Monthly Archives: June 2012

“Are You Guys Ready? Okay. Let’s Roll.” (Todd Beamer, 9/11/2001)

On September 11, 2001, thirty-two year old Todd Beamer boarded United Airlines Flight 93 at Newark International Airport, heading for San Francisco International Airport. An account representative for Oracle, Beamer had a scheduled meeting with a SONY representative in San Francisco.

Beamer and his wife, Lisa, had just returned from a week’s holiday in Rome the day before. So, maybe, he was shaking off the effects of jet lag and settling into his seat for a long nap after the plane departed forty-two minutes late (8:42 AM).

Yet, no matter what he was doing, forty-six minutes later (9:28 AM), Beamer and the rest of the passengers’ lives were forever changed.

Four Islamic Jihaddists, members of Al Qaeda, hijacked the plane. At least two people were killed and the rest of the passengers were herded to the back of the plane. One hijacker said he had a bomb and would blow up the plane if the passengers resisted in any way.

Several of the passengers called on their cell phones and learned about the two planes crashing into the World Trade Center Towers. Beamer contacted Lisa Jefferson, a GTE Airfone supervisor, and told her what was happening on Flight 93.

Beamer stayed connected on the phone with Jefferson as he and others plotted to storm the cockpit and retake the plane. A vote was taken and a plan was agreed upon.

But before Beamer and his group set off, Beamer prayed the Lord’s Prayer with Jefferson and also said, “If I don’t make it, please call my family and let them know how much I love them.”

Then, there were muffled sounds over the phone and Beamer’s voice could be heard saying, “Are you guys ready? Okay. Let’s roll.”

Minutes later the plane crashed into a field near Shanksville, PA (10:02 AM). Of the four hijacked planes on September 11, 2001, it was the only one not to hit its assigned target.

Let’s look at the options Todd Beamer and the others in the group felt they had on that fateful day aboard Flight 93:

Option #1: Do nothing and die.

Option #2: Fight and die, with the hope that they might at least spoil the enemies’s plans.

In their minds, there was no third option because they thought one of the hijackers had a bomb strapped to his waist. So, when they stormed the cockpit on that day, they believed they would die. And they did.

When the plane crashed, it was just twenty minutes away from its expected target: either the White House or the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington, D.C.

Okay, what about us? 

Like Flight 93, I believe America has been hijacked and is headed for a crash. Who the hijackers are (or were) no longer matters because there is more than enough guilt for all of us to share a piece of it. And it no longer really matters who takes over the cockpit – a Republican or Democrat or Whoever- because I truly believe America is going to crash.

As for our options, I believe we Americans have two similar ones to what Todd Beamer and his group had on September 11, 2001.

At that time the Lord, the LORD of Heaven’s Armies, called you to weep and mourn. He told you to shave your heads in sorrow for your sins and to wear clothes of burlap to show your remorse. But instead, you dance and play; you slaughter cattle and kill sheep. You feast on meat and drink wine. You say, “Let’s feast and drink, for tomorrow we die!” (Isaiah 22:12-13)

Just like Israel, we can either mourn our sins through fasting and prayer or we can party and enjoy ourselves right up to the end. The choice is up to each one of us.

Who knows? Maybe like Beamer and his group, we can mess up our enemies’ and Satan’s plan for America.

So, as for me, I intend on praying and fasting for our hijacked nation on each Tuesday in the future. If you can, join me.

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Compromise Stinks

The intimacy with God message first began in the late 1970’s with John Wimber’s teachings and the introduction of a new music genre.

Wimber’s teachings about how God desired times alone with us believers, not because we earned them, but because He genuinely loved us, were needed messages for us believers who had been chained to works based mentalities. The accompanying music, now called contemporary worship music, helped us express our intimate love to the Father.

But as with most revelations from heaven, this important love message has been polluted over the years. So that today, many Christians believe that because God loves us and desires to spend time with us, He will then overlook our iniquities.

[Love] does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth (1 Corinthians 13:6)

How could we end up straying so far away from the truth?

