Full Unedited interview with Keith Getty

It was such a blessing to speak with Keith last Friday about the pandemic, his incredible family, and his brand new song “Christ our Hope in Life and Death”.  Keith shares some amazing encouragement, advice for families during this time, and how God brought his new song into being! -Allen

“Why is this Covid-19 pandemic happening?”

If you dare say it, most people will suddenly go quiet and stare.  

 

  The stares may turn to glares.  Nevertheless, somebody has to speak the truth about the elephant in the room.  The elephant that most are claiming is really a Zebra or a Kangaroo or a Seahorse.  

 

  The elephant in the room is the question; Why is this Covid-19 pandemic happening?”

 

  I’ll embrace that risk and say that the Covid-19 is a message from God about the idols of our life, culture and world.  Furthermore, the sooner we receive this message and seek God’s mercy and forgiveness, the sooner our country will be restored.  Think, for a moment, about the things which have been removed from our daily lives. One of first to go were Sports. Are sports bad?  No! But when they become an idol they become spiritually toxic. And when tens of millions of people look upon an NFL Sunday as “Gameday” rather than the Sabbath, sports are an idol.  

   The next idol to crumble has been entertainment.  Movie theatres, Broadway plays, music concerts. Gone.  Which was quickly followed by the demise of the entire leisure industry as cruise ships, vacations, hotels all closed.  Let’s not forget our obsession with money and security which are now on the brink of collapse. Finally, our freedom. We, who have long practiced the grand tradition of going wherever and whenever we want, are suddenly told to stay home.  

 

   Do you think God is trying to tell us something?  

 

   I believe He is.  And the message is that we, who have sown the wind, are now reaping the whirlwind.  I will share that truth. That said, I will also be super-quick to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ…that God is love and does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone. (Lamentations 3:33).  And that His purpose with Covid-19, as with all of His chastisements, is not to punish but to turn …or return…people to Himself.  

 

   The solution to Covid-19 does not lay in Purell, social distancing or N95 masks.   The solution is in repentance and trust. In repenting of our personal and the culture’s sins and idols and asking God, who is Lord over all… including Coronavirus…for His mercy and rescue.

 

   If you are one who affirms this message, let me encourage you to join with like-minded people in sharing this message of the love of God with your family, friends and neighbors.  Let’s continue to extend God’s loving invitation to all to shelter under His wings of forgiveness, protection, deliverance, blessings and grace. 

 

Matt Dorfner 

Executive Director   

Kinship Christian Radio

Mordecai and The Great Rabbi

 

 

 

Lately, I’ve been reading, “Abba’s Child” by Brennan Manning. 

 

If that name rings a bell but you can’t quite place it, it’s because Brennan Manning also wrote “The Ragamuffin Gospel,” an excellent book which had a profound influence on Rich Mullins and his music. Manning was (he passed away in 2013) a Jesuit priest, a US Marine, and a reformed alcoholic. His books are filled with a deep, deep longing for people to have a real and genuine relationship with Jesus Christ and emphatically, boldly, and unashamedly welcomed the tax collectors and prostitutes of this world into the kingdom of heaven ahead of any and all Pharisees.

 

In the middle of the book, Manning beautifully relates a short story about a young boy named Mordecai and his encounter with The Great Rabbi:

 

The story is told of a very pious Jewish couple. They had marred with great love, and the love never died. Their greatest hope was to have a child so their love could walk the earth with joy.

 

Yet there were difficulties. And since they were very pious, they prayed and prayed and prayed. Along with considerable other efforts, lo and behold, the wife conceived. When she conceived, she laughed louder than Sarah laughed when she conceived Isaac. And the child leapt in her womb more joyously the John leapt in the womb of Elizabeth when Mary visited her. And nine months later a delightful little boy came rumbling into the world. 

 

They named him Mordecai. He was rambunctious, zestful, gulping down the days and dreaming through the nights. The sun and the moon were his toys. He grew in age and wisdom and grace, until it was time to go to the synagogue and learn the Word of God.

The night before his studies were to begin, his parents sat Mordecai down and told him how important the Word of God was. They stressed that without the Word of God, Mordecai would be an autumn leaf in the winter’s wind. He listened, wide eyed. 

 

Yet the next day, he never arrived at the synagogue. Instead he found himself in the woods, swimming in the lake and climbing the trees. 

 

When he came home that night, the news had spread throughout the small village. Everyone knew of his shame. His parents were beside themselves. They did not know what to do.

 

So they called in the behavior modificationists to modify Mordecai’s behavior, until there was no behavior of Mordecai that was not modified. Nevertheless, the next day he found himself in the woods, swimming in the lake and climbing the trees.

 

So they called in the psychoanalysts, who unblocked Mordecai’s blockages, so there were no more blocks for Moredecai to be blocked by. 

