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Question:

Current Tensions in the United States

It seems that the whole nation has been riveted on news relative to racial tensions, allegations of systemic discrimination against minorities, the targeting of police in deadly attacks, etc. What can a pastor say, and what can churches do to be a part of the solution, to be salt and light? How can a pastor help people to have godly attitudes and perspectives and to be true representatives of Christ during troubled times?

Responses:

Pastor Diego MesaPastor Diego Mesa – Rancho Cucamonga, CA

In view of the recent turmoil and crises that have hit our world, we understand that nothing is new under the sun. The enemy has always been the influencer of hatred, bigotry, prejudices, injustice and murder (we find this again in the forefront of our times). We have a young generation who, for the first time, are having to confront and examine questions of what’s going on in our society. Though an older generation is still affected and possibly angered, they have lived long enough to have seen this before. I am a pastor of Mexican descent who has been pastoring my church for 22 years. It is made up of 60% African American, 20% Latin, 15% Caucasian and 5% Asian or other. Though I have never been considered a political pastor, I think the times we are living in challenges us to not only have an understanding of what’s going on but also be prayerful on how we must navigate godly responses to the headlines of today.

The spiritual. I think as much prayer as we can give and offer is necessary (publicly and privately), at our services, at our prayer meetings, as well as calling for a special night of prayer to deal with the current issues.

Education. In a setting similar to a town hall meeting. In this venue, young people can vent, voice and gain understanding. I think allowing people to express their feelings and thoughts in a godly environment can be very productive. Sometimes your members just want to know how you feel and that you care. Sometimes people feel they need to take action, so creating an environment that is godly and safe allows people to suggest ideas or ways to process information and respond to a present need or current situation. Helping people to understand what they can do is sometimes all that is needed.

Understanding. I think when making statements we must always try, to the best of our ability, to understand how others feel and interpret what is going on without being errants with absolutes. Empathy is crucial. A nonblack person will never understand completely what it is to be black with the hardships, prejudices and sometimes the unequal treatment. For example, how many times have you been stopped or profiled by a police officer? We absolutely know that killing and murdering police officers or anyone else is not the answer. Dialog and communication are essential.

Parenting. Parents must take an active role in educating and preparing their children to enter a world that may not be conducive to our faith, belief, love, or respect. Helping them understand how to walk, talk, dress, and think are crucial. I am sorry and sad that some things will never change. But I’d rather always be thinking about protecting and teaching my children by having hard conversations with them that if they are in a threatening, intimidating, or uncomfortable predicament how to react responsibility and appropriately.

Engage. Utilize peace officers within your church. This can also be accomplished in the town hall meeting. Utilizing black officers if they are available to you to speak to your black congregation can be very helpful in helping them to understand how to communicate, react and respond to a police officer. These officers will speak from a perspective that is not only educational but protective to not necessarily congregation.

Get involved. By making our presence known in our community, we can foster favor and positive responses. Building relationships with our political leaders, police departments, fire departments, and positive community organizations will build a rapport and mutual respect.

Finally, connect and network. Relationships, discourse, communication, empathy, open forums and education are the hallmarks of improving connections with the community and our congregation.

Pastor Gregory CarrPastor Gregory Carr – Nanuet, NY

Below are the notes for the video of our position on the racial events that took place and are taking place in our nation.

Video linkhttp://bit.ly/2aPvo1P

Some may not like this, but Pastor Sarah, Pastor Ed, and I are not activists or politicians; we are Pastors. We cannot and will not speak for other Pastors, but our responsibility as the Pastors God gave you after His own Heart, is to teach you and encourage you and motivate you to live your lives as born again, Bible-believing, tongue-talking Christians.

John 8:31-32 (The Message)
Then Jesus turned to the Jews who had claimed to believe in him. “If you stick with this, living out what I tell you, you are my disciples for sure. Then you will experience for yourselves the truth, and the truth will free you.”

John 8:36 (Amplified Bible, Classic Edition)
36 So if the Son liberates you [makes you free men], then you are really and unquestionably free.

When we confessed Jesus as Savior and allowed Him to be the Lord of our lives, THE BIBLE SAYS we became new creatures in Christ. We are in this world but not of this world. That means we are independent of this world and its system.

That’s a spiritual truth.

Since you are independent, then you are not bound to black, white, Hispanic, or any other race. You are not bound by the color of your skin.

