Sunday, August 21, 2011

Third Great Awakening

There is a drought taking place here in central Texas that is on the verge of topping all records for heat and no rain. Some long range forecasters are saying we may have 10 to 14 more months of little to no rain (as of this writing). If that is true, the devastation to farms and ranches will be felt for years to come. Already, most of this year's cotton crop is a loss. That is one of the reasons you may be paying moire for clothes. Beef is right behind as most of the ranchers have sold off their cattle at a loss because they can't afford the additional costs of maintaining their herds. There goes beef prices too. Clearly, our drought here in central Texas is having an effect on the rest of the nation, and to some extent, the world as cotton prices soar over shortages.

I believe this drought is symbolic of a spiritual drought that has gripped the West and America for sometime. It too has had far reaching effects spiritually. A few years ago, while working at a terrestrial Christian Radio station, I met a gentleman who was from Africa. He felt that God had called him a year or so earlier, to go to the US as a missionary. He was used to missionaries going to his homeland from America, not the other way around. He shared with me that he felt the Lord impress upon him that The US was now in need of teachers of the Gospel to come here and reach our lost! He noted that after he was here a while he began to realize that there were a lot of churches filled with very religious people but, not many who had a deep, mature relationship with Christ. He also told me that he felt specifically drawn to Austin. He claimed that he sensed the Lord was trying to do something very special here. I agreed and shared that I had felt that for several years and that I have seen signs of a great awakening washing over America and especially an outpouring of God's spirit in the Central Texas vicinity.

This "drought" of God's word and Spirit across our land is evident. The assault on Christian Liberties has been ramped up in recent years and the rhetoric against Christians, even from politicians and the main stream media, is alarming. You have reports from the Department of Home Land Security practically calling conservative Christians terrorists. When Christians refuse to accept homosexuality as "OK" and call it a sin, you are immediately labeled a homophobe. Or , if a Christian dares speak up on behalf of unborn babies, you are accused of thwarting women's rights. I believe that even the Tea Party has come under so much fire because many of these same folks have come to realize that its ranks are filled with many Christians. With prayer almost illegal in public schools and the errant arguments and erroneous interpretations of the separation clause of the 1st Amendment, which is preventing Christians from gathering and worshiping on public grounds, is it any wonder that it is open season on followers of Christ? Granted, the persecution of Christians in this country as compared to what happens in many other parts of the world, is light; for now. But, could a day be on the horizon where open persecution of true Christians in this country will become more rampant and dangerous? If we're not careful, I think so.

If there were ever a time to hit our knees and humble ourselves under the mighty hand of God, it is certainly now. It is also time, not just for the "professional" ministers of the Gospel to boldly proclaim God's love and truth, it is also time for ALL true followers of the Jesus of the Bible to speak up loud and clear. It's not necessary to be obnoxious about it. Simply telling the truth in love ,yet firmly and without hesitation, is the key. Christians have got to trust the Lord and let the Chips fall where they may and let not just our words speak, but also our lives. Scripture makes clear that we are "living epistles" 2 Cor. 3:3. Our lives have to be a consistent witness to the truth of God's love and salvation through Christ.

I feel deep down in my bones, the Lord is giving our nation a wake-up call via our horrible economy and the natural disasters that it is now or never. Our nation has reached the crossroads of its soul. What happens over the next year or to will determine our fate, for better or for worse. We will never be the same America we once were just a generation ago. However, if we can get back to the principles that once made this nation great, we may stand a chance. If we renounce the idolatry of money, greed and self, before God, we have a chance at experiencing an outpouring of His grace and His Spirit in a "clear water" flow.

