This past Sunday, an excited and focused group of people gathered together for a singular purpose - to let our government leaders know that we stand for traditional marriage and for the right to vote on issues that affect the moral compass of our society. Deitrick and Damita Haddon, the Rev. Walter Fauntroy and the Rev. Alveda King (niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.) were among the notables who spoke. Here is the speech I delivered at that event.
Today we are gathering in front of the greatest symbol of American power - the Capitol. We come here today to express our confidence in the institution of marriage. More specifically, we have also come to say to the residents of Washington, D.C.; our two houses of Congress, the Supreme Court and the President of these great United States that marriage (in its traditional form) is one of the nation's richest treasures.
We've dumbed down the gospel for too long. Let's rediscover the Bible and become mature disciples.
I love words. That's why I do a crossword puzzle every day—not just because it is the mental equivalent of a three-mile bicycle ride, but also because I enjoy discovering that a word such as "coulrophobia" means a fear of clowns, or that "jobbernowl" means a stupid person.
Words are especially important to us as Christians, not only because Jesus is the logos—the word made flesh (see John 1:14)—but because our faith rests on the truth revealed by God in the Bible. We can't really know Him apart from the God-inspired words that describe who He is and what He has done for us.
The opposite of confidence and worth is self-pity. Self-pity occurs when we feel we are warranted to receive but get passed by. This can occur in our natural or spiritual life. Self-pity helps define our moment or, may I say, cause us to miss our moment. We feel we are deserving or entitled to a blessing, and we lose faith when we see a blessing slip past our life.
One of the best examples of self-pity is the crippled man at the pool of Bethesda (see John 5). Jesus knew his full condition and then asked the man if he wanted to be healed.
Let's stop the hypnotism, the guilt manipulation and the high-pressure gimmicks. It's time to reclaim our lost credibility.
Normally I'd rather go to the dentist for a root canal than watch a telethon. But while channel surfing a few nights ago I tuned into PBS and discovered that Aretha Franklin, the legendary Queen of Soul, was hosting a fundraiser for the network. Seated at a piano, she was offering a 5-CD collection of classic rhythm and blues hits in exchange for a donation to public television.
It was simple. There were no gimmicks, no games and no strings attached in Aretha's offer. If you gave the suggested gift, she explained, PBS would mail you a big slice of American pop culture—including songs by Gladys Knight and the Pips, Smokey Robinson, the Four Tops, Al Green and Aretha herself, singing her classic "Respect."
Obstacles and difficulties in life can be challenging! B.C. Forbes was a Scottish financial journalist and author. He once said: "History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heartbreaking obstacles before they triumphed. They finally won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats. Disappointments acted as a challenge. Don't let difficulties discourage you."
Often our obstacles can be used to activate dormant giftings within us that we have failed to realize. These difficulties can also bring new strength to our lives. Don't you love the way the very situations we hate and avoid at all costs can be used to propel us into something wonderful?
Have you ever been in a predicament and someone appeared from out of nowhere to help you? That's happened to me more than once.
Years ago I took a trip from Oklahoma to Michigan driving an old, worn-out car. During the middle of the night somewhere in Missouri my car broke down. Here I was, a female with no credit cards, no AAA, no cellular phone and very limited cash, stranded in the middle of the night on the highway. I prayed and asked the Lord to help me.
Almost immediately from out of nowhere a man in a pick up truck appeared, fixed my car and made sure that I made it safely on my way. Whether he was human or an angel, heaven only knows. But of one thing I'm certain, he was sent by the Lord to help me out of a potentially dangerous situation.
God is shaking His church and removing corruption. But we share the blame for giving charlatans a platform.
Al Capone once controlled all of Chicago. The notorious 1920s gangster bribed the city's mayor, bought the police and presided as king over an empire of casinos, speakeasies and smuggling operations. He dodged bullets for years and lived above the law—and earned the nickname "untouchable" because no one could bring him to justice.
Before Capone finally went to prison in 1932, he justified his crimes by saying: "All I do is satisfy a public demand." He didn't take responsibility for the pain he caused because he knew mayors, policemen, community leaders and bootleggers supported him the whole way.
I found this word in my file recently. I received it in July 2005. It was a very strange experience at the time because it came while I was in the midst of a panel discussion dealing with leaders. I was sitting behind a table on the platform at our church during a women's conference where about 500 women were present.
Suddenly, it felt like we were having an earthquake. I could feel a distinct rumbling under my chair, as if all the earth under me were shaking. I not only felt it, I heard it. Everything was shaking—everything.
As I was re-reading this word recently, I heard the Lord say that it is for now. I did not send it out when I first received it. I held on to it.
I believe this word will help guide you, help create understanding in you about the times and seasons we are in, and give you the key to the door of deliverance.
Here is the word:
There is a rumbling in the earth. God is rumbling you out of mindsets, positions, identity, locations, relationships, bondages, fears. I was sitting here, and I could hear it. I could hear this constant ongoing and seemingly unending rumbling of rocks under us, and it was shaking everything. It was as if we were standing on rocks, round rocks, and they were all moving and rumbling. And they just kept rumbling. We could hardly maintain our footing.
When my husband and I went out to dinner one night we were served by an extremely helpful waitress. This woman seemed to anticipate our every need; she even suggested an item that was not on the menu.
Throughout the evening, she served us with both joy and efficiency. She made our evening so pleasant that the next time we went to that restaurant, we requested her as our waitress. In a society in which mediocrity has become the standard, she distinguished herself by her excellence.
When Mary and Martha sent news to Jesus that their brother, Lazarus, was about to die, Jesus didn’t respond the way his friends expected. He actually snubbed their request. The Bible says when Jesus heard that Lazarus was sick, “He then stayed two days longer in the place where He was” (John 11:6, NASB).
