Monthly Archives: July 2012

Ah Yes! September.

 

 

Recently, a friend sent an email telling me I was embarking on a new season. I agreed with the assessment, but realized, I haven’t the foggiest idea what that means for me.

Even the stork in the sky knows her appointed seasons, and the dove, the swift and the thrush observe the time of their migration. But my people do not know the requirements of the LORD. (Jeremiah 8:7 NIV)

I will be taking August off on my blog and on Facebook to seek the Lord on this new season in my life. Sadly, this means I will probably not be keeping up with your blogs or Facebook entries much. So, forgive me, okay?

I will still be fasting and praying on Tuesdays for America and on Fridays for the prisoners of North Korea and other countries. If you can, join us.

But if you need to get a hold me, send an email. I will answer them as quickly as possible.

See you in September.

Advertisements

16 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

I’m A Radical! What About You? (Part 4)


If I were planning to build a bridge from Key West, Florida, to Havana, Cuba, and discovered that no matter what anyone did, the bridge would end up five hundred feet short of the shoreline, I would quit and burn up my plans.

Who cares if I would have succeeded in achieving 99.999% of my goal? It would still be a bridge which would not reach and help the people in Cuba.

For me, this is the same problem I now have with being a part of the home church movement.

In Part 3, I listed seven reasons why I like small groups, especially small home groups which meet in local neighborhoods. The reasons are still valid, and therefore, wouldn’t you think I should be beating a drum for planting home churches?

To be honest, this was my thinking until just recently.

What changed my mind? I realized time was running out.

Let me back up a little, okay?

In a January of this year, I took part in a twenty-one day fast as a member of an online community. The purpose of the fast was to discover the Lord’s plans for each of us in 2012.

Half way through the fast, the Lord showed me I had lost focus on what my divine purpose was for living in California at this particular time in history. Somehow, in the busyness of trying to be a husband, father, son, employee, neighbor, friend, and countless other important things, I lost focus.

Oh! I showed up for duty every morning, spent time in prayer, meditated, and studied the Bible, but I was just going through the motions. Like many, I physically punched into a supposed spiritual time clock, but my heart never did.

You see, I came to the West Coast to warn people of soon arriving terrorists’ attacks and calamities.

…”Watchman, what of the night? Watchman, what of the night?” (Isaiah 21:11)

And if ever I felt an urgency to warn the West Coast, it is right now!

Does this mean the catastrophes will happen tomorrow, next month, this year, next year, or five years from now? It doesn’t matter when it happens because we need to prepare now… before it happens.

Okay, here was my dilemma until recently?

If I continued with the home church movement, I would at best warn 5% of the West Coast Christians. That seemed to be a lousy return on my efforts because the two groups do not intermingle well… as yet.

So, I’m still a radical, but now I’m transferring all of my efforts toward the 95% or traditional church system. I don’t care if the churches are Presbyterian, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic, Quaker, Pentecostal, Charismatic, non-denominational, liberal, progressive, conservative, snake-handling, or whatever, I’m going to find a way to warn and prepare them.

…I have become all things to all people, so that I may by all means save some. (1 Corinthians 9:22)

(More on this in the future)

15 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Church

I’m a Radical! What About You? (Part 3)

If you dig into past articles, you’ll discover that I prefer small churches – 10 to 20 members – without a designated leader, such as a pastor. This does not mean I’m against leaders, pastors, or other callings because I’m 100% for them.

My reasoning for small groups are:

1) Go therefore and make disciples… (Matthew 28:19)

The Great Commission says,”Go.” But the traditional church says, “Come. Sit down. Keep quiet. Listen up. Give money. Come back next week for more of the same-o,same-o.”

Yawn!

Jesus discipled twelve men by allowing them to be involved in His ministry and life. Although He preached to thousands, He only assembled with twelve. The twelve men were even sent out on their own and also ministered along side of Jesus.

Paul followed the same example, especially during his stay in Ephesus.

And how did this discipling model work? It turned the world upside down in just a few years.

2) …When you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. (1 Corinthians 14:26)

If the average American church size has 71 members and the median church is 184 members, there is no way all the people can be involved during a normal service. Thus, only a few chosen people can speak what God has placed on their hearts.

