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Several years ago, I was asked to preach in a revival meeting in a rural Baptist church in west Alabama.  The pastor, a good friend of mine, asked me if I could sing one night.  I told him I would be glad to.

On the night I was scheduled to sing, I told the church’s soundman that I needed to set up the song with a brief introduction.  Just before I finished the introduction, I told him that I would motion subtly to him and that would be his cue to start the song.

When the time came for me to sing, I began to tell the story behind the song.  Near the end of the introduction I motioned ever so slightly toward the soundman so he could begin the soundtrack.  The sound booth in this particular church was in a very bad location.  It was behind the choir loft and over to one side.  The booth had a large window that was not tinted or even one-way glass.  It was just a large pane of clear glass.  Everyone in the church could see everything that was going on in the sound booth.

I thought to myself, “Surely, he saw me motion for him to start the music.”  However, there was no sound of music coming from the speakers.  I hated to be so obvious, but I turned around to see what the problem was.  When I turned around I saw the problem.  The whole church could see the problem.  The sound booth had a telephone in it and apparently the soundman decided the introduction to my song would be a convenient time to make a phone call.  I motioned toward him again.  This time it was not subtle or slight.  He then made a motion to me.  He held up the index finger of his right hand as if to say, “Just a minute preacher, I’m busy.”

I couldn’t believe it!  I didn’t know whether to get mad or laugh.  After a few more seconds, he finished his phone call, hung up, and started my soundtrack.  I sang the song, but I still couldn’t believe what had just happened.

That makes me wonder how God feels about us sometimes.  He has a word He wants us to hear, or an assignment He wants us to fulfill and we hold up our hand and say, “Just a minute Lord, I’m busy.”  Oh, we say it more with our attitudes than we actually verbalize it, but you know that it happens.

The God of the universe desires to speak to us and use us for His glory and we tell Him either by attitude, word, or lack of response that we are too busy to listen and obey.  Oh, what blessings and precious time of communion with the Lord we miss when we think we are so busy.

It is an amazing thing that the King of Kings and Lord of Lords wants to have anything at all to do with us, but thankfully, He does.  I suggest that when He signals to us that He wants our attention, we hang up everything else we may be doing and simply say, “Speak Lord, for Thy servant heareth.”

Allen

Everywhere you look there is unrest.  I don’t know if there is a single nation in the world that is satisfied with their leaders.  Three primary traits that seem to characterize so many world leaders are corruption, cowardice, and compromise.  This, of course, is not true of all world leaders, but sadly, it is true of many.  I read only this morning of one European nation that has been trying to choose a leader for its government for forty days with, so far, no success.  The United States may face a similar situation with our presidential election.  While there are some who are totally enthusiastic about their favorite candidate; most of the people I know are very discouraged with the choices we have.

As we look at the world through the lens of God’s Word, we can see how the world is being primed for the Antichrist.  Scripture tells us that in the last days the nations will clamor for a strong leader who will seem to have all the answers for the world’s greatest problems.  Out of a sea of unrest and political, religious, and economic turmoil, the devil will call out his false messiah.  He will first step onto the world stage as a man of peace, but after a period of time, the Antichrist’s true satanic nature will become manifest.  We can see how much of the world is ready to receive a charismatic leader who will appeal to the “best” in mankind.

Even though this man may already be somewhere in the world, waiting in the wings to make his appearance, we are never told in Scripture to look for the Antichrist.  More than ever before, those of us who know Jesus Christ need to have our eyes fixed on Him. (Hebrews 12:2)  Those of us who know the True Christ need to be growing in His Word, growing in prayer, and sharing the Gospel with those who, if they don’t know Christ, will fall for the lies of the Antichrist.

Now is not the time to be a politically correct, cultural Christian.  Now is not the time to be playing church.  The True Church of Jesus Christ needs to be salt and light in a world that needs to see Jesus in us.  No, we are not to look for or be anxious about the Antichrist, but while the world is being primed for him, we need to be looking to, looking for, and lifting up JESUS CHRIST as the true Hope of the world.

