Thoughts from Pete’s Message September 18, 2015

Behind Enemy Lines

God calls his men to retreat in order to advance in the midst of the spiritual battle. The Lord says that apart from me you can do nothing. According to Psalm 46:1, God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble. John 17 is the account of our Lord’s prayer. This prayer reveals the heart of our Lord Jesus Christ as our high priest. The High Priest is the one who is ordained to speak directly to God on behalf of God’s people. Jesus’ high priestly prayer is his prayer of intercession on behalf of those whom God elected in his foreknowledge to be disciples of Christ:

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me. I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are. And now come I to thee; and these things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one…

I in thee and thee in me. God sent his only begotten son so that God’s elect could witness the truth of the word of God made flesh. He came as the rose of heaven, trampled underfoot. He came into the devil’s enemy territory to show the world that he who knew no sin may be made the sacrifice for sinful man. He came to show that in our flesh dwelleth no good thing. We know what it means to declare our independence from God’s will for our lives. There is none good, no not one. Jesus came behind enemy lines to substitute his life for our sins… to deliver us from the power of the evil one. Jesus was resolute in this mission and was not to be dissuaded. He chose twelve ordinary men and called them to a mysterious mission to be fishers of men. They followed him because of his calling. They were not the cream of the crop. He chose them not because they were accomplished but because of what he could accomplish in them and through them. He called them not to deliver the mission but to be the mission. God calls the world’s rejects to become the righteousness of God in him.

America idealizes independence and values the worldly ideal of the enemy’s aspiration of the “self made man.” However, the message of God’s grace is that apart from me, you can do nothing. We’re on a mission and a pilgrimage: Ephesians 2:19 says that you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but ye are fellow citizens of heaven with the saints and of the household of God. According to 2 Corinthians 5, ye are ambassadors for Christ. As ambassadors, we are called as the highest ranking officials sent from our homeland to represent heaven, our home country in the midst of a wicked and perverse nation. In Romans 12, since we are not of this world, God exhorts us, “don’t be squeezed into the world’s mold, but be transformed by the “upward renewing” of your mind.

We are in the world but are not of the world. Therefore, according to John 17, our joy is not in the things of this world. Our Joy is not contingent on circumstances and situations. Rather, our joy is in him… it is a joy that cannot be taken away… it is the joy found in the presence of God and the promises of God that he will never leave us or forsake us. Our joy is in the things above and not in the things of the flesh and of this earth. Our joy is in the truth of the Word that defines who we are and whose we are. Therefore, covet not the things of this world, for a man’s life consisteth not in the abundance of things which he posesseth. Rather, covet earnestly the best gifts. For though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not the love of God in the renewed mind in manifestation, I am nothing. God has not called us to an easy escapism. Rather, he has called us to love the unloveable. God has not called us to rejoice in the comforts of the flesh. He said blessed are ye when men shall revile you and persecute you and say all manner of evil against you falsely for my sake, for great is your reward in heaven. Our joy is not of this world… rather our joy is in our heavenly homeland where Christ dwells on the right hand of God.

Behind enemy lines, the adversary is lurking to steal, kill, and destroy us physically, mentally, and spiritually. He is the accuser of the brethren: Behind enemy lines we will be accused falsely. The adversary makes us despised as the dregs of the world. However, this world is not my home… I’m just a-passing through. God has called us to his front lines in the charge of the light brigade. He has also called us to rest and retreat in him behind enemy lines. He has called us to be strengthened and refreshed… God’s recreation (re-creation) on the new day. We are called as a peculiar people to be distinctively different… to be outliers from this world of darkness.. Christians have enjoyed the applause of Americans for about 250 years. These days are over. Christians are now persecuted for being “politically incorrect.” However we must realize that to be politically correct according to our heavenly homeland is to be politically incorrect in a world of darkness. Until we reach heaven, we are behind enemy lines. When the crisis comes, God has called us to have such confidence in him that we will be the dependable ones to wield the light of the Word of God in the midst of the darkness of a fallen world.

Before we can reach the world for Christ, we must reach our own hearts for Christ. For he who knew no sin was made the perfect sin sacrifice on our behalf that we may be made the righteousness of God in him. Our refuge and our rest is only in him. He is our mighty fortress to whom we must retreat. After retreating, our charge is to be his ambassadors… to pray ye in Christ stead, be ye reconciled to God. God has called his men for such a time as this.