Our political heroes won't fix us, professional preachers won't fix us, nor will science and technology. No, we must collectively do it ourselves by turning to the fiery face of the living God and repenting. Then, bearing the fruits of repentance, readjusting our priorities as the Church of America and loving and taking care of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ in such a way that it puts all others to shame. When the non-believing world witnesses this, they too will confess that these people really do know the Lord. We will collectively Awaken to the breadth, the height, the depth and length of God's love. He may yet again shed His grace and shine His favor on us. He has allowed us to wound ourselves. All the foundations are shaking. It is the Lord himself doing this in our nation. If we will "Awaken" to His clarion call to return and to deepen our intimacy with Him, His wave of love and forgiveness will sweep over our nation. He will pour down his Spirit like a cool spring rain and soothe our souls and heal our parched and disaster stricken land. Arise, oh sleeper and awaken to the truth about the living God, His word and His salvation. Pray that He will not abandon us. Rather, that He will turn to us once again.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Declaration of Christ Dependence

By the evening of July 2, 1776, the stark reality of what a few dozen men had just voted on was beginning to sink in. The old Philadelphia State House was quiet. According to witnesses, some of the men gazed out of the windows, some prayed, a few wept and others sat in silence. These men had just committed treason and sedition against their own government. Since they were representatives, it carried the weight of long imprisonment or death. They pledged their lives, their fortunes and their "sacred honor" to this rebellion.They were all in: they bet the whole pot so to speak and entrusted their decision and its out come to "Divine Providence" i. e. God.

Regardless of the opinion anyone may have of the Founding Fathers, you have to give them credit for being gutsy and displaying incredible courage. It also speaks to how fed up they were with the tyranny that they had been enduring for so long. They knew they had come to a point where it could not continue and the only remedy was to part company with their mother country's government. Very few in history ever succeeded in revolting from a superpower, so the odds were long they could even win. They were forming a new nation, "conceived in Liberty" that was claiming Divine Rights of the individual against a king who hid behind Divine Right of his own authority to get away with committing tyrannical acts. It is important to note that the Declaration of Independence mentions or alludes to God no less than 4 times (endowed by our Creator, nature and nature's God, Supreme Judge of the world, Divine Providence) making the document and its argument not just a legal one, but a spiritual one too.

On July 3, John Adams sent a letter to his wife Abigail and told her that Americans should remember this act with solemness and in essence turn towards God each time this holiday is celebrated. Of course now, we celebrate the 4th of July which is the actual date of the final draft and when John Hancock put his name to it along with the secretary as witness. It was also sent to the printer that day with the date of July 4 left on. It would be August 2 when most everyone else would sign it.

Nevertheless, our Founders meant for us to regard this holiday as not simply a time for revelry, but a time to give thanks to God for his blessings of liberty and freedom. Scripture declares that we have liberty in Christ Jesus and the gift of grace and salvation purchased by His blood. It was said at the time that many British authorities were frustrated by a motto of sorts that many of the patriotic colonists would quote: "No king but Jesus!"

The 4th of July was intended to be a spiritual holiday from the very start. Without the liberty from King Jesus, their would be no true liberty for anyone. He is its source. If we ever forget these truths as a nation, we're doomed to the absence of liberty which is slavery. Tyrants will again be our master. if we are not very careful. Liberty is seldom won or lost in a single day. It creeps by increments. The only way back form this slow creep of fading liberty is through Christ. I grow more convinced of this daily. He is our ultimate Declaration of Independence!

Richie L.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Mere Revival or Awakening

Something is in the air. Something is stirring. Demonic activity is increasing and this, I'm hearing, as experienced from all of my Christian sources including myself. I know many believers who are battling spiritual attacks from all sides and quarters. Something has the demons stirred. Actually, I take this as a positive sign that Heavenly forces are gearing up. The Holy Spirit is about to move in a fresh, strong way like we in this country haven't experienced. I believe a 'pure' revival or really more of an 'awakening' is taking place. It has been brewing for some time and little by little, it is gaining momentum!

Revival can be refreshing and even life altering. It can last for a season. I've been to tent meetings and anointed services that were refreshing like a cool rain on a hot, summer day. I have witnessed 'pep rallies for Jesus' if you will. These all have their purpose. Some come to faith and experience healings during these events and seasons. However, what I'm feeling in my heart and spirit is something more powerful and on a much broader scale.

Historically, there have been many, great revivals and awakenings in this country. A few decades before the American Revolution, there was one of the greatest. There were many in the early 1800's taking place on the frontier in Kentucky, Missouri and Tennessee. Several camp meetings would go on at once with crowds divided into large sections and numerous preachers all preaching at once. Witnesses to these meetings would later describe standing ranks of believers being felled by the Holy Spirit like canon balls being fired at ranks of soldiers, knocking them down in massive rows.