I taught ten lessons on Overcoming Adversity and three on Bait, and Pastor Ed has taught several lessons on The Good Fight Of Faith. We told you that I did not know what it was, but something was going to happen that could shake you and you had to know how to handle it. I told you that the devil was sending circumstances in waves; one after another, because he wants you to feel hopeless, helpless, overwhelmed and like that movie title, “Dazed and Confused.”

The events of this past week caused me to feel anger and frustration. Not knowing the details, because I was not there, but what I have read, heard, and viewed on the news media and social media and even by people I highly respect, was alarming.

Some have likened these events to the platform and personality of one of the presidential candidates.

And IF I LET IT, it could cause me to change my perception of who I am in Christ and how I feel about my responsibility as a Christian.

  • Do I devalue it because I’m not seeing what I want to see?
  • Do I step away so I can voice my opposition in ways that are not pleasing to God?
  • Do I point fingers?
  • Do I completely throw it away?
  • Or, do I hold on and remain true to who I confess to be?

Our position and the position of this church is to remain true to who we are in Christ PERIOD! Jesus told us in Mark 4:19 that if you let the cares of this world enter into your heart, it will choke out the Word that you’ve heard.

Romans 12:2 (MSG Bible) says, “Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God.”

CAUCASIAN POLICE OFFICERS ARE NOT THE PROBLEM; THEY ARE NOT THE ENEMY. SATAN IS. HE IS THE AUTHOR OF CONFUSION. And he wants you to replace your faith in God with fear of man. He wants you to believe that God chose to make those of us with brown skin to be targets and live in fear.

Well, Jesus said, “In this world you will have tribulation, but don’t be dismayed because He has overcome the world.” One translation says that “He has taken away its power to harm you.”

“Well Pastors, if that’s true, why were those young men killed?” Sorry I can’t answer that because I don’t know what they knew. I don’t know what they believed, and I don’t know the extent of their belief.

What I do know by faith and over 30 years of Christian experience, is that GOD’S WORD IS TRUE AND THOSE WHO CHOOSE TO WORK THE WORD AND TO LIVE BY THE WORD, WILL EXPERIENCE THE RESULTS THAT THE WORD PROMISES. AND WHETHER YOU LIKE IT OR NOT, THE ONLY SOLUTION IS TO DO EXACTLY AS JESUS INSTRUCTED:

  • Love your enemy
  • Do good to them that curse you
  • Pray for them that despitefully use you

Some may refer to that as a slave mentality. That was the mentality of the person you say you believe is God’s son. It’s the mentality of the person you said you received as your Savior, and it is the mentality of the person you made Lord of your life. And let me add this: If you believe that praying for your enemies is a slave mentality, remember that eventually the slaves were freed.

As a child I lived through the protests and marches of the 60s and 70s. And if protests and marches and demonstrations worked, why does the problem still exist?

Those protests may have opened some doors and gave people of color some opportunities, but the root cause was still there and every now and then it will pop-up because the hearts of the people were not changed.

As we have been taught, “you cannot legislate righteousness or morality,” and I’m going to add racial equality. Only a change of heart can accomplish that.

Jesus came so we would have life. He did not come to condemn.

He commissioned us to go into all the world and preach the Gospel with miraculous signs following.

So why are you allowing yourself to get caught up in the emotions concerning the deaths of those young men and the retaliatory deaths of the police officers? We must demonstrate that we are a people in whom the Love of God is evident. Since that is true, we have an obligation to forgive.

We are in the last days. There are some things Jesus said would happen in the beginning of the last days.

Matthew 24:7-14 (New Century Version)
7 Nations will fight against other nations; kingdoms will fight against other kingdoms. There will be times when there is no food for people to eat, and there will be earthquakes in different places. 8 These things are like the first pains when something new is about to be born. 9 “Then people will arrest you, hand you over to be hurt, and kill you. They will hate you because you believe in me. 10 At that time, many will lose their faith, and they will turn against each other and hate each other. 11 Many false prophets will come and cause many people to believe lies. 12 There will be more and more evil in the world, so most people will stop showing their love for each other. 13 But those people who keep their faith until the end will be saved. 14 The Good News about God’s kingdom will be preached in all the world, to every nation. Then the end will come.

