Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Can’t stop crying inside


Who would have thought that another date would be burned into our national conscious? Not since 9/11 has an event completely halted our nation. Our president was visibly moved and all of us parents cringed as our hearts melted with the horrible revelations of what had taken place while we were going about our busy little lives.... on 12/14/12........

You can tract back through my blogs and that is the only proof that I have been saying that something terrible is about to happen. I could feel it and I’ve been praying ever since.

When the hurricane devastated New Jersey and New York, I still somehow knew that this was only the beginning. I kept praying and kept calling our church family to pray.

Now we have 27 more reasons to pray. A lot of the joy has been taken out of the upcoming holiday season. Although it will be a little bit more meaningful for those who still have their loved ones around them.

I called a special ‘Processing and Healing’ prayer gathering last Sunday so we could work through this together as a church family. I wanted to give everyone permission to mourn in their own way. Then we gathered all of our broken pieces and worshipped God together.

It was not a spectacular moment, but it was a real one.

For my family, the whole year has been like the last weekend. We lost a dear, dear, spiritual son. My brother had a heart attack. My mother had a mild stroke. My sister had an episode with her heart.

I’m thankful and I’m grateful. At the same time, I’m very somber. I feel there’s more to come if we don’t engage in this spiritual battle and pray.
How many will join with us and pray? How many will wait until it strikes close to home before they pray?

I can’t stop crying inside. My heart is overwhelmed.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Positioned for Victory

If you ever played chess and you were victorious in a match, you will understand what I mean in this blog. There is a moment when you realize you have successfully maneuvered around the board to trap your opponent in a no-win situation. The match is over and it’s only a matter of time before you can declare it.

Right now I’m referring to that moment just before you declare check mate. You have strategically given up pawns and various pieces, baiting your opponent to move their pieces to positions that will benefit you in various moves that you have already played out in your head.

Right now, that’s how it feels regarding my family and the Urban Life Church ministry in Harrisburg.

For more than eight long years, God has been moving us, and shifting pieces, sacrificing the plans and strategies that we once held dear, to position us for the right place, with the right people, and the right time to reveal His glory and touch this community in the ways He revealed to us so many years ago.

There is a gleam of delight in the eyes of the Lord because his opponent has moved his pieces in the exact places that HE desired. God allowed His opponent to capture various pieces that seemed like painful losses to us, but the Lord had a greater victory in mind.

God was so many steps ahead of His opponent that this entire match was already won from the first move.

I feel something deep in my spirit right now. Our nation sits at a fiscal cliff. People’s hearts are failing because of fear. Discouraging news roars loudly every day and night on television and in cyber space.

Yet, the Lord is moving us and all of His people into key positions. We will find ourselves in the perfect position for the Lord to declare, “Checkmate!” as He makes His final move.

I’m so glad to be on the winning side.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Writing for a Generation That Doesn’t Read



I must admit that I was very discouraged a couple of years ago because I found myself in the position where my purpose seemed meaningless. I woke up to the realization that I was a writer in a generation that hardly ever reads.

Imagine the defeat in my heart. All my life, all I wanted to do was write. Then when the time of life arrived to fulfill that dream, I woke up to a world where it’s all about the visual, the sound byte and the mind-blowing special effects.

First, the Lord had to encourage me by telling me something that I will never forget. These words came to my heart, "EVEN IF NO ONE READS YOUR BOOKS, THAT STILL DOES NOT MEAN YOU ARE NOT A WRITER. You are still a writer even if no one reads another thing that you write. You would still be a prophet if no one listened to or believed you. You would still be a preacher if no one attended the church."

God let me marinate on that one for a few months.

The next word of encouragement involved a simple change in strategy. Instead of trying to put all that I write in books, the Lord sent the wisdom to put my writings within my weekly teachings and then video record the teaching sessions.

With that in mind, I began embedding more visuals and graphics into the teachings by incorporating Power Point presentations for the sermons.

We worked through several months and taught from our Nuggets of Wisdom book and divided the recordings into nearly 100 video clips. My wife and I methodically paced through several months and taught from our marriage and family book. This produced almost 40 video clips.


That's how I successfully expanded my expressions beyond books. To date, we have posted well over 600 video clips and we now have a steady stream of video clips going out to cyberspace almost daily. Every clip represents, in some way, a small piece of the writings we have been publishing over the past three years.

Yes, there are still quite a few people around who will actually pick up our books and physically read them. We truly appreciate them. We make most of our reading material available, FREE of charge, on our ministry website. However, the majority of our audience have connected with us through the visuals and the short sound-bytes.

It’s amazing how a change of strategy followed my change of heart. God had to remind me that a writer is a writer regardless of public response. However, as a writer in a new era, I had to change the way I was trying to reach my audience.

This was a valuable lesson and I hope it inspires someone else who may be wondering what they must do to reach people in this technology-driven, cyber space oriented generation.


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

First Steps Into the NEW


I was just thinking about how tough it is for many Christian Believers to receive a new revelation. In fact Jesus said that people will reject new wine because they prefer the taste of the old stuff.

I know that it has been a bit disappointing for me in the moments I realized that after I’ve taught something repeatedly over the course of many weeks, I will still hear people quote the old wine phrases to their families and friends in the midst of crisis.