In a small group, each member can speak what is on his heart if he chooses to do so. By doing this, Christians will grow faster because they are involved. They will learn more from sharing, than by just sitting and listening to one person speak each Sunday.

And few things are more exciting than watching believers minister to others, especially new converts.

3) For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. (1 Corinthians 14:31)

The Lord wants Christians to hear His voice and to speak words of edification, encouragement, and comfort to other believers or to prophesy.

But obviously, 71 or 184 believers can not prophesy in traditional services. It would be too time consuming, and to be honest, the average believer would probably feel too intimidated to prophesy in a large group setting.

Yet, in a small group, everyone can prophesy and the others can judge the prophetic words.

4) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:11-12)

New callings can be raised up and allowed to grow in small groups because they can minister there.

5) …And breaking bread from house to house, they were taking their meals together with gladness and sincerity of heart (Acts 2:46)

Fellowshipping in homes allows Christians to lay down their religious attitudes and build deeper relationships with other believers.

6) The unchurched – believers or unbelievers alike – will more likely attend a small group than walk into religious buildings.

7) All of the above will help prepare believers to be leaders and the helping hands of Christ during calamities.

I am a radical, but admittedly, I’m also a realist.

Although the Barna Group estimates that in twenty years traditional churches will lose half of their market shares to alternatives, such as home churches and workplace ministries, I disagree and think their enthusiasm has clouded their predictions.

So, what does a radical believer, like myself, propose?

(Continued in Part 4)

18 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Church

I’m A Radical! What About You? (Part 2)

(The following is an excerpt from my ebook, Jonah. Think of the scene happening on a day after terrorist attacks, much like September 11, 2001)

On the following morning, West Coast Christians flooded into churches. Evangelical churches, Pentecostal churches, Charismatic churches, Roman Catholic churches, liturgical churches and others held services. The people sought hope. They sought understanding. They sought prayer. They sought others of faith. They sought answers. What better place to be in a time of tragedy than a church, right?

At the Frisco Bay Community Church on Fourteenth Avenue, across from Grand View Park, members and visitors sat in the floor and balcony pews, stood in the aisles and at the back of the sanctuary and in the lobby. Normally, the 1,500 seat sanctuary was two thirds full for the Sunday morning service and a quarter full for the Sunday evening one. But the church attracted people like a magnet when tragedies hit. It was jam packed.

The silver haired pastor checked his watch. 11:05 AM. He stood up from the green wingback chair at the side of the platform and walked over to the clear acrylic podium, a microphone stood next to it. He adjusted the mike.

“Because of yesterday’s fifteen horrible tragedies, we’re going to move the worship music to the end of the service and skip the sermon. We need to pray for our city and the other four cities, for the many suffering families, for our enemies and for forgiveness from our many rebellious sins.”

He raised his arms, indicating the congregation should rise.

In the momentary upheaval caused by hundreds of moving bodies, a dark skinned man walked to the middle of the sanctuary.

“Allah Akbar!” he screamed.

BOOM!

The blast from the C-4 plastic explosives thundered through the building. Windows imploded outward. Pews broke into pieces like match sticks. Bodies tossed about. Arms, legs, torsos and heads blended together with debris into a bloody, dusty concoction of death and agony.

Fire spread through the building, trapping injured people inside the sanctuary. The more fortunate ones crawled outside and used their cell phones, dialing 911.

Sirens could be heard within minutes. For many, it was too late.

Once again, news flashes interrupted regular TV and radio programming.

“Ten West Coast churches, packed with people, were hit this morning at 11:15 AM by suicide bombers. Many injured, many dead. We will have more news on these tragedies when it’s available.”

People reacted by leaving work early and heading home. The expressways moved bumper to bumper as they edged forward on the pavements. Those retreating autos reflected the initial rolling pebbles in the panic avalanche waiting to happen.

At 1 PM, Al Jazeera showed a video from an al-Qaeda leader on its television network. The dark bearded man wore a Ghutura on his head and a dark robe.

“Allah Akbar, yesterday and today mark the beginning salvos on our second phase of attacks on America. Our jihad shall not end until the Great Satan has been defeated and serves the one true god, Allah. Right now, the decadent cities of San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle are under siege by an army of martyrs. 10,000 strong. Each is willing to be used for the glory of Allah. Each is set in place to attack the cities.”

