“…So Obadiah went to tell Ahab that Elijah had come, and Ahab went out to meet Elijah. When Ahab saw him, he exclaimed, “So, is it really you, you troublemaker of Israel?”
“I have made no trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “You and your family are the troublemakers, for you have refused to obey the commands of the Lord and have worshiped the images of Baal instead.Now summon all Israel to join me at Mount Carmel, along with the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of Asherah who are supported by Jezebel.”
So Ahab summoned all the people of Israel and the prophets to Mount Carmel. Then Elijah stood in front of them and said, “How much longer will you waver, hobbling between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him! But if Baal is God, then follow him!” But the people were completely silent…”
1 Kings 18
Here is the test of our faith.
Here is the awesome display and testimony of God.
Here is the challenge and examination of our ability to believe.
This is God, burning from heaven the doubts and disbelief of the majority. The popular crowd popularly believes not. I mean, “how un-cool to believe in God!” and yet God cares not about “cool” or popularity or politically correct but He is burning hot with faith and belief in Himself needing no one to believe. He IS whether we want to believe it or not.
And here is one man, Elijah, who has heard the Word of God and believes it. But He doesn’t just sit on it like most do. He acts upon it. He is moved by it and He is moving others and challenging them. The truth has become like a burning fire, wasting away doubt and spewing over in great fullness, the faith that is always present when the word of God is personally activated through belief. One grows weary of holding it in like that prophet Jeremiah. He challenges all the false prophets to see and prove who the real God is. And when His turn comes to cry out to His God, Elijah does so with great convincing faith and authority.
He asks with boldness and confidence.
He asks for the seemingly impossible.
He asks for a request that to most would seem ridiculous.
He calls down fire from heaven!
Because the word of God had come to this man, and he had welcomed it. The Word of God had become in him, a burning fire! God had asked of a man to call down fire – to display the power and amazing strength of the only Lord. God wanted to get the glory. God wants to display His power – to gain the victory, but where are the Elijah’s?
Where are those who believe that God can, when none else could?
Where are those who are willing to be outnumbered, yet on God’s side?
No man stands alone when he stands with God! Why can’t more of us believe this?
What would happen if the seeker-friendly, comfort-ease, western culture, have-everything-but-everything-is-still-not-enough Christians would throw off their comfort-guards and embrace in humility, the beauty of holiness – standing out for the Lord? Being separate from “worldliness,” yet involved in God glorifying works.
Where are those who are willing to embrace the truth of His Word, and suffer a little for the sake of eternal gain. What if we threw out our timid, afraid-to-trust-His-promises prayer lives and instead entered boldly before His throne-room of grace?
What if we asked because He has told us to ask?
What if we seek because He tells us – seek!
What if we came desperately, steadfastly, and unwaveringly knocking? Pounding! Desperate to see Gods glory revealed!?
What if we started to ask God for what seems impossible?
Will we ask Him to burn up the false idols?!
Will we be willing to lay our idols down?
To restore the nation!?
To breath life into this “lazy-boy” church!
To pour the water of His Spirit upon our lives and churches – drenching us until we drown!
Let us come… Being filled and overcome by His presence until we beg, “No More!” Until we glimpse so much glory that it scares us! Until we are gasping for breath. Flooded by His presence!
There, we shall lay, with no response except that of being prostrate on our belly, face full of carpet and heart full of His radiant light and life.
We must not back down or be intimidated until His fire falls from heaven! Until His glory is revealed! Praying and agonizing until revival comes to ourselves and to those stumbling in the shadows! God is waiting for a desperate people – sick of doing things their own way, in their own strength, He wants us to cry out to Him with prayers like that of Elijah:
“O Lord, God… let it be known… that you are God…Answer me, o Lord, answer me, that this people may know that you, O Lord, are God, and that you have turned their hearts back.”
The Word made flesh has given us His Word made text, and He simply asks us to read, hear and apply His heart and promises for us found in Scripture. So, in this chapter I want to briefly encourage your confidence and dependance upon the written Word of God. You will need this strength for ministry, and it cannot be found anywhere else but in the presence of God as you sit at His feet, receiving from His Word.
I feel it necessary to spend a good amount of time talking about the Bible itself. It is necessary as believers and as ministers in Jesus Christ’s ministry, that we understand the God whom we worship and that we come to know His heart toward us as best as possible. His heart, His direction, and His guidance for our lives and for the entire earth and universe are found in the Scriptures. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to our spiritual and physical lives that we think rightly about the God of the Word.
Do You Still Believe In The Bible?
If the reliability of the Scriptures are up for debate in your mind and heart, then so are all of its doctrines, precepts, directives, commandments, prophecies and promises. As ministers in the Lord we need to be confidant in who we are serving. If you cannot place faith in His written Word as a reliable source for knowing Jesus Christ who is Lord of the universe, then you are without knowledge of How you and others must be saved. If you don’t trust His Word, then you cannot trust your salvation – it is now up for debate along with every other doctrine that effects you now and in eternity, including doctrines like salvation, redemption, justification, the trinity, the love, justice, mercy, grace and judgment of God, worship, and how God wants to be worshiped. All of which and many more are very important doctrines to the health and well-being of the believer.
1 John 2:2 says, speaking of Christ, that “He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” If His Word is up for debate in your mind, then so is this – That Christ’s death pleased God in dying for your sins to save you from hell. If you don’t trust His word, than you cannot trust that this is true, therefore you either don’t care about your salvation and knowing God or you’re uncertain about your salvation. Pretty important right? The Word of God.
Duh! Were “Church” People!