One of those old wine statements is, “God won’t put on you more than what you can bear.” This phrase has been quoted by thousands of Christians for scores of years and it is absolutely WRONG.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that God won’t put on you more than what you can bear.

The Bible actually says, from 1Corinthians 10: 13 No TEMPTATION has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be TEMPTED beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it.

This scripture is not talking about the trial you are going through. It’s not talking about the consequences one may be going through due to bad choices. TEMPTATIONS and TRIALS are two different things and this scripture is not talking about trials.

Paul was talking about the wilderness journey that Israel was going through on the way to the Land of Promise. Along the way, they faltered because they kept giving in to the temptations to rebel against God.

So when someone has been stricken with a disease, destruction, divorce, depression, disaster, or even death, this is not the appropriate scripture to quote to them.

The main reason this is not the appropriate scripture is because TEMPTATION does not come from God. So to tell someone that God won’t put on them more than what they can bear, is to accuse God of placing temptation on people.

The Bible specifically says in James 1: 13-14, Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone.  

Yet, many will read this blog and still hold on to the old wine revelation because this new wine revelation forces us to own up to our responsibility in the circumstances of our lives. Some of our circumstances are of our own doing. Some situations are simply the results of living in a fallen world. Some circumstances are the result of what the Bible calls Time and Chance.
Other circumstances are just direct assaults of demonic attacks that have been launched in every generation in our families.

But make no mistake about it!  Our hardship is not some burden or trial that God is placing on us just to see how much we can bear.

But like a toddler learning how to walk, one has to let go of the old religious quotes, in the way a child must let go of a chair or table in order to take their first steps.

However, many Christians refuse to let go of the old phrases and familiar quotes. Therefore, they never mature and come into a wonderful new understanding of walking with God.

But you can take a step today. Stop quoting this phrase in order to encourage yourself or someone else. That phrase is not Bible. Instead turn to what the Bible actually says about trials and tough times in 2 Corinthians 4: We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—

Look at what Paul said when he prayed about a particular trial in his life: Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

These are the kind of words we need to speak to ourselves and speak to others to encourage them. Not the tragically incorrect interpretation of scripture that accuses God of putting harsh and cruel problems upon people.

Come on… Let go of the old stuff and take your first steps into the NEW.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012: Feeling like a proud father

Through our first official holiday outreach, we were able to bless three families with Thanksgiving dinner this year.

We also surprised some of the Urban Life family with gift cards from the Giant Food Stores. Just being able to do this brings us great joy.


A special thanks goes to Bobbi Lehman and Jennifer Munoz for pulling it all together. Bobbi simply felt impressed by the Lord that we should do something special as a church family. Jennifer contacted one of the local school districts and connected us with their efforts to assist children and their families with food.

I felt like a proud father as Bobbi stood before the church family and broke into tears as she thanked everyone for contributing. Jennifer told all of us that she learned that many children only eat during the federal funded free breakfast and lunch meals. However, they don't eat when they go home every day. It was stunning to learn that many children who eat lunch on Friday afternoons, don't eat again until breakfast on Monday morning.

Well, we have found our practical ministry to affect change in this community. So we have officially luanched our new Family2Family Community Outreach.

We're going to help as many families as we can during the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. However, well beyond the holiday season, we are going to establish this as a regular outreach for the children in the school districts that will allow us to help in this way.

What I love so much about all of this is that this was not a Pastor-initiated outreach. Our own church family heard from God and they did all of the work to do this.

We have fought through a lot and waited a long time for this day, and it was all worth it. Our little congregation has taken ownership of the ministry and taken personal responsibility to answer the call to touch our community.

Yeah, I feel like a proud father. 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Oval Office of My House

Almost four years ago, after I sent an email on the day of President Obama’s inauguration and quoted from the Bible that we are to pray for him, several pastors and leaders in this community who opposed Obama, discontinued support and communication with us and this ministry. On the other side, friends and family who supported President Obama took our email to mean that we were merely offering some form of insincere political patronizing.

I thought I was fulfilling my Pastoral leadership responsibility to bring our divided congregation together and to focus on the things that God desires to do in our nation. It had nothing to do with endorsing or condemning the President.

Here is what we sent out on January 21, 2009:

"I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers and intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone---for kings, and for all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good and pleases God our Savior." 1Timothy 2:1-3

Make no mistake about it, yesterday was a profoundly significant day. I don't mean to disturb or upset anyone who is strongly opposed to our new president's policies and plans. My comments are not an endorsement FOR him or words AGAINST him. It’s very difficult to put into words. I’ve spoken to you guys about this in some way or another, so allow me time and space to try to express my thoughts on this subject.

As a father of three African American sons, I was deeply moved as a new image of the African American male was presented to the world. A young man from Atlanta was interviewed immediately after the ceremony and the first thing he said was that he was glad that America and the world was given a positive view of black men, and that maybe people will no longer see us as criminals.

I'm not ignorant of the fact that agendas are about to be implemented that are directly against the Word of God. If you want to read our personal views on the president from a global, historical, and prophetic view, just visit our ‘You Know What I'm Saying’ group pages. I just don't have time or space to get into that in this week's email.

In this brief moment, I just want those who have no idea what it's been like (as an African American man) to live in a country where the only image that people have of you is that you are a dead beat dad, a womanizer, a thug, a gangster, a lazy parasite, a criminal, or that the only thing you’re really good for is sports or entertainment. Please allow me to help you understand partly what this moment means. (Again, I’m not endorsing the President. I’m just making an observation).