 

Nevertheless, he found himself the next day, swimming in the lake and climbing the trees. 

 

His parents grieved for their beloved son. There seemed to be no hope.

 

At this time, the great Rabbi visited the village. And the parents said, “Ah! Perhaps the Great Rabbi.” So they took Mordecai to the Great Rabbi and told him their tale of woe. The Rabbi bellowed, “Leave the boy with me, and I will have a talking with him.”

 

It was bad enough that Mordecai would not go to the synagogue. But to leave their beloved son alone with this lion of a man was terrifying. However, they had come this far, and so they left him.

 

Now Mordecai stood in the halway, and the Great Rabbi stood in his parlor. He beckoned, “Boy, come here.” Trembling, Mordecai came forward.

 

And then the Great Rabbi picked him up and held him silently against his heart. 

 

His parents came to get Mordecai, and they took him home. The next day, he went to the synagogue to learn the Word of God. And when he was done, he went to the woods. And the Word of God became one with the words of the woods, which became one with the words of Mordecai. And he swam in the lake. And the Word of God became one with the words of the lake, which became one with the words of Mordecai. And he climbed the trees. And the Word of God became one with the words of the trees, which became one with the words of Mordecai.

 

And Mordecai himself grew up to become a great man. People who were seized with panic came to him and found peace. People who were without anybody came to him and found communion. People with no exits came to him and found a way out. And when they came to him he said, “I first learned the Word of God when the Great Rabbi held me silently against his heart.” “

 

Manning’s story of Mordecai and the Great Rabbi reminds me that no matter how much panic there is out there, no matter how alone I feel, no matter how it seems there is no exit, that Great Rabbi named Jesus will still silently hold me and let me listen to His heart beat. 

 

And I hear that heart beating in others in their prayers, in kind and encouraging words, in their good deeds done in genuine love, in the songs and teachings and testimonies on Kinship Christian Radio, and in pastor’s sermons now filling social media as the Gospel of Jesus Christ takes another giant leap into all the world. 

 

May you hear that heart beat also. And may the words and the love of the Great Rabbi become one with you.

 

 

Today’s Praise

Then Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God—the King of Israel!” John 1:49 (NLT)

 

Psalm 91 and the Miracle of Dunkirk

 

In the space of two weeks, out entire world has changed. It seems as if the world has shut down as we hunker in our bunkers waiting for this virus to just go away.

 

 

Kinship Christian Radio is still on the air, broadcasting into your bunker as we shelter in place. And I would be remiss if I did not add that it will continue to do so as radio stations are considered an essential service because communication in a situation like this is vital. 

 

 

Even more vital is prayer.

 

 

Certainly, Christians are praying all around the world. Some are praying that the virus would be eliminated by a vaccine or natural events. Some are praying for strength and fortitude to endure. Some are praying for provision while they wait to be able to go back to work and earn a living. Others are praying for solutions from government to help those in need. Still others are praying that God would use this to bring many souls to salvation. And then there are those praying that, in these troubled and turbulent times, they would be granted the ability to shine with the light of Jesus and be part of the solution.

 

 

If anything is clear as of this moment, it’s that despite all humanity’s claims of having answers and solutions readily available to quickly solve problems, this is not an example of the strength of our great human wisdom and power.

 

 

And that brings me to a book I read about eight years ago, called “Psalm 91, God’s Shield of Protection” by Peggy Joyce Ruth and Angela Ruth Schum. It’s about Psalm 91 and it is written specifically for military men and women and their loved ones. It explains God’s covenant of refuge and hope using stories and testimonies that demonstrate His protection of soldiers through Psalm 91.

 

 

In that book, there is an absolutely fascinating story about The Miracle of Dunkirk –something I do not remember being taught in History class. (Granted, I do not remember much of anything from History class.) 

 

 

It began with Germany invading Poland in September of 1939. France and the British Empire responded by declaring war on Germany shortly thereafter. Very little happened for about eight months and then, in May of 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, and France. Three tank divisions rolled quickly through the Ardennes forest in France, headed for the English Channel. 

 

 

By May 21, over 300,000  British troops were trapped on the beaches and in the harbor of Dunkirk, France. The German Army was less than 12 miles away and the British and French troops were backed up against the English Channel with nowhere to go. On May 26, 1940, the King of England called for the entire nation to pray fervently for the trapped soldiers.

 

 

Winston Churchill told the British public that they would only be able to rescue less than one-tenth of those soldiers. The Nazis had sunk so many British ships in the harbor that destroyers and large military vessels could not get into the harbor. Even if they could, the beaches were so shallow that large ships could not get close enough for the men to swim to them.