*Church sign I saw the other day:(Keep in mind the symbols of our two major political parties in America)      “If you’re tired of the elephant and the donkey; turn to the Lamb!”

As we consider the current state of things in America and around the world, a sense of pessimism and despair can certainly fall over us.  There are many desperate and deadly situations around the world.  Also, the current choices for president of the United States have left most of us wondering, “Where have all the truly godly leaders gone?  Are there any out there at all?  Has it ever been this bad before?”

Believe it or not the answer is, “Yes, it has been this bad before and even worse.”  In the 1940’s the entire world was at war.  Depending on which source you read, the number of people who died as a direct result of World War II ranges anywhere from sixty to eighty million.  That is a staggering number!  It has been over seventy years since WWII ended, and it really is impossible for our generation to comprehend the magnitude of those years.

In 1968, America was in the process of electing a new president.  We were greatly divided as a nation.  We were divided over race, poverty, the drug and sexual revolutions, and Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both assassinated.  Riots were common place in the streets and on college campuses.  How in the world did this country survive the sixties?

The good news is that during these two traumatic decades and immediately following, there were two great movements of God.  The years of World War II and following saw the rise of many great ministries and evangelical leaders.  People in America and Great Britain turned to God in desperate times of fasting and prayer.  God molded and raised up men like Billy Graham, Stephen Olford, Leonard Ravenhill, Warren Wiersbe, and Rees Howells as well as others.  These men were shaped by the challenges of their day.  Many new and anointed ministries came out of the decade of the forties and the early fifties.  Rees Howells, for example, had a powerful ministry of intercessory prayer during the war years that saw many specific and miraculous answers to prayer in some of Britain’s darkest hours.  Following the war, churches saw record numbers of baptisms and church attendance soared.  Also, God blessed and prospered America in many ways.

Of course, in the latter part of the sixties and early seventies, God sent a wave of revival across America that became known as “The Jesus Movement.”  Lives were radically changed, young people were on fire for Christ and those of us who were older children or teenagers at the time were affected for life.  God brought a glorious good out of those truly troubled times.

Yes, it looks pretty bad right now, but it has been bad before.  Will we wring our hands and give up?  Will we just sit around on our blessed assurance and hope that Jesus hurries up and raptures us out of this mess?  Or, will we hold on until the harvest comes?(Galatians 6:9)  Will we repent and desperately, fervently seek God like never before?  We could be on the verge of the next great move of God.  I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to miss it.  I want me, my family and my church to be a part of what God wants to do.  How about you?

There was one other time I would like to remind you of when the world was in a dark place just before God did something amazing.  Isaiah put it this way, “The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light; those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death, upon them a light has shined.” (Is. 9:2)  Matthew tells us that Jesus and His ministry on earth were the fulfillment of this prophecy.  It is important to note that immediately following Matthew’s quotation of this verse he records the words of Jesus that need to be heard again today, “Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

Let us pray and believe that God’s people will repent and that a mighty revival of God is at hand.  Two verses after Jesus’ call to repent He issued another call, “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.”  While we pray for revival let us also go with Christ after the lost like never before. He has left us with a mission to fulfill and a message to proclaim.  He is our only Hope in these times and for all of time.

In Christ’s service,

Allen

We are now only days away from the American people casting the first votes for the next president of the United States.  Voters will participate in caucuses and primaries to determine the nominees for America’s two primary political parties.  Once again America’s citizens, Christians in particular, are wondering, “Who in the world do I vote for?”  Let’s see, who are the leading candidates as of this post?  A billionaire with an ego that matches his bank account; a liberal socialist who is not hiding his desire to raise taxes tremendously and take us down the road to undermine all that made us a great nation, and a former secretary of state whose life is littered with scandal and the serious possibilities of much worse.  Are you encouraged yet?

I realize that we are not electing a pastor or a chaplain-in-chief, but God’s Word still says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34)  Where will the next president lead us?  How will the next president lead us?  What are the true values and convictions of the candidate you are considering?  Talk is cheap.  Promises can be broken.  Look at the person’s life.  Look at their words and actions over the long-haul, not just since they have been running their campaign for president.

