We have waited as long as possible to make announcements concerning this coming Sunday Services as it seems that the landscape is constantly changing. Please know in advance that the information contained in this email is for this particular weekend and ...
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"Around the Corners" - 5 new articles

  1. Cornerstone Services & COVID-19
  2. Pax Romana - Live Peaceably
  3. Ahab, Jezebel and God’s People I...
  4. More Recent Articles

Cornerstone Services & COVID-19

We have waited as long as possible to make announcements concerning this coming Sunday Services as it seems that the landscape is constantly changing.  Please know in advance that the information contained in this email is for this particular weekend and could still change.
Over Christmas break, I sat down and outlined the sermons and series that we would cover each week for thru October.  Little did I know that God had planned this week’s message for exactly the circumstances that we are facing.  We are in week two on our message series “Pax Romana” talking about the importance of being people of Peace from the book of Romans.
After consulting with other churches, our staff, and deacons we are setting this modified plan for this weekend:
First and foremost, we believe that church exists for community, not necessarily content.  We are striving to ensure the best member care while not sacrificing the biblical mandate for church to be about community.  Therefore, we have decided that this weekend will go ahead as planned with a few alterations.  We will be having both the 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. services. These services will be modified to only include nursery for infants and toddlers up to 3 years of age.  We will also be suspending coffee service, so you may want to bring coffee from home.  In addition, we will not be passing the offering plate, but will station them in the back for you to drop off connection cards and your tithes.  It goes without saying that we will be asking our greeters to open the doors so that you do not have to touch the handles, and asking everyone to refrain from any greeting that may include touching.

Secondly, as is our already standard practice, we will disinfect the nursery between each services and are adding additional volunteers to disinfect all hard surfaces between the services. 
Third of all, we are asking you to watch online and forego attending in person if:
·         You would prefer watching online due to the current COVID-19 circumstances.
·        You are exhibiting any cold or flu symptoms or if anyone in your household is exhibiting symptoms.
·        If you are at a greater risk of infection due to preexisting condition.
·        If you have traveled outside of the country in the last 14 days.
Fourth, we are working to create additional avenues for you to participate in the service online.  In addition to our Live Feed from the church Facebook page, we will be creating a YouTube channel to host the services.  This will act as a backup should Facebook get overloaded. 
Fifth, we anticipate attendance to shift online and therefore it is important for all of our members and friends to set up online giving.  Currently we receive half of our weekly offering in the plate during the services.  In order to remain strong and to minister to the increased needs of our community, we are asking everyone to be regular and generous in your giving.  We anticipate greater than normal needs arising from closures to the parks and cancellations of tourist travel.  We plan to do more ministry in our community, not less.
We have a great opportunity right now to show love to our neighbors and increase our witness to those far from Christ.  Even as Disney closes, all of our cast members have 2 weeks of paid leave to participate in a local mission trips in their own neighborhood.  It is this mindset that will help us share the name of Christ!

Pax Romana - Live Peaceably

The Pax Romana is a roughly 200-year-long period in Roman history which is identified with increased and sustained peace and stability.  Yet, in Paul’s Epistle to the Roman people, he emphasized a greater peace.  A peace with God and a peace From God.  

Little did I realize over Christmas break as I worked on this sermon series for the first time how critical our need was going to be for peace during this present time.  However, it brings me peace to know that God knew, and that He was already planning for our church and my family.

We all are in need of the peace of God today.  Everything around us is closing down.  Uncertainty abounds and in times of uncertainty, we look to God's Word for peace.

Romans 12:9-21 (NKJV)
9  Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. 10  Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; 11  not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; 12  rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; 13  distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. 14  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. 15  Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. 16  Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. 17  Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. 18  If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. 19  Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, "Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. 20  Therefore "If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head." 21  Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

I.          KNOW The Standard of Peace
 If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
If it is possible...This implies 3 things.  First, we are to try to de-escalate people who are angry. It seems that this corona virus crisis has put everyone on edge.  Uncertainty does that, and apparently when we don't know what to do, we stock up on toilet paper.  And when the toilet paper is sold out, we get even more agitated.  

The second implication of the text is that we are to go out of our way as Christians to NOT be the one to instigate conflict.  David said in Psalms, "depart from Evil and do good. Seek peace and pursue it."  Jesus said "if someone slaps you on your right cheek, turn to him the other one also."

Third of all, it implies that peace is not always possible with everyone.  No doubt life is not always going to go our way and as much as we may try, there are people who do not desire peace.  The writings of Solomon reminds us that there is a time to be born, time to die.  A time for war, a time for peace. 
 If it is possible, as much as depends on you…
Much of the time we act as if we had no part in the blame for the conflict.    On the playground or in divorce court we like to play the victim.  The reality is that the vast majority of time, some of the conflict is because of our own actions and behaviors. The apostle Paul who wrote the book of Romans was not stranger to trouble.