 

 

Hitler’s army was advancing rapidly, both with tanks and airplanes, and all seemed hopeless. 

 

 

With the nation of England praying fervently, a funny thing happened.  One of Hitler’s generals ordered the advancing army of tanks to halt. Hitler even confirmed the order because both he and the general were afraid too many tanks would be lost in the swampy ground around Dunkirk.

 

 

Instead, Hitler decided to send in the Luftwaffe to shoot the soldiers from the air.

 

 

As England continued to pray, another funny thing happened. A dense fog rolled in, grounding most of the Luftwaffe’s planes.

 

 

And then, yet another funny thing happened –the 21 miles of open water separating England from France suddenly went as flat and calm as a small pond.

 

 

Every boat that would float was sent from England to Dunkirk to rescue those soldiers. Over 700 fishing boats, pleasure craft, and merchant marine craft participated.

 

 

Some Luftwaffe planes were able to get through the fog to bomb and strafe the beaches. But great numbers of the soldiers there had memorized Psalm 91 and they weren’t just praying it –they were shouting it at the top of their lungs.

 

 

Among them was a young chaplain who later told how he laid on the open beach for what seemed like forever as bullets and shrapnel rained down all around him. Stunned and dazed by the deafening roar of the concussions around him, he stood up in amazement to find –not a scratch on him and the perfect outline of his body in the sand. It was, he said, “the only smooth and undisturbed spot on the entire bullet-riddled beach.”

 

 

In the end, 338,226 British and French soldiers were rescued from Dunkirk over a period of nine days. 

 

The miraculous rescue of Dunkirk energized and encouraged the British people. There was such elation in Britain that Winston Churchill had to tell his people, “We must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations.”

 

 

While Churchill’s point is certainly true on it’s face, praise and gratitude to God is never inappropriate. 

 

 

And as I am reminded of the Miracle of Dunkirk,  I have resolved to pray Psalm 91 out loud as often as I can.

 

 

 

Today’s Praise

 

Those who live in the shelter of the Most High

will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty.

This I declare about the LORD:

He alone is my refuge, my place of safety;

he is my God, and I trust him.

For he will rescue you from every trap

and protect you from deadly disease.

He will cover you with his feathers.

He will shelter you with his wings.

His faithful promises are your armor and protection.

Do not be afraid of the terrors of the night,

nor the arrow that flies in the day.

Do not dread the disease that stalks in darkness,

nor the disaster that strikes at midday.

Though a thousand fall at your side,

though ten thousand are dying around you,

these evils will not touch you.

Just open your eyes,

and see how the wicked are punished.

If you make the LORD your refuge,

if you make the Most High your shelter,

no evil will conquer you;

no plague will come near your home.

For he will order his angels

to protect you wherever you go.

They will hold you up with their hands

so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone.

You will trample upon lions and cobras;

you will crush fierce lions and serpents under your feet!

The LORD says, “I will rescue those who love me.

I will protect those who trust in my name.

When they call on me, I will answer;

I will be with them in trouble.

I will rescue and honor them.

I will reward them with a long life

and give them my salvation.”

(NLT)

When We Walk Through the Valley

 

 

Since I wrote this blog a week ago, it seems as if absolutely everything in our world has changed.

 

I don’t need to list the details of how COVID19 has changed our world because by the time this posts, they will have changed again. Even in an age when my words can be disseminated almost instantly, by the time you read them, they could very well be obsolete, irrelevant, even untrue.

 

And that’s a difficult situation for human beings to cope with. We depend on things staying relatively stable. We have a system, a certain way of doing things that works for us. When those things no longer work for us, there is a pain, resistance, searching for ways to avoid the change, denial, even anger…

 

Change is hard. 

 

And, in this particular situation, how do we separate what is reasonable and prudent and true from paranoia, hype, and over-reaction? From what I can tell with the limited intelligence God gave me, there is some of all of that out there.

 

I’m currently involved in a Bible study called Core 52. It aims to teach 52 core concepts in the Bible in 52 weeks. Last week, we were studying the 23rd Psalm.

 

Now, most of us think of Psalm 23 as a psalm of comfort, and it is. I think I read somewhere that it is the most commonly used Bible verse at funerals. And that makes sense.

 

But as I read through it before this whole coronavirus thing blew up in our faces, I came to believe it should be read almost with defiance in one’s voice –a taunt like David shouted at Goliath.

 

Let’s see if I can convey what I mean by doing a Eugene Peterson-style paraphrase:

The LORD is my shepherd! I shall NOT be in want!

He makes it possible for me to lay down in green pastures and beside still waters.

He restores my very soul.

He leads me on paths of righteousness for the glory of HIS name!

And, yes, even though I may end up walking through the very valley of the shadow of death on this journey,

I-will-fear-NO-EVIL!

