Do we want a godly President or a revival in our nation? Perhaps we can’t have both.

Do we want a godly President or a revival in our nation? Perhaps we can’t have both.

As we stand today in this Presidential election, leading on one side is a prideful man who has lowered the bar on American politics with his child-like ranting and plays to crowds for popularity with little conviction for principles of decency, while focusing on his personal hunger for power. On the other side is a woman who promotes the moral and spiritual corruption of our nation by supporting the destruction of Biblical marriage, promoting homosexuality, supporting unrestricted abortion (even the hideous third-trimester procedure), endorsing transsexual bathrooms in public schools and public places, who agreed with the Houston mayor who subpoenaed the sermons of pastors, and who stated last year that abortion rights and homosexual rights are more important than religious rights in our nation. I tell you that if these two individuals become their party’s candidates, as a follower of Christ, I cannot vote for either.

Since the moral and spiritual decay in our nation became so vivid in the 1960’s, the church in this nation has sought the preservation of righteousness through the election of leaders who hold to doctrines compatible with the Evangelical church. But our faith and beliefs are being attacked more than ever before with vengeance under the divisiveness, sinfulness, and self-indulgence in our culture.

God is not speaking to me about peace and godliness rising in our nation nor is He telling me to look for hope in any political figure or party. He is reminding me to make sure there is no sin in my house while He is speaking to me about our nation and our leaders from Daniel 5:22-23 –

” … You knew all of this, yet you have not humbled yourself. For you have proudly defied the Lord of heaven [emphasis mine] . . . you have not honored the God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny.”

The words that follow are words of judgment.

Truly, the desperate cry from the church of Jesus Christ should not be for a leader that will help preserve for us what’s left of righteousness in America, but that God will look down from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

We need revival. Maybe we can’t have revival with a “godly” leader in office that allows the church to continue to sit in on its comfortable sofa entrusting the righteousness of America into the hands of political leaders. It was never to be entrusted there. Righteousness for a nation is entrusted in God’s church.

I read an article recently about how God wants to make America great again. I completely and wholeheartedly disagree. God wants to make His name great in America again. Let’s change our focus now and remember that we are to be followers and seekers of Jesus Christ before we are Americans or anything else. Our only hope is in Jesus.

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Next blog: What will it take to bring revival in America?

I’m Not Satisfied

I’m not satisfied.

I have had the privilege of starting and leading a ministry that is now conducting outreach in over one dozen inner city communities. I have seen lives changed, strongholds broken, addictions ended, wounded hearts healed, and the fatherless embraced by the unconditional love of our Heavenly Father.

But I’m not satisfied.

I have walked the streets of the South Bronx, Harlem, East New York, the South Side of Chicago, Liberty City and Overtown in Miami, East Detroit and SW Detroit, and other notorious urban communities. By God’s grace alone, I have built relationships with drug lords and gang leaders, housing project tenants associations, community leaders, businessmen and school boards.

But I am not satisfied.

I have been to 23 nations. I have walked through the slums of Guatemala City and some of the worst favelas of Sao Paolo, bringing the hope of the Gospel. I have done street drama in Cuba. I have fellowshipped with and equipped underground church leaders in closed nations and been blessed by their devotion in the midst of persecution.

But I am not satisfied.

I have seen miracles: A blind man healed in Santiago, Chile. A young man in Chicago healed of cancer. A man in a remote village of Vietnam, near death with gangrene in his legs from stepping on a mine, healed and restored, resulting in his tribe turning to Christ.

But I am not satisfied.

I am not satisfied because what I have experienced in Jesus has only made me want more. It is as if all that I have seen and experienced in Him has only been a preamble to what is yet to come.

And I want it.

I am not content to stay where I am. I am not content to know what I know of Him and know no more. I am not content to sit back and say, “I have seen God’s hand on four continents. I have seen enough.”

No, I have not seen enough. I do not want a cultural expression of Jesus. I do not want a religious expression of Jesus. I do not want a denominational expression of Jesus.

I just want Jesus.

I want Jesus to turn what’s left of my world upside down. I want the rest of my flesh to be consumed by His presence. I want what’s left of my thoughts to become His thoughts, and my ways His ways.

The popular megachurch Jesus, the prophetic movement Jesus, the prosperity Jesus … all of these and those like them do not attract me. They do not attract me because the focus is on a human personality or a movement, not singly and wholeheartedly on Jesus.

