we think the church is, He doesn’t look at it that way, He sees the potential in you and me and does not judge according to appearance. ( John 7: 24) 

There is no plan B, we are it, the unstoppable force that is growing stronger and bigger everyday. We think that there is a drop off of membership in church but in reality there is a grass roots, Kingdom minded, underground church that are not confined to a denomination or a building or even a network of churches but rather an organic entity inseparably linked by the blood of Christ and joined together by real communion and fellowship. This Church cannot be contained inside four walls and is forever expanding.

The Kingdom of God is always expanding but a system is always diminishing until only two people left and even they will be suspicious of each other. 

So the real church is not a system, or a building, nor a club or business but rather an organism who’s life blood comes from the very God we love and serve. We don’t go to church, we are the church and go to Jesus. We need to see the church that meets in Tampa, in Atlanta, in Orlando etc and that is why I’m so excited to see All Pro Pastors become a strong organization that has the resources to reach out to hurting Pastors. 

Who ministers to the minister? 

Where does the Pastor and his wife go for healing of past hurts, council regarding some of the challenges leadership face.? 

The real Church is made up of individuals who prefer their brother over themselves, who will go the extra mile without complaining, and who believe the best rather than listen to gossip because Love always believes the best. 

Welcome to the greatest force in the universe, the church of Jesus Christ 

Nick Coetzee is a music producer and worship leader from South Africa. He has spent the past 30 years pouring into worship ministry and also developing and recording worship songs. He produced the first US release of ‘Shout to the Lord’ with Darlene Zschech , as well as many instrumental and vocals albums for artists and recording companies. He and his family are based in Wesley Chapel, FL where he owns and operate a Christian based recording Studio. Nick also produces promotional videos for companies and Churches.
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What Could Go Wrong?

1. Let’s say you decide to finish the evening of your Fall Festival in grand style with a lovely fireworks display…only it was a bit more windy that evening than was planned for, and some of the fireworks were inadvertently blown into some dry grass and a fire breaks out. The windy conditions fan the flame and your neighbor’s property is damaged. The call to your insurance agent to file the claim goes a little like this: “Fireworks? Real fireworks? They started a fire? Did you notify us about the fireworks? Now that’s a whole different ball game…” Uh oh.

2. Perhaps your men’s ministry plans a skeet shoot to raise money for beautification of the church grounds…and you have a LOT of grounds, so no one bothers to think anything of heading out to the back acreage with all the manpower and firepower they can muster. Only there’s one amateur in the group, who also happens to have a faulty shotgun. Bad combination. Before you know it you have three injured men, one of whom is a guest who proceeds to make a call to an attorney. You immediately think that the church insurance certainly covers this. When you call your agent, he stutters, “Three people wounded at a skeet shoot? That’s a new one…why didn’t you call me before the event? ”

3. Here’s a good one: your very active Senior Adults decide to have some fun and take a hot air balloon ride! After a wonderful time, on the downward descent, the basket bumps against a group of trees, then makes a rather rough landing, jarring those inside. Your oldest church member has trouble getting out of the basket because the hard landing has actually fractured her fragile hip. You have a sinking feeling that your property insurance can do no good in this situation. You think surely your liability coverage will pick this up since the group was away from church grounds. You call your insurance agent, who can’t believe he wasn’t informed of this risky business beforehand. Not good.

Wonderful ideas for special activities seem to be quite abundant, especially when the weather begins to turn crisp and clear! As you plan for your holiday events and fundraisers, ask yourself this question: is this function we are planning out-of-the-ordinary? If you have even the slightest inclination that it IS, take a few moments to notify your insurance agent! Here’s why…


Each of the above examples might be covered in your church insurance policy. The real issue is that you don’t want to find out they are NOT after there has been a claim. Bottom line is, it takes just a few moments to pick up the phone or send an email to your insurance agent, give a brief description of your “high adventure” plans, and ask for their insight and recommendations. You’ll feel better, knowing that all your bases are covered and those involved in your activities will be better protected.

There’s no need to shy away form adventurous activities, however, it’s a great time to develop trust and practice good communication with your agent! After all, they have your best interest at heart.

This article provided to you by Strong Tower Insurance, Inc. Strong Tower Insurance is pleased to partner with All Pro Pastors in support of pastors and their congregations by offering a variety of insurance solutions to protect the mission of the church!

 

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President of Strong Tower Insurance, Inc.
Graduate of Lee University
Credentialed minister in the Church of God
Certified Insurance Counselor
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Rejection the Supreme Test

The recovery process takes a minimum stay of 100 days. In February of 2016 I had the honor to be a friend’s companion during her recovery after a bone marrow transplant.  She had to follow the strictest of regimens and doctors instructions.  Selecting the proper donor was a tough process because her son ultimately was the donor.  

Definition of rejection

  1. 1a :  the action of rejecting :  the state of being rejected b :  an immune response in which foreign tissue (as of a skin graft or transplanted organ) is attacked by immune system components of the recipient organism

The purpose of the 100 days is to make sure her body doesn’t reject the tissue.  The numerous doctor’s appointments and labs were exhausting.  Every function of her body was monitored and constantly examined.  To date she is cancer free and getting stronger and stronger.  PTL

As pastors and pastor’s wives we see people rejected and beat up all the time.  Our quick responses of prayer and encouragement to them are part of the things we do to serve the local body.  It is Out of obedience to the Lord in our calling.  

What happens when we experience rejection?  I have been in ministry now for almost 25 years and I have had a lot of rejection.  In the definition of rejection; the second definition made me think of the local church.  The local church is where I see the body of Christ in action.  Sometimes my local body is not very kind or loving.  I feel rejection.

As pastors we try not to take things personal, but everything we do is personal.  As a servant to the ministry I have to invest and love and care!  When people leave the church it hurts.  When you pour into people’s lives and they don’t want any more to do with you, it hurts.  My prayer almost daily is, “Lord keep my heart soft and my skin thick.”  

Who was the most rejected person, Jesus?  He was perfect and yet rejected.  When I received my salvation I took on the very being of Christ.  This very thing I must remember.  Jesus kept His eyes on the Father.  His identity was in God.  I find in some of my biggest disappointments in people that have rejected me, I was looking to them for approval.  It is very easy to try and people please.  Looking to the Father and asking what He thinks of me changes my perspective on rejection.  My approval must come from Him and not man.

In ministry I’ve had to learn to get over things quickly.  This comes in the form of forgiveness.  Early on in my ministry a very precious women mentored me in the area of forgiveness.  She told me I had to learn to forgive and forgive quickly.  This is not always so easy, is it?  I found hanging on to unforgiveness made be bitter towards the people who had rejected me.  That was only hurting me.  I knew I had to lay that down.  It has changed my ministry.  I have a greater dependence on the Father.

I heard a pastor recently say, “I am going to let man’s rejection be God’s redirection in my life so I can move forward to something better!”

When I was saved, I received the bone marrow of Christ.  I want to live out my days following His orders and direction for my life.  I don’t want to go into rejection of who he made me to be.  Today I will stand in the fullness of His approval and operate out of love.

 

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Pastor’s Wife, Mother, Worship Pastor, Teacher, Soloist

The Code of Leadership; Character

How many of you enjoy a good swashbuckling movie? I always enjoyed the “Pirates of the Caribbean” series. Although very fictitious, there was something that the pirates often referred to when faced with a dilemma. It was “The Code”. In the movie, “At World’s End”, all the Captains of the pirate ships came together and they brought out the large, dusty book of the pirate law and opened to “The Code”. It was a standard (I will agree rather one sided) in how they would live and act toward each other. I began to wonder, what is my “Code of Character” for the Lord I serve? I went to the ultimate source of truth and began to search the high seas of the scripture. From this beginning journey, I found the treasure of four principles that help to protective the posture of my heart and life in leadership.

Character is visible: A good Character is first demonstrated rather than declared. I love what Margret Thatcher said during her time as the Prime Minster of England, “Power is like being a lady, if you have to tell people you are, you aren’t.” In Luke 8:17 and Ephesians 5:13, we read that everything is on display. If you are married, how do you view your spouse regarding his or her character? How does your spouse view you? How about friends and even strangers? Remember, in times of stress and challenges, what is on the inside of you will come to the surface and pour out of you. Conflict does not make character- it put’s it on display. Remember, if those that know you the least respect you the most, you have a problem with your character.

Character is reliable: There are many routines that help us to get through the day without much thought. Routines like; getting dressed, brushing our teeth and hair, and stopping at stop signs and all yellow lights (Well two out of three isn’t bad). One of the healthiest routines we can develop is a consistency of character. The old phrase, “What you see is what you get” is wonderfully appropriate in our life because it denotes transparency and consistency. Matthew 5:37 and James 5:12 provide for us a template of a reliable routine of character. If your “yes” is always “yes” and your “no” always “no”, people, especially our family, never have to questions where we stand on issues or ideas.

Character is tactful: So how would you answer the question, “Honey, does this make me look fat?” We are encouraged in Ephesians 4:15 to “Speak the truth in love”. So how do we accomplish this while holding onto our character when we know that what we say will hurt the other person? Depending on the comfort of your couch, you may take the stance of, “I’ll just tell it like it is!” If this is your approach, please tell me what couch you recommend for me to buy. If you would rather choose another way, let me recommend what one man said to his wife when asked the question. His lovingly, tactful, and truthful response was, “Sweetheart, I do not think that outfit brings out the beautiful woman you are.” (Smooth as butter). In Psalms 15:2, the writer pens these words, “He who walks with integrity, and works righteousness, and speaks truth in his heart.” Tactful techniques in developing our character consider how to engage others with truth while encouraging them with tender touches.

Character is Confident: What is the difference between confident and cocky? It is what becomes evident when the spot light shines on the person. The cocky person will soak it all in and welcome the recognition. The confident one will reflect the light and bath others in its radiance. 1 Corinthians 3:13 and 1 Timothy 3:10 teach us about the light of a refining fire that will test our motives, attitudes, and agendas of the works we do.  True confidence of character remembers that nothing significant was ever accomplished by one. It takes a team. Having a character of confidence means that you are secure in who you are and what you do so that you can turn the attention to what others have done and give them the recognition for it. Remember, a man wrapped up in him-self is a very small package. I also like what John Maxwell said. “It is amazing what gets accomplished when you don’t care who gets the credit.”