I recognize that by this point some of you might be thinking, “why are you including this in a book on ministry? Of course we believe in the infallible Word of God, thats why we are in ministry!” I hope this is your response, but I feel that this chapter is necessary because many ministries and ministers are departing from the truth and are now teaching doctrines of demons, having abandoned all absolutes along with the promises of God. Many churches do not teach the Bible anymore. Therefore those assisting in these ministries no longer read, trust in or find their strength in His Word! We must not be these sort of ministers or ministries. We are men and women of God and we are men and women of the truth. His truth is found in the Bible – the Word of God.
“So Why Do We Need The Word Of God? ”
Lets look at a few reasons.
2 Timothy 3:15-17 says,
“And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures,which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.”
First of all, the Scriptures, that is your Bible, are Holy because they are inspired by God. God is responsible for what is recorded and written in the Scriptures. They are His words, He has wrought them and He keeps and protects them. They are “hieros”, that is, sacred or holy. They are inspired by God.
Speaking of the scriptures and prophecy, Peter tells us that “…men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” (2 Peter 1:21)
God’s words are necessary and essential. In fact, of His own words, the Lord reveals to us through the psalmist:
“…You have exalted above all things your name and your word.” (Psalm 138:2)
It has been said that no man is greater than his word. If you cannot trust what someone says, then you cannot trust that person. Simply put, if I make promises to you about myself that do not come true or are untrue then you really don’t know me and would actually be better off not knowing me because I would have revealed to you by my lies and broken promises, that I am not who I say I am and that I cannot be trusted. I have revealed to you that I am a liar by my inability to fulfill my word. I may be a liar but God is no liar. In fact, He cannot lie. The reliability of the scriptures testify to the reliability of our God. Our God has given and kept many great promises. To prove Himself, His faithfulness and just to simply bless us, He has written His promises down, as if to say, “you can take these to the bank! I am good and will be good to my word and all of my promises. You have seen it and will continue to see my promises fulfilled.”
The Word of God is a necessity, because it is Holy and divinely inspired by the God of the universe.
Now, I will take some time in presenting you with a bit of evidence, though I am not so interested in defending the Bible or Gods existence as God Himself does not seem very interested in this either. God exists whether anyone believes in Him or not. But, it can be helpful and encouraging to us all, so here we go…
Holy and Inspired
The word Bible comes from the Greek word ‘biblos’ meaning ‘book.’ It is The Book. In the Bible, we have the embodiment of a divine revelation. It is a written work of history centered around one man, Jesus Christ. Now, let me briefly present you with…
5 proofs that present the Bible as the very Word of God:
1. The Character of the Bible.
Written by 40 some authors over a period of about 1600 years and yet the Bible is one book. It has one doctrinal system, one moral standard, one plan of salvation, and one program of the ages. The Bible is in harmony with itself. It does not contradict itself but compliments itself.
2. The Indestructibility Of The Bible. Henry Clarence Thiessen says this about the indestructibility of the Bible: “When we recall that only a very small percentage of books survive more than a quarter of a century, that a much smaller percentage last for a century, and that only a very small number live a thousand years, we at once realize that the Bible is a unique book.”
When looking at the history of the Bibles indestructibility, we must also look at the circumstances through which the Bible has survived. The Bible has been the most adored and praised book as well as the object of more persecution and opposition than any other book in History. For example, before Constantine, Rome, at one point, thought that they had exterminated the Christian religion. Diocletian, by a royal edict in 303 A.D. demanded that every copy of the Bible be destroyed by fire. He killed so many Christians and destroyed so many Bibles, sending Christians into hiding, that he actually thought that he had put an end to the Bible. He inscribed a medal that said, “the Christian religion is destroyed and the worship of the gods restored.” A few years later Constantine came to the throne, making Christianity the state religion. Man cannot thwart the purpose and plan of God, not even through evil or persecution. This is one example among many throughout history. Many stories of persecution and triumph are still being written among our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world today – in Asia, the middle east, and elsewhere.
Know this, that God is still preserving His Word. We have hundreds of manuscript copies of the Bible that predate the birth of Christ. These including detailed prophesies about Jesus Christ, His life, death, and resurrection. Among such manuscripts lies one of the greatest discoveries in modern times: We know them as the Dead Sea Scrolls. Here’s what happened and how God preserved His Word:
In 1947, a young boy wandered into a cave in Qumran (north and west of the dead Sea in Israel). He was looking for some lost sheep, belonging to his father, but instead of finding sheep, the boy stumbled upon ancient coins and a series of pots filled with ancient scrolls; the old testament scriptures. These findings of Isaiah’s writings alone dated back to 100 B.C. The scrolls had been hidden in these caves 2000 years ago and amazingly, they represented every book of the old testament minus the book of Esther.
History has made it obvious to us that God is able to watch over and preserve His word from corruption. This is a true to life miracle. But not surprising, as our God is a God of miracles!
3. The Influence Of The Bible.
Throughout history, the Bible has influenced the arts, literature, architecture, and music. The Bible has influenced the laws of the nations as well as influencing great social reforms and is constantly debated over, defended, or scrutinized in our courthouses to this day.
Thiessen says: “Where is there a book in all the world that even remotely compares with it in its beneficent influence upon mankind?” He called the Bible: “…The revelation of God to needy humanity.”
4. Fulfilled Prophesy. We read earlier in 2 Peter, that men who were “… moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.” There is no other viable explanation for the supernatural knowledge witnessed in Bible prophesy, given through man, recorded in the Bible. In it, we see many impressive and detailed prophesies concerning the nation of Israel. Prophesies concerning gentile nations were also fulfilled. God is declaring to us, through scripture, that He is all-knowing. He does not simply give us a record book of past events, but confidently declares to us things to come – future events; Bible prophesy – divine revelation.