Nations is the Greek word “Ethnos” (ethnic). So if in the beginning of the last days races will rise against races, that should let us know that racism is never going to cease.

We are Christians! God never promised us that this would be an easy walk, but he promised that through Christ we could do it. Being a Believer is the basis for all of our thoughts, speech and actions. So we get busy casting out the evil spirits, using the Keys of the Kingdom to bind and loose as we go into all the world and preach the Gospel the good news.

AND WE GET TO OUR KNEES AND PRAY BECAUSE WE KNOW THAT THE EFFECTUAL FERVENT PRAYER OF THE RIGHTEOUS MAKES TREMENDOUS POWER AVAILABLE.

Our allegiance is not to a race of people or a political party. Our allegiance is not based on the color of one’s skin or uniform. Our allegiance is to God through Christ and the instructions He gave us. So we pledge our allegiance to the Bible. God’s Holy Word. We will make it a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. We will hide its words in our heart so we might not sin against God.

Mike CamenetiPastor Mike Cameneti – Canton, OH

It’s important to let people know Jesus talked about the time we’re living in. In His words: “Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:7, NLT). Some may think He was referring to countries at war with other countries, but that’s only part of what Jesus was saying. That word “nation” is translated from the Greek word “ethnos” which also carries the meanings “ethnic group” or “race.” With those definitions in mind, we can see Jesus was also speaking of the very things we see happening in our own nation and across the globe today—race against race, ethnic group against ethnic group.

We’d like to think Jesus followed that statement with instructions on how to stop it, but He didn’t. Instead, He said, “all this is only the first of the birth pains, with more to come” (Matthew 24:8, NLT). That’s not meant to frighten us, but rather serves as a call to action for us to light up our communities with the love of God. We have Jesus, the Light of the world! And it’s time for us to let Him shine out of us for all to see.

To help a congregation put feet to this, I would encourage sharing from Acts 17:26 where Paul writes: “And He (God) made from one [common origin, one source, one blood] all nations of men to settle on the face of the earth” (AMPC, emphasis mine). That lets them know racial pride, prejudice, and bigotry have got to go. We are all brothers and sisters, regardless of the color of our skin. Nowhere should that be more evident than in the Body of Christ.

Then, I would suggest sharing from Romans 12:9-21 where Paul provides an extensive list of practical examples on how to love—really love—others: “Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other. Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you. Don’t curse them; pray that God will bless them. Be happy with those who are happy, and weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with each other. Don’t be too proud to enjoy the company of ordinary people. And don’t think you know it all! Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone. Dear friends, never take revenge. Leave that to the righteous anger of God. For the Scriptures say, ‘I will take revenge; I will pay them back,’ says the Lord. Instead, ‘If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.’ Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good” (NLT).

And lastly, I’d invite everyone to start fresh. We can’t go back and change what happened in America’s past. We can’t go back and change what happened a month ago. But we can do what’s right from this point on and let our good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise our heavenly Father.

I hope you have found this helpful. If you are interested in viewing or listening to a message I shared with our congregation along these lines, you can access it here: Love > Hate

Pastor Kevin BerryPastor Kevin Berry – Lansing, MI

About a year ago I did some message preparation planning and landed on a series for this summer that is called: Indivisible—One Nation Under God. Little did I know that at the time I would be preaching this series, there would be even more racial tension and that police officers would be targeted and murdered. Then there are the repeated terrorist attacks, transgender issues, and on top of all that, an elections season. More than ever, this series was both timely and very much needed. Here are a few things we covered to help our church family become part of the solution.