Seldom does error blow into the Church like a hurricane, uprooting all truth standing in its way. But instead,  deceitful winds of doctrine erode the biblical foundations, a few grains of truth at a time. Then, after a period of time, the foundations of the Church no longer sit on a solid rock of revelation from God, but on the shifting sands of men’s thinking.

And this is exactly what has happened to the American Church.

At approximately the same time Wimber founded his Anaheim Vineyard Church in the late 1970’s, the American Church opened its eyes and realized our nation was heading down the wrong path. Legalized abortions slaughtered babies at the rate of 1.5 million per year. What to do?

Rather than looking at its own bloody hands first and then repenting, the Church pointed its fingers at politicians. They were the evil culprits. Thus, Jerry Falwell’s Moral Majority was birthed in 1979 with a noble agenda to overturn abortion and other issues by mobilizing Christians to elect moral politicians. On the surface, it seemed like a good idea, but was it?

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death. (Proverbs 14:12)

At times, God has anointed men and the Church to take on political systems to change a nation’s directions. William Wilberforce with the abolition of slavery in England (1807) and Martin Luther King with the civil rights movement are two such examples. Yet these are the exceptions, not the norms.

The Church’s Great Commission is to disciple, baptize, teach, and preach the gospel, changing nations one person at a time. The Church is the bride of Christ, whose head is the Lord, and we are called to be a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, that we may proclaim the praises of Him who called us out of darkiness into His marvelous light.

When the Church lowered itself from its lofty calling and tossed away its holy mantle for prayer and fasting, and then clothed itself with earthly rags, placing its hope in political candidates, the Church stepped onto a slippery slope, greased with compromises. No longer were we friends of God, but instead, we became friends of the world.

So, here we are again, just months away from the 2012 elections. Will we the Church continue on our errant ways, hoping for change to come in our nation through our political system? Or will we repent? And then once again, pick up our mantles for fasting and prayer before the Most High God, the One who holds the destiny for our nation in His hands.

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Why California? Why San Francisco? Why Now? (Part 5)

There are many of us believers who look at the Old Testament and wrinkle our noses. We somehow feel we should just study and follow Jesus’ red letter words in the four Gospels, but the Apostle Paul did not agree with that thinking.

Now these things happened as examples for us… (1 Corinthians 10:6)

With Paul’s admonition in mind, let’s look at an Old Testament example to learn more about San Francisco’s plight.

Most of us know the story of Jonah and how the rebellious prophet decided to take a hike to Spain rather than obey the Lord. His sea trip was then cut short by a storm and eventually Jonah was dumped overboard by the sailors into the raging Mediterranean Sea. There a great fish swallowed him.

Okay, what was it like inside the great fish’s stomach?

The protein-digesting enzymes, the strong hydrochloric acids, the constant muscular contortions causing the stomach to churn digested food and Jonah toward a sphincter muscle which opened into the small intestine. The smell. The insufficient oxygen. His whole body constantly being burned by acids. The never-ending churning. It had to feel like a living Hell without end for him.

In fact, Jesus Himself later compared Jonah’s seventy-two hours in the great fish’s stomach to His time in the heart of the earth or Hell.

What did Jonah probably look like when he walked through Nineveh preaching his message?

I assume Jonah obeyed the Lord and went directly to Nineveh from the Mediterranean shore. It was a five hundred mile trek through rough country and across the Euphrates and Tigris rivers.

Thus, his skin, hair, and beard most likely still had yellow acid burns coloring them. And his clothing must have been tattered, stained, bleached, filled with acid holes, and smelly. He had to look and reek like Hell.

Jonah’s message, “Forty days from now Nineveh will be destroyed,” would have gathered him a crowd in the Assyrian capital city, but even the heathen had babbling prophets in those days. So, why did the people listen and believe his prophetic words?

Jonah’s appearance and testimony about his three days and nights in the great fish had to be a powerful sign to the people of Nineveh of God’s mercy. Who could argue with him? The people quickly believed Jonah and his prophetic words, and then repented.