For HIS weapons and HIS guidance and HIS direction guide me and comfort me!

The LORD GOD prepares a banquet for me in the very presence of my enemies!

He anoints my head with oil in love and mercy.

My cup overflows with His goodness and abundance!

And I know that this goodness and mercy and all these things will follow me all the days of my life,

Until I live with Him in His house forever!

 

AMEN! HALLELUJAH!

 

Late on Saturday night, (by which I mean about 10:25 p.m.) I heard Kinship Christian Radio Announcer Steve Ware talking about worry and worship. He was quoting pastor Rick Warren and the gist of what he was saying was that worship and worry are incompatible with each other. If you are worrying, you are not worshiping God. If you are worshiping God, you are not worrying. 

 

Now is the time, when all the world that is without God is worrying about what will happen next, for Christians to be seen worshiping God and going forth without fear. Now is the time when we should be offering to pick up groceries or run errands for the elderly. Now is the time when we should be offering sacrifice and comfort and confidence and level-headedness and joy (Yes I said JOY!) to others. Now is the time to show that these comparatively small and momentary afflictions really are nothing in the face of the eternal weight of glory that lies before us. (2 Corinthians 4:17)

 

As one of my best pastor friends said about the whole situation, “I aint skeered.”

 

Today’s Praise

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

Does God Like You?

 

Today, the World Health Organization officially declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

 

“In the past two weeks the number of cases outside China has increased thirteenfold and the number of affected countries has tripled,” WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a press conference at the organization’s headquarters in Geneva. “In the days and weeks ahead, we expect to see the number of cases, the number of deaths and the number of affected countries to climb even higher.” 

 

Italy has shut down all travel in and out of the country and many other countries are implementing travel restrictions and are banning all large gatherings of people. Sporting events are being cancelled or being played without the fans present. Factory production in China and many other places has ground to a halt as workers have been told to stay home. The National Guard has been called out in New Rochelle, New York, to contain the virus.

 

Clearly, this is nothing to be taken lightly. We are advised to take this threat seriously, but not to panic.

 

Wash your hands, cough into your elbow, keep your hands off your face, but do not panic.

 

Despite those admonitions against panic, we hear of people emptying the shelves of their local super-centers of bottled water, face masks, paper towels, soap, pantry items and yes, even toilet paper. I saw a video recently of people loading toilet paper into their shopping carts as if this were Venezuela. 

 

Meanwhile, the stock market is bouncing around like a dodge ball at the mercy of a pack of over-zealous fifth-graders and the price of oil has fallen into the abyss as Russia and Saudi Arabia are having an epic spitting match. 

 

SRN News reported on Kinship Christian Radio that a New York hardware store was being charged with price-gouging because they were selling bottles of hand sanitizer for $80 each.

 

And if you were ever thinking of taking a cruise on a big, fancy ship, I’ll bet you a roll of toilet paper you’re not thinking of it now.

 

At the same time, the mainstream media seems to be relishing the advent of an inevitable global apocalypse.

 

So from where I sit right now,  humanity doesn’t seem very likable at all. 

 

But please, allow me to drastically switch gears if I may:

 

I have a friend and sister in Christ who has absolutely dedicated her life to pleasing God. She prays and fasts and tries to do her absolute best to be a person who will bring a smile to God’s face.

 

But recently, she fell short of the goal and it was devastating to her.

 

I tried to encourage her and lift her spirits, reminding her that no one is perfect. After many words, I told her that I was certain God still loved her.

 

Her reply was, “But God loves everybody.”

 

How could I argue with that? God does indeed love everyone and so, for my friend, their was little consolation in that. God loves people who absolutely hate Him. He desires that all would be saved, no matter who they are or what they’ve done. (1 Timothy 2:4)

 

And then, as I was reading “Abba’s Child” the author, Brennan Manning, made the absolutely astonishing claim that God likes people. Individual people. Nasty, panic-ridden, irrational, toilet paper-hoarding people. He writes:

 

“How would you respond if I asked you the question, “Do you honestly believe God likes you, not just loves you because theologically God has to love you?”

 

He goes on:

 

“Scripture suggests that the essence of the divine nature is compassion and the heart of God is defined by tenderness. “By the tender mercy (compassion) of our God who from on high will bring the rising Sun to visit us, to give light to those who live in darkness and the shadow of death and to guide our feet in the way of peace.” (Luke 1:78-79).”

 

Manning follows this with a Richard Foster quote in which he says that even that cold cup of water given to the least of one of these brings tears to the eyes of God. “Like the proud mother who is thrilled to receive a wilted bouquet of dandelions from her child, so God celebrates our feeble expressions of gratitude.”