  • Get your eyes on Jesus. Scripture says in the year King Uzziah died—I saw the Lord sitting on his throne… Is. 6:1
    • The year that nobody knew who the next king would be… Would he be moral or immoral? What would happen to the economy with this new king? And how will he keep us safe? What Isaiah did was an example to us all: He saw the Lord sitting on the throne! The simplicity of taking your eyes off the drama putting your eyes on the King is a powerful great start.
  • Know what America was yesterday and even more importantly, what we are supposed to do today.
    • President Woodrow Wilson said, “The country that does not know what it was yesterday, does not know what it is today, or what it is trying to do.”
    • We took a look at the Christian heritage of America—it shows how far we have strayed.
  • We called the church to be first responders.
    • Whenever there is car accident there are two groups of people I’ve noticed: Those that drive by really slow and they wonder. They wonder how bad it is, they wonder if everybody is ok. Today lots of people look at what’s happening and they too are filled with wonder. Why?
    • The other group that shows up to an accident is the first responders. They too wonder, but they wonder: How can I help? How can I be part of the solution? This is what we need to do!
  • Micah 6:8—gives a clear call for first responders:
    • Do what is right. When others are doing wrong. When the culture is morally spinning out of control—do what is right. It’s right to pray; it’s right to practice God’s prescription for the sin sick nations of the world. “If my people who are called by my name will…” 2 Chron. 7:14
    • Love Mercy—Scripture says that goodness conquers evil. Rom. 12:21. I believe it was Graham Cooke who said, “What if the problem was not all the evil in the world but the lack of goodness?” Let’s fill the earth with goodness! Let’s love more than we hate. Let’s forgive.
    • Walk humbly before your God. You are not the judge of everyone. I cautioned our church in their use of social media. We represent a different Kingdom.

During times like this, you can bring clarity to what’s happening in the world—Hey… we have the end times playbook—the Bible. During times like this, we can call the church to action! It’s interesting that most people don’t act until there is a crisis. What a perfect time to call our church to pray, to be a carrier of hope, to represent the Kingdom on the earth. D.L. Moody said, “When you pray move your feet.” This is the time to call the church to pray and to move their feet and act! For the sake of our nation and our children, we cannot afford to sleepwalk through these days.

To listen to the message I preached the week after the officers in Dallas were targeted and killed click here: https://vimeo.com/174489210

Pastor Carl TotiPastor Carl Toti – Lubbock, TX

Here are my comments from my sermon last weekend.

This past Thursday was the deadliest day for law enforcement officers since 9/11. We must honor our fallen heroes and pray for their families.

The killing of police officers is up 44% since 2015—Law enforcement officers are the most dedicated public servant among us who put their lives on the line every day to serve and protect. The reality is proactive policing has saved tens of thousands of minority lives since the mid‑1990s. Look at what happened in Dallas—the very protestors, when shots were fired, ran away from the battle while the police ran into the battle protecting the very people protesting them.

Beware of the false narrative that is circulating. 12 percent of all whites and Hispanics who die of homicide are killed by police officers. Four percent of all black homicide victims are killed by police officers. In NY, black and Hispanic officers are more likely to use deadly force over white officers.

Heather MacDonald has extensive empirical research on this topic in her new book “War on Cops.” And yes, there are rare cases of gross negligence and/or criminality related to law enforcement officer killings–when that happens thorough, criminal proceedings always follow.

IT’S NOT A BLACK AND WHITE OR BROWN AND YELLOW ISSUE, BUT GOOD AND EVIL. GOOD COMES IN ALL COLORS AND EVIL COMES IN ALL COLORS!

When law and order is not upheld, lawlessness will abound making it unsafe for all of us.

2 Thessalonians 2:7 (CEB)
7 The hidden plan to live without any law is at work now, but it will be secret only until the one who is holding it back is out of the way.

In order for the anti-christ to appear, there must be worldwide anarchy/lawlessness. The global civil unrest is a portent of what is to come. It is the Holy Spirit who is the restraining power holding back the full force of hell.

Sermon link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZDeitH5N45E#action=share

Dr. Al JenningsDr. Al Jennings – Fort Wayne, IN

2 Timothy 3:1 (NCV)
Remember this! In the last days there will be many troubles…

It’s a sad day in America when a little girl sees her father killed in a car, and when people celebrate the death of police officers. Terrorist attacks are happening on a more frequent basis. What we’re seeing in the world today are last days manifestations.

Matthew 24:7 (NCV)
Nations will fight against other nations; kingdoms will fight against other kingdoms.

In the last days, nations will rise against nations. The word nations is a translation of the Greek word, ethnos which means “ethnic.” The violence that’s happening in our world today is not a black-and-white issue. It’s a spiritual issue. Ethnic groups coming against each other is nothing new. It has been happening all over the world for a long period of time, but it’s increasing as we approach the return of Jesus.

Ephesians 6:12
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Principalities, powers, rulers of darkness, and spiritual hosts of wickedness all refer to the same thing – demons. People are not our enemy. We are up against demon spirits. The devil is the source of all wickedness that’s happening in our world today. He divides people and gets them to point blame at one another.