I am tired of substitutes. And if I, who by God’s grace have encountered Jesus at many levels am tired of substitutes, how about the masses hungry for authenticity? Thirsty for real faith that satisfies?

Let me be gut honest. Much of what we have offered in the church has been polluted with flesh, compromise, human hero worship, pride, fleshly lust for attention, self-centered pursuit for personal gain, avoidance of sacrifice and resistance to submission. This diluted gospel has transformed no one. As a result, we have nearly lost our culture.

But there is a remnant like me. If you are still reading this, you are most likely part of it, too. You are not satisfied. You want Jesus and the pure, unadulterated, raw, flesh-crucifying Gospel. And you are willing to die for it.

Here is the wonderful, amazing, unfathomable, unimaginable news: Followers like you and I are the ones He is looking for.

Why I rarely post opinion on social media

In today’s world, news channels and coffee shops are filled with people sharing their opinions, often in a manner that is prideful, abrasive, and rarely involving well-thought-out responses to critical questions. So why not jump into the fray and do the same? I have deep convictions and heart-felt opinions. I grieve, for example, over how recent years have brought the decay of our moral foundation and the loss of the beacon of hope this nation once represented. I am troubled by our lack of leadership and loss of influence in the world. I am appalled over how a segment of our nation has rejected the foundations of Eternal Truth and become intolerant to those who believe. So why do I refrain from engaging in opinion sharing on social media?

#1 I have deep convictions and believe that I can communicate them well without causing offense, but I have no control over the offensive and unwise comments that may come forth in the replies of others. Therefore, I choose to not be the cause or catalyst for offense.

#2 I have many friends of different cultures and backgrounds around the world. I honor and respect each of them. We may have differences of opinion, but those are shared best by honoring that relationship in personal conversation, not via social media. I place high priority on relationships. Relationships to me are more important than political opinion. Relationships are the basis of my calling to make disciples (Matthew 28:18-20).

#3 I believe. I believe in the Word of God and the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I do not believe in man-made institutions. I do not believe political parties have our answers. I am friends with the One who does.

#4 A life lived in unashamed faith as a fragrance of Jesus Christ in this world speaks volumes more than social media posts ever will.

#5 Lastly, I believe the final word has already been given on all of the issues. We can have whatever opinion we have: “Many plans are in a man’s heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand” (Proverbs 19:21). If we support causes and elect candidates whose policies oppose God’s Truth, we are accountable. In Christ, there is no compromise, no matter what excuses we use to justify it. A little yeast ruins the whole batch of dough. God has already spoken. His Word has already settled the issues.

Do you want to change the world? Do it the way Christ did, in relationships. Speak boldly, but speak words of wisdom bathed in prayer and love. Stand for what is right, but do it with humility, meekness, and a caring heart. Honor the opinions of others and sow the seeds of His Truth into their lives, first by living His Truth before them so that they can see it. And pray. Pray for our nation and the world. “The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16 NLT).

God, help us not to be the noisy gongs and clanging cymbals Paul spoke about in 1 Corinthians 13:1. Guide us by Your Holy Spirit to think, speak and live more like Jesus. And help us to devote the little time that remains to the very thing that is closest to the heart of the Great Shepherd: He left the 99 in safe pasture to find the one who had been lost. (Luke 15:4)

7 Important Thoughts about the Great Commission

We live in very urgent times and the great task of sharing our faith with many who have not heard still lies before us. Many followers of Christ do not sense this priority, but for those who do, for those who have a heart for God and for the souls that He yearns to have in His fellowship, and for those who want to be obedient to His call, here are seven important thoughts about the Great Commission:

1) It’s not you who does the work of salvation, so don’t take the credit for it. Give the glory where it is due. “The ones who do the planting or watering aren’t important, but God is important because He is the One who makes the seeds grow” (1 Corinthians 3:7).

2) There are needs everywhere. No one place is more important than another, but some fields are ripe and ready now, waiting to be harvested. We must discern where these fields are, know God’s purpose for us individually, and go while the doors are open. “Don’t act thoughtlessly, but try to understand what the Lord wants you to do” (Ephesians 5:17). “All of us must quickly carry out the tasks assigned to us by the One who sent Me, because there is little time left before the night falls and all work comes to an end” (John 9:4).