5. The Claims Of The Bible Itself.
The Bible claims to be the only infallible revelation on earth in written form given to man. In it contains the only plan for the eternal salvation of man.
The Old Testament itself claims to be the Word of God, with its some 3,800 statement like: “thus says the Lord, now the
Lord spoke, He was commanded to write in a book what the Lord had told him, The Lord said, The Word which came to…, The Word of the Lord came expressly to…etc”
The New Testament writers declared the message of God. Paul makes statements in 1 Corinthians (14:37), 1 Thessalonians (2:13), and Galatians (1:8) declaring that the things he wrote were the commandments of God, that what he preached we were to receive as the very word of God, and that the salvation of men depended upon faith in the very doctrines which Paul taught. John taught in 1 John (5:10) that his testimony was Gods testimony. Peter taught that the commands of God were spoken through the holy prophets and through the apostles (2 Peter 3:2). And Christ revealed that if you have heard or seen Him than you have heard and seen God (1 John 1:2, John 14:9).
All of this, and we have not even scratched the surface of archeological discoveries supported by the Bible and in favor of the Bibles accuracy. No other religious text compares. We don’t have time to talk about the Bibles scientific accuracy – including it’s references to the sun, the shape of the earth, and the suspension of the earth and stars. We could talk about the countless martyrs for Christ, including the willingness of Jesus’ disciples to suffer, but for the sake of time, these 5 points will have to do.
So, our first point of why we need the Word of God according to our text in 2 Timothy was, because they are holy and inspired by God. We can see throughout our worlds history, that His hand is upon them, guiding, protecting, and inspiring them. ” Let me share some other Biblical reasons about why I love the Word of God and why it is needed in pastoral ministry, ministry in general and in our personal lives.
Because the words of God are profitable.
I love the Bible because the words of God are profitable.
We gain from His Word! Ill say it again. We get to gain insight, wisdom, direction, encouragement and many more wonderful things for our life, and they are all delivered to us straight from the God who created the universe and the God who gave you life. That’s why the word of God is profitable for our whole lives! Because God knows best. He knows all of humanity and creation from the inside out – that is, things inside and outside, physical, emotional and psychological. He is in control of all things near or far – into the galaxies and universe. There is no area in your life that He is not in the position to touch, heal, change, or help. He is God, and His word is living, life giving and full of endless power!
Hebrews 4:12 says of the Word of God, that it “is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” We are lost without Gods revelation of Himself to man!
But how do we profit from these words from God?
And what are they profitable for?
Doctrine, Reproof, Correction, Instruction In Righteousness
Well, our text says:
for doctrine [that is teaching],
for reproof [that is, conviction or testing],
for correction [that is, literally to restore to an upright state, to correct your life and character. To make you right.], ” for instruction in righteousness:” The Greek here for our word instruction is: paideia (pi-da-uh) meaning that the Word of God is everything for your growing up in life for the Lord. ”
You cannot and will not grow or mature in Christ if you are lacking the proper nutrition that comes to your soul only by the word of God – interpreted and given proper application by the Spirit of God. It corrects your mistakes and curbs your passions. It increases virtue. This is Paideia – instruction. And this is all for righteousness. That is, for right living before our God. For living a life that is pleasing to Him, for Him, and for His glory. ” Do you understand that the Word of God is essential to your right living for God in Christ? Willing obedience to Gods direction for your life and submission to His instruction will create in you a pure heart – making you a minister filled with personal character. Not just a Christ associated christian but a Christ experienced christian, leader, follower and servant.
Warning To The Phonies
But shame on the pastors, leaders and so-called servants of Jesus who are not rightly dividing the Word of God. Especially to those who are forsaking the Bible all-together! They are leading their congregations down the wrong path and have no clue how to live for God. They are simply and Biblically, bad pastors – ignorant of the power of God.
The Pastor who forsakes the Word of God has forsaken his calling and is no pastor at all but is a wayward – a prodigal, desperately needing to come home. ”
For these pastors and heretics we desperately pray:
“Lord, grab their hearts and set them aright with Your Word that their congregations would be able to worship You in Spirit and in truth!”
“God, help us as servants of You and as servants to Your bride, not to forsake Your promises, but to cling to Your words for our life, ministry, worldview, help, counsel and personal nourishment.”
As assistants in ministry, the Word is our guide. We give the bride of Christ the Words of Christ and nothing else. Your opinion doesn’t really matter in the end. Stick to the Word of God.
The Word of God is power to the believer. It is Spiritual. The Word of God is not a burdensome law. It is not legalism or rules. The Word of God is not a religion! It is safety. It is a glimpse into the very heart of God who rules the universe! It is for your heart, your life, your spirit, and for eternity.
The Word of God is life giving, life changing, miracle working, alive, and true – there is nothing false in it! It is perfect, empowering, encouraging, up-lifting, healing, it speaks to us, guides us, directs us, gives wisdom, judges the thoughts and intents of our heart. It is purity in an imperfect world. It is to be treasured. It is historically accurate, and it is just and right when everything else is wrong!
And do not forget, the Word of God is for you!
Treasure your Savior and treasure His promises. Don’t allow satan to keep you from your Bible. Open it up, be familiar with it, read it, write in it, memorize it – not because you have to, but because He loves you. Guard your time with Jesus. In doing this, you will be and become a spiritual leader to your fellow ministers and to the fathers precious bride of Christ – The Church.
