Paul in listing the persecutions and trials of his mission concluded, “Besides those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily the care of all the churches.”—2 Cor 11:28. These included churches which he had founded. Yet, even to those churches, he had to constantly defend his apostleship.
If there was anyone who had a right to reject the churches, it was Paul. However, he demonstrated a steadfast love for these assemblies. Even reminding the Corinthians, “I will very gladly spend and be spent for you: though the more abundantly I love you, the less I be loved.”—2 Cor 12:15.
In our times, Christians tend to think of the early church as being a power house and the example or pattern for contemporary churches. Yet, Paul had to address the sin issue with virtually all the churches, including sexual sins and even perversions. The church at Corinth was especially weak and Paul was concerned that when he visited, he would find “envyings, wrath, strife, backbitings, whisperings, swellings and tumults.”—2 Cor 12:20.
It would have been easy for Paul just to have written them off. Instead, he was extremely patient with their failings.
Among the seven churches which the Apostle John founded in Asia Minor, there was also much sin and bad doctrine and false teachers. John wrote calling them to repentance but not without complementing them when he could. He concluded his letter to each church with an appeal “to hold fast and to listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches.” Each church is promised that everyone who overcomes will be rewarded by Christ.
A case could be made that the church is stronger than it was in the time of the Apostles. Yet, it is constantly being criticized by those who have essentially withdrawn from weekly gatherings of God’s people because the church is not living up to the perfection to which God called her.
Let us all encourage the church (ourselves) all the more as we see the Day approaching. It is easy to be critical from without but it is difficult to challenge and build from within. Let us root for the church that the truth would win out in her. We are to be bringing God’s people together, not tearing them apart or withdrawing from them, because they are not living up to our standards.
“Victory or Death,” concluded William Travis. Travis, Bowie and Crockett and the other defenders of the Alamo achieved victory through death. The battle cry “Remember the Alamo” secured Texas independence. I have visited the Alamo a number of times over the years. I am always deeply moved by the experience. Daily while in Texas, I asked the students, “Where is the spirit of Travis, Bowie and Crockett? What has happened to the American spirit?” I was answered with silence.
The socialists are more concerned with personal security and dependence than they are with patriotism and freedom. We used to say the socialists want security from the womb to the tomb. Sadly, the womb is one of the most insecure plays for a child to be today. I fear even in Texas, they have largely lost the spirit of the Alamo.
The President is coming to El Paso for a rally Monday night. Pray that this honorable man will revive the spirit of the Alamo. An unarmed invasion is threatening our country.
Travis wrote, “I will never surrender of retreat.”
President Trump repeated what he vowed in his Inaugural Address at the National Prayer Breakfast the other day, “I will never let you down; never!”
“Build that wall,” Mr. President.”
We have your back, fellow compatriot.
Present Trump alluded to William Travis, Jim Bowie, and Davy Crockett in his rally in El Paso. Two days prior, I wrote a short article on these Texas heroes on my Face Book page.
Of these three daring defenders of the Alamo, only Bowie was actually a Mexico citizen, becoming one in 1830. Mexico had a liberal immigration policy, when Texas was still a part of Mexico. Plus, there were many settling in Texas, who were there illegally. These Texan settlers did not assimilate well into the Mexican culture. They were not speaking Spanish; they were not becoming Catholics; they were not accepting Mexican traditions.
When Santa Anna established himself as a dictator in Mexico, he began to tighten up rule over Texas. Texans rebelled. After Santa Anna defeated the defenders of the Alamo, Sam Houston stopped the dictator at the Battle of San Jacinto and he granted Texas its independence. By the time Santa Anna tried to strengthen Mexican rule in Texas, it was too late.
Americans need to recognize the crisis at our southern border, especially in Texas, as illegals are invading our land, who often do not assimilate well into the American way of life of independence. President Trump is sounding the alarm. On the other hand, the Democrats promote open borders, which are a threat to our Republic. With our ridiculous immigration laws, we are making the same mistake as Mexico did in the 19th Century. We could lose our country.
We must not allow Travis, Bowie, Crockett and the other heroic defenders of the Alamo to have died in vain. Donald Trump has the spirit of these defenders and the spirit of Sam Houston to drive back the invasion of our beloved country.