I personally believe that God is using this moment in history to pave the way for my sons (and grandsons) to one day preach the gospel from a position of authority. When their Black faces are seen, there won't be an automatic, unconscious perception of negativity or inferiority.

My sons will minister in a world very different from what my wife and I have toiled within. No; life won't be easier for them. In fact, our new president is constantly trying to brace our nation for things to get worse before they get better.

However, we were so moved because, we believe that with this shift in accepting leadership from a man of color, God will use it to thrust forth HIS divine purpose for America, particularly within the church.

When we see the president and the first lady walking hand in hand, maybe people will believe that me and my wife really are close and that we're not pretending just to get people to connect with this ministry.
Maybe, now, some young adults will begin to trust leadership coming from African American pastors who have been living solid lives for many years in this and hundreds of communities all over this nation.

We see tremendous opportunity coming to us and many other pastors through this season of change. Not all of the change in America is good or Godly, but we believe God has orchestrated this day for something HE is doing beyond what our eyes can see right now.

While people are rightfully celebrating the fact that a family of color has moved into the White House and taken this leadership role in this country, we believe that God is using it to prepare the world for thousands of people of color to take their rightful places.

I do not make these comments to slight or cast aside our White brothers and sisters. When I say "rightful place", I don't mean that Black pastors will now seize authority over White pastors. I mean that we will all take our rightful positions under God’s authority and we will no longer see one leader as being less significant or capable than another simply because of their ethnicity. We will truly become ONE in Christ Jesus.

That’s what yesterday signaled for me. It was about more than the inauguration of a Black president. It was the signal that God is moving behind the scenes to change the landscape of America, including the church in America.”
– Pastor Chris Green (January 21, 2008)

****

Nearly four years later, I can see a glimpse of the change in attitudes in this extremely divided commuinty of Harrisburg. Over the past four years, people of various cultures and backgrounds have come and sat under our teaching in Urban Life. I believe God used the image of the President to change people’s attitudes so that they were a little bit more comfortable to come to a ministry where the senior pastor was a Black man.

We have watched a significant change in the attitudes of people with our sons. Doors have opened to them that simply were not open four years ago. There were just too many people who were afraid of young Black men to help them. We watched people, who weren’t necessarily Christian Believers, relax in the presence of our sons and open up to see them beyond their skin color. They allowed our sons to break through the stereotypes and fears.

We still don’t agree with all of President Obama’s policies and agendas. Many of them conflict with Biblical teachings. However, that still doesn’t change the fact that God will use anybody to accomplish what HE wants to do in a nation.

Where did we get the idea that a political leader MUST be someone who follows all of the principles of the Bible in order for God to use him or her to accomplish His purpose and plan? God called Nebuchadnezzar His servant even though he was the emperor that destroyed Jerusalem, killing thousands of people, and carried their best and brightest into exile. God chose him to execute judgment; therefore he was God’s servant even though he wasn’t a Godly man.

Presidential elections are about more than trying to get a scripture quoting, Bible toting candidate in the Oval Office. This is about getting synchronized with what God is doing in our lifetime in America. If America is under judgment, (and many Christian leaders believe it is) then God will set the man or woman in place that needs to be there at the time of judgment.

So we’re going to stay focused on the bigger picture. It doesn’t matter who sits in the Oval Office of the White House. It still comes down to who is sitting in the Oval Office of MY House.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Follow me and I will make you...producers of men

Follow me and I will make you fishers of men. These words were spoken to men who were businessmen and skilled professionals. They had been brought up and trained in a particular trade. These words were used to help me understand the calling on my life in a brand new way. One of the songs God gave us when we moved to Pennsylvania is called “A Brand New Move of God.” I believe we are walking in that right now.

For years I have lived with an internal conflict regarding the calling to be a producer and the calling to be a pastor in a godless generation. I had always pursued a career in TV and radio production because God had called me to that field. For 17 years, that’s exactly what I did in music, radio and television. It was exactly what He told me and showed me. In my insecurity, always in the back of my mind, I was questioning my true skills and abilities, asking, do I really have what it takes to be successful in this arena?

The Lord blessed me to become an award winning TV producer in 1999. Even though it was only a local (St. Louis) public access cable TV station, the judges were imported from major network TV affiliates and they determined my work to be the best Inspirational and Religious broadcast for that year. The award did a lot for me personally especially since, at that time, we had sub par recording equipment, poor lighting, inferior cameras and shaky audio. Combine that with mostly teenaged volunteers working at almost every single station and you have a better understanding of the level of post production work I had to put into the broadcast to edit camera shots and adjust the fluctuating audio to piece together industry-standard material for a weekly 30 minute broadcast on two stations.


Yet, in the midst of producing, God started sending words and prophecies about me becoming a pastor, a shepherd, a prophet and even hints of the apostolic. Thus, the conflict began in my heart. There had never been any desire or hint of a move in that direction before. I starting protesting to God, “Hey, you told me I was a producer; where did this pastor talk come from?”

Now fast forward into 2006, where I found myself in Pennsylvania, answering a phone call from the Press Secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Education, giving me an opportunity to work there. Part of my interview process involved meeting the Governor’s Communications Director. I still recall walking up the steps of the State Capitol asking myself, ”How did I end up here?”