As you consider these principles, I encourage you to take the needed time to dig deeper into each one and make it personal. As the famous boxer, Joe Frazier once said, “You can have a fight plan or a life plan.” If you cheat yourself in the dark, early morning hours of training, it will be exposed in the light of the ring of life. Make every day count as you travel the high seas of service for our gracious Savior.

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CHAPLAIN (MAJ-ret) DANIEL MIDDLEBROOKS
813-767-2082 (Cell)
chaplainmiddlebrooks@hotmail.com

Personal Story:
Chaplain (MAJ-ret) Daniel Middlebrooks was born in Plant City, Florida on 19 July, 1966. After receiving his AA degree from Hillsborough Community College, he entered the Active Duty on 27 May, 1988 at FT. Jackson, SC and began his career as a 91J- Physical Therapy Technician for three years at Fox Army Hospital, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL (1988-1991). In November 1988, Daniel surrendered to the call of the ministry and worked toward his BS degree at Athens State College, Athens, Alabama. He left the Active Duty, May 1991 and entered New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the National Guard Chaplain’s Candidate Program. He was endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention, commissioned as a 2nd LT in January 1992 and served with the HQ STARC until Jan 1994. He completed his MDIV in the summer of 1994 and was commissioned at a 1st LT, January 1994 and transferred to 769th Combat Engineers, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was later transferred to the 2-117 FA in Oneonta, Alabama.
Civilian Ministry Experience:
CH Middlebrooks served at Williams Blvd Baptist church from 1991-1995 as the Minister of Newlyweds, Minister of young Adults, Minister of Family Ministries and Interim Music Minister. He moved to Morgan City, AL and served as the Associate Pastor and New Building Construction Director from OCT 1995-June 1997. He served as the Senior Pastor for Hopewell Baptist Church, Plant City FL from Feb. 2013- March, 2017. He currently serves as the Command Chaplain for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and as the Chaplain for Plant City. His also volunteers as the chaplain of Plant City Fire Department and Hillsborough County School Board-Security Division. He is the President/CEO of R3 Care & Consulting, LLC and Chaplaincy Care, Inc.
Active Duty Chaplaincy/Military Experience:
He entered Active Duty again in June 1997 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He served in the 626 FSB (97-98) and 1/502 IN BN(99-2000); Deputy 280th BSB CH (2000-02) and 1-26 IN , Schweinfurt, Germany (2002-03); 1st Recruiting Brigade as the OIC of the CH Recruiting team (2004-06);and 10th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Carson, CO (2007-10). He last served as the Chaplain’s Career Course Senior Course manager, instructor and developer/writer.
His military Schooling includes Chaplain Officer Basic Leaders Course (93), Chaplain Career Course (2003), USAREC Chaplain Recruiting Certification, CPE (2006), and ILE (2007), and the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School Faculty Development Training/Instructor Certification. CH Middlebrooks has deployed to MFO/Egypt (1999-00), Kosovo (2002), and Iraq (2008-09).
Awards: Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, The Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leave Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one Silver and four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with one Silver and two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze star, GWOT, Humanitarian Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Oversee Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and MFO Medal. He earned his Air Assault Wings in 1997 and his Recruiter badge with three silver stars in 2006. He was awarded the distinguished Witherspoon Award from the OCCH and National Bible Association in 2010. He is married to the former Arienne Plyler of Brandon, Florida. They have two daughters, Erica (23) and Allison (18). Over the last 29 years of marriage, the Middlebrooks family has moved 19 times and understands what means to “Bloom where God plants you”.

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Sons of God, Fathers of Giants

While the early Sumerians were figuring out how to grow crops without rain, interesting things—historic things—were happening far to the northwest. The second peak in our chronological list of spiritually strategic holy mountains is Mount Hermon.

Hermon is the highest, most majestic peak in the Levant. At 9,200 feet above sea level, it dominates the Golan Heights on the border between Israel and Syria, anchoring the southern end of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains. It has been considered sacred for most of human history.

Mount Hermon was a holy site as far back as the old Babylonian period, nearly two millennia before Christ, and probably even earlier. In the Old Babylonian version of the Gilgamesh epic, which dates to the 18th century B.C. (roughly the time of Jacob), “Hermon and Lebanon” were called “the secret dwelling of the Anunnaki.” The Ninevite version of the poem, written about 600 years later, describes the monster slain by Gilgamesh, Humbaba (or Huwawa), as the guardian of “the abode of the gods.”[i]

The Anunnaki were the seven chief gods of the Sumerian pantheon: Anu, the sky god; Enlil, god of the air; Enki, god of the earth; Ninhursag, mother goddess of the mountains; Inanna (the Babylonian Ishtar), goddess of sex and war; Sîn, the moon god; and Utu, the sun god. They are mentioned in texts found in what is today southeastern Iraq that date back to the 27th century B.C. So the more recent versions of the Gilgamesh story from Babylon and Nineveh may remember more ancient traditions.

The name Hermon appears to be based on a root word that means “taboo,” similar to the Hebrew word kherem, or “devoted to destruction.” The word is often translated into English as “under the ban.”

The first appearance of the word in the Bible is Exodus 22:20: “Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction (kherem).” But the ban wasn’t just invoked against disobedient Israelites. Some of the inhabitants of Canaan were also declared kherem by Yahweh—specifically those that were known to be giants, or at least descended from giants.

That begs the question:  Where did the giants come from?  A curious episode is recorded in the first four verses of Genesis chapter 6:

When man began to multiply on the face of the land and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose. Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not abide in man forever, for he is flesh: his days shall be 120 years.”

The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of man and they bore children to them. These were the mighty men who were of old, the men of renown.

Genesis 6:1-4 (ESV)

Scholars have debated the meaning of the term “Nephilim” for millennia. Most believe it comes from a Hebrew root, napal, meaning “to fall” or “cast down”—literally, “fallen ones.”

However, Bible and ancient language scholar Dr. Michael S. Heiser, author of the excellent book The Unseen Realm (highly recommended) and the new book Reversing Hermon (ditto), contends that this cannot be correct:

The form nephilim cannot mean “fallen ones” (the spelling would then be nephulim). Likewise nephilim does not mean “those who fall” or “those who fall away” (that would be nophelim). The only way in Hebrew to get nephilim from naphal by the rules of Hebrew morphology (word formation) would be to presume a noun spelled naphil and then pluralize it. I say “presume” since this noun does not exist in biblical Hebrew — unless one counts Genesis 6:4 and Numbers 13:33, the two occurrences of nephilim — but that would then be assuming what one is trying to prove! However, in Aramaic the noun naphil(a) does exist. It means “giant,” making it easy to see why the Septuagint (the ancient Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible) translated nephilim as gigantes (“giant”).[ii]

In short, the Jewish scholars who translated the Old Testament into Greek about two hundred years before the birth of Jesus clearly understood that the Nephilim were giants, not just men who “fell away” from God.

Likewise, the Hebrew words translated “sons of God” in the passage, bene elohim, refer to divine beings, not mortal men. Now, that hasn’t been the consensus among Christian scholars since about the 5th century, thanks to the great theologian Augustine. He popularized the “sons of Seth” theory to explain away the weird supernatural element of the passages above. In short, the Sethite view is that the sons of God were men from the godly, righteous line of Seth who began intermarrying with women from the corrupt, wicked line of Cain.

Frankly, this defies logic on several points:

  1. How likely is it that all the Sethite men were good while all the Cainite women were bad?
  2. We’re supposed to believe Cainite men never married Sethite women?
  3. Why would these unions produce Nephilim, understood to be giants by Jewish rabbis and early Christians alike?
  4. Why would these unions lead to wickedness so great that God had to wipe out everything that walked the earth except Noah, his family, and the creatures in the ark?
  5. Every other use of bene elohim in the Hebrew scriptures refers to divine beings.

Problems with the supernatural understanding of the text usually focus on whether angels and humans could successfully produce children.  Proponents of the Sethite view often point to Jesus’ teaching on the resurrection of the dead:

For in the resurrection [people] neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.

Matthew 22:30 (ESV)

The key words are “in the resurrection” and “in heaven.” Noah’s neighbors were flesh and blood, not resurrected, and the angels who “came in to the daughters of man” were most definitely not in heaven.

There are several examples in the Bible of divine beings interacting with humans in physical ways—eating, drinking, and even engaging in a dustup in front of the house of Lot (Genesis 19:5-11). Why couldn’t they procreate as well?

The final nails in the coffin of the Sethite view are the references to this event in the New Testament. Both Peter and Jude refer to the only example in scripture where angels transgressed:

For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly;

2 Peter 2:4 (ESV), emphasis added

And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day—just as Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding cities, which likewise indulged in sexual immorality and pursued unnatural desire, serve as an example by undergoing a punishment of eternal fire.

Jude 6-7 (ESV), emphasis added

If there was any doubt about what the angels did that deserved punishment, Peter and Jude clarified things. They specifically identified the sin of the angels as sexual by linking it to the sins of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Crossing the species barrier between angel and human is just as taboo as the barrier between human and animal.

 

[i] Lipinski, Edward. “El’s Abode: Mythological Traditions Related to Mount Hermon and to the Mountains of Armenia,” Orientalia Lovaniensa Periodica 2, 1971, p. 19.

[ii] Heiser, Dr. Michael S. “The Nephilim,” Sitchin is Wrong.com (http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/nephilim/nephilim.htm), retrieved 12/16/16.

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Derek Gilbert Bio

Derek P. Gilbert hosts SkyWatchTV, a Christian television program that airs on several national networks, the long-running interview podcast A View from the Bunker, and co-hosts SciFriday, a weekly television program that analyzes science news with his wife, author Sharon K. Gilbert.
Before joining SkyWatchTV in 2015, his secular broadcasting career spanned more than 25 years with stops at radio stations in Philadelphia, Saint Louis, Little Rock, and suburban Chicago.
Derek is a Christian, a husband and a father. He’s been a regular speaker at Bible prophecy conferences in recent years. Derek’s most recent book is The Great Inception: Satan’s PSYOPs from Eden to Armageddon. He has also published the novels The God Conspiracy and Iron Dragons, and he’s a contributing author to the nonfiction anthologies God’s Ghostbusters, Blood on the Altar, I Predict: What 12 Global Experts Believe You Will See by 2025, and When Once We Were a Nation.

