Friday, December 22, 2006

Advent - A Declaration of War!

Advent: from the Latin, meaning "to come"; generally refers to the first coming of Jesus (God brought peace to man); a season preceding the Christmas celebration.


Advent should also be a reminder of His second coming, which is a declaration of war. We are at war for the King, Who is returning.

"I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and makes war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself." (Revelation 19:11-12)

Consider this is a proclamation of war in which you are already involved. You ARE in a war zone. The time to pray is now. The time to act is now!

Indiana's capital was established in deception and blood. The masonic temple downtown was once the "finest of it's kind" in the world. Pray the blood of Jesus over this land for the curses that have been laid on it. We struggle not against flesh and blood -->

"Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand." (Ephesians 6:11-13)

This next year, the war will intensify and you will no longer be able to dual-minded. We either abide in Him, or we wither and die. You are a soldier in Christ's army. You will either be a good soldier or a bad soldier, but either way, you are His to use on this battlefield. It is
yours to decide if you want to be one of His "Mighty Men".

May God's grace, peace (amidst the storm), love, and perseverance intensify in all our lives!

In Service to King Jesus,

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Managing through the pain of Christmas...

"Peace on earth and good will to men!"

Joy and Peace to all men this Christmas! It truly is a time of Joy; however, for some people, it can be reminder of a loss... a failed expectation. How do we manage through that pain (or come alongside others who feel it)?

First, we need to acknowledge the pain. Pain is a gift from God. It is like the indicator light on a dashboard saying: "Some thing's wrong!" Pain is a gift from God that says: "Take action!" The analogy is clearly understood with physical pain. For example: "Remove you hand from the fire." or "Go easy on the sprained ankle." But what about emotional pain?

The Enemy always tries to distort God's gifts. The distorted message comes through in the lies we start accepting: "It's too painful to endure.", "It's never going to get better.", etc. But the truth is that all pain is temporary, even though the Enemy uses it to discourage us... to dissuade us from the action the Lord would have us take.

So the question is: "Lord, what action would You have me take?" Do I need to adjust my expectations? Do I need to take captive my thought patterns (i.e. - "assault the strongholds")? Do I need to redirect my life and demonstrate love to others? Do I need to pray in intercession fervently? Do I need to just draw close in adoration of my Redeemer?

When we truly understand -- that all suffering is temporary... that the pain is only part of the story... that it is a call to action -- that God uses our discomfort to wage war against the Enemy, the Kingdom is advanced in our lives and in the lives of others! Then, like the early church, we can rejoice in our suffering.

Whether we're asking Him the tough questions or rejoicing in all that He is doing, Christmas remains a time for drawing close to God and enjoying the stillness of His Presence.

Peace and Joy to you and all in your sphere of influence!

Friday, December 15, 2006

The more things change, the more things stay the same...

"Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord."
Jude 3-4


"'Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
Matt 7:15-20

"The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."
Matt 3:10

"For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve... You gladly put up with fools since you are so wise! In fact, you even put up with anyone who enslaves you or exploits you or takes advantage of you or pushes himself forward or slaps you in the face."
2 Cor 11:13-15,19-20

"The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness."
2 Thess 2:9-12

"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace... Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ."
Eph 4:1-3,14-15

Thursday, December 7, 2006

The Gospel According to Paul

Is the Good News that "Jesus died on the cross to save you from your sins"? That's certainly a part of it, but ultimately, what does that mean? Take a look... and pass on the Good News of reconciliation:


All this is from God, Who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to Himself in Christ, not counting men's sins against them. And He has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
2 Corinthians 5:18-19 NIV

God's way never changes, and unfortunately, neither does the self-righteous way of man. Take a look at what He said to the prophet Ezekiel:

Yet your countrymen say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' But it is their way that is not just. If a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, he will die for it. And if a wicked man turns away from his wickedness and does what is just and right, he will live by doing so.
Ezekiel 33:17-19 NIV

Jesus came to put us in the habit of repenting, rather than issue the demoralizing condemnation of the Accuser.

"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."
John 8:11 NIV

Pray that the Church repents for pretending like "we've arrived"; that we've done what we need to for salvation; that we can now live in whatever way seems right in our own eyes. In truth we're all living in a struggle to live rightly, trusting in God's Grace.

Humility comes from the understanding that we've not yet arrived.

Trust is built as we witness how God's Presence changes us and empowers us to live rightly.

Jesus' death is an example that sets us free -- free to live in His anointing -- free to see past our immediate sufferings -- free to come into the Presence of a Holy God, Who loves us, forgives us, and empowers us to live a life free from sin.

