Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, May 24, 2013

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Free from self, Friend.

I was awakened at 3:30 this morning. Nothing happened, no noises or movements. I was just suddenly awake. This has happened from time to time ever since I have been filled with the Spirit. It usually means I get to pray for an hour or so. Over the last two years it has been more frequent, corresponding to a prompting from God about turning up the prayer fire in our church. For the last 6 weeks, since He spoke to me about a new emphasis on prayer in the closet, it has gotten almost predictable. I believe God is doing something serious in the realm of prayer, and I am going to be part of it! As I lay there praying, I noted the content of my prayer: it was not about me. I believe we spend too much of our precious prayer time talking to God about ourselves. Thin how bored you get when someone talks incessantly about themselves. Now how do you think God feels? Two things keep us bound to the tether of self in our prayer life:

· Sin consciousness: I was taught when I first came to the Lord that I should start every session of prayer by examining myself and repenting of every wrong I could remember. What a ridiculous waste of time! I am designed to walk in constant fellowship with God. If I do something that offends Him, I confess it immediately and it is immediately removed. (1 Jn 1:9) I do not have to carry the guilt and weight of my failures around all day until my designated prayer time. I deal with it when it happens. When I enter the prayer closet I go in talking about Him, not about me. I enter His gates with thanksgiving, not repenting. As long as the devil can keep me focused on my failures he keeps my prayer life centered on me. That prevents me from praying about things that might actually be fruitful.

· Need consciousness: Our wonderful message of faith teaches us that our needs were taken care of in the work of Christ at Calvary. When I pray about my needs, I pray one time, believe I receive, then I go on with the business of the Kingdom. It is done! That should mean that my personal prayer time is not taken up with praying repeatedly about my own needs. I am a tither, therefore the window of heaven are open to me. I am healed by the stripes of Jesus, and that is a done deal. Unfortunately, our prayers are often consumed with the recitation of our own needs and desires. Sometimes we dress them up as confessions of “faith” or expressions of feigned thanksgiving, but the desperate tone gives us away. We are really just nagging in the fear-driven hope that He will relent and actually meet the need we claim we have already received. That is not faith, it is badgering. The needs of others are either forgotten or relegated to a quick “God bless Billie Sue,” as we spend our intimate time with the Father wheedling Him about our own fancies. The world waits for a church that is not self-obsessed.

God thinks He forgave your sin when you confessed it, and met your need when you asked Him. Isn’t there something else you could find to talk to him about?

Somebody Said: "Talking to men for God is a great thing, but talking to God for men is greater still." E. M. Bounds

Scripture Reading Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God’s mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God’s ambassador. So pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for Him, as I should. (Eph 6:18-20 NLT)

Our closet time with the Father need not be like a visit to the Principal’s Office, or a trip to see Santa at the department store. It can be a time of intimate interaction with a beloved companion, and an opportunity to impact eternity on behalf of others. I encourage you to listen to the content of your closet conversations. Who commands the spotlight?



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Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, May 2, 2013
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Head for the closet, Friend!!
Today is the National Day of Prayer here in the United States. As usual, we were invited to several events to mark the day, and I’m sure all of them were good. For the last two years we have been emphasizing prayer in our church. We have taught on it and established more regular prayer times in the building. We have recruited prayer partners committed to pray together throughout the week in their own homes, and we have implemented a method to make sure every church member has someone praying for him or her every day. Last week I was in Virginia for a series of special meetings. As I prayed about the content, I was impressed to teach on prayer. I put together a mountain of material, not sure exactly what direction I would take. On the eve of the first service I was meditating on Matthew 6:5-8 when I heard the Holy Spirit say, “There must be a revival in the closet before there can be a revival in the street.” That was the theme I took for those meetings: It’s time for a closet revival.
As we progressed through our meetings, we saw the fervor for prayer in the church take a real upturn. My belief is that the fervor continues in the closets of Richmond. My intent is to take the essence of this message to anyone who wants to get in on it. Here is a brief overview for those who are ready to go for it:

