My Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring

My Secret Decoder Ring

My Secret Decoder Ring

Unfortunately, I lost my John Hagee “Bible Prophecy Secret Decoder Ring”, so I was unable to determine the true meaning of last night’s “blood moon” before I went to bed.

Within nothing more to do, I decided I might as well get a good night’s sleep, wake up in the morning, and get on with my life – just like normal.

Now that it’s morning, I see that the world’s still here – with its normal complement of good news and bad news.

What a bummer. I was hoping for something more exciting, given all the hype.

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Recovery Homes

Several of our fellowships want to open additional recovery homes in the county for those putting their lives back together following abuse, imprisonment, addiction, economic distress or other major disruption. Over the last several years, we have teamed up with another ministry to support this local need, but its focus is only on addiction – which is very much needed. However, we also need similar homes for those dealing with other issues.

Our desire is to create transitional, peer recovery homes where there is functional, Christ-centered community within each house. This would involve mutual support, encouragement and accountability among the residents – with appropriate outside support and oversight.

Our experiences to date have confirmed that such a focus is essential for real change to occur among those in each home. Otherwise, the houses become little more than a warehouse for knuckleheads, and become a detriment rather than an asset for those seeking to put their lives back together.

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Liberty and Christian Cynicism

I applaud my brothers and sisters in Christ who stood firm in Ukraine against oppression and earned with their blood the right to now rebuild their nation.

Cynicism and retreat are popular today among some Christians who have never suffered national tyranny, corruption and malaise, but enjoy the ease of privileged comfort because of past sacrifices by others.

They have not earned the right to criticize those – in Ukraine or elsewhere – whose faith is big enough to redeem cultures, affirm virtue, and establish liberty.

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A Love Story

Tonight, Marianne and I will have a romantic dinner at the country inn where I asked her to marry me.

Marianne

Marianne

Our friends often kid us, because we take time to celebrate key events in our life together. Our first date, our engagement, our wedding, and other anniversaries are important to us.

We don’t go on anniversary dates to create intimacy and passion between us, but to express the amazing, ever-deepening intimacy and passion that continues to grow between us – from the first time my heart unexpectedly fluttered at the sight of her, to the profound thrill I still feel when I see her.

There is a love between us that I seldom see in others. It, and our marriage, are testaments to the power of God to redeem lives.

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Redemption

When we think of redemption we usually think about Christ’s atoning blood which delivered us from our sins. Yes, on the day we personallybundle surrender ourselves to the Lord and ask His forgiveness, He redeems our soul and we become His children.

Christ’s sacrifice was vital. We can now partake in His kingdom here on earth and when we die join Him in heaven. However, I believe that Christ’s act of redemption is far more encompassing then simply making a way for us to enter heaven.

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Come to the Waters

Just some of many who gathered Saturday to celebrate new life!


On Saturday, over sixty people gathered for a mass baptism at our house, involving various fellowships and ministries relating together here in Virginia.

After we buried lots of old natures, and lifted lots of new believers up into that same resurrection power that raised Christ from the dead, we enjoyed a cookout and just hangin’ with each other.

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Celebrating

Oscar and Nicole

 
This is the one year anniversary of a wedding I performed for Oscar and Nicole.

Marianne and I hosted the wedding in our home, and they are part of the fellowship that meets there.

I was very sick at the time, and had to have a stool beside me just in case I felt weak and needed to perform the ceremony sitting down. But I made it through on my own two feet and it was a great time of celebration!

This was a highlight of ministry for me. Oscar and Nicole mean a lot to Marianne and me, and are evidence of how God delights in redeeming lives.

Here’s more of the story…

Another Great Wedding

~ Jim

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Finding Freedom in a Prison Cell

Finding Freedom in a Prison Cell, by Marty Friedman

This is a wonderful story of redemption. Marty Friedman came to the Lord in jail, and for two years was part of a fellowship we helped start in the housing unit where he lived. He became a leader in that fellowship, where he profoundly impacted many, many lives. Now that he’s out, I am privileged to call him my friend.

BTW, I’m not sure about that reference to me as his “Sunday pastor”.

Marty, we gotta talk about that… :-)

Voices from Jail

A rap/poem by a brother in fellowship in the local jail, who is learning to become the man God created him to be.