The walls of the Alamo were 9 to 12 feet high and close to three feet wide. In the third siege of the Alamo the Mexican army scaled the walls, which in effect gave the Mexicans the victory which resulted in the slaughter of the brave defenders. Once Trump gets the wall built, it will have to be maintained and defended, which includes never allowing the internationalists socialists i.e. the Democrat party to ever take power again.
“Remember the Alamo!” Build that wall, Mr. President.
President Trump praised Travis, Bowie and Crockett, the defenders of the Alamo, at his rally in El Paso. Trump has a sense of the heroic, which is an important aspect of MAGA.
Unfortunately, our contemporary heroes have become creatures of make believe like the “superheroes” Superman, Batman and Spider-man, or rappers and rockers or movie starts portraying the heroic like John Wayne. Still other are sports heroes.
The last heroic president was Theodore Roosevelt, who led his Rough Riders up San Juan Hill in 1898.
The Captains of Industry such as Vanderbilt, Rockefeller, and Carnegie were heroic figures, who took risks in the business world and succeeded beyond men’s imagination. Unfortunately, their reputation has been distorted by those of the socialist mentality, which label them as robber barons, which in a sense adds to their mystic. Inventors were greatly admired in the 19th Century, Fulton, Whitney, and Bell come to mind.
I am a historian by training. One of my heroes in this field is the 19th Century historian of the Oregon Trail, Francis Parkman. I have in my library the complete works of Parkman, who is known for his multi-volume, “France and England in North America.” Parkman, who was virtually blind, lived on the frontier when doing his research.
One of the most heroic preachers in American history was Francis Asbury, the Prophet of the Long Road, who is the father of American Methodism. Our own Ruben Israel is one the most heroic preachers of our time, who constantly faces down danger. His exploits have become legendary. He is also a patriot.
My two main heroes of our time are Rush Limbaugh and Donald J. Trump. I especially admire these men for their communication skills. Rush is on the level of Benjamin Franklin as a great patriot. I have written enough about Donald Trump’s heroics. The one thing lacking in his status as a hero is a military record.
A man’s heroes tell me much about the man. One of Trump’s heroes is Andrew Jackson, Indian fighter and hero of the Battle of New Orleans.
For America to be great again it only requires a relatively few great men, who are dedicated to the cause. Forget the superheroes, sports figures, rappers, rockers and movie stars, although the movie stars can do much to revive truly heroic figures like John Wayne and Fess Parker did for Davy Crockett.
Who are your heroes of the past and the present? We know there are many heroes, who do not get the recognition they deserve and some who get more than they deserve. As for me, I love the stuff of legend whether it is always true about the men or not. Sometimes the legends tell us more about the man than the actual facts.
Brother Frank and I arrived at Lakewood about 10 AM for the 11 AM service on January 20, 2019. What a blessing it was to see thousands of Christians in downtown Houston coming to church on Sunday morning. We introduced ourselves at the information booth and we were immediately given VIP treatment by the lady who serves as Director of Missions. She encouraged us to get into Pastor Joel’s reception line as the 8:30 service was just dismissing.
I told Joel that I visited the old church with Holy Hubert Lindsey back in the late 70’s and early 80’s. I forgot to mention Norval Hayes. Joel remembered Holy Hubert. He greeted everyone warmly and demonstrated a sincere interest in his visitors. Pastors were standing by to pray for any requests as there wasn’t time for Joel to do so. A pastor prayed for our Texas mission to the campuses.
Brother Frank agreed with me that we should take advantage of everything the church had to offer. Therefore, we attended the Communion service and one of the associate pastors gave a short message urging believers to not be content to be ordinary but to move in the supernatural as the disciples did when they passed the loaves and fishes which Jesus had blessed to the multitude.
The director of missions personally escorted us to the third row, which was included in the roped off section at the front of the church. We sat two rows behind Pastor Joel. The congregation entered into a dynamic time of worship. Anyone was invited forward for prayer, Brother Frank and I accepted the offer at the altar, which took about 10 minutes of the service. A sister prayed an anointed prayer over me.
Joel’s sister took up the offering with no attempt at pressure to give. Joel’s brother, Paul, gave an exhortation about winning soul’s and especially believing God for the salvation of our family members. A man, who grew up in the church but fell into deep sin, gave his testimony of returning to the Lord. Paul introduced an old couple who were the first youth pastors of the church back when Lakewood got started 60 years ago.