Of course there was the Azuza Street Revival in Los Angles in the early 1900's where many spoke in tongues and miraculous healings and wonders took place, and launching a few denominations such as the Assemblies of God. Several decades later in the late 60's and early 70's, there was a similar revival that hit up and down the California coast from San Francisco to San Diego with an epicenter in Orange County. Hippies were becoming Jesus Freaks. The handful of brave pastors and evangelists that would dare reach out to these mop top, barefoot, dirty kids were practically ostracised from their respective denominations and fellowships. These guys were underground then such as, Jack Hayford, Chuck Smith, Josh McDowell, John MacArthur along with music artists like Larry Norman, Barry McGuire, Keith Green, Petra, etc. Now these folks are all household names in Christendom! Music played a key roll along with radical ministry.

As a program director of a Christian Music station in the Round Rock?Austin TX area about five years back, I noticed something curious one day on the Christian Music charts. There was an inordinate amount of bands and artist from Texas and the heartland states on the charts. It was strange. Suddenly, it hit me that in the Old Testament, God always had the children of Israel put the musicians out in front of the army. Praise always goes before the Lord. I noticed that nearly all of these artists either lived in cities along or near Interstate 35. This Highway is referred to as 'The main street of America' as it bisects the country from north to south. It wasn't long after this, 2 new Christian stations opened up in Austin and a revival of sorts was underway in Kansas City. This was another one of those 'hmmm' moments!

Could the Lord be opening up a fountain head of revival in these cities along the I 35 corridor? Yes. I believe He is!. But, not just ye old revival, but a 'pure water' revival not tainted by the hands of man or religiosity. Rather, I'm seeing an awakening. I'm noticing tell tale signs of a deep moving among Christians who are tired of Church as usual and are fed up with dead, religious programs, religiosity, denominational territorial attitudes, outmoded dogmas and watering down of orthodoxy. I see a hunger for the truth, spiritual maturity and love expressed in deeds of giving and service to others in need and not just pumping up the 'religious system.'

I am running into more believers who are either joining or launching very radical ministries to reach out to the hard to reach. They seem to posses a drive and a resilience that reminds me of the early Apostles. I'm also running into more Christians who are acutely aware that there is something very wrong with our nation and that our religious and political freedoms are rapidly vanishing. It's as if blinders are coming off the eyes to see the corruption in both the organized church and our political institutions as well as becoming aware of their own malaise and apathy. In short, Christians are starting to slowly wake up! There seems to be a Holy Frustration with the status quo and a sense that something has got to change and soon.

I believe the money problems we are experiencing in this nation bears the touch of the hand of God. Money is the last great idol to fall in America and in the church. Far too many ministries are built and make their decisions based on money. There is nothing wrong with money. We need it like water, air, or food. But, if a man worships food, he becomes a glutton, one of the seven deadly sins. Likewise, when we grow too dependent upon money and wealth, we become greedy. This is idolatry because we grow to depend upon mammon rather than God. 'On Christ the sold rock I stand' not the green paper with the face of 'Benjiman'!

Perhaps we have been in the dream castle of religious Disneyland for too long and like spiritual Cinderellas, the Lord is kissing us awake. The serpent is now taking off his Mickey Mouse mask and we are seeing him and evil on full display around the world. Christendom is feeling the sting of persecution like a mini-tribulation. We are groping around in this foretold Age of Apostasy like lost children in this sick amusement park looking for our parent. Now, the non-believers are seeing this and asking the tough questions. about the Bible, God, hell and heaven. Even they sense something is up.

Yes, AWAKE oh, sleeper. The days are short and numbered and the harvest is ripe and nearly rotting. Our money, our governments, our institutions are failing before our eyes. But, the Lord is still on the throne. He is mustering his army of Saints for great, spiritual battle; to love the un-lovable, clean the dirty, feed the hungry, nurse the sick, comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable, and boldly proclaim His Good News of Salvation to the lost. If you are reading this, I would encourage you to repent, re-dedicate, and reload your spiritual weapons. The captain of our faith is shouting to WAKE UP and MOVE OUT!!