2 Corinthians 10:3–4 (NCV)
We do live in the world, but we do not fight in the same way the world fights. We fight with weapons that are different from those the world uses. Our weapons have power from God that can destroy the enemy’s strong places.

As believers, we don’t fight with natural weapons. We fight with the armor of God, which are spiritual weapons (Ephesians 6:10-18). We fight the fight of faith. We don’t operate out of hate and anger. We operate out of a place of compassion and kindness. When we see injustice, we don’t pick up fleshly weapons. Violence is not our nature as children of God. We have a nature of love and a sound mind (2 Timothy 1:7). In our spirit, we have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16).

Romans 12:17
Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.

We should not pay back evil with more evil. Our nature is to be a blessing. We should find ways to be a blessing when we hear about evil things happening in the world. One thing we can all do when we hear of violence is to pray. Ask God to intervene in the situation. Some of the senseless killings that we see today are a result of people reacting to situations out of anger.

Jesus does not think of evil. Our spirit thinks the way Jesus thinks. It is unsettling when someone takes the life of another, no matter what color he or she may be. I understand that. But we should not retaliate or resort to violence or anger.

When innocent lives are taken away because they are killed by police officers, it is tragic. There is no doubt about it. They are someone’s father, mother, husband, wife, child, or grandchild. The same thing is true when a police officer is murdered. He or she is someone’s family member. We need to pray for our police officers. They put their lives on the line every day for our safety.

Attempting to attack a spiritual issue by natural means will not work. The solution to the problems we face today is the proclamation of the gospel. We need to preach the cross. We need to let people know what Jesus accomplished for every man on the cross. We need to let people know that God loves them, so much so, that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for them. Jesus’s death on the cross is a finished work. His finished work brought deliverance, preservation, healing, safety, soundness, and prosperity to all men. When people understand how much God loves them, they will cease doing evil.

Martin Luther King once said, “Returning hate for hate multiplies hate, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate, only love can do that.”

Many people are without hope today. I understand people’s frustrations. I understand when people feel they don’t have a voice or they’re not cared for or paid attention to. I understand people when they feel like their lives don’t matter. But I want you to know that your life and the lives of the people you care about matter very deeply to God. That’s why He sent Jesus to the cross. He loved you so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for you. That’s how valuable you are to God. All lives matter to God. Black lives, brown lives, white lives, red lives and yellow lives matter to God.

John 16:33 (NCV)
I told you these things so that you can have peace in me. In this world you will have trouble, but be brave! I have defeated the world.

Jesus said that in this world, we would have tribulation, but we are to be brave because He has defeated the world. The victory overcomes the world is our faith (1 John 5:4). It’s important that we stay in faith and walk in the victory that Jesus obtained for us on the cross.

Do not let what you see and hear on the news trouble you. Walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).

Video link: https://www.facebook.com/DrAlJennings/videos/1174270062637718/

Pastor Gerald BrooksPastor Gerald Brooks – Plano, TX

I pastor Grace Outreach Center—a multi-cultural and multi-racial church—in Plano, TX. Our church is located just north of Dallas where five police officers were killed and seven were injured by a sniper on Thursday, July 7, 2016. Below is the link to the message I shared with my congregation the Sunday after this tragedy.

Video Link: https://www.buzzsprout.com/54862/400751-when-words-aren-t-enough

Pastor Ken VancePastor Ken Vance – West Haven, CT

I believe the Church should be leading the way in dealing the solutions for the tensions that are tearing at the fabric of our nation. It is in Christ that the solution for racial discrimination and respect for authority is found. Yet, church leaders can begin to quell the emotions and bring the start for meaningful dialogue by taking responsibility and repenting for the church not always being on the right side of the issues that have caused so much hurt that is still unresolved in our society.

When it comes to racial issues, the church can take responsibility for allowing our congregations to remain so segregated on Sunday mornings. Leaders can take intentional steps to build multicultural congregations through things like hiring of staff, selecting of leaders, guests invited to speak at services, as well as a host of other things. Leaders can encourage their congregations to intentionally build relationships with minorities to live, love, and learn together and model that lifestyle for their congregations as leaders. Leaders can promote opportunities for open forums in the community and invite minority leaders and civic authorities like the police to share the unique challenges they each face to learn together and seek solutions. God’s people are called to be peacemakers and ambassadors of reconciliation. We should be on the front end of seeking solutions for the hurts that sin has caused in our culture.