A Brother in Jail

A Brother in Jail

Perfect Wisdom

When I reached out
You took me in
When there wasn’t a soul in sight
And all I saw was you
You took me in
Dusted me off
Cleaned me up
Asked me if I’d yet had enough?
Knew about my past
Had been there through the struggles
Said you’d carry my burdens
If I’d give you my troubles

I grabbed to my shirt
Expressed a cold smirk
Yeah I’d heard that before
Seems never to work

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Discipleship

Marianne and I have the greatest privilege in the world. God allows us to introduce Him to those who have reached the end of themselves, and then allows us to walk with them towards healing and wholeness.

We have the privilege of then seeing those who some consider the discards of society grow in the Lord to become mighty men and women in His Kingdom.

But the highest privilege of all is this: To call them friends.

This is the story of so many when we first met. Listen, and may the Lord move your heart to compassion.

Though You Slay Me…

I don’t know about you, but the Lord sometimes loves me enough to nearly kill me. And I’m not talking metaphorically.

In fact, for those who have given our lives to Him, the Lord loves us so much that some day He literally will take our lives so He then can give us eternity.

Short of death, however, the Lord sometimes kills something important to us or in us – some vision, some hope, some confidence, some quality or attribute, some accomplishment, or even something good He previously gave us.

It’s not that the thing He kills necessarily is wrong. It’s just that it needs to die so we then are free to be and do whatever He wants of us, and for us, as we move forward in Him.

As Job understood, in the midst of everything good in his life being stripped away, “Though you slay me, will I trust you Lord.” Job 13:15.

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Slaying Giants

Slaying Giants

On Christmas eve, Marianne and I spent time with about thirty brothers in the jail. During our time of fellowship, one of the men read the poem below. Here’s the story behind the poem, then the poem….

Earlier in December, I had shared with those men how our journey in the Lord is like Israel’s journey from slavery in Egypt, through the desert, and then into the promise land.

God takes us out of the bondage of Egypt, but then uses the wilderness to burn Egypt out of us.

In the wilderness, God prepares us to take possession of the promise land – that place where we are able to own and responsibly manage the things He has created us to both be and do.

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Les Miserables

Marianne and I have never recommended a movie on our blog, but yesterday we went on a date and saw the new movie, Les Miserables.

Twenty or so years ago I saw the Broadway play in New York, and it was powerful. But the movie is … amazing.

I was hesitant to go to the movie, because I expected the original Christian themes of redemptive grace and forgiveness in Victor Hugo’s 1862 novel to be watered down, if not eliminated. After all, that’s the way of Hollywood. They take culture created by Christians and bastardize it.

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Words

Words have the power to not only define, but to create reality – for good or for bad. Too often, we forget the power of words: not only ours, but of God Himself.

power-of-wordsI don’t think it was a coincidence that God spoke the universe into existence, chose to reveal Himself through His spoken Word of scripture, or came to dwell among us as the Word made flesh.

I also don’t think it is a coincidence that God still speaks to us today, or that He has empowered us to speak authoritatively on His behalf.

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The Cultural Implications of the Great Commission

The Cultural Implications of the Great Commission

Rob Moley, in his blog Restore the Word, wrote yesterday on “The Great Commission: Discipling Individuals or Nations?”.

In it, he says this about the Great Commission:

Rather than being a command to influence nations with the principles and truths of God’s kingdom, the logic of the command in Matt. 28:19-20 is to make disciples from every nation. Then, as ambassadors of God’s kingdom, these disciples are able to influence all aspects of society, and God willing, even disciple whole nations.

His point is that the Great Commission is about transforming individuals into disciples who obey all that Christ commands, who in turn transform the world around them.

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Barbeque for Jesus

This picture has great significance for me. It is from one of our fellowships – this one meets in my home on Sundays.

Yesterday, as we gathered together, we prayed and give prophetic words of encouragement over Oscar, a close friend who is moving forward with his road-side pit barbeque business by signing a contract to have a mobile food service trailer built for him (Oscar’s Barbeque). He has worked faithfully towards this moment – as unto the Lord – for two years.

I’ve watched and walked with Oscar as he’s progressed over time, step by step, in growing, proving and succeeding in his business model as part of God’s call on his life.

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