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Letter to Congressional Representative

It has come to the attention of myself and many of your constituents that you represent, that President Barak Obama has gone to war without fullfilling his Constitutionaly mandated duty of allowing Congress to declare war or approve, or at the very least, pass resolution in favor of such an action.

  Congress' powers to declare war and related military concerns are enumerated in the U. S. Constitution per Article 1, Section Eight: as follows:

" The Congress shall have power To... declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water; To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years; To provide and maintain a Navy; To make Rules for the Government and Regulation of the land and naval Forces; To provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions; To provide for organizing, arming, and disciplining, the Militia, and for governing such Part of them as may be employed in the Service of the United States, reserving to the States respectively, the Appointment of the Officers, and the Authority of training the Militia according to the discipline prescribed by Congress;

Founding Father James Madison reported that in the Federal Convention of 1787, the phrase "make war" was changed to "declare war" in order to leave to the Executive the power to repel sudden attacks but not to commence war without the explicit approval of Congress. One of the earliest Supreme Court cases on this subject (Talbot v. Seeman, 1801) states Congress alone, the court unanimously ruled, had the "whole powers of war," whether that meant authorizing "general hostilities" or "partial war." Much later, Justice Thurgood Marshall referred to this ruling and noted that "nothing in the 172 years since those words were written alters that fundamental constitutional postulate (Holtzman v. Schlesinger, 1973)."

Congress repealed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in January 1971 and as President Richard Nixon continued to wage war in Vietnam, Congress passed the War Powers Resolution (Pub.L. 93-148) over the veto of Nixon in an attempt to rein in some of the president's claimed powers. Today, Congress recognizes no claimed power of the president to wage war outside of the War Powers Resolution.

I could go into deeper analysis, study and proof texts than what the limited space of a letter could politely contain. So, I will simply state that this President, despite his claim of Constitutional scholarship and in disregard of his sworn oath to uphold, has violated our Constitution and snubed you as well as the other members of Congress, by this latest military engagement regarding Libya. The merits of the action, nor political ideology, nor the Presidents popularity, should have any bearing on a decision to formally impeach or at least censure the President for his unlawful action. The Executive Office does not reside above the highest law of the land.

I woulld also like to remind you, not in a scolding tone, but rather as a plea to your good conscience, that you also took a sworn oath to uphold, protect and defend our Constitution from all enemies, foreign or domestic. It doesn't matter where those enemies reside, whether in a mountain cave along the Pakistan border or in the Executive Mansion. Anyone who asserts himself against or assaults our Constitution should be held to account.

If you choose to remain silent or inactive on this, then the precedent will be set for further disregard of our Constititution by future elected officials to the larger danger of our Republic and our sacred liberties.

I thank you in advance for your attention to this grave matter and please feel free to correspond with me at anytime. Thank you for your valuable time and service! God Bless & protect America.


Richie L.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

All Aboard!

I love trains. As a kid I loved to watch the trains go by the little day care house run by Mrs. Contreras in San Antonio, TX when I was a small child. The tracks were literally just a few feet from her back yard, chain link fence. When I went to school in Virginia, the campus sat alongside a spur of the then Southern Railroad line. I would watch the freight trains rumble by during lunch and waive to the engineers. It always gave me a thrill when they'd waive back. I would fantasize about driving or even "hobo-ing" a train and letting it take me wherever it was destined. On a visit to an Aunt and Uncle's in Southern California one summer, I rode on a passenger train from San Clemente to San Diego. It was a blast. No surprise, that I was hooked on electric trains and model railroading as a kid and teenager. Even my house in Austin where I live today, is less than 1000 feet from the Union Pacific rail line! So hopefully, you'll understand my reaching for the analogy of a train as I use it in regards to our national debt crisis, economic crisis, and the moral crisis hitting our nation.

As a student of both history and the Bible, I'm struck at how many themes or "lessons" repeat themselves. How many times did God punish the Israelites for their disobedience, over and over again. And, here we are a few millennia later and we are about to enter what the Old Testament prophecies refer to as the "time of Jacob's trouble." It's important to note that the Lord referred to Israel as "Jacob" whenever they were really messing up. The House of Israel is still in rebellion today and won't really wake up nationally or as a people until "they gaze upon him whom they pierced," Yeshua (Jesus).