Blessings, Peace and Love!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

A Call to Fast Dec. 1st through 3rd

I believe the Lord is calling many of us to fast. If He has placed that desire in your heart, then we should seek His will for what that looks like. It may be that He is calling you to do a complete fast (no food or water), or He may just be calling you to give up one choice food (e.g. - a cup of coffee, sweets, etc.). It could be for 1 day or 40 days. All we have to offer Him is not enough, yet He honors even the smallest step we take towards Him!

But whatever a "fast" may look like for you, this much I know from my own failures at fasting: I've done it to "lose weight" (doesn't work!) or to edify myself ("look how 'strong' I am!"). Fasting for the wrong reasons is a waste of time.

However, it is very powerful and FREEING to fast when done in the right way: every time you have the desire for that thing from which you are abstaining, it is a reminder to pray. I say: "Lord, you are more important to me than _____" or "Lord, hear my prayer for _____! It is more important than what I am temporarily giving up!"

I am joining with others to fast Friday through Sunday. Although we may have different objectives, I believe the Lord will honor our feeble attempts to draw close to Him in unison.

I am anxious to hear what the Lord does through us as we assault the very gates of hell! Darkness is the absence of Light; Cold is the absence of Heat; Evil is the absence of God. As we collectively draw close to God's Presence... His Love, the Enemy will tremble. He is trembling to know our plans even as I type.

Please forward this message on to others as the Lord leads.

Soli Deo Gloria! (To God alone be the Glory!)

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Showing God's Love Through the Holidays

Just an encouragement to all those who have labored in prayer for unbelieving family members:

It all starts with prayer... especially for our own motivation. If we come with an agenda, they can smell our religious pride a mile away. Who wants to be hit over the head with a Bible? (I write this as someone with a good swingin' arm!)

Religion would have us use love as an evangelization tool. But showing God's love is a naturally supernatural witness. (1 John 4:19) Just love on others and enjoy the holidays! In the words of Francis of Assisi: "At all times preach the Gospel. If necessary, speak!"

May the God of all creation grant you favor in the eyes of men, to whom you are ambassadors of His grace!

Peace and Thanksgiving!

Friday, November 17, 2006

WANTED: Family to spend Thanksgiving with - Will supply turkey.

As to the subject line... no, I'm not looking for a family to spend Thanksgiving with, but someone is. He or she may be rich materially but poor in real wealth.

The "cool" thing to do for us "Christians", is to help the poor once or twice a year so we can "introduce someone to Christ", and then go about our merry way. "Yes, Lord! Bless that person!", but let someone else love on them for the remaining days of the year. "Convict that person who has so much wealth, Lord!", but don't have me show them Agape love!

But...
  • The poor will always be with you. Love on them without agenda!
  • Our affluent society is starving for real food. Feed Christ's sheep!
  • Can we sow seeds of Eros and expect trees of Agape to grow?

Be encouraged:
  • 2005 was a year of plenty, when seeds of faith were sown.
  • 2006 has been a year of suffering, where as Scripture says, our hope grown.
  • 2007 is a year of decision, where perfect love is bestowed!
If this message resonates in you, act on it... for our faith without works is quite dead!

And pray... so that our works do not become a substitute for our First Love!

Love, Joy, and Peace!

Thursday, November 16, 2006

The World as Best as I Understand

There was a man who lived in a garden, perfect in every way.
And he could eat of all the fruit, except for one from which God said to refrain.
"For the day you eat that fruit," the Lord said, "you will surely die."
Yet still he took a bite, and I'll tell you why:
He said: "This fruit that's in my hands
will help me understand
how to live life as my own god."

So sin entered the world that day, staining it in every way
ruining the fabric of all life.
Yet Yahweh said: "I'll make a way!
"I'll plant a vine and graft on branches,
the branches will grow green with leaves.
And they will bear much fruit.
And renew the face of the earth."

So came a Man into this desert, perfect in every way.
The prophets say He is the Shepherd of the people that Yahweh chose to save.
Still many who hear His Voice still go their separate ways.
They say: "God's given me a choice and this is what I say:
`There's strength that's in my hands
and I've a brain that understands.
I'll do the good that I choose!'"

And sadly, the Church today echoes those words in many ways.
Tell me: "Who is God and who is not?"
For Jesus said (He says today!):
"I am the Vine. You are branches.
If a man remains in Me and I in Him,
then he will bear much fruit.
Apart from Me, you can do nothing.