Briefly, if you don’t read the Bible with your wife, then start today. You are to wash her in the Word. If you don’t read with your family, start today. It is your responsibility as a man of God to love and raise your kids in the Lord. Show your family what it is to be a man of God. I didn’t say to preach and pastor them, but to love, disciple and point them to Jesus always.
Take some time right now to pray for your life, family, and ministry.
Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!
Check out Jeremiah’s FREE Book in its entirety HERE!
The following is my brothers Account of what happened…
My brother is in town until Tuesday the 24th. I wanted to spend Thursday night with him and his wife; because there are a lot of ministry responsibilities I have Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. A movie would give us time to chill together, and meet up with friends he hadn’t seen for awhile. At about 10:30 I tried to order my ticket online to the midnight (12:01) showing of Dark Knight Rising. Something kept going wrong with my phone-I kept getting an error notice, so I hoped tickets would still be available at the counter. When we arrived I asked the guy at the counter if I could still get a ticket for the 12:01 showing. “It’s sold out,” he told me. “Aww man” I sighed. “Do you have a group waiting for you?” he asked, “yes” “you know what, I can sell you a ticket” he told me. “Sweet!” so we made our way to theater 8 and found our group middle center. We were early, and the previews hadn’t even started and so we talked and laughed and joked. My brother caught up with friends and chatted with Pastor Daryl Wilmoth who recently planted Front Range Calvary. When the movie started we could not have known what to expect-the villain was being introduced. Then Bruce Wayne. Then, I don’t even remember how, a gun scene broke out on the screen. Guns were firing, and then I heard loud pops and gun sounds in my right ear. I thought maybe they had surround sound effects. That’s when we noticed down to our right that someone was holding their face and people were looking down and starting to stand. People began running and checking exit’s and then running back in and shouting to not exit that way, “there is a guy with a gun.” we didn’t know what to do, or where to go. Do we leave? Are we better off staying here? Is this for real?! My brother’s wife Lindsay began to panic as we tried to process what was happening and what we were going to do. People began filtering out the upper exit of the theater. We decided to make our way up as well. When we exited people were still wondering what was going on. We looked over the edge of the “bridge” and saw everyone running and screaming, police running and calling commands with their large guns in hand. We knew we needed to get out. We had no idea where the gunman was or how many there were. Was this gang related? Who was he? Where was he? Was he in the lobby? We needed to run through the lobby to get out. We needed to move now. That was probably one of the scariest points, running through the lobby not knowing if a gunman was causing all this chaos in that area. Are bullets going to fly by? Am I going to get hit? Has anyone been hit?! That question was answered when we exited the building and saw the police cars and rescue vehicles and heard the officer shouting “we need every available ambulance here on scene NOW!” my thought was “is it really that serious?” but looking around I could begin to see that yes it was. People were being carried from the theater bloodied and in shock. People were carrying their injured friends to safety. People, who moments ago had been strangers, had now in an instant become family. They were crying and helping one another look for missing loved ones. We made our way to the sidewalk at the end of the lot. We took a role call of who was with our group of friends. Everyone was there. We knew people in theater 9 and so we began making calls and checking if they had made it out ok. Around us lights were flashing. I’d never seen so many police or paramedics. What could we do? How could we help? Some of our friends were carrying people to ambulances other were standing in shock. We called a prayer meeting. “Let’s pray” we wrapped our arms around each other and began praying for wisdom and direction from the Lord to these men and woman serving the people. As we prayed two young ladies ran to our group crying, “our dad is not responding, our dad isn’t responding!” we hugged them and prayed for them right away. We prayed with others and followed the direction of the police as they tried to put the pieces together and process what was going on. We were all questioned and asked to share about what we had seen and heard and then at 3:00 we were allowed to leave. My wife knew nothing of what had happened up until this point. I didn’t feel it was necessary to put her into a panic. She text me while we were driving out and asked how the movie was. I replied to her text, “it was action packed, I’ll tell you about it when we get home.” When we got home we shared with her what had happened and tried to rest a bit. I had text my pastor what had happened and around 4:00am he called and asked me what had happened. While telling him, I began processing the morning in a different way. It had been easy to tell my wife what had happened, but this time I couldn’t do it without tears. Pastor Ed said, ” I’m going to go down there and see how we can serve. You don’t have to come, unless you want to.” I said, “I’ll come.” he picked me up and I tried to share some more. Again, the tears flowed. The families had lost loved ones. People were still uncertain of the condition of their friends. I needed time to process. We went through the Starbucks drive through and sat in the parking lot for a bit. “Joel, you need to let it out. You’re still running on adrenaline.” he was right. I talked through it some more and then we made our way to the Aurora Medical Center. Teams from the pastoral and leadership team were already showing up at each of the local hospitals. There were so many families to pray for and minister to. We comforted friends who had loved ones in surgery and recovering from gun shot wounds to the head and chest. After we left we made our way to Gateway High School. There I was reunited with the two young girls who had been separated from their father. They had just received confirmation that their father had passed away. I sat with them for a long time. What could I say? I asked questions, both to them and to the counselors. Before I left, they let me pray for them and I gave them my number in case they needed anything. Pastor Ed, my brother Jeremiah and I decide to broadcast live on 89.7 Grace FM (Our church’s Denver based Christian radio station) to see if the Lord might use the airwaves to provide some sort of comfort and encouragement to our city. Little by little the Lord used it. People called in and shared what they were going through. We prayed that the Lord would cause us to remain sensitive to His voice and direction. At 4 pm we went live again- talking through our experience and comforting others that shared theirs. At 6pm the community gathered at Calvary Aurora and healing (though only the beginning) was taking place through prayer, tears and hugs. It’s a long road we’ll be walking down, but we won’t be alone-Jesus is with us. He will be with us, and as a people and Church, we are committed to serving and loving this city for the long haul.