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How to Love Your Wife

Loving Your Wife – Positive Insights
1. The husband who loves his wife will not abuse headship. He will
not try to rule her, but learn to love her like Christ loves the
church (Ephesians 5:25).
2. The husband who loves his wife will comfort and listen to his
wife (I Thess. 5:11,14).
3. The husband who loves his wife will spend quality and quantity
time with his wife. He will put her on his calendar, etc. (Ecc. 9:9).
4. The husband who loves his wife will bring encouragement to his
wife. He will always esteem her (Hebrews 3:13).
5. The husband who loves his wife will take an interest in his wife’s
world. He will honor her likes and respect her dislikes (I Peter 3:7).
6. The husband who loves his wife will initiate reconciliation with his
wife. He understands the value of restoration (Ephesians 4:26).
7. The husband who loves his wife will pray daily for his wife.
(I Timothy 2:1).
8. The husband who loves his wife will avoid harsh words with his
wife (Ephesians 4:32, Proverbs 25:11).
9. The husband who loves his wife will keep his wife informed
(I Timothy 6:18).
10. The husband who loves his wife does not always have to be right.
He knows that compromise is an asset in a marriage (Eph. 4:2,3).

“Final Thoughts”
 Loving your wife is not an option if you are going to be in the will
of God, where God’s blessings will pursue you and overtake you
(Deut. 28:1-2).
 If your wife is not a Christian, she still needs to be valued and
appreciated (I Cor. 7:14).
 A woman is like a rose, treat her right and she will bloom. She’s a
precious gift from God to be nourished and cherished (Eph. 5:29,
Gen. 2:18).
 When your wife is emotionally hurt and has a desire to talk, if she
doesn’t ask for advice, don’t give any. Don’t give her your head,
give her your heart.
 A godly husband will master unconditional love for his wife. He
will look beyond her faults and failures. He will cover her with
patience and forgiveness. Unconditional love is not “I love you
because,” it’s, “I love you, period.”

Family Focus Ministry
Pastors Jesse & Brenda McNeil
Every person is worth understanding!
Services Offered:
Premarital Preparation, Post Marital Advisory,
Marriage Ceremonies, Seminars & Speaking Engagements
For comments or questions email us at: ffm@tampabay.rr.com
or call 863-944-2283 or 863-944-0762

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Pastors Jesse and Brenda McNeil are Assistant Pastors at Word Alive Ministries, Inc. in Lakeland, Florida. They are committed marriage and family pastors, advisors, and teachers, offering premarital preparation, personal advisory, post marital advisory, and wedding services to any-one who desires. Pastor Jesse is also the author of the very influential book, “Powerful Principles for Choosing a Marriage Partner.” The McNeils have been married for more than 42 years and have worked together as a dynamic, unified ministry team for over 36 years. You are sure to be blessed and in-spired by their awesome ministry.
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Worship, is it horizontal or vertical ?

There is an alarming trend that has emerged in our modern church experience that seems to be catching on as it does seem to be producing results. 

What are the results ? 

These trends seem to be drawing more people to church. Is that a bad thing? No it’s great as many are coming to Christ and communities are being transformed. 

Bill Bybels the founder of Willow Creek in Chicago has been linked to a style of church service we call  “seeker sensitive” in other words we are not a “holy huddle” with a our own sub culture, but rather a place where the unchurched will be accepted and comfortable.

All this is good, but what about the worship of the Living God. Apparently only 11% of all worship songs are sung to God.

 It was Tommy Tenney, the author of “God Chasers” who said the worship is the only part of the service that God gets anything out of.

It would seem like our worship is more horizontal than vertical. 

In a recent conference I was at in Dallas I heard Bill Hybels say that he started this seeker model for a specific purpose as his congregation of professionals were not engaging and so he tried something different. One song then a short video then two more songs very professionally presented, then a another break, in other words, not a typical time of praise and worship that is uninterrupted for 20 to 30 minutes.

This was opposite to what I have seen and become accustomed to in South Africa and Australia but these professionals began engaging and committing their lives to Christ. 

Well Bill went on to say that several years later he realized that worship needs to be a journey that the believer embarks on. A journey filled with faith, the Word of God and yes words of worship directed to God. I’m so glad he shared this because I agree with him and have been training worship leaders for many years in this vein.

We need love songs to Him, songs of intimacy and adoration where at some point we may even be silent as we gaze upon His face and welcome the King of Glory in our midst.

I’m not against excellence with sound, lighting and skilled musicianship. We need to combine the anointing of the spirit with excellence in presentation but the real reason why an unbeliever will come to Christ is because they see our passion for our God not because we have music that sounds professional.

Our church services need to be full of love and also full of God, as that’s what the unchurched are expecting. As my Pastor Ed Russo said from the pulpit this week, if we bear the label of Christian then we need to live on fire for God so the world can easily tell the difference.

Dr Nick Coetzee

Nick Coetzee is a music producer and worship leader from South Africa. He has spent the past 30 years pouring into worship ministry and also developing and recording worship songs. He produced the first US release of ‘Shout to the Lord’ with Darlene Zschech , as well as many instrumental and vocals albums for artists and recording companies. He and his family are based in Wesley Chapel, FL where he owns and operate a Christian based recording Studio. Nick also produces promotional videos for companies and Churches.
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How to Pray with Assured Power!

Let us remember that CIA is Christian Identity Assurance. It is the simple fact of a Christian completely believing and being who God says he or she is.

We are taught in Philippians 2:13, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure”. This is a fact of God helping us to be who he has created us to be. Given this premise, it truly is our duty to do our part through prayer and active steps to yield and align with the assistance God has provided for us to be his true followers.

Even though it is God who called me to ministry, I did not thirst and hunger for him as I should until I yielded and desired his purpose over mine. Please don’t misunderstand me, I wanted God, I loved him for the awesome sacrifice Jesus made for me, but I didn’t feel as if I could not live without him. When I denied myself and believed God was the most important part of my life then I was willing to give my life also for him. This is the essence of God’s words in Romans 12:1-2  “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God”. This awareness made me strongly desire Christian identity assurance prayers.

I gladly offer the Christian Identity Assurance prayers below to help you and your team grow to be all God has called you to be.

Christian Identity Assurance Prophetic Prayers:

Heavenly Father, we join our faith with Jesus and all others praying for your will. We now exercise the Christian Identity Assurance you have given us as your children.

Scripture Reference:

But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. Hebrews 11:6

You will also declare a thing, And it will be established for you; So light will shine on your ways. Job 22:28

By Faith, we declare:

  1. In all our todays and tomorrows, we deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus in Jesus name.
  2. In all our todays and tomorrows, the Lord has made us to have dominion over the works of His hands and has put all things under our feet
  3. In all our todays and tomorrows, we are kings and priests as declared by God
  4. In all our todays and tomorrows, we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus
  5. In all our todays and tomorrows, we use our authority to declare a thing and it shall be established in Jesus name
  6. In all our todays and tomorrows, we use our authority to speak life and to speak death to glorify God in Jesus name
  7. In all our tomorrows, we trample on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means hurt us in Jesus name.
  8. In all our todays and tomorrows, we know God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind in Jesus name

My recommendation is to pray these prayers frequently with your team and encourage them to pray these prayers till they are able to pray it from memory. It takes about 60 to 90 days. Enjoy the transformation.

Shalom and Glory to you.

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Joseph Doxa is the Pastor of Glory Life Church in Tampa, Florida. He and his wife Cindy have 3 daughters and 1 son. They are originally from Nigeria. Pastor Doxa serves as the Ambassador of Prayer for All Pro Pastors and hosts our International Prayer Conference call with Pastors and leaders every Wednesday at 7:00 AM EST.
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Is Jesus In The Midst Of Your Pain?

Everyone has pain in this earthly life.  No one is immune.  It is impossible to outrun the pain, because the pain will always find its target.  Therefore, the question is not, “How can I alleviate my pain?”, but rather, “Do people see Jesus in the midst of my pain?”  As God continues to prune and refine my fleshly rebellious heart, He is teaching me that my pain always has purpose.  Now, when the trials of life begin to mount, I must confess that this phrase that “my pain has purpose” is much easier said than actually lived-out.  However, as the fog of the trials of life continue to hover near the surface of our brokenness, our overarching goal must be that in the midst of our pain, that people will see the glory of God radiating with splendor and on full display.  But how do we live victoriously in the midst of one struggle after another?

 

First, we must embrace that it is God who has graciously given us our trials.  I realize that this statement is counter to our fleshly rational human thinking, but it is biblical.  Paul said in Philippians 1:29-30 29 For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30 having the same conflict which you saw in me and now hear is in me.”  God grants or graces us with the privilege to not just bask in the power of Christ’s resurrection, but to also partake in the fellowship of His sufferings.

 

Secondly, we must embrace that our pain has purpose beyond us.  Beyond us?  You mean that even my pain may not be completely about just me?  How this rubs our selfish flesh raw!  Often, we want even our pain to be just about us.  The reality is that no one is a bigger fan of us, than us, and yet even our pain is not always about us.  Therefore, when we go through a trial, one of the biggest challenges is not the actual trial, but to shift the viewfinder from ourselves to a laser beam focus on God and then others’.  As Paul was writing to the church in Corinth, he reminded them that their pain has purpose beyond themselves when he said in 1 Corinthians 1:3-5, Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also abounds through Christ.”  Simply put, your pain is not just for you.  Don’t hoard your pain.  Your pain is empathy training ground for effective ministry as we minister best out of our trials.

