Bible Prophecy
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As a newly saved 18 year old I distinctly remember having a disappointing conversation with a local church pastor who told me “Don’t worry about trying to read Bible prophecy, because you don’t need to know that.”

That was sadly funny to me, as I stood there in that particular Charismatic church in Toledo, Ohio, because I later read from 1 Corinthians 14:22 that “tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers” (ESV). It seemed to me, that the pastor may have had somethings backwards that day.

I stood there with my hardback Dalton Bookstore purchased NIV still pointing to the first page of Revelation where it stated “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” as he walked away leaving me to ask myself, Why would more revealing about Jesus be of no importance?

Peter warned that in the last days “They will say, Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation” (2 Peter 3:14, ESV). Peter warned of a disdain for prophecy.

Apparently, ministers are not immune to doubts regarding prophecy as I experienced that day as a new believer. Over the past 30 years of ministry I have heard from fellow pastors who in conversation freely expressed their belief that prophetic preaching was turning people away from our pews, especially young people.

Hearing that is always sadly funny to me, too, because Joel said that “it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy” (Joel 2:28, ESV). This sounds to me that God is saying that prophecy has a special place among the youth who are seeking His Spirit.

As a saved young person I wanted to hear what the future holds, but as an unsaved young person, I didn’t care what the future holds.

I fully understand that some pastors are called by God to speak through topical series and some are called by God to preach through the books of the Bible. I certainly don’t advocate forcing the topic of Bible prophecy into the text where it doesn’t belong, but I also don’t advocate avoiding or ignoring Bible prophecy from the Sunday pulpit.

At CrossHope Chapel we go through the Bible book by book, chapter by chapter, and verse by verse and we freely deal with the events and timelines of Bible prophecy. It’s hard to honestly declare “the whole counsel of God” and not deal with prophecy and last day events.

Amos said For the Lord God does nothing without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7, ESV).

Peter declares that we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Peter 1:19-20, ESV).

I won’t have to answer for other pastors and how they preach but one thing I know, God has promised that if we remain steadfast in presenting His word, not our word, that “it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isaiah 55:11, ESV)

 


Has it been too long since you’ve heard the assurance of your Lord for the last days?

This Sunday, January 15, 2017 we are starting a new conversational Bible teaching through the books of 1 & 2 Thessalonians, whose theme is the prophetic and practical understanding of the return of our Lord Jesus Christ.

If you don’t have a church home and are interested in finding encouragement from a message of the Blessed Hope, will you join us?

Please visit www.crosshopechapel.org to learn more about our simpler approach to doing church in Mobile, Alabama.

 

 

 

Steadfastness
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A few weeks ago at CrossHope Chapel we were challenged by Steph to pick a word that has meaning for us as we go into a new year. I picked the word “steadfastness” and gave an emotional attempt to share with you the meaning for me.

That same day, CrossHope Chapel launched into its seventh year of gathering as a fellowship for the glory of God and growing in grace together. Not particularly a long time, but a meaningful time none the less.

It occurred to me that you and I are not part of the CrossHope Chapel fellowship for any reason other than the Spirit of God is bidding us to be steadfast in growing “grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).

There is no earthly reason that makes enough sense for our continual gathering as a church. There is no motivation of salary to receive by me or anyone, no cool band with dynamic music to come listen to, no large crowds to mix with, no lofty articulation of words bringing spell-binding homiletics excellence to our ears, no orchestrated programs offering child services or activities for senior clubs, and even our facility and seating is merely sufficient, but certainly not comfortable enough to draw us out of our secure homes.

We are simply a fellowship of believers in the Lordship of Jesus Christ who gather around the word of God. No flashy bigness or really neat things that we could even think to lure our neighbors into attending. We have Jesus. We have the word of God. That has been the motivation behind our steadfastness.

I thank God for all of you and pray for you and the circumstances of life you each face. I would echo the encouraging words that conclude one of the greatest chapters of all the Bible, 1 Corinthians 15, a great chapter because Paul heralds the end of death and the victory that will soon be ours in the resurrection, and those words from are…

“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58, ESV).

 

Calvary Chapel Split
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CrossHope Chapel is now part of the Calvary Global Network, but that doesn’t mean we are opposed to the Calvary Chapel Association.

If you don’t know what the Calvary Global Network and the Calvary Chapel Association is, then this post may not mean much to you. On the other hand, if you are familiar with my involvement with Calvary Chapel or curious as to how I became involved or have been following the Calvary Chapel buzz on some of the church watch-dog blogs (as I do), then you may find some interest here.