  • The revival has to start in the closet. Prayer is required in order for God to move in the earth. It is His design.
  • Christian prayer is based on what Jesus has done. I come boldly to make petition for the saints. My prayer life is not primarily about me.
  • The closet revival is marked by thanksgiving. 1 Corinthians 14:18 tells me Paul sang in tongues in his closet a lot. (Read the context) I will follow suit.
  • Satan fights against speaking in tongues with the full force of Hell. He is terrified that we will remember who we are and get serious in the closet.
  • We have allowed ourselves to be intimidated and become ashamed of the Holy Spirit – that is the design of Satan himself to stop this glorious tool that God invented to get His plan done in the earth.
  • Praying in tongues allows us to overcome weaknesses and pray when we don’t know what to pray for. It allows God to pray the outworking of His plan without having to understand it!
  • Tongues are a vital part of interceding for other believers. Ez 22:24-31 God is looking for specific pray-ers for specific situations. He searches by moving on men’s hearts by His Spirit.
  • We must be attentive to the touch of God in our hearts, and then persevere in prayer until the burden lifts and victory comes.
  • This selfless act of love is carried out in the closet. We have been given much, and much is expected. Our rewards will come for our secret acts of obedience in the prayer closet. Jn 15:13 – no greater love than giving our lives to pray for others. It is time for a closet revival

Somebody Said: "God does nothing but by prayer, and everything with it." John Wesley
Scripture Reading But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. (Matthew 6:6 KJV)
I want to invite you to join me in a closet revival. Be available to the Spirit of God, and don’t be bashful about speaking with tongues until the gusher comes. I am convinced that when the closet gets fired up again, the streets will quickly follow.

Our FMTI course on Powerful Prayer is available at www.fmtionline.com

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, April 18, 2013
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
I believe in the 2nd Amendment, Friend.

I have listened with considerable interest to the debate over gun control in the United States. Prompted by a school shooting in Connecticut, many have thought it a good idea to make new laws making guns harder to acquire. Anyone with a heart wants to do something substantive to prevent violence, especially in a schoolhouse. My personal history makes me pretty comfortable with firearms. I don’t remember the first time I fired a gun. I was very young. Dad thought it was important. Some of my early memories are of my grandmother answering the front door of her rural home/business with a shotgun in hand. Don’t knock after dark if you don’t want to go through granny’s security check. That said, I sometimes struggle with the subject as a Christian. I don’t really want to shoot anyone. Crimes against property are heinous, but I am not at all certain Jesus would approve of my killing a kid for stealing my copper wire. Crimes against the weak and the innocent are a different matter. I would probably resort to force to protect my wife or a child. . With those things in mind, here are my thoughts on the subject:

  1. As our economy spiral toward its own destruction, I certainly want to be able to kill food if necessary or desirable.
  2. There are lots of disturbed and evil people in the world who should not have firearms. However, they tend to ignore laws. That is part of being disturbed and evil.
  3. If the disturbed and evil people are probably going to have firearms, it might be prudent for me to have them as well.
  4. As a Christian, I depend on the angels that have been given charge over me to protect me, however, I may be called upon to protect the lives of the innocent.
  5. All evil and disturbed people are not identified as criminals. Historically, many of them have been government agents of some kind. Indeed, many more people have been annihilated by governments than by “private” killers.
  6. Evil and disturbed people from hostile nations are dedicated to destroying the country I love. They are on public record as desiring to do acts of mass violence in the streets of our cities. If and when the central government fails in its charge to protect us, I may be the last line of defense against outside invasion.
  7. With gun ownership, as with all questions of government authority, the issue is, “Who decides?”

Our founders were quite leery of the power of a central government, recognizing that power is a powerful and addictive intoxicant. All things which can be left to the individual ought to be left to the individual. Freedom of speech, press, and religion are universally recognized as keys to a free society. In that same vein, freedom to possess firearms is absolutely essential. The folks with all the guns get to make all the rules.
Somebody Said: I have a very strict gun control policy: if there’s a gun around, I want to be in control of it. Clint Eastwood
Scripture Reading "Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. (Matthew 10:16 NKJV)
As a Christian, my primary calling is to preach the Gospel, make disciples of the converts, love the brethren, and comfort the orphan and the widow. I am not planning on shooting people, but as a matter of wisdom, I reserve the right to decide if I should own a weapon.
Check out my new book "You Are a Keeper!" at http://www.lulu.com/shop/virgil-stokes/youre-a-keeper/paperback/product-20954506.html

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Jesus is alive, Friend!!!!

I heard an interesting discussion last night on a news program. The moderator was lamenting the demise of our culture. He cited the rise of secularism and the overt hostility of the media to things Christian. He opined about the assault on Christmas and the Easter Bunny. He pointed out that Islam was ascendant and seemingly unstoppable. He even prophesied that Christians here would soon be openly persecuted as the masses cheer. The death of the “Christian philosophy” is imminent because the Church will not stand up and fight back. We must aggressively defend our “traditions.” His guest, a prominent Baptist pastor, agreed with much of his assessment, but at the end of their discussion he interjected this comment: “I still believe that we can overcome all this through the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.” What a relief – a pastor who still knows the core issue. Jesus is alive! The moderator responded, as do many Christians today, “Well, I just don’t know about that, Pastor, I just don’t know.” How sad!