 

Lastly, we must embrace that we are to give God our heartfelt thanksgiving in all things.  Who honestly wants to do this?  Praise God in the storm?  Really?   Genuinely thank God for the trials that He has graciously lavished upon us?  Seriously?  Yes.  Anyone can praise God on the mountain top when all is seemingly well.   And yet, it’s fully possible that we are not in the center of God’s will.  One of the biggest traps in the American church today is this ideology that if we pursue God, everything will be easy and everyone will be for us.  I’m not sure what bible this idea has evolved from, but it is not from The Bible that is God’s Holy Word.   The Psalmist David penned these potent words in Psalm 34:1 when he said, “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.”  Those are big-boy words that can only be accomplished as the Holy Spirit empowers us to give thanks and praise God not because of ideal circumstances, but in-spite of all circumstances.

Do the people around you see God in the midst of your pain?  As the song says, “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, and the things of this earth will grow strangely dim, in the light of His glory and grace.”  Be encouraged in the battle and do not lose heart as you keep the hand to the plow and don’t look back!

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Pulpit Ministry: The proclamation of the Word of God from the pulpit.

Radio Ministries: The Word of God that is proclaimed in the pulpit is broadcast around the globe via the radio through our three radio programs, This Day In The Word, Strength For This Day, and Engaging The Truth.

Discipleship Ministry: 
The Word of God is taught in the work place – This Day In Business
Men are challenged to be all in for Christ – Men For This Day
Pastors that are discouraged are strengthened – Pressing On This Day
Students are motivated to surrender their lives to Jesus – Students For This Day

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The Great Falling Away and The Days of Lot

In our last article, I addressed the most common question that I am asked by people who are curious about Bible prophecy, “why prophecy?  Why now?” How do we really know that we are living in the “last days?” For myself, the answers can be found in the words of Jesus in Luke 21. In this passage Jesus gave us two very specific events that we know have happened in human history.  The first was that there would come a day when Jerusalem and the temple would be destroyed and all the Jews would be dispersed throughout the world. This was primarily fulfilled in 70 A.D. when Rome did just as Jesus predicted.  The second part of what Jesus said, “Jerusalem would be trodden down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles is fulfilled.”  In other words, there would come a day when Jerusalem would no longer be controlled by Gentiles.  

Israel became a nation again in 1948, but it wasn’t until 1967 that Jerusalem came back under Jewish control.  This recent event is the direct fulfillment of the words Jesus spoke almost 1900 years ago.  Let’s be honest, after 1900 years we just might need a little help in making a case that Jesus could actually be coming soon.  Then in the same passage Jesus says, “When you see these things happen, then stand up and lift up your heads because your redemption draws near.”  As Christians we are called to know our Bibles and to know what is happening in the world today.  When we see these two things converge, then we must begin to try and wake up the world to the impending return of Jesus. I believe that the church today as a whole is either not aware of the prophetic parts of the Bible or they are not aware of what is happening in the world today.  To this end we will use this series of articles, along with the clear cipher given to us by Jesus, to show that the Bible and our newspapers are converging like never before.

As we begin searching for the convergence, I want to bring the following passage to your attention:  

  • 2 Thes 2:1-4 Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him, 2 That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand. 3 Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first (rebellion / apostasy / departure / revolt), and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition/Apollyon; 4 Who opposes and exalts himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sits in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God. KJV

While we are not going to take on all of this passage on right now, I do want to make it plain that before Jesus comes, there is going to be a great falling away.  Other translations use rebellion, apostasy, departure and revolt. While there are certainly other theories about the full extent of what this word means, I am going to cover this from the more traditional perspective.  Just for another perspective, there was an interesting article in “Prophecy Watchers” on 05/2017 by Dr. Andy Woods where he outlines that historically “falling away” could also be translated departure. Dr. Woods believes that this departure is likely to refer to the rapture. While the article represents an interesting possibility, the problem for me is that the entire passage is emphatically trying to show that there are going to be some pre-requisites to the “coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him.”  Dr. Woods does not include the first two verses, but they are unique in that they directly address two separate events. Whether they happen on the same day is up for debate, but neither of them can happen until the man of sin is revealed, sitting in the temple of God and showing himself to be God.  Since this “Abomination of Desolation” happens in the middle of the tribulation, many have used this passage to justify their belief in mid-tribulation rapture.  For most of us, the idea of the church being gathered to Jesus is typically thought of as the Rapture of the church. So if the rapture cannot happen until the departure — which is the rapture — then this passage just doesn’t make any sense.  Why can “the rapture” never happen until the rapture happens? Unless the gathering, like the one mentioned in Mark 14:27, is not the rapture or there is more than one rapture. Stay with me on this as this next point as it gets a little tricky. Some have asked the question just how the first rapture, which resurrects the dead and provides an escape for the church, wouldn’t also be necessary for those who are killed or survive the tribulation. Nonetheless, this is a can of worms that I am not willing to open up right now. If you are interested in examining the rapture further, then I recommend the series “Introduction to Prophecy,” which you can find on my website at prophecydays.com. When it comes to the rapture, I believe God has simply left us to debate these things and I would never break fellowship over something like the rapture.  Gary Stearman of “Prophecy Watchers” seems to agree that even though there is a great deal of disagreement over the rapture, that we shouldn’t separate further based on this issue.  See the article by Gary titled, “Things Hard To Be Understood, Peter, Paul And The Church.” For myself, I believe that God did not give us prophecy to predict the future, which even includes the rapture. I believe God gave us prophecy so that we would know that God knows the future.  This means there is a heavy veil over prophecy and that we may not know some things are going to happen until right before or sometimes after they happen.  For now, let’s proceed with the idea of a great falling away of the church as being a sign of the soon coming of Jesus.  

When I think about other passages that might give us some more information about exactly what this coming great decline in faith might look like, I think about 2 Timothy 3:1-9.

  • But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 6 For of this sort are those who creep into households and make captives of gullible women loaded down with sins, led away by various lusts, 7 always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. 8 Now as Jannes and Jambres resisted Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, disapproved concerning the faith; 9 but they will progress no further, for their folly will be manifest to all, as theirs also was. NKJV

While I do think this passage speaks for itself, I do want to point some things out.  The first is that this passage tells us when this situation will happen, “in the last days.” While the laundry list of evil is certainly impressive, I tend to run through most of them thinking, “exactly what is specific to the last days?”  It seems like most of this could be said about many eras in human history.  But then comes several very interesting details – “having a form of godliness, but denying its power.”  For me this is so definitive of the New Age Movement because they are so pushing for all this good in the world without acknowledging the presence of God because they are attempting to turn all of us into gods.  Of course, this is the signature temptation of the Devil and as such we would expect his children to continue to use it.  Since the time of Christ, I don’t believe that we have ever had a time where mankind is so obsessed with being good, but then they turn around and deny that there is a God.

The next phrase that sends me into some serious contemplation is, “always learning, but never coming to the knowledge of the truth.”  This is a direct reference to the educational system that is in place in the last days and it matches the education system of higher learning that we have today. Never has there been a time where knowledge has increased like there is today, and yet, morally and socially we are going backward everywhere in the world.  The world has gone literally crazy!  The last morsel of deeper truth that is likely to present in this passage about the “last days” is the mention of Jannes & Jambres.  This is a clear reference to when Moses opposed by the evil magicians in Pharaoh’s court when he demand that the children of Israel be let go. (Exodus 7:10-12)  These magicians were able to cause their rods to become snakes, and they represent powerful unseen entities that are warring against God.  What I am saying is that along with this decline of the church, there is going to be a corresponding surge in evil. This may be linked to the opening of the Abyss in Revelations 9.  

The idea that we could face this kind of demonic resistance again or that there could be one last “golden pagan age” that happens just as we head into the “last days” should be somewhat shocking or at least a foreign idea to most of us.  This is something that the church just hasn’t really faced since its early history.  I honestly believe that the reason for this is because when Jesus came out of the grave, He took dominion over this unseen realm.  Wherever the church and the gospel have encountered occultism around the world, it has dried up to the point that people really wonder if there is anything supernatural in the world today.  As modern Christians we have trouble understanding how Jesus cast out demons left and right or that people really worshipped gods of wood and stone, but our Bible says that it is real with real power behind them.  More importantly, as we get closer to “last days” that we are likely to see a return of occult power that will fascinate people and entice them in.  This is why more women leave the church these days to join Wicca than any other organization.  Paul tells us exactly the same thing in Ephesians 6:12, “for we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Funny how we quote this verse so often, but we don’t actually act like anything else is going on or that we are involved in a spiritual battle.  As the time of Christ’s return gets closer, I believe we will continue an ever growing amount of demonic activity causing many to resist the truth, corrupting young minds and becoming quite adversarial to those who have faith.

A great falling away must also mean that there are going to be a great many false churches that are preaching a false Gospel that glorifies a false god. Some of these false churches that we see today are preaching a religion of works, but the Apostle Paul is quick to point out the folly of such ideas.  

  • Gal 3:1-4 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you that you should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed among you as crucified? 2 This only I want to learn from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun in the Spirit, are you now being made perfect by the flesh? NKJV

Even in the church, the ecumenical movement is now in full swing and the number of players is growing.  The one world religion of those who are “spiritually enlightened” is gaining ground as we speak.  A religion is actually seen as the enemy and we must form a one-world religion in order to bring the world together as one. Chrislam (the fusion of Islam, Christianity and Judaism) is real as mankind tries to bring the danger of religion back under some kind of control.  No longer can Jesus be the only way.  In fact, we don’t need saving, just as long as we aren’t actually bad compared to someone else. I mean, as long as we weren’t Hitler right?  Any religion will get us there as long as it isn’t the God of the Bible.  The problem is that the Bible tells us that there would come a day when pastors and teachers would give to the people what their itching ears so long to hear.  

  • 2 Tim 4:3-8 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure is at hand. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have kept the faith. 8 Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that Day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing. NKJV

This passage confirms something what I have turned into one of my rules for evaluating any given doctrine or teaching.  “Be careful of anything that is exactly what you want to hear.”  Our false-self, our false-dreams and desires are huge motivators for our beliefs.  This verse is telling us that if preachers preach what people want to hear, then people will flock to them. Sometimes this even makes me leery of large churches for just such a reason.  If there is one thing that is sure about all of us, we can deceive ourselves. Masses of people can deceive themselves even easier because we get the peer pressure affect.  The Bible is full of warnings not to be deceived and it may be the signature condition of the “last days.”As if all of this does not cause us to wonder just how far the church can go in the wrong direction, then there are the examples of the seven churches in Revelations.

