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Nov 15

A Time for Courage

keepcalm“…be courageous…I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33b


In the scripture referenced above, Jesus is encouraging His disciples, and us, to be courageous, to take heart, though we will face trouble, tribulations and sorrows, He is giving us perfect peace as we rest in Him—for He has overcome the world and all of it’s sorrows and troubles.

Right now, in our church life and some of us in our personal lives, are facing trials and tribulations.  In Greek, the word “tribulation”  carries the challenge of coping with the internal pressure of a tribulation, especially when feeling there is “no way of escape” (“hemmed in”).  In addition to the financial pressures, ministry pressures, our senior Pastor is now in a physical battle for his health. And since we are a family, we are in it with him. So this word definitely fits our current circumstances. However, we, like Paul in 2 Corinthians 4:8, “are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair.”  So this is not a time to worry, to be frightened, to fret, be anxious or driven to despair. This is a time to fight, to trust in the Only Healer, the Only Ruler, the Only King of Glory, The Lord Strong and Might, the Lord Invincible in battle.  This is a time where we must gird up our minds (1 Peter 1:13) and be sober-minded and hope-filled.

In 2 Corinthians 4:17-18 Paul exhorts us, “that our present trials and troubles are small (when looking at them with a heavenly perspective) and won’t last very long.  Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever! That is what God is after.  The process that continually makes us into the glorious image of His Beloved Son Jesus!

So “we don’t look at the troubles we can see now, but rather, fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we can see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.”  We fix our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.  In this process, we can rest, why? First, He tells us in advance that troubles would come—so He is not surprised—and so we shouldn’t be either. Not only that, but He tells us in Him we will always have perfect peace.  He is the Prince of Peace.  We just need to stay “in Him.” How do we do this? We stay connected to the Vine (John 15). Because apart from Him we can do nothing. He then goes on in John 16:33. to exhort us to be courageous, be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy, for HE HAS OVERCOME THE WORLD (Amplified)!

In John 14:1, He tells us, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust God. Trust also in Me.”

In John 14:27 He tells us, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

God has spoken to this church that we are His War Horse; that He is making us into His Special Forces. Special Forces and warhorses fight! Let us have the mind of Christ in this season and be undaunted, unyielding, unstoppable!

Onward Christian soldiers!


God bless you!

Pastor Nancy

Oct 02

Some Things Change, God Remains the Same

Mal36“I am the LORD, and I do not change. – Malachi 3:6 (NLT)

As I think about Lighthouse Tabernacle Church approaching its 22nd anniversary, it is amazing how quickly 22 years passes and how much has changed in that time.  For example, many of our children are adults now, some with families of their own.  Some families have moved on, while new families have joined our flock.  Some of us who were just starting out in our walk with the Lord are now ministering in divine callings we discovered in our going, while God has moved others into new and different divine assignments, all according to His will and good pleasure.  Culturally speaking, we live in a nation whose values have shifted dramatically.  Things and ideas that are accepted today would have been considered unthinkable and even ridiculous 22 years ago.

The good news however, is that God never changes!  With that, God’s plan for our individual lives and the way He has created us to neatly and perfectly fit into the body of Christ (His Church) doesn’t change; this includes His plan and purpose for Lighthouse Tabernacle Church and the other churches that make up the body of Christ on Staten Island.   The only question is whether we will allow Him to take us through the process of building and refining our character so that we’ll be able to fulfill and sustain those plans until Jesus returns, bringing glory not to us, but to God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Though we have seen changing and challenging times over the past 22 years, and I expect that will continue to varying degrees, I am fully persuaded that the best days of Lighthouse Tabernacle Church are ahead of us because the Lord has told us as much!   As we’ve continued to pray and intercede for our people and families, our community, our city and our nation, the Lord has encouraged us to not be afraid, but to be courageous and to keep building what He has called us to build from the day Lighthouse Tabernacle Church was founded.

“Now I will rescue you and make you both a symbol and a source of blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong, and get on with rebuilding the Temple!” – Zechariah 8:13

So I’m passing on to you that which we have received from the Lord.  Wherever you are in your walk with Jesus, don’t be afraid!  Instead, be courageous because He has chosen you and called you by name!   Be ready for the Lord’s return by being “dressed and ready for service”, discovering and doing the Kingdom work God has entrusted you with in integrity (Zechariah 8:16-17), and in accordance with the abilities He has gifted you with (or where the need is) as you go!

Because of who God is, we have every reason to be optimistic and believe His report!  Remember, the Kingdom of God is an eternal Kingdom—Christ’s Kingdom shall have no end (Isa 9:7; Dan. 2:4) and the Kingdoms of this world have and will in fact become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of his Christ!  (Rev. 11:15).

God bless you!

Pastor Neal

Sep 01

What Are You Afraid Of?

2tim1.7For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. — 2 Timothy 1:7

A great hindrance that I see at work in the Church that prevents us from discovering and fulfilling our divine purpose is a spirit of fear.