This is an un-edited, un-finished, rough draft of my experience of the tragedy that took place at Century 16 theaters here in my hometown in Aurora, Colorado at the Midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. This is tragic. I hate that this happened, but I felt an urgency to share my experience in detail. I am so sorry for the families that have lost loved ones. I am praying for you.
Hope is often found where hope is fully lost. Turn To Jesus, He IS Hope.
I was there, at the shooting. I felt the shrapnel. I heard the shots. I witnessed the confusion. I smelt the smoke and saw the sparks. My eyes burned and my throat choked on the gas. Confusion was in the air making friends with panic. Chaos was born in an instant and as reality struggled to set in, there, hope was lost.
I’m on vacation-or so I thought. I came to relax and rejuvenate-to vegg out. I wanted to relax. I planned to leave my small troubles behind for a week. I flew into Denver Wednesday morning. I was visiting from Lake Tahoe California. I was excited and blessed to be visiting my friends and family here in my hometown – Aurora, Colorado. One highlight of this trip was sure to be the opening of the new Batman movie.
I must confess that I am a huge batman fan – I even drink my coffee out of a batman mug at home. So on the second night of my vacation to get away from “life,” you can imagine that I was excited to see many of my friends at the midnight premier of the new “Dark Knight” movie. Excitement was in the air as well as anticipation. Anticipation for seeing the new movie and for seeing many of my friends who were waiting ahead of my wife, brother and I inside theater Eight.
The theater was packed as we expected it to be. Especially at this particular theater. Century 16 is a beautiful theater with huge screens and small ticket prices. At $6.50 per ticket, this was the place to be with all your friends for a carefree fun night of popcorn and excitement.
We dropped my brother off at the entrance so he could buy himself a ticket. We parked the car in the back of the far right parking lot, as the parking lot was packed. The darkness of the corner lot was the only place left to find an open spot. Lindsay and I ran through the parking-lot toward the theater as we jested about not wanting to spend much time outside, after all “we don’t want to be shot” we said to one another. Only God could have known that less than an hour later we would be hand-in-hand running out of the theater, praying to God that he might spare our lives.
We entered the theater and met up with my brother Joel. He said that he was just sold the last ticket to the 12:01 movie. At first they told him that theater 8 was sold out and yet at the look of disappointment on my brothers face, the ticket-seller asked if he was meeting a group inside? “Yes” was his reply and the worker said, “You know what, ill sell you one.” So with relief we passed the ticket counter and enter the lobby and concession area together. I soaked in the impressive theater as I had not been here in a long time and I was excited to be home, soaking in these old familiar places. From the Ticket counter on the right you turn to enter the very large two story lobby filled with concession stands, coffee counter and candy bins. You can look upstairs toward a large balcony with a staircase on each end. The staircases sandwich the popcorn and candy counters and at the top (second-floor), you can enter your theater from above the audience, level with the projector.
We bought our candy on the lower level, used the Restroom and then entered theater 8 below the balcony from the ground level entrance. Lindsay and I had not been home for a while and some of these friends we were meeting, we had not seen in a year. We looked up toward the crowd as we entered, one of my best friends Ian, quickly spotted us, waved, I waved my candy back at him, and we quickly made our way to the three seats he had been saving for us. We shuffled in, shaking hands with the two rows of friends from church. I was very excited to see and catch up with one of my old friends and Pastors, Darrel. Darrel joked about being the oldest person there and then offered the remainder of his popcorn to us as he had already eaten half a tub and a candy item as they waited for the movie to begin. We took it and shortly after, the Dark Night began.
The movie started and the excitement began to build. The movie was heavy and dark as was to be expected; yet it was inviting. It was fantasy. It was a moment to sit back, relax and be entertained with people you love. I held my wife’s hand tight as the movie began. No one expected that this Dark Knight was about to turn into an incredibly Dark Night. It was about 25-35 minutes into the film when the first major action-gun sequence began, and as the sound of on-screen gun-fire filled the air and our ears, a much louder popping-crackling sound spliced through the movie-noise. Everyone looked to his or her right, searching for the noise, all assuming that this was some sort of live special effect noise set up by the theater (we hoped for the best). Most everyone did their best to continue watching the movie. It was loud and exciting and we were not going to allow anyone or anything to ruin our experience and this much anticipated film, yet I could not take my attention away from the right middle entrance. Suddenly more cracks in rapid-succession rang out, this time accompanied with sparks, smoke and a dusting of some sort of shrapnel. At this point I was completely annoyed, believing that someone had thrown a crackle-bomb into the air or some other firework as some sort of prank, yet as anyone would be, I became uneasy and on guard. I stared to the right of the theater, about 3 or 4 rows beneath me as a small group of people were looking down, fixed on something. At this point, some people were whispering, as some were still trying to watch the movie. Everything was unclear at this time as communication was impossible because the movie was still playing, the lights were still off, and the guns were still firing on the movie screen. Some people to the right ran out the bottom exit toward the lobby and entrance to the theater. Little by little, the group below and to the right began to exit quickly. At this point, they had everyone’s interest and attention. I became concerned and we all started to stand up, looking around, waiting for answers. Soon, the same group who had just left, quickly ran back into the theater, in the dark while the movie was still blaring and shouted over the chaos on the screen, “nobody leave out the front! There is somebody out there shooting people!” We all hoped that this was still a prank! We hoped for the best even though this sounded like the worst. The group ran out the left front side of the theater next to the movie screen and then some of them quickly ran back in. I looked at my wife, grabbed her hand, and looked around toward every exit. My wife looked very worried at this point, then the fire alarm began to go off, flashing lights on both ends while the movie was still playing. The alarm was loud, the movie was loud, thick panic was in the air, and the theater was still dark. At this point my precious wife began to look increasingly fear-filled. She wanted to make for the exit. I grabbed her hand and told her that we had to keep our cool and stay put for the moment. “We cant just run out there, what if someone is out there waiting to shoot us as we run? We need to trust God and wait a minute.” People began to shout,” Turn off the movie!” we could not hear the message coming over the loud speaker because gunfire was still coming from the movie. I finally focused hard, trying to hear the loudspeaker message. “An emergency has taken place inside of the theater, please exit the building.” We looked at one another, I looked at Pastor Darrel, one row below me, and we knew we had to get out of there. I looked at Lindsay, held her hand and said, “let’s get out of here.” Joel, Lindsay, and I quickly made our way up the stairs to our left, opposite the screen, toward the upper theater 8 entrance that led to the balcony above the lobby and main entrance.