Church #1 – The Loveless Church (Rev 2:1-4:1)

  • “To the angel of the church of Ephesus write, ‘These things says He who holds the seven stars in His right hand, who walks in the midst of the seven golden lampstands:  2 “I know your works, your labor, your patience, and that you cannot bear those who are evil. And you have tested those who say they are apostles and are not, and have found them liars; 3 and you have persevered and have patience, and have labored for my name’s sake and have not become weary.  4 Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love.  5 Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place — unless you repent.  6 But this you have, that you hate the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  7 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”‘

This church is very bright and extremely discerning because they know their Bibles so well that they can sort out the false prophets left and right.  Honestly, they sound a little like the Pharisees.  Their works abound and from the surface they look like the perfect church because their patience is amazing!  However, they have completely forgotten that Christianity is a “love relationship” with God.  They have lost the context of Christianity, which is to simply be in love with Jesus. They have reduced the gospel to the gospel of Martha instead of sitting quietly at the feet of Jesus and basking in His presence like Mary.  When was the last time you just delighted in utter quiet of the Holy Spirit as the still small voice overwhelmed you with His love? When was the last time your church did this?  If our motivation for all we do does not go back to the fact that we love Jesus, then in the end it will fall void and be perceived as a big gong – think “Gong Show.”  (1 Corinthians 3:1) Works are great, but we cannot let works or the knowledge of the Bible replace our faith and our deep relationship with Jesus. Repent and fall back in love with Jesus by spending time with Him every day.  If the church will do this, then the joy of the Lord will become our strength again and bring a fresh wind of revival to the church.

Church #2 – The Persecuted Church

  • “And to the angel of the church in Smyrna write, ‘These things says the First and the Last, who was dead, and came to life:  9 “I know your works, tribulation, and poverty (but you are rich); and I know the blasphemy of those who say they are Jews and are not, but are a synagogue of Satan.  10 Do not fear any of those things which you are about to suffer. Indeed, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested, and you will have tribulation ten days. Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life.  11 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death.”‘  

While the persecution of the church is finally getting some attention, the year 2015 was a record year in modern times based on the sheer number of Christians that were killed for their faith. Last year, 2016 also saw a tremendous number of murders as well.  This situation has been near and dear to my heart. As a result, I have joined joshuacord.org in raising money to make a documentary about the extent of Christian persecution around the world. Currently we raised enough money to have a filmmaker visit 6-7 countries. We also saw a miracle happen when we received a visa to visit Syria. You know, the country we just bombed. Persecution is a reality of the  “last days.” The passage that I find the most interesting is the description of the beheaded Saints in heaven, who are continually asking God “how long will it be before you avenge us?” (Revelations 6:10)  Unfortunately, we are literally in a situation where the Christian population is very close to being wiped out in the Middle East and unfortunately we can expect this to only worsen around the world. I believe that we are all supposed to join together and help our brothers and sisters as much as possible. As Paul has said, “As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good to all men, especially to them who are of the household of faith.” (Gal: 6:10)

Church  #3 – The Compromising Church

 

  • “And to the angel of the church in Pergamos write, ‘these things says He who has the sharp two-edged sword:  13 “I know your works, and where you dwell, where Satan’s throne is. And you hold fast to my name, and did not deny my faith even in the days in which Antipas was my faithful martyr, who was killed among you, where Satan dwells.  14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there those who hold the doctrine of Balaam, who taught Balak to put a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols, and to commit sexual immorality.  15 Thus you also have those who hold the doctrine of the Nicolaitans, which thing I hate.  16 Repent, or else I will come to you quickly and will fight against them with the sword of My mouth.  17 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes I will give some of the hidden manna to eat. And I will give him a white stone, and on the stone a new name written which no one knows except him who receives it.”‘  

 

While there is some debate about the Nicolaitans, the consensus is that there may have been sexual immorality involved, which also ties into the story of Balaam who seduced the children of Israel in a similar manner. There are those who believe that there may have even been actual ritual prostitutes involved.  This is entirely possible, as we know this was a major problem part of some pagan cultures where Christianity had spread to. The real bottom line here is that the deeds of this church were something that God hates and that means it was sin.  Today there are many churches that are literally enticing people to sin and this is yet another sign of the fallen church. The church needs to repent and to call sin for what it is instead of celebrating it. Only then can the Holy Spirit lead us to be a witness to those around us.

Church # 4 – The Corrupt Church

  • “And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write, ‘These things says the Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet like fine brass:  19 “I know your works, love, service, faith, and your patience; and as for your works, the last are more than the first.  20 Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.  21 And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent.  22 Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.  23 I will kill her children with death, and all the churches shall know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts. And I will give to each one of you according to your works.  24 “Now to you I say, and to the rest in Thyatira, as many as do not have this doctrine, who have not known the depths of Satan, as they say, I will put on you no other burden.  25 But hold fast what you have till I come.  26 And he who overcomes, and keeps My works until the end, to him I will give power over the nations —   27’He shall rule them with a rod of iron; They shall be dashed to pieces like the potter’s vessels’ — as I also have received from My Father;  28 and I will give him the morning star.  29 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘

There are those who use this to say that women should not lead at all in church. While I believe this issue is not decided in this passage, we do have to remember that during the history of the early church, female occult priestesses were common in the pagan / occultic world.  As we know, Jezebel through a false type of prophetic spirit actually lead Israel into this type of sin. Here again the Bible clearly warns us against this type of situation.  Sadly, any recent survey of Christians in America shows little if any difference on most of what the Bible would clearly call sin.  Christians simply don’t score much different on pre-marital sex, pornography, abortion, divorce and most other moral issues. This is exactly the type of situation that Revelations is warning us of.  As the true church we must hold fast till Jesus comes without compromise knowing we are not the author or the finisher of our faith.

Church # 5 – The Dead Church Revelation 3

  • “And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, ‘These things says He who has the seven Spirits of God and the seven stars: “I know your works, that you have a name that you are alive, but you are dead.  2 Be watchful, and strengthen the things which remain, that are ready to die, for I have not found your works perfect before God.  3 Remember therefore how you have received and heard; hold fast and repent. Therefore if you will not watch, I will come upon you as a thief, and you will not know what hour I will come upon you.  4 You have a few names even in Sardis who have not defiled their garments; and they shall walk with Me in white, for they are worthy.  5 He who overcomes shall be clothed in white garments, and I will not blot out his name from the Book of Life; but I will confess his name before My Father and before His angels.  6 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘  

There are several interesting items that are brought up here.  The first is that we are told that the faith of a church is dead unless there are also works that go along with those who have heard, received and held fast to their faith.  This is exactly the same conclusion that the Apostle James makes in James 2:14-26. There is only one solution for a church that has works that are inconsistent with the faith of Christ. They need to hold fast or repent! The other thing that jumps out at me about this church is that Jesus wants them clothed in white, which happens to be just like a bride.  The other thing that may be shocking for some is that there are those in this church who are in danger of having their name blotted out of the Book of Life. The implication here is that this type of church might end up being quite common as we get closer we get to the “end times.” While this disconnect between the walk and the talk of Christians is getting worse, we know this faith devoid of works has been in full bloom since 1998.  That was the year that George Barna published “The Second Coming Of The Church.” This was the first time that we realized that there appeared to be no difference between Christians and non-Christians in the morality department. This is exactly what Revelations describes as characteristics of the Sardis and the Thyatira church.

These kind of statistics leave many of us asking, how is it possible that when it comes to divorce, adultery, drug use, pornography and, gambling that the church doesn’t score any differently that the rest of the population?  While I really do preach the gospel of grace the best I can, I have to admit that something is also very wrong with the church.  The modern church seems to keep sinning so that grace may abound, which something that Paul expressly forbid. (Romans 6:1)  Furthermore, I am not one to espouses the doctrine of a salvation of works, but I have to say it sure would be nice to see more of them coming out of the church.  The truth is that there are times that we need to examine our faith and now is one of those times.  We need to see if we are really in the Lord or are we just fooling ourselves.  (2 Corinthians 13:5) I believe that Revelations may be saying that this is exactly what is going to happen to the church, as we get closer to the end of human history.  The sad truth presented here is that such a fruitless church just might miss out on the rapture or return of Christ because of the clear warning to always be watching for the “thief that comes in the night” is a direct reference to Matthew 24, where Jesus is referring to how people are caught completely off guard by his return.

Church #  6 – The Faithful Church

  • “And to the angel of the church in Philadelphia write, ‘These things says He who is holy, He who is true, “He who has the key of David, He who opens and no one shuts, and shuts and no one opens”:  8 “I know your works. See, I have set before you an open door, and no one can shut it; for you have a little strength, have kept my word, and have not denied My name.  9 Indeed I will make those of the synagogue of Satan, who say they are Jews and are not, but lie — indeed I will make them come and worship before your feet, and to know that I have loved you.  10 Because you have kept my command to persevere, I also will keep you from the hour of trial, which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  11 Behold, I am coming quickly! Hold fast what you have, that no one may take your crown.  12 He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he shall go out no more. I will write on him the name of My God and the name of the city of My God, the New Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God. And I will write on him My new name.  13 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘  

This church is not the biggest church or the strongest church, but they have persevered!  In fact, when it comes to worldly riches, they just might be the poorest around.  Everyone likes to ignore them or discounts them because they are so counter culture. They just don’t care what the world thinks. When all is said and done, the world will know that this church was spiritually wealthy beyond anyone’s wildest dreams.  Why? Because they remained at the feet of Jesus worshiping Him and not the world.  Indeed, the world will do the same to them and they will know just how much Jesus loves this church! I love this particular passage because God gives this church a promise that if they persevere, they will be kept from the “hour of trial, which shall come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.  If this idea of being kept from an “hour of trial” is speaking about the rapture, then you could also argue that many of the other types of churches in Revelations could potentially miss the rapture.  A sobering thought to say the least, but none-the-less this is the only church that the Holy spirit makes this promise to. These are the over comers and they also appear to be the ones who will be reigning and ruling with Jesus in heaven. Clearly, they are the bull’s eye of what God wants His church to be and the anti-thesis to the next church on the list.