Well, I do know: Jesus is alive and well! Christianity is neither our tradition nor our philosophy. It is who we are and whose we are. We are in intimate connection with a living Savior, and at the risk of being offensive, He has already triumphed over Islam and secular progressivism and atheism and whatever else. Their proponents conspired to kill Him, but the grave couldn’t hold Him. The same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in us. We have victory over the spiritual wickedness in this world because the Greater One in me is greater than the defeated one in them. The question is not, “Can we save our culture?” It is “Will we fulfill our commission?” Our culture is transient and changes daily. Our unchanging truth is that Jesus is alive from the grave. He ascended bodily into heaven to wait for us to get the job done here. Our simple message gets lost in the argument over meaningless cultural artifacts. Jesus is alive, and I can prove it. He gives me power to do business in His Name as I confront the forces of spiritual darkness around me. The people who manifest that darkness are precious souls for whom Christ died, and they are the reason I am still here. Yes, the resurrection power of Jesus Christ is sufficient to overcome anything the “culture” has to offer, one transformed life at a time.

Somebody Said: Do not abandon yourselves to despair. We are the Easter people and hallelujah is our song. Pope John Paul II

Scripture Reading It stands to reason, doesn’t it, that if the alive-and-present God who raised Jesus from the dead moves into your life, he’ll do the same thing in you that he did in Jesus, bringing you alive to himself? When God lives and breathes in you (and he does, as surely as he did in Jesus), you are delivered from that dead life. With his Spirit living in you, your body will be as alive as Christ’s! So don’t you see that we don’t owe this old do-it-yourself life one red cent. There’s nothing in it for us, nothing at all. The best thing to do is give it a decent burial and get on with your new life. God’s Spirit beckons. There are things to do and places to go! (Romans 8:11-14 MSG)

Easter is a great time to remind ourselves that we are not members of a religious club or a philosophical school of thought or a political party. We are the Body of the living Christ, indwelt by the same Spirit that raised Him from the dead. We are here on a mission from God and He has given us more than enough to get it done. Jesus is alive, gitty-up!



Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, March 15, 2013

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Watch out for ceiling fans, Friend.

I had the opportunity yesterday to think about ceiling fans. For Judy and I “It’s the ceiling fans” has become a code phrase for anyone who gets mad about something that seems trivial. You know they are not telling you the real issue. Years ago we had in our church a lovely lady who left us because, she said, “The ceiling fans bother me.” She had been part of our church for several years, and the ceiling fans were there the whole time. We had been to her home to minister healing, fielded calls in the middle of the night, and treated here with respect. She had been miraculously healed, served in the church, and been an avid fan of our ministry. It simply couldn’t be the fans that cause her to leave the church family where God had set her. The real story was that she had become offended many months before. She disagreed with a decision I made about funding for a youth mission. She thought I was too generous. (I hope that is my biggest fault!) She shared her opinion about the sluggardly ways of modern youth and my plan to encourage their delinquency. I thought about it and disagreed. I was the Pastor, so we did it my way! She was offended. She nurtured here offence. Her bitterness became so palpable that the very touch of the breeze from the fans that used to cool her now gave her discomfort.

That pattern is oft-repeated. The writer of Hebrews warns that bitterness can poison us and cause damage to those around us (Heb 12:15) In that case the bitterness was a result of stern correction from spiritual authority. Paul warns husbands to avoid becoming bitter against their wives (Col 3:19). Men who expect wives (or anyone, for that matter) to perfectly meet their needs are doomed to bitterness. Hannah had bitterness of soul because she thought God had not answered her prayer in a timely fashion (1 Sam 1:10). Peter saw bitterness in Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:23). His bitterness arose out of envy for the way God used others. Offence always comes in a church where the Word is being taught. Jesus said it was one of the ways the Word gets stolen (Mk 4:17). Offence nurtured produces bitterness of heart, and that is poison. The ceiling fans are a great way to diagnose a poisoned attitude: Am I irritated by things that used to bless me? Do I begrudge the time for things that used to bring me joy? Am I avoiding someone I use to look forward to seeing? Have I become cynical when the offering time comes around? Do I find myself making snide comments about leaders I once revered? If so, I need a good dose of the blood of Jesus to remove what Hebrews calls the “root of bitterness.”