Joel preached one of the best messages I have heard him preach. His theme was that God wanted to demonstrate in a miraculous way to the unbelieving world that God’s grace was upon us all. God will give ordinary people the power to do the extraordinary in public for everyone to see.
Joel illustrated his point with the story of David and Goliath, the three young Hebrews thrown in the fiery furnace and Elijah calling fire down from heaven. Each miracle put fear in the hearts of unbelievers. David was treated with respect by his family members after killing the giant. Seeing the Hebrews saved from the fire, Nebuchadnezzar lifted the youths out of the pit and promoted them to high office, decreeing that anyone who spoke against their god should be torn limb from limb. The fire from heaven which Elijah called down even consumed the rocks. Then the people cried out, “The LORD, he is the God; the LORD, he is the God.”
Joel knows how to tell these Old Testament stories in a lively manner and teaches how the lessons may be applied to our everyday lives. Joel also gave two New Testament examples supporting his thesis. Anyone who claims that Joel doesn’t preach the Bible does not know what he is talking about.
Joel never misses a beat when he preaches, no hem hawing around in the pulpit. After the sermon, he gave an at five-minute altar call for repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus. Dozens in our section stood as Joel led them in a sinner’s prayer.
Brother Frank and I went to the book store. Meanwhile, another long line formed in the lobby to meet our good pastor. We left the building at 1:15, Joel was still greeting guests. Afterward, his practice is to go to the editing room to edit his message for television. There was a Spanish speaking service at 2 PM and a youth service at night. There is a lot going on at Lakewood beside what people see on TV.
There was ethnic, racial and, I assume, economic diversity in the congregation. No big deal is ever made of this. It is natural, (or maybe I should say spiritual) to people discipled by Brother Osteen. We experienced a considerable amount of friendliness. It was an lovely time of worship and teaching and fellowship.
Why Joel has so many critics can only be attributed to ignorance, immaturity or, I fear, envy. Hopefully, not much of the latter, among those who name the name of Christ. Joel is like Trump in that he is either loved or hated.
What is perplexing is that he is despised by so many Christians. Most of whom have probably never heard one of his sermons but have judged him by sound bites cherry picked by his foes, usually not even from his sermons but television interviews where Joel usually does not speak at forthrightly as he does from his pulpit. Joel has his reasons, for this I am sure, for he is a smart man, far shrewder than the ones interviewing him or criticizing him.
The above is just some of the highlights of our morning, every minute of the three hours we spent at the church was blessed. Lakewood’s challenge in the new years is to take “new ground.”
So, watch out! You have not seen anything yet from “America’s Pastor,” who is reaching the world out of Houston, TX. He plays a big role in MAGA.
By the way, President Trump likes Joel Osteen. They both think big! What else would you expect from a Texan? Or for that matter, according to Joel, what else would you expect from any committed Christian with faith the size of a mustard seed.
As the 300 listened to the Bible Study at Lakewood Church on financial freedom, I was reminded of Gideon’s 300.
The Midianites had been terrorizing Israel for seven years with an army of 135,000. Gideon only had 32,000 men but that was way too many for God. God continually had Gideon cut his army until he only had 300 warriors who lapped, putting their hand to the mouth when drinking from the river. The ones who lapped were always battle ready as opposed to those who stuck their faces in the water.
I observe Joel closely; he runs a tight ship and watches with an eagle’s eye over his congregation of 52,000 thousand. Those who came to the Bible study were drinking of the water of life from the Bible but they are also people who pray and watch. We must have both to defeat the Midianites of our time.
Gideon’s 300 advanced against the enemy with merely trumpets, pitchers and lamps. But they advanced in faith, not in numbers, but faith in their LORD and their captain, Gideon. When they shouted, “The sword of the Lord and Gideon,” the Midianites fled in fear and started fighting one another.
In the case of the Lakewood’s 300 the cry is, “The Word of the Lord and Joel.” Watch the church possess “new ground” in 2019 with this battle cry.
My thoughts were confirmed by the prostitute giving me the note about another Judge and Deliverer, Ehud.
Joel is God’s man in Texas to MAGA. Joel’s not sitting around waiting to be raptured, nor is he a keyboard warrior criticizing others who do the work of the Lord differently. Daily he faces the enemy appearing to be as harmless as a dove to his detractors, but in reality, he is as wise as a serpent. Men who look upon the outward appearance see only the dove, but God and men who look at the heart see Joel as wise warrior.