Needless to say, I was very thankful to do well in the interviews and I developed even more confidence when I was thrown into the fire from day one. I discovered that I could handle the pace and the workload. God allowed me to see that I was indeed, a multi-media producer. It wasn’t just church-world success.

I’ve seen a lot people who are very successful in the church, but they fall miserably in the secular environment because they really don’t have the skills to make it outside of the church. God showed me that I was exactly what He said I was. A producer is a producer, no matter what environment they are assigned to work in. Hear me closely. You are exactly who and what God says you are.

After all this training and experience was established to solidify that I really am a producer, why would God start messing up everything? That’s what He did to a few fishermen one day. He acknowledged that they were fishermen, but he opened up a whole new world by telling them that if they followed Him, He would let them continue to work in the ways that brought them great fulfillment, but He would change their purpose. They would still go fishing everyday, but they would fish for men instead.

My wife was encouraging me one night following a very successful Friday evening meeting with the church family. She had watched me struggle with the producer versus pastor conflict for many years. As she spoke into my life about the will of God, a revelation suddenly exploded inside of me. Just like the fishermen were being transformed into fishers of men, the producer of multi-media was being transformed into a producer of lives.

Suddenly, everything came together in my understanding. That year (1999) of producing an award-winning product despite inferior equipment, means something more to me now. As a producer of lives, I know that you don’t have to have it all together for God to make something awesome out of a church.

Urban Life Church is an assembly of the forsaken, forgotten and fallen. Symbolically and spiritually, we don’t have good lighting. Our emotional recording equipment is erratic. Our relational material is not up to standards, but as the producer of this presentation to the Lord, God has given me years and years of practical experience in how to work carefully, slowly, methodically and patiently with every element that you have in hand; to get the best out of every camera shot, sound byte and special effect to produce an award winning product.

However,the award and reward is from our Lord as He says, “Good job. That’s what I wanted to hear come forth out of that family. That’s what I wanted to see come forth out this church.”

I felt impressed that the Lord was saying to me, “I made you a producer because I put within you the ability to take whatever I put in your hands and make something special out of it. That’s why you don’t just see people where they are now, but you see what I see in them.”

As pastors we want this to be a core value expressed though all of us at Urban Life Church: the ability to look beyond the faults of others and see what God sees in them.

The Lord reminded me how I used to spend hours mixing and re-mixing one section of music, over and over again, to get the best possible interpretation out of a song. Now as producers of lives, we can sit down and mix the various sounds in a person’s life so that we hear the song of the Lord come forth. I recall how I would lower the volume on some instruments while at the same time increasing the volume of a particular vocal part. Now I see how it’s the same in producing lives. The volume of abandonment, divorce, death and grief are lowered. They’re not eliminated completely from the music, because they are a part of the life of a person. But now, they will be settled into the chords of one’s heart while other sounds become the solo instruments. Now grace, peace, faith, hope and purpose take the leading parts and their notes are intertwined to make a new melody.

Similarly, like in a video production, the images are changed in a person’s personal music video as doubt, destruction, devastation and despair become deleted scenes that no longer get replayed. We will manage to get crystal clear images in spite of the fact that the original shots were made in poor dim settings. Most who come to Urban Life come from places where the Word of God was taught in cloudiness or complete darkness. Very little was understood and even less was properly interpreted. It’s a miracle, beyond description, to develop such clarity out of so much that was out of focus.

The main job of the producer is to assemble the people and resources to complete a project. Every person from the technicians to the on-screen actors or the behind the microphone talent, are assembled for a single cause. From that definition alone, I realize and accept the fact that we are indeed producer-pastors.

We will continue to write and produce songs and books personally, but nothing will be more important than the lives we are honored to produce by the skill and gifting of the Holy Spirit.

As Paul wrote in 1st Corinthians 3:2, "You are our letters, written in our hearts, read and known by all men.”

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

My Post-Election Assessments

Four years ago, immediately after the election, I sent out an extremely important email.

Prior to the 2008 election and in this 2012 election, I offered no political opinions. I did not seek to sway anyone in the election. I simply presented the spiritual and moral issues that are identified in the Bible. Unfortunately, the issues and interpretations of morality, justice and equality have fallen on two different sides of the dominant political parties in America.

This dilemma causes many people to vote for a president who is a Democrat and then vote for Senators and Congressmen who are Republicans in order to balance the scales. Or they vote for a Republican president and then vote for Senators and Congressmen who are Democrats. This is why it’s so difficult to navigate through the political process in our country. It’s also the reason it’s so difficult to explain one’s choices to family, friends and colleagues.

Here is what I wrote four years ago and it is incredibly amazing how it still applies to us today:

Last night our nation elected another president and no matter if whether your candidate was chosen or not, we are facing many storms in our future. I personally believe the first one will be a storm of division which always strikes after an election. This year it will have a significant effect on the church in America because the polls within the church show the Body of Christ was divided along racial, political and social lines during this election.

Sometimes we were asked who we believed would win. As pastors and ministers, we’re not supposed to publically endorse a political candidate, so we will continue to withhold our personal views on that subject. Also, since the church in America is so divided over the candidate choices, we have found it necessary to minister on a higher and more meaningful level than politics and race.