 

Manning says that, if you could answer with gut-level honesty that your God not only loves you, but indeed likes you, “…you would experience a serene compassion for yourself that approximates the meaning of tenderness.”

 

And oh, how we could use that tenderness right now. 

 

When we strive and struggle and worry, we forget that He is the good shepherd. We forget that tender, compassionate, merciful shepherd who makes sure we have all we need, that leads us to green pastures and still waters. He does restore our souls and lead us in paths of righteousness to the glory of His name. And even if we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, there is no evil we need fear, for His mighty power is indeed there to comfort us.

 

With that knowledge, with the glorious assurance of the tenderness and compassion of a God who not only loves us, but indeed likes us, there is nothing to fear and no need at all for panic.

 

Not even from fear-mongering, price-gouging, toilet paper hoarders.

 

 

Today’s Praise

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD
forever.  (Psalm 23:5-6 ESV)

 

Who Turned on the Light?

 

One of the things I have noticed on social media debate sites is that people will frequently try to “catch” Christians with a seeming contradiction in the creation account of Genesis 1.

 

The first thing God creates, on Day One, is light. He goes on to create the sky on Day Two, and the land and seas and the plants on Day Three, but it’s not until Day Four that God creates the sun and the moon and the stars.

 

How could we have three days without any sun to shine on the earth? Yes, God created the light before anything else but with no sun to shine on the earth, where was that light coming from? Who turned on the light?

 

And furthermore, if there was no sun shining on the earth until Day Four, what was keeping all those plants alive He had created the day before?

 

When I first read these questions, it did seem quite puzzling, and then I remembered Revelation 21:23:

The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. (NIV)

 

Of course! Jesus illuminates all of heaven when things are restored to their perfect order and, since we are talking about creation before sin entered the world, Jesus could be that light also. 

 

And then I remembered John 1: 1-5:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

 

We all know the Word in this passage is Jesus. And the passage specifically says He was with God in the beginning. That means during the creation week. All things were made in him and without him, nothing was made that has been made. In Jesus was life and the light was the light of all humanity. 

 

And my favorite part is that Jesus shines in the darkness and the darkness has not, cannot, and never will overcome him, put him out, or extinguish him. 

 

The amazing part of those passages is that, in them, Jesus is both the literal and figurative light of the world. 

 

Over and over again, the Bible speaks of light. It’s a dominant recurring theme for life and truth and all that is good. Jesus himself says, “I am the light of the world” on more than one occasion and, because it is one of the I AM statements, we recognize it as one of his numerous declarations of divinity. 

 

Light is a crucial aspect of our faith and it is absolutely necessary for life on earth. Light is indeed life.

 

I’m also reminded of Luke 2:9 when the angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds outside Jerusalem on the night when Jesus was born:

An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. (NIV)

 

And that’s not the only instance when the glory of the Lord is associated with a bright, blinding light. It occurs in the temple in Ezekiel 10:4, 2 Chronicles 7:2 and 1 Kings 8:11, the prophet Ezekiel experienced it several times, and Moses was forever changed by it on Mount Sinai. 

 

So it’s not surprising that, as you listen to Kinship Christian Radio, you will hear songs about light or preachers teaching about light or the announcers or even listeners talking about how light came into their lives. I remembered when Jesus first came into my life when I was maybe nine or ten years old and being filled with light and joy and peace.

 

Yes, Jesus does indeed turn on the light in our lives, just as he did from the beginning and until we are with him in eternity.

 

It’s also not surprising that we are called to shine with that same light.

 

 

Today’s Praise

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. Matthew 5:14-15 (NLT)

Signs from God

 

I’ve been to Prince of Peace Home for Girls on the outskirts of Guatemala City twice now, and they recently shared a story on Facebook I’d like to share with you. Call it a parable if you will.

 

Prince of Peace home for Girls is an orphanage where over 40 young ladies and girls reside. The love of Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit really does change lives for the better there. 

 

About ten days ago, on their way to school, the Prince of Peace bus had a little mechanical problem. The orphanage’s beloved bus driver/bus mechanic/maintenance man/carpenter/groundskeeper/kindly jack-of-all-trades guy Don Miguel stopped and quickly got to work fixing the bus. The girls just as quickly noticed that the bus had come to a stop right next to a park with slides and swings and all sorts of stuff young ladies enjoy very much. So they asked the tias (“Tia” is the Spanish word for “aunt” which is what they call the ladies who watch over them, guide them, protect them, and teach them.) if they could get out and play in the park. The tias agreed and the girls got to go out and have fun in the park under the supervision of the tias. 

 

Don Miguel was able to fix the bus in fairly short order, so all the girls and the tias got back on the bus when he was done and they were safely delivered to their destination.

 

The End.