We quickly reached the exit and there we were, atop the balcony, I stared around the wall looking down at the lobby as crowds were running around in panic. Police were flocking into the lobby with rifles and shotguns. Behind me people were running out of theater 8 and 9. Reality was soaking in as the movie came to life. People were leaving the theater 9 door covered in blood! My wife was in hysterics, saying, “I don’t want to be here, I want to go!” It was a war zone. I grabbed my wife and looked intently into her eyes and yelled, “Look at me! Don’t panic!” I reminded her that she had a God in heaven who loved her. “Don’t act like you don’t have a God.” I reminded her and myself that there was still a loving God who even in this chaos can create order. We stared down into the chaotic lobby below as we choked on the tear gas filling the air as it flowed out of theater 9. To the right, flocks of innocent people were running down the staircase, pausing at the bottom, taking shelter behind the railing, hoping for direction and then running for the front door toward the parking lot. We all assumed that a gunman might be in the lobby shooting people. I looked around for my brother. At the moment all I cared about was staying close to my brother and Lindsay. All I wanted was for these two people who I loved more than my own life, to make it out of here alive. “Joel!” I shouted. He was standing nearby. Together we looked below, looked at the staircases, looked behind us. More blood. It looked as though some people were running back up the staircase to the left. “We need to go!” So made our way quickly down the right staircase as you look out toward the parking lot. This all felt like a horrible scene from a movie that we had somehow become a part of. We were living the movie out and we could not escape this reality. We stayed low as we hurried down the stairs. The Columbine shooting flashed through my mind. When we neared the bottom of the stairs, we paused to take cover before we tried to prepare to run the short distance toward the glass entrance doors. As we paused to look around for the gunman, I pictured one of us being shot as we ran for the door. I quickly prayed, “please Jesus, let my wife and my brother get out of here safe!” I knew Joel was behind me, but I wasn’t sure where he was. We looked one more time through the lobby as people and police filled the scene. People in panic ran out as Police ran in. It seemed as if this lasted forever, though I’m sure it was but a moment. We finally ran for our lives, holding hands! Thank God, my wife was outside! We stood on the nearest median. Again I reassured her that we were together. I told her to pray and to quote scripture to herself. My next thought was for my brother. I never saw him exit the theater! Where was he? I looked back at the entrance scanning the chaos. I couldn’t find him! I was desperate to find him so I started yelling “JOEL!” It was panic. I knew it was no use yelling so I took my phone out and looked for his number. He answered his phone right away as he was looking for us. I told him where we were, he met us and we decide to make our way toward the back of the parking lot. We were hoping for safety. More and more police officers were flooding the parking lot and heading toward the theater entrance. We were looking for our large group of friends and we quickly found them as Ian flagged us down. “Is everyone ok?” “Is this everybody?” we asked one another. We decide to move back to the outside of the parking lot. As everyone gathered, I began to soak in the scene as if we were moving in slow motion. I couldn’t believe this was happening and that we were a part of it. The gravity of the situation began to set in as I could not help but hear an officer next to me yelling into his radio “I NEED EVERY ABULANCE IN THE CITY HERE RIGHT NOW!” “I need every available ambulance here right now!!” He yelled this three times as he made his way closer to the theater to help. Pastor Joel (my brother) and Pastor Ian gathered our friends in a circle; they held hands and began to pray. They prayed for the crowds, the medical care teams and the police. They prayed for the hurt and hurting. I prayed with my eyes open as I looked around.
Many were still running out of the theater. The parking lot was full or cars and people. I noticed the blood. So many were bleeding or had blood on themselves. I saw Pastor Darrel Carrying a young woman in his arms as he ran toward the ambulances. I wanted desperately to help. I prayed as I walked back toward the theater trying to see if there were anymore injured who needed help. I cried out to God, “God, please use me, please help these people!” As I walked through the lot, I saw four people carrying a bleeding girl between themselves. Two of them had her arms around their shoulders while the other two were carrying her legs. I rushed closer to them, and as I looked for the girls’ eyes, I noticed that she was still alive! “Thank you Jesus!” I thought. As they passed me, I prayed for her safety and recovery. I turned briefly to watch them run toward the Paramedics. Just then, I noticed another man heading as fast as he could run in the same direction. Close to his chest he held a little girl. She was covered in blood and looked lifeless. My heart was sinking and breaking for the scene that lied before me. Again as if in slow motion I stared around the lot as I made my way closer to the entrance. The eyes of the people looked drained, empty, and hopeless. I prayed for hope and I found hope in knowing that my friends were gathered just a short distance away, praying to our loving God who is the God of Hope and healing.