“But”, you may say, ” that still doesn’t help me decide.”  If you are like me, you are not exactly thrilled with any of the current choices.  Of course, this hopefully reminds us all over again, not to place all of our hope in any man or woman.  No one is perfect and no one will have all of the answers.  This is why we are to continue to keep our eyes on the Lord and look to Him as our only hope.  There is not a man or woman alive who can solve all of our country’s current problems.  More than ever before, believers in America need to be desperately crying out to God for national revival and spiritual awakening.

In Psalm 33:12 we read, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”  We keep looking for the person who can fix the economy, keep us safe, strengthen our families, and lower the crime rate, among other things.  God tells us that if we put Him first He will bless the economy, keep us safe from our enemies, strengthen our families and prosper us in so many other ways.  Politicians are told to “stay on message”; the Church needs to be speaking and standing on our message more than ever before.  It is an amazing time for the Church to point people to Christ as our only Hope.

Knowing that our hope is to be in the Lord; we still must elect a president.    Some, out of frustration and discouragement, may choose to stay home and not vote at all.  I hope you will not do that.  We have an amazing freedom in our country to choose our own leaders.  We need to vote for the person that we believe will do the best job in leading our country and then faithfully pray for the next president more than ever before.  Even if you are not one hundred percent excited about the nominees, ask God for wisdom, He will lead you if you listen.  Also, let us pray more than ever that God will raise up godly men and women to run for office from the local level to the statehouse to the White House.

Finally, there are believers from more than 80 nations who visit The AMEN Ministry website from time to time.  I am asking all of you to please pray for America like never before.  We need the prayers of our friends around the world.  God can bless the nations without the U.S., but when America is strong, Christians and churches in the U.S. can do so much for the Kingdom of God around the world.  Pray that America will repent and truly be one nation under God so that God can bless America as a nation that honors Him.

In Christ’s service,

Allen

 

 

More from Brazil

Many of us were blessed to have grown up in churches where we heard God’s Word from the earliest days of our childhood.  However, for those of us who were so blessed, there is a great danger.  Have we heard the story of Jesus so often, His love for us, His death on the cross in our place, that it no longer moves us as it once did?

As our mission team shared the Gospel with people who were hearing it for the first time, I was greatly moved and blessed to witness their response.  We told them of the One True God.  We talked to them about what sin is and how our sin separates us from God.  We told them that we could never save ourselves or atone for our sins or work our way into Heaven.  It was when we told them of God’s Son, Jesus, and how He loved us so much that He came to earth and took our place and paid the penalty for our sins by dying on a cross; that is when I was so moved by their response.  You see, for these people, death is not a video game.  For them, death is not something they watch hundreds of times on television shows and therefore become desensitized to it.  For the people we were talking with, death is something they see up close and far too often.  The daily threat of death lurks in and around the Amazon.  They could relate to someone being in danger of dying and then someone else dying in their place so that they could be saved.

When they heard the story of God’s love and salvation through Jesus, they wept, they were humbled, they were amazed.  Does the cross still move you?  Are we as affected by the story of Jesus as we should be?  Oh, that God would do a fresh work in our hearts that shakes us and moves us when we hear the Good News.  May the old, old story stay fresh on our hearts now and always.

In Christ’s service,

Allen

Amazon Mission Trip

Two weeks ago, I was privileged to be part of a mission team that travelled to remote villages along the backwaters of the Amazon River in Brazil.  We were several hundred miles from any major city.  As we were just south of the equator, the days and nights were hot and humid.  We needed prayer for physical and emotional strength, sharp minds and spiritual anointing.  Many of you were praying for our team and God answered every prayer.

Once we arrived in Brazil, we left the port city of Manaus and began our journey.  We travelled on a riverboat that has been outfitted to accommodate mission teams.  Two jon boats were tied to the back of the main boat.  During the week, we used the jon boats to travel down smaller rivers to reach the more remote villages.  The first night on the boat our team of thirteen Americans and seven translators gathered for a time of Bible study and worship.  As we were singing, the thought began to sink in, “We’re singing praise songs while going down the Amazon!”  It is amazing to think of the doors that God has opened for us to go and share the Gospel.