John Philips writes this in his commentary "On Cyprus Paul had to contend with Elymas the sorcerer (Acts 13:8); at Antioch in Pisidia he was driven from the city by persecution (Acts 13:50); in Iconium a general assault was made on him (Acts 14:2, 5); at Lystra the mob stoned him and left him for dead (Acts 14:19); at Antioch in Syria he was opposed by legalists in the church (Acts 15:2); at Philippi he was scourged and imprisoned (Acts 16:22-23); at Thessalonica he was forced out of the city (Acts 17:6-9); at Berea opposition forced him to leave (Acts 17:13-14); at Athens he was publicly mocked (Acts 17:32); at Corinth his presence led to insurrection (Acts 18:12); at Ephesus the whole city was in a tumult because of him (Acts 19:23-41); and at Jerusalem he was repeatedly the center of violent opposition (Acts 21-23). Jesus said, "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword" (Matt. 10:34). Although the most conciliatory of men where no vital spiritual issue was concerned, Paul certainly proved this statement true."

 Some have even asserted that Luke wrote the book of Acts as a record for Paul to take to Caesar in Rome to prove he did not start all the trouble he got into.  Let's just say, Paul got beat up a LOT.  The standard of peace is that if it is possible… say it with me… if it is possible, as much as depends on you… live peaceably with all men.(and women… )

Live peaceably with all men... sounds like an impossible task...
This does not mean…, “Be patient for as long as you can, but once your patience runs out, get ready to throw down.” This verse is actually saying, as far as it depends on you, that is, on your side of the relationship, live at peace with everyone. Do everything you can to get along with people, and if they should still harbor a grudge, that’s on them.
If Christians would not engage in slander or be unfair in business dealing, if they would not cause anyone to take them to court for late payment of debts or honesty in business, if they would do nothing to prolong a fight through gossip or social media. It would go a long way toward peace.
So, How do we strive for this life of peace in a divided, conflicted world?  In our next post we will explore some practical ways to be people of peace during stressful times.

Ahab, Jezebel and God’s People I...

Ahab, Jezebel and God’s People

This election season has caused great division among the people of God.  The adage that history repeats itself, has never been more true.  In the books of the Kings and Chronicles, we see a divide between God’s people as Israel and Judah went their separate ways and chaos and turmoil headlined every chapter.  During the time of the divided Kingdom, Israel suffered thru a long line of wicked rulers and two of them, Ahab and Jezebel bear a striking resemblance to the character of Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.  Understanding their sins, worldview and judgment will be instructive as we choose between these two rulers for our nation in 2016.

1 Kings 16:31-33 (NKJV)
31  And it came to pass, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took as wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians; and he went and served Baal and worshiped him. 32  Then he set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. 33  And Ahab made a wooden image. Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.
1 Kings 21:25-26 (NKJV)
25  But there was no one like Ahab who sold himself to do wickedness in the sight of the LORD, because Jezebel his wife stirred him up. 26  And he behaved very abominably in following idols, according to all that the Amorites had done, whom the LORD had cast out before the children of Israel.

1.       The sins of Jeroboam – Idolatry
The first indictment against Ahab was his continuation of the sins of previous rulers, namely that of Jeroboam.  The sin of Jeroboam in general was that of idolatry.  Idolatry is rampant in American culture.  It shows up in our worship of self, of wealth, and health.  These sins are evident in the life of Donald Trump, whose name is his brand.  He represents, for most Americans, the type of lifestyle that we aim for; to be rich and powerful and full of vigor at a time of life when most would retire.

2.       Trivialized sin
The second sin of Ahab we will consider is the trivialization of sin as listed in 1 Kings 16:31.  This too is a prominent sin within our culture.  Years of humanism has led to each individual choosing their own personal morality.  This has caused a rise in moral relativism, and licentiousness has not only become tolerated, but celebrated.  We now promote sins that were once unspeakable.  Even sins against children and babies have been trivialized as nothing more than a woman’s right to choose.

3.       Married Jezebel
According to John McArthur, Ahab’s greatest sin was in marrying Jezebel.  I find it interesting that we espouse sin by the people we attach ourselves with.  Ahab was greatly influenced by Jezebel and without her cunning and vicious hatred for the people of God; Ahab may have gone down as just another name on a long list of wicked kings.

4.       Served and worshipped Baal
Success!  Baal was a god of fertility, he was worshiped in order to increase crops, to have healthy and strong children.  He was a god of winning.  Both candidates offer promises of prosperity and success, but Donald Trump has truly embraced this message with his slogan of “Make America great again.”  What many of God’s people should desire is to make America good again.  Greatness is never the goal.  Greatness comes as the fruit of the blessings of the Almighty as He responds to the goodness of His people.