A Joel detractor on one of my threads asked me what am I trying to prove in my writings on Joel. I am attempting to get men to see Joel as God sees him, a man whom God is using to revive his generation by giving them a vision to accomplish great exploits for God. Those lapping the water understand. The critics who bow down their knees as they drink fail to recognize Joel as a comrade at arms, who is doing the Lord’s work.
One can learn more about a church from its mid-week service (if they even have one) than from the main show, which is on Sunday. This is the reason I watched and listened to Pastor John Gray, who speaks each Wednesday night at Lakewood Church in Houston. He is a middle-aged black Pentecostal preacher, old school (though dressed mod) with the usual oratorical skills of the race. When Joel hired him to build up this service, the mid-week service had about 2000 to 2500; his preaching had brought it up to 11,000.
Pastor Gray opened by reminding the congregation that it was 20 years ago today, that founding pastor John Osteen passed to his reward. “We honor him tonight.” The widow, Doty Osteen, was in the service looking young, pretty and healthy. In 1981, she was diagnosed with terminal cancer with only months to live but the family relied on God’s report of life and health, not the doctors’ diagnosis of disease and death. After all these years, Doty remains a big player in the prayer squad at Lakewood.
The title of Pastor Gray’s message was, “GO GET IT!” His text was the healing of the lame man at the pool of Bethesda. He urged the people to do “their part’ if they are going to possess the promises of God. “Rise up for God’s glory; it is not a about you. Move and move now. Bethesda is here; the pool is here, here at Lakewood.”
He cautioned the congregation not to be too critical of the man, who had waited 38 years for his deliverance. He said, “At least he was by the pool. At least he was in church. He may not have had it all together but he was in the right place.” Most men never even get close enough to the water, which symbolizes the word of God, the truth. The pool also represents the church and the anointing oil by the elders.
“We always are asking God questions about why this happens or why something is not happening, putting all the responsibility on God. In this case God asks the question, ‘Wilt thou be made whole?’ In other words, Jesus was asking, ‘How bad do you want it?’ Jesus did not even bother to ask the man, ‘What is wrong with you?’ Nor did he tell him to get in the water. The miracle was not in the water; the miracle was in his heart and mouth. Nor did Jesus ask, ‘Do you want me to make you well.’”
Jesus just commanded the impotent man, “Rise, take up your bed and walk!”
“Men are often content to be partially free. To be completely free; we have to take personal responsibility. Misery loves company. Often people seek the company of other complainers and murmurers. The miserables will resent it, when one of their company rises out of the bed of affliction and walks away from their wretchedness, because it is evidence that they too can be made whole. But in reality, they don’t want to pay the price of wholeness. Don’t be satisfied with a partial healing or answer to prayer. Be made every whit whole!”
“God blesses when his reputation is at stake. He put his reputation on the line when he commanded the impotent man, ‘Rise up and walk!’”
Pastor Gray gave three point for receiving from God, whether it be healing, a job, a calling, a spouse, salvation, a financial need, etc.:
1. Eliminate distractions
2. Elevate determination, “It is my time; it is my turn. ‘PRESS toward the mark of the prize.’ His Word will come to pass.”
3. Eradicate doubt.
The Hebrew spies make the mistake of seeing themselves as grasshoppers instead of warriors and then they had the audacity to come back and speak to Moses that they were mere grasshopper instead of members of the army of the living God.
“Do something! Put on a suit even if you have no place to go. You are not going to get the job if you don’t apply for the job. ‘Faith without works is dead.’“
“The BLOOD of Jesus sets free!” shouted Pastor Gray. Joel’s critics tell me that Joel never mentions the blood, which is another point of misinformation. He preaches salvation through the blood (suffering and death of Christ).
The Osteens are actually in many respects old fashion; Lakewood, for a mega church, is about as close as you will get to “the old-time religion” with a flair of the new. For God loves to do a new work! Lakewood is Pentecostal, which may be the rub against his fundamentalist critics.
Three more points by Pastor Gray:
1. See what God sees; 2. Think what God thinks; 3. Speak what God Speaks.
“Death and life are in the power of the tongue.”—Proverbs 18:21
“SPEAK LIFE, GO GET IT!” At the conclusion of his sermon, he had the congregation chatting, “GO GET IT!”