Proverbs exhorts us to seek wisdom which is revealed when we gain understanding. When we facilitate the opportunity for different groups to be understood so that collectively we can discover the wisdom from God, it can bring healing and hope in our time. We can, as New Testament priests, even go a step further to offer representative reconciliation to people who have been affected by discrimination and hurt and have not seen the church as an agent of help and healing. We can take responsibility for positions the church as held in the past and ask for forgiveness from people hurt because of it (things like slavery or segregation, which the church in past generations attempted to promote as biblical. Or, currently not standing with people who were hurting by feeling intentionally and systemically discriminated against and seeking to help them seek solutions in the criminal justice system to make sure that as our national anthem says, “that we are one nation under God with liberty and justice for all” instead of acting like it was none of our business or that it was not our concern. Biblically, when one part of the body hurts, we are all supposed to hurt. We need to stand with those who need to know we hear and we care).

As far as the civil authorities, such as police, we in the Body of Christ should lead the way in supporting and standing behind them. As Christian we understand they are representatives of God, therefore we should do things to show our support for the difficult roles they play. Leaders can do things to honor their local authorities by having them come to our churches and show our support and pray for them. We can find ways as churches to go and serve our local authorities as well. Things like making them meals, offering volunteer help to their efforts, even raising money for gear that will help their jobs that the local budget does not have room for. The church should let our local authorities know that we pray regularly for them as well.

Lastly, churches can ask authorities what we can do to support their efforts and find ways to help meet those needs where possible. The church should be seen in culture as highly supportive of our public servants.

Here is a link to the message shared on July 10th following the events of the prior week. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=etQE5ReXB48

Pastor Stephen FraserPastor Stephen Fraser – Louisville, KY

In order to maintain the proper attitude and perspective concerning news related stories, we must remember that things are not necessarily as they seem to be on TV. It is sad that so many people take what the news media decides to highlight as what is going on everywhere. The truth is, none of what we are hearing is new; it’s just “news.”

We must also realize that we are not wrestling with flesh and blood, but that the world has a demon problem. This is no big deal for a Church who knows the authority it is has over demons. We understand from the Scriptures that Satan will continue to undermine our constitution and law enforcement in order to create more and more lawlessness; for he is the lawless one. But the exciting thing is, is that God’s people are a restraining force to the devil.

2 Thessalonians 2:7-12

For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only He who now restrains will do so until He is taken out of the way. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord will consume with the breath of His mouth and destroy with the brightness of His coming. The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this reason God will send them strong delusion (in the media), that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.

The word “lie” above in the original Greek language means: conscious and intentional falsehood; whatever is not what it seems to be. There are those in the media who are intentionally and deliberately spreading falsehood. Although they may be stating certain facts correctly, the perspective they are creating is false. The Bible warns us not to believe it, but to love and believe the truth. God’s Word is the truth and it needs to be our main source of news! I am always amazed at how the Holy Spirit causes God’s Word to be a “word in season” that places a heavenly perspective on today’s current events.

Click the following link to listen to a 27-minute message along these lines (given on Sunday 7/10/16): http://lofbc.org/listen.aspx?id=989

Pastor Jim GraffPastor Jim Graff – Victoria, TX

We are a small city that is slightly more Hispanic than white, with a small African American and Asian population. I think sometimes the smaller the city is, the less the tensions are. That is because the tension is managed at the school system level daily, and although that doesn’t mean it is always managed well or that tensions don’t exist, we are forced to manage our differences because of our close proximity.

I didn’t preach on the subject Sunday, but I spoke about it for a couple of minutes before preaching. I talked about how we need to pray daily about this—and not for just a day—and about how our prayer needs to be rooted in 1 Timothy 2 because ultimately, it is our leaders establishing honor for the right things that creates peace among us. I talked about praying that justice reigns and not vengeance in the heart of people of any color.

The week brought forth events that helped us see significant numbers of people struggling with very real issues; most peacefully, but some as a dangerous element to our society’s wellbeing, on both sides. We as a church need to show the difference in our daily lives, and lead within our spheres of influence!