5.       Willing to skirt law to obtain Nabal’s vineyard
The final story of Ahab is summed up in his dealings with his neighbor Nabal.   Ahab wanted to have Nabal’s vineyard for a personal vegetable garden.  He offered him a great deal, the only issue was that Nabal was a man of God and would not sell family property for personal gain.  Ahab proved his depravity in that he was willing to make a shady deal for what he wanted even if it violated the laws of God.  When rebuffed, he became depressed and sullen because he was not used to not getting what he wanted.  We err when we are willing to skirt the laws, to bend the rules in our favor.  We as a nation are spoiled and selfish, and ripe for the harvest of God’s judgment.

6.       Provoked God to anger
1 Kings 16:33 states that “Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel who were before him.”  He was the worst offender to date.  His actions exceeded those of all that had come before and he goes down in history as the most notorious king in the history of Israel.  Wickedness is progressive.  Nations do not fall as would stones dropped from a cliff.  They descend.  Degradation of kings and countries is most often generational.  We are now where we are because we have continued the sins of the ones before us, and taken it further down the path than was ever thought possible.  This election offers us two of the most exposed and corrupt options for leadership of our nation.  This is not a sudden turn of events.  We did not arrive here out of nowhere.  We have been on this path for many years and the place we find ourselves in is the place we have been headed all along.


1 Kings 18:4 (NKJV)
4  For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.
2 Kings 9:22 (NKJV)
22  Now it happened, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" So he answered, "What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?"

1.       The massacre of the prophets
The first step in Jezebel’s evil plan was to remove the influence of God from the nation of Israel.  She did so by massacring the prophets.  My greatest fear with a Hillary Clinton presidency is not death squads, but the continuation of the policy of progressive liberalism that has already done so much damage to the church in America.  As the homosexual agenda has already accomplished victories in the bathroom, hate speech, and employment, it will soon be illegal to hold a biblical position on any moral issue.

2.       The promotion of Baal worship
The height of Baal worship was the sacrificing of children for the purpose of prosperity.  Many have pointed out the obvious correlation to abortion, but this can be applied so much further.  One thing that I believe this election is about is the future of America for our children and grandchildren.  Although this is perhaps always the case with elections, it is evident that with as many as 3 or 4 possible seats of the Supreme Court open, we must realize that the election is about more than just the executive branch.

3.       The conspiracy to murder Nabal
Although it was Ahab that coveted Nabal’s vineyard, it was Jezebel who sent false accusers to have him set up and put to death.  The story in I Kings 21 show a level of manipulation and deceit that we see in the behaviors of Hillary Clinton.  Without the revelations of stolen emails, we would be forever relegated to conspiracy theorists.  However, with the publication of these emails, the term “theorist” no longer applies.  There is a level of corruption and cunning that far exceeds the carnal selfishness of Ahab, willing even to coordinate accusations and murder.

4.       Harlotries and witchcraft
By the time we get to the judgment of Jezebel in II Kings 9, we see the summary of her sins as both harlotries and witchcraft.  The witchcraft no doubt stems from the lewd and evil worship of Baal, the massacre of the prophets and the desecration of God’s holy law.  The interesting accusation is that of harlotry.  Now we do not believe that Jezebel was in need of working the streets as a lowly harlot for wages.  However, what we do see is the prostitution of position for political and selfish gain.  This has been shown to be the case with Mrs. Clinton in all of her time as a “public servant.”  In that time the Clinton foundation has been used to launder money in exchange for political favors and influence.  Go no further than the earthquake of Haiti where FOB’s (Friends of Bill) were awarded contracts for reconstruction or the nearly million dollar salary for Chelsea and you cannot escape the prostitution of our most sacred offices and positions.

The “Jezebel” of Thyatira (The spirit of Jezebel)
Revelation 2:20-22 (NKJV)
20  Nevertheless I have a few things against you, because you allow that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, to teach and seduce My servants to commit sexual immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols. 21  And I gave her time to repent of her sexual immorality, and she did not repent. 22  Indeed I will cast her into a sickbed, and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of their deeds.

1.       Called herself a prophetess
The obvious sin here is to claim to speak on behalf of God, while in fact seeking selfish ends.  All too often on both sides of the aisle we see politicians claim to be doing God’s work.  They claim to be Christian, may even label themselves with some denomination, yet reject the Word of God and refuse to allow their campaigns and leadership to be in submission to God’s Word.

2.       Led people to immorality
The seduction to immorality is not a difficult job.  We live in a culture where sex is pervasive and many people today are not just addicted to immorality, we have arrived at the place where Romans 1 has warned.  We don’t just tolerate immorality, we celebrate it.  Pride is the word used to describe the immorality.  The more we promote this and attempt to normalize this, the more we seduce the children of this and future generations to accept and participate in immorality.