 

On a seemingly-unrelated note, I know a guy (Let’s call him “Bob.”) who has been organizing successful short-term mission trips for about 25 years. He and I were recently talking about people who are considering going on a mission trip, but won’t commit to it until they’ve had “a sign from God.”

 

Bob’s usual reply is something like, “Well, okay, I respect that, but why would God not want you to go and tell people about Jesus?” 

 

Perhaps you see where I’m going with these two little parables. In the first story, neither the girls, nor the tias, nor Don Miguel sought any kind of sign or confirmation from God that the girls should go play in the park. Nobody asked God if the bus breaking down right next to a park was a sign from God. There was no casting of lots, no calling out to the prophet Samuel for direction, no laying out of fleeces to await a drenching or non-drenching of dew, and not even any mention of prayer. (Although, knowing the tias as I do, I am not going to categorically state there was no prayer. In point of fact, I’m pretty sure those tias are praying continuously.)

 

Now, I will grant you that a mission trip seems like a much bigger deal than more than 40 girls going out to play on a playground in Guatemala, but their are absolutely plenty of opportunities for things to go horribly sideways in a hurry under circumstances like that. 

 

And so now we come to faith.

 

If we truly believe that God is who He says He is, what are we worried about? If Jesus can stand up in the boat and calm the storm when the professional fisherman piloting the craft are certain we are all going to die and very soon, why are we of so little faith?

 

Don’t get me wrong here. Asking for guidance and direction from the LORD of heaven and earth who created the entire universe and everything in it simply by speaking it into being is a very, very good thing. We absolutely should be doing that!

 

We should judge the tree by its fruit. We should test the spirits, just like our Bibles say was should.

 

But, there should be a balance.

 

We should also know that not making a choice, or delaying making that choice for too long, is indeed making a choice.

 

The more I roll this around in my head, the more inclined I am to just come right out and say I think our initial response to do God’s will, to bring Him glory, or to bless others should be a nearly immediate and impulsive, “Yes, LORD!”

 

At the very least, I think He deserves an, “Okay, God.”

 

I say that with a crystal-clear picture of Mr. Impulsive himself, the Apostle Peter, in my head leaning over the edge of a boat on a windy night on the Sea of Galilee when everyone in the boat thought they saw a ghost, but the ghost claimed to be Jesus: 

 

But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”

“Come,” he said.

Matthew 14:27-29. (NIV)

 

At this point, I absolutely cannot resist pointing out that Jesus called Peter with one word: “Come.”

 

And Peter did NOT respond with, “Are you sure? Can I get some kind of sign, Lord?”

 

Nope, he was over the side and out of that boat walking straight for Jesus!

 

Now, whenever this story is told, we all rush to the part where Peter took his eyes off Jesus and he started to sink and Jesus had to reach down and catch him, but the point here is that Peter got out of the boat and walked on water!

 

Nobody else got out of the boat and went for a stroll across the waves.

 

Only Peter.

 

And, if you read the story carefully, it doesn’t say Jesus carried Peter back to the boat. Verse 32 says:

 

“And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.”

 

They climbed into the boat. Peter walked back to the boat with Jesus!

 

We should also not forget that, unlike water-walking Peter, and unlike Gideon, and unlike Samuel and all the Old Testament prophets, we have the entire New Testament filled with red letters and the wisdom of Holy Spirit-inspired guidance and direction from actual apostles to help us make decisions like this. For example:

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)

 

As if that weren’t enough, we also have the gift of the Holy Spirit to guide us! 

 

I think the problem we have (at least it often seems true for me) is that we often think of God as this big, booming KJV voice on Mount Sinai with a burning bush in the background intoning to Charleton Heston, “MOSES! MOSES! DRAW NOT HIGH HITHER: PUT OFF THY SHOES FROM OFF THY FEET, FOR THE PLACE WHEREON THOU STANDEST IS HOLY GROUND!” (Exodus 3:5 KJV)

 

I do not write that disrespectfully to the Lord at all. I absolutely believe that God spoke to Moses in that way. (No, I don’t mean in fifteenth-century English in all caps.) But I think that there is a part of us that really wants the voice of God to be that dramatic, Hollywood-inspired booming fall-to-our-knees voice because the still, small voice He usually uses is something we are afraid we’re going to miss. I think we want soaking wet fleeces and lakes going flat in the middle of the storm and burning bushes so there can be no doubt, no mistaking what just happened. I think there is a part of us that wants a God of drama.

 

But the thing is, I think what God wants are people of faith. I think God wants people who know His heart and that His love is so wide, so long, so high, so deep that they are willing to impulsively step out of the boat into the crashing waves and walk straight to Jesus, even if it seems impossible or foolish. 