He pointed into the camera.

“For the people of these five cities, I give you this warning: leave while you can. You are not safe. Each week we shall send fifty or sixty martyrs against you. Your police department and your government can not protect you. Allah be praised.”

If you believe the above scene could never happen in your church, then you live in a daydream world. This type of violence happens often in the Middle East and parts of Africa, especially Nigeria right now.

Do you think the believers who are killed, while attending churches in Nigeria, love the Lord any less than we do? Probably not, right?

It has been reported that there are 40,000 Jihaddist agents hidden in Latin America and parts of South America. These agents are specifically trained to be suicide bombers and mass killers.

And who do you think these Jihaddists want to kill? Some poor farmer in Guatemala? Of course not! They want to kill you and me because we are Christian Americans.

Admittedly, I’m a radical!

You must determine how big a radical you are willing to be now because the above scene from Jonah will soon happen in America. If you haven’t changed before then, what do you think the consequences will be for you and your family?

 If you have raced with men on foot, and they have wearied you, how will you compete with horses? And if in a safe land you are so trusting, what will you do in the thicket of the Jordan?  (Jeremiah 12:5  ESV)

(Continued in Part 3)

11 Comments

Filed under Christianity, Church

I’m a Radical! What About You? (Part 1)

Pastor Rick’s words hit me like a Yosemite lightning bolt, bursting out of a cloudless sky. Though he had one meaning in mind when he uttered the words, the exact opposite could not have been truer. As his words thundered through the corridors of my brain, I realized our whole church system was an absolute failure.

Let me stop here for a moment. This is not a statement I reveled in: I realized our whole church system was an absolute failure. It makes me sound like a desperate pilgrim searching for hidden truths on that Easter morning, but that was not the case. I was just an average, forty-three year old business man sitting next to his wife on a padded pew, listening to Pastor Rick.

At the time, everything about my life seemed picture-postcard perfect, or so I thought.  Most people would have described me as a rock-solid, Bible-believing, tithe-giving, non-alcohol drinking, conservative-voting, evangelical-Christian. Yet in the days which followed, gossipers whispered new words about me, such as rebel, heretic, and back-slider.

(Excerpt from Deceived Dead And Delivered by Larry Nevenhoven, soon to be released e-book)

What is the #1 concern for American churches?

Abortions? Gay marriages? Helping the poor? Elections? Euthanasia? Divorces? Sex trafficking? Racism? Missionary work? No, none of these.

The #1 concern for American churches is getting new members who have money in their billfolds so the churches’ bills can be paid each month. This is a never-ending concern for almost all of the 350,000 churches in our nation.

Can I back up my statement?

A few years ago, the Barna Group estimated that almost 70% of all church offerings went towards mortgages, rents, maintenance, and salaries of staff. In today’s economy, the  percentage is probably much higher.

Do I have a radical answer for this concern?

Four or five years ago, I was involved in an online discussion with a progressive church pastor. He had definite ideas on various issues and so did I. He backed his ideas up with Thoreau, Gandhi, Immanuel Kant, Dalai Lama, and a smattering of quotes by Jesus. I used only scriptures to back up my views.

Finally, he wrote: “You fundamentalists may know your scriptures, but you never care about the poor.”

“I do care about the poor,” I replied. “In fact, I’m much more radical about this issue than you are.”

He listed all the efforts done by his church to help the poor in his area. To which I replied: “That’s not radical. It’s what every Christian organization should do.”

“Okay, what would you do?” he wrote.

“If I were you, I’d sell your church and its property, and give the money to the poor and needy. Then, I’d get a job so the church members would not have to pay me a pastor’s salary. In this way, 95% of your church’s offerings could go to help the poor and needy,” I wrote back.

He, of course, replied: “We could never do that. It’s too radical!”

So, how radical of a Christian are you?