3) You cannot do this in your own strength, ability and understanding. You need the Holy Spirit. “But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about Me everywhere” (Acts 1:8).

4) Expect opposition. You are invading the enemy’s territory. He will fight back, but you already have the victory. “Upon this rock I will build My church, and the powers of hell will not conquer it” (Matthew 16:18). The Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in this world” (1 John 4:4).

5) Fix your heart. God wants obedience with a humble heart. Get rid of pride, bitterness and secret sins. Come to Him with a pure heart. “Create in me a clean heart, O God. Renew a right spirit within me … Restore to me again the joy of Your salvation, and make me willing to obey You. They I will teach your ways to sinners…” (Psalm 51:10-12).

6) Keep family first. Keep the priority of the altar in your home and don’t sacrifice it for the nations. Remember, the first worship was between a husband and wife – Adam and Eve. The first discipleship was between parents and children – Adam and Eve and their children. The first churches were in homes. “I have singled him out so that he will direct his sons and their families to keep the way of the Lord” (Genesis 18:19).

7) God will provide, but not always in the ways you think. We have seen the hand of God do many miracles to provide for the work of His kingdom. Most times, the provision did not come from where we would have sought or expected. God may test our faith and allow us to wait until the last hour, but He will always provide for the work of His hands, and for His glory. “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from His glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

All scripture references are from the New Living Translation.

Go and do what? Make disciples?!

The Great Commission occurs numerous times in scripture. Each of the Gospels ends with a commission and Acts begins with it. One of my personal favorites is the Parable of the Good Samaritan which concludes with Jesus’ words, “Go and do likewise.”

I think we misinterpret the meaning of this divine command. The Great Commission does not instruct us to go around the world and build church buildings. Neither does it instruct us to hold conferences, have concerts, publish books or attend conventions. All of these are good, but they are not God’s priority. God’s priority is simple: “Go and make disciples.” Or, “Go make disciples.”

Discipleship cannot be done in a classroom, a seminar or by attending a great church. Discipleship is relational. It is the impartation of Christ in us. It is the life flow of Jesus pouring out from our overflowing cup into the cups of others.

A great missionary whom God used to literally impact half a continent once told me, “In the United States, you have the best preachers and teachers of the Word. You have the most impressive facilities. You have many Bible schools and seminaries. You have wonderful worship music. You have qualified administration of ministry. But you have the worst disciplers, and you are losing your nation.” I believe his words are so unfortunately true.

Maybe we don’t make disciples because it doesn’t produce quick results, and we are a society that wants to see quick results, even in church. Maybe we don’t make disciples because it is too much of an investment of time. Maybe we don’t make disciples because we don’t know how!

The key to knowing how to make disciples is found in how we raise our children. After all, our commission is really to raise our spiritual children in the ways of the Lord.

How do we raise a child? We provide food, shelter, and nurture. We teach basic skills. We help clean up their messes. We teach them the importance of living under authority. We raise them in an environment of unconditional love.

How do we disciple someone? We provide:

  • Food – We bring them to the Lord’s table and teach them to eat.
  • Shelter – Not just church, but Psalm 91 shelter.
  • Nurture – We nurture their faith, their talents and giftings in the body of fellowship.
  • Teach basic skills – We teach them how to grow in relationship with God and make choices that honor Him.
  • Help clean up their messes – Yes, we do! And as we do, we point them to Christ.
  • Teach them the importance of living under authority – Authority in Christ, God’s Word and His church.
  • Raise them in an environment of unconditional love – 1 Corinthians 13!

And we do all of these things in relationships with them! For true discipleship can occur only in relationship … as Christ did with 12 Disciples. Why should we think we should do any different?

We say we want revival. We will know there is revival when there is an awakening to the Great Commission. Real revival is consumed with the heart of God, and God’s heart is revealed in the Great Commission: Go make disciples!

After all, how do we change the world? One person at a time.

 

Jesus – Creator and Carpenter

He is Creator.

He is a carpenter.

He spoke the world into existence. “Let there be light.” And there was light. He is the Word. (John 1:1-5.) His words are so powerful that when the Word speaks the word, things change. Nature obeys. Hell trembles. Man chooses.

He speaks and things happen. The seas divide. Land appears. Mountains. Valleys. Canyons. Rivers. Lakes. Streams. Deer. Eagles. Salmon. Humpbacks. Lions . . . Man. Woman.

All because He, the Word, spoke.