…To be continued… this is too hard to finish right now…
Please continue praying for the families involved and for those who have lost loved ones. If you have been affected by this shooting and need help or prayer, please contact Calvary Chapel Aurora at http://www.calvaryaurora.org.
Leaders cannot be found… they have abandoned the people!
The protective walls are collapsing and cries of death are ringing out from all around!
Panic is in the streets and within the walls and despair is pouring from the rooftops…
The enemy is at the gate; victory is in his hand!
Imagine yourself, please, in the midst of this city… but you are invisible. You are simply an onlooker – a spy. Imagine that your people are dying in your presence. Imagine that your family members are being taken captive. Abused. Raped. Tortured. Murdered. Now imagine, that as of yet, none of these things have happened. But they will. They are in process. In-route.
“O God! can’t you prevent these horrors from taking place?” you might ask yourself and yet the only response is… “yes… but I won’t.”
And so there you are in despair with those you love… but you are weeping for them.
Because none of them are seeking after God.
No one calls out to Him!
No one prays to their Maker!
There is not a single humble soul in the city who will fall to their face and acknowledge that: “God!!! WE NEED YOU NOW!” “HELP US WE PRAY!”
This scene is straight out of the life of the prophet Isaiah. This is what he sees from God. And when he sees it, panic sets in, and his heart becomes broken and then like wax. No composure is found for the prophet. His people are dead while they live and he is dying in heart for them. “Leave me alone to weep; don’t try to comfort me. Let me cry for my people as I watch them being destroyed.” (Isaiah 22)
Disaster is upon the world that rejects their maker. Those who reject Jesus are in the city, and the enemy is coming for them to destroy their lives. With justice and righteousness God must destroy both them and the enemy. They have made their decision and they will never be forgiven. They have willingly rejected their Maker – their God, and He will strive with them no longer. Blasphemy! Blasphemy of the Spirit is committed in the streets! And we are witnesses to such things all around our city block!
Cry you christian! Weep! Be not consoled… Your families are dead in the streets! Blood is on our hands lest we do something! Your friends and neighbors are dying! And their friends and neighbors are taking their last breath!
What will you do?
What must I do!?
Christian, does it break your heart that your city is full with many who have not yet found their joy in Jesus? Does it bring you to tears that you are sitting next to dead men at the bus stops and in your office? And God forbid, even in our churches!
“God! there are people in this city that do not worship You, will not worship You! Do something O God! SAVE THEM! PLEASE, WE CRY!”
We can do something. We must do something. Let God soften your heart as you seek Him. Let His heart be in you. Pray O christian, PRAY! “God, please use me… I am a vessel for You. For Your glory.” Are you praying yet? “God save my family, save my neighbors, save my friends, save my city! Open my mouth that I might proclaim Your beauty! Your Gospel!” “Make me bold with power that comes from You alone. Grace, come be treasured within me. Give me what I long for but have no strength to complete. Spirit be alive and free and expressed in and through me!” “Make Yourself known to this lost people!”
My prayer today is that my heart might surely break for those within my influence and in my city, and on my facebook that don’t know Jesus… and that I might do something to reach them, starting today by getting on my knees in prayer, making intercession for their eternal lives, that they might be saved. Will you please reach this world with me? We are in this together. We are in Christ, with Christ, for Christ.
Believer, I assure you that God will do these things within you and through you. But we must pray. Prayer is not the secret to transforming God’s heart but our own heart’s. God will change us as we humble ourselves and ask for the truly miraculous. The miracle will be our obedience in walking where He has already prepared the way. The miracle in our prayer will be our obedience to His boldness already supplied to us in preaching and proclaiming the Good News about Jesus Christ. This is what we want, but we must pray that it’s fruit would be continually produced from our lives to the next.
We are the prophets and priests of our day with the message that saves and sets free. The leaders in Isaiah’s vision fled from the people and they themselves, perished. We cannot be like them. We love God too much. We love people too much. We were ourselves, once lost. We care too much for those lost people around us. We cannot run! We must instead run into the thick of the battle in the Power of God, with His Sword ready in hand and defeat the enemy as we take our stand in the midst of a hurting and dying people; we will preach destruction upon the enemy as we preach salvation and life and the Gospel to those who are eager to be made alive! We are vessels of Honor proclaiming to Gods elect: “Be Saved!”
This is our calling and God’s good purpose: to use us fools for His glory. To use the once lost in redeeming the now lost. To find many as the many found obey His Great Commission. His purposes will be accomplished. Christian, join in the battle and find your great joy as you walk with your God in the saving mission of the Gospel of Grace. We are priests to our people, proclaiming: “Repent, and Be Saved!” In doing this, we are like Jesus.
“I want more than I have. I want to see You in Your holiness. I want my filth burned away; replaced with Your Spirit and Presence and Life and Word!”
“I just want a glimpse of Your glory…please Father, give this to me but only for a moment and I shall be happy forever.”
“We are not discontent, but we are satisfied only in You, and yet we are hungry for more because we know that only You have more to give.”
Have you ever been here, in this place? In a place of longing that goes beyond human words or understanding? I mean, you have your God and you love your Savior but you are desperate for more? Maybe you really want to see your city reached with the Gospel? So there you are: you know you are saved and you know that God does the saving but you are not satisfied that there are people surrounding you who are lost and headed for hell, so you pray.
I’m not talking about those “Thank You God for these scrambled eggs” type of prayers, I’m talking desperation type of prayers. I’m talking Jacob wrestling with God, “I wont let You go until you bless me!” type of prayers! “God help us! People are dying! We need You to intervene!” “Act oh God! Do not be silent!” I’m talking about revival praying. We-seriously-believe prayers. We-really-need-the-living-God prayers.