So you ask, what could possibly be more important than politics and race, especially since the issues that were raised were deeply spiritual and moral?

We choose to focus on the hearts of men, women, boys and girls, because the Bible declares that from the heart, spring the issues of life.

Proverbs 4:23 reads:
Keep your heart with all diligence, For out of it spring the issues of life.

So, before we start discussing the issues of life, we have to deal with the HEART. Many hearts have not been kept (guarded and protected). They have been broken, wounded, damaged, crushed, twisted, perverted, distorted, etc. Therefore, people assume their personal and political positions, regarding the issues of life, based upon what has happened in and to their hearts.

The Lord gave us a particular way to address the issues of today. The main objectives of Chris and Carol Green include being spiritual parents in this era. We believe God gave us this approach to ministry because HE knew the kind of hearts this generation would have. Paul, in his letter to the Corinthians, was giving a warning regarding some matters, but in the midst of his warning he makes a profound statement to explain his position. He tells them,

For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Therefore I urge you, imitate me. - 1 Corinthians 4:15-16

So, like Paul, we’re not making these statements just as instructors, teachers, pastors, or clergy. We write these weekly emails to you as spiritual parents because there really aren’t many fathers (and mothers) in Christ. Before we were sent out in ministry, we were called primarily to be a father and mother to this generation.

Paul established solid relationships with the people reading his letters. He was basically telling them this: I've been more than a religious instructor. So don't just do what I'm telling you because I said so. Imitate me based upon what you've seen in me and what we have shared together.

So in your mental picture of Chris and Carol, please take away the podium, the clergy collar, the robes and sacred garments. We’re just a father and mother, a dad and a mom, that God has touched with His love and compassion. HE told us to go and reach this generation with that kind of love and ministry.

Like parents talking to their children, we're saying: While you are following the peace of God, let's stick together. There will always be a lot to complain about (politically, socially, economically), but don’t give in to it. That's why Paul told everyone to be thankful.  - written November 5, 2008

I'll close this week's blog with the lyrics of a song written by a dear friend more than 30 years ago.

If you want a brand new world, you gotta have brand new people
If you want brand new people, we've gotta have a brand new life
If you want a brand new life, you gotta have a brand new spirit
If you want a brand new spirit, we've gotta come to Jesus Christ! 
- Dr. Myles Munroe

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

In the Aftermath

First, I want to give thanks and praise to God for His protection and grace through the hurricane. This one was way worse than the one that hit us last year. However, there was a lot less damage because it hit in the autumn. Most trees had already lost their leaves so they didn’t come down as easily as before. Also, the ground wasn’t already saturated by weeks and weeks of rain, like last year. So we didn't have as much flodding. Various sections lost power off and on throughout the night, but overall, our area came through in good shape.

I honestly believe that our area was spared because we have been in intercession and prayer for over a month, in obedience to the directive of the Holy Spirit to pray.

In the aftermath of this massive storm and the news of a major earthquake that occurred just off the west coast, I’m going to emphasize, again, why we have been in this prayer campaign. I told our church family, at the end of September, that I felt like something bad was about to happen and we are now watching it unfold right before our eyes.

Back on September 26th we sent the following email to the church family:
"We wish we could put into words, the urgency that we feel right now. All we know is that we can sense that something horrible is on the horizon and the Spirit of God is calling us to pray NOW. The urgency is beyond words. All we can say is that if you can hear the voice of God, respond now. We’re dropping our schedule and changing our plans. Starting this Sunday, it’s all about prayer at Urban Life Church."

 In light of that prophetic email, here is Tuesday’s assessment of the hurricane from New York City's Mayor Bloomberg:
* 26 fires, 80 houses lost;
* 76 shelters are open and accepting people and pets;
* 10 dead in NYC and the number is expected to go up;
* extensive damage in the city, loss of power & flooding of mass transit;
* worst disaster in mass transit in 108 years;
* 3/4 of a million people without power as well as 326 buildings and 50 developments;
* hospital heating via the steam system is shut down;
* all under river tunnels are flooded;
* public transportation is closed "until further notice";
* all major airports are closed due to flooded runways;
* NYU and Manhattan veteran hospitals were shut down,
* Bellevue Hospital is on back-up power,
* 2 other hospitals were evacuated;
* 4000 downed trees in Queens;
* schools (public & Catholic) are closed;
* all parks are closed; stay away from beaches and sea walls.


I cannot stress it enough. We must make prayer a priority in daily life and make every effort to join together for prayer on Sunday mornings. We're rebuilding and restoring the gates and walls that protect our hearts and homes through intercessory prayer and prophetic impartations. That’s what we believe we were sent to Harrisburg to do. We were called to this city for such a time as this. I don’t want to blow it in any way. It’s time to step up, like never before.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Old Gate and Valley Gate

Our Prophetic Family Prayer campaign continues. Last Sunday the Spirit of God led us to teach and then pray from the story of Nehemiah, and how the Jewish people took on the task of rebuilding and repairing the walls and gates that surrounded the great city of Jerusalem.

There were ten gates that were embedded in strategic points along the walls of Jerusalem and each gate had a very specific purpose. Each gate has a prophetic meaning for our families today. Therefore, we are taking the time to look at each gate, understand its purpose and then pray about the significance of each gate in our hearts and homes.