“We never heard anyone speak like Him.” That’s what the people said. That’s what Caiphus’s emissaries said.

His words confounded earth’s wise ones. They comforted the downtrodden. Pierced the hearts of the proud. Broke the sin-weary. Life or death, your choice.

The Word. The Way. The Truth. The Life.

He’s God. He’s Creator. He’s the Word. Not a word, THE Word.

And He’s a carpenter.

You can’t speak a bookshelf into existence. You have to build it.

You imagine it first. You can see it. Envision it. It’s already in the room with the books on it, a few decorative items, and a plant. Stained to the perfect hue, it’s completed … and you haven’t cut the first piece of wood yet.

Composers understand this. I do. I have yet to hear my first orchestral composition performed from start to finish. But oh, I’ve heard it! I’ve heard every accelerando and every diminuendo. I’ve heard the quietest moments and the full orchestra’s crash. I’ve heard every musical color and have felt every ensuing emotion. I haven’t heard it at all, but oh, I’ve heard it!

The great composer Maurice Ravel was cornered at a party and asked about a composition by the man who commissioned it. “Oh, it’s finished!” “So, when can I see it?” Ravel replied, “As soon as I put it down on paper.” The first note had not been penned on the manuscript, but the composition was complete. The musicians had not yet played, but the music had already filled the senses of the musical creator.

So, the carpenter envisions the bookshelf standing in the corner of the room, stately, functional, and complete. Then he measures the corner and draws the bookcase according to its appropriate dimensions.

He cuts down a tree. He cuts up the tree. He cuts the boards from the wood. He firms every piece. He sands them with course sandpaper to remove the crud and splinters. He measures each piece again. Then, with hammer, nails, drill, screws, level, and more, he puts it together. He anchors it securely to the wall. He adds all of the finishing touches, not halting his labor until he looks back and says to himself, “Perfect.”

With a proud sense of completion, he puts the first book on the middle shelf and he stands back and admires the work of his hands. And guess what? It looks just like it did in his mind’s eyes before the tree was cut down. It is his vision, but now, after the skilled labor of his hands, he can touch what he saw before it ever existed.

Jesus – Creator and Carpenter. Some things He speaks into existence. But others, He envisions the final product and He works diligently with His skilled hands until it stands complete, perfect, and fully functional for the purpose that He created it.

He will cut. He will saw. He will trim. He will even sand with the coarsest of sandpaper. He will hammer. He will drill. And He will securely anchor us to His wall.

Yes, I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will complete it (Philippians 1:6).

He’s a good carpenter. And a Potter, too!

“Can I not do with you as the potter does? As clay is in the potter’s hands, so are you in My hands” (Jeremiah 18:6).

Authored by Dr. Tom Grassano in 2003

Abraham Lincoln’s Call to National Prayer

“We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of heaven; we have been preserved these many years in peace and prosperity; we have grown in numbers, wealth and power as no nation has ever grown.

“But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us, and we have vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own …

“We have become too self-sufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us. It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our national sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness …

“All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope authorized by the divine teachings, that the united cry of the nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings no less than the pardon of our national sins …”

Abraham Lincoln’s call to national prayer in 1863 is very relevant today!

There is still hope, America!

The United States of America has enjoyed the favor of God and His protection and blessings for over 200 years. Founded on Biblical principles and in the fear of the Lord, bowing their knees and praying to God were common acts of our Forefathers in forming this nation.

At his first inauguration, George Washington prayed the following:

“Almighty God; We make our earnest prayer that Thou wilt keep the United States in Thy holy protection; that Thou wilt incline the hearts of the citizens to cultivate a spirit of subordination and obedience to government; and entertain a brotherly affection and love for one another and for their fellow citizens of the United States at large.

“And finally that Thou wilt most graciously be pleased to dispose us all to do justice, to love mercy, and to demean ourselves with that charity, humility, and pacific temper of mind which were the characteristics of the Divine Author of our blessed religion, and without a humble imitation of whose example in these things we can never hope to be a happy nation. Grant our supplication, we beseech Thee, through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.”

For the past several decades, however, this nation has in concerted and purposeful effort sought to remove our Creator and His Son Jesus Christ from our culture. What has resulted is a nation rejecting its very foundations. Can we truly expect to have God’s protection in conflict and war when we have rejected who He is, His Word and how He has taught us to live?