So let us pray! Let us pray:
"You are the Vine; we are Your branches.
Lord Jesus remain in all of our hearts
so we will bear You much fruit
and renew the face of the earth!"

Copyright © 2006 – Mitch Malloy

Friday, November 10, 2006

Suffering and Love

I had an interesting thought the other day...

It came from a meeting at work... a one-on-one meeting where I was encouraged to think along the lines of "What's in it for me?", especially in my interactions with others. After all, that's how we "hook them" onto our agenda.

It's all too easy to think along those lines, but if we stop and consider the implications, where does that lead us?

If I interact with my co-workers, my kids, my spouse, my church, my community like that, all I'm doing is spreading seeds of "eros". However, we're called to live out a different kind of love: agape.

Why do we expect to see trees of AGAPE grow when we sow seeds of eros?

What if ALL our interactions were based on our best (albeit imperfect) understanding of the RIGHT THING? Well, that implies a sacrifice. It means doing what is in the best interest of others without regard to what they want, how they'll react, or whether I even WANT to do it.

That is the kind of love we're called to live out. Success is in the hands of God, it's just our responsibility to be faithful. We are called to be in this world and not of it...

Please pray for greater faithfulness in me and the entire Body.

Blessings, Peace and LOVE!

Thursday, October 26, 2006

A Prayer for All of US

"Thou hast preserved me from the dangers of the night past, and brought me to the light of this day, and the comfort thereof, a day which is consecrated to Thine own service and for Thine own honor. Let my heart therefore, gracious God, be so affected with the glory and majesty of it, that I may not do mine own works, but wait on Thee, and discharge those weighty duties Thou required of me.... Bless my family, kindred, friends and country, be our God and guide this day and forever for His sake."
-General George Washington

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Pruning Season?

Summary
  1. The nation of Israel is being grafted back on to Jesus, the Vine
  2. If God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either
  3. He cuts off every branch that bears no fruit
  4. Every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.
  5. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
 

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

The Age of Jude

Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt I had to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to the saints. For certain men whose condemnation was written about long ago have secretly slipped in among you. They are godless men, who change the grace of our God into a license for immorality and deny Jesus Christ our only Sovereign and Lord.

Though you already know all this, I want to remind you that the Lord delivered his people out of Egypt, but later destroyed those who did not believe. And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home - these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. In a similar way, Sodom and Gomorrah and the surrounding towns gave themselves up to sexual immorality and perversion. They serve as an example of those who suffer the punishment of eternal fire.

In the very same way, these dreamers pollute their own bodies, reject authority and slander celestial beings. But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not dare to bring a slanderous accusation against him, but said, "The Lord rebuke you!" Yet these men speak abusively against whatever they do not understand; and what things they do understand by instinct, like unreasoning animals - these are the very things that destroy them.

Woe to them! They have taken the way of Cain; they have rushed for profit into Balaam's error; they have been destroyed in Korah's rebellion. These men are blemishes at your love feasts, eating with you without the slightest qualm - shepherds who feed only themselves. They are clouds without rain, blown along by the wind; autumn trees, without fruit and uprooted - twice dead. They are wild waves of the sea, foaming up their shame; wandering stars, for whom blackest darkness has been reserved forever.

Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied about these men: "See, the Lord is coming with thousands upon thousands of his holy ones to judge everyone, and to convict all the ungodly of all the ungodly acts they have done in the ungodly way, and of all the harsh words ungodly sinners have spoken against him." These men are grumblers and faultfinders; they follow their own evil desires; they boast about themselves and flatter others for their own advantage.

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires." These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God's love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy - to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

NOTE: The above extract from The Book of Jude starting at verse 3 through the end of the book. Please note that this is the last book before Revelation, the final book of the Bible and a description of the End Times.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

From Hell with Love...

I've had many well-intentioned people tell me (directly or indirectly) that once you become a Christian, your life becomes wonderful. All the old problems go away as we come into the Kingdom, right? We no longer live under the spiritual and material poverty of the past, because God comes in and fixes all that.

Well, it's true that God's principals lead to blessings in this world as well as the next, but it's not without struggles. Sometimes the Father takes us from our life of destitution and lifts us into a position that we couldn't have attained. Other times, He lets us struggle with the opposition. For example, one person may come to know the Lord and immediately be cured of their alcohol addiction. Another comes to know the Lord, yet struggles with alcohol for life.