Church # 7 – The Lukewarm Church

“And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, ‘these things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:  15 “I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot. I could wish you were cold or hot.  16 So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.  17 Because you say ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ — and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked — 18 I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see.  19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent.  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 dine with him, and he with Me.  21 To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.  22 “He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”‘”  NKJV

Of all the churches talked about here, for me this is the one that especially rings true of America.  The earthly riches that we have here are astonishing compared to other areas of the world.  When you consider that someone making $30,000 / year is in the top 1% of the moneymakers in the world, and yet no one in America would be happy making such a small amount. Unfortunately, earthly riches can be just like the thorns in the parable of the sower. The cares, riches and pleasures of this life can choke the good seeds that God is planting in our lives, so that there will be no heavenly fruit. This church does not know that they are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked because they are so distracted by their wealth and need for nothing.  However, be careful when you judge them too harshly.  Then there is the political climate change that has developed here in America and around the world bringing in a new day of political correctness. No longer can we speak the truth because it might offend someone. All the while, no one is more offended by political correctness than Jesus. He wants to spit them out of His mouth.  Nothing is good or bad and nothing is hot or cold. For me it is astonishing that the Bible so correctly describes what is wrong with political correctness 2000 years ago.  

The solution that God presents here is a little puzzling at first.  God wants us to buy into the real treasure, which is a gold refined by fire. God wants us to be in white garments, so that we will be properly clothed when we meet Him. God does not want the shame of our nakedness to be exposed.  None of this can happen unless our eyes are anointed and rededicated to see things as Jesus sees them.  Then comes this amazing God that is so relational and makes a promise we can all take to heart.  God says that if we will hear His voice and open the door to our lives, then He will come in and dine and fellowship with us. His presence in our lives is what will help us to discard the treasures of this life and be an over comer of the thorns.  In the same way that Jesus will come into our lives, He will later invite us into His, to the point that we can even sit with Him on His throne.  The choice between the wealth of the world and the riches of a relationship with Jesus will determine our fate. Why is Jesus telling the politically correct he will spit them out of His mouth?  Because Jesus loves them and He doesn’t want that to happen to them.

State Of The Church

There are a few things about all of these passages that we need to contemplate.  The first thing is that these are all churches. The Bible doesn’t call them false churches or fallen churches, and yet none of them are perfect. Each church is told something different because each church has it’s own set of problems.  This is encouraging because I believe God sees all of His children this way.  It doesn’t seem to matter what character of the Bible you look at, the Bible records the good, the bad, and the ugly all in the same breathe.  God sees us as we really are, we would all be naked and ashamed if it were not for the cross and that needs to be kept in mind here.  In Christ, there is no more condemnation, but there is a clear reality that God is calling us to maturity in Him. When we look at God’s motivations behind His dealings with these churches it is clearly one of profound love. Discipline from God comes out of love and that is why God has to say some very confrontational things to all of these churches. Some may call it tough love and I think that may be a fair assessment because for the most part each of these churches is given a fair amount of warning.  The goal of the message to each church is to wake them up and to move them towards a deeper relationship with God.   It is also hard to miss the clear promise of rewards that will be given to them that overcome just as Christ overcomes.  This is the final encouragement that the Holy Spirit gives each of these churches and we like Paul need to press on to the mark of the high calling of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14-15)

After finishing this brief examination of the 7 churches of Revelations, I cannot think of a more adequate message for the churches that are in existence today.  Sure human nature doesn’t change and the problems of mankind are age old, but the amazing relevance of these churches to the modern churches amazes me. Though many will argue that the church has gone up and down in the sliding away from or towards God, what I am saying here is that when Christ returns for His church, it is in decline. There is no exact finishing or defining point for this slide of the church, but there are many who believe that the false prophet of revelations, will lead a false religion that will ultimately worship the beast / anti-christ.  To this end, we have seen this same decline in the modern church and it has not escaped the attention of the previous generations.  For example, William Booth, the man who started the Salvation Army, was asked by a Bishop what he though were the biggest threats to the church were in the 20th century? This is what he said:  

 

  • The church without the Holy Spirit.

 

  1. Christianity without a price.
  2. Forgiveness without repentance.
  3. Salvation without regeneration / transformation
  4. Politics without God (AKA – Communism)
  5. Heaven (reward) with no hell (consequences).

This statement certainly does stand as a thought provoking assessment of the modern church and how they have fallen away from our true calling as the body of Christ.  As we continue to see the church falling away, I believe that we will come to the point that there really is no difference between Christians and the rest of the world and this is almost true now. We are told that this falling away is one of the signs of the times that we are supposed to look for. End times or not, now is the time where we need to sound the alarm and issue a call towards repentance.  As a church, we need to return to our first love. We need to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying and walk in a different direction that may be politically incorrect.  Unfortunately, the church is more worried about what some people will say than what the Lord says.  The church is openly embracing immorality, lifting up false gods and espousing false gospels. The church, like God’s people Israel, can be caught up in a great decline. During one of these declines and falling away from God, the Bible makes this statement.  “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Judges 17:6) Plain and simple, Jesus has ceased being the King of the modern church and now everyone does whatever they want. What kind of church will we be if we no longer look like Christ, who is the author and finisher of our faith? How do we wake them up?  I personally believe that prophecy is specifically designed for this purpose! People may have become dead to the cry of “wolf,” but they are obsessed with the supernatural!  I believe there is no more relevant or accurate book in understanding our world and the geopolitical circumstances facing the world today.  Just as prophecy proved who the Messiah was the first time, so prophecy in these times of great deception will prove that the Bible is true and that God knows the end from the beginning.  

Three More “Last Days” Clues In Luke 17

  • Luke 17:20-29 – Once, having been asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, 21 nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is within you.”
  • 22 Then he said to his disciples, “The time is coming when you will long to see one of the days of the Son of Man, but you will not see it. 23 Men will tell you, ‘There he is!’ or ‘Here he is!’ Do not go running off after them. 24 For the Son of Man in his day will be like the lightning, which flashes and lights up the sky from one end to the other. 25 But first he must suffer many things and be rejected by this generation.
  • 26 “Just as it was in the days of Noah, so also will it be in the days of the Son of Man. 27 People were eating, drinking, marrying and being given in marriage up to the day Noah entered the ark. Then the flood came and destroyed them all. 28 “It was the same in the days of Lot. People were eating and drinking, buying and selling, planting and building. 29 But the day Lot left Sodom, fire and sulfur rained down from heaven and destroyed them all. NIV

When you look at the first part of this passage, there are those who believe that the only Kingdom of God that we will ever see one earth is the one inside us. They don’t believe in the literal return of Jesus and the literal Kingdom of God being here on earth.  The idea of the Kingdom of God being inside us is difficult to take in one breath and appreciate the true significance of this statement. Consequently, I do not want to take anything away from it by arguing against it because it is real and many books on this subject could easily be written.  However, I believe there will also be a literal fulfillment as well.  I go back to Daniel in the 2nd chapter when I think about the literal Kingdom of God. When God comes, He breaks in two all the other kingdoms of the world and fills the whole earth with peace so that everyone has a place to nest. This just hasn’t happened. The kingdoms of the world are going along just fine and so many people have no portion in this world. The other way I look at this is that if we believe that Jesus was a literal person, who was literally sinless, who literally died for our sins, who literally took away our sins both past present and future, who literally rose from the grave, who literally spent time with His disciples after His resurrection, who literally predicted the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, who literally predicted the dispersion of Israel into all the nations until one day when Jerusalem would no longer be trodden down of the Gentiles, but now we are supposed to switch gears and believe that there is no literal return of Jesus. What about the warning to those who would miss it?  The truth is we have no reason to suddenly believe that Jesus is speaking allegorically about His return. This is the same Jesus that His own generation missed Him because He came as the suffering servant instead of the reigning and ruling Messiah that had come to set up His Kingdom. This is the Jesus that I believe is coming and a Mr. Rodgers He is not.

Many Anti-christs

The next part of this passage tells us many things, but the first is that many anti-christ’s will present them selves claiming to be the Christ. In other passages, we are also told that they will deceive many believers, but this passage goes on to confirm that Jesus will return in a very specific way.  Jesus will come in the sky and flash like lightning from one end to the other.  Fairly easy to see how this would be good way to differentiate the return of the real Jesus from any false ones.  Nonetheless, this is our first of the clues about the return of Jesus is that there will be a good number of counterfeits.  Of course, the greatest of these will be the anti-christ himself, along with the false prophet that leads the world into accepting and worshiping the beast /anti-christ. While there may not be that many currently in the running for a false christ, there are a lot of groups running for false religions that run counter to Christianity. The biggest candidate for this is Islam. Not only does Islam say the opposite of the golden rule, but also the founder of Islam is nothing like Jesus. Still, Islam is soon to become the world’s #1 religion.  (For more information on Islam, go to prophecydays.com and see the teaching series with the same name.)  While Islam may be a possibility of where a false christ might come, the current best candidate for the anti-christ or false prophet is the Pope.  One doesn’t need to be a Protestant to believe this, because many Catholics have predicted the same things throughout history.  According to the prophecy of the Popes, we are on the last one. In troubling fashion, the current Pope has called for global governance and departed from the morals held by Christians for 1000’s of years. Still, this passage warns us of the coming delusion in the form of false religions and false christ’s, so we need to be on the lookout. This same warning is repeated in Matt 24:21-25 and Mark 13:22. The detail that these passages add it that there will be “signs and wonders” that accompany these false christ’s. This is the Jannes and Jambres scenario that we have already talked about.  I like to point this out to people as often as I can, because it means that there has to be an increase in supernatural occult power for this to happen. This will be an astonishing thing for most people because they don’t even believe in anything beyond what they can see, taste, smell, and touch. How will people explain this and how will these entities explain who they are?  For now, I will move on, but we will explore more about this in our article next month.