3.       Led people to eat things offered to idols
At first glance, this seems like a strange accusation.  It requires us to understand the practical aspects of idol worship.  In many countries today people bring actual food and place it before idols of stone and wood.  As you can imagine, wood and stone idols do not eat that food proving that they are indeed not gods.  The priests collect the meat and food offered and sell it out the back door.  As you can imagine this is both a lucrative and hypocritical process.  In order for priests and worshippers to buy and sell offered food, they have to willingly ignore the truth about the gods they worship.  The sin here is that of willful ignorance.  At some point we close our minds to the obvious truth, choosing rather to participate in a shell game for our own personal benefit.  What is obvious to many is the willful ignorance of those in the political process when it comes to truth.  Even when truth is revealed by Wikileaks, the media and many on the left choose rather to ignore the facts.  They do not bring truth into the equation therefore they come to untruthful conclusions.

The People of God
1 Kings 18:3-4 (NKJV)
3  And Ahab had called Obadiah, who was in charge of his house. (Now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly. 4  For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water.)
1 Kings 18:9 (NKJV)
9  So he said, "How have I sinned, that you are delivering your servant into the hand of Ahab, to kill me?

The first type of reaction we see by the people of God is displayed in the actions of Obadiah.  Obadiah was a godly man who was high up in the ranks of the kingdom.  Yet he allowed fear to cause his actions for God to be done in secret.  He understood the dangers of being open in his loyalties, but he also understood and feared the Lord. 

Today, we find many Christians who do fear God.  Their integrity and hard work has allowed them to climb to the top of their companies and positions of power even in our own government.  There are Christians in positions of influence, yet they choose to do their works in private.  They do what they can as long as it is in secret.

Scripture does not seem to give a commendation nor condemnation of Obadiah’s work.  There are many Christians who will choose to do the work of Obadiah during this election process.  They will keep their ballot and beliefs secret, they may contribute to a candidate without desiring that to be made known publically, but at the end of the day they chose to do what they could to affect a difference in the process and outcome.

Elijah, on the other hand was active and bold at times, and absent and timid at others.  Yet, each time God prodded him to go and confront the evil in the palace, he did so with wisdom and strength.  In this political season, I feel that God is leading me to speak out against the evil in our government.  Not for the sake of political or personal gain, but for the sake of truth. 

We have arrived not at this place in our politics by accident.  The two remaining candidates we have before us represent America whether we like it or not.  We have been given a choice between Ahab and Jezebel.  One of these two will lead our country for the next 4 years.  The first decision we must make is as to what we will do with the evidence presented to us.  Will we search out the truth, study and understand the issues or will we float along with our preconceptions and party loyalties.  The second decision is for us to understand the role that God has for us in the process.  Are we called to be an Obadiah who does God’s work in secret or are we to be an Elijah who stand up against Ahab and Jezebel, who fights with truth and strength in the power of God?  The latter, I believe is the role of salt and light that I have been called to as a pastor.  I should speak up.  I should go to the scriptures, and I should publish my findings in the hope of affecting the direction of our nation.

In the end, we cannot sit this one out and be right with God.  We must choose a role.  We must be Obadiah or Elijah.  So as we head to the polls on November 8th we will cast our vote for one of two types of candidate.  One is an Ahab; an idolatrous, self-promoting, self-serving, and reckless tyrant.  The other is a Jezebel; an evil, murderous, manipulative tyrant. 

So who should Christians vote for?  A third party vote being a vote with the majority of the engaged, it cannot and should not be even considered as anything other than a refusal to participate in the process.  You can justify yourself by calling it a protest, but with the exception of the Libertarian party it will garner less than one percent of the vote.  Not even a blip on the map of history.  Do not waste your vote.

The best option as I study the culture, the candidates, and the scripture is Donald Trump.  He is immoral, he is carnal, an idolatrous, and a self-promoting individual.  However, compared to Hillary Clinton, he is the better option.  Here is why.  Clinton is Jezebel to Trumps Ahab.   Ahab sought luxury and promotion, but Jezebel sought power and to fundamentally change the spiritual nature of Israel.  Her massacre of the prophets foretells the actions of Hillary Clinton as she closes the doors of Christian schools and colleges.  Her promotion of immorality and the homosexual agenda will end the first amendment rights of pastors and churches to preach God’s Word.  Her Supreme Court appointments will close the door to any legal appeal to the preservation of our freedom of religion in this country.  America will be changed fundamentally at its core.  Trump may be all the things he is accused of being.  Only time will tell.  The stated agenda of Mrs. Clinton is to continue to push the immoral agenda of the last leaders of our country.  If she is elected, and this prophet survives the massacre, maybe one day I will see Mount Carmel.  That is, if God even deems our nation worthy of restoration.

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