We travelled over twenty hours to our destination, the village of Axinim.  For two days we did house to house evangelism, shared the Gospel in two schools and had two evangelistic meetings in the village park.  God had been preparing the hearts of the people to hear His Word.  We had great freedom to share and the people heard the story of Jesus gladly. In just two days of ministry, 283 people prayed to receive Christ!

During the week we met Pastor Lino.  Pastor Lino lives in one of the larger villages along the Amazon.  God has given him a vision and a burden to reach the remote villages for Christ.  Pastor Lino and some of his church members will conduct the follow-up with those who prayed to receive Christ.  Lord willing, churches will be planted in the villages we visited.

Only one other time have I ever seen people more ready to hear the Gospel and believe in Jesus.  Those of you who give to the AMEN Ministry and pray for us were there in the Amazon with me.  Lisa and I are so thankful for each one of you.  Also, this week I spoke with a friend who wanted to thank us and the supporters of the AMEN Ministry for a gift that purchased bicycles for pastors in Africa.  The pastors use these bikes to travel from village to village to preach the Gospel and plant churches.

We want to remind you again, the work of the AMEN Ministry is still very much a fulltime work.  Thank you for your gifts in 2015.  We pray that you will continue to partner with us in 2016 and trust the Lord for great things.  May the Lord bless each and every one of you.  Merry Christmas!

In Christ’s service,

Allen & Lisa

 

News from Home

Whenever I travel overseas it is always important for me to be able to stay in touch with home.  I am very thankful for the technology that allows me to call my family from practically anywhere in the world.  Sometimes I text or email, but, of course, it is always better to hear the voices of my loved ones.

I also like to be able to keep up with what is happening in my home state and in America while I am away.  Everyday, if possible, I will check the internet for news stories from home.  Recently, on my way home from Poland, I was thankful to find a current copy of an American newspaper at the Amsterdam airport.  I probably read every article in that paper, drinking in the news from home.

As believers, we need to constantly remind ourselves that we are first and foremost citizens of another land.  Whatever our nationality, the primary citizenship of a Christian is in Heaven. (Phil. 3:20)  While we are in this world we are to live life to the fullest.  We are ambassadors of Christ.  Jesus has commanded us to be salt and light and to be His witnesses.  We are a chosen generation that God has saved and set apart to make a difference in this world.  However, every day of our lives we need to stay in touch with Home.  We stay in touch, primarily, through prayer, reading God’s Word, and listening to the voice of the Holy Spirit as He bears witness with our spirit.

How great is your desire to read the news from Home?  With all that is happening in this world, isn’t it good to know that God has given us His Word from Home that is filled with promises, instructions, warnings, exhortations, and the greatest news of all…the Gospel?  How wonderful it is, to be able to spend time in communion with our God; anytime, anywhere, and every day!

Years ago, I was taking the discipleship course, MasterLife, in order to graduate from seminary.  There were about eighty people in the main class and that was divided into groups of ten or so for the discussion sessions.  One morning our small group leader asked us the question, “Why do you think prayer was so important to Jesus?”  There were several pastors in our group, and as we went around the circle, the pastors, including myself, gave typical preacher-sounding answers to the question.  However, there was another individual in our group.  He was a young man, a new believer who had only been a Christian for a few months.  He was a minor league baseball player who was attending the class at the invitation of his pastor.  After all of the preachers had given their answers, this young man gave his response.  With a thoughtful look in his eye, this young man said, “I think prayer was so important to Jesus because every time He prayed it was a chance for Him to go Home again.”

Friends, that is one of the most profound things I have ever heard in my life!  How simple, yet how profound.   Jesus Himself longed for the news from Home.  Everyday and all throughout the day, Jesus stayed in touch with His Heavenly Father.  If this was so vital for Jesus Himself, who do we think we are if we go for any length of time at all without checking in with Home?

Let us ask the Lord to give us a fresh and deep desire to live in constant communion with Him. Everyday, let us desperately long for the Lord Himself and for the news from Home.

In Christ’s service,

Allen