The Days Of Lot

The next clue given here is that the return of Jesus will have something to do with what was happening in the “Days of Noah.” Next months article will be fully devoted to this subject, so for now we will move on here to the next clue, which is stated as being the same as the “Days of Lot.”  Certainly, there are those who believe the Days of Lot and the Days of Noah were very similar, but I am going to take a more traditional view of what we know was obviously happening in Sodom. For our purposes, the Days of Lot are also the Days of Sodom and Gomorrah.  The idea of rampant sexual immorality being the case here goes back to the story of what happened to the angels when they came to visit Sodom and how Lot protected them from the crowd outside his house that had come for them.  The reality is that this is fast becoming the case around the world as sex trafficking is in our own back yards. Furthermore, the changing of the definition of marriage in America has not only further damaged the first institution founded by God (the family), but it has also opened up all Christians and Christian organizations to persecution because they cannot accept the law of the land. This will allow the far left to discriminate and eventually separate Christians and Christian organizations from any kind of government support, tax exemptions, involvement and even accreditation. This would have devastated the Christian community and made us outlaws.  On the other hand, God as never let a little fire or persecution on His church go un-used.  This may exactly what the Holy Spirit meant in the earlier passage about buying gold refined by fire.  

Speaking of one of the sins of Sodom, for many of us it may feel difficult to not want react differently to the sin of homosexuality. However, it is important to note that this sin did not specifically make the 10 Commandments. Yes, it is an abomination, but so is a proud look. (Proverbs 6:16-19) Unfortunately, I wonder if I have ever made it a day without committing this sin.  It is Jesus who said that we shouldn’t attempt to pick something out of our brother’s eye when we have something even bigger of our own that we aren’t dealing with.  Now I’m not trying to minimize the impact here of this movement. The family is the first institution that God founded and the whole success of our society is based on it!  I recognize that homosexuality, along with divorce, adultery, drug use and pornography, may literally destroy the family and our society. Consequently, we must stand against this movement the best we can.  However, what I mean by the best we can is that we must try to continue to love the sinners, but stand against the sin.  The challenge is to not forget that the cross was necessary for all sin, including our own. This is why we, as a church, need to be transparent about our own sin and humble ourselves before the world, so that we can share the good news that Jesus has died for all of our sins. While we may feel led to refuse to bake a cake for their wedding, we should feel compelled to make them a cake for any other reason we can think of.  We must try to kill this movement with kindness, so that the love of God can make it to their hearts. We must not let the devil take the open arms of Jesus on the cross and turn them into hate. We need new and creative ways to still show the love of Christ, while we stand firm on the foundations that God has provided in His word. This will be the challenge as we move forward into a world that is increasingly hostile towards the church and our message of hope and redemption.  

Remember, we just had a presidential candidate (Bernie Sanders) who does not believer that any born again Christian or a Christian who believes that Jesus is the only way should be in any public office.  Unfortunately, this unprecedented persecution is also another sign that we are truly living in the last days. As we end this discussion, I hope that you can see that we are truly living in a time where the church is falling away from following God. This in and of it self is not proof that we are in the last days, but as we continue to show the great convergence, the case becomes quite compelling. Thus far we have determined that we are living in the days where “Jerusalem is no longer trodden down by Gentiles.”  The geopolitical situation has progressed to the point that Jerusalem has become a “burdensome stone” for the whole world. We are living in the days where the world is starting to persecute the church in unprecedented ways and finally, we are once again living in the days of Lot. Hopefully God has gotten your attention by now, because we are just getting started!

I hope you will be able to rejoin this series next month as we look at the “Days of Noah”, but please take a few minutes to look up some of the articles listed here.  Remember, the cipher that Jesus gave us says, “when you see these things happening, then stand up and lift up your heads, for your redemption draws near.” This means that part of our goal is not just to show you what the Bible says prophetically, but to show you that what the Bible says is really happening around the world. It is to this end that we believe you will begin to see the convergence and stand up for Jesus. After 1900 years of sleeping, maybe we need quite a few alarm clocks to wake us back up to the fact that one day Jesus is really going to literally return!

For more information on see the prophetic series, “The Convergence” please go to prophecydays.com where you will find the video, audio and notes from the series.

The Falling Away

Study Compares Christian and Non-Christian Lifestyles

Do Non-Christians and Christians Live Different Lifestyles? – https://www.christiantoday.com/article/american.study.reveals.indulgent.lifestyle.christians.no.different/9439.htm

STUNNING CLAIM: U.S. AT POINT WHERE ‘ELECTIONS DON’T MATTER’

http://www.wnd.com/2016/08/stunning-claim-u-s-at-point-where-elections-dont-matter/#AmOAbd6pTdmyHE6w.01

Of Abortion, By Abortion, For Abortion

https://www.frcaction.org/updatearticle/20160727/of-abortion

Ben Carson Ties Hillary Clinton to Lucifer at Republican Convention

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/ben-carson-hillary-clinton-lucifer-republican-convention-rnc-gop-trump-166725/#2UWT7PHMWgbeEqvZ.99

Caught on Camera: Obamacare Architect Admits Deceiving Americans to Pass Law

http://dailysignal.com/2014/11/09/caught-camera-obamacare-architect-admits-deceiving-americans-pass-law/
California Steamin’: HHS Gives Abortion Rule a Pass

Welcome to a Bernie Sanders Wiccan ritual

http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-sanders-prayer-circle-20160514-snap-story.html

Bernie Sanders’s Religious Test for Christians in Public Office

https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2017/06/bernie-sanders-chris-van-hollen-russell-vought/529614/

California to ‘punish’ faith-based colleges for ‘holding wrong views’

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/06/california-to-punish-faith-based-colleges-for-holding-wrong-views/#VmObV2qGcohbk3TZ.99

Canadian Christian Law School Fights Accreditation Ban Over Opposition to Homosexuality

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/canadian-christian-law-school-fights-accreditation-ban-over-opposition-homosexuality-164764/#DHxfbE2GwiforW1F.99

Obama’s Foreign Policy Guru Boasts of How the Administration Lied to Sell the Iran Deal

http://www.weeklystandard.com/obamas-foreign-policy-guru-boasts-of-how-the-administration-lied-to-sell-the-iran-deal/article/2002252#.V07nw9j_rDU.facebook

Planned Parenthood Will Not Face Justice Because There Is No Justice In America

http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/planned-parenthood-will-not-face-justice-because-there-is-no-justice-in-america/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=ShareButton

Obama Can Force Coverage of Birth Control and Abortion Drugs on Churches, Admin. Lawyer Says

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/obama-force-churches-cover-birth-control-abortion-drugs-lawyer-tells-supreme-court-160019/#XLxazjeoM2tk13Ph.99

United Methodist Church Bans Intelligent Design Group From General Conference

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/united-methodist-church-bans-intelligent-design-group-general-conference-creation-evolution-155368/#kEqUZ5o27zTBqhzS.99

Justice Scalia warns that the US Supreme Court is causing the ‘destruction of our democratic system’

http://finance.yahoo.com/news/justice-scalia-warns-us-supreme-203000305.html?soc_src=mediacontentstory&soc_trk=fb

POPE INVOKING GLOBALIZATION – Pope tearing down Christianity in bid for One World Religion

http://www.infowars.com/pope-invoking-globalization/

Bow Down, Witches: Pagans Flock to New York City for Festival

https://broadly.vice.com/en_us/article/bow-down-witches-pagans-flock-to-new-york-city-for-festival

I put a spell on you, Mr. President – LA Times publishes an article about how to hold a spell on Donald Trump to curse him and our country.

http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-wagman-put-a-spell-on-donald-trump-20170523-story.html

Planned Parenthood Chief Is Asked What Should Happen ‘If a Child Survives an Abortion Attempt.’ Here’s Her Response.

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/09/29/planned-parenthood-boss-was-asked-what-should-happen-if-a-child-survives-an-abortion-attempt-heres-her-response/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=ShareButtons

Pope Says Having A Personal Relationship With Jesus Is Dangerous And Harmful

http://www.godfruits.tv/pope-says-personal-relationship-jesus-harmful/

Obama can kill you with a drone!

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/05/us-drone-strike_n_2813857.html

Obama Plans To Reduce Deficit By Cutting Tax Exempt Status Of Christian Churches

http://nationalreport.net/obama-plans-reduce-deficit-cutting-tax-exempt-status-christian-churches/

VIDEO: This Rabbi Just Issued a Chilling Warning to America… And It’s Going Viral

http://conservativetribune.com/rabbi-chilling-warning/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=WesternJournalism&utm_content=2015-06-22

Persecution Of The Church

Francis Chan: Christians Will Be Relevant If They Become Rejects, Stand With Jesus

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/francis-chan-together-2016-christians-relevant-rejects-jesus-166599/#X93BrsDhDmb7yS5C.99

7 Signs That America Declared War on Christianity

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/signs-america-declared-war-christianity-163165/#lB72zEl3xBizcCJY.99

Obama Can Force Coverage of Birth Control and Abortion Drugs on Churches, Admin. Lawyer Says

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/obama-force-churches-cover-birth-control-abortion-drugs-lawyer-tells-supreme-court-160019/#DfBguOtve33DvAxU.99

Report: 2015 Saw ‘Most Violent’ Persecution of Christians in Modern History

Wyoming School Tells Students They Can Only Pray in Private — Here’s How Well That Went Over

http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2015/12/21/school-cafeterias-are-not-religion-free-zones-wyoming-school-reverses-prayer-ban/?utm_source=facebook&utm_medium=story&utm_campaign=ShareButtons

Vatican rejects “chosen people” claim, calls on Israel to end “occupation”

http://yalibnan.com/2015/06/25/vatican-rejects-chosen-people-claim-calls-on-israel-to-end-occupation/

From Pakistan to America, Christ’s Prophecy of Christian Persecution Coming to Pass

https://signsofthelastdays.org/pakistan-america-christs-prophecy-christian-persecution-coming-pass/

The Days of Lot

FEDERAL COURT BLOCKS OBAMA’S TRANSGENDER-BATHROOM ORDER

http://www.wnd.com/2016/08/judge-blocks-obamas-transgenders-schools-mandate/#dlT4u6D4YVIzUMcP.01