“Start clapping! Clapping shifts the atmosphere.” We often need to shift the atmosphere as did the lame man, when he took up his bed and walked. Be careful that you do not allow doubters and naysayers to be your circle of friends.
As happens at virtually every service at Lakewood, Pastor Gray gave an altar call. Among the crowd, which looked to be as large as the Sunday AM service we attended, many people stood confessing their faith.
Pastor instructed them, “Go to the New Beginnings room where there will be cake, cookies and refreshing drinks. No, I am only kidding; there will be none of that stuff there, just people who care and the Holy Ghost. You will get a free Bible and answers to any questions or additional prayer.”
Lakewood teaches men to take responsibility, which may be why so many oppose Joel. Some expect God to do everything.
What did this look like? Did Jesus actually pray for people in Nazareth and nothing happen? Did he make an attempt to do a mighty work and fail, because of the peoples’ unbelief? Or does it mean he knew their hearts and did not even attempt a great miracles except for healing a few sick folks?
The Pulpit Commentary seems to imply the former, “This is a remarkable expression. He could do no mighty work there. The words imply want of power – that in some sense or other he was unable to do it.”
I believe gifts of healing should be active in the church today and elders ought to lay hands on the sick and anoint with oil and pray the prayer of faith. When I pray for miracles or attempt to heal a few sick folks, I don’t get any better results than Jesus had in his hometown. But I don’t get discouraged out of obedience to God I press on and try again in the next town or situation.
A big part of the New Testament records the many miracles and healings which Jesus and the Apostles did. But isn’t it interesting that there is this record when even Jesus did not perform as well as he would have liked?
January 4th, on my 76th birthday, I am meditating on David’s mighty men, his army of rebels.
2 Samuel 23:9-10: “Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away: 10 He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.”
The men of Israel were so dismayed by the forces of the Philistines that they retreated. But Eleazar of old heard the call, the same call which I answered 47 years ago, “Who will rise up for me against the evildoers? or who will stand up for me against the workers of iniquity?”—Psalm 94:16.
Eleazar stood his ground that notable day with David and the other two men of renowned against the intimidating advancing army of Philistines.
Eleazar cut down the Philistines one by one until there was none left to fight him. Afterward, the other Israelites came back, but only for the plunder. When they found Eleazar, his arm was so exhausted from the battle; the blood on his hand had congealed to his sword and it had to be pried loose. His hand was also likely cramped from holding so tightly to his weapon for so long. Through the heat of the battle, as tired as he was, he was not about to drop his sword.
Since I took up the Sword of the Spirit in 1972, I have never put it down in the midst of the battle. It has become stuck to my hand and I wield it against the multitudes of students daily. I meditate about its truth and teach and proclaim it daily.
Bro. Jed & Co. are going forth to fight the Philistines with the Sword of Truth, knowing that we are not simply battling against flesh and blood but against principalities, powers and the rulers of darkness, which captured our universities generations ago. Victory is ours! Defeat is unthinkable.
Christian warfare is a fight to the finish. David said that the righteous “shall still bear fruit in old age; they shall be fresh and flourishing”–Psalm 92:12–14
With the passing of the years, I am asked ever more frequently, “How much longer are you going to preach? When are you going to retire?”
I reply, “Retirement is not in my plans; I intend on continuing as long as I am able. I want to die standing, wielding my sword.”
We encourage others to join us and we are thankful for those who have partnered with us to keep us supplied on the front-lines of our battle between good and evil, right and wrong, truth and error, God and the devil. We are determined to be successful or die trying. Should we succeed in saving the multitudes, we will probably have hordes of Christians, who will then want to join us to make disciples for their organizations. Our purpose is to raise an army, who will love righteousness and hate iniquity.
Later, Eleazar, as part of the Three, broke through Philistine lines to Bethlehem to get a drink for David from a well near the gate while they were encamped in the Cave of Adullam, but David poured the water out as a drink offering saying, “Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?”—2 Samuel 23:17
We don’t need hordes to retake the campuses for Christ; we require a dedicated few, like the Three, who go forth with the water of life in jeopardy of their lives. Join us in prayer, financial support or even actually on the battlefield–if you dare. Join the Church Militant!
Please consider sending a special gift of $76 to The CMUSA in celebration of my 76th birthday.