Think of it this way:  You own a house. It has been passed on to you from previous generations. You like the house, but you don’t like the foundation. So, you set off to build a new foundation under your house by first digging into the soil to break apart and chip away at the foundation the house was built upon. You are blinded to believe that, though you may love this house and want to continue to live safely in it, you can do so without the foundation it has stood upon for the generations your family has owned that house.

What will be the obvious result? Your house will fall.

This is where we have arrived as a nation. The pace of our moral decay has increased so rapidly that it makes our heads spin. Those who believe in His Word are sickened and grieved as we see more and more turn from His ways to the indulgence of sin that is an affront to God. As the immorality increases, so does the hatred of the name of Christ. We should expect nothing less, for indulgence of sin and hatred of His name are inseparable partners. As these things happen, the strength and influence of the nation internationally is decreasing.

A nation cannot stand when its moral foundation is broken apart.

This is not a time to focus on the debate of issues. No, this is a time to fall to our knees and, in the fear of the Lord, cry out in repentance for rejecting God as a nation.

We cannot expect His protection and favor if we renounce His ways and reject who He is.

There is still hope, America! It is found in these words and in the God who spoke them:

“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal their land. My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to every prayer made in this place.”  – 2 Chronicles 7:14-15

What is Church?

An army is not measured by its numbers, the quality and appearance of their uniforms or the quantity of drills they perform on a daily basis. Sheer numbers and appearance do not indicate that an army is able to fight well, defend its people and accomplish its goals.

Likewise, a church is not measured merely by the amount of people who sit in the pews or the amount of programs available for the people.

The quality and effectiveness of the church is measured more by:

  • The genuineness of its worship,
  • The fervency of its prayers,
  • The faithfulness and commitment of its people,
  • The hunger and thirst for the things of God,
  • The uncompromising teaching of the Word,
  • The brokenness and purity of the body,
  • The activity of sending into the harvest fields of our families, our city, and our world,
  • The discipleship of the sheep and lambs,
  • The passion for His name,
  • The respect and reverence for His presence,
  • The humility and servant-hearts of its leaders,
  • The unity of the body,
  • The living and growing presence of Christ Jesus.

Many have highly trained musicians, impressive media ministries, gifted communicators, extravagant facilities, and activities for every age group, but they lack many of the qualities above.

If I had to choose, I would choose the church under a tree with these qualities over a performance that stirs my emotions but does not rend my soul, for this is the church where lives and cities can be changed and where I can meet the presence of Christ face to face. 

The twisted reality of modern Christianity

As I travel and observe how many Christians live out their faith, I am encouraged that the New Testament is alive in many places! In others, however, it appears as if they sought to create a Christianity to their pleasure. It is something like this:

Let us make God in our own image, and in our own likeness. And let us make Him provide for us as we desire, to answer our beckoned call as we want Him to, and to receive our worship when He does things that please us.

And let us give unto ourselves a Savior who comes to forgive our sins and give us eternal life while never challenging our lifestyles or changing our hearts.

And let us make a church where we can come and cry on the shoulders of our friends and receive their sympathy without getting too close to freedom and healing. Let us also find teaching that we can agree with and makes us feel good but never truly convicts us of any sin.

And let us bring unto ourselves prophets who provide spiritual candy and sugarcane, prophesying blessings and abundance but never calling us to repentance and covenant-relationship with the Everlasting God.

And let us create schools and universities that teach us that seeking knowledge about religion is greater than pursuing the presence of God in our lives.

And let us build unto our names and applaud ourselves when we accomplish great things through the works of our flesh. Then we will view brokenness as weakness, submission as unwarranted, and never truly participate in a lifestyle totally and completely dependent on His grace.

And let us become self-absorbed, seeking first the kingdom of man and his pleasures and comfort, denying all forms of sacrifice and using God’s Word to amass unto ourselves the blessings of the kingdom of this world.

And let us look at a lost world and declare and decree and speak all kinds of things into existence while waiting for someone else to personally touch them with the love and truth of Christ, because that’s someone else’s job anyway.

And let us be ever mindful that living in the Spirit, believing in the Word, and speaking about Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God as the only hope of our salvation might offend someone and therefore we should remain silent and keep our faith to ourselves.

Let us continue to walk in this spiritual blindness until false religions and immorality increase, our children deny faith in God, and we walk a wide road of deception straight through the gates of hell into eternal darkness.