Jesus also referenced Jonah’s three days and nights inside the great fish as a sign to evil and adulterous generations. The message was loud and clear for all: “Repent at hearing the words of the Lord concerning judgments for sin or be destroyed.”

On April 18, 1906, at 5:12 AM,  a major earthquake struck San Francisco. A policeman who happened to be on duty said he heard a deep rumbling and looked up a hill. “The whole street was undulating. It was as if the waves of the ocean were coming toward me, and billowing as they came.” The earthquake lasted 65 t0 75 seconds.

Within seventeen minutes, fifty fires were reported in downtown San Francisco. Fire engines rushed to answer the calls, but the water mains were broken. The fires burned out of control.

Out of San Francisco’s population of 410,000, up to 75% were left homeless. Over 3,000 people died. 80% of the city was reduced to rubble by the earthquakes and fire.

At the time, San Francisco was the ninth largest city in America, and the largest city west of the Mississippi River. It’s port made it a banking, trading, and cultural center which gave it the title, “Gateway to the Pacific.”

The earthquake’s damage ended up diverting trade and population to Los Angeles which soon surpassed San Francisco as the most important and largest urban area on the West Coast.

Were there any prophetic warnings given ahead of time to San Francisco?

A woman named Ellen White may have had a vision ahead of time, but she did not publish or announce her vision until after the earthquake struck the city.

Frank Bartleman, an author and evangelist, was involved with the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles at the time the earthquake struck San Francisco. Soon after, he noticed how most preachers announced that God had nothing to do with the earthquake. Even school teachers taught their students that God was not involved in the San Francisco Earthquake.

Barthleman sought the Lord in prayer and ended up writing an Earthquake tract. In it, he explained how God was grieved with the wickedness of San Francisco and that the earthquake was a judgment for the city’s sins. The tract specifically answered the question, “Did God do that?”

Thousands of tracts were distributed to Los Angles and San Francisco. Many people repented and others were upset by them.

So, how does this all play out for today’s San Francisco?

(Continued in Part 6) 

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Why California? Why San Francisco? Why Now? (Part 4)

Do you think there were any babies and young children in Sodom and Gomorrah when God rained brimstone and fire on the cities?

Yikes! This is the type of question that skeptics ask us Christians which causes us to stutter and stammer. We may even end up second-guessing God and His motives. After all, did God’s anger push Him over the edge so that He became a baby murderer?

Okay, take a deep breath and let’s study sin.

“Sin is sin,” proclaim many people who think all types of sin are equal in God’s eyes, but is that really true?

Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation. (Exodus 34:7)

The Bible separates sin into three specific types: sin, transgression, and iniquity.

Although the word sin can be used as a generic catchall word for all three types, its biblical definition really means “missing the mark,” as an archer’s arrow misses its target.

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

Basic sin is disobedience to God’s commands and His word, but without willful intent. Examples of sin: losing your temper with your spouse; getting caught up in gossip with your neighbor; exaggerating your importance at work to a new employee; and so forth.

All basic sins can easily be taken care of by asking forgiveness of the Lord and the person involved.

The word transgression means revolt or rebellion and is willful disobedience of God’s commands.

And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression. (1 Timothy 2:14)

Eve knew that God had commanded them not to eat the fruit of the tree of good and evil, but she rebelled and did it anyway. As with all acts of rebellion, Eve suffered consequences for her transgression.

Truthfully, we all have transgressed at different times in our Christian journeys and can probably give interesting testimonies about the consequences we suffered. But as with sin, transgression simply requires us to ask forgiveness of the Lord and anybody involved. Then, we need to change our ways and not continue in the same transgression.

Yet, continuing in a transgression without repentance eventually leads to iniquity. The word iniquity means depravity (evil perverseness or moral corruption) and always carries within it the hatred of God and His ways.

Iniquity is not a voluntary or involuntary disobedience to the commands of God, like sin and transgression are, but instead, it is a second nature sin. It is a demonic stronghold within the individual which may have been passed on through one’s ancestors or the result of continued willful transgressions or the surrender of oneself to an evil principality over a region.

