Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Big Events Month



The month of April is a BIG EVENTS MONTH. I am excited to share what opportunities God continues to bring our way:

Forcey Missions Conference (March 19-22)
It was a joy to return to Forcey Bible Church to speak at their Missions Conference. Donna has been part of this ministry for 40 years and I’ve been part of Forcey 37 years. I spoke to a wonderful group of young men on Thursday night at the Christian Service Brigade and then to a chapel full of middle schoolers at Forcey Christian School on Friday. I had the opportunity to speak at the Missions Banquet Saturday evening and then speak briefly in the two Sunday morning services. The scariest part was speaking to two children’s classes Sunday morning. I hadn’t done that in a long time.

Resurrection Retreat at White Sulphur Springs (April 3-5)

This is the third year in a row that Donna and I have had the honor to spend time with Officers Christian Fellowship in White Sulphur Springs, Pennsylvania. The lodge was full with military officers and their families. Students from the Naval Academy led the music, and students from West Point led the children’s ministry. I was
privileged to speak five times, including a sunrise service and later a worship service on Easter Sunday morning. It was a great day for me since it was exactly 40 years ago on an Easter Sunday that I trusted Jesus as my Savior! My life and destiny was forever changed. Donna got to lead the discussion with the military wives and had many great conversations. She has been especially touched by the wounded warriors who have participated at the retreats.

Leadership St. Tammany Breakfast (April 9)
This year, I serve as President of the Leadership St. Tammany Alumni Foundation. This leadership group has had about 500 graduates over the last 21 years and sponsors four big events a year. Our keynote speaker at the breakfast this year was our new District Attorney Warren Montgomery.

Northshore Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast with Moonwalker Charlie Duke
(April 10)
My wonderful colleague in ministry Barry Haindel has once again pulled together leaders and guests from the Parish to present our Northshore Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast. This year’s speaker was Astronaut Charlie Duke who was the tenth man to walk on the moon during the Apollo 16 mission. This is always an inspiring outreach to our community and always includes a great gospel message.

Louisiana Legislative Session (April 13)
The Legislative Session in Baton Rouge will start on Monday at the Capitol. Our Governor Bobby Jindal and several others will speak. The big legislative issues will be to resolve a 1.6 billion dollar shortfall in the budget and to address the Common Core education issue. Please pray for wisdom, humility and resolve for our legislators. I try to spend Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at the Capitol during session.

Governors Prayer Breakfast with Ravi Zacharias (April 15)
Noted Apologist Ravi Zacharias will speak at the 51st Annual Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. The purpose of the Governor's Prayer Breakfast is to seek God's guidance for all leaders and citizens of our State, and to strengthen ourselves for the journey as we try to live as a responsible community of faith. It is an interdenominational event centered on the person of Jesus Christ as the Savior of the world and is intended to promote His glory.

House of Representatives Bible Study (Thursdays)
It will be a joy to kick off the 3rd year of our Legislators Bible Study. Rep. Chris Broadwater and Rep. Katrina Jackson have been so kind to co-sponsor this Thursday morning study. We have a great group.

Lobbyist Bible Study (Tuesdays)
This year I will lead two Lobbyist Bible Studies. They will meet Tuesdays at noon and early morning. Lobbyists, administration people, judges, etc. will attend.

Southern Christian Writer’s Guild (April 11)
I appreciate opportunities to speak to a wide range of groups in the community. This year is the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. I look forward to having many open doors this year to share my story and my book Disaster: Betting the Farm on God in Life’s Storms.

Betting the Farm on God,

Michael

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The 21st Man




Maybe you recently saw the pictures of the 21 young Egyptian Coptic Christians in orange jumpsuits on the shores of Libya. Behind each man is a hooded radical Islamist holding a knife. Attempts were made to persuade each man to deny Jesus in order to live. As you look at the picture, and think about ISIS, you know what is coming next. It is easy to think martyrdom is only in the history books. Nothing could be further from the truth.

It turns out that only 20 were Egyptian Christians. It has only recently been made public who the 21st man was. Coptic Fr. Thomas Philipose fills us in on who is the mystery man. He was a Chadian Citizen (darker skin shown in picture) who accepted Christianity after seeing the immense faith of his fellow Coptic Christians dying for Christ. When the Islamic State Terrorist forced him to reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends, he replied, ‘Their God is my God, so the terrorist beheaded him also.’” Think about the faith, shining through those 20 Christ followers who made a non-believer, a true believer in Christ, even at the point of death.

I’m inspired by the impact of the 20 on the 21st man. Faced not with the threat of death but with the guarantee of death they sang songs and rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer for the name of Jesus. Twenty men in their twenties making $3-4 an hour in a land far from home got caught in the web of ISIS and impressed the 21st man so much that he was compelled to trust Jesus. Back in the boys’ hometown the families and church grieve but say they forgive ISIS. The women congratulate each other that their boys would not deny the Lord and they experience a measure of joy at their martyrdom.

This story of the 21st man blows me away. May the blood of the martyrs once again be the seed of the church. Cardinal George of Chicago said, "I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison and his successor will die a martyr in the public square.” Don’t be surprised by increased persecution in the United States. In Acts 5:42, despite persecution, jail and floggings, the disciples rejoiced they were counted “worthy to suffer for His name.” We do not have to win in this world to win in the next, but God often works powerfully through those who suffer well. The Cardinal went on to say, “His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization as the church has done so often in human history.”

How did the small marginalized Jesus movement 2000 years ago grow 40% a year for 250 years and turn the world upside down? Not through the power of politics but through the one who overcame the tomb and who still reigns. The Kingdom can do well with or without Caesar’s cooperation. Augustine said, “The city of God does not depend on the city of man for its existence and strength.” Do I hear an AMEN? So many people need to hear the Gospel!!
I think the 21st man heard and saw the Gospel!!


Be Thou My Vision Hymn


Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart; Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night, Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word; I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord,
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son; Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight; Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight,
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower: Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.

Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise, Thou mine Inheritance, now and always,
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.

High King of Heaven, my victory won, May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befalls, Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.



~Old Irish Song attributed to Saint Dallan Forgaill, sixth century

Ahram-Canadian News identified the 21st man as a Chadian Citizen who accepted Christianity, only after seeing his fellow Coptic captives willing to die for Christ. When Terrorist demanded he reject Jesus Christ as God, looking at his Christian friends he replied, “their God is my God“ so the terrorist beheaded him too.
Think about these 20 men whose faith compelled a non believer, to believe in Christ, with this guarantee - death! Luke described a thief, crucified with Christ who prayed similarly, ‘LORD, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’
Put yourself in this mans place-his faith, was not a convenient one, at such a moment, would we convert and die?
May the world see our (our brothers and sisters) good works, and glorify our Father which is in heaven. Mathew 5:16 News referred from Ahram-Canadian news
 
Special Upcoming Ministry Speaking and Opportunities:

March 6              Capitol Coalition
March 11            Leadership St. Tammany
March 12            Southshore Leader Forum
March 12            Media Training Day
March 13            Louisiana Dental
March 19            Northshore Leader Forum
March 19-22       Forcey Bible Missions Conference
March 28            A Day of Grace
April 3-5             Officers Christian Fellowship Retreat
April 3-June 11   Louisiana Legislative Session
April 7                 Lobbyist Study resumes
April 9                 Legislators Study resumes
April 10               Mayor’s North shore Prayer Breakfast
April 15               Governor’s Prayer Breakfast with Ravi Zacharias

Bible Studies are held daily except Saturdays
 
Betting the Farm on God,

Michael