May God richly bless you.
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Samy’s Message September 11, 2015

God Loves You My Muslim Friend

Samy Tanagho wrote a book entitled “Good News! God Loves You My Muslim Friend” to minister to Muslims. Samy’s calling is to speak logically and convincingly about the Glad Tidings of the gospel of Jesus Christ to those who follow the teachings of Mohammed in the Qu’ran. Samy’s book answers devout Muslims’ sincere questions about Jesus Christ and Christianity. Today God is opening doors of witness to those of the Muslim faith. There are 500,000 Muslims in Orange County and over 1 million in Los Angeles County. Worldwide, one quarter of the world’s population is Muslim.

The attacks on 9/11 were the devil’s ploy to turn our hearts against Muslims. The devil’s diversionary attack was to deceive us into thinking that the battle is against Muslim extremists instead of against the devil himself and spiritual wickedness from on high. In our “politically correct” culture, most Muslims have never had a chance to hear about the truth of the Good News of Jesus Christ from the Word of God. For Jesus came not to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved.

When Muslims ask, “How can Jesus be the son of God?” they are asking a sincere question. They have never been presented the logic of Christianity. Our churches need to be equipped to answer their questions. There are many points of agreement between the Qu’ran and the Bible. Muslims and Christians believe that Abraham was the father of both faiths. Muslims question why a loving God would ask Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac. The purpose of God’s challenge to Abraham to offer his son Isaac was to prove that Abraham was willing to sacrifice his most precious earthly possession. Both faiths emphasize that “Thou must worship the Lord thy God and him only shalt thou serve.” Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Isaac was an illustration of God’s willing sacrifice of his only begotten son Jesus Christ as a sacrifice for our own sins. Sincere Muslims will understand this logic. Devout Muslims want to obey God’s will and prove their faithfulness to him.

Cultural thoughts and connections are important, especially when trying to connect with those who were thought to think and relate differently than we do. According to Genesis 16:11, God promised a son to Hagar. According to Genesis 21, God heard Ishmael’s mother Hagar crying. God saved the lives of both Hagar and Ishmael. God promised that he would make Ishmael a great nation. I Chronicles 1:28 lists Ishmael’s genealogies. 1 Chronicles 21:13-17 links Kedar, Ishmael’s grandson to the Arab people. Isaiah 60:7 is a prophesy about Kedar’s flocks. According to this significant prophecy about Ismael and his seed, God will accept Kedar’s flocks and rams as offerings on His altar. In John 8:16 Jesus said, “I am the good shepherd. I have other sheep that are not of this sheepfold (of Israel), I will bring them also. They will listen to my voice and there will be one flock with one shepherd.” According to Jeremiah 49:38-39, the people of Elam (Iranian Muslims) will come back captive to the Lord.

Muslims need to hear the message in their own language. According to Isaiah 19 verses 21 and 25 God said, “blessed is Egypt my people and Assria the work of my hands and Israel my inheritance.” In Acts 2, the Arab people were evangelized in their own language at Pentecost… they were witnesses of the outpouring of the holy spirit at the birthday of the Church of grace. In Revelation 5:9… the promise of God is redemption out of every tribe and every tongue.

God is working to attract Muslims to himself. Muslims are taught to openly display their emotions and God has called us to appeal to their emotions. Their culture and traditions teach them to live and behave passionately and from the heart. Sincere Muslims are seeking for a meaningful relationship with God. However, they have not been taught that God is a God of love. They have not been shown that Jesus Christ is the Way the Truth and the Life.

The Quran references the Bible and says that the Bible is the Word of God. The Qu’ran instructs Mohammed (and all Muslims) in Surah 10:94 to treat the Bible as the primary source of enlightenment: “If thou (Muhammed) were in doubt as to what We (God) have revealed unto thee, then ask those who have been reading the Book from before thee…” It is clear from this verse that in the event of any doubt about certain revelations in the Qu’ran, Muhammed is instructed to consult with the Christians and Jews who have been reading the Holy Scriptures. Most Muslims are thirsty to hear form God through his Word. The best way to defeat your enemy is to make him your friend. Our battle is not against Muslims, rather our battle is against the devil himself and the powers of wickedness from on high. “God Loves You My Muslim Friend” is a book available in several languages to introduce Muslims to Christ and to equip Christians to effectively witness to our Muslim friends. This book is available through the web site According to Ephesians 4:11-12 God gave his church apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ. The fields are white and ready for harvest… our prayer is that we may be called to gather in the harvest of his people in this the fertile field to which he has called us.