 

I think God smiles at the thought of orphans playing on the swings while Don Miguel fixes the bus because the tias trust God to watch over those girls and protect them. I think children who grow up around people who love and trust God enough to not be afraid of what could happen, that they allow what does happen to be to His glory, will grow up to be people who will love and trust God and will eventually raise children who will love and trust God.  

 

And from that, I can see the kingdom of God grow from that tiny seed of faith to an enormous tree of life that burns and glows with His love and is never extinguished.

 

From that, I can see a people who make other people wonder and want to know, “Who is this God that these people love and trust so much that they are willing to do whatever He asks, go wherever He sends them, and love everyone He puts in their path?”

 

 

Today’s Praise

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. Glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus through all generations forever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:21-22 (NLT)

 

(Photo used by permission of Prince of Peace Home for Girls.)

Revival in Brazil –and Beyond!

I’ve written about revival before.

 

It’s a subject I’m passionate about. It’s something I pray for every, single day. It’s something I long for deeply.

 

And it’s happening right now, on a grand scale, in Brazil.

 

Kinship Christian Radio Announcer Doug Johnson mentioned it on-air last week after Brazil’s President, Jair Bolsanaro, not only publicly proclaimed his personal faith in Jesus Christ, but boldly announced that “Brazil belongs to God.”

This took place at an event called “The Send” at Brasilia National Stadium on February 8.  There were more than 140,000 people in attendance. Thousands came to faith in Jesus and pledged to spread revival not only in their own country, but to take the Gospel all over the world. They took their shoes off, held them to heaven, and stood in their bare feet as they pledged to bring the Gospel to the nations.

 

The revival in Brazil has been building and growing for years. It was recently reported that a new church is planted in Brazil at the rate of one per day. Evangelical Christians now make up 22% of Brazil’s historically Catholic population. It’s estimated that Brazil will soon surpass the United States in the number of missionaries it sends out to preach the Gospel.

 

At over 212 million people, Brazil if the world’s sixth-largest country and it’s economy is growing rapidly as changes brought about by Bolsanaro’s administration have spurred economic growth and a reduction in crime. 

 

A February 11 article by CBN News.com says Bolsanaro survived an assassination attempt by a knife-wielding attacker a month before Brazil’s election almost cost him his life. He says it is nothing short of a miracle that he’s alive today.

 

“Doctors who attended to me said that for every 100 stabbings of the kind I endured, only one person survives. So, I am a survivor and owe my life to God. It was His will for me to live.”

 

Indeed, it seems God has a plan for Brazil. 

 

In November of last year, I wrote about the missionaries of Godtown. One of those missionaries, Josh Lindquist, has been very much involved in the revival taking place in Brazil, and in The Send. He leads a ministry called Global Revival Harvest, and recently told Charisma News in a February 11 article entitled “Brazil Has Become a Global Hotspot for Revival” that Brazil’s revival has some unique characteristics, including:

 

“Deep, heartfelt worship. “The songs they sing in Brazil are like anthems, they capture your heart. And people get saved just from listening to the music,” Lindquist says. Popular Brazilian worship artist Ana Paula has led worship for crowds of up to 2 million people.

 

Street evangelism is often led by youth. One well-known movement known as Ceu Na Terra (Heaven on Earth) is transforming whole neighborhoods. Youth venture into the streets to preach, worship and pray for people, and they even take their message inside nightclubs. “A lot of the nightclubs have become places of Bible study and prayer,” Lindquist said.

 

Baptists are fully open to the Holy Spirit. In Brazil, “Bapticostal” is a norm. Baptists who embrace the gifts of the Holy Spirit are known as “renewed Baptists”—and their churches have grown exponentially. One of the most famous, Lagoinha Baptist in Belo Horizonte, has grown to 82,000 members and now has branch churches in dozens of cities in Brazil, Europe and the United States.

 

At the end of The Send Brazil, attendees took off their shoes and raised them to heaven, pledging before God in their bare feet that they will take the gospel to the nations. This, Lindquist said, is the reason Brazil will be a spiritual powerhouse in the coming years.

 

“The fire of the Holy Spirit was already burning here,” Lindquist said. “God sent The Send to encourage the Brazilians to export that fire. Brazil will be a key nation for global missions. It is one of the greatest global hot spots on earth.””

 

On my visit to Godtown back in November, Lindquist said efforts are being made and prayers are being lifted to export that revival to this country.

 

Lord, let it be so! Send the fire of your Holy Spirit LORD! 

 

UPDATE: Just this morning (February 19) Kinship Christian Radio Announcer Steve Ware reported that revival has recently broken out in Tennessee! Do an internet search using the words, “Awaken Tennessee” for more details!

 

AMEN and HALLELUJAH!!

 

 

Today’s Praise

Will you not revive us again,

that your people may rejoice in you?