Last Sunday, we prayed about the repairs of the Old Gate and the Valley Gate.

First, the Old Gate: There are two theories why this gate was called the Old Gate. It might have separated old Jerusalem from the suburb of Bezetha, which was called “New Town”. Another theory is that it once belonged to the very ancient city of Salem, first built by Melchizedek. Regardless of where the name came from, this gate represents a foundational gate for our lives and our families.

This gate symbolizes a return to the old ways. It symbolizes the return to walking in the timeless wisdom of God.

Jeremiah 6:16a declares; “Stand in the ways and see, And ask for the old paths, where the good way is, And walk in it; Then you will find rest for your souls.”

Since the Old Gate has been destroyed for millions of Americans, as a nation we no longer understand the value of the old path. We live in a time where only the newest thing is valued. We want new philosophies, New Age beliefs, and new fashions. Today the focus is on youth and youthfulness. We have millions of people striving to look and feel young. We live in an era where the wisdom of age is despised.

Job 12:12 says, “Wisdom is with aged men, And with length of days, understanding.”

Look at this declaration by Elihu in Job 32:6-7, “I am young in years, and you are very old; Therefore I was afraid, And dared not declare my opinion to you. I said, ‘Age should speak, And multitude of years should teach wisdom.’

Can you imagine young people today saying this to someone in the older generation? If our hearts and homes are going to survive and thrive, we must rebuild and restore the Old Gate, which is basically, the Word and Wisdom of God.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”  Psalm 119: 105

Then we looked at the Valley Gate. In the Bible, a valley symbolizes sorrow, trials, and humbling experiences. We must restore the Valley Gate which is the understanding that we will have trouble and difficult seasons.

As a nation, we have been spending thousands and millions of dollars trying to avoid trouble, and hundreds of hours and days trying to get away from the Valley Gate. In America, comfort, pleasure and ease are gods.

This gate remains unrestored in many hearts and homes because most of our valley experiences have come in the family and in our closest relationships. However, rebuilding and restoring the valley gate is going to give us intestinal fortitude, determination, and a never give up spirit.

"Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.” (Romans 5:34 NIV)

We do not enjoy walking through the valley gate, but it is a necessary part of our journey. There is a closeness and resolve regarding our relationship with God that is established only by the material of the valley gate.

The valley gate also produces humility. Pride reveals itself as haughty arrogance AND in low self-esteem or self-hatred. It is obvious, in the haughty person, that pride is present. They never want to do anything to risk embarrassment and they loathe making any mistakes in public. They do everything they can to hide their secret faults and flaws. Many are passionate perfectionist.

However, the person who wallows in self-hatred and tearing themselves down can be just as prideful. They make negative declarations about themselves that defy what God says about them. It is pride that causes them to lift any thought, even if it is self-defacing, against the knowledge of God.

"God resists the proud, but he gives grace to the humble." (1 Peter 5:5)

The Valley Gate, and the embarrassing things that can be exposed about our lives, has a way of identifying pride. In the valley gate experience, when we find God resisting us and our pleas going unheard, we are forced to look in the mirror of His Word and see ourselves. That's when we need to make the choice to humble ourselves.

Next Sunday, we’ll continue our journey around the wall and begin making repairs to other gates that surround our lives

I’ll close this blog  with this prayer:

Father God,

We thank You for proving to be faithful to us through the Old Gate and the Valley Gate. We return to the old paths. We restore the Old Gate and receive the wisdom that goes far beyond the newest and latest, witty invention.

We rebuild the Valley Gate. You have provided the material to build this gate and we know that you have never left us in our most trying seasons. We will not seek a trouble free, trial free life. We will seek You; knowing that even if we must walk through the valley of the shadow of death, we fear no evil, because you are with us.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Repairing the Gates

Our Prophetic Family Prayer campaign continues. Last Sunday, the Spirit of God led us to pray from the backdrop of the historical account of a massive restoration project in Jerusalem. Under the leadership of Nehemiah, the Jewish people took on the daunting task of rebuilding and repairing the walls and gates that surrounded this great city.

Since we were sent to Harrisburg, over eight years ago, to rebuild, restore and renew hearts and homes, we believe that we have a similar assignment. However, we believe that it’s our hearts and homes that need their walls and gates repaired. During this season of fasting and prayer, this is where we are concentrating our efforts.

Proverbs 4:23 (Amplified) declares: Keep and guard your heart with all vigilance and above all that you guard, for out of it flow the springs (issues) of life.

Whatever is in our hearts depends upon what has been allowed to come in through our gates over the years of our life. Whatever flows out of our heart, (our view of life) depends on how our heart has been guarded.

There were ten gates that were embedded in strategic points along the walls of Jerusalem and each gate had a very specific purpose. Each gate holds a profound prophetic meaning for our families. Therefore, we are taking the time to look at each gate, understand its purpose, and then pray about how each gate is supposed to guard our hearts and homes.

Last Sunday, we started praying about the repairs of the sheep gate and the fish gate.