(Continued in Part 2)

20 Comments

Filed under Christianity

Remember The Prisoners (Part 9)

In India alone, there are 11 million children who have been abandoned, and 90% of them are girls. Three million of these children end up living on the streets. (No Longer A Slumdogby K.P. Yohannan, 2011, pp. 31)

In India, there are 50 million children who work from age 4 on. They labor from morning until night for pennies, often making 10 – 15 cents per day. (No Longer A Slumdog, pp. 21)

Most of the unfortunate children who beg on the streets of South Asia’s cities, labor in its fields and factories or die a thousand deaths as child prostitutes are Dalits… In India today, there are about 250 million Dalits. (No Longer A Slumdog, pp. 55)

God is grieved over the plight of children in this generation – children who, this very moment, are suffering in circumstances we don’t even want to imagine. He is looking for individuals who say no to themselves and instead care for the things on His heart…  (No Longer A Slumdog, pp. 78)

I received a free copy of No Longer A Slumdog in the mail from Gospel For Asia. I looked at the cover and placed it on our coffee table. It sat there for a month before I picked it up. Then, I read it all in one sitting.

When I finished, I sat on the sofa, just staring off into space. My heart was crushed by Yohannan’s words. All I could think about were those abandoned children and how they were prisoners in a democratic nation, which Time Magazine called, “the next great economic superpower.”

Eventually, I had to look at myself and ask, “What is Larry going to do to help those children?”

If you are interested in checking out the free offer from Gospel For Asia, just click on No Longer A Slumdog.

The first question that the priest…and the Levite asked was: “If I stop to help this man, what will happen to me?” But the Good Samaritan…reversed the question: “If I do not stop to help this man, what will happen to him?” (Martin Luther King, Jr.)

17 Comments

Filed under Christianity

How Can I Laugh With Despair All Around Us?

“Jesus does not have a sense of humor,” proclaimed a young Christian after hearing me joke about something said.

“Really?” I replied, shocked at his words.

“Yes,” he said, “people are going to Hell all around us, starving in Africa, and sitting in prisons in North Korea. How could Jesus possibly have a smile on His face with all those troubles on His heart? Aren’t we supposed to be like Him?”

Sadly, I suffered brain freeze at that precise moment and could think of nothing to counter his arguments. Later on my drive home, I had an interesting experience.

As I drove my truck, I talked to the Lord. The first part of the conversation related to the young man’s statements. The Lord advised me to bless and pray for him, nothing else.

Then, I added, “Lord, You need to hurry up and get me married to *Trudy.”

Instantly, the truck’s cab filled with laughter. I could actually hear Jesus laughing and all of heaven laughing along with Him. The laughing was an all-out, grab your belly, roll on the floor laughter.

I began laughing. Tears rolled down my face and I was forced to pull the truck off the side of the road and sit there until the laughter passed.

Afterward, I wondered why the Lord and heaven laughed so much. Were my words funny? Or was He just happy for me?

One year later, I discovered the answers to my questions. I married Carol and not *Trudy. It seemed the joke was on me.

Now, I understand this is experiential, but does scripture back it up?

A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit. (Proverbs 15:13 NLT)

For the despondent, every day brings trouble; for the happy heart, life is a continual feast. (Proverbs 15:15 NLT)

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength. (Proverbs 17:22 NLT)

How many of us like to be around people who are serious and long faced all the time? Most likely, none of us.

If that’s the case, then how can we possibly believe Jesus walked around with a long, serious, woe-is-me look on His face all day long? After all, the people were drawn to Him, especially the children. And let me tell you, children shun long-faced, serious-minded people like the plague.

This does not mean Jesus did not weep with those who were weeping, He did. Yet, His personality was not stuck in one gear all the time. He enjoyed life and God’s creation.

Who created laughter and a sense of humor – God or Satan? Here’s a one word answer: Isaac.

In the Hebrew, the name Isaac means laughing one or laughter. Just think, God placed such an emphasis on having a good sense of humor and laughing that He named one of the patriarchs laughter.

Okay, as you can see, I enjoy a good laugh and believe having a sense of humor is important, especially in today’s word.

This does not mean I don’t weep for the prisoners in North Korea. Or the 11 million abandoned children in India. Or abortions in America. Or for other tragic circumstances. I do weep and am burdened for them.

But I don’t live my whole life in mourning and weeping all the time because I also enjoy life and a good laugh.

And I believe Jesus does, too.

15 Comments

Filed under Christianity