Somebody Said: Bitterness imprisons life; love releases it. Harry Emerson Fosdick

Scripture Reading Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you. (Ephesians 4:31-32 NLT)

Offence that festers is a dangerous thing. Don’t let it steal the blessing God has for you in the place He has planted you. Correction is to be welcomed even if it is uncomfortable, it is a manifestation of love. God may not dance to your tune all the time. The gifts in others are to be celebrated, not resented. People can’t salve your pain or meet your needs, don’t expect them to. It is always a mistake to poison yourself because of the perceived failures of others.


www.fcftucson.org .

The Powerful Prayer course is now available online at www.fmtionline.com.

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, February 22, 2013

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

Love those new folks, Friend.

A few weeks ago our microwave broke down. In our busy life, this is a crisis of some magnitude, so I went to work. I ran through reviews online to find some brands that were well-recommended. I then found the addresses of local stores that handle those brands. Judy and I trekked off to the mall to start the next phase of our hunt. After a 20 minute drive we circled to find a parking place. We parked and walked the considerable distance to the store. After a few moments of disorientation, we stumbled on to the right department. In the main aisle were four men dressed in matching shirts emblazoned with the company logo and announcing their positions as sales personnel. They were busily involved in standing cross-armed, laughing and talking with each other. Proceeding past them, we found the microwave aisle about 20 feet away. We looked over the selection, moving slowly around and around the display. On each lap we passed by the gaggle of salesmen. After several minutes of circling, we located the model of interest on the top shelf. I wanted to inspect the machine, but it was boxed up. I looked back at the gathering of helpful staff. One of them nodded in acknowledgment, and then went back to chatting. We left. They may have had the best price on the best machine that would have perfectly met our need. I will never know. We bought another brand from another store.

I couldn’t help but wonder how often similar things happen to church searchers. Every Sunday someone somewhere feels a Spirit-prompted need to touch God in some way. They do research online, or by phone with friends, or maybe just by remembering an attractive sign they saw on the way to work. They get up, get dressed and pile in the car to drive to church. They navigate the parking lot and make it to the holy sanctuary. God help us if they find an unfamiliar room peopled by small groups of intensely interacting saints oblivious to their need for information and direction. For us church folk, it is perfectly natural to want to catch up with our church family. It is normal to feel comfortable talking to people we know. I personally believe, however, that it is well nigh unforgivable to allow these things to prevent us from welcoming and serving those who God has drawn to us for the first time. The new person is the most important person in the room. They may not know it, but they have an appointment with God. We are there to help them fulfill it. We have a remarkable, indeed priceless, product. Our job is to make it as simple as possible for folks to access it.

Somebody Said: It’s not what you’ve got, it’s what you use that makes a difference. Zig Ziglar

Scripture Reading So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! (Romans 15:7 MSG)

People are precious, but often fragile. Handle with grace. We are the open arms of Jesus. Let us embrace.


www.fcftucson.org .

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, February 15, 2013
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Take time to read, Friend.

A few days ago I was reading an article about a fellow who spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast. He is a pediatric neurosurgeon considered to be at the top of his field. He is also an African-American who was raised in inner-city poverty by a single mother with a third grade education. She taught him some wonderful life lessons. He learned that he must work and depend on himself. She taught him not to make excuses, but to take responsibility. One particular story really struck a chord in me. In her work as household help in well-to-do homes, she noticed something: the people who lived in those big houses rarely spent the evening watching TV. They conversed, they worked, and most importantly, they read. She came home and informed her two sons that TV was now officially limited. They would learn to read. What a treasure to give someone, a love of reading.
Our popular culture is too loud, too base, and too superficial to provide us with anything valuable. The so-called journalistic media has deteriorated to doing little more than pimping for their favorite political party. Most folks are simply deluged with meaningless electronic drivel. It is mind-numbing. I guess the message is this: force yourself to read. Read things that challenge you. Read things that make you think. Read things for which you need to keep a dictionary nearby. If you read things that make you mad, ask yourself why you are so defensive. Is it that you cannot adequately defend your own beliefs? If so, read until you can. The same technology that allows infinite nonsense into your home and office can also provide massive amounts of reading material at the click of a mouse. You can read on your phone, your tablet, or your computer. You can do it on the bus, in the bed, or on the treadmill. Don’t know what to read? Ask three people you admire for their favorite books and their favorite periodical. Then read the list. By the time you are done you will have a new list of your own.
Somebody Said: Never be entirely idle; but either be reading, or writing, or praying or meditating or endeavoring something for the public good. Thomas a Kempis
Scripture Reading He composed some 3,000 proverbs and wrote 1,005 songs. He could speak with authority about all kinds of plants, from the great cedar of Lebanon to the tiny hyssop that grows from cracks in a wall. He could also speak about animals, birds, small creatures, and fish. And kings from every nation sent their ambassadors to listen to the wisdom of Solomon. (1 Kings 4:32-34 NLT)
I thank God for parents who gave me the precious gift of reading, first to me, then with me.. The human mind and heart work very much on the same principle as the computer: garbage in, garbage out. This week, for just one hour a day, turn off the TV and read. You will be better for it, and others may begin to listen when you speak!
www.fcftucson.org .