First, the sheep gate was the place where sheep and lamb were brought into the city and taken to the temple to be used in the temple sacrifices. This gate symbolizes the place where Jesus, as the sacrificial lamb, comes into our hearts and homes. This gate must be repaired and restored because it means we are establishing this one prevailing truth for our families; Jesus Christ is our ONLY savior and Lord. He must be welcomed into our hearts and homes to cleanse us and deliver us.  We must accept the truth that Jesus is the only salvation of our lives. If this gate is broken down, we will believe that there is some other way to find deliverance, freedom and success.

The President, Governor and Mayor cannot deliver us. The business community cannot deliver us. Education is beneficial, but it is not the thing that will deliver us. This gate has been destroyed in many hearts and homes and most people do not see Jesus Christ as the answer for themselves or their family. But today, we restore the sheep gate. Jesus is the answer for our families and communities.

Then we looked at the fish gate. This was the entrance for fishermen to bring in their catch. This gate symbolizes the place where we see the importance of our roles as fishermen. Jesus told his disciples, “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” Spiritual fishermen understand the importance of using lure and bait to catch fish. They understand the timing of fishing. There are certain times of the day that fish are active. They even understand when some people are caught in the net of our influence, some are like the fish who have to be thrown back into the sea, until they are ready. The Bible says, “He that wins souls is wise.”

The fish gate symbolizes the importance of living a life that lures, baits, attracts and even catches people to come into the Kingdom of God. The fish gate expresses the priority of the Kingdom agenda for our lives. In a time when many people work and live only for themselves and personal survival, the fish gate symbolizes this new value of living for a purpose greater than our own.

Today, we restore the fish gate. We follow Jesus so that He can make us fishers of men.

Next Sunday, we’ll continue our journey around the walls and begin making repairs to other gates that surround our lives. Every gate that has been destroyed means that we have been allowing things that are the opposite of what God intended for us.  Destroyed gates are indicators that we have been open to concepts and ideas that are against God and His ways. We have believed lies and followed philosophies that have led us to destruction.

Lord, help us to minister effectively to your people so these gates can be rebuilt, restored and repaired.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Prayer Focus: Esther, Mordecai and Haman


I feel that we’ve made a good start with our Prophetic Family Prayer campaign. Last Sunday the Spirit of God led us to pray from the back drop of the marvelous story about Esther, Mordecai and Haman.

He led us to pray concerning those who are in the position of Esther; where God has blessed them to be hired or assigned to high positions. We prayed that they would recognize that God has blessed them so that He could use them in this hour of crisis in America today. We prayed that they would not seek to merely preserve their careers. We prayed that they would take on the attitude of Esther who asked for her people to join her in fasting because she was about to do something that could cost her life.

The Spirit of God led us to encourage those who are in the position of Mordecai, where the enemy is plotting against them. They are the ones who deserve positions of leadership, but they have been overlooked and ignored. 

One of the great things about Mordecai was that even when he was finally recognized and honored for a deed that had never been recognized or acknowledged, his heart remained focused for the deliverance of his people. We prayed that this kind of spirit would be released in us today.

We also prayed concerning people who are like Haman, who have been elevated to high positions of authority, but they have used their authority to intimidate, manipulate and dominate others. Even though this Haman-type demonic influence has oppressed this region for many, many years, we are taking a stand in the Holy Spirit to pull down this stronghold that has established itself in the hearts and homes of this community.

Sunday was another powerful session of intercession as the Lord led us to exhort, encourage and speak prophetically over all who were in attendance, as well as those who were watching online.

We have provided a few things to help them during this weekly fast and prayer:
1.)  Prayer Campaign webpage, where you can review the weekly prayer sessions
2.)  Passion for Prayer (a 7-video teaching series on prayer)
3.)  Prayer Agenda webpage (Praise reports and prayer request)


I want close this blog with this prayer:

Therefore I also …do not cease to give thanks for you, making mention of you in my prayers: that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. (Ephesians 1: 15-21)

Father God, we stand before, in the name of Jesus Christ, on behalf of this wonderful family that you have given us here in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. These are the ones who have heard your call and stepped out beyond the normal, the usual and the predictable. They have dared to respond to your voice and step into the great adventure of following you for a higher purpose than their own.

You are positioning them, like Esther, in high and lofty places. You have caused them to stand out amongst many. You are bringing them to these places for such a time as this. May they be filled with the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ, and may the eyes of their understanding be enlightened.

We lift up those who have been like Mordecai. If it had not been for them, the company that they work for would have failed. If it had not been for them, their department would have been cut. If it had not been for them, their supervisor, manager or department head, would have lost their job. Their true worth has gone unnoticed and unknown.

So like you did for Mordecai, cause their true worth to be revealed. You caused the King to come across the records that showed how Mordecai had been the man who foiled a plot to assassinate him. Reveal the records of the faithfulness of those who have been like Mordecai.

Reveal the faithful record of fathers, mothers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, nieces and nephews, cousins and siblings. What they have done has preserved lives. Reveal the records of the faithful in this hour, Lord! 

May hearts and homes be rebuilt, restored and renewed. In the authority and name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Prophetic Prayer

Our month of prayer has officially begun. Along with the Sunday prayer gatherings, we are fasting every Wednesday. I asked the church family to join with me in this time of seeking the Lord.

We can literally feel the strength, now that prayer is going forth in a national, united, coordinated prayer campaign. We are just simply doing our part, guarding our spot on this vast wall that stands against the advancement of the enemy.