May God richly bless you,
Your brother in Christ,

Thoughts from Pete’s Message September 4, 2015

Meditate on These Things

We need to be reminded of the things that God has taught us over the years.  Often God reveals his will for our lives in retrospect.  God has called men of God to preach Jesus Christ and Him crucified and to let the chips fall where they may.  Our job is to plant and water and then allow God to give the increase.  God’s minister must spend time in his presence, listening to the voice of God.  Jesus said in John 15:5, If you abide in me and I in you you shall bear much fruit.  A pastor’s job is to come out of his prayer room encountering Christ, and then tell the congregation what he saw.

Discipleship is often shaped according to the culture to which God calls his men of God.  Regardless of the form of church government, if Christ is leading, then God will allow the fruit  to grow and flourish.  God has called men to be men of faith and not men of fear.  The first command of Christian living is “fear not.”  What are we afraid of?  We must acknowledge that we cannot live the Christian life on our own.  I must decrease that he may increase…  less of me and more of thee.  As Mother Theresa said, God works best with nothing.  God chooses the foolish things of the world to confound the wise.  I can’t keep all the rules.  I must allow him to keep the rules in me and through me.  Jesus said, behold I stand at the door and knock.  According to Psalm 1, Blessed is the man who walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly nor standeth in the way of sinners nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful..  But his delight is in the law of the Lord and in his law doth he meditate day and night.

We need to incline our ear to the Lord…  our prayer is to keep our ear close to the mouth of God.  Therefore, meditate on these things (the Word of God,) commit thyself holy and wholly to them, that thy profiting may appear to all.

No one can overcome sin by confronting it head on.  Concentrating on the darkness only makes it darker.  The remedy to sin is the savior from sin.  We must call to God… only he can defeat sin and the spiritual powers of darkness.  The encounter is not against powers but rather the encounter is against Truth.  Did we in our own strength confide, our battle would be loosing, were not the right man on our side the man of God’s own choosing.  Doth ask who that may be?  Christ Jesus it is he, and he must win the battle.

The battle is not against political correctness, rather the battle is against good and evil.  Only the word of God defines that which is good.  The devil and his minions will bombard you with lies and deception.  The only way to overcome the lies is with the truth of the Word of God.  Christians who are casual about absorbing the things of the world will become casualties of the spiritual warfare.  God has called us to deliberately, intentionally and purposefully take hold of the reins of our own minds.  Therefore, meditate on the things of the Word of God…  According to Phil. 4:8, “Finally, brethren whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report, if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things.”  Galatians 5 says, “Walk in the spirit and you shall not fulfill the lusts (over desires) of the flesh, for the the flesh lusteth against the spirit, and the spirit against the flesh, so that you cannot do the things that ye would.”  There is always a choice to walk according to the flesh or according to the spirit.  For to be carnally minded is death but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.  Therefore, choose life.

What do you do after sinning and missing the mark of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus?  The key is repentance…  to turn back from sin and toward Christ.  If we confess our sin, he is faithful and just to forgive our sin and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.  Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father, Morning by morning new mercies I see.  All I have needed thy hand hath provided.  Great is thy faithfulness Lord unto me.  Our prayer is, “Lord I want to be the man that you created me to be…  God please make me that man.”  This is a prayer that God is longing to fulfill in the men whom he has called.

In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus said, “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon me and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart:  and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  In God’s power, there is no heavy burden.  Burdens and obstacles, are proportionate to the power used to overcome them.  Every problem, trial, or tribulation is minuscule compared to God’s disproportionately omnipotent power.  To come boldly before the throne of grace is to humble ourselves and allow our Lord Jesus Christ to wash our feet…  for even though our heart condemns us God is greater than our heart and knoweth all things.  There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus who walk not according to the flesh but according to the spirit…

May God richly bless you!

Your brother in Christ,