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, February 2, 2013

Building People of Substance for Works of Power

You are planted, Friend

Last Sunday our Volunteer Coordinator was sharing on his role in helping new members get connected in a place of service. In the process he made a great analogy: “Becoming a member is like the difference in renting an apartment and owning a house.” The more I thought about that, the more profound it seemed. The difference is a sense of ownership – translate that “responsibility.” The person with a commitment is an owner, not a tenant; a player, not a fan. I know we are a little odd, in that we have a membership process. We ask people to make a commitment to us as their pastors and to the church as their family in the Lord. It may be odd, but it means something to us. Personally, I believe that it is impossible for a Christian to fully experience the blessing and purpose God intends without a committed relationship to a local church. We call that “membership.” Paul said that as Christians, we are not just members of the Universal Church, but members of one another; connected horizontally as well as vertically. We are planted trees, not tumbleweeds; building blocks, not rolling stones.

  • A planted tree flourishes in the presence of God for the long haul: Ps 92:13-15
  • A planted tree bears fruit, prospers, and doesn’t wither: Psalm 1:3
  • Planted trees bring glory to God: Is 61:3
  • A building block is fixed in place to house the Presence: Eph 2:21-22 / 1 Pet 2:5

Sure not everyone keeps their commitments, but al least they were asked to make one. At least one time, they have to consciously say, “No, I just want to watch the rest of you live out the Kingdom. I find it entertaining, but not compelling.”

Somebody Said: Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. Vince Lombardi

Scripture Reading: Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. (Romans 12:4-5 NLT)

If you don’t have a commitment, make one! It’s good being an owner. It builds equity.


www.fcftucson.org .

Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Friday, January 18, 2013
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Feeling a little fatigued, Friend?

The man on the radio sounds genuinely distressed. It seems that a star athlete, in this case a bike rider, has been cheating. Apparently this is a surprise. Baseball has no one in the Hall of Fame this year because they all cheated. The economy is in the tank because our banking giants cheated, and the political hacks who were supposed to watch them were on the payroll. Goofballs are shooting up innocents at an alarming rate, while the regulators seek power in the name of safety and the gun-makers seek profit in the name of liberty and the spineless psychiatric establishment natters on about nothing. We spend hours and millions debating how to deal with the symptoms of the real problem: our nation has a character deficit. Men without Christ are inherently selfish and self-centered. Christians without commitment are carnal at best and nominal at worst. They look just like the world. We ignore this reality at our own peril. The character of a culture cannot exceed the character of the individuals that comprise it.

It isn’t too surprising that we are characterologically challenged. We have systematically removed from our lives the things that build character: personal responsibility, moral absolutes, and a healthy fear of God. For me, the question is not “What is the problem?” The question is, “What is my responsibility before God?” For the Church, the challenge is reaching the world without becoming the world. And it is a challenge. In order to get a hearing in the culture at large, one must do or say something that the culture will attend to. This usually leads to trying to imitate the lost in order to win them. That is a strategy doomed to self-destruct. For the individual, the question is much less panoramic. As an individual Christian, my responsibility is not to change the world, but to go into the world to get a hearing with each creature I meet. That is usually incredibly simple. All it requires is the willingness to listen, to be kind, and to share truth when the door opens. Law doesn’t change evil. Grace changes evil. Grace impacts character one person at a time, and I can do that.