I’m here in this place now in my life for many reasons and my greatest want at the moment is to be in, sence, feel, and abide in the presence of God. I’m not satisfied with statuesque christianity: praying for my food (whatever that means), stopping by church once or twice a week (or month for some), doing my “devos”, and on and on, this boring robotic routine can continue habitually into an eventual, hopeful eternity. Becoming a religious person is not on my list of aspirations, I want to experience the presence and power that comes from closeness to my Jesus… my God… the one who loves me and has saved me.
I’m encouraging you and me and a lost world to enter the joy of the Lord! Come and get more of your God. We must seek Him in our prayer closets and worship Him there with all of our beings. There we must find Him and be found by Him. Not in our church buildings, but in our private world. In our heart and mind and in our bedrooms and in our workplaces. This is fellowship with our God. This kind of Christianity cannot be escaped! This is the kind of christian experience that is exciting and romantic! This is when we finally realize that God is our lover and He is pursuing us in our going to sleep and in our waking up. He is wooing us into His presence. This is the excitement about walking with Jesus that once realized, causes us to shut down the computer and phone and television and escape to a private place; alone with our God. We want more and so we go in search for more. We bow on our knees or we lock ourselves inside and there we share our hearts as we gain His heart. We simply talk to Him about all that is in ourselves. Like the marriage bed, nothing is off-limits; we are explored by Him. We sit with His Word and we ask and beg Him to make it come to life in reality and power within our bodies and minds and heart and emotion. We are experiencing transformation when we are experiencing Him.
I love this. That we want more than we could ever handle. No one can look upon the glory of God and yet we hunt after it and drool for it with a burning hearts desire.
Are you being transformed?
Are you desiring your God?
If you say yes, than good. Run harder after Him. He will always satisfy you.
If you say no, then may I remind you that though you do not pursue Him, Your God who loves you is Pursuing you relentlessly. He wants you to experience His light and life and His Joy. He is but an arms-reach away.
“…nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” -Romans 8:39
This was taken from a message preached in the fall of 2009...
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True prayer is the act of humility. It declares to your God that you are in need of His counsel.
Prayer is an act of Love; it makes time for God, and places Him in your priority. Intimacy cannot be built without time, effort, and communication. Loving God is making time to become intimate with Him. Prayer is where you go out of your way to show God your heart, to praise or weep before Him. Prayer is where your intimacy is developed. We need to be drawn often to prayer.
Pray about everything.
Pray because your Savior has asked and told you to do so. Prayer is an act of obedience.
Strength is drawn from prayer. Praying is an act of faith and without faith it is impossible to please God.
Please your God in prayer. He loves to hear you talk to Him. He loves to hear you ask of Him.
He is a fulfiller of promises, so pray His Word and you will never fall short of His will in prayer.
Remember, in any relationship, you must communicate to keep things fresh. So keep the lines of communication open with Jesus. Speak to Him and listen to Him.
Pray for strength, He always gives it.
Pray for direction, He knows the way.
Pray for Salvation, that’s why He came, died and rose again.
Pray for the impossible, He is God almighty. He is the God of miracles and impossibilities. Believe Him always.
You must pray in faith. And sometimes you must pray desperately for faith. Men have seen revival and what others thought impossible because they sought their God and asked Him for things others only dared to dream of. Stop dreaming and pray to your God who is reality and power and so near to you.
Prayer is where you gain the heart of God for your life and ministry. It is where you come face to face with love and where you are broken, humbled, changed and filled with His Spirit that is power in you.
You don’t have because you don’t ask. Ask! Ask for everything that you need and don’t have. Don’t be timid or shy. Don’t be faithless. Be willing to be wrong for some things that you ask for. We are praying for His will to be done.
Pray like Jesus.
And remember, you only need a mustard seed of faith in order to petition the face of God. If you feel like you don’t even have a mustard seed of faith, than ignore your feelings and ask anyways.
Pray always about everything.
Don’t be paranoid about everything and every decision you make. If you have an active prayer-life, than don’t be scared to walk by faith. Remember that faith is an action word and He is directing your steps. Pray then walk and most of the time, pray while your walking.
Pray for others; right there on the spot. Show others by praying with them that you believe in a God who hears. It will impart faith to them.
And Pray for you.
Prayer will keep you alive. It is impossible to have an active, fruitful private prayer-life and die spiritually. If you want to live more, than pray more. Prayer is the I.V. from heaven; It will keep your heart beating, your blood pulsing, and your Spirit above the clouds. It is an exercise in the spirit and so you must fight against your flesh. Be constant in prayer. Never give up. Pray
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The Word of God is power to the believer. It is Spiritual. The Word of God is not a burdensome law. It is not legalism or rules. The Word of God is not a religion! It is Safety. It is a glimpse into the very heart of God who rules the Universe! It is for your Heart, your life and for your Spirit and for eternity.
The Word of God is life giving, life changing, miracle working, alive, true and there is nothing false in it! It is perfect, empowering, encouraging, up-lifting, healing, it speaks to man, guides us, directs us, gives wisdom, judges the thoughts and intents of the heart, it is purity in an imperfect world, it is to be treasured, it is historically accurate, and it is just and right when everything else is wrong!
And do not forget, the Word of God is for you! Treasure your Savior and treasure His promises. Don’t allow satan to keep you from your Bible. Open it up, be familiar with it, read it, write in it, memorize it and not because you have to, but because He loves you. Guard your time with Jesus.