For those two anxious women, that was a very, very, very long time. Doubts tormented them. They thought: What kind of friend is Jesus, anyway? Why didn’t He rush to our aid? Mary was especially troubled by Jesus’ seemingly insensitive delay.
When moving from point A to point B, we sometimes feel trapped in between. Trust God to guide you to your destination.
A few months ago I passed through the tiny community of Between, Ga. With a population of only 148, the place is not much to write home about. (And besides, it doesn't even have its own zip code). The town got its name because it's halfway between Atlanta and Athens, Ga. But as I passed the local convenience store I couldn't help but imagine the strange reactions I'd get if I lived there.
I have been a pastor for many years, and in my opinion, the hardest fact in the world to believe is that God really loves us. It is harder to believe that than to believe that there is a God or that Jesus died on the cross or even that He rose from the dead.
It's not difficult to believe that God will take care of you or that "in all things God works for the good of those who love Him" (Rom. 8:28, NIV), though we may not believe that they are for our good at the time. We can be detached from life sufficiently to look back and say yes. It all worked out.
It's hard to remember a time when people were more angry. A civilized person ought to be, first of all, civil. Yet today there is no discourse, no respect for another's opinion, no reasoning together for the common good. I am concerned, especially for the church.
One may argue: "Our society is decaying. We should be mad." Yes, but we can be angry yet still not sin (Eph 4:26).
Our souls should be vexed at the darkening cloud of demonic infestation in our culture. Especially when children are caused to stumble, or the weak are exploited, or because the advance of evil ultimately means more people will die without Christ.
So, if we are angry, it does not necessarily mean we have sinned. It can simply mean we care.
My concern is, however, that unless this anger regenerates into something more redemptive—more Christlike—we will not see our world renewed. Indeed, anger that does not awaken in us redemptive action ultimately degrades into bitterness and unbelief.
Hell advances into our world on many levels, but I want to discuss only two primary areas.
The first is a brazen, widespread and alarming manifestation. For example, a corrupt law is passed or gang violence breaks out or a beloved public figure is scandalized. It makes the news, and people are talking about it. The shock waves caused by this demonic intrusion smash against our hearts—we're disappointed, offended, stunned and often outraged.
While we're in this state of mind, hell launches the second area of attack. No newscast features this next stage of warfare. On this front, the devil does not come flaunting himself openly. He comes quietly. In seething whispers he stirs the pot of our discontent until it boils. Ultimately, where once the heart of the Christian was full of faith and love, now bitterness, hatred and malice churn.
So, though we must fight the culture wars of our times, we must also preserve our capacity to love if we want to actually win our war. We must remember we are not fighting "against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world" (Eph. 6:12, KJV).
Sadly, I have heard many people say recently that they've lost their vision for America. What they actually lost wasn't their vision. It was their love. For love believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things (1 Cor. 13:7).
This month a small group of Hispanic and Anglo Christians traveled from Florida to Arizona to pray for immigration reform.
While many Christians are arguing about Arizona's strict immigration law, charismatic pastor Nebby Gomez decided to do something about it. He and his wife, Dee, traveled from Florida to Arizona in early July with three members of their church to address what they believe are the spiritual roots of the crisis.
They prayed on the lawn of Arizona's capitol in Phoenix, where lawmakers passed the controversial SB1070 bill in April of this year amid national protests. Gomez and his friends also prayed on the site of Arizona's oldest Spanish mission near Tucson and on both sides of the U.S./Mexico border in Nogales.
Editor's Note: In the message that follows, Robert Ricciardelli gives a prophetic explanation for the shaking that currently is occurring worldwide and clarifies what God is doing in the church during this period of widespread uncertainty. He notes that we are in a "swift season of change" and describes what our personal response should be to this season. Robert is a prophetic minister, an entrepreneur and the founder of Converging Zone Network, a social-networking site developed to spread the kingdom of God on a global level through the exchange of products, services, training and ideas.
Can a nation be born in a day? You are that nation, you are that people, you are My people. Beyond America and nationalism, and in all nations, is a people called by My name. The shaking felt around the world is My doing.
Many of you have asked: "Lord, where are You in all this? Have we not prayed? Where are You in my challenges? Where are You in my problems?"
I say, "I am in them, around them and have caused many of them."
My brother is a captain with Delta and currently he flies to Amsterdam several times a month. On the map, the route from Detroit to Amsterdam is a straight line. So to me, logically he should be able to get in the airplane, take off, set his heading and just drink coffee until he gets there.
But when I shared my logic with him, he laughed at me (something he spends way too much time doing). When I asked him what was funny, he said: "Things simply don't work that way. I spend most of my time making course corrections."
No true message from God will flow through a person who is smug and self-confident. If you want to speak for Him, prepare to die!
I did it again. This past Sunday I stood in a pulpit, looked out over a congregation of mostly strangers, cleared the lump in my throat and preached a message that the Lord had laid on my heart from the Bible.
Thousands of men and women speak publicly like this every week. It's what preachers do. No big deal.
God wants you to know His purpose for your life. My entire life changed when I discovered this one truth: The destiny of my life is hinged upon understanding God's eternal purpose, which He unveiled to man through His sacrificial love.
I was not aware of this powerful truth, despite the fact that I had finished my graduate studies in theology, including rewriting the 500 cardinal doctrines of the church for my thesis. Through my studies, I had learned how to investigate the great truths of the Bible and thought I knew something about almost every doctrine. I prided myself on my attempts to be an exegetical theologian, pastoring and carefully teaching the Word in Bible colleges for 17 years.
We are living in a strange season! This is a season of extraordinary, spectacular, unexpected events. Even the prophetic insight offered by leaders spans a wide range of interpretations and applications. And, interestingly enough, most of the insight is accurate but very diverse. Really strange!