I’ve had the blessing of enjoying fellowship with Calvary Chapel pastors since February of 2015, when I first attended a pastors conference in Atlanta. Since that initial conference in Atlanta, I have attended other pastor conferences and became close friends in regular communication with the pastors in our area.

My connection with Calvary Chapel happened by accident in 2014 while doing a trade name search when changing our church name from West Mobile Bible Fellowship to CrossHope Chapel. In our search, the name Calvary Chapel came up and my memory immediately tied that name to Chuck Smith of Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

As a new believer in Jesus Christ in 1980 I would cling to every broadcast of Chuck Smith on Christian radio in Toledo, Ohio but lost track of his radio teaching ministry as I moved South.

In that trade name search I realized that there was a multitude of Calvary Chapel’s and our church was very much like them in philosophy and doctrines. I also learned that there was once a local Calvary Chapel in our city so I made contact with a Calvary Chapel pastor close by to inquire about it, and that led to my attendance at a Calvary Chapel conference.

The Calvary Chapel Association was the source of invitation for me that brought me into their fellowship through pastor conferences, although I am not officially affiliated with the association (partly because of congregational number requirements), but I do hold in high regard the council members I know and applaud their regional leadership structure, and I stand with them in my commitment to uphold the doctrinal distinctives laid out by Chuck Smith.

It was during this time as an outsider, though warmly welcomed inside, that I was able to watch and hear the splitting sounds of timber that fell into a separate Calvary Global Network and the Calvary Chapel Association.

Unlike most of the pastors I have rubbed shoulders with, I have not come up from within the ranks of the Calvary Chapel movement. So admittedly, I do not have the same perspective or attachment to the history, the people and the places within the movement.

However, I feel for these men who are hoping not to be pushed into taking sides, and who are stressing with a sense of loyalty to the Calvary Chapel Association and to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

I like the fact that Brian Brodersen made it clear from the beginning in his “An Update from Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa” that the formation of Calvary Global Network “…is NOT a call to “choose sides”. There are no sides. I fully expect that there will be freedom to connect with CCCM, Calvary Chapel Global Network, and at the same time, be a part of CCA.”

Frankly, I don’t see why both the Calvary Chapel Association and the Calvary Global Network can’t exist together for the glory of God in advancing the Kingdom of God. Church life is local, as I see it, so being a Calvary Chapel affiliated local church could become as applicable as being a Baptist affiliated local church – there are varying oversight organizations behind the Baptist name but the name on the sign has more implications for the pastor then it does for the parishioners or the lost in the community.

So having said all that, let me get back to the big news in the first sentence, that CrossHope Chapel is now part of the Calvary Global Network. I am both grateful and honored to be part of this network and the opportunities it presents for our local church.

Over the 2016 Christmas holidays I prayerfully re-read the back and forth of the letters by the Calvary Chapel Association (available at www.calvarychapelassociation.com), I read blogs by pastors bemoaning the split, viewed sermons on video decrying the split, however I couldn’t shake a sense that the biggest crime in this split was personal discontent rather than ecclesiastical differences. I can easily see how a local Calvary Chapel church pastor can feel squeezed by the pressure to take sides.

Perhaps hearing these voices had me parallel processing from my days as a denominational minister, and that became very uncomfortable for me to relive those experiences of bobbing and weaving the cheerleading of denominational politics.

Then, as I was beginning to feel like a sidetracked Peter at Galatia and considering quietly walking away from all things Calvary Chapel, I read a refreshing and clarifying perspective from a Calvary Chapel pastor whom I heard speak at a recent conference and have come to greatly respect and admire, Dave Rolph.

On December 5, 2016 Dave Rolph, pastor of Calvary Chapel Pacific Hills and an early assistant of Chuck Smith at Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, posted a lengthy but succinct response at his Facebook page, which you can read at one of those watch-dog blogs here: Dave Rolph’s Public Comments.

Reading this post from Dave Rolph was the impetus for me to do what’s best for our own local church mission going into the new year, and that was to join the Calvary Global Network and to simply wait and watch what the Lord will do with the Calvary Chapel Association.

For our CrossHope Chapel family, being part of Calvary Global Network is an enrichment opportunity for me as pastor, it is having a sense of congregational identity, and being able to access available ministry resources offered through it by Brian Brodersen and Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa.

Being part of the Calvary Global Network also helps position CrossHope Chapel’s outreach to our church seeking neighbors through the “Church Locator” listing at the popular www.calvarychapel.com website.