He seeks to destroy our faith. He seeks to destroy our homes and families. But we are standing strong in the name of Jesus Christ!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Praying in Perilous Times

In a couple of days, Believers from all over the nation will gather in Philadelphia for two days of prayer for America. Even though many will view this as a political event, this has nothing to do with politics. Our nation is in serious trouble. The vileness of sin and the hatred against Christians have reached unprecedented levels in our nation. We have nowhere else to turn.

In his letter to Timothy, the Apostle Paul wrote, “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!”  - 2 Timothy 3: 1-5 (NKJV)

These are the words of Jesus: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places.  All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”  - Matthew 24:4-14 (NKJV)

I wish I could put into words, the urgency that we feel right now. All I know is that we can sense that something horrible is on the horizon and the Spirit of God is calling us to pray NOW. The urgency is beyond words. 

We’re dropping our schedule and changing our plans. Starting this Sunday, it’s all about prayer at Urban Life Church. The so-called church growth experts have spoken. Many of us have tried to implement their proven ideas and strategies, but nothing has changed. Church attendance continues to plummet in our nation, while the entertainment industry continues to grow. People are looking for comfort and security. People are looking for wealth and relief.

Even within the four walls of many churches, the congregants are looking for the same things. The only difference is that they are turning to God to try to get Him to give them what they want. But God is not to be mocked in this hour. It’s time to seek God’s FACE and stop seeking His hand, simply asking Him to do stuff and give us stuff to make our lives comfortable. It’s time to chase Him, abandoning all else for His will alone.

We’re not going to start a teaching series about prayer. We’re going to PRAY. For those who have never been in this kind of situation before, I'm just goin gto encourage them to follow our lead. We’ll have to show them what to do. We’ll teach them as we’re doing it.

I woke up one morning last week singing the old hymn, “Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus.” If there was ever a time to walk in the reality of that song, this is that time. I feel like I did just before 9/11/01. Back then, I didn’t know what to do with it. Over ten years later, I know what to do this time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Can you see the signs of the time?

Last week we saw a disturbing news posting. It stated that the President of the United States refused to meet with the Prime Minister of Israel. We’re not sure if everyone understands the significance of this and I don’t have the time or space to get into all of that in this blog, but please know that it would signal the final blow for America if America turns its back on Israel. It is profoundly true that an enemy of Israel would become an enemy of God. No amount of singing, "God Bless America" would change the outcome. It would not matter who wins the coming election. Judgment would be swift and decisive.

Can you see the signs of the time? More than ever, there is no peace in our sleep. Every night we're awakened to pray. In just the last few months we have seen a massive drought sweep across America's farmlands. New volcanic eruptions and earthquakes are breaking out across the globe. A river in China turned red. Two tornadoes hit New York City on the same day. Another hurricane hit New Orleans on the exact same date as Hurricane Katrina. Nature itself is announcing judgment on the world.

Meanwhile, our nation continues to push for abortion on demand, gay marriage, and now a new movement has risen to the surface and that is the push for open marriage (multiple partners within a union). Waiting in the wings are those who want the right to express their sexual orientation to legally engage in physical relations with children. There is even a push to legalize incest. Also, there are staggering numbers of young girls who are trapped as slaves in human trafficking, right here in America. At the same time, we continue to see random shootings and bizarre acts of violence. Homes and schools are now included as some of the most dangerous places for children.

Then the most alarming reality is that over three years ago the Department of Homeland Security released a report to all local law enforcement agencies, stating that conservative groups (people who oppose abortion or gay marriage) are now considered to be domestic terrorist. The hatred against Christian Believers is at an all-time high in America. We could go on and on, but we’re not trying to depress you or scare you. However, we are trying to stir you into action. And that action is to join us in PRAYER.

2 Chronicles 7: 13-15 reads, “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people, if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to prayer made in this place.”

Immediately following the National Prayer Gathering that will take place in Philadelphia on Friday and Saturday, September 28-29, the Lord has put it on our hearts to meet every Sunday afterwards for worship and prayer starting Sunday, September 30th. We’re cancelling all of our plans and schedules. We’re just going to meet for prayer every Sunday until further notice. Just like we did three years ago, we’re going to start leading prayer sessions with our church family and with all who will join with us across the nation.

This prayer is not about politics. We’re not praying for Obama or Romney to win the White House. We’re not praying against liberals, conservatives, Republicans or Democrats. Our prayer is far more desperate than that. We’re responding to God as a church family. We’re seeking God’s face and turning from our wicked ways.

We just feel that we’re at a place in Urban Life Church, where personal issues and our national problems are beyond Chris and Carol Green’s sermons. Individual situations might be beyond personal consultation and counseling sessions with us, as pastors. Many circumstances are beyond motivational speeches and fund raisers. We can see the signs of our times. It’s time to PRAY!

We are bold and honest enough to tell our church family that what ever they are going through, their pastors cannot help them in the way they really need it. However, we can certainly lead them to the throne of Grace. We don’t intend to sound cruel or insensitive, but the prayer sessions are going to be far more effective than a personal conversation with us. Now is the time for each one of us to seek God, like never before. The times are so desperate now, that pastors cannot help their people get through it. But we know the ONE who can!
 
So that’s why we are calling upon all of us to humble ourselves, forgive one another; release people and seek God. Let’s go for it! LET'S COME TOGETHER AND PRAY!