A spirit of fear is not merely screaming because of a spider or other insect (this should come as a great relief to some folks that I know 🙂 ).  A spirit of fear has to do with being timid or fearful to a fault.  It is fear because of a lack of courage or moral strength.  For example, it is wisdom to maintain cleanliness, but someone without an immune system deficiency can become unreasonably fearful of germs and the possibility of getting sick, that their minds are dominated by such thoughts.  In other words, their thoughts and behavior are enslaved to a spirit of fear (Note: A spirit of control could also be at work in this situation because they can become addicted to trying to control circumstances and other people based on these fears).   I should also point out that having immune system deficiency (which I personally experienced for a season) means we may need to be more careful, but that does not mean we ought to succumb to a spirit of fear.

Unlike the example above, some are enslaved to fears that aren’t as immediately obvious.  Here are some examples of fears that many in the body of Christ are enslaved to but aren’t always immediately obvious to us:

  • The fear of failure or loss (this would include any kind of personal failure involving relationship(s), career, social or economic status).
  • The fear of getting hurt (the fear of being emotionally wounded, or reopening old emotional wounds).
  • The fear of exposure (hidden motives, desires, and attitudes, past or present sins)
  • The fear of man (fear of disapproval, rejection, abandonment or persecution by others).

There are at least three reasons why a spirit of fear is so detrimental and will keep us from maturing in terms of Christ-like character and discovering and fulfilling our divine purpose:

  • A spirit of fear robs of us of power. This is because the spirit of fear is a faith destroyer.  At Jesus’ command, Peter the Apostle was able to walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus, looked at the wind and waves, and became afraid.  I’m not suggesting that Peter was enslaved to a spirit of fear, but if this was the result of a momentary lapse in Peter’s faith in Jesus, how detrimental is it for us to be enslaved to a spirit fear? God desires to demonstrate His power in us and through us.  This can only be accomplished as we walk in a healthy relationship with the Lord, fully trusting Him and being led by the Spirit of God day by day.  A spirit of fear severs that trust and prevents the flow of power.
  • A spirit of fear hinders our willingness and ability to love one another as Christ loved us. Loving one another the way Christ loved us involves laying down our lives for one another by serving each other. When a spirit of fear dominates our thought life, we will tend to remain isolated, self-focused and self-preserving.  A spirit of fear will keep us from moving out of our comfort zone because we don’t want to risk failing, losing something, getting hurt, exposed or rejected.  There are many in the body of Christ who are not moving and functioning in their gifting because they have allowed a spirit of fear to hold them back.
  • A spirit of fear causes us to remain undisciplined and undiscerning in our thinking. A spirit of fear inhibits our ability to think clearly and to see things as they truly are.  For example, it was a spirit of fear that kept the generation that God delivered out of Egypt from entering the land of promise.  Out of the twelve spies sent into Canaan to survey the land, only Joshua and Caleb came back with a good report.  All twelve spies had witnessed God’s miraculous deliverance from Pharaoh and slavery in Egypt.  All twelve were first-hand witnesses of the judgement of plagues on Egypt and their so called gods, God parting the waters of the Red Sea while the pillar of cloud and Angel of the Lord held the Egyptian army at bay, and then the utter defeat of the Egyptian army in the Red Sea as the waters closed in on them after the children of Israel had safely crossed (Exodus 14). Only Joshua and Caleb chose to not give in to a spirit of fear.  They remembered what they saw God do and they understood the truth of their situation: God was with them and therefore no enemy, no matter how formidable, and no city no matter how fortified, would be able to withstand them!

In order to overcome a spirit of fear, we need to get to the root of the problem.  After Adam and Eve disobeyed God in the Garden of Eden by eating the fruit of the forbidden tree, the Scripture says that God called to the man asking, “Where are you?”  Adam’s reply was, “I heard you walking in the garden, so I hid.  I was afraid because I was naked.”  This all came about as a result of Eve looking at the forbidden tree and seeing that it was “a tree desirable to make one wise.” (Gen. 3:6).  This shows us that they both thought to themselves that they could gain wisdom without God.  They really thought to themselves that that God was not trustworthy and that they’d do just fine without Him, so they disobeyed.  In other words, it was human pride that led mankind to become afraid because they saw themselves as being naked.

Without a right view of God deep in our hearts, we will continue to be fearful because we see ourselves as naked, uncovered, exposed, or at risk in some way.  On the other hand, to fear the Lord, that is, to highly revere God who is both our life and our covering, requires daily walking in humility.  It is out of humility, reverence and dependence on the Lord that courage is produced.  It is from a heart rich in humility that fear is turned into great courage!   For example, Peter, the Apostle’s denial of Jesus (because of the fear of man) was rooted in pride, for he proudly proclaimed that, “Even if everyone else deserts you, I will never desert you.” (Matthew 36:33) (Peter character wasn’t as mature as he thought it was).  But in humility Peter he was restored and went on to do Kingdom exploits, fulfilling his divine call and purpose.  Historians tell us that he was martyred by being crucified upside down.

So, with all this in mind, what are you afraid of?  For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

God bless you!

Pastor Neal