The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin. (Proverbs 5:22 ESV)

Ridding oneself of iniquity is not as easy as it is for sins or transgressions. Because it is intertwined with the individual’s personality and attitudes, it requires acceptance of truth, God’s mercy, and the fear of the Lord to set an individual free. This totally depends on a deliverance move by the Spirit of God upon the people.

…For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting [punishing] the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me (Deuteronomy 5:9)

Iniquities are not committed in spiritual vacuums. They are committed before the throne of God and cry out to the Judge to be avenged.

So, when God acted against Sodom and Gomorrah, the people’s iniquity had reached completion. In fact, there were not ten people in the cities who were not filled with this horrible sin. This included young children which the parents had defiled by passing iniquity on to them through the bloodlines. It was then a part of the young children’s second nature and attitudes.

Now, I believe the Father foresaw the iniquity that would be committed by the babies and the young children. And because of His love, He removed the young people of Sodom and Gomorrah before they were accountable for their iniquities. By doing this, the children died in their innocence and not in full-bloomed iniquity.

Our God is a good Father who views eternity as more important for His creation than the present.

So, why San Francisco now?

(Continued in Part 5)

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Why California? Why San Francisco? Why Now? (Part 3)

Two wars in the 1900’s transformed San Francisco into what it has become today.

During World War II, San Francisco was the main  port for the war in the Pacific. Supplies and hundreds of thousands of servicemen were loaded onto vessels heading overseas. Thousands of other men worked on the docks and in administration to keep the war machine well oiled and moving.

But because of the era, San Francisco was also the port where homosexuals were dishonorably discharged from the armed forces, with more than 9,000 gay servicemen processed out during 1941 – 1945. Most of these gays, and others not pinpointed by authorities, stayed in San Francisco after the war and quietly thrived in the city’s liberal atmosphere.

John Brokaw labeled the Americans who fought in World War II as the “Greatest Generation” because of their patriotism and determination to do what was right for our nation. This generation then returned from war and built America into a Superpower nation.

Yet, the next generation was handed the Vietnam War. Unlike World War II, this conflict spawned anti-war groups and political activism, of which San Francisco and it’s sister city across the bay, Berkeley, ended up at the forefront.

One of the anti-war hippie slogans of the era – “Make Love Not War” – caused two events to take place in San Francisco.

The Human Be-In was held on January 14, 1967, at Golden Gate Park. Thirty thousand hippies, counterculture and drug advocates, anti-war and political activists gathered together for the first time on that day. Before that day, each group thought little of the other groups and each believed its views were the most important ones at the time.

But as they listened to Jefferson Airplane, The Grateful Dead, The Quicksilver Messenger Service, and numerous speakers, such as Timothy Leary, Dick Gregory, and Jerry Rubin, the groups melted together as one.

This successful one day gathering gave rise to the phenomenon which is now called the Summer of Love (1967) where one hundred thousand young people converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood of San Francisco. These high school and college kids almost instantly changed the dynamics of the city with their attitudes on sexual freedom, creative expressions, and their political activism.

Among the hundred thousand young people were thousands of gays and lesbians who were radical activists. These were not willing to “go along to get along” as the World War II gays had done before them. Instead, these young people wanted to change America’s social system and they had learned how to achieve it from their anti-Vietnam War activism.

At first, these young gays lived in Haight-Asbury, but drugs and violence caused them to move into the Castro District. There they fixed up homes and opened businesses. The Castro District, also called the Gay Mecca, has  the highest per capita gay population in the world and is the center for the city’s gay politics.

One of the events birthed by the Castro District is  San Francisco Pride, a two day celebration for gays and their culture. This year’s event will be held on June 23-24, 2012, and attendance is expected to be more than 1 million people.

San Francisco’s gay, lesbian, and transsexual population is estimated at 15% of the city’s total, but its influence on politics is many times more than that. In fact, nothing really happens in California politics, and also in much of America, without San Francisco’s gay community’s endorsement.

So, what’s the big deal about San Francisco’s evolutionary change toward a tolerance of gay life styles? Who really cares?

(Continued in Part 4)

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