Pastor Josh PaynePastor Josh Payne – Troy, PA

Obviously the current issues our Nation is facing are highly polarizing. Intended by the enemy of our souls to divide and destroy lives and any hope for collective cooperation towards peaceful living. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, said, “and in all your getting, get understanding.” In order to achieve mutual respect we must gain a mutual understanding. Therefore, as ministers of reconciliation we are called upon to help people move from enemies to friends.

I decided to address both sides of the issue allowing scripture to speak for itself bringing light and love to this topic in one decisive and dynamic message that speaks directly to both sides of the issue affecting the heart of our nation. Very simply stated, God hates racism and rebellion, so we must address both. We don’t have to choose a side when we choose the Word. This isn’t a black or white issue. This isn’t a law enforcement or a civilian issue. This isn’t an urban or rural issue. This is an American issue. So it is upon every Christian American to have an answer on our lips when the world asks and show them how salty and how bright we can be. The response has been both eye-opening and incredible.

I wanted to speak something that would unite, empower, and inspire people of all walks to be proactive instead of reactive. To give them a beam of hope that could break through the cloudiness and confusion of our current national situation and articulate the simple steps each of us can take toward significant change.

I hope [the link below] helps you develop the special message God desires you to deliver to His people during this critical hour. I know the message Pastor Gerald Brooks preached called “When Words Aren’t Enough” certainly helped me develop the simple steps we can all take to be proactive.

I was asked by a news station to answer the questions, “Where should we focus?” and “What can we do during these times?” The following was my “water cooler conversation” response.

“Overwhelming victory is ours through Christ who loved us, even in moments like these! We serve a big God who did not in any way design or desire these events to transpire, but in spite of them, He is more than able to take this evil that was meant to divide and destroy us and bring something good out of it. He is able to take our mess and turn it into a masterpiece. These issues have already increased the awareness in our nation that there are problems that can no longer be ignored and we must do something. WE CAN do something about our common problem. WE CAN refuse to choose sides, and instead, WE CAN choose souls. WE CAN value and respect each other. WE CAN show mutual respect to all. WE CAN choose to love in a world full of hate. WE CAN respect and appreciate authority even when we do not agree. WE CAN choose to no longer participate in the negative national conversation. Instead, WE CAN choose to speak life even when all we see is darkness. WE CAN use our words to build each other up, stir each other up, and cheer each other up. WE CAN pray for issues even when they don’t directly involve us, asking God to release His grace, His hope, His protection, and His wisdom into our situations. We have the power to change this!

This is the link to that message “RACISM / RESPECT”: http://voiceofvictory.com/th_sermon/racismrespect/#audio

Pastor Gil ZaragozaPastor Gil Zaragoza – El Paso, TX

In January of 2016, the Holy Ghost has led us to share extensively in our Midweek Services on “WALKING IN THE FULLNESS OF THE GOD-KIND OF LOVE,” using John 13:34,35 (KJV), 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 (AMP), and Romans 5:5 (KJV and AMP) as “our golden texts,” if you will. Since our congregation is multi-cultural, we’ve been ministering to our congregation Biblical principles as to walking in the fullness of the God-kind of love on a daily basis. I’ve instructed our audio department to offer the CDs of this particular teaching FREE OF CHARGE so that the entire congregation can hear this particular teaching. This has been a huge BLESSING and we especially thank God for the Holy Ghost leading us to minister this timely teaching in this crucial hour.

Pastor Jesse ZepedaPastor Jesse Zepeda – Pflugerville, TX

The Lord Jesus spoke to us as a church, “let not your hearts be troubled; do not get overwhelmed but trust in me.”

Jesus tells us in John 16:33 that there’s going to come things that will try to overwhelm us, but…

Luke 21:28 – Look up for our redemption draws near (paraphrase).

We have been translated, not of our own power, but by His divine power; translated from the power of darkness…Hallelujah! We are in this world but not of it!!

Things are going to get worse before they get worst!

There’s nothing new under the sun. The children of Israel worshipped a golden calf, dear Lord, people have now surpassed that.

I asked Jesus, “what can I do?” He said pray and do what I tell you to do. So, I pray and I do what He commands me to do. We focus on missions and getting souls saved. That’s the only thing we’re taking to Heaven—souls.

We are followers and representatives of Christ, so we do not let our hearts be troubled. Jesus is still Lord of all and He is coming again soon. Be of good cheer. Just do what He commands you to do and everything will work out for the best.