Does God love one more than the other? Or does He allow us to struggle? This I know:
  • God will not give us more than we can handle
  • Every time I expect that life is somehow supposed to be easy, I'm setting myself up for disappointment... this world resists my efforts and the entire order of the cosmos is against all followers of Christ!
  • Christ has overcome the world!
  • He gives me strength to carry on!
  • We are to count ourselves worthy to suffer with Him!!!
I don't know about you, but I don't always want to count myself worthy... especially when I'm in the midst of the suffering! It's usually only before or after that suffering that I feel privileged. But that's not the attitude I'm called to have... my "attitude should be like Christ Jesus". Christ denied Himself many comforts and underwent suffering undeservedly for our sakes. Similarly, we bear greatest witness not in our prosperity, but in how we choose to deny ourselves in the midst of prosperity. We bear great witness to our Hope as we persevere in His Ways during our suffering.

We can expect to suffer... and we can rejoice in this: that we sometimes know we're on the right path just because of the opposition we feel along the way. It is a long distance run which we run... run with perseverance! Do not stop when you reach an obstacle: go through it or around it! Either way, continue the race that's marked out for you because you are surrounded by a huge crowd of witnesses! And count yourself privileged to fight this battle for the Lord God and King, Who loves you and finds you worthy of the engagement. People are watching for your response: little children, office acquaintances, and other suffering believers.

The prosperity gospel, that promises prosperity once you become a Christian is a lie straight from Hell. Many well-intentioned people preach this false gospel, but it's not the message that Jesus or the early Church taught. From Hell with love... that's what a prosperity gospel is. Don't buy into it.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Symptoms of the Disease

There's a disease that has been eating away at the Body of Christ like an aggressive cancer. It's subtle and seems to spring up from out of nowhere. Any part of the Body is susceptible to this disease, and although it's relatively easy to notice it in other parts of the Body, it's really hard to diagnose when you're close to it. It's called "RELIGION".

It doesn't matter what Christian tradition you come from... it's always there. Sure, we can point the finger at others and say: "Those poor ______ believers are so caught up in _______ that they're missing out on God's fullness for them." But the reality is that we're all missing out. Even non-traditional denominations can catch the disease. No one is immune.

Fortunately, there are some symptoms that can help you diagnose yourself:
  1. Control. Do you find yourself trying to control others?
  2. Conformity. Do you find youself trying to get others to conform to your way, style or opinions?
  3. Complexity / Confusion. Christ had a really simple message, which He refused to clutter with theological complexity. K.I.S.S. = Keep  It Simple, Silly!
  4. Construction. Are you playing the part of Martha, wanting others to get involved in your ministry tasks in order to build something... Jesus told Martha that Mary did the better thing in just spending time with Him.
  5. Criticism / Condemnation. Jesus reserved His harsh words for the religious authority of His day, but He showed loving grace to even the m0st sinful... no matter how many times they'd been married or if they were in a sinful lifestyle.
  6. Comfortable. The Way Jesus told us about was far from comfortable... it was (and remains) an exciting ride!
  7. Completion. Religion always offers a false promise of completion: "Do ________ to be righteous"; "If you only do these 10 things, you've punched the ticket you need to in order to reach heaven"; "You will stop sinning if you just ______"; etc. Jesus on the other hand says: "Let go of the things of this world and just spend time with Me." It's always been a process and not a destination. The early Church understood this, which is why they were referred to as "Followers of the Way".
  8. Corporatism. Are you operating more like a corporation than a family?
    (HINT: A corporation has program directors who direct activities and behavior, but a family has parents who discern and disciple the hearts of their children.)
These are the symptoms. Jesus is still the Great Physician. May the Lord heal His Body, including each of us, It's members.
 
Blessings!

Friday, September 8, 2006

Fight Christian Fatigue - Just Sit There!

Are you striving for something beyond what God has said to do? Jesus told us to "abide in Him" as He abides in the Father. Paul wrote that we are changed from "glory to glory". The early Christians were first known as followers of the Way, implying a process rather than a destination. Jesus also told us to come to Him like the children. Maybe all Our Father wants is for us to be like a child in His Presence (like Mary)... no need to strive or "do" anything (like Martha) except as He directs (Luke 17:10).

Meanwhile, the original sin, committed also by Lucifer, was to become like God. I'm learning to become satisfied with the fact that God is God and I'm not... and that's a real good thing. I strive to do what's right in order to please the Father, knowing that I'm always in the process of "becoming" rather than reaching a "completion" point.