However, being part of the Calvary Global Network does not mean I have taken a side, from my vantage point, but my hope is to keep the fellowship I’ve known with Calvary Chapel pastors alive through personal friendships, conferences, and to continue meeting locally.

I will continue to closely follow the unfolding news, progress, and practices of both the Calvary Chapel Association and the Calvary Global Network, but I will not wearisomely fret or fear nor will I presumptuously hope or trust, instead I will continue to stand on the promise of our Lord Jesus Christ that “I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:18 ESV).

 


If this post raises more questions than answer, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

My Top Blogs of 2016
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My Top Blog Posts of 2016…

“Understanding Christians Voting for Trump” at https://www.stevedurkac.org/why-christians-plan-vote-for-trump/

“The UN vs God” at https://www.stevedurkac.org/un-vs-god/

“No Lives Matter” at https://www.stevedurkac.org/no-lives-matter/

“Let Him be Crucified” at https://www.stevedurkac.org/let-him-be-crucified/

“Enough Faith for Healing?” at https://www.stevedurkac.org/enough-faith-for-healing/

 

The UN vs God
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The United Nation’s security council, solely by the help of Barrack Obama, has decisively set the nations of the world against God’s word and the people of Israel.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s response states “The resolution that was adopted yesterday at the United Nations is distorted and shameful but we will overcome it. The resolution determines that the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem is ‘occupied territory’. This is delusional.

The resolution determines that the Western Wall is ‘occupied territory’. This too is delusional. There is nothing more absurd than calling the Western Wall and the Jewish Quarter occupied territory. There is also an attempt here, which will not succeed, to impose permanent settlement terms on Israel. You might recall that the last one who tried to do this was Carter, an extremely hostile president to Israel, and who just recently said that Hamas is not a terrorist organization. Carter passed sweeping decisions against us at the UN of a similar kind, and this was also unsuccessful. We opposed this and nothing happened.

All American presidents since Carter upheld the American commitment not to try to dictate permanent settlement terms to Israel at the Security Council. And yesterday, in complete contradiction of this commitment, including an explicit commitment by President Obama himself in 2011, the Obama administration carried out a shameful anti-Israel ploy at the UN.

I would like to tell you that the resolution that was adopted, not only doesn’t bring peace closer, it drives it further away. It hurts justice; it hurts the truth. Think about this absurdity, half a million human beings are being slaughtered in Syria. Tens of thousands are being butchered in Sudan. The entire Middle East is going up in flames and the Obama administration and the Security Council choose to gang up on the only democracy in the Middle East – the State of Israel. What a disgrace.”

It appears the stage is now set for nations to claim this security council resolution as a basis to bring military action against the nation of Israel. If you remember, it was because of a security council resolution that the United States and a coalition of nations legally invaded Iraq under the threat of weapons of mass destruction.

Sadly, the Islamist, communist, and opportunist nations in that region have had their aggressive eyes set against God’s land for a long time, and the United Nations has now provided them a legal basis for military actions through this unanimous resolution.

Satan hates all things from God, and since he can’t get to God he goes to God’s people. Jesus warned us that while He came to bring life, Satan comes only to “steal and kill and destroy” (John 10:10) and it is only because of this warning that we have an explanation for the satanic actions of the United Nations.

In this resolution, the United Nations has set their decision squarely, willingly, and intentionally against the word of God Himself…

In Genesis 12:7 God said “To your offspring I will give this land” and again in Genesis 15:18 He said “To your offspring I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates.”

After the death of Moses, God reaffirmed His covenant with Joshua when He said Every place that the sole of your foot will tread upon I have given to you, just as I promised to Moses. From the wilderness and this Lebanon as far as the great river, the river Euphrates, all the land of the Hittites to the Great Sea toward the going down of the sun shall be your territory” Joshua 1:3-4 (ESV).

Satan opposes God and all that is good, true, and righteous, so is it any wonder that a tiny nation that is being pressed on every side by hate and evil is the object of the wicked’s blame?

The good news is that in Joshua 1 God promises Israel No man shall be able to stand before you all the days of your life. Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you. Be strong and courageous, for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them” Joshua 1:5-6 (ESV).

In Genesis God said “I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” Genesis 12:2-3 (ESV). 

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 also reminds us of God’s covenant when He said It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers” (ESV).

It will be interesting as we go into 2017 with such a world stage before us. One reason the United States has been so blessed is because God said I will bless those who bless you” (Genesis 12:3) and while we wait for American leaders that will once again support Israel, let us watch and pray.