Christian baker takes ‘compulsion of speech’ case to Supremes

Read more at http://www.wnd.com/2016/07/christian-baker-takes-compulsion-of-speech-case-to-supremes/#DKs9ZxSBjiI1hx0s.99

Churches Can’t Have Sex-Segregated Bathrooms, Make Transgender Feel Unwelcome, Unless Closed to Public, Iowa Commission Says

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/churches-sex-segregated-bathrooms-transgender-feel-unwelcome-closed-to-public-iowa-commission-166167/#j4F2JmqAlTEFKHou.99

Canadian Christian Law School Fights Accreditation Ban Over Opposition to Homosexuality

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/canadian-christian-law-school-fights-accreditation-ban-over-opposition-homosexuality-164764/#qIDluKWiaJq73gI0.99

BISEXUALITY STUDY: 1 in 3 American Young Adults Identify on Bisexual Spectrum

http://www.advocate.com/bisexuality/2015/08/20/.V0uM8LHxIQg.facebook

Canada May Ban Anti-Transgender Speech With 2 Years in Prison

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/canada-may-ban-anti-transgender-speech-with-2-years-in-prison-164382/#14qLCLmsmZ95BgCt.99

Obama Orders All Public Schools to Apply Transgender Bathroom Access Rules; Texas Ready To Fight

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/obama-order-public-schools-transgender-bathroom-access-rules-texas-163852/#5sRysz6oWYeg9iRP.99

American College of Pediatricians Says Teaching Children Transgenderism Is Normal Is Child Abuse

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/american-college-of-pediatricians-says-teaching-children-transgenderism-is-normal-is-child-abuse-159772/#8VokGWYYLRFxwhsV.99

Tom DeLay: Justice Dept. Wants to Legalize 12 ‘Perversions

Breaking News at Newsmax.com http://www.newsmax.com/Newsmax-Tv/Tom-DeLay-Justice-Department-perversions/2015/06/30/id/652929/#ixzz4Ih8vLPVK 

Canada Legalizes Most Sex Acts With Animals

Read more at http://www.christianpost.com/news/canada-legalizes-most-sex-acts-with-animals-165053/#tR2IdSQZZArUS0KA.99

Rubio: Gay Agenda’s ‘Next Step’ is to Define ‘Mainstream Christianity’ as ‘Hate Speech’

http://www.cnsnews.com/blog/michael-w-chapman/rubio-gay-agendas-next-step-define-mainstream-christianity-hate-speech

Want more?  Visit us at prophecydays.com for the complete series.

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Dr. Kevan Kruse has been practicing Chiropractic in the Bay area since 1992. Educated at the University of Tampa and Life University, Kevan received a Bachelor of Science in Nutrition and a Doctorate of Chiropractic. Kevan was born in Florida, but he was raised with down to earth Midwestern values. These values translate into an office that is dedicated to serving patients in a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere. Each patient is evaluated on an individual basis and treated appropriately.

Dr. Kruse is also open to multi-disciplinary approaches to health care, with his focus being primarily chiropractic and nutritional ways to help solve health problems. His fascination and extensive participation in sports makes his treatment of automobile accidents, work related injuries and sports injuries especially on-target. Dr. Kruse is married to Alexandra and they have two sons named Wiatte and Whestan. Dr. Kruse supports many local charities and attends Bell Shoals Baptist church, where he occasionally teaches classes on various topics.

Why is the church important? The church is where the friends of Jesus meet and grow. It is a hospital for those who admit they are sick and who want to get better. The church is not a building or an organization, it is just people. The church is also part of your spiritual family. Does anyone you know have a perfect family? Good, because that won’t happen in church either. You won’t like all the people there, but you will grow to love many of them. You may have to visit around some to find the right church for you, but if you work at it, you will be better for it. My church friends are one of my greatest sources or encouragement and joy.

Leadership Integrity

Leadership Integrity

If you were to describe your reputation as a leader, what words would you choose? What words would others choose? In the multitude of descriptions, would the word “Integrity” be one of them? A lack of integrity eats away at every good thing that is necessary for building a happy and healthy home. Integrity is the result of being honest about a set of morals you are upholding. Here are some thoughts to consider as you move forward with living a life of integrity.

One way to begin developing integrity in our relationships is doing what you say you will do. This sounds simple but like a church committee, we can fall into the old mindset of “when all is said and done, more is said than done.” Most relationships suffer because of a lack of “follow through” with commitments and promises. To make matter worst, we then make excuses to avoid taking responsibility. Remember that at some point or another, we all falter on our promises and commitments. However, these should be the exceptions and not the rule. When pride gets in the way and we act selfishly, sarcastically, and scar hearts. Tomorrow we will look at some of the impacts of this “excuse” based integrity.

Couples who turn to excuses for their lack of integrity quickly find the ground of trust they once enjoyed eroding beneath their feet. They are in no short supply of reasons for their shortcomings, infidelities, unkind words, impatience, and their selfishness. Like an attorney trying to convince the judge, the man or woman seek validation for their reasons. Without the full story, they can get their friends to support them, justify them, and cheer them on as they avoid accountability, and preserve their sense of pride, and rightness.

Because integrity is easier to disguise, it can only be measured by you. If you say you will do something but when it comes time to do it, you change your mind or bend the truth to get out of doing it, you have a situational based integrity. This means you will base your morals on the circumstance you are experiencing. If you want integrity that resembles a house of cards, choose this way. I want to warn you to watch out for the strong gusts of truth that blow through.

Have you ever felt like you were standing in a fire because of your Godly convictions? The fire, although intense, can be an integrity builder. The refining process for gold involves intense heat. Gold melts at a temperature of almost two thousand degrees Fahrenheit. That incredibly high temperature is required for gold to be ready to be used as it burns away all the dross (impurities). The life of integrity involves much the same process. Sometimes we are surprised when “bad things happen to good people.” yet James 1:2-4 tells us that fiery trials are part of God’s refining process for our lives. Remember, when integrity is tested by fire, it glows to become a beacon of truth for others to see.

Lastly, integrity is built or destroyed in the heart. Our heart feels something, then our mind thinks something, often resulting in our bodies doing something. It all starts in the heart. As an example, Matthew 15:18 states, “But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man”. In my marriage, I have come realize that I need to abide by a set of morals beyond my own cravings, desires, and impulses, in order for my marriage to thrive. Integrity is the fleshing out of what we truly love. When our first love is Jesus, those around us will have a deeper love from us and a life of integrity that takes our leadership to the next level.

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CHAPLAIN (MAJ-ret) DANIEL MIDDLEBROOKS
813-767-2082 (Cell)
chaplainmiddlebrooks@hotmail.com

Personal Story:
Chaplain (MAJ-ret) Daniel Middlebrooks was born in Plant City, Florida on 19 July, 1966. After receiving his AA degree from Hillsborough Community College, he entered the Active Duty on 27 May, 1988 at FT. Jackson, SC and began his career as a 91J- Physical Therapy Technician for three years at Fox Army Hospital, Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, AL (1988-1991). In November 1988, Daniel surrendered to the call of the ministry and worked toward his BS degree at Athens State College, Athens, Alabama. He left the Active Duty, May 1991 and entered New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and the National Guard Chaplain’s Candidate Program. He was endorsed by the Southern Baptist Convention, commissioned as a 2nd LT in January 1992 and served with the HQ STARC until Jan 1994. He completed his MDIV in the summer of 1994 and was commissioned at a 1st LT, January 1994 and transferred to 769th Combat Engineers, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He was later transferred to the 2-117 FA in Oneonta, Alabama.
Civilian Ministry Experience:
CH Middlebrooks served at Williams Blvd Baptist church from 1991-1995 as the Minister of Newlyweds, Minister of young Adults, Minister of Family Ministries and Interim Music Minister. He moved to Morgan City, AL and served as the Associate Pastor and New Building Construction Director from OCT 1995-June 1997. He served as the Senior Pastor for Hopewell Baptist Church, Plant City FL from Feb. 2013- March, 2017. He currently serves as the Command Chaplain for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and as the Chaplain for Plant City. His also volunteers as the chaplain of Plant City Fire Department and Hillsborough County School Board-Security Division. He is the President/CEO of R3 Care & Consulting, LLC and Chaplaincy Care, Inc.
Active Duty Chaplaincy/Military Experience:
He entered Active Duty again in June 1997 at Fort Campbell, Kentucky. He served in the 626 FSB (97-98) and 1/502 IN BN(99-2000); Deputy 280th BSB CH (2000-02) and 1-26 IN , Schweinfurt, Germany (2002-03); 1st Recruiting Brigade as the OIC of the CH Recruiting team (2004-06);and 10th Combat Support Hospital, Fort Carson, CO (2007-10). He last served as the Chaplain’s Career Course Senior Course manager, instructor and developer/writer.
His military Schooling includes Chaplain Officer Basic Leaders Course (93), Chaplain Career Course (2003), USAREC Chaplain Recruiting Certification, CPE (2006), and ILE (2007), and the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School Faculty Development Training/Instructor Certification. CH Middlebrooks has deployed to MFO/Egypt (1999-00), Kosovo (2002), and Iraq (2008-09).
Awards: Legion of Merit, the Bronze Star, The Meritorious Service Medal with three Oak Leave Clusters, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal with one Silver and four Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Army Achievement Medal with one Silver and two Bronze Oak Leaf Clusters, Good Conduct Medal, Army Reserve Component Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Kosovo Campaign Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal with bronze star, GWOT, Humanitarian Service Medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, Armed Forces Reserve Medal, NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Oversee Service Ribbon, NATO Medal, and MFO Medal. He earned his Air Assault Wings in 1997 and his Recruiter badge with three silver stars in 2006. He was awarded the distinguished Witherspoon Award from the OCCH and National Bible Association in 2010. He is married to the former Arienne Plyler of Brandon, Florida. They have two daughters, Erica (23) and Allison (18). Over the last 29 years of marriage, the Middlebrooks family has moved 19 times and understands what means to “Bloom where God plants you”.