If the Lord was this rugged with a people who claimed to be His and whom He called "chosen," how much less firm will He be with a people as blessed as we Americans who also proclaim nationally, "IN GOD WE TRUST?" We are so bold that in our Declaration of Independence, we claim our rights come from Him and we make reference to Him in that wonderful document no less than four times! Again, will He not hold us to similar account? I sometimes shudder at the thought.

We proclaim in song, "God shed His grace on thee..." and indeed, He has, without question. What other nation in history, but perhaps Israel, has witnessed supernatural intervention, providence and fate on our behalf at dramatic moments? What other nation in world history has prospered and created technologies as we have? Any student of American History must conclude this, or at least, conclude that America has the dumbest luck. Again, will He not hold us to a high standard of accountability? I believe that answer to be, yes!

Can a just and loving God hold back his indignation forever from a society that has murdered some 51 million children in the womb? Is the rampant perversion and homosexuality upon us really a form of judgement? What about the increases in child abuse and child porn? Is our bizarre weather and hard droughts of recent years part of a larger curse? Is some of the wrath of other nations against us, in some aspects, judgement too? Are we not reaping what we have sown as a society, with regards to our greed and materialism, by experiencing a floundering economy and astronomical debt? Again, I must admit the answer to be, yes!

If this is the case, and I suspect many of you would agree with the above analysis,, the next question that has to be begged is, is it too late? Can we still turn back to the Lord and have Him heal our land? If we turn to Him with broken spirits and contrite hearts, will He despise us? The God and Savior that I have come to know seems rather quick to forgive, is slow to anger, is astoundingly patient and long suffering. He proclaims that His mercies are everlasting! Wouldn't a Lord like this be quick to welcome a prodigal nation like ours back to His care? Again, I exclaim, yes!

However, I feel the unction to caution, not for much longer. We as Christians must hit our knees harder than ever. We must pray for the Lord not only to tighten up our loose ends as his elect, but to guide our seemingly clueless, political, leaders and wake them up from deadly slumber along with the rest of our nation. The train is still sitting at the station, yet it is blowing its mournful whistle. It will soon start to slowly pull out and away. If we abandon God nationally, sooner or later, He will abandon us nationally. We have kicked him out of the public square, our schools and to some extent our lives by our chasing after material things and money.

Look, I'm a huge capitalist pig, but we are talking priorities here. The Apostle Paul was a capitalist too. He was a tent maker and sold his tents in the market, not to start a Fortune 500 company (though he had at times some people who worked with him,) but rather to take care of himself, his ministry team and those fellow believers around him in need. He made it clear to the Ephesus Christians that when he was with them he "coveted no man's gold or silver..." He went on to say how hard he worked night and day to take care of himself and those with him. He set an example for the Ephesian Church that in like manner, they should do the same and save up a little for cases of urgent need. In other words, they weren't simply working for a living, but also for a "giving." There can be a fine line between a desire to better one's estate and raw greed. Often, it requires great spiritual maturity and honest examination of the heart to discern between the two. We can never trust in riches, only in the Lord.

Perhaps, the Lord is trying to teach us a lesson here. Perhaps, he has brought us to the Grace Station and is showing us that last train to Jordan. The engine is heating up and it won't be long till those drive wheels start turning. The conductor is shouting at the top of his lungs that final call. Will we as a nation heed the call? Or, will we wait instead for that train with the fine, luxury, passenger cars filled with tempting things and distractions, that is bound straight down the line to destruction? Will we ask Him to help us untangle this economic mess we've created and defuse the time bomb of our debt? Or, will we look for that engine of secular humanism, pulling the freight car loaded with the idol of money? I think money is the last idol to fall in our society, and in our churches, for that matter.

No, I don't feel the Lord has turned his back on us just yet. However, I think he is about to. I'm reminded of that line toward the end of the Don McLean song, "American Pie"; 'And the three men I admire the most, the Father, Son and the Holy Ghost, they caught the last train for the coast...' And, God is standing there on the platform with His suitcase packed giving us one last, longing, backward gaze at the Big American Girl that stole His heart, but has since broken it with her harlotry's.

The conductor is now shouting, "all aboard?" It's now or never.