If I know that I'm in a long distance race, I can set a pace and keep going... however, if I believe that I've got to sprint, I tire myself out too early. I believe one of the ways we get exhausted in our Christian walk is by trying to sprint our way to the completion point, which is eternally beyond our grasp. As a pastor once put it to me: "Don't just do something... sit there!" The Good News is that Our Father wants a relationship with us! His Kingdom grows naturally (both in us and around us) as we just spend time with Him.

That's what pleases God most. No more striving is necessary.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Few Simple Rules

The Lord reminds me often (mostly because I need it). Here's a few simple rules to live by:
  • Love one another
  • Obey what God tells you to do
  • Remain in His Presence
  • Bear witness to all that He does

 Or in His words:
 
"I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you... I tell you the truth, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.... A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another... You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
 
"If you love me, you will obey what I command... I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful... Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
 
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you... You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit—fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other... Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also... If I had not done among them what no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin. But now they have seen these miracles, and yet they have hated both me and my Father... And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning."
 
John 13:15, 20, 34-35, 14:14-15, 15:1-2, 4-7, 16-17, 20, 24, 27 (NIV)

 

Monday, August 14, 2006

Prayer Changes...

I ran into a friend yesterday. He asked me how things were going, so I gave him an honest answer. He knew that I had been struggling with vocational issues and that I had been pretty frustrated. Alot of times people don't think enough about where someone else may be... they're too wrapped up in their own frustrations. But not my friend. I confess that I can often fall into the "out of sight / out of mind" trap. I don't know if my friend is more dedicated in his consideration of others than I can often be, but yesterday he thought enough to ask... so I gave him an honest answer:

"Pretty good!" I said, "Although nothing much has changed... just my attitude."

Prayer changes things. Especially me. The fundamental, most exciting thing about prayer SHOULD be the privilege we have to come into the Presence of God. The second is how it changes us. We can "serve" God in action. We can study Scripture intellectually. We can "minister" to others in our natural giftings. But we can't fake prayer.

All activities done apart from prayer puff up the ego... and are as dry as the desert. "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." (Luke 18:1)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Sound the Shofar!

Wake Up Prayer Warriors! The battle for the heart of Indiana continues!

Faith, Hope and Love has started again, beginning with the prayer walk yesterday at the Circle. Who will stand in the gap? Who will pray for renewed Hope in this area? Who will choose to Hope ?

J.R.R. Tolkien had an interesting perspective on Hope ... as a young boy he lost both his parents. Later, as a young Oxford graduate, he saw the awful destruction of World War I, watching many of his friends and colleagues perish in the "war to end all wars". And even after that horror, he lived through the Second World War... and a cold war... so much death, destruction and despair. However, Tolkien saw Hope as refusing to despair.

I admit to moments of despair since last summer. This world, this culture, revolves around Eros and not Agape. The first question many of us ask when challenged to serve is: "What's in it for me?" (Or "How does my church benefit?") We live more in Eros (a desire to get) rather than Agape (a decision to do what's best for another).

But why should we despair? Didn't Jesus tell us that although the entire world is against us, we should take heart because He has overcome the world? The Greek word used for "world" is "cosmos", which is the entire order of the universe. The order of the universe is against us... but be encouraged: Jesus has overcome this order!

Do you believe that? The Lord knows that I believe... may He heal my disbelief!!!

The Circle at the center of Indianapolis has cars going around it in a counter-clockwise direction, which reflects the culture of this area. The order of this area goes counter to "progress". Indiana is well-known throughout the nation as a "slow adopter", "resistant to change". This counter-clockwise movement happens 24x7x365. However, we're called to bring about change to this order... meaningful change, not just "something different"... something wonderful! We're called to usher in a transformation! The Kingdom is like yeast that makes it's way through the entire dough, transforming it from the beginnings of a brittle cracker to a pliable loaf of bread.

If we want to see a change in this area, it needs to start with US first! We need to be willing to change... to get away from our preconceived religious notions... repent of our desire to make others like ourselves... and we need to seek first to love God intensely while loving others intentionally. We need to move "clockwise", progressively as we are changed from glory to glory, resisting the tendency to go as the world around us goes. We need to refuse to despair, because as Alan Keyes had once phrased it, "whether we are many, few, or one" we are called to a different standard. And it all begins with prayer.

Two things scare the Enemy: 1) spending time in communion with God and 2) taking the time to intentionally love others... without agenda. If someone can be talked into the Kingdom, they can be talked out of it, but no one who is loved into the Kingdom will ever want to leave.

Who will continue in Faith? Who will choose to Hope? Who will decide to Love?

My prayer is that we all answer the call!

Soli Deo Gloria!