Somebody Said: When wealth is lost, nothing is lost; when health is lost, something is lost; when character is lost, all is lost. Billy Graham

Scripture Reading: And may the Master pour on the love so it fills your lives and splashes over on everyone around you, just as it does from us to you. May you be infused with strength and purity, filled with confidence in the presence of God our Father when our Master Jesus arrives with all his followers. (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13 MSG)

One fellow said that those who are earnestly trying to live right in our culture are in danger of suffering “righteousness fatigue.” He meant they were tired from carrying the weight of all the ne’er-do-wells around them. If you are feeling weary, suffering a little righteousness fatigue, remember it’s not your job to change the nation. Just love the one you’re with. Jesus will change the nation.

www.fcftucson.org .

The Year of Overcoming Triskaidekaphobia

Thursday, January 10, 2013
Building People of Substance for Works of Power
Trust and obey, Friend.

Like most preachers, I usually make some sort of proclamation concerning the New Year. This year I have deemed it “The Year of Overcoming Triskaidekaphobia.” For those who are not up to speed on this condition, it means fear of the number 13. The history of the superstition surrounding this number is a little murky, but it seems an appropriate reference based on what the Spirit has been saying to me. In seeking the Lord about the year ahead, I first looked to those to whom I am submitted to hear what they are saying. For this year I am in agreement with our FCF Founder, Pat Harrison: this is the year we will learn to live without fear. The world is spinning frighteningly out of control. The good news is that Jesus has overcome the world. The antidote to fear is faith. We will need to use all the faith we have learned and trust God in the middle of the mess.

In my own heart, I believe that this year will see a rise in rebellion. E. W. Bullinger suggests that the number 13 is associated with rebellion based on Gen 14:4 as the first mention, and the circumcision of Ishmael as the second. I am not a big numerology guy, but somehow this rang true in my spirit. The world will continue to throw off what they see as the shackles of Christian belief. There will be increased hostility toward the things of God as they shake their fist at any authority. The government we once trusted for protection will increasingly become our enemy. Unfortunately, the church will not be exempt from the rebellious spirit. Ishmaels among us will rise up against their covenant partners. Folks you thought loved you will begin to buck. Each of us will be challenged to keep our own attitudes submissive and obedient, and to stay plugged in where God planted us. The nation will find itself increasingly divided, and the spirit of rebellion will increase on both sides of the political spectrum. Unrest will be the order of the day. As Christians we will be challenged to decide where our lines will be drawn concerning laws that contradict our faith. Some things are matters of political conviction, but not biblical mandate. We must strive to be intellectually honest in these areas. The challenge is ever to remain submissive and respectful while obeying God. We will each need to revisit the things the Lord has given us to do and remind ourselves of our calling. We are here for a reason and a season. The resources, influence and energy God has given us are for the purpose of furthering His agenda, not ours. Peace, provision, and joy are in the place of faith and obedience.

Somebody Said: The bottom line in the Christian life is obedience and most people don’t even like the word. Charles Stanley

Scripture Reading: “Come. Sit down. Let’s argue this out.” This is GOD’s Message: “If your sins are blood-red, they’ll be snow-white. If they’re red like crimson, they’ll be like wool. If you’ll willingly obey, you’ll feast like kings. But if you’re willful and stubborn, you’ll die like dogs.” That’s right. GOD says so. (Isaiah 1:18-20 MSG)

In 2013 the challenges will be fear and rebellion; the victory will come through faith and obedience. Trust and obey, for there’s no other way.

www.fcftucson.org .

Looking for Leadership

Praying for God to give us leadership at the national level.  Gleaning from several sources, I found the definition of leadership to be a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent.  A leader leads by inspiration and instruction, building consensus in achieving a widely held objective. On the other hand, the dictionary says that a pimp is a person, especially a man, who solicits customers for a prostitute or a brothel, usually in return for a share of the earnings; a procurer, a despicable person. The pimp may exercise control over his workers through addiction to drugs and or threat of harm.  In watching the proceedings in Washington, I find very little that looks like leadership, but a lot that looks like pimping.  Maybe we should change the titles to Majority Pimp and Minority Pimp.  Now taking suggestions for a new word for senator.

Just a thought.


Out of the Abundance of the Heart

Hello, Friend!
I am pleased to announce that the mp3 recordings of our messages are now available for download from our website. Several folks have expressed a desire to listen to our teaching on their mp3 players, computers, or phones. That is now possible. Simply go to http://www.fcftucson.org/social.php and click on the "Most Recent services" icon at the top of the page, choose the service you want to hear, then click on "DOWNLOAD" in the column of buttons on the right. You can then choose the "Audio" button that pops up on your screen.

Enjoy the teaching and have a blessed New Year.

Pastor Virgil