Show us your unfailing love, Lord,

and grant us your salvation.

I will listen to what God the Lord says;

he promises peace to his people, his faithful servants—

but let them not turn to folly.

Surely his salvation is near those who fear him,

that his glory may dwell in our land.

Psalm 85:6-9 (NIV)

Be My Valentine

So, I was looking back through the vast archives of blog posts I have written to ascertain how I had addressed Valentine’s Day in the past and I discovered nothing.

 

Nothing.

 

That’s right, in the almost seven years since I have been writing this blog for Kinship Christian Radio, I have never written a single word about Valentine’s Day.

 

But then that’s not surprising since (in my world-view) Valentine’s Day is yet another example of the world’s corruption and cheapening of one of God’s loving gifts to us –romantic love.

 

Going far beyond merely an excuse to sell maliciously expensive greeting cards, our culture’s current celebration of Valentine’s Day looks to me like a thinly-veiled festival of hedonism and pornography actually exceeding the NFL’s once-a-year televised return to the Canaanite practice of Molech worship complete with an Asherah pole and temple prostitutes. (If I seem a bit “prudish,” look up the stats on sex trafficking during the annual “big game” festivities.)

 

So, yes, it certainly appears I’m a typical priggish and dreary old conservative Christian on the subject and you may well imagine that I’m this close >< to firing off angry letters to the editors of local newspapers and all my elected officials advocating that we pass a law banning the celebration of such a sinful, degrading, heinous celebration of sin and our carnal nature.  

 

(At this very moment, my lovely wife and Chief Proofreader is rolling her eyes at what I just wrote.)

 

But not so! 

 

Ha!

 

For you see, dear reader, if we look into the real reason we celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day, it’s actually pretty glorious and inspiring. 

 

The holiday actually goes back possibly as much as 1700 years and there were not one, but two or maybe even three Saint Valentines. The history is so fuzzy we’re not exactly sure of all the details, because many of the records were destroyed during Roman persecution of Christians, but here goes:

 

Both saints were actually known as Valentinius. One is Valentinius of Rome and the other is Valentinius of Terni.

 

Valentinius of Terni is said to have been martyred in 273 during the persecution of Christians under Roman emperor Aurelian, but information on why and how he was martyred does not seem readily available.

 

Likewise, another Valentinius, who was also martyred on February 14 but not connected to the first two, is said to have died in Africa with several companions, but again very little information is available.

 

Valentinius of Rome, however, seems to have a more complete (or at least detailed) history. 

 

Apparently, sometime during the persecution of Christians by Rome, Valentinius performed clandestine Christian weddings for Roman soldiers who had been forbidden to marry under Roman Emperor Claudius II who believed his soldiers fought better as single men. Valentinius wore an amethyst ring with a cupid on it, which helped the Roman soldiers identify him as the man who could marry them to their brides. It is said he cut paper hearts out of parchment and gave these to the grooms to help them remember their wives while in battle.

 

Now, Claudius II was only Emperor of Rome from 268 to 270 AD, so we have a pretty good idea of the time frame. It is said Claudius interviewed Valentinius and gave him a chance to renounce his faith in Jesus Christ, worship the pagan Roman gods and have his life spared, but Valentinius refused and was cast into prison.

 

While in prison, and before he was executed, it is said he performed a miracle and healed a young lady named Julia of her blindness. Julia was the daughter of his jailer, Asterius.

 

Julia, her family, and all the servants of her household (47 people in all) came to believe in Jesus and were baptized.

 

Before he was executed, Saint Valentinius wrote Julia a letter and signed it, “Your Valentine.”

 

So you see, the association with romantic love, (which became popular in the 14th century) and the giving of cards (which grew in popularity in the 18th century) both have their roots in what Saint Valentine did through Christian marriage.

 

But, our tradition of those cards containing the words, “Be My Valentine” has it roots in the miraculous healing of a young blind lady named Julia, the salvation of her entire household, and the courage of a man who stood up for the love of Jesus Christ even to the point of death. 

 

And so, I will proudly celebrate the true meaning of Valentine’s Day this year. I may even get an obnoxiously ostentatious and embarrassingly sappy card for the Chief Proofreader. 

 

(Oh, and by the way, Valentine’s Day is celebrated in many, many countries all over the world. And, yes, there have indeed been several attempts to outlaw it –in Muslim countries.)

 

 

Today’s Praise

Place me like a seal over your heart,

like a seal on your arm.

For love is as strong as death,

its jealousy as enduring as the grave.

Love flashes like fire,

the brightest kind of flame.

Many waters cannot quench love,

nor can rivers drown it.

If a man tried to buy love

with all his wealth,

his offer would be utterly scorned.

Song of Solomon 8